Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Wobbly times number 187

Another afternoon at Jen's and Mike's

                                              (my ZoggyDoggy videos are here)

Wobbly times number 186

It takes a leap of faith to believe intelligence existed before intelligence evolved. It also takes a leap of faith to give credence to hypotheses concerning the existence of parallel universes and less of a leap of faith to believe other intelligence has developed somewhere in "this" universe, composed of trillions and trillions of stars.


I'm not you, even though I share a hell of lot in common with you--for example, your race. I am also a member of the human race.
I am not white.  If I was white, my face would not be visible this photo. Some would say that I'm surely the social product of white culture. When they say, 'white culture', they mean to fence me into only being culturally influenced by a very narrow ideolgical construct, perhaps, Doris Day. Poor Doris, poor me. Hell, Doris Day was influenced by 'Black culture'. We're all culturally influencing each other all the time, except when the dominant political authority segregates us from each others' cultural influence.

I am an advocate for freedom.  I am an advocate for individual sovereignty. Individual sovereignty is contained within the concept and reality of freedom. I can see that other people are being dominated by people with power.  My question is:  Where does political power come from?

The answer I've developed, so far, is that political power grows out owning the labour time and the product or service created by another. Thus, Capital is a social relation not only of exploitation, but also of political power.

From a history of the Paris Commune of 1871

The shelling of the 3rd April roused them a little. On the 5th, the municipal council of Lille, composed of Republican notabilities, spoke of conciliation, and called upon M. Thiers to affirm the Republic. That of Lyons drew up a like address; St. Omer sent delegates to Versailles; Troyes declared that it was ‘heart and soul with the heroic citizens who fought for their republican convictions.’ Mâcon summoned the Government and the Assembly to put an end to this struggle by the recognition of republican institutions. The Drôme, the Var, Vaucluse, the Ardeche, the Loire, Savoy, the Hérault, the Gers, and the Eastern Pyrénées, twenty departments, issued similar addresses. The workmen of Rouen declared their adhesion to the Commune; the workmen of Havre, rebuffed by the bourgeois Republicans. constituted an independent group. On the 16th April, at Grenoble, 600 men, women, and children went to the station to prevent the departure of the troops and munitions for Versailles. On the 18th, at Nimes, the people, headed by a red flag, marched through the town to the cry of ‘Vive la Commune! Vive Paris! Down with Versailles!’ On the 16th, 17th, 18th, there were disturbances at Bordeaux. Some police agents were imprisoned, some officers ill-treated, the infantry barracks pelted with stones, the people crying, ‘Vive Paris! Death to the traitors!’ The movement even spread to the agricultural classes. At Saincoin in the Cher, at the Charité-sur-Loire, at Pouilly in the Nievre, the National Guards in arms carried about the red flag. Cosne followed on the 18th, Fleury-sur-Loire on the 19th. The red flag was permanently hoisted in the Ariege; at Foix they stopped the transport of the cannon; at Varilhes they tried to run the munition trains off the lines. At Périgueux, the workmen of the railway station seized the machine-guns.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Wobbly times number 185

Workers produce the wealth of nations for wages.

The upper 10% own 80% of the wealth workers
produce.  The social wage gets some of that
wealth back to the workers.  The social wage
is funded by taxes on the wealth workers
produce.  Trickle down economic theory states
that the taxes on the upper 10% should be cut.
This leads to the declaration of 'budget emergencies' 
by conservative politicians and to calls for
either more regressive taxes e.g. widening and
raising the GST or cuts to public health, education
and welfare, including the age pension.

How much wealth would be produced in Australia
during the month of May, if everyone who depends
on wages to make a living went on general strike
from May 1st to May 31st?

Friday, November 28, 2014

Wobbly times number 183

                 The Pleasurable Revolution

                     from the Wobbly Review of Books
                               Mike Ballard

 THE BOOK OF PLEASURES, by Raoul Vaneigem
 ISBN 0 904665 03 8
 Published by Pending Press, London, 1983

Warning: this book will squeeze your adrenal glands. It is the very personal statement of a French revolutionary, who's organizational history and political profile can be found in the Situationist movement of the 1960's, a movement which carved its niche in history with the paving stones dug from Parisian streets during the heady days of May, 1968. It is a psychological snapshot of one, Raoul Vaneigem, circa 1979. 

 LE LIVRE DES PLAISIRS was translated into English, as the BOOK OF PLEASURES, by John Fullerton in 1983. Its latest incarnation can by purchased from Left Bank Books, at 4142 Brooklyn Ave. N.E., Seattle, Washington 98105. It's a fairly expensive 105 pages--$12 in paperback-- but considering its lack of availability in most libraries, being able to read it is usually going to be limited to being able to buy or steal it; an irony, I'm sure, M. Vaneigem would appreciate. 

 "All pleasure is creative", he writes, "if it avoids exchange. Loving what pleases me, I have to build a space in life as little exposed as possible to pollution by business, or I will not find the strength to bring the old world down, and the fungus among us will rot my dreams. While the state is in disarray, strike hard at business and its friends." 

 Raoul Vaneigem sees the social relations and the consciousness which springs from them under the rule of capital, as turning the real world upside down. Human desires, traits, labor, creativity, indeed human beings themselves, come increasingly to be viewed as attainable in exchange for money: sexiness through soap commodities, joy through the purchase of brand named alcoholic commodities, self-esteem by buying a certain car or truck. This upside down (reified, if you will) world permeates human communication and therefore, consciousness in modern industrial societies. It stifles human self-awareness and blocks the road to social revolution, the road toward what M. Vaneigem describes as "universal self-management". It is culminating today in the almost total commodification of human relations. 

 "There will be no proletarian emancipation unless we strike the shackles off pleasure.", Vaneigem writes. In order to crack one's way out of this multifaceted shell, he proposes that the individual worker focus first on her/ his need for pleasure and then to use it as the engine of psychological emancipation. Duty, guilt, and sacrifice-- the traditional left, liberal, and religious motivators-- tend to produce less than liberating results and in fact, according to Vaneigem, are counterproductive or worse, reactionary in nature. "Doing exactly what you feel like is pleasure's greatest weapon, connecting individual acts with collective practice; we all do it. If rejecting survival made the 1968 movement taking hold of life will open the era of universal self- management." 

 Agree? Disagree? Curious? 

 Pick up the BOOK OF PLEASURES. Follow M. Vaneigem's id though the psychological thicket of our collective super-egos. You may see yourself and your co-workers inside, suspended within this sphere of self induced repressions, reinforced by the admonitions of all the official authorities of modern ideology: religion, the State, the Economy, media pundits... Choose your poison. Raoul Vaneigem would have you choose pleasure. 

 Admittedly, this can be a dangerous path and Vaneigem deals with many of your objections as he argues, appeals, and taunts. Sometimes a Freudian/Reichian map would seem helpful; but in all commonsense and a tuned-in critical faculty is all you really need. 

 It is true that M. Vaneigem can sound pompous at times. His aphoristic phrasing can put one off too. His pronouncements pooh-poohing organization in favor of spontaneous autonomy left me cold after awhile. While this notion may be appealing, it will never satisfy the desire of those who wish for more than a psychic liberation from the rule of capital. Generalized self-management can only be realized on a societal level as a set of social relations based on democratic practice. Individuals can only go so far by themselves. A cooperative commonwealth requires democratic mediation of individual differences and individual desires. This is sometimes hard work which is not always immediately pleasurable. C'est la vie, non M. Vaneigem? 

 I don't mean to throw cold water on the BOOK OF PLEASURES though. The insights which pack this book are extremely useful. They continually stimulate and challenge the reader. I think Vaneigem's observations can help us as, "we are forming the structures of the new society within the shell of the old." 

 This review is reprinted from the April, 1993 edition of the "Industrial Worker", the newspaper of the Wobblies.