The following comes from an interview Boston Review web editor, David V. Johnson did with David Graeber, an anthropologist at Goldsmiths, University of London and an anarchist / activist, best known for being the “Anti-Leader of Occupy Wall Street.” He is also the author of a recently published book, Debt: The First 5,000 Years, in which he “marries his academic and activist selves by dissecting our moral confusion about debt, showing both how contingent our intuitions are in the light of anthropology and how our obtuseness has led to the mass suffering of austerity programs and financial crashes”. The first of the two-part internview can be found here. In it Graeber talks about why we don’t put children’s lives ahead of corporate shareholders, what it means to be a conservative todays, and the tradition of debt jubilees (a subject I’ve addressed in this space before).
“The current political regime in Washington is a great example of the fundamental conservatism of global leaders. I think that’s one of the explanations for why you have young people finally showing up in the streets. We had this guy who ran as a candidate of change. He didn’t run as a radical, but he had all the social-movement rhetoric that made you think that actually he was going to do things differently. His candidacy mobilized grass roots supporters as if this were a social movement. It was all very self-conscious, and all these young people became politicized and thought this was going to actually mean some kind of profound change.
And what do we get? We get this guy who is basically a classic conservative. The word conservative has changed in contemporary American English; now it means “extreme radical reactionary” or “right-winger.” But in the old-fashioned sense of wishing to conserve existing institutions in as much a viable long-term form, that’s what Obama turned out to be. Pretty much everything he’s done is along the lines of “How can we save the auto industry? How can we preserve the banking system without nationalizing it, without changing it in any fundamental way?” He did not map out a great new vision of a health system. He said the system we have is not viable, but here’s a plan where we can preserve the same principles of profit-driven private health in a form that will be sustainable. So basically this is a guy who is willing to make heroic efforts not to change.
And yet it’s at a moment when you have Democrats seizing both houses of Congress, a charismatic President taking leadership over the financial crisis where it’s almost impossible not to change anything, and a popular rage against existing financial elites willing to accept emergency measures . . . If at a moment like that you can’t get any sort of progressive change through electoral means, it’s not going to happen.”
This is precisely why we must demand the change we voted for almost four years ago. The entire political landscape has been co-opted over the last few decades, driven so far to the right that what now passes for the mainstream left, the Democratic Party, represents the status quo. Progress? Forget about it! The Progressive movement isn’t even on the radar today – at least not in any meaningful way within the Democratic Party.
This is yet another unfortunate example of how corporate money, controlled by the uppermost 1% has stolen the American political process from we the people. What we need is a widespread grassroots campaign of primary challengers to every Democratic office up for grabs this year, by real progressives committed to reforming the electoral system.
One good candidate in each district with a few knowledgeable, net-savvy assistants could completely upset the apple cart and change the game forever. We might not all win, or even get past the primary, but a few would get through, and one or two would probably win.
Found this in one of the feeds I follow on Facebook, and no further comment seems necessary.
You didn’t get mad when the Supreme Court stopped a legal recount and appointed a President.
You didn’t get mad when Cheney allowed Energy company officials to dictate
You didn’t get mad when a covert CIA operative got outed.
You didn’t get mad when the Patriot Act got passed.
You didn’t get mad when we illegally invaded a country that posed no threat to us.
You didn’t get mad when we spent over 600 billion(and counting) on said illegal war.
You didn’t get mad when over 10 billion dollars just disappeared in Iraq.
You didn’t get mad when you found out we were torturing people.
You didn’t get mad when the government was illegally wiretapping Americans.
You didn’t get mad when we didn’t catch Bin Laden.
You didn’t get mad when you saw the horrible conditions at Walter Reed.
You didn’t get mad when we let a major US city, New Orleans, drown.
You didn’t get mad when we gave a 900 billion tax break to the rich.
You didn’t get mad when the deficit hit the trillion dollar mark.
You finally got mad when the government decided that people in America deserved the right to see a doctor if they are sick. Yes, illegal wars, lies, corruption, torture, stealing your tax dollars to make the rich richer, are all okay with you, but helping other Americans…oh hell no.
After posting last night’s piece regarding the similarities between 21st century America and Weimar Germany, I stumbled upon this little bit of wisdom, posted at addicting info. It’s true, conservative policies are sociopathic, and we have Ayn Rand to thank for their widespread appeal today.
Ayn Rand and the Sociopathic Society or ‘How I Learned to Stop Loving My Neighbor and Despise Them Instead.’ by Justin “Filthy Liberal Scum” Rosario
A fat, smug bastard friend of mine (that’s his chosen nickname, The FSB) pointed out to me some time ago that pretty much ALL conservative politics are selfish at their core. Take any conservative position on a social or economic issue and boil away all the rhetoric and what you are left with is “I got mine, screw you.”
I thought about that for a while. I suppose its simplicity struck me as being a little too easy, a little too sound bitey. So I sat down and made a list:
- No gay marriage – Homosexuality makes me uncomfortable (due to misguided religious influence or poor upbringing or both) so gay people should be punished because of mybeliefs. Stoopid homos…
- No welfare, food stamps or Medicaid – I’m not poor enough to qualify for these programs somy tax dollars shouldn’t pay for it. Stoopid poor people and by poor I really mean black…
- No health care reform – Why should I help pay for other people who are sick when I’m not? Stoopid sick people…
- No environmental protection – Environmental laws makes things more expensive for me and that’s bad. I also don’t understand the concept of long term impact; I want cheap gas and gadgets now! Stoopid…ah, you get the idea…
- Don’t raise my taxes – EVER. The government can find its own money to pay for stuff.
- Medicare – Young conservatives: Why should I help pay for old people and the disabled? Older conservatives: Keep your government hands off my Medicare!
- Social Security – Young conservatives: Sacrifices need to be made, people should take care of themselves, not depend on handouts from people like me. Older conservatives: Sacrifices need to be made BUT DON’T YOU TOUCH MY SOCIAL SECURITY!
- No abortion – The government should tell women what to do with their bodies because Idon’t like abortion.
- No prayer in school? – GOVERNMENT OVERREACH!! I like The Jesus™ so everyone should have to listen to my prayers. No Muslim prayers, though. That’s indoctrination.
This list goes on for some time. The more I thought about it, the more obvious it became. A conservative society is a borderline sociopathic society.
Dictionary.com defines a sociopath as: a person, as a psychopathic personality, whose behavior is antisocial and who lacks a sense of moral responsibility or social conscience.
Conservapedia says a sociopath is “someone with a personality disorder characterized by an antisocial behavior and an absence of moral responsibility or social conscience.” (I would have cited Wikipedia but we all know they’re a liberal front for George Soros, I think I heard that on Glenn Beck)
The key words here are “moral responsibility” and “social conscience”. Conservative politics lack these essential characteristics. In their place we find greed, hate, lies, an inability to empathize and an overblown sense of entitlement and self importance. In other words: all the indicators of a seriously disturbed person. Except it’s a political philosophy and it has millions of disciples.
But Justin, you filthy liberal scum, how can you say that?
Well, that’s kind of easy. Who is the guiding light of conservatives (and Libertarians) all the way from corrupt CEOs down to easily manipulated Tea Party fanatics? Ayn Rand.
Ayn Rand’s specific worldview was that “The pursuit of his (man’s) own rational self-interest and of his own happiness is the highest moral purpose of his life.”[i] This is in direct opposition to a functional humane society where the whole must be cohesive in order to provide for its weakest and most vulnerable. You’ll notice my inclusion of the word “humane”. You can have a perfectly functional society without a shred of humanity in it. Take, for example, the Industrial Age societies. They literally built the foundations for the world we know and yet they allowed or even encouraged child labor; essentially the slavery of children. Speaking of slavery, they had THAT, too, and no matter what Haley Barbour, Pat Buchanan and the other apologists revisionists would have you think, it was horrible and inhumane.
Ayn Rand’s ideal world is one where society has no say in your actions short of you physically assaulting another person. “The only function of the government, in such a society, is the task of protecting man’s rights, i.e., the task of protecting him from physical force.”[ii] One is forced to wonder what she would make of Wall Street’s Epic Fail. Rand was a big champion of no regulation at all. Close your eyes and imagine what Wall Street could do with even less regulation than it had before. Think of all the possibilities. Taste the freedom.
Are you done vomiting yet?
Do you know why Rand’s laissez-faire utopia would fail? It’s the exact same reason a socialist utopia would fail; people are imperfect. We are greedy, envious, petty and selfish. There will always be some among us who will better themselves specifically to the detriment of others because they simply don’t care. There will always be those who, as they gain power and wealth, will want more at any expense. We saw this in action in communist Russia. It was rife with the kind of corruption described so very well in George Orwell’s Animal Farm. Everyone was equal, but some were more equal than others.
We see it today in that bastion of capitalism: America and its budding Oligarchy. As wealth and power becomes ever more concentrated, the rest of us suffer. Any attempts to remedy the situation by imposing restrictions on the rich and powerful to keep them from fleecing the country is met with howls of class warfare, Socialism and government overreach. Any attempts to remove any of the sweetheart deals in place allowing those same anti-government rich and powerful to pay less taxes (or no taxes at all) or to reap billions in unnecessary subsidies are also met with howls of unfair treatment.
Now that’s what I call having your cake and eating it, too.
These people are sociopaths, pure and simple. As long as they get what they “deserve”, it doesn’t matter what happens to anyone else. Homeless families are not their problem. Malnourished children are not their problem. Uninsured sick people are not their problem. The elderly reduced to abject poverty (as they were before the advent of Social Security) are not their problem.
Ayn Rand and her delusional rantings provide a rationalization for this immoral behavior. After the Enron scandal and again after the crash in 2008, CEOs started to reread Atlas Shrugged. “CEOs put the book down knowing in their hearts that they are not the greedy crooks they are portrayed to be in today’s business headlines but are heroes like the characters in Rand’s novel.”[iii]
Heroes? Really? Is that so?
I would love to walk a group of Wall Street executives out to a Tea Party rally and have them explain to the crowd all the ways these “heroes” have stolen away the TPers money and future. Then announce that it’s OK because Ayn Rand says self interest and greed are good so whatever these “heroes” do in pursuit of that goal is morally just, even necessary. I figure the cognitive dissonance would make at least half of the crowd’s heads explode.
Mahatma Ghandi said a society is judged by how it treats its most vulnerable. By this very simple criterion, the conservative sociopathic society would be found wanting and yet the conservative movement claims to be the party of God, family and human decency. It is none of these things as we’ll examine in my next liberal descent into madness”
(SOURCE: Raw Story) Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) told columnist George Will and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) on Sunday that Republican opposition to marijuana legalization was “a great embarrassment to the conservatives.”
During a town hall-style debate on ABC, Frank demanded a response from Will about decriminalizing marijuana.
“I mean, personal liberty, if someone wants to smoke marijuana who’s an adult, why do you want to make them go to jail?” Frank asked.
“With regard to marijuana, I need to know more about whether it’s a gateway drug to other drugs,” Will replied. “I need to know how you are going to regulate it, whether you’re going to advertise it.”
“Anything is a gateway to anything,” Frank said, dismissing Will argument. “That’s the slippery slope argument which is a very anti-libertarian argument. The fact that if somebody is doing something that’s not in itself wrong, that it might lead later on to something else then stop the something else. Don’t lock them up for smoking marijuana.”
“What you’re calling a cop-out, I’m calling a quest for information,” Will insisted.
“How long’s it going to last, George?” Frank asked. “We’ve been doing this for decades.”
“I understand liberalism’s aversion to information because it often doesn’t go in their direction,” Will quipped.
“No, I’m not averse to it,” Frank shot back. “I’ve been studying this for a long time. You know, you’re on Medicare. How much longer are we going to have to wait for you to make up your mind?”
“Let’s get off marijuana,” Ryan interrupted, eager to move to the next topic.
“It’s a great embarrassment to the conservatives,” Frank pointed out. “They want to tell people who they can have sex with. Come on, all this is big government! Who can I have sex with? Who can I marry? What can I read? What can I smoke? You guys, on the whole — not all of you — but the conservatives are the ones who intrude on personal liberty there.”
What is it about conservatives that makes them so certain they have the only right answers to all the deep and tangled problems we face today? I’ve got my own ideas about what we should do or not do as a nation, state, or local community, but I’m open to suggestions and new ideas. Why can’t my friends on the right (I hate those terms, left and right) accept that their narrow view of the world might not always be the only valid way of looking at things?
Take the following statements, made on Facebook by a friend of mine who claims to be ‘as far right as you can get’. Not something I’d be bragging about, but I’m not him, nor would I want to live in the totally homogenous world he would seem to prefer sometimes. Continue reading
I always knew there had to be something very different in the minds of conservatives to make them so damned afraid of everything not identical to themselves, but I wasn’t expecting it to be an actual biological difference. It turns out there are observable physical differences in the brain structure of people who hold conservative and progressive views.
Liberals have more gray matter in a part of the brain associated with understanding complexity, while the conservative brain is bigger in the section related to processing fear, said the study on Thursday in Current Biology.
“We found that greater liberalism was associated with increased gray matter volume in the anterior cingulate cortex, whereas greater conservatism was associated with increased volume of the right amygdala,” the study said.
People with a large amygdala are “more sensitive to disgust” and tend to “respond to threatening situations with more aggression than do liberals and are more sensitive to threatening facial expressions,” the study said.
Liberals are linked to larger anterior cingulate cortexes, a region that “monitor(s) uncertainty and conflicts,” it said.
“Thus, it is conceivable that individuals with a larger ACC have a higher capacity to tolerate uncertainty and conflicts, allowing them to accept more liberal views.”
I knew it, I knew it, I knew it! I’m going to spend the rest of the day feeling all superior to every lizard-brained, conservative moron I meet. Care to join me? It should be fun!
It’s no secret that like many who supported President Obama’s campaign for the White House in 2008, I am appalled and disgusted by his incessant kissing of the right wing’s collective ass since about five minutes after his inauguration.
In the name of bipartisanship, Obama and his soon-to-disappear Congressional majority has squandered every opportunity to follow through on almost every promise made during the campaign. This is not the change that I and so many others were led to believe in and in a few weeks any hope of progress will get flushed away, like so much stale piss, for at least another two years if not much longer. Continue reading