I've been wondering how and in what ways I might return more explicitly to feminist theory. It doesn't seem likely that I will be able to write explicitly any time soon. Return, though, is not quite the right word: it's not that I have not been writing as a feminist. It is that it has seemed to me that the only way to be a feminist is to be a communist.
By the mid-nineties, there didn't seem to be anything else to say in feminist theory. For the last couple of decades, I've asked my friends: what's the best book you've recently read in feminist theory. My own last favorites are Lynne Segal's Why Feminism?-- especially as it pulls together different lines of critique --and Silvia Federici's Caliban and the Witch for its alternative to "intersectional" analysis (which strikes me as the name of a theoretical failure more than an insight insofar as it takes as its presumption distinct lines or identities that have to be made to intersect rather than economic systems and ideological formations).
And yet while my back has been turned, real life, popular life, everyday life, has gotten increasingly worse for women and girls in the US with the Republican war on women, intensification of economic inequality, and pornofication of popular culture. Real practical political questions are intensifying, yet they don't seem theoretically all that interesting: is this a failure of theory or a kind of reversion, regression?
Capitalism turns everything against itself. Feminist goals become turned round upon themselves so as to hurt women -- choice becomes market choice in every domain of life such. Increasing competition, increasing individualism, increasing brutality, increasing desperation.
I am skeptical with the US government, armed agent of capitalism, tells us that it is trying to help girls and women. I don't believe there is good evidence for this. When the US government--whether executive, judicial, or legislative--starts expressing concern about rape, something else is at stake. But what?
Colleges and universities are battlegrounds. They are sites where the remnants of the middle class hold on to their position for dear life. Is this holding on becoming manifest in the legal apparatus being built in the name of educational equality for women? And even if this is the case, is skepticism and resistance the only response or might the apparatuses, policies, and procedures being put into place themselves be used or occupied for actually egalitarian ends?
It's become striking to me over the last few weeks how people seemingly committed to social change in fact hold on to privilege and inequality -- even if it is not their own.
This is not a new insight. Activists struggle over this question all the time. I've just come across it first hand in ways that I didn't expect. It seems like some people just like to protest. When the opportunity arises to do something with the capacity that protesting enabled, they fold, providing all sorts of excuses as to why the basic order should be maintained.
I didn't expect people committed to gender equality to defend the continuation of structures premised on inequality. Somehow I didn't expect that they, too, would enjoy hierarchical power. Maybe I can be clearer on this: I am not talking about people at the top of the food chain holding on to power. I am talking about people with relatively little power wanting to maintain the status quo that they in fact critique. It's as if they enjoy what power does to others; they enjoy seeing some people hurt or injured or shamed.
What I'm trying to describe (albeit necessarily vaguely) is not Nietzschean ressentiment. It's more like enjoying through the other. So, for example, people say they are against the exclusionary practices of group X, but when it comes down to changing the structures that let these practices persist, they balk. There are things that they admire about group X. They enjoy what the wealth and status of group X can accomplish, even when, especially when, it becomes violent and transgressive. Maybe a way to say this: class privilege sometimes persists because those who say they are against it are actually invested in it and enjoy inequality.
And the vehemence of the rhetoric and the anger that arises amidst the confusion is in part anxiety over the confrontation with enjoyment. They don't want to be people that, say, secretly tolerate an undercurrent of sexual violence--Zizek's obscene supplement or nightly law. This has to be repressed. Anger at authority is not anger over authority's failure to prevent violence. It's over authority's failure to prevent violence's exposure.
I think I have new appreciation for the power of the nightly law and how hard it is to address, how it can derail reformist as well as revolutionary energies. This may also go some way in accounting for the prevalence of 'awareness' as a left and liberal goal. By making us more aware of a variety of things, the left liberal leaves the obscene supplement in place. We get preoccupied with information and media campaigns instead of changing institutions and policies. It's one thing to be aware of inequality. Eliminating it is another thing altogether.
Geneva, NY. Demonstrators in Geneva, NY protested against Monsanto in front of the district office of Congressman Tom Reed on May 24. The protest was part of a global March Against Monsanto. The company's genetically modified organisms and harmful pesticides threaten health, biodiversity, and sustainable food production throughout the world.
