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Noviembre de 2013

Esclarecimiento y resistencia - Imperial populism

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HISTORY AND PRAXIS

6Enlightenment came from Europe’s early animal past, impacted by globalization by ancient Asian and African colonialism in the northwest, bringing an awareness of the unimportance of religious belief, based upon the travels and worldly experiences of men who ventured into worlds hitherto unknown to their ancestors.  The Greek Enlightenment was Athens during the time of Socrates, and Constantinople in the time of the Icon-smashers. The Arabs, who represented the ancient world in Arabic to Europeans inexperienced in written history, absorbed it. Their appropriations of this world created the idea of Europe, and with it, the colonies, and in due time the new, first truly globalist, internationalist empire: America.

 

To end empire, we must prove democratic self-governance possible. From this position alone, do we stand a chance to end our reliance on the empire to feed us, keep us warm and mobile, and protect us against it’s enemies.  The current civil culture of America is, however, incapable of such change.  To be capable of independence, the intellectual capacity of political discourse must be ennobled, and the intellectual capacity of elected officials severely judged.

 

Positive Dialectics faces both sides adversarial; it is neither for corporations nor for governments.  Specifically, localization is, at bottom, a libertarian principle: to eliminate exploitative tax and regulation regimes that over regulate small businesses and individual citizens and families, and under regulate the huge corporations that control them like puppet masters.  The elaboration of a coherent democracy theory, or decentralist theory of commercial deregulation, builds municipal political localism upon an anti-statist, libertarian principle that small is beautiful, and moreover that protection of the small is the purpose of all governance and indeed all human culture, and particularly culture of the Renaissance and Enlightenment. The truth is, our lives are small.  Human life is small, and all living things are small - and this should be honored and respected by any real republic.

 

At bottom, Positive Dialectics is also a modified socialism: not state socialism through control of production, but municipal socialism through aggregation of demand, democratic control of infrastructure development, and an interventionist municipal negotiation with corporations to meet local needs and priorities.  If the Cold War dialectic of American capitalism versus Eurasian communism is the impasse and threshold of a post-postmodern political philosophy, this political philosophy must be termed “localism.”

 

A localist manifesto[28] and localist platform[29] have been prepared.

 

Constitutional power must be reset.  It must be re-localized – building municipal power on the protection and assistance to all individuals, and building state power upon municipal power.  Within the current context of their subsidiarity to states, municipalities must rebuild their traditional commercial powers upon a new circumscribed foundation. Such re-localization must not imitate or recreate the central planning monstrosities of America’s public housing and other public institutions: the gigantism that America shares with the Soviets; our prison-like schools littering the land; the hideous spectacle of virtually all public buildings younger than 75 years old.

 

Federal power must be reclassified as imperial.  No longer equal republics in a United States, today the federal government calls this unity of fifty states the U.S. “Homeland.”  The perspective of the federal government is clearly imperial.  The fact that the fifty states are now called the “Homeland” means that this imperial federal government has other states to look over too.  We, here in the United States are just one of them.  Like U.S. corporations, which under 25 years of globalization have become global players, Americans are treated as another subject population of a larger global order. Our politics, also, are global contests, with American public opinion controllable as a ping-pong ball. A good example is president Obama when the Fukushima fallout arrived in California a week later: he told us not to be worried, that we were safe.

 

Localization is in this sense a return to the original focus of democracy as it was exercised by pre-Christian European peoples, or by the Greeks, whom they later imitated. In both cases, democracy was naturally local.  Building up into national governments, empires, and global treaty trade organizations wielding greater and greater imperial government powers, which in modern times have appropriated political power into very large global organizations to enforce more and more globalization, the new super agencies have imperial functions and in their aggressive posture have sold the bank to the corporations.  It was their job to sell the bank to the energy corporations; and it was the job of the banks to sell it to the super-wealthy, to weapons makers and other technologists.  This was Bacon’s idea: the Empire of Knowledge that would overwhelm all other, more crude and malevolent, powers of humankind.  But it failed to captivate the loyalty of its subjects, Neoconservative Sorelian myths and simulations aside: forgotten, they were laundered as technology and sold at mils on the dollar to the nearest scheisster.

 

The U.S. Empire has ceded the powers it took from municipalities and states to corporate power, in order to unleash a commercial crusade the whole world over.  Thus, while robbing America of its economic power, this global commercial crusade will continue to drive war and terrorism towards American cities and citizens, fanning the flames of war in the context of the major ecological crises that the technologies of Enlightenment, held by tyrants and traitors, are causing: the specter of an epochal catastrophe, not merely of the atmosphere, but of civil society, of our society’s ability to act morally and philosophically, and the undoing, finally, of a thousand years and the greatest known period of human history.  Thus, loss of the Enlightenment is no academic matter, but a fundamental threat that civilization will collapse and that we are going, as they say, back to the Bush.

 

By undoing the retrogressions of imperial America, we go not forward, but merely punish marked failures. We must undertake to re-invent the economic power of cities and counties.  We must eliminate predation of citizens, from the federal income tax to the exorbitant municipal parking ticket.  We must turn from the poverty of the reservation and assert a new municipal liberty; assert it upwardly and concede new liberty to common citizenry.  This foundation will enable civil ennoblement and needed enlightenment of local democracy, requiring an improved level of local self-governance and less policing, less surveillance too.

 

The circus-like quality of democracy in America today is at the center of the rot within Enlightenment: the pathetic quality of most political life: the illiteracy: the impossibility of cooperation: the incessant posturing of the politically correct: the predominance of borderline personalities ingroup leadership.  The absolute decline and collapse of political literacy in America is due to corporate-owned media and a civil population that is not only uneducated at history, but also actively anti-historical, fundamentalist, even pagan and putatively narcissistic, to a point of becoming misanthropic and phobic.  In effect, the civil population is paranoid, drugged, or actively psychopathic, and the stage of public elections a farce beyond imagination: a tunic-wrapped statue of democracy, but not democracy itself.

 

Improving civil discourse requires a turn away from inclusivity and open dialogue, and toward one that focuses on intellectual leadership and concerted, long-term, temporally specific action.  The quality of the work is more important than consensus among focus groups of mainstream party hacks or chanting groups of Occupism.  Intellectuals should undertake direct political organization to engage in ongoing political and policy debates, draft and adopt legislation, publish a newspaper to cities that respond to the call of localism, and drive discourse up in the debates that result.  Original sin in politics must be overcome.  Somehow, a judgment severe enough to make even a giant shake in his boots must be brought to bear upon the dreary mediocrity of public discussion; the people must pray for intellectual leadership rather than preventing and punishing leaders – the sad bleeding edge of intellectual and political leadership in the American empire.

 

The path must be paved, and energy is the first proof of concept, now a movement of municipalities representing one of twenty Americans. Not aware of itself, but rapidly becoming so, this movement was created to prove that needed changes are possible with some coherent democratic actions: not just technology, impossible in mere markets, but the new, unique markets that European cities once brought into being, and today must change yet again based upon the horrible failures of both capitalism and communism.

 

A basis for displaced societies is needed.  Simple choice of loyalty to family, tribe or to all humanity, or any person: a choice between aboriginal pagan tribalism vs. Roman globalization, the Universal Church, and the idea of humanity or that we are all the same. If we care for all humanity, do we care for no man?  But if loyal to a man, then not de facto prejudiced against outsiders?  How to establish loyalty among specific persons in a nation of strangers?

 

To present the Localist Platform, a package of local, state and federal laws and actions, requires that we undertake a de-imperialization of our lives and that we do so in the context of an economically globalist and highly erratic criminal business culture that breeds both corruption and the degenerate, anti-historical, non-solidarity of U.S. civil society and its Cold War imperialism.

 

 



* Co-director of California Sierra Club Energy and Climate Committee.
Thanks to Christopher J.S. Britt A.,, Eduardo Subirats, Charles R.S. Ardeleanu and Julia Peters for editing this essay.

 

[1] History and Class Consciousness (1923)

 

[2] On Violence (1908)

 

[3] The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind (1896)

 

[4] Barbrook, Richard. Andy Cameron. "The Californian Ideology". Science as Culture 6.1 (1996): 44-72.

 

[5] See Danielle Carlo, “The Constant Death of In-Between American Cities” (2012).

 

[6] Similarly, San Francisco’s mayor put forth gay marriage out of desperation from negligent to collapsing support as a plant of local machine politician, former Mayor and longtime California Speaker of the House Willie Brown.

 

[7] As of 2013, Mexico hosts the television network with the world’s largest audience.

 

[8] The Critique of Instrumental Reason, (1967).

 

[9] “Positive Dialectics: Otto Bauer and the Nationality Question,” University of Chicago, Department of History (Unpublished Master’s Thesis, 1991). Also see by the author, “The Christian is Gaunt in the Light: New Formats of Social Theorizing,” New School for Social Research, Department of Philosophy (Unpublished PhD program paper, 1989).

 

[10] Johann Gottfried von Herder, Yet Another Philosophy of History for the Education of Humanity: A Contribution to the Many Contributions of the Century (1774).

 

[11] Adorno’s turn to music theory was reflected in Herbert Marcuse’s regressive turn to cultural transformation – an early variant of identity politics, however superior in origin– see Theodor Adorno, Negative Dialectics (1966).

 

[12] “Theses on the Philosophy of History” (1940).

 

[13] The Practice of Everyday Life (1991).

 

[14] Eros and Civilization (1955).

 

[15] Writing and Difference, trans. Alan Bass (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1978)

 

[16] Proposition 16, Pacific Gas & Electric, 2010. No on Prop 16 (noonprop16.org) was formed by the author, as well as a separate field campaign, funded with only $150K against $67M from PG&E. See powergrab.info.

 

[17] “Libertarian Municipalism: An Overview.” Green Perspectives, No. 24. Burlington, VT (October, 1991).

 

[18] Vladimir Lenin, Left-Wing Communism: an Infantile Disorder (1920).

 

[19] Paul Fenn, “Positive Dialectics: Otto Bauer and the Nationality Question” (1991).

 

[20] Francis Fukuyama, The End of History (1992).

 

[21] “The NSA’s next move: silencing university professors?” by Jay Rosen in The Guardian (UK) (September 11, 2013).

 

[22] E,F, Schumacher, Small is Beautiful (1973).

 

[23] "The Nature of the Firm", Economica 4 (16): 386–405, (1938).

 

[24]  Coase informed me that I should focus on Massachusetts because it, other than California, was expected to lead the states in implementing the British Model of electric deregulation.

 

[25] Massachusetts Senate 447 (Montigny, 1995); became part of Chapter 164 of 1997.

 

[26] Eric Hoffer, The True Believer, 1951.

 

[27] By the same author, “Trespass and Paranoia,” 2012.

 

[28] The Localist Manifesto,” El Viejo Topo (2011).

 

[29] The Localist Platform (unpublished, 2013);“