What Would An Anarcho-Socialist Economy Look Like? ----------------- Google, Linux, and open source code -------------------The Hobohemians On the rails with the new freedom riders by Ben Ehrenreich Catching Out -------------------- Lbo -------------- nettime -------------- Vital Dissent or Angry Rhetoric? Mother Jones - largest discussion; over 400 blurbs on the ME --------------------  Rock of dissent By Israel Shamir plus cricitcism by some NYC anarchists -------------------- Indy comments for  Niall Fergusons remarks on marx in the FT ------------------  198718  Turmoil by Doug Henwood (dissident voice) (no comments; must have been the rite place but the wrong time) ------------- :::::::::::::::::: ------------- 199284 ((another preston effort; links to attachthesystem.com a rightish wing thing linking to antistate.com which I ment to visit one of these days anyway)) .. .  What Would An Anarcho-Socialist Economy Look Like? I have been asked by readers of Anti-State.com to expound a bit upon my own anarcho-socialist perspective. Specifically, I have been asked to describe how a socialist-anarchist economy might come into being, how such an economy might sustain itself over the long haul and how the typical town's McDonald's or Wal-Mart might be communalized. Before I attempt to answer these questions, it might be useful to the reader if I first sketch a very general outline of the overall conceptual framework I am operating in and the theory of political economy to which I subscribe. I am a socialist-anarchist in the classical Bakuninist tradition. Like Noam Chomsky, I consider this tradition to be the proper heir to classical liberalism and its critique of concentrated power-political, economic, military, ecclesiastical and otherwise.(1) For me, at least, Bakuninist anarchism is simply classical liberalism updated to include a critique of the role of business corporations in perpetrating modern systems of power relations. Unlike his enemies, the Marxists, Bakunin recognized that the state is an artificially privileged social class unto itself, above and beyond that of economic and social authorities. In his day (mid-nineteeth century Central Europe), the class structure consisted of the state, first of all, the state-protected feudal landlords, the state church and the nascent industrial bourgeoise class created by state intervention into the emerging market economy. (2) Bakunin's antidote to this system of oppression involved the insurrectionary efforts of the workers and peasants to remove the state and the state-privileged exploiter classes in favor of a decentralized confederation of peasant communes and workers' collectives tending the land and the industrial machinery minus the upper strata of oppressors. (3) What I attempt to do is apply Bakuninist analysis to the modern world. An indispensible aspect of classical Bakuninism is its critique of state socialism. Bakunin predicted that if state socialism ever came to power it would produce a type of "red bureaucracy" that would in turn generate the bloodiest tyranny in history. This prophecy was unfortunately realized in the infamous communist, fascist and national socialist regimes of the twentieth century. Likewise, Bakunin argued that the ruling classes would seek to avoid their own ultimate dislocation and expropriation via popular revolution and seek to subjugate and pacify the working classes by means of a paternalistic welfare state, the purpose of which would be to essentially coopt and destroy working class movements for self-determination. Hence, the rise of Fabianism, Progressivism, Social Democracy and the New Class bureaucrats and intellectuals criticized by thinkers ranging from George Orwell to James Burnham. (4) Modern state systems have created what is largely a two-tiered class structure that in many ways mirrors the feudal system of old. Professor Thomas Dye of Florida State University estimates that the number of true powerholders in American society amounts to approximately seven thousand people. This figure includes those who hold the top positions in government, corporate, educational, cultural, legal and civic institutions.(5) It is this tiny oligarchy, seven thousand people in a nation of nearly three hundred million, that might be said to constitute the ruling class proper in American society, comparable to the royal families of old. Directly beneath them in the class structure are the New Class apparatchik who have replaced the feudal aristocracy, the Church and the industrial bourgeoise in the domination of the economic, cultural and educational life of the society. George Orwell described this element: The new aristocracy was made up for the most part of bureaucrats, scientists, technicians, trade-union organizers, publicity experts, sociologists, teachers, journalists and professional politicians. These people, whose origins lay in the salaried middle class and the upper grades of the working class, had been shaped and brought together by the barren world of monopoly industry and centralized government. (6) It is for the benefit of this class that most state intervention into the economy and into society is done. It is this class who are the primary beneficiaries of the most extravagant entitlements such as social security, Medicare, civil service pensions and agricultural subsidies. It is the New Class who make their living staffing the government's social engineering programs, teaching in state schools and universities, working for state-financed foundations and managing the bureaucracy of corporations that are dependent on state subsidies and contracts. Tariffs and other forms of protectionism are set up in part to protect the employment interests of state-connected unions. Professional licensing schemes create monopolistic guilds for New Class professionals. Zoning and land use regulations serve to inflate the real estate values of affluent New Class property owners. These examples are just a drop in the bucket. The lower tier of this system of artificial class stratification includes rank and file workers and lower management who are the most burdened by personal income, payroll, excise and other taxes and whose labor marketability is devalued through state intervention, persons unemployed by state actions that constrict the supply of employment opportunities, persons subjugated by the state's welfare system, poor and minority persons herded into the urban reservations of "public" housing, persons rendered homeless by the state's constriction of the supply of available and affordable housing, small businessmen and self-employed persons regulated to death by coercive state agencies, farmers dispossessed of their traditional lands by state-supported agribusiness cartels and central banks, persons made disabled or infirm by state constriction of available and affordable medical care, persons dispossessed of homes and lands by eminent domain and asset forfeiture laws, those who livelihoods are relegate to the "illegal" market by the state (gamblers, peddlers, vendors, beggars, drug sellers, prostitutes, loansharks, smugglers, etc.), persons imprisoned in the state's gulags, psychiatric prisons ("mental hospitals"), educational prisons ("public schools"), pseudo-military concentration camps ("boot camps") and so on. These and other similar groups constitute the modern "proletariat", to use a classical term. The modern version of the "class struggle" involves the ongoing brutal conflict between those who most benefit from the system of mass democratic, special interest-dominated, welfare-warfare corporate statism on one hand and those who are most victimized by it on the other hand. (7) As a revolutionary anarcho-socialist, I aim to abolish the state's military forces, police, courts, prisons, schools, social engineering programs, welfare system, corporate charters and corporate laws, antidiscrimination statutes, state ownership of land, currency monopoly, subsidies to infrastructure, regulatory agencies, trade restrictions, licensing schemes and so forth. In short, I aim to abolish the state altogether. On this point, anarcho-capitalists and I would agree. However, I also wish to go a step further and convert from an economic order where capital commands labor to one where labor commands capital. The pertinent question at this point is the matter of how this can be done without a coercive state apparatus. Indeed, a systemic economic conversion of this type must be done non-coercively and without a state. Otherwise, the centralization of capital into the hands of the state would produce a new type of ruling class as we have seen in such political degenerations as the Soviet Union, Peoples' Republic of China, Democratic Republic of Vietnam and so on. I have noticed that many if not most anarcho-capitalists and free market libertarians take the corporate dominated economy for granted. For them, a "free market" is simply the present system minus taxes, welfare and government social service agencies. As a correlation to this, most anarcho-socialists foolishly reject the free market viewing it as a source of "capitalist exploitation". But authentic free market economics provides the proper path to working class liberation. The removal of state-imposed impediments to economic activity-taxes, regulations, prohibitions, licenses, currency monopoly, patents, subsidies-would naturally result in the dramatic expansion of the quantity and variety of businesses, partnerships and enteprenuerial associations of virtually every kind. If mutual banks of the Proudhonian variety were allowed to issue private banknotes with the output of future production used as collateral, then the capacity for self-employment would be readily available for anyone with marketable skills. A dramatic increase in the number of businesses and employers would mean that workers would have a much larger number of potential employers to choose from in addition to greatly expanded opportunities for self-employment. This would in turn radically increase the bargaining power of workers in terms of their dealings with employers. The cost of wage labor would increase as the market for employees became drastically more competitive. Workers in large scale industrial operations would have the option of demanding the right of self-management if they so desired and, given the expanded availability of credit and capital, workers would be able to buy out capitalists and essentially become their own employers. So the dominant forms of economic organization in an authentic free market would be worker-owned and operated industries, partnerships, cooperatives, a mass of small businesses, modestly sized private companies and self-employed persons. Industries that remained nominally owned by outside shareholders would largely function on a co-determined basis, that is, as partnerships between shareholders and labor with labor having the upper hand.(8) So the traditional anarcho-syndicalist ideal of an industrial system owned and operated by the workers could, for the most part, be achieved in the context of a stateless free market. Removal of statist obstacles to the creation of housing and health care and the production of services would simultaneously increase the supply and reduce the cost of such goods. As the overall cost of living declined, workers would be able to work less, retire at an earlier age or opt for part time employment. A stable currency would stall the advancement of inflation thereby increasing the security of elderly and retired persons. Rents, mortage payments and credit debts would undergo an overall decrease and home ownership would become more accessible to the average working person. Greater accessibility to land resulting from the elimination of federal government and agribusiness related land monopolies and the application of the homesteading principle would result in the revival of traditional family farms. Similarly, a lowered cost of living would reduce the need for two-income households thereby reviving traditional households and increasing the degree of attentiveness of parents to children. It would probably take volumes to completely describe the effect that the removal of the state would likely have on the nature and structure of the economy and the types of institutions that might exist in anarcho-socialist system. Suffice to say that such a system would be as different from what we are familiar with as the current system is from the old feudal order. The question of getting there from here is obviously a monumental one. Drastic reconstructions or alterations of social systems usually follow a crisis of some severe sort. The conversion to an entirely different order, of whatever kind, will likely occur after the current system has run its course. A social apocalypse of this type may not be that far away. Professor Hoppe has warned of the likely consequences of the path currently being pursued by the welfare-warfare corporate states of the advanced countries.(9) As the liabilities of modern states for social insurance payments and public debts become ever more exorbitant, taxes and bureaucracy consume more and more of the gross national product, real wages and productivity decline, and currency devaluation continues, an eventual economic meltdown seems quite likely. These factors combined with military-imperial overstretch and persistent ethnic and cultural strife generated by the state's "divide and conquer" strategy of population control may well result in an overall systemic collapse similar to that experienced by the Communist states of the East. The type of politico-economic system that would emerge after such an event is obviously quite difficult to predict. Like Confucious, Machiavelli and Hume before him, and Mises and Rothbard later on, Bakunin recognized that a natural aristocracy of cultural and intellectual leaders typically set the tone of the society. He conceived of the idea of "principled militants" leading large popular organizations and carrying out social reconstruction by example and inspiration. To some degree this was realized by the Bakuninist-influenced Spanish anarchist movement with the core of militants and intellectuals gathered around the Iberran Anarchist Federation (FAI) leading the much, much larger anarchist labor movement. The Velvet Revolutions of Eastern Europe featured intellectuals such as Vaclav Havel as de facto leaders of a broader popular revolt. Hoppe specifically recommended the application of a modified version of the traditional syndicalist program to the economies of the Eastern European nations.(10) They would have done well to heed his advice. Following a similar revolution in the West, popular organizations would have to emerge whose leaders were committed to anarchist objectives. There are "non-market" anarcho-socialists as well as advocates of the "free market socialism" that I have outlined above. Prototypes for non-market socialism already exist in the form of the various intentional communities to be found here and there. There is such a community about an hour's drive from my residence that has been in existence for about thirty years and maintains a steady population of about one hundred or so. It is possible that communes of a hundred people could be grouped together with one another into larger units of, say, ten communes who were then federated with ten other groups of ten communes and so on thereby creating a fairly large anarcho-communist federation involving tens of thousands of people. However, the larger such activities became the more an explicit market would be needed for the determination of prices and the productive allocation of resources. I have come across some anarcho-communists who believe it is possible to have a global communist system that includes a form of central planning that does not involve a state, but the less said about such ideas the better, in my view. (11) The sustainability of a socialist-anarchist economy would largely be dependent upon the natural system of checks and balances resulting from the dramatic alteration of the labor market that would occur following the abolition of the state. Additional checks and balances might involve the making of shares in worker owned industries non-marketable and the defining of property rights according to usufructuary (ownership based on use and occupation) rather than Lockean principles as an impediment to the centralization of control over resources. It is on this point that there is likely to be the greatest amount of disagreement between anarcho-socialists and anarcho-capitalists. I believe the two can co-exist. The overall society-wide meta-system that I favor is one of local option. Some communities could choose to recognize absentee ownership rights while others might not. The end result might be a geographical division similar to that found in the current American states where local laws pertaining to capital punishment, gambling, the regulation of alcohol, etc. differ from place to place. Other issues on which anarchists and libertarians often disagree-abortion, animal rights, ecology, children's rights- might be handled in a similar manner. Lastly, it is widely recognized that the survival of any social system is largely dependent on, first, the consensus of the cultural and intellectual elite, and, secondly, popular opinion. Over time, customs, traditions and habits might develop that were conducive to the maintenance of the anarchist system through diffuse sanctions and social pressure. As Jefferson said, "Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty". As for the specific question asked by a reader related to the issue of how a Wal-Mart or McDonald's might be communalized, I am skeptical as to whether or not large retail and fast food chains of the type we are currently familiar with could even exist in a genuine free market. The success of these chains results from their ability to undercut their local competitors with lower prices. But their lower prices are possible only because of the massive state subsidies to trucking, shipping, infrastructure, aviation, etc. If such corporations had to cover their own costs in these areas, they might not be able to compete with local alternatives.(12) Barring such a scenario, however, I suspect these industries might be "communalized" through either an employee buyout or through implementation of a general strike for worker self-management. There is also the possibility of a buyout by federations of community, environmental, consumer and other types of popular organizations. Saul Alinsky once envisioned an industrial system where large groups of small shareholders meet in stadiums to determine corporate policy. Whether this would be feasible or not, I'm not sure. But it's an interesting idea. Lastly, let me say that I consider anarcho-capitalists and other libertarians to be valuable and reliable allies in the broader struggle against the state itself. I regard this struggle as the overriding priority. I believe there is plenty of room for different economic beliefs and institutions to co-exist just as it is possible for a plurality of cultures, religions and ethnic groups to co-exist as well. I am sympathetic to anyone who is in sincere opposition to what Nock described as "our enemy, the state". To use a slogan that some would regard as an oxymoron, "Anarchists Unite!" Notes: (1) Noam Chomsky, Secrets, Lies and Democracy (2) Kevin A. Carson, "The Iron Fist Behind the Invisible Hand" (3) Incidentally, Bakunin believed the federalist structure of the Confederate States of America to be a prototype for a decentralized anarchist federation, a fact that would make most of today's politically correct anarcho-leftoids gag if they were aware of it. (4) Kevin A. Carson, "Liberalism and Social Control: The New Class' Will to Power" (5) Charley Reese, 6/10/02 column. (6) Quoted in "Liberalism and Social Control", by Carson (7) I have discussed some of these matters in several other essays. See "Conservatism is Not Enough", "Anarchism or Anarcho-Social Democracy" and "Reply to Brian Oliver Sheppard's 'Anarchism Vs. Right-Wing Anti-Statism" at www.attackthesystem.com/commentary.html (8) "Iron Fist", by Carson. See also my review of Carson, "Capitalism Versus Free Enteprise" (9) Hans Hermann Hoppe, "Democracy: The God That Failed". See my review of Hoppe at www.anti-state.com/preston/preston2.html or www.attackthesystem.com/hoppe.html. (10) "Democracy", by Hoppe. (11) For an example of this see "The Northeastern Anarchist: Magazine of the North Eastern Federation of Anarchist-Communists", Spring/Summer 2002.(12) "Iron Fist", by Carson  Google, Linux, and open source codeLinux Feels the Corporate Love Michelle Delio  Aug. 14, 2002 PDT For one moment, it seemed that almost everyone at LinuxWorld wanted to be Sergey Brin. Sure, Brin's status as co-founder and president of Geek-beloved search engine Google had something to do with it. But what really pushed the crowds who gathered to hear Brin's keynote at LinuxWorld right over the edge was Brin's statement that Google is powered by the world's largest commercial Linux cluster. Right then and there, almost everyone in the audience suddenly and clearly understood the meaning of "covet." "Imagine heading up a company that's powered by 10,000 Linux servers," Martin Felts, a systems security manager, said. "Logically, I knew it's not like Sergey can just muck around with Google's machinery whenever he has a whim, but still. I think everyone who heard his speech wanted to become Brin for at least a day." Along with Brin's enthusiastic endorsement of Linux, Amazon also weighed in with Walt Nelson, senior manager of corporate systems, detailing the money that the online bookseller has saved since it switched to Linux in January 2001. Both presentations were enhancements on what seems to be developing into LinuxWorld San Francisco's unofficial theme: "Show Us How to Save Money." Brin's keynote, titled "The Open Source Tsunami," was a detailed explanation of how and why Google chose to work with Linux. "Google uses Linux everywhere, on servers and on desktop machines for all of our technical employees," Brin told the crowd. He explained that Linux was chosen because it "offers us the best price-for-performance ratio, plus it's great to be able to customize any part of the operating system whenever we want to." Many Google employees are expert Linux programmers, Brin said, which allows the company to develop new technology quickly and efficiently. Brin said that most of Google's administrative tools were also developed in-house. Amazon's Nelson seemed less enamored of the programming possibilities offered by Linux. Amazon made a pragmatic decision to switch to Linux specifically to reduce costs, according to Nelson. Nelson said that the company has seen a 25 percent reduction -- which amounts to millions of dollars -- in technology expenses, and a little over an 11 percent reduction in infrastructure maintenance costs and software licensing fees since switching to the open-source operating system. Some cost savings were due to equipment and service price drops in the sluggish tech market, but Nelson attributes the bulk of the savings to Linux. Judging by the testimonials at the show, Linux has come a long way in the past year and is gaining many fans in influential places as companies scramble to cut costs. Linux is a money saver in several ways. The operating system can be downloaded for free, or a single copy can be purchased from a company like SuSe or RedHat and then installed on as many computers as a company chooses. "Closed source" software manufacturers typically charge a per-user licensing fee. And Linux users have a wide range of no-cost or low-cost applications to choose from, all of which are also installable on multiple machines for no additional fees. "Contrast that sort of deal with Windows XP and Office XP and its 'product activation technology' that locks each copy of Windows and Office to a particular computer, and you see the savings," Frank Futhen, a systems analyst from California attending LinuxWorld, said. "Linux simply makes good financial sense." But Peter Houston, senior director of Microsoft's server division, said that Linux has hidden costs. "You may pay more for Microsoft products up front, but we believe a fully supported and easy-to-deploy computing platform pays off real dividends in the long run," Houston said. It's no surprise that the general sentiment at LinuxWorld, a trade show populated primarily by programmers and diehard Linux lovers, would run against Houston's statement, but a recent study  by analysts at the Yankee Group shows that many mainstream companies are very interested in Linux. The Yankee group study indicated that interest in alternatives to Microsoft's operating system is at the highest level in over a decade, due to their appeal as the 'un-Windows' solution, according to Yankee Group senior analyst and report author Laura DiDio. "Corporate user resentment and dissatisfaction with Microsoft and some of its practices are at an all-time high," DiDio said. "A myriad of issues ranging from Microsoft's perceived monopolistic practices, hyperbolic marketing, ongoing security woes and habitually slipping ship dates of major new product releases, as well as confusion surrounding the overall .Net strategy, have undermined corporate customer confidence." DiDio's survey of 1,500 corporations found that nearly 40 percent of the respondents "were so outraged" by Microsoft's new licensing plans that they are actively seeking alternatives. Several products at LinuxWorld should appeal to those in search of alternatives. Linux has yet to really catch on as a desktop operating system, but Red Hat aims to change that with a version of Linux specifically tailored for use on business desktops. Red Hat's not-cheerfully code-named "Limbo" desktop operating system is being billed as easier to deploy and use than the current version of Red Hat Linux. Earlier on Tuesday, Scott McNealy, president, CEO and chairman at Sun, promised that Sun would also be announcing Linux-on-the-desktop news in the next month or so. "Linux is doing very well on the desktop," McNealy said during his keynote wired.com/news/linux/0,1411,54503,00.html. "We love that, and I promise you will hear more from us on this subject. Stay tuned, you will see more." --------------- The Hobohemians On the rails with the new freedom riders\b0 by Ben Ehrenreich  I WON'T TELL YOU EXACTLY WHERE WE ARE, LEST UNION PACIFIC get wise and throw up another security camera, a few more reels of razor wire or some of those infrared sensors I keep hearing about. Suffice it to say that we're east of the river, not too far from downtown, and that there are a lot of train tracks around -- which is the point, really, since we're here to catch a train, but not Amtrak or Metrolink or anything so banal. We want a northbound freight, with luck one that will take us all the way up to Dunsmuir, just 50 or 60 miles below the Oregon line, in time for the annual hobo gathering there.We heave our packs onto our shoulders and trek over mounds of concrete and twisted rebar. We settle in a clearing surrounded by rusted truck cadavers, their doors hanging open like broken wings, and listen to the hissing of air brakes in the yard behind us, to the hum of the electric wires, crickets chirping, and garbled orders from the Men's Central Jail PA system echoing across the river. What we don't hear is trains. Forty minutes go by, and not one has passed. "This is the waiting part," says Clare. Virginia, who has four years of sporadic train-hopping under her belt, nods in agreement. "This is what it's mainly like." On the way to the Dunsmuir Hobo Gathering, Clare practices hobo songs on her ukulele.Virginia, Clare and I spend the night curled in our sleeping bags amid the chaparral and rubbish. Only two trains pass -- one heading south, and a northbound that could've been ours had a crew of workers not been laboring a few yards away. With dawn our camp is revealed in all its postnuclear glory. I find an empty backpack, a handmade shank with its blade snapped off, a spool of surgical tape and a Bible, one of its pages penciled full with Spanish scribblings. I can make out only one sentence: "Love is extinguishing itself." We return at night and are almost ready to give up when four locomotives roll slowly out of the yard, towing a northbound freight. They're gorgeous, sleek and huge and gleaming, all power and promise in the yellow lithium light. We jog through the gravel, lugging our packs and, running now, grab the ladder to a piggyback, leap up and pull ourselves on. A piggyback is a flat car that carries the ass end of a semi truck, just the cargo box and the rear axles. We jam our packs into the narrow spaces above the axles and hide behind the wheels. I curl myself as small as possible, dreading the beam of a spotlight, the bark of a cop. The train stops for five minutes and I do my best not to move. It picks up again, slowly, and the river snakes by to my right. The towers on Bunker Hill loom bright in the distance, looking sillier than they ever have before. We pass Main Street and are out of the yard, picking up speed. Sitting there, wedged in among brake hoses, fluid reservoirs and spiny metal things, with dozens of identical cars ahead of me and more than I can count behind, I panic for a second and ask myself, "Just where in fuck's name am I going?" Then a smile spreads itself across my face, and I don't care at all. WE'RE HEADING TO DUNSMUIR TO EXplore this curiously American phenomenon, which, despite rumors of its death dating back at least a half-century, seems to be catching on again. Men (and until recently, it has been largely men) began riding freight trains after the Civil War, when enough track had been laid to make it worthwhile, and enough dislocated veterans had become averse to staying still. Since then every major war and economic downturn has seen a return to the rails, providing a sort of shadow history of America, a constantly mobile underground of migrant workers, radicals, dreamers and thieves, misfits of all kinds who didn't mesh with the societal weave. During the depressions of the 1890s and 1930s, it was a common if not entirely acceptable way for working-class men to get around in search of wages. In the '30s, Frank Czerwanka, one of Studs Terkel's sources in \i Hard Times\i0 , recalled, "When a train would stop in a small town and the bums got off, the population tripled." The hobo's death knells began tolling shortly thereafter, and have been ringing ever since. Prosperity and the automobile kept people in houses and on the road, and by 1960, Jack Kerouac was blaming the hobo's death on the still-fledgling rise of the security state: "Today the hobo's made to slink -- everybody's watching the cop heroes on TV." Though nearly every book written about hobos since then has mourned them as a dying breed, and despite all the cameras and infrared gadgets, thousands still manage to slip through Kerouac's "cop-avoiding night" to steal a little fast freedom from a shrink-wrapped world. ---- From the sublime . .----  Today, except for immigrant workers eager to stay invisible, few ride the rails just to get from place to place. With all the risk and potential for mishaps, comic and tragic both, walking is almost more efficient. But since the early '90s, train-hopping has been gaining ground among a new generation of tramps. The grizzled old hobos may be dying off, but they're being replaced in boxcars and on the porches of grain cars by street kids, gutter punks, dreamy anarchists and eco-warriors, train-obsessed professionals, all held loosely together by a vision of freedom as old as the nation itself, an America of movement and self-reliance, of mythic vastness and silence, of discovery, escape, rebellion. It's an America that was offered long ago and never delivered, that we're all supposed to love but not allowed to look for, that's just around the corner and always out of reach.  THE WORLD LOOKS DIFFERENT FROM A freight train. There's no heat and no a/c. No meals are served. The restroom is wherever you find it. There are no buttons to push or cords to pull when you want off. The train goes where it wants when it wants to, and sometimes doesn't go at all. It doesn't care about your wishes. It doesn't like or want you, doesn't even know you're there. It can kill you without a thought, can leave you behind, maimed and bleeding, without a moment of remorse. There's no getting around it -- it's ridiculously romantic. \trowd\trgaph150\trleft-195\trqc\cellx8210d\intbl \b Ben, a crusty punk, tagging the Black Butte watering tank, built in We stay hidden as the train makes its way out of Los Angeles. Virginia's at the other end of the car, and I'm crouched beneath the axle beside Clare, a Web editor and sometime hobo who flew down from Berkeley to join us for the ride. We pass a Burbank strip mall, Krispy Kreme, Staples, Target, Best Buy, and I can't help but laugh out loud. All those packaged comforts, the shadowless, dust-free expanses of American convenience, exist now in another world completely. We thump off through the Valley, past auto-parts stores, taquer\'edas, the leering pink neon of motels and topless bars. The L.A. night slides by -- a different country, already far away. We leave the city and chug up through the mountains. It's too loud to talk. The train shakes out a cacophony that seems intentionally musical: a high-pitched squeal that varies from hiss to yawn with the steady bass rumble of the turning wheels, in turns cruel and joyful and terrifically sad, layered with the backbeat of the shaking steel car. I hold my ears as we echo through a tunnel and the high notes break toward painful. At around 3:30, the train shudders to a halt somewhere in the Antelope Valley. Bats flutter in the streetlights. After 10 minutes another train passes us, and we lurch on forward into the desert. We sleep for two or three hours, waking cramped under the axle, a cold wind blowing, our faces blackened with diesel smoke and dust. The sun rises and the air warms quickly. The Tehachapis roll by, golden on all sides, dotted with oaks and the occasional horse farm. We pack our gear and keep low behind the wheels until we've cleared the Bakersfield yards. After Bakersfield we fly, maybe 70 miles an hour, past rusting factories of corrugated metal, pink trailer homes, a man watering his lawn, sunflowers as big as your head. We speed through miles of vineyards and citrus groves, along Highway 99, past sprinklers irrigating green fields in great white arcs, past three men trying to free a forklift stuck in dried mud. It smells of fertilizer, cow shit, diesel. We do our best to sleep through the morning, chasing the sun across the floor for the heat. I wake and see a world that is green forever in every direction but up. Later, I open my eyes to a huge white silo, filling the sky like a spaceship. This is the West as hallucination, as fever dream -- as strange and beautiful as you always knew it was. Cows loiter in a flooded field. We pass a bowling alley, a truck stop, a burned-out nightclub, a street called Temperance Avenue, swallows diving over a field of corn, a Costco, a man standing alone beside the track, looking right at me but not seeing me at all.The Bull\b0 AFTER 13 HOURS, THE PIGGYBACK IS just starting to feel like home when we're spotted by Union Pacific police in a small train yard in the town of Lathrop, just outside of Stockton. The train has come to a stop, and as a white Ford Explorer pulls up in the gravel at the far end of the car, Clare begins to laugh. "Please step off the train," someone says, and Clare's shoulders start shaking. Funny time to laugh, I think. She covers her mouth to try and hold it in. "What?" I say. It seems Virginia had taken advantage of the train's stillness to heed nature's call, and was squatting over the edge of the car when the bull drove up. A stocky, pink man, he seems a little embarrassed -- pinker than usual perhaps -- but mainly pleased, like he's already looking forward to chuckling about it over a quiet beer after work. Clare doesn't have to wait, and is laughing openly when another Explorer stops beside us and we climb off too. The second bull, a compact Latino man in a blue uniform, asks Clare and me if we are associated with "the FRA." (He's talking about the FTRA, which stands for either Fuck the Reagan Administration or Freight Train Riders of America, and is alleged by everyone from Fox News to \i The Times\i0 of London to be a "gang of killers who prey on the weak" -- more on that later.) We are not. He asks me if I'm armed, asks where we're coming from, where we're going and if we've done this before, and seems as much motivated by curiosity as any putative intelligence-gathering. He takes our IDs, but doesn't bother to check them for warrants. He's almost apologetic when he finally hands us our tickets, citations for misdemeanor trespassing, and tries to make up for it by giving us directions to a homeless mission five miles off in Stockton, and offering a little advice: "Now you never heard this from me, but if you're going to ride freight trains, be careful, and I'd prefer you do it after dark." It won't be dark for seven hours, so we hitch a ride to a bus stop and two buses later are in Roseville. We hike from the station to the freight yards, and by midnight have found an open boxcar on a northbound train. (On the West Coast, northbounds generally carry empty lumber cars, which come back south piled high with fresh-sawed timber.) We climb in, spread our bedrolls in a corner and fall asleep to the sound of hammers clanking far off in the yard, and to the steady click and kiss of the idling engines, like someone spitting on a white-hot stone. Three hours later the car rolls out of the yard, and within a few minutes is speeding along, singing and pounding, its floor vibrating at a frequency that could iron out your elbows and turn your spine to jelly. For all that, a boxcar is a great ride. You have shelter from sun, wind, rain and the prying eyes of cops. If you're lucky and both doors are open, you have two huge bay windows and a choice of views. It's roomy, with a high vaulted ceiling, perhaps indifferently furnished -- some broken two-by-fours, stray cardboard -- but still bigger than a lot of apartments I've rented. Until last year, a boxcar could easily have fetched two grand or more a month on the Manhattan real estate market. I lie awake until the boxcar's groans and belches begin to sound like voices. "Shhh!" they say. "Last! Phhhh. Eat 'em! Pht! Eat 'em! Tsph. Get 'em out!" I drift off and wake in the mountains, in a forest of high firs. The earth is red here. We pass fingers of Lake Shasta, dotted with fishermen and kids on boats, the water clear and green. Purple wildflowers line the tracks; the Sacramento River flows fast and white beside us. Finally Mount Shasta appears, a giant ice-cream sundae of a hill, alone on the horizon, snow-topped and startling. We've arrived. \b The Convention\b0 DUNSMUIR IS A PRETTY LITTLE TOWN, nestled beside the river in evergreen hills, with a population (1,923) slightly lower than its altitude. It's been a railroad town for more than a century, a crew-change spot for the Union Pacific. It became briefly famous in 1991, when a train derailed and emptied a tank car filled with herbicide into the Sacramento, killing every bug, bird and fish for miles. It's been tidied up, I'm told. Today, railroad kitsch and fly-fishing are the staples of the local tourist industry, and this weekend, the trout are biting obediently and the Dunsmuir Railroad Days festival is under way.   On a wooded strip of land between the tracks and the river a 10-minute walk from town, the 2002 Dunsmuir Hobo Gathering has already begun. Only the old-timers have arrived, sitting in a clearing drinking beer until we trudge in and they all rise to greet us. North Bank Fred is here, an amiable local train-hopper and railroad nut who organized the Gathering, and who looks like a phys. ed. teacher gone slightly to seed -- always in red track shorts and sneakers, usually shirtless with a liter of Gallo white port in one fist. We meet a quiet silver-bearded man named Buzz Blur, who turns out to be a legendary boxcar graffiti artist, and the intensely friendly New York Ron, who speaks in a mile-a-minute upstate accent of a variety you don't hear much anymore. "I just got outta jail!" he says by way of greeting, vigorously pumping my hand. "Congratulations," I say, unsure if that's the appropriate response. He tells me he got nabbed by the bull up in Klamath Falls, Oregon, after riding in all the way from Albany, and that he just finished an eight-year stint in a Montana prison (for what, exactly, I never learn). We meet a tall, slender man with an easy smile who combs his long, yellow-gray hair with obsessive regularity ("I'm a platinum blond," he laughs) and looks a bit like Donald Sutherland left out in the sun. He sticks out his hand and says his name with a grin: "No-Nuts." Later, we'll argue about who gets to ask him how he came to be called that, but it turns out it's no secret: He earned his name the hard way in Vietnam. We meet a bearish fellow named Tennessee, and the voluble Silver Miner Larry, a fast-talking tramp with short gray hair, his eyes a little loose in their sockets. He introduces his old lady, whose name is either Kimberly or Bert or Whistle Britches, depending on whom you ask, and who, before the weekend is over, will somehow manage to break her leg in three places while squatting to pee.  >>>picture: The trading blanket: Hoppers negotiate for train patches, old railroad dated nails, hand warmers, etc. That night we bring a pint of whiskey over to the clearing, expecting to find a crew of beer-happy tramps to share it with. Instead there's just Tennessee, sitting alone in the dark, working on one last 12-pack of Natural Ice. Over the next few days I will never see Tennessee sober, neither at 9 a.m. nor midnight. Nor will I ever witness him being anything but gentlemanly, regardless of his condition -- he will one afternoon rouse himself unsolicited from what looks like a near-comatose state to help me lug a couple bulky 25-pound packs a quarter-mile down the tracks. He's bearded and a little shaggy, like Santa's wayward younger brother, with fists large enough to make the beer cans they continually clutch look like they belong in a dollhouse, and a North Florida drawl as thick as his forearms. He complains of a Siskiyou County sheriff's deputy named Stuart, who lives around the bend and will prove to be no end of trouble. "Excuse my language," Tennessee says, "but he's a real fuckin' prick." Just the other day, he says, he was walking over the bridge to the Texaco on a beer run, when Stuart stopped him. He ran his ID for warrants and found none. ("I'm unwanted," Tennessee says.) "He said, 'Why don't you get out of here?' I said, 'Where you want me to go?' He said, 'Just go. I don't care where. Go to Roseville, Klamath Falls, Eugene, Reno, Elko, I don't care, just get outta here.' I said, 'I been to those places, and they all told me the same thing. Except they said come here.'" Tennessee sips the whiskey gratefully, chases it with beer, then holds forth on the nemesis of West Coast tramps, the bull in Klamath Falls, a certain Roger the Dodger. \b Roger the Dodger\b0 EVERY WORLD AND EVERY ERA NEEDS its myths, its saints and its demons, and this one is no exception. Meet Roger the Dodger, a trickster-devil for the epoch of the corporatized rails. Not that he's not real -- even those who doubt his omnipresence and scoff at his legendary powers affirm that Roger does exist. Like Lucifer, he stood among the angels once. Back before Union Pacific bought out Southern Pacific, Roger was a friend to the tramp. He was hard but kind, and made only two demands: "Stay off of my money, stay off of my power." So long as he didn't catch you riding a hotshot (a high-priority train towing particularly valuable freight) or stowing away in one of the rear locomotives, you could count on a smooth ride through K-Falls. If you abided by his rules, he'd let you be, and might even tell you when your train was leaving, and on which track. But after the buyout, legend has it, the corporate powers put the screws on -- if Roger wanted his job and his pension, he'd have to bust some tramps. He took to his task with all the zeal of the converted. If you can believe the stories, Roger the Dodger never sleeps. He works no fixed hours and knows the tracks like the veins in his arms. You've got a slim chance passing through K-Falls under cover of night, but in daylight it's near impossible, says Tennessee: "He'll get you, Roger will." It was Roger who got New York Ron, fresh from the Montana pen, and kept him in the tank for two days with the snoring drunks and, Ron says scornfully, "no shitter, just a piss hole." Roger keeps a book two inches thick containing the name of every tramp he's ever come across, says Ron. Their only other encounter was 10 years ago, but Roger remembered the name and flipped straight to the tattered page. So if you choose to ride the rails, take Tennessee's advice, and "Watch out for old Roger" -- no matter where you are. "I've even seen him right here," Tennessee swears, "under that bridge." Tennessee is not joking, but Roger's not there now, and won't be tomorrow either, though a steady stream of tramps will be coming up the tracks all day long. Save for a few stragglers, everyone will be here by afternoon, and before they all arrive, some introductions are in order. \b The Tramps\b0 TODAY'S OLD-TIMERS, OF COURSE, ARE not the old-timers of yesteryear. Even a decade ago, there were still a few left who'd been tramping since the hobo glory days of the Depression. Most of them are now dead or indoors, and a generational shift has occurred. The romantic hobo of kitsch and legend can be safely buried. The old-timers of today hit the rails in the '60s and early '70s, most after coming back from Vietnam to a country into which they no longer quite fit. Others were casualties of the '60s drug culture who either lost everything or decided after some consideration that Main Street America was worth avoiding. As harmless as most of them now seem -- usually blind drunk, and pretty damned rickety even when they're not -- they're a gristly bunch. More than a couple of those present are members of the aforementioned organization, the FTRA, the object of a storm of media hype in the 1990s, when they were blamed for a string of murders. Most of these turned out to be committed by one man, Robert "Sidetrack" Silveria, who confessed in 1996 to killing 28 tramps. It's not even clear that Silveria ever claimed to be in the FTRA, but the reputation stuck, and whenever a newspaper or tabloid-news show wants to warn kids to stay in their cars and in their bedrooms, they trot out "the killers of the rails." You've met a few of the old tramps already. There's also New York Slim, a 6-and-a-half-foot black man with an enormous laugh and a tiny, cockeyed dog. Only the white hairs in his beard give away his age -- without them he could pass for 40. He survived a POW camp, but stays sober and radiates calm. Slim's generosity and easy regality win him the instant loyalty of almost all the younger tramps. He complicates the common assertion that the FTRA is a white-supremacist group: A couple of members do have swastikas tattooed on their arms, but Slim is not only accepted, he's treated with more respect and deference than anyone else around. These days he's rubber-tramping, getting around in an old blue pickup rather than by rail. Then there's Magoo, who, like Tennessee, is never without a beer in one hand, sometimes with a pint of whiskey in the other -- even shortly after sunrise, still sitting on his bedroll. "They call me Magoo," he tells me, "because I can't see past . . ." he pauses for a good 10 seconds before coming up with ". . . dusk." It's often hard to figure out what Magoo is saying, not only because of the drunken circuitousness of his conversation, but because he laughs his way through most everything he says. There's also Longhaired Donnie, not a vet ("I got a wing-nut pass," he explains, "but I can't get a wing-nut check. Figure that out.") and not an FTRA member, "just an old hippie." With his long brown beard and crumpled face, he looks like a wrinkled elf, though his eyes don't start twinkling until he's had a few beers. Finally, Crazy Angel is only 29, and thus hardly an old-timer. But he's been riding the rails since he was 14 ("I don't know," he shrugs when I ask him why he started, "I got tired of all the bullshit"), and mainly hangs with the older tramps. When I first see him it's like a vision out of \i The Road Warrior\i0 -- he's tall, lanky and long-limbed, and walks down the tracks a stride behind his pit bull, Meathead. The dog wears a collar studded with 2-inch steel spikes, carries his own food and water in woven-leather saddle bags, and is so well-trained he might as well speak English. Crazy Angel's muscled arms are tattooed with grinning skulls, the letters FTRA, and a big red swastika. His nose and lip are pierced with hoops, a metal spike protrudes from his brow, and he has puzzle pieces tattooed on his shaved skull. Behind his glasses, though, Crazy Angel's eyes are shy and questioning. He speaks in soft, gentle tones, and laughs a goofy stoner's giggle. When asked how he got his name, he blushes a little and says sincerely, "I guess it's 'cause I'm a nice guy." And he is. \b Crusties\b0 IF THE OLD-TIME TRAMPS ARE THE PAST, fading as fast as their overworked livers, train-hopping's future likely lies with crusty punks -- street kids so named for both a frequent disregard for hygiene and a bristly punk-rock attitude. There are plenty of others taking to the rails these days, but most of them do it part-time. The crusties, who at this particular gathering are rather slimly represented, are more often homeless, and if they can get as romantic about trains as anyone else, they also ride them out of sheer practicality. Take Rocco and Ben, who've been traveling together for more than two years. Rocco, 23 and the more voluble of the two, hails originally from Virginia and most recently from San Diego. He's got short black hair, \i hated\i0 is tattooed on his neck (it was \i hate\i0 originally, before he added the \i d\i0 ), and he dresses in standard crusty fashion: faded black Slayer T-shirt, cut-off Carharts patched and repatched, so well-worn they look like leather. "Why I started," he says, "is because I got kicked out of my house." He was 17, using a lot of crystal, living on Ocean Beach and looking to get straight. "I never thought about being on the streets," he says. "I was like, 'What the fuck? How do you sustain? How do you eat? What do you do?'" He met a kid who told him he'd just come in on a freight train. "It was like \i Ding!\i0 -- the light bulb -- 'Why did I not think of this?'" He left with no goal in mind except "to get the hell out of there." His first ride took him to Mexico by mistake, the next one to Barstow, where he stayed in a mission for a while. "I don't do homeless missions anymore," he says. "I can depend on myself more." He Dumpster-dives for food, panhandles, works when he can. "If you're starving in America, you're a fool." Despite the anarchist tattoo on Rocco's arm, he doesn't see train-hopping in any explicitly political context, except as rejection and flight. "The way we live is not acceptable to society." The distaste is mutual: "I don't care for greed," he says. "That's why society's so filthy and shitlike." Rocco tries to downplay his love of trains -- he rides because, he says, "I don't want to be bound by anything. I don't want to be tied down." But he has a boyish enthusiasm for big machines, and a hard time keeping it from showing. "For me it's to escape. And it is my transportation, like people use their cars. I really love it," he concludes, waving his hands in frustration, unable to express the depth of his feeling. His partner, Ben, taller and more reserved, will later open up over a few beers and put it like this: "Sometimes I feel like I'm the richest guy in the world. I could've set out to make a million dollars and never seen the things I've seen. But I didn't. I decided to be poor." \b Pixies\b0 THEY ARRIVE IN GROUPS OF 10 OR 12 at a time, around 40 of them altogether. Most are in their early 20s and look a lot more prosperous and middle-class than the crusties: Their faces are rounder; they wear Tevas rather than combat boots and carry expensive camping gear instead of battered army-surplus packs. Despite the road dirt and the long trip, they glow with youthful exuberance and hardly rest before they begin sorting lentils and chopping potatoes for a big vegan mulligan stew. Enough came from Santa Cruz that they had to meet before they left and divide into three shifts to prevent dozens from descending on the train yards all at once. Many of them haven't hopped before, or have done so only rarely, and most, when asked what got them interested in hopping, say the same thing: "Lee." Banjo Fred performs at Black Butte camp.Lee Desaux, 47, is a sort of Pied Piper of Santa Cruz, where he's been living in well-appointed squats in the woods for more than a decade. Invariably dressed in torn cutoff black sweatpants and boots, his neck and arms bejeweled with aluminum hose clamps, Lee's been riding since 1986, and introducing the barefoot and besandaled, eco-radical, neo-hippie set to the rails for almost as long. For Lee, and most of the Santa Cruz crew, train-hopping is a beautiful way to see the country, a source of community and, he says, with trademark squinty smile, "a natural extension of our visions and lifestyles." It's a way to get around without buying into the money economy, a way of consuming without waste, of living off the leftovers of American abundance in the same spirit as squatting unused land and subsisting on food that grocery stores and restaurants discard. Freight trains are like a communal garden that moves. \b Espresso\b0 LAST COME THE YUPPIE HOBOS, IN which category I include not just the ones whose cell phones wake them up on boxcars, but all those folks with homes and jobs somewhere who could afford Amtrak but ride the rails because they love it. Some make occasional long-weekend excursions, others organize their lives around trains. Take Clare, who rode with Virginia and me up from L.A., but fell ill shortly after arriving in Dunsmuir and left for home. She does freelance work in what's left of the Bay Area's e-economy and has taken a handful of freight journeys over the last few years, once as far as Iowa. She likes the adventure, she tells me on the phone a couple of weeks later, and the fact that "When you're traveling by freight train there's no advertising pointing at you. You go through the back yard of America" without a billboard in sight.   Longhaired Donnie and his new girlfriends from Santa Cruz Or take a hobo couple, one member of which will later e-mail me to ask that their names not be printed here. He lives in the Midwest and reviews grant proposals for a living; she's an ornithologist based in California. They met in a rail yard three years ago. Both work freelance, and work just enough to be able to devote about half of their time to train-hopping, riding back and forth across the West to see each other. Or take SocX, pronounced \i socks\i0 -- it's a complicated pun decipherable only by train freaks, but yes, it does refer to his hosiery, which is enviably colorful. The 25-year-old sound engineer with an apartment and a girlfriend back in Nashville took two weeks to get here. He started riding short hops with a friend when he was 17 and was thrilled to learn later that "This isn't just a mode of transportation, there's a culture here." He rides as often as he can and absorbs the minutiae of railroad history and lore like a sponge soaking up diesel. "I'm one of the complete nutcases," he says. "If you would take a microscope to me, you'd see there's trains running in my veins." Train-hopping is uncomfortable and dangerous enough that it's rarely just a recreational activity: Most of the yuppie hobos are seriously obsessed. They can talk trains for hours, which is good, because the tramps and the more experienced crusties and hippies can as well, so everyone gets along, more or less. And the yuppie hobos often carry espresso pots, which everyone appreciates. \b The Law\b0 OUR FIRST MORNING IN DUNSMUIR, the espresso pots have not yet emerged from the rucksacks, so we head into town for eggs and bacon. On our way back, a mopey young man who calls himself Papa Dalek tells us that Siskiyou County sheriff's deputies have shown up at the campsite and, with shaky legal reasoning, ordered everyone to clear out. People were trespassing on private land, they were drinking in public, it didn't matter what they were doing, they had to leave. At a bend in the tracks, we meet Rocco and Ben, who are waiting there to give new arrivals the options. The old-timers are heading off to a place called Black Butte, they tell us, about a 15-minute drive away. The rest are camping at another site downriver, a little farther from town and, we hope, from the consciousness of the sheriffs. We head for the latter, a high, sloping field on the other side of the tracks, thick with poison oak. It's not long before Ben and Rocco turn up -- they were just chased off by four sheriffs toting shotguns and a dog. Eight kids from Santa Cruz, their faces still blackened with freight-train grit, arrive looking shaken -- they too were greeted by the sheriff's impromptu welcoming committee. Later, another group of Santa Cruzians who left their packs at the original camp and hiked off to the waterfall upstream to frolic and bathe will return and find the site abandoned, their packs emptied and the contents strewn about the woods. They will find their sleeping bags hanging from trees, bags of food and spices emptied in the dirt, $20 of food stamps torn apart. A tall, skinny 21-year-old with short blond hair who goes by Buffalo Alice will find "all my personal possessions -- passport, pictures, letters, everything -- scattered and in the bushes." An earnest, bearded substitute teacher named Doug (hobo name: D-Rail) will search for one of his boots but never find it. Though no one will have seen the culprits, no one will doubt their identities. \b Campfire Symphonics\b0 NOR DOES ANYONE WANT TO LET THE police spoil a good time, so once the sun goes down and the lentils are gone, the beer starts flowing. A few Santa Cruz kids break out guitars and begin singing songs about friendship, multinational corporations and pollution. Rocco tells me about his father, who was once in the military, assigned to some highly secret unit trained to kill people quietly in foreign lands. Now he's a cop, and sounds like a real piece of work. Rocco's clearly pretty broken up over the guy. He's also concerned about my motivations, concerned I'll write something sensationalistic and exploitative. He says he doesn't think society deserves to know about this world, that people haven't earned it. Maybe he's an elitist asshole to think that, he says, but that's how he feels. Some kids from Portland start playing old bluegrassy hobo favorites on fiddle and guitar, and as I retreat to my sleeping bag I hear the whoops and stomping feet of the dancing pixies drifting up through the trees. Lying there in the dark, I consider what Rocco has said, what everyone else has told me, and I understand that this is about community, about finding a group of like-minded folks outside the usual channels, but also about creating a realm of skill, of secret knowledge, virtue and style, that the scared and intolerant residents of comfortable straight society cannot touch or understand. And Rocco does not want them to understand. They have their own culture, and it's because that culture is so insipid and corrupt that he sleeps out of doors. Hobohemia, to borrow a term coined by the anarchist Ben Reitman in the '30s, is a separate world, and defiantly so. It has its own rules and rewards, even if the rules are rarely followed and the rewards frequently fail to materialize. It's a secondary track off the American mainline in which courage and independence still matter, in which freedom is not abstract but palpable, and easily distinguishable from its opposites -- work, stasis, jail. This is true for the idealistic Santa Cruz kids as much as it is for homeless punks like Rocco, though for many of the former the risks are smaller. And it's certainly true for the old tramps. All share a disappointment, to varying degrees and in divergent ways, a nostalgia for an America that's failed to become, the one we were promised in grade school, allegedly passed down to us by vision-rattled heretics and daring claustrophobes, an America already lost by the time Whitman and Thoreau claimed to have found it, still a sustaining memory for the Beats and the hippies and even the fuck-off-and-leave-me-alone punk rockers. Turning on my side, I can see Rocco standing by the fire looking glum while the Santa Cruz kids go on singing about being free, treading softly on the earth and loving one another. Then a train goes by on the tracks below and silences them with its wails, and the train's song seems to have lyrics this time, to sing of all that yearning, all the failed dreams left to hang immaterial on the edges of cities, beneath cement overpasses, in riverside jungles and hard urban squats, all that space and longing squeezed into this rhythmic yowl and clang. Everyone falls silent. The guitar and the fiddles stop, and maybe I'm drunk and sentimental and imagining things, maybe it's just late and everyone is tired, but it seems the train sang for them better than they knew how, and when it passed there was nothing left to do but stumble off into the woods and search out a piece of ground flat enough to sleep on. \b Railroad Daze\b0 IT'S A HOT AND CLOUDLESS DAY. TOURists and locals line the street in lawn chairs to wait for the Railroad Days parade. First come the VFW, old men marching stiffly in uniform, guns and flags on their shoulders. They're followed by a little girl dressed as the Statue of Liberty; some Boy Scouts; two kids cruelly encumbered with sandwich boards advertising Better Home Realty; seven vintage Corvettes; a few shiny fire trucks; a grinning boy in a go-cart labeled the "Osama yo mama Payback mobile"; a truck painted camouflage topped with waving children and a banner advertising Bullseye Tactical Firearms Training ("Protect Your Family and Yourself"). An old Ford tows a covered wagon, manned by a family in pioneer drag. The wagon is sponsored by the Dunsmuir Church of Christ, emblazoned with flags and painted "All Aboard America, One Nation Under God." Finally, amid this panoply of patriotism, claiming another branch of Americana, the Hobo Marching Band arrives -- though this year their sign, in honor of the sheriff's shenanigans, reads "Hobo Marching Banned." An old tramp named Tex, who lives in a munitions dump outside of town, heads the group, hobbling along with a cane. Beside him is Banjo Fred, a ghostly codger who leads the ragtag, sunburned group in a rousing version of "This Land Is Your Land." Barefoot, dreadlocked kids skip and dance and beat away at frying pans, empty water bottles and upturned buckets. The onlookers seem torn: Some laugh and cheer, others watch silently, sullen and suspicious. "Well," says Banjo Fred when it's all over, addressing no one in particular, "if we didn't make an impression, I don't know what would." There's a stage set up on a side street, nestled among crowded booths selling tri-tip sandwiches and "Protected by Smith & Wesson" T-shirts. The kids from Portland who played at the camp last night take their seats. They're the Old Timey String Band, and they play their old-timey music to appreciative hobos, who dance and stomp and whoop it up in the hot sun without any sign of tiring. No locals join in. Rocco and Ben look on in baffled silence. Half an hour goes by, and Rocco shakes his head: "Man, these kids must eat better than I do." Another hour passes. It only gets hotter, but the kids are still clapping and twirling, dousing themselves with water to keep cool. "We need to have a country all our own," Rocco decides. "It would be like this, all the time." \b Black Butte\b0 THE BAND'S SET ENDS AT LAST. A COUPLE of hours later, to avoid further run-ins with the sheriff, everyone packs up and moves out to Black Butte, an idyllic meadow of wildflowers and fragrant grasses a few miles up the tracks, between Mount Shasta and the tower of rock that gives it its name. For two days, train talk echoes around that meadow, pausing only when a train goes by. Debates rage over which is the longest tunnel in the country, which the highest pass. Most of the stories are tales of hardship, told now with a laugh, of frigid nights going through the Donner Pass by mistake without even cardboard to keep you warm, or of trains that stop and sit for days in the Mojave in midsummer. Ben tells of being so cold one Wyoming winter he had to stand all night because the soles of his shoes were the only part of him that wouldn't freeze instantly to the boxcar's steel floor. New York Slim tells about the guy whose face froze to just such a boxcar floor, and how they had to heat the metal with torches from beneath to melt him free. The stories dissolve into a sea of place names -- Marysville, Eugene, Pocatello, Livingston, Ogden, Evanston, Sparks, Colton, Whitefish, Green River, La Crosse -- an atlas of laughter and survival. Crazy Angel keeps an eye on Meathead to make sure he doesn't get too close to New York Slim's dog Babys, a snaggle-toothed little puff of white and brown fur that Meathead would barely have to open his jaws to swallow. Meathead's fine with people, Crazy Angel tells me, but he's "kind of antisocial" when it comes to animals. In other words, "he likes to kill them." Meathead would prefer a world stripped of all non-human fauna, and does what he can to push things in that direction. So whenever he gets within 10 yards of Slim's pet, Crazy Angel issues a string of commands, each one more or less instantly obeyed: "Meathead, go over there. By the gear. Not there. Over on the other side. A little farther. To the right a little. Farther. Now lie down. Good dog." Sitting on his bedroll, old Magoo calls Meathead over. He hugs him and kisses his brindled nose. No-Nuts laughs and suggests that the two look alike. "Only difference is Meathead combs his hair better," he says. Later, Magoo sits perched on an overturned bucket with a couple of drunken crusty punks and a pensive-looking Ben. He talks about Vietnam. He was there early on, from '61 to '63, sent not to fight but to "teach." He gestures with his beer can, marveling at the word. "They killed a lot of my friends," Magoo says. "And I got good at killing them. And I got to like it." His eyes are wide with residual wonder, still shocked by this strange fact: "I got to like it a lot." Ben is silent. The drunk punks talk about hitching into town to do some panhandling. "I was there two years without even getting athlete's foot," Magoo goes on. "I wanted to get shot, I just wanted to get out of there, but I couldn't." Magoo starts in on a story about a reconnaissance mission. It's a bit hard to follow. "They told me to find 'em. 'Find 'em or kill 'em?' I said. 'Find 'em,' they said. 'Okay,' I said. And I found 'em." Ben gazes sadly at the ground; the punks aren't listening at all. Magoo is "four clicks up the crik" when he loses track of the story entirely and gives up. \b Catching Out (2)\b0 AFTER TWO DAYS OF LAZING ABOUT AT Black Butte, eating pancakes cooked over a barrel fire on a greased-up sheet of scrap metal, drinking around that same fire beneath a sky perilously heavy with stars, we say our goodbyes. New York Slim gives us a lift back to Dunsmuir in the back of his truck, a tarp pulled over our heads so the police won't have cause to stop him. Seven of us are heading south: Virginia, myself and a schoolteacher from Topanga named Jacob; Steve and Jodie, recently arrived from Portland; Longhaired Donnie and Crazy Angel. Meathead the Dog makes eight. We miss one train just as we get into the yard, and run up to the Texaco to buy food and water for ourselves and beer for Donnie. This will be, he tells us, his last ride. He's got an appointment in Roseville for an operation on his eye ("a floater"). His liver is bad, and he has a hard time keeping up. "I'm just an old sore, I guess you could call me, one that never healed," Donnie smiles sadly. He started riding in the early '60s, and has done so ever since, sometimes staying put for a while, working, even owning a business, losing everything to drugs and prison. Riding the rails is the only thing he ever found that could keep him off heroin, he says, and thereby out of trouble. "I called my grandma before she died. I said I finally found my niche." Walking along the tracks through the town with Crazy Angel, I note how quiet it is. "It's nice," he says. "There's no people around. I hope they stay in their houses." He tells me he travels to keep sane, that he doesn't like being around people too often and never learned the skills necessary to rent an apartment, pay the bills and get by in one place. He refers to the house-bound populace as "citizens," and regards them not with hatred ("Hate's a bad thing") but with the mistrust one reserves for unfamiliar beasts, as if they belong to a different species entirely, one possessed of wood and drywall exoskeletons, which they shed occasionally to crawl out and make trouble for tramps. With a sheepish smile he tells me his name for the scent a tramp develops after a few weeks on the road without bathing: "citizen repellent." Donnie and Crazy Angel reminisce about the old days, before intense corporate security made tramping so difficult, when you could ride from New York to California without a hassle, when you could hop into any town in the country and find 15 of your friends. Even a decade ago, Angel says, you could camp in the yards without trouble from the bull. You could leave all your gear in the jungle without fearing it would be stolen, says Donnie, and you didn't have to worry about young punks wanting to fight you to give themselves a name. They talk about old friends who've died, others locked away for good. Donnie shakes his head. "It ain't nothin' like it used to be. Nothin' at all." No trains come through that night, and we sleep in a clearing beneath the tracks. Meathead has his own sleep sack, and a hooded sweat shirt for the cold. I wake at dawn to the sound of a whistle blowing. Crazy Angel is up and out of his bag, and by the time he says, "Wake up, Donnie -- southbound's coming!" everyone else is awake too. We pack hastily, and climb the embankment to the tracks. Angel spots an open boxcar, and we all hoist ourselves up and in. "Jump, dog," orders Angel, and Meathead jumps in too. The train sits. After an hour the sun rises over the hills, the light angling softly into the car. Donnie rolls a cigarette, and the smoke rises in the sunlight in little curling dragons. Another hour passes. Jodie reads a book. Steve stands on the track and juggles stones. Angel sews a leather pouch. Donnie tags the wall of the car with a Sharpie. He writes his name, and then "To Love/Is to Sacrifice/To be Loved/Is to Cherish!" After another hour a southbound hotshot speeds past. The air brakes on our train hiss, then click and squeak. The boxcar shivers. Its walls moan, and the green world glides slowly by outside the door. \i Note to the curious: Like driving automobiles, falling in love, and speaking your mind in public, train-hopping is dangerous. Really. \i0 \i To view more of West Coast Virginia Slim's train-hopping images, \ul\b visit her site virginialeehunter.com ---------:::::::::::::::::::::----------  From: Doug Henwood (\ul dhenwood@panix.com  --- Tom Wheeler wrote: >I'd suggest reading the following for a better understanding of >primitivism. - Tom The Primitivist Critique of Civilization Richard Heinberg  ----------------- At the end, Heinberg seems frightened by the implications of his own argument, and starts talking about a new form of civilization. Why not do that in the first place, instead of indulging so foolishly in his primitivist fantasy? I've long thought that anarchism is the infantile "NO!" inflated into a political philosophy. That's not an entirely bad thing; I'm pretty fond of the "NO!" impulse myself, and there's a lot that I find appealing in anarchism. Heinberg sort of confirms this analysis, though, when he seems to argue that the whole psychosocial problem is having to grow up: ----------------- >People are shaped from birth by their cultural surroundings and by their interactions with the people closest to them. Civilization manipulates these primary relationships in such a way as to domesticate the infant--that is, so as to accustom it to life in a social structure one step removed from nature. The actual process of domestication is describable as follows, using terms borrowed from the object-relations school of psychology. The infant lives entirely in the present moment in a state of pure trust and guilelessness, deeply bonded with her mother. But as she grows, she discovers that her mother is a separate entity with her own priorities and limits. The infant's experience of relationship changes from one of spontaneous trust to one that is suffused with need and longing. This creates a gap between Self and Other in the consciousness of the child, who tries to fill this deepening rift with transitional objects--initially, perhaps a teddy bear; later, addictions and beliefs that serve to fill the psychic gap and thus provide a sense of security. It is the powerful human need for transitional objects that drives individuals in their search for property and power, and that generates bureaucracies and technologies as people pool their efforts. This process does not occur in the same way in the case of primitive childbearing, where the infant is treated with indulgence, is in constant physical contact with a caregiver throughout infancy, and later undergoes rites of passage. In primal cultures the need for transitional objects appears to be minimized. Anthropological and psychological research converge to suggest that many of civilized people's emotional ills come from our culture's abandonment of natural childrearing methods and initiatory rites and its systematic substitution of alienating pedagogical practices from crib through university. ----------------- As the Spartacist League might put it were the SL so inclined: "Against separation/individuation! For the lifelong pursuit of primary narcissism!" Doug -----------------  Anarchists have long been reluctant to articulate grand visions of what a "anarchist society would look like." Most of the time, we talk about small stuff, such as worker control of industry, or community-based decision-making. Part of this reluctance to describe a big blueprint is our nervousness about what happened when the communists implemented their big vision in the Soviet Union and China. We all know what happened to millions and billions of people when these grand visions were imposed from above. This is why anarchists argue that the details of any future anarchistic society would need to be hammered out by the people living in that society. There would be lots of differences in that world, many of which would be based on culture and geography. The Soviet Union tried too impose Western style, wheat belt, agriculture on the peasants of Russia, when the anarchist alternative would be to acknowledge that the peasants are much better at deciding these things than the Politburo back in Moscow. << Chuck0 >> ----------------- From: Gar Lipow  Yes, anarchists have created their own institutions, but for the most part, these institutions have been failures. What Brian is conveniently ignoring is all the self-management and organic associations that  anarchists form all the time for a variety of purposes. These projects may  last for one action, or they may last for a few years. Most of the  organizing that anarchists do does NOT have the goal of creating permanent  institutions.   There are good reasons why anarchists avoid institution-building. There are plenty of writings on this subject. > I'm talking about organic groups that have a lifespan. You are advocating a form of leftism that believes that permanent institutions are the way to achieve rdical social change. When post-leftists argue that anarchism is still plagued by leftist thinking, we are talking about the quasi-Leninism that you are advocating. --snip------------------- Oh come on. Permanent institutions are "Leninist"? I suppose that since Leninist organizations are mostly neutral or anti in regard to vegetariansim, non-vegetarians are "Leninist" as well? How about anarchist who don't think highly of consensus as a decision making process? Are they Leninist as well. Please don't label every position you disagree with as "Leninist", especially positions held by a large number of anarchists. d\sb100\sa100 -----------------Way down this long thread with short bursts I find a post that prompts me to revise my scepticisms (induced by those of Kelley) towards the poster (Carrol) who seems to consistently come out with some poetry now and then: \b0 Gordon Fitch wrote: There is no "founder of anarchism", such that utterances of the said person are taken as an authority upon which "the whole anarchist structure is grounded", whether on a metaphysical claim or on anything else. ----------------- Yup, I was rather extravagant. But I did say "one of the" not "the." And I continue to see in most anarchism (including often yours) that expectation of the petty producer that of course there would be a use/utility for her act (product, service, skill) if only some malign force blocking that realization were destroyed. The fear of _all_ "institutions" expressed by a fringe of (self-declared) anarchists is an extreme manifestation of this. And in that extreme form it seems merely a mystified affirmation of Smith's "Invisible Hand." In that case Milton was perhaps the first anarchist: ----------------- \f6 So spake th' Omnipotent, and with his words All seemd well pleas'd, all seem'd, but were not all. That day, as other solemn dayes, they spent In song and dance about the sacred Hill, Mystical dance, which yonder starrie Spheare Of Planets and of fixt in all her Wheeles Resembles nearest, mazes intricate, Eccentric, intervolv'd, yet regular Then most, when most irregular they seem, And in thir motions harmonie Divine So smooths her charming tones, that Gods own ear Listens delighted. (PL, V, 616-27) \f3 ----------------- This is anarchic heaven (literally!) Each angel dances a pattern internally consulted, but the result is a harmony as though they were following a divine conductor. They have divinity within, and when freed from all external restraint, freely  obey that invisible order. Milton recognized a glitch, however. This dance immediately follows the Father's announcement of the sovereignty of the Son, which triggers Satan's rebellion ("All SEEMD well pleas'd"). It was necessary in the end to call out the cops (the Son who drove the rascals into hell by his very appearance). Proudhon lives! Carrol ------------------ -------Milton would seem to be violating fundamental Christian theology if the sovereignty of the Son has to be _announced_ to the angels. The Son pre-exists all that is created, including the angels, according to John 1:3. One would think the angels would have been already informed of this rather fundamental fact. Maybe some of them were supposed to be a bit slow? Not Satan, though! So there's something of a problem there. Anyway, what you have above is not the anarchic heaven but the world-as-one-machine, Milton in bed with Newton and Locke, as opposed to the world-as-one-organism favored by classical conservatives. It is the watch that demands a divine if invisible-handed watchmaker because it's got to _work_. I doubt if this vision should be identified with anarchism although certainly liberals look over their shoulders at anarchism and Milton was (sometimes) of the Devil's party without knowing it. The liberal vision centers on the efficiency of the social machine; therefore, while liberty is good in its place (so that the wheels can turn) it must be liberty under Law. When necessary to the well-being of the Great Machine, that Law may order war, slavery and imperialism -- that is, call out the cops -- so that the Machine can go forward. This is the very coercion whose specifics I have been asking about and which we see all around us. The anarchist, interested (I would think) in Minute Particulars rather than the greatness of the Great Machine, might suggest that if we need to shoot people to get airplanes, maybe we don't really want airplanes. After all, there are things more important (to this anarchist) than the Great Machine's maximal performance. (Of course, there's also the possibility that we don't have to shoot people to get airplanes, but nobody's interested in it.) Naturally, as if imbued with a profound religious belief, liberals and those who accept the liberal world-view (see above) will find any suggestion that shooting seriously taints the desirability of airplanes risible or, if taken seriously, as heretical, blasphemous, contrary to the most fundamental accepted values. Often, dark allusions to Mao, Pol Pot, Stalin, and rural idiocy will follow. "I want my _airplane_!!!!"Gordon ----- --------- Michael Pollak: Actually, as far as I can tell, Gordon emphatically doesn't accept that premise and wants to have someone prove it him, i.e., that airplanes can't get built without coercion (and are therefore impossible to build in a non-coercise society). But he's been expressing himself so conditionally -- accepting his opponents' premises arguendo at great length and then tacking on his fundamental view as a coda -- that everyone he's arguing with thinks he does accept it. ----------------- My opponents' arguments are much juicier than mine. I say things like that I don't see any inherent upper limit to the complexity of self-organized systems. Ho-hum. My "opponents" have us anarchists frog-marching the populations of great cities into the desert, smashing the looms, and selling out to globcap all at once; meanwhile they're beating people to death in the basement of Boeing to keep the planes coming while muttering catch-phrases from Marx and Adorno. It's like _Natural_Born_Killers_ where you start hearing Nusrat yipping in the background -- how can I compete with it? Better to wait until the driver falls asleep and let the air out of the tires. Whoops! One over limit. Well, that's an anarcissist for you. -- Gordon  -----------------JCWisc@aol.com \ulnone wrote: >Are we done with the lack of airplanes already? God, I hope so. Airplanes? Forget airplanes. How about steel plowshares, reapers, drill presses, lathes, transistor radios, >sewing machines, tractors, vaccines, clocks? -------------------- It seems some individuals enjoy "re-living the 13th century" -- _if_ the experience is offered in a "non-profit" theme park. ***** Reliving the 1200's With Sweat, Muscle and No-Tech Tools By CHRISTOPHER HALL REIGNY, France IN a forest clearing near this remote village in Burgundy, three dozen men and women - myself included - are hard at work on an overcast July morning in the year 1231. Dressed in medieval garb of drab pants and short, belted tunics, some of us twist hemp fibers into rope, haul wooden buckets filled with mortar or hand-saw oak trunks into planks. Others forge tools using metal smelted from iron-bearing sandstone, groom a pair of huge draft horses or quarry large chunks of rock and shape them into rectangular blocks with nothing more than hammer, chisel and muscle. The forest echoes with the bleating of sheep and the ping of stoneworkers' tools, and the smell is a mixture of fresh earth, dung and burning wood. Except for a few modern intrusions like safety glasses or the occasional cigarette dangling from a worker's lips - this is actually France in 2002, after all - it is an ancient scene lifted from the pages of an illuminated manuscript. \f6 But this is no book, as my blisters and aching muscles can attest, and our all-too-real labor is directed to one purpose: building a castle. Not a stucco knockoff \'e0 la Disney that's thrown together in a month or two, but a massive, hewn-stone fortress, like the ones built in the 1200's. The castle, called Gu\'e9delon, will take 25 years to complete using the latest in 13th-century technology. When finished, it will cover more than 27,000 square feet - a modest figure, b\f3 y medieval standards - and reach a height of 95 feet. \f6 Now in its sixth year, with exterior walls and one tower well under way, Gu\'e9delon has become a living laboratory in which academic hypotheses about medieval building techniques can be tested. And with 145,000 paying visitors last year, the project, a nonprofit one, is also proving to be an economic boon to Burgundy's undeveloped Puisaye district, which lacks the famous and lucrative vineyards found elsewhere in the region, about 90 miles southeas\f6 t of Paris. Indeed, Gu\'e9delon generated about $9 million in revenue last year and employs 51 construction, office and service workers. \f3 \f6 But for many workers, Gu\'e9delon is above all a grand adventure. \f3 "At first people said we were crazy to spend so much time building a 13th-century castle," said Michel Guyot, the project's principal creator, a preservationist who has bought and restored his own castle nearby. "But this is something no one in the 21st century has ever seen or done. That's why we've been able to attract dedicated workers, not to mention the volunteers and visitors who return again and again." The project began in 1997 with plans drawn by Jacques Moulin, the architect in charge of French historic monuments, "and this patch of forest and quarry provide almost all of the needed materials," Mr. Guyot says. \f6 The project's workers are diverse. Some apply skills they've learned as tradesmen. "I came here originally as a volunteer," says Cl\'e9ment Gu\'e9rard, 30, a stonecutter. "After one day, I knew I wanted to stay." A carpenter, Jean-No\'ebl Morisset, 41, moved from Vichy with his wife and two sons to take a job at Gu\'e9delon and is now assistant chief of the work site. \f3 Other workers made a total break with past careers. Thierry Darques, 49, G\f6 u\'e9delon's blacksmith, is a former journalist. ("We all make mistakes," he deadpans.) Yvon Herouart, a 39-year-old ropemaker, used to operate heavy equipment, and Diana Hajdu, 30, abandoned seven years of law study to make floor tiles for the castle. \f3 "My parents were horrified," she says as she slaps another mud-and-straw layer onto a short wall she is building for her workshop. "But now they can see that this is my passion." \f6 I also understand the attraction of Gu\'e9delon. From the moment I came across its Web site (www.guedelon.org), Gu\'e9delon tapped into my childhood dream of building a castle and fed my adult fantasy of escaping, even for a few days, the I-need-it-yesterday pace of the 21st century. The idea of stepping back into the 1200's, as one\f3 of the dozen or so volunteers who labor alongside the employees was irresistible. In my volunteer application I declared in passable French that I was manually dexterous, healthy and 48 years old. Two hours after my arrival, I find myself with a hunk\f6 of stone before me, a hammer and chisel in my hands, and a few general instructions from a stonecutter, Jean-Fran\'e7ois Dejean, 35, on how to make a 60-pound block with a sloped face for the castle rampart. An experienced stonecutter could finish the ta\f3 sk in an afternoon, but it takes me nearly two days of steady chipping. For Mr. Dejean, however, who once earned his living by polishing granite and marble for kitchens and bathrooms, speed is not important. "We're taking 25 years to build this castle," he reminds me, "and with luck it will be around for the next 1,000." The work is hard. By the end of each day, I am covered in grit and sweat and my back is tired. Yet there is plenty of time during the day to do the job right and still look at passing clouds or trade wisecracks with workers. Part of our day is spent fielding questions from the camera-toting tourists who crowd the site trying to catch a glimpse of the Middle Ages in action. The visitors are mostly French. Their questions range from the mundane ("Aren't you hot?") to the technical. One elderly French gentleman, detecting a foreign accent in my response, asks if I am English. "Thank goodness," he says when I tell him I'm American. "Can't have an Englishman working on a French castle, can we?" \f6 What none of the visitors asks, however, is how long Gu\'e9delon will last. It is a question that increasingly comes to mind as I carve a block from raw stone, chisel my lapidary mark onto it, just like a stonecutter from 800 years ago, and \f3 then help the mason set the block into the wall. \f6 Will my stone, will this castle, endure? Impossible to say with any certainty, of course, but I take my cue from Jean-Fran\'e7ois Dejean and wager that they'll both be around 1,000 years from now. It's not \f3 every day you can say that. Christopher Hall, a San Francisco-based journalist, has written for Architectural Digest and Preservation. ***** ------------------------- way further down this extremely long thread: And ironically, Chuck0's "we must disperse people" plan - held up by himself as a programmtic part of anarchism whether other anarchists like it or not - is exactly one of the ten points advocated at the end of The Communist Manifesto. (See Point 9 at the end of the Manifesto, about redistributing population equitably between town and country). And this from someone who has supposedly "moved beyond" left and right, and endorses "Post Leftism." It's as inane as the assertion that libertarian socialists need to reassess themselves after the fall of the USSR in the late 80s. The libertarian left had criticized the USSR for its failings since 1917. Brian Oliver Sheppard  ::::::::::::::::::::::::::::: hey maxhunkhoney, do I get to wait four whole years for the scotch, too? :) discuss amongst yourselves. By participating in a violent anti-war demonstration, he was in no sense aiming at coercing conformity with his view - for that would still have been a political objective. Instead, he took his part in order to confirm h\f3 is ideological fantasy of marching on the right side of history, of feeling himself among the elect few who stood with the angels of historical inevitability. Thus, when he lay down in front of hapless commuters on the bridges over the Potomac, he had no interest in changing the minds of these commuters, no concern over whether they became angry at the protesters or not. They were there merely as props, as so many supernumeraries in his private psychodrama. The protest for him was not politics, but theater; and the significance of his role lay not in the political ends his actions might achieve, but rather in their symbolic value as ritual. In short, he was acting out a fantasy. \f6 From: "Al Qaeda\rquote s Fantasy Ideology By Lee Harris"  ::::::------:::: Standard right-wing fare. The conservative establishment continues its 30 year plus jihad against the left by trying to link the left with A-Q. They, of course, define "the left" very broadly. "Liberals," "social democrats," "communists," "anarchists," they're all alike. To summarize: "Leftists hold their views for irrelevant psychological reasons. So did the 9/11 hijackers." "Just look at guys like that Chomsky, trying to make excuses for the hijackers. Yeah, they always blame America first." "Leftist-millenarian-utopian-fantasists = Muslim-millenarian-utopian-fantasists." "There's no reasoning with these people, so all there is to do is just stamp them out." "It's not a political philosophy, but a disease." (paraphrasing, of course) Anybody here have any sympathy with a bunch of right-wing religious fanatics who flew planes into skyscrapers (speaking of airplanes)? RWRFs who might have been playing footsie with the CIA, but were all along pursuing their own agenda? RWRFs who were at the very least abetted and encouraged by the US gov't trying to stick a thumb in the eye of the fSU in Afghanistan? A-Q is like a Frankenstein's monster that turned on its master. Except it wasn't the master who paid the price, but some of the master's subjects, who ended up jumping out of windows from 90 floors up to get away from the fire. Blowback, man. Right-wing bastards like this Lee Harris who wrote the Policy Review piece are simply repellent. Jacob Conrad :::xxxxxxxxxxx:::: Not sure why this is seen as Lacanian, it could be written by anyone who wants to emphasize the narcissistic aspect of someone's political involvement, or perhaps to characterize that person as a narcissist who cannot engage others except as objects. For that matter, it's not really that far off from writers like Harold Lasswell; in "World Politics and Personal Insecurity" (1938?) he offered a nifty little formula (something like P --> W) that boils politics down to psychodrama. It's quite likely the author is doing to his hapless subject what he depicts his subject doing to the hapless commuters. Randy By participating in a violent anti-war demonstration, he was in no sense aiming at coercing conformity with his view - for that would still have been a political objective. Instead, he took his part in order to confirm his ideological fantasy of marching on the right side of history, of feeling himself among the elect few who stood with the angels of historical inevitability. Thus, when he lay down in front of hapless commuters on the bridges over the Potomac, he had no interest in changing the minds of these commuters, no concern over whether they became angry at the protesters or not. They were there merely as props, as so many supernumeraries in his private psychodrama. The protest for him was not politics, but theater; and the significance of his role lay not in the political ends his actions might achieve, but rather in their symbolic value as ritual. In short, he was acting out a fantasy. From: "Al Qaeda's Fantasy Ideology By Lee Harris" ::::xxxxxxx::::But most Freudians are very leery of Lacan. I regularly read the major journals, including the International Journal of Psychoanalysis, and his influence on current analytic thinking is muted at most. The reasons for this are many. Personally, while I was initially intrigued by his drawing on Hegel and such, when I read of his unpredictable behavior in sessions, e.g. stopping them abruptly, I wrote him off as a puffed-up jerk. Among current analysts, I think Andre Green draws on his work in the most interesting and useful way, as in The Work of the Negative. Warming to the subject -- har! -- here's this from Green: "But the Rome address on "The function and field of speech and language in Psychoanalysis" still bears its trace with the memorable analysis which Lacan made of the Fort-Da [Freud's account of a child tossing a spool over the edge of a bed and pulling it back up, working over the comings and goings of his mother, according to Freud]. It is indeed in these few paragraphs that the Hegelian inspiration of Lacan's thought finds it fullest expression, giving an account of the combined effects of childhood, the status of absence, the emergence of self-consciousness, alienation from one's own productions (sound, signifier and sign), the conflict between various aspects of the psyche in their relation to language and the subject's relationship to death. But this happy episode was not to last, for Lacan's thought was to respond to the siren calls of the signifier, and then to that of topography where references to languages and history were gradually supplanted by other, more 'scientific' ones." In short, as Lacan blew off a developmental account of the subject, his notion of transference became reduced to theoretical coordinates, and this set up the short sessions in which he slid into playing the cranky Papa ordering the infantalized analysand out of the room.  ::::::xxxxx:::::: Whatever. Not that it matters all that much, but all that pre-oedipal-jouissance-to-be-squashed-  by-the-intervention-of-the-symbolic stuff, the whole business about the cry and "entry" into language, the mirror _stage_ as orthopaedic supplement to the presignifying body, etc. is all rigidly developmental. It is only preserved at a higher level in the short sessions and high handed authoritarianism of his cranky seniority. Christian ::::::xxxxxx:::: On Tue, Aug 20, 2002 at 04:57:11PM -0400, Kelley wrote: I'm desperately searching my hard drive and the Web looking for the name of an ATTACK TOOL that exploits the Extensible Authentication Protocol in order to perform a DoS attack. I swear to St. Karl that I read about this last month or maybe June, but I can find nothing. nada. zip. zilch! Anyone have any klew? I know, weird place to look, but there are enough geeks around this joint and I'm desparate because I need it to finish up an article I'm writing! BAH! Deadlines. -------------------- IIRC EAP doesn't authenticate the logoff communication's frame. You may know that already, if not, perhaps that might help the search. Mike Shiffman from @Stake has a tool called Omerta that spoofs disconnects of an 802.11b client to the AP, which causes a DoS if the attacker has enough db in his antenna. Maybe not relevant but with the current 802.1X + EAP hype and his recent demo of the tool at Blackhat maybe it is that of which you are thinking? HTH, Matt (beyondzero.net)a looooong article by Kagan about the US (mars) and EU (venus) :::::::::::::::::: Robert Kagan: > It would be better still if Europeans could move beyond > fear and anger at the rogue colossus and remember, again, > the vital necessity of having a strong America - for the > world and especially for Europe. \lang9 --------------------\lang1033 If that's not enough to tell you where Kagan's coming from, notice that this observation immediately follows his unbelievable recommendation that the "atavistic impulses that still swirl in the hearts of Germans, Britons, and Frenchmen" be "played upon" in order to encourage those nations to re-arm. Kagan is, of course, a professional publicist for the USA's extreme, "let's invade Iraq and overthrow the Saudis" right wing. Check out the biography and "recent publications" list on his official home page [1]. Better yet, actually read some of those recent publications, like "Going Wobbly?" and "Still Time for an Investigation" and "Cheney Trips Up" and "The Coalition Trap" and "A Green Light for Israel" and the pre-911 "A National Humiliation." It's all hard-core warmongering, and much of it openly accuses even President Bush of weak-kneed cowardice. But that's not my point. The point is that the Europe-USA tension that Kagan "observes" doesn't really exist. He's making it up. The central premise, as in all of the propaganda from his school (Carl Schmitt, Samuel P. Huntington, Leo Strauss, etc.), is that liberal values must be paid for in blood. And as the solution to this invented ideological "conundrum," Kagan proposes that Europeans enjoy the liberalism and that Americans enjoy the bloodshed. He argues that both sides should embrace this "double standard" as an "acceptable division." The problem with his idea, of course, is that neither Americans nor Europeans are buying it. Europeans will never recognize a US prerogative to blow up whatever and whomever they please. Americans, on the other hand, aren't about to give up their hard-won civil liberties, money and even lives in the name of what Kagan calls (in classic Leo Strauss fashion) "moral consciousness." We know a con job when we see one. Kagan knows that the inherent liberalism of American culture, not to mention their old-fashioned street smarts and sense of self-interest, is the Achilles' heel of his argument. Unfortunately for Kagan, he can address this objection with no better than this wishful hand-waving:\lang9 --------------------\lang1033 > Americans apparently feel no resentment at not being able to > enter a "postmodern" utopia. There is no evidence most Americans > desire to. Partly because they are so powerful, they take pride > in their nation's military power townspeople, whether the > townspeople want them to or not. and their nation's special role > in the world.\lang9 --------------------\lang1033 and this: > In other words, just as Europeans claim, Americans can still > sometimes see themselves in heroic terms - as Gary Cooper at > high noon. They will defend the Perhaps Kagan can't tell the difference between Hollywood America and the real one, but most Americans can. And the reality is that Americans want into what Kagan calls "a post-historical paradise of peace and relative prosperity" just as much as Europeans do. That's what unites, rather than divides, the USA and Europe. Americans, no more than Europeans, won't be satisfied with being "stuck in history", as Kagan puts it. Peace, prosperity and the rule of law are for everyone, not just Europe, and Kagan's best efforts won't convince Americans otherwise. And I'm just as sure that he won't convince Europeans, either. Certainly not those Europeans on nettime, right? Kermit Snelson Notes: [1] ::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::  It would be better still if Europeans could move beyond  fear and anger at the rogue colossus and remember, again,  the vital necessity of having a strong America - for the  world and especially for Europe. \lang9 -------------------- This and other passages from Kagan's article, as well as his official Web page [1], make it clear that Kagan is affiliated with the "hawk" faction in the US foreign policy establishment. The "conundrum" he observes in US-EU relations is therefore less an observation than it is his own policy recommendation. Unilateral action by the US can indeed be justified only through a "double standard", Kagan argues, but this double standard nevertheless constitutes an "acceptable division." The purpose of Kagan's article is to persuade both Europeans and Americans that such an inequality of roles is both desirable and necessary, and justified by cultural and historical differences. In fact, the "hawk" policies advocated by Kagan and his colleagues are just as controversial within Bush's own Republican Party as they are within the EU. Today's lead story in the print edition of the _New York Times_, for instance, reports that the idea of unilateral war on Iraq has come under public attack from no less than Brent Snowcroft and Henry Kissinger [2]. Snowcroft, amazingly enough, was the first President Bush's national security adviser and is still part of the President's father's inner circle. And only a few days ago, the current Bush administration distanced itself from those in Kagan's ideological circles who had lobbied the Pentagon to include Saudi Arabia in the "Axis of Evil." Defense Secretary Rumsfeld and Secretary of State Powell both made strong public statements to the effect that the White House still views Saudi Arabia as an ally. I believe it's important for nettimers to recognize the context of Kagan's argument, and therefore not to take it at face value. Recent tensions in US-EU relations do not stem from objective differences in the geopolitical and cultural realities between the two regions, as Kagan argues, but rather between ideological differences between Kagan's own foreign policy faction and others currently in power. Kermit Snelson :::::::::::::::::::::::::: Not to belabor a point, but today's newspapers have brought fresh evidence of the rather amazing timeliness of this nettime thread. In the last paragraph of the following article from this morning's _Washington Post_, Robert Kagan is described as a "hard-liner" who is "disturbed" by Bush's failure to sell Europe on the doctrine of unilateral US military interventionism. Given what the rest of the article says, however, Kagan should probably worry more at this point about selling it to Republican leaders in the US Congress... As to Geert's question to nettime concerning a possibly widening gulf between Americans and Europeans, I think the following paragraph from the article below is especially relevant: "Though the administration faces two distinct audiences -- European allies and the American public -- they are closely linked. As the Post poll indicated, Americans, still afflicted by Vietnam War insecurities, grow increasingly skittish about American military operations if they are not supported by allies. 'I haven't seen any polls showing a readiness to engage in large-scale action without multilateral support,' said Steven Kull, a public opinion specialist with the University of Maryland." Kermit ====== White House Push for Iraqi Strike Is on Hold Waiting to Make Case for Action Allows Invasion Opponents to Dominate Debate By Dana Milbank Washington Post Staff Writer----------------------------Vital Dissent or Angry Rhetoric?  Fiddler Well...you are correct and I think it's very important that you keep on posting. I have been writing on these boards since soon after 9/11 and frankly, I've about had enough of this crap...the volume of idiots with verbal baseball bats seems to swamp these boards. It is sooo seldom that someone who thinks clearly and fairly ever sticks around (on this most vital subject) and to have both you and Jimmy at the same time seems something of a miracle to me. Greanie and me have had to fight for so many months just to ensure that common sense gets even a tiny hearing! (PS I need a translation of that phrase) And so...I cannot go without saying this..I am rather annoyed that the obvious attack (which I repeated above) was somehow missed by the moderator. Maybe it happened in private...even so...there's something wrong when one person is treated one way publicly and another seems to get away with it. The easy tactic of those who cannot find ANY argument that carries water is 'find a weak-spot..or invent one..in the other party and then stick a knife in'. I wish to god there was a way to elevate the discussion and by-pass these morons. I've had quite a bit of it myself...those who ask about my ethnicity in order to find a reason to discredit my argument. Then there's the 'fence-sitting' camp who believe that they become more 'fair' when they find something wrong with the Palestinians to weight the scales which are so clearly weighed down in the other direction. It doesn't take a genius to see the big picture, yet the vast majority of posters here are determined to see it the other way. I am very angry about how the simple truth of the violation of justice is being ignored by so many of our peers. When things are THIS bad, justice becomes the only thing that matters. A military court in Israel declares that it's OK to deport the relatives of a SUSPECTED bomber/organizer to the Gaza-ghetto. They kill the individual concerned and that seems to 'prove' his guilt (after-sentence-minus trial). The high court says 'no' but allows the military to demolish the homes of the grieving women anyway. On mere suspicion! My god...it cries to heaven. Of course you are right...and all hope lies in those refuseniks. The Israeli government features large in my nightmares. It is humanity at its depraved worst. But WE, the US taxpayers, have enabled this monster to emerge. And we, in such huge numbers are so very guilty for the refusal to see that it is OUR responsibility. We are nothing better than those who hire assasins...worse even...because we have NO quarrel with the Palestinians and we won't even question the horrors that Sharon's government is perpetrating. The US has its head stuck in the sand. It's ironic that the only moral high-ground is buried in the belly of the beast. It's happened before that it rises to the surface and overthrows the monster of violence (like with Shin Fein) and even though the Israeli government seems to hold all the cards..nothing lasts forever.------hange of perspective, Herr Lieberman. Herr Lieberman, as of tommorrow I shall be pitching my tent in your backyard. You,like a certain people back in '48 will be obliging and hospitable. The next day we shall moveinto your garage. This you will understand as our numbers will have grown overnight. By next week we will have commandeered your marital bedroom& you,along withyour family canmove into the garage. We will allowyou to use the bathroom and cooker. In a fortnight you will be forcably removed into my old tent, anyhow, why should we give you such comfort?! You can have that little muddy plot by the dog kennel and we'llerect a fence to keep you out/in.You'll tell the neighbours? HA!go ahead.They fill my pantry and supply me with guns. d \ul Jimmy  lever, give up your illogic games. I won't play them. The refuseniks are the most cowardly of the cowardly and the most self-hating of the self-haters. Like Fiddling Around, they are Jews who seek to distance themselves from their people and religion by refusing to fight for the very survival of their people in the face of the most barbarous activity, namely, Palestinian terrorism. d No, they refuse to participate in war crimes, including the illegal occupation. But of course, a Zionist is unable to see that, since he does not recognize that non-Jews have humanity or rights, and therefore refers to a Jew who recognizes the rights of non-Jews as "self-hating."--------- Bloody Hands Published on Thursday, August 15, 2002 by the BBC 'Human Shield' Death Sparks Debate by Barbara Plett The death of a Palestinian teenager in an Israeli army operation has revived the debate over human shields. The young man was shot on Wednesday in the West Bank town of Tubas. He was forced to go to the door of a house where a Hamas militant was believed to be hiding. The use of Palestinian human shields became an issue during Israel's sweeping military operations in April, when human rights organisations petitioned the supreme court to order a stop to the practice. Hail of bullets Palestinian witnesses said 19-year-old Nidal Abumuhsein was forced at gunpoint to try and get the senior Hamas militant to surrender. They said the Israeli army gave him a protective flack jacket and a sniffer dog. When he knocked on the door he was killed by a burst of bullets, although Tubas residents claim they came from the soldiers, not the house. The army said it was trying to prevent deaths by having the teenager warn any civilians who may have been inside. Heated debates But the Israeli human rights group, B'tselem, strongly condemned the incident as another example of Palestinians being used to shield Israeli forces from potential danger. Several months ago, it petitioned the supreme court, along with other human rights activists to rule against the practice. The group said the army was using civilians to check booby trapped buildings, remove suspicious objects from roads, and walk in front of soldiers to ward off gunfire. The government responded by forbidding such practices. But it drew a distinction between human shields and, what it calls "neighbourhood procedure", that is, using civilians to help soldiers enter Palestinian homes, or approach besieged militants to negotiate an end to a standoff. B'tselem is demanding that this should also be prohibited. But the issue is a matter of debate in Israel. A number of government ministers told Israeli media that the country was in a war situation, and sometimes the lives of Palestinian civilians had to be endangered, to prevent attacks in Israel, or to protect Israeli soldiers. \'a9 AFP 2002 ------------Parker Frazer- 09:17am Aug 15, 2002 PST (#\ul 433 \ulnone of 442) Q&A Is answering certain individuals' questions necessarily helpful to the discussion/situation. The philosopher Jean-Francois Lyotard once talked about using the phrase of silence when encountering an interlocutor who is interested only in silencing others by drowning them in faux litigation--i.e., be the agent of the silence instead of the prisoner of it. This same philosopher demonstrated how the Nazis used this method as one of their means in their attempt to totally erase the Jewish from the face of the earth: it wasn't just bullets and incinerators. So much of it happened through uses of language. What is so disconcerting is the fact that a zealous minority of Jewish people and their right-wing (on any other day anti-Semitic) allies scaring everyone into hating other Semitic peoples and making Jewish people look like what they are as a whole most definitely not, bloodthirsty and vengeful ideologues. Not to mention the thought-policing going on: is it ethical to condemn people because of their religion (or lack thereof), of their ability to consider less cannibalistic methods of justice, and of their ability to hold two or more thoughts at a time? Challenging someone--and listening to that person--is valid; however, once the rhetorical terrain materializes, it's time to demonstrate some intelligence and move where the discussion takes you instead of falling back on elusive creationary tales. Doing this instead of reading favorite passages from whatever scripture or fairy tale might dispel some of the myths plaguing all of us dealing with this issue. We're not going to connect with each other as long as we want to destroy--silence--each other (or is destruction and silence the point?). And for those people who like to ask questions--not for answers but for deferrals of thinking and responsibility--stopping and listening to someone else for a change might actually provide some answers: the answers might not be what one wants to hear, but they might be windows to other, more hopeful possibilites, connections, etc. Shalom and Salam Alakem ------- \ul Jimmy Havok - 11:07am Aug 15, 2002 PST (#\ul 434 \ulnone of 442) mean 100 the refuseniks are assisting in war crimes by NOT helping to combat Palestinian terror. d What a wonderful twisting of logic: by refusing to participate in war crimes, the refuseniks are assisting in war crimes. Next we will see the "fuck for virginity" campaign.  Why are you ignoring my question about Benny Morris? d Because it doesn't deserve an answer beyond this one: 100 give up your illogic games. I won't play them. d -------- \ul lever01 \ulnone - 09:25am Aug 16, 2002 PST (#\ul 435 \ulnone of 442) Don`t run away Where`s the "illogic" Jimmy? According to your reasoning, indeed according to Morris' own reasoning, he should not be alive now, at least not in Israel. This is because, according to you and him, Zionists wrongly disposessed the native Palestinians of their land. If that should not have happened, then what would be right would be for Israel never to have been created at all, and therefore for Mr. Morris himself not to be an Israeli historian and professor now. See what I`m saying? d\s1\li720\sb100\sa100\kerning36 d\kerning0\ul Laura Shapiro\ulnone - 05:21pm Jun 17, 2002 PST Is intelligent criticism of Israel and its policies at risk of being lost in \ul a rising tide of angry, anti-Semitic rhetoric \ulnone ? 435 previous messages) \ul Terry McCann \ulnone - 10:33am Aug 16, 2002 PST (#\ul 436 \ulnone of 442) Ancient nation of who? I was in school in the 1970s in a philosophy class. The discussion went to the topic, "are there absolute?" The general consensus, guided by the by the professor, was that there were none. In the same semester I was taking a biology class. In that class we learned that blood maintains a salt content of roughly 1%. If that is changed, bad things can happen. In the physics class we learned about New ton's 3 laws and how Einstein had proposed a super set to these. In the blood example, that relationship of salt content is fairly absolute (within experimentally determined ranges, some slight individual variations also). New tons laws work well at low fractional values of C; but control shifts to Einstein's realm at speeds that are significant percentages of C. The above discussion is roughly correct. The discussion indicates that if absolutes are not indeed absolutely absolute, they approach absolutes as a graphed line approaches an asymptote as a limit is aproached. The Arabs in Palestine present a similar problem. If indeed they have lived there from time immemorial, the Israel's are dealing with Palestinians. Are there other reasons? Among them, have many Arabs moved there as a result of a seeking a better life (possibly because the Jews built a modern infrastructure and provided good jobs and better health care)? Then they are Arabs living in what was formerly British Palestine. The Israelis could find a way to coexist with Arabs living in Palestine who were seeking a better life. After all, haven't the Jews suffered from lack of a home land? However, if because of this claim to an "ancient" homeland, barbarity is justified because of the lack of this ancient homeland, then where is the justice? So one test of a claim to an "ancient" homeland is verifiable history. Earlier I use the first three American presidents as a starting point. I name George Washington, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson. This indicates my country has some history and also a starting point. It is a trivial exercise. It is the jumping off point for a good historical investigation. It definitely ralates to the current discussion. One problem, no one has answered. So we are stuck at the starting gate. Of course I am joking. I know of no history of nation called Palestine. Both the Romans and the British chose that name deliberately because there was no nation called Palestine. No one could claim the land. If they had called it Upper Egypt or Lower Syria, that would implicitly give someone a claim. Both Rome and Britain were much too good at building empires to make such an elemental mistake. Someone who is advocating suicide terrorism as such a wonderful thing should be able to dash off page after page of independently verifiable history. It is like saying, d\li720 "Tie the bomb on, my son, and go blow up the enemy for our ancient homeland that was founded by ... by ... by, oh hell, just go blow yourself up!" d So, in an effort to get out of the starting blocks, or to shine a search light on true motivation I ask: Who were the first three kings of Palestine? ---------- \ul Jimmy Havok \ulnone - 12:11pm Aug 16, 2002 PST (#\ul 437 \ulnone of 442) mean What's your point, lever? That Morris owes his position as a historian to historical injustices, therefore he shouldn't write about them? Is that why you refuse to recognize the crimes that created Israel? ------------ \ul Parker Frazer \ulnone - 12:16pm Aug 16, 2002 PST (#\ul 438 \ulnone of 442) Faux Litigiousness "If that should not have happened, then what would be right would be for Israel never to have been created at all, and therefore for Mr. Morris himself not to be an Israeli historian and professor now." The above sentence displays premises and conclusions that are actually unrelated. The conclusion arrived at simplifies the situation of creating a state and attempts to reduce the legitimacy of a cultural reality to its ability to gain or be given a state (statehood bein a historically new but increasingly archaic notion in itself); moreover, it avoids the historical import of the present. The question should be now whether or not states can be built according to standards that were actually waning at the end of the 19th century. And more importantly, one should consider what a dasterdly trick was played on the Diaspora and the Palestinians--really on the whole Middle East--since this was becoming increasingly evident. ("Give me evidence of this!" "What trick?!" "Prove there is a Palestine!" "Palestinians do not exist!" To the litigator, I would have to reply: Oh, come on. Next, someone's going to tell me the Shoah didn't happen.) Moreover, the last independent clause quoted above is an instance of proving the negative. Some seem more capable than I in channeling the spirits of the historical and mythic past and future, much at the expense of history and hope. But guess what: Palestinians and Israelis do exist right here, right now. Each individual is not just a player in a single history, but it a collection of many histories (social, familial, political, cultural, religious, etc.), which are sometimes not reconcilable. Are we supposed to treat people as if they are drones or caricatures of some homogenous group(s)? If so, then we will be insulting the very thing that makes humans humans--human beings are constantly-becoming individual multiplicities, not static, arbitrary, or totally quantifiable absolutes. Yes, they are plugged into national and cultural histories, but their relation to those histories is rarely if ever a simple one--for the reasons noted parenthetically above. As indicated earlier, litigious maneuvering only threatens to silence everyone. But that won't stop the litigators. With that being said, on to another instance of faux litigation: "So one test of a claim to an 'ancient' homeland is verifiable history. Earlier I use the first three American presidents as a starting point. I name George Washington, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson. This indicates my country has some history and also a starting point. It is a trivial exercise. It is the jumping off point for a good historical investigation. It definitely ralates to the current discussion." Nations, as we think of them today, are collectively a relatively new phenomenon. Now, of course, if we are to follow 17th- and 18th-century imperial reasoning, we will have to conclude that there really are only and handful of histories, as dileneated to us by Western conquerors and hardly unbiased historians. What disturbs the sort of simplistic picture of human affairs entailed in the quote above is the fact that "history" has always been and will always be contested. Why else all of the wars? History is not some narrative approaching an ideal, it is a matrix always in flux. Western history is merely a node, or an intersection, in a multivalent spider-web of history. As to the primacy, verifiability, of the United States as a nation: yes, there are various accounts that support it as it is generally taken, but those accounts (or stories) are challenged, augmented, or undermined by other accounts (or stories). (I.e., a child brought up in the U.S. would have, until the 1960s, have thought that only landowning white males actually built this nation, which of course is patently false. Indeed, everyone else built this country. A single history, therefore, is often historically inaccurate.) Moreover, the definition of th ?????????/ \ul Parker Frazer \ulnone - 12:17pm Aug 16, 2002 PST (#\ul 439 \ulnone of 442) Faux Litigiousness (cont'd) Moreover, the definition of the United States has never been static--except for those who actually use its symbols in order to destroy its very "spirit." And let's think about that "spirit." Since I am not a clairvoyant, I will not speak for people such as Washington, Jefferson, Franklin, et al, but if I follow the logic presented by revolutionaries (in the American Colonies as well as in France and elsewhere) during the eighteenth century, there seems to be an evident and cogent inquiry into the use of history by the few against the many. It seems that many people wanted to create their own new histories, transgressing the powers that attempted to enslave/destroy them. And the litigators will say: "Off with his head! Silence him! He does not exist because I do not recognize him or his kith and kin as human beings!" Silence. \ul Parker Frazer \ulnone - 12:27pm Aug 17, 2002 PST (#\ul 440 \ulnone of 442) Sharon=War Machine; U.S. Right=War Profiteer \ul \ulnone Scary stuff, to be sure. PETER MUIR - 08:48pm Aug 18, 2002 PST (# 441 of 442) "Every ingredient of the Holocaust... was normal... in the sense of being fully in keeping with everything we know about our civilisation, its guiding spirits, its priorities, its immanent vision of the world"===Zygmunt Bauman j.h.---- \i Reparations are being made to the Indians, however incompletely. So far as I know, Mexico has surrendered its claim to the land the US seized.\i0 Excuse me...when have the 1st Americans been recompensed for the Euro theft of their land? \i We also have a different set of standards today. Simply invading and stealing the territory of another country is no longer acceptable, as it was just a hundred years ago, nor is ethnic cleansing. Some countries just haven't gotten the message yet.\i0 Including Amerikkka---or haven't you heard what dubya Shrub intends to do in Iraq? IMHO, we ain't come as far as we like to think. I'm staunchly anti-Zionist, but I'm no fool. I think any Zionist Israeli has us in the USA dead to rights when they point out that what Israel is doing in the West Bank is no worse than what Amerikkka did in ITS formation---and, unlike the Jews, we didn't have the excuse that 6,000,000 of our people were utterly wiped out in camps set up for that purpose. I agree 1,000,000% with Bundoo that in a sense, the so-called "free world" in a real sense bears a far greater responsibility for the oppression of the Palestinians (and, for that matter, the Jews) in the Mideast than even the most land-hungry Zionist fanatic---and I don't merely mean in the sense that the U.S. supports the Israeli Zionist goverment, but in a deeper, historical sense: that the Gentile Christian West created the religious/ethnic divisions by creating corrupt Islamic oil theocracies, then creating a Jewish "overseer" state in '48. And, secondly, the fact that the Allies did not lift a godamn finger to save the 6,000,00 in Auschwitz, Belsen, etc., which allowed the Zionists then---and has empowered them to this very day---to portray themselves as the thin red line between the Jewish people and their utter eradication. Such was all in the program for the Western ruling asses for the mideast and its Semitic peoples. Can you say "divide and conquer," boys and girls? I knew you could.....They should take it out on the people who did it. It wasn't supposed to be a how-to lesson. It is true, though, that the whole mess of the Arab world is the fault of the way the British cut up the Ottoman Empire...-------------the conversation they want to avoid (english) 3rdoptionsociety@yahoo.com: The climate change is real, there is no doubt. The reasons for the change are what should be focused on. Much of it can be attributed to naturally occuring changes, which have been ongoing since this rock had an atmosphere. But natural changes occur very gradually .. they don't produce such spikes and freak weather. That can only be attributed to the pursuits of humankind resulting in man-made climate change. The unchallenged growth of fossil fuel (ab)usage, the erosion of any sense of environmental protection responsiblity in the US government, and corporate interests which are so myopic they can't see where their own spit lands .. all result in the destruction of the US water resource. Add to that, the naturally occuring climate change, and no change in US gov't policy in sight, and you are damn right much of the US is going to be a desert. The last thing corporate interests/government (it's all the same shit now) want is for water to become a matter of public concern and debate, because it is the ultimate can-o-worms opener. It opens the energy industry up, it challenges the privatization of water, it opens up trade agreements, and on and on it goes. When farmers do not have any where to graze their herds, and the only thing that comes out of a soccer mom's tap is toxic milk, and all the bottled water is sold out down at the quickie-mart, there will be absolutely NOTHING the American people will be able to do to turn it around. But, as with all disasters created by Tina (there is no alternative), rest assured that there will be a long line of corporations standing by with solutions for the 'average American family' .. like windtraps, pills that help you survive the adverse affects of severe long-term dehydration, and desalination kits that even a child could use! Oh yes, what corporate America taketh away, it will most definately provide what you need in your attempt to survive the absence ... that is, if you are still in the game .. if you can still keep up with the Jones'. ---------------------------- Rock of dissent By Israel Shamir A victim can develop mental attachment to the tormentor. Patty Hearst, a millionaire's daughter, was kidnapped and fell in love with her kidnappers. In the Night Porter, the dark movie by Liliana Cavani, an ex-inmate of a Nazi camp and an ex-SS-man, her tormentor of past, run a passionate love affair. Now something similar happens in the Palestinian American community. The most reviled and wronged group of American population is called to defend the most prosperous and powerful one against their own supporters. On 24th of August '02, there will be an event in Washington, Rock for Palestine, or Rock against Israel, as it is also called. The event is organised by some right-wing Americans, loosely connected to a small group called National Alliance (NA). Whatever one thinks about NA, one would expect a satisfied shrug, at least, if not outright support coming from Palestinians and their friends in the US. Instead, in the emails there is a hysterical letter(i) addressed to "all my Arab sisters and brothers", calling to violently confront the event in a military manner "in several different contingents with various risk levels". The letter is extremely violent and is written in intemperate language of hate, the like of it we have not seen before: "We have to stop this racist scum from polluting the Palestinian cause", no less. The organisers of the event are described as "neo-Nazis", "fascists", "Nazi enemies" and "anti-Semites". It is composed by a mysterious East Coast Anti-Fascist Network, and has some Arab names attached to it, though for sure it isn't written by an Arab. Now, nobody likes Nazis, but I wonder why this militant Anti-Fascist Network did not go out to confront gatherings and demonstrations of Judeo-Nazis? What is so wonderful about us Jews that so many people wish to go out and fight for us "in different contingents with various risk levels"? Why this fighting Uruk-hai does not describe Mort Zuckerman or Richard Perle, "racist scum"? Not even Israeli settlers, as racist as anybody, were ever described as "racist scum" that "should not pollute Palestine". It is a mistake to describe anