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Topics - JRM

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The Kitchen Sink / Assorted Miscellania
« on: July 04, 2020, 11:20:06 AM »
I seem to have lost the general news posting thread, so there is now a grab bag thread in the Kitchen Sink, where it belongs.

The Kitchen Sink / Medicalizing Society
« on: June 30, 2020, 07:09:03 PM »

Energy / Energy, Ecology, Economics (and Politics)
« on: June 29, 2020, 07:57:03 AM »
RE complained that "no one is talking about energy issues anymore" in the Diner Forum.   This, of course, in context with the Troubles which brewed up around discussion of BLM and race taking up all of the oxygen in the room.

I think there is a reason few people in the Diner want to discuss energy topics, and it relates to the P word in the list of E words in the thread title here.  Folks in the Diner, when they do discus politics, frame "politics" as it is generally framed by nearly everyone, everywhere -- as something which focusses on the operations of the state, parties and elections. But that's not what's interesting about politics to me, nor what I think is interesting in politics these days.  That's the stuff that makes the mainstream media news, though, and therefore that's what we talk about when we talk "politics".

I'll come back and say more about politics, but let me touch upon the Three E's first.

I think Richard Heinberg's Our Bonus Decade (essay) summarizes the recent history of "energy issues" usefully and accurately.  Not so many years ago, peak oil and peak net energy were huge concerns for a lot of us, and we were worried that the global economy was about to implode, with all sorts of utterly catastrophic consequences, in the near future. Then there was the "fracking boom," and suddenly oil was abundant and cheap again -- for however long. So the shift of concern for most of us turned to the consequences of burning all of that momentarily abundant oil, natural gas and coal.  Meanwhile, the actual on the ground effects of anthropogenic climate disruption was getting scary. The world had either already passed a set of "tipping points" or was nearing those rapidly.  A certain point of no return loomed close, after which it looked like no amount of voluntary action on climate could much influence the climate system itself.  Climate took the center stage with regard to energy topics because the world was, for the moment, swimming in abundant oil and gas.

We're still in that moment of history.  And mainstream / conventional politics is failing utterly and miserably to actually influence the rate of greenhouse gas emissions.  I doubt anyone in the Diner believes that is likely to change much, or sufficiently. We here all understand that economic growth is the imperative of mainstream politics and politicians. So mainstream politics has gotten increasingly delusional over recent years, with politicians promising continued economic growth … but with renewable energy providing for the economic activity which we all know is tightly linked to net energy.  We also understand that there are gigantic holes in the notion that we can simply replace current (and growing) energy consumption levels with renewables in a smooth and rapid "energy transition" to renewables. For one, it would require a massive amount of mostly fossil energy to create all of the material infrastructure and equipment to produce such a vast quantity of renewable energy production.  So we'd be burning more fossil fuels than ever, alongside and beyond energy production required for other uses. And that's going backwards, not forward.   And it's all a lot more complicated than that, but all of those details would take pages and pages to go over … while in fact they would be distracting from what we really need to be talking about in this orbit, which is what I call "voluntary energy descent" (VED) -- which means voluntarily using a lot less energy.
[ ] That's the task of our societies now.  And the task is basically "political".  But mainstream politics makes VED impossible, and we all know this. So the whole discussion seems like a non-starter, a waste of breath.

That's why we don't discuss energy topics much in the Diner these days. It appears to be discussion of the sort that can't really be useful, since we appear to be caught in an impossible bind. Trapped in a world in which our thoughts, beliefs and actions are impotent and useless.

This is where I should bring up the other E -- Ecology.  This is where things get really disturbing to contemplate.  You see, even if there were not a global climate crisis of dire proportions our world would still be in an existential ecological crisis with regard to other ecological problems, such as the biodiversity crisis, and others.  Combine these together and clearly we're deep into an existential crisis for life as we know it, and not just for humans. Thousands upon thousands of species are at stake along with whole vast ecosystems and the biosphere as we know it. Either humanity embraces VED and many other practices to turn the tide the other way, or we're all going to destroy what is left of the only home for life we know of in the entire Cosmos.  Okay, maybe some species will survive, but you get my point.

Here's what I see happening on the VED matter. Almost everyone believes a deep and sustained (adequate) VED is impossible.  Most energy and climate (integrated) subject matter experts know and say that VED is urgently necessary, though. 

VED is thus the world's biggest elephant in the room -- among subject matter experts, anyway. And people nearing expertise.

One reason is … you guessed it... politics! It's difficult to imagine any kind of politics which could have the effect of un-blocking VED as a social / political agenda. 

There are folks working on it -- such as the de-growth folks, which I hope we can discuss here. 

But here's what I have concluded, myself. I have concluded that it is very probable that the only hope of VED happening at an adequate pace (which would inevitably shrink the economy precipitously) would be through a widespread adoption of micro-eutopian politics.

I've written about micro-eutopian politics here and there in the Diner for years.  But it all sounded to most ears here like too little too late, and impossible to deploy into the world as a mass phenomenon.  But then came Extinction Rebellion and Greta Thurnberg, (etc., and they turned up the heat on the climate matter. So what was once regarded as impossible is a little less apt to be regarded as such.)And the "micro" part seemed just way too small.  Big problems require big solutions, is what we tend to imagine or believe. 

For anyone reading not familiar with micro-eutopianism, the quickest and easiest way to get at what it means is to go over the Greek word cells.  Micro is Greek for small. Eu is Greek for good. Topia is Greek for place.  Microeutopican praxis is the practice of transforming political practice, and the larger world, one small place at a time.  For micro-eutopians like myself, only billions of small changes can add up to a really big change, and we'd better do it where we live.  Examples of micro-eutopian practice are … permaculture, bioregionalism, ecovillages, gorilla gardening, community gardens, "retrosuburbia," bicycle advocacy.... On and on. Use your imagination! Another world is possible but the necessary cultural and social synergies are at the neighborhood scale, which is where most folks live.

Philosopher Gabriel Rockhill, in a personal correspondence with me, defined politics as "worldmaking," by which I took him to mean that politics is NOT delimited to the activities of the state and its extensions, such as county and municipal governments, etc.  The state's political apparatus pretends to be democratic in all sorts of ways, most of which require a majority of folks to be on board with any changes which we might implement.  But Rockhill's definition of "politics" opens things way up wide. Any group of people who already agree on implementing Plan X can begin immediately, without asking for the State's permission. And most of the actions which would have immediate revolutionary significance don't actually require civil disobedience.  After all, making community food forests is not illegal! Nor is bicycling!  But we need to be able to understand the synergies of micro-eutopian praxis to take it seriously enough to enact. And as it stands very few are enthusiastically on board with such revolutionary praxis.  We are stalled out by our under-exercised political imaginations, I think. We have no cultural image of micro-eutopianism as a powerful force which could take the world by storm.

But I think it is likely our only hope for kickstarting the regenerative and ecological culture we so desperately need today.

They say if a butterfly flaps its wings in Sydney Australia that it could kick up a hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico.  Small changes in initial conditions of complex systems can amplify through those systems in astonishing ways.  I want us to take up micro-eutopian practices oriented toward VED, because big things come in small packages. 

It sounds naοve, I know.  But what the hell. I doubt the politicians are going to be honest with us about … anything. What they are selling is not something we want.

The Kitchen Sink / Tweeter In Chief
« on: June 28, 2020, 02:48:18 PM »
The Tweeter in chief (trump) just Tweeted "White power, White power!" and then said that "Corrupt Joe [Biden] is 'shot'".


Does trump want Joe Biden to be shot by one of his millions of deranged, gun toting cult followers?

That trump is fully behind "White power!" is obvious enough. 

Does he want social and political chaos to he can declare martial law and hold office for the rest of his life, like an emperor?

I have yet to read the entirety of this article, but I thought to put it up here so folks can either explain why the premise in the title is false or to explain what the implications are if it turns out to be true.  I will continue reading after posting.

Uh-oh, Americans elected a lunatic with delusions of everlasting grandiosity.

Adding insult to injury, the best those left of center apparently can hope for a Biden presidency.  Yawn.

Maybe it's time to carve the country up into smaller units?

The Kitchen Sink / River City
« on: June 27, 2020, 02:36:29 PM »
River City was a city on a hill, a nation where hope and belonging would find a foothold in the annals of history.  A place where an English sentence could begin right at the middle of a formal English sentence, then peter out and end before it even got started. And some of its sentences, by golly, could begin with "And"!

I say we have trouble, right here in River City, a place where school children (boys especially) would smoke cigarettes in the boys room, a place where beatniks would become anti-war! They'd pull the pigtails of girls in class, like so much low class, and they'd chew bubble gum right in the classroom, even rejecting the premise that they should wear school uniforms and live on lawns, carefully cropped and edged. I say we have trouble, right here in River City, and there were Germans, right here in River City. Most of 'em Jews, and they didn't sit in pews and that rhymes with Theory! And that rhymes with Marx and that smells like Communism and that stands for Pool!

Why, someof'em started taking to Women! And that started them gay; and they wanted to play rathern'to fight in the wars and they shouted No More! No more of this sexism. No more of this racism. No more hierarchy, no more domination! Can you imagine the Trouble, with a capital T, when you gotta go pee? No asking for permission; no raising your hand; no bending over to take the wood on your little behind?  Oh, we have Trouble.  Just who is in charge now that nothing is up and nothing is down?

The Kitchen Sink / God Hates Masks
« on: June 27, 2020, 11:33:35 AM »
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Environment / Climate
« on: June 26, 2020, 09:57:32 AM »
There are already threads in here on climate, of course, but they all seemed to have elaborate titles, and I wanted my thread title to be bare bones simple, so here we are.

Now that we have a bare-bones simple thread title I will post in just a bit. Stay tuned.

The Kitchen Sink / Karl Marx, Marxism, Socialism & Revolution
« on: June 24, 2020, 09:39:40 AM »
For a guy who has traveled as far down the anti-capitalist trail as I have, I'm not all that familiar with Karl Marx's writings. This is in part an artifact of the fact that I'm more of an anarchist than a Marxist or Marxian.  But the whole thing is more complicated than I really understand, as most of the respectable anarchists I know are in basic agreement with Marx on most things, or at least an awful lot of things.

That we've had the name of "Uncle Karl" arise with such frequency in the Diner lately has me wondering a lot of things about which I have no answers, yet.  I'm pretty clear that what Marx actually said in his writings and how his message was taken up in practice by his ostensible "followers" often has had a rather large gap.  So, for example, it would seem that Marx himself would probably not have sanctioned a lot of what happened in the former Soviet Union, for example.

There are many things to clarify, but the one I'm most interested in at the moment is what Marx had to say about revolution, per se.  I already understand that Marx believed that socialist or communist revolution was inevitable and unavoidable (which premise I tend to doubt for several good reasons), but did Marx see, specifically a necessity for insurrection, which is defined as a violent uprising against an authority or government? Did Marx believe revolution necessitated bloodshed, violence and/or war?

I'm offering this short video which does not address this question of mine, but which may be useful to anyone setting out to learn more about Marx and Marxism.

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The Kitchen Sink / What the heck? (Santa Fe)
« on: June 23, 2020, 02:24:25 PM »
I'm trying to focus on what I'm doing, but the sirens have been going on for much longer than I've heard before in 25 years of living here, roughly.  Sirens, police, fire, ambulances... one would assume, and the sound of racing cars and trucks. Helicopters are surely to join the fun at any moment. Apparently, world war three just broke out in Santa Fe. Stay tuned. It's still happening... and happening.... WTF is going on out there? It has been almost (at least) half an hour.

If I'm dead, remember, burlap bag and wilderness burial for me.

Whatever is happening out there must be HUGE. Or maybe it is a drill? It's still happening... and happening. I came back to edit. I know that I won't know what it is about for some time, since news takes time to be written and published. Fuck!

Was it a mass shooting? Maybe? Gawed knows. 

The Kitchen Sink / Critical Theory (& critical theory)
« on: June 22, 2020, 10:38:29 AM »
These are two different topics, though they are very much interrelated.  Lower case "critical theory" has roots in upper case Critical Theory, which refers most basically to … well, this:

The phrase "emancipation from slavery" in the first paragraph this article is not meant to refer to chattel slavery, but to systems of oppression, domination and abuse of humans by humans.

I'm interested in both lower case and upper case critical theory. Later I'll provide a workable definition of the lower case term from my book on that topic.

My own personal perspective on both critical theory and Critical Theory is that little of value can be said about either without being at least a little idiosyncratic -- which is to say that pretty much anyone utilizing critical theory or Critical Theory is necessarily applying critical theory to this usage. I say usage, because both CT and ct are rather like a set of conceptual tools one can utilize to explore very many topics.  It is my perspective that neither CT nor ct are enclosed ideologies which are impermeable to critique, so critical theory and Critical Theory are ultimately inquiries and suggestions about how to think through questions about human liberty and its relative absence.

It is this picture which informs my insistence that Jordan Peterson and (what's his first name) Weinstein have been wrongly attacking Critical Theory and critical theory as an ideologically enclosed space from which to unjustifiably attack "Western Civilization" or "reasoned discourse" or whatever. 

Like any tool, both CT and ct can be misused -- and to potentially harmful and even dangerous effect. This I will not deny. But when the terms critical theory and Critical Theory are employed in such discussions, it's important that we distinguish between bastardized versions--which are not really critical theory--and the real deal.

I'm not starting this thread exclusively as a defense against straw man arguments against "critical theory," however. I find the topic fascinating and useful in and of itself.  Critical theory is a useful set of conceptual tools for understanding our world.

The Kitchen Sink / It's not true that we have nothing to lose.
« on: June 22, 2020, 07:00:48 AM »
Most--possibly all--of the regular Diners have recently gotten sloppy about applying reasonable standards of dialogue. I am not excluding myself in this assessment.

I'm worried that either sloppy standards will continue here or that the place will become a ghost town.  So I think we need to metacommunicate -- to talk with one another about our talking with one another. And we should try and use the best traditional standards of how to do that well in doing it.

Is it permissible for us to do this? Or does such an attempt send me and/or others into The Dungeon?  If it is not essentially safe for us to do this then I see no point in hanging out in the Diner. 

I remember, some years ago, reading that if sticks are to be used to hold up a sign at a peaceful protest, in some cities those "sticks" must not be made of metal or wood, but rather paper tubing. The reason for the stick ban was that a stick could be used as a weapon.

In Albuquerque a few days ago a small army of men armed with both assault rifles and hand guns, dressed in military costume, showed up at a peaceful protest of unarmed people, and before the protest was over a man was shot in the face by one of these armed "militia" members.

If the USA is to be a nation of laws, enforced by police, can we please have laws that protect our First Amendment right of speech and assembly? Or is it now legal for the First Amendment to be trumped by the Second Amendment's right to keep and bear arms?

We already have one very concrete (actually, lead) example of self-appointed and unsanctioned "law enforcement" "militia" morons shooting an unarmed man in the face at  peaceful protest.  So the obvious FACT that guys with lots of big guns and pseudo-official uniforms are at least intimidating to protesters, and thus disruptive and obstructive toward the exercise of First Amendment rights. Here we have a dangerous situation in which a certain very questionable interpretation of Second Amendment rights can rightfully be said to be interfering with our First Amendment right to peacefully assemble.  Surely armed militia groups, when they show up as "counter-protesters," are not being in the slightest honest with others or themselves if they are carrying weapons of death to enforce their counter-agenda to unarmed, peaceful protestors?

Something is dangerously wrong, here, folks.

The Kitchen Sink / Who is Lindsey Graham?
« on: June 17, 2020, 06:23:49 PM »
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Wasn't Lindsey Graham someone who recently gave his all to protecting trump during the impeachment "trial" -- or have I mixed him up with someone else?

Yup, it says right here what I remember: Graham was the most staunch of defenders of trump during the impeachment 'trial'.  So what happened?

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