The Geneva demonstration was organized by Geneva resident, Kyle McGloon. McGloon said, "I feel like a lot of people are not aware of what is going on with our food and our government and wanted to spark some critical thinking."
Although Austria, Germany, France, and Switzerland are among the countries with partial bans on GMOs, the US lags far behind. Just this week, several counties in Oregon broke this impass, when they voted to ban the planting of genetically modifed crops in their borders. Monsanto currently spends upward of seven million dollars a year in lobbying efforts in the US.
Hobart and William Smith Colleges' Professor of Political Science Paul A. Passavant explained, "GMOs threaten small farms. In addition to poisoning the environment with their toxins, Monsanto puts small farmers out of business when common seed stores get contaminated with their genetically modified frankenseeds. We live in a strange world when the law allows Monsanto to sue small farmers out of business, but doesn't protect the rest of us from invasion from these genetically modified organisms.
This year's Geneva protest doubled in size from last year. McGloon was optimistic: "If I reached one person, I would be satisfied."
WSWS reporters spoke with residents of Syracuse’s Westside neighborhood about the horrific housing conditions faced by most of the area’s residents.
Syracuse, a medium-sized city of 145,000 located in upstate New York between Albany and Buffalo, has been hard hit by the long industrial decline of the region followed by the economic crisis of 2008, from which workers have never recovered.
As a whole, a staggering 33.6 percent of the city lives in poverty. And nearly half, 48.6 percent, of all children age 18 and under live in poverty. As horrendous as those figures are, when one looks closer at those living in the Westside, the statistics are even worse.
According to the US Census Bureau for the 13204 zip code, which roughly covers the Westside, the poverty level for all who inhabit the area is nearly 43 percent; the rate for young people beneath 18 years old is two out of every three.
What is it about capitalism that the system wilfully pursues strategies that look certain to bring about its own demise?
The answer lies in the fact that while an unaddressed climate crisis will be lethal to capitalism, the solutions to the crisis also promise to bring the system down — and sooner. The capitalists’ dilemma becomes clearer if we list some of the key measures required: · At least two-thirds of proven fossil fuel reserves need to be left in the ground. That is billions of dollars effectively written off. · Material and financial resources need to be reoriented, in a concerted way, from the pursuit of maximum profit toward achieving rapid declines in greenhouse gas emissions. · This reorientation of the economy will need to include a large element of direct state spending, structured around long-term planning and backed by tightening regulation. Schemes such as carbon pricing cannot play more than a limited, subsidiary role. · To keep mass living standards at the highest levels consistent with these measures, and ensure popular support, the main costs of the reorientation need to be levied on the wealthy.
Can anyone imagine the world’s capitalist elites agreeing to such measures, except perhaps under the most extreme popular pressure?
To address just the first point, the underground reserves of fossil fuels owned by energy companies make up a large slice of the capitalisation of stock markets around the world. If the bulk of these assets were written off, the shock to global capitalism would be cataclysmic. The capitalists as a class would resist such a move furiously, and indeed violently.
On the surface, UPS trucks look the same as they did more than 20 years ago, when Bill Earle started driving for the company in rural Pennsylvania.
But underneath the surface, Earle says, the job has changed a lot. The thing you sign your name on when the UPS guy gives you a package used to be a piece of paper. Now it's a computer that tells Earle everything he needs to know.
The computer doesn't just give advice. It gathers data all day long. Earle's truck is also full of sensors that record to the second when he opens or closes the door behind him, buckles his seat belt and when he starts the truck.
Technology means that no matter what kind of job you have — even if you're alone in a truck on an empty road — your company can now measure everything you do.
In Earle's case, those measurements go into a little black box in the back of his truck. At the end of the day, the data get sent to Paramus, N.J., where computers crunch through the data from UPS trucks across the country.
"The data are about as important as the package for us," says Jack Levis, who's in charge of the UPS data. It's his job to think about small amounts of time and large amounts of money.
"Just one minute per driver per day over the course of a year adds up to $14.5 million," Levis says.
His team figured out that opening a door with a key was slowing their drivers down. So drivers were given a push-button key fob that attaches to a belt loop.
The team figured out how to use sensors in the truck to predict when a part is about to break.
And UPS solved a problem that Bill Earle and other drivers used to have: At the end of the day, there would be a package in the back of the truck that should have been delivered hours before.
"You want to cry 'cause you have to go back," Earle says.
A computer now figures out the best way to load the truck in the morning, and the best way to deliver packages all day.
Earle says a typical day for him used to be around 90 deliveries — now it's about 120.
When you hear people talk about technology increasing workers' productivity, this is what they're talking about: same guy, same truck — lots more deliveries.
In the long run, as workers have gotten more productive, their pay has gone up. UPS drivers today make about twice what they made in the mid '90s when you add up their wages, health care and pensions, according to the head of their union.
But Earle says there is another side of driving around a truck full of sensors: "You know, it does feel like big brother."
Take, for example, backing up. For safety reasons, UPS doesn't like it when their drivers back up too much.
"They know exactly how many times you're backing up," Earle says, "where you're backing up, and they also know the distance and the speed that you're backing at."
Every day, Earle says, the company lets drivers know if they are backing up too much.
"You can't let it feel like it's an attack on your own personal, the way you've been doing the job," Earle says. "You can't look at it that way 'cause you'll get so frustrated that you won't even want to do it anymore."
Tech entrepreneurship is not a harmless or benevolent force. The industry is built directly on the exploitation of millions of faceless people in the global south who are driven off their land and forced to do the dangerous and thankless work of extracting (at great ecological cost) the precious metals and other raw materials that enable the tech world to exist. Once the technology has been shoved down our throats through merciless advertising campaigns, mandatory cell phone upgrades, and jobs requiring instant connectivity of smartphones, we find ourselves tied to their world.
Unlike us, this beast has a head that can be targeted. Kevin Rose and other venture capitalists like him literally design and implement this entire exploitive system. They do it because they are drunk on their own power, caught up in a sense of importance bestowed upon them by the type of wealth most of us will never interact with. Kevin Rose will rise and fall with the elites of the dominant order. While we struggle to be included in the trickle-down of wealth through dehumanizing menial labor, these techies, entrepreneurs, and capitalists take over the world. Knowing that at the vanguard of this tech invasion are people like Kevin Rose only increases our desire to completely stop the current insanity.
Taken as a whole, Kevin Rose invests in startups that perpetuate the process of alienation under the guise of social technology. It is, admittedly, genius: create the technological conditions of alienation that drive people to desperately consume technological products that claim to combat the alienation produced by contemporary technological society. Tech is now about creating and selling the new indispensable commodity that everyone must have in order to be less bored, less lost, less ridden with anxiety. We want no part of this disgusting and creepy game being played by a bunch power deranged man-children.
To this end, we now make our first clear demand of Google. We demand that Google give three billion dollars to an anarchist organization of our choosing. This money will then be used to create autonomous, anti-capitalist, and anti-racist communities throughout the Bay Area and Northern California. In these communities, whether in San Francisco or in the woods, no one will ever have to pay rent and housing will be free. With this three billion from Google, we will solve the housing crisis in the Bay Area and prove to the world that an anarchist world is not only possible but in fact irrepressible. If given the chance, most humans will pursue a course towards increased freedom and greater liberty. As it stands, only people like Kevin Rose are given the opportunity to reshape their world, and look at what they do with those opportunities.
We know that your security advisors are taking our analysis seriously, so if you are confident that your system is the best, it would be wise to give us three billion to see if we fail. Our wager is that you are scared of the viable alternative we would create. If you are not scared, contact us at our Wordpress website. Send us a message and we can go from there. Otherwise, get ready for a revolution neither you nor we can control, a revolution that will spread to all of the poor, exploited, and degraded members of this new tech-society and be directed towards you for your bad decisions and irresponsible activities. We advise you to take us seriously.
For a world without bosses, rulers, or cops! Down with the Empire, up with the Spring!
PS: The following devices and programs were used in this action: Microsoft Word (for Mac) MacBook Samsung Nexus (powered by Google) Gmail Youtube Electrical SocketAga
How government policies worsen the nation’s income and wealth disparities comes into sharp focus in a new government report on capital gains. The short story: Investing is gaining and work declining as sources of income.
Capital gains come from selling assets such as stocks, real estate and businesses. Property owned for more than a year is taxed at lower rates than wages and in some cases is tax-free.
Although capital gains are growing — an indication that national wealth is growing — far fewer capital gains are going to the vast majority, while those at the absolute top of the economy are enjoying vastly more. This trend, as well as other official data, suggests that wealth is piling up at the top and that a narrowing number of Americans are wealth holders.
So are these trends due simply to the luck of the free market? No, in fact, government polices have played an important role in generating these grossly unequal outcomes.
First, tax cuts: One in 1,000 Americans, roughly those making more than $2 million annually, enjoyed 12.5 percent of the tax cuts championed by President George W. Bush. When that’s combined with previous tax cuts under Presidents Johnson, Reagan and Clinton, the top 400 taxpayers in 2006 enjoyed a 60 percent reduction in their total tax burden compared with 1961, my analysis of a different set of IRS statistics shows.
Second, wages hardly grew during the years 1999 to 2007 — or since. Adjusted for inflation, the average wage reported on tax returns in 2007 was only 1.7 percent more than in 1999. That works out to an average annual pay increase of a nickel an hour, not that anyone would notice such a tiny sum — less than $2 per week.
In the next five years, to 2012, the average wages on tax returns remained essentially flat, up $55 compared with 2007. That’s the equivalent of getting a raise each year of about half a penny per hour — less than 20 cents per week.
When wages do not grow but the cost of living rises, people have a reduced capacity to save and invest. Those among the less well off who had saved only to join the ranks of the long-term unemployed have had to sell some or all of their investments to those who are better off.
Among the vast majority a dwindling share of people report any capital gains. In 1999 it was more than 9 percent of taxpayers, but in 2012 it was under 5 percent.
The decimation of unions, enabled by government policies that make organizing extremely difficult, is a major factor in stagnant wages. Moving factory work offshore has added to the downward pressure on wages. Now some white-collar workers are feeling the effects, since almost any job done at a computer can be moved to a low-wage country such as India.
Third, the massive growth of subsidies to business tends to increase the value of companies that get such deals; to enable profit taking, dividends and oversized compensation; to weaken competitors not afforded these gifts (perhaps because of lack of lobbying power and campaign contributions); and to burden taxpayers generally. Many of these subsidies come from state and local governments, virtually all of which inordinately burden those down the income ladder more than the well off, because of regressive levies such as sales taxes.
Holding down wages has increased corporate profits, which have soared to heights never before seen, at least since the government started issuing consistent statistical measures in the late 1920s.
For the bottom 90 percent, roughly the same group making under $100,000 that the IRS studied, total income in 2012 was $31,000 in 2012, down almost $5,400 — or about 15 percent — compared with 1999, analysis of tax data by economists Emmanuel Saez and Thomas Piketty shows.
However, incomes soared for the top 1 percent of the top 1 percent — approximately 16,000 households, or a slightly smaller group than the 18,000 high earners in the IRS study. This group averaged almost $31 million in 2012, up $5 million compared with 1999.
In a representative democracy we choose our leaders, who in turn set policy. A major reason we are not getting laws and regulations that support the vast majority of Americans is that members of Congress and candidates for President must raise money from wealthy donors, who in return for their largesse want policies bent in their favor.
The Supreme Court’s ruling yesterday in McCutcheon v. FEC is probably not the last to overturn limits on campaign giving that were adopted after the Watergate scandal revealed the corrupting influence of big money. As big money’s influence grows due to the high court’s decision we can expect those slices of pie to be recut again and again with fatter slices for the political donor class and thinner slices for everyone else.
Among recent and ungoing strikes around the world of teachers, lawyers, dockworkers, hospital staff, workers at Kew Gardens,pilots, midwives, powerplant workers, rail maintenance workers, and civil servants is the courageous struggle of Spanish voice-over actors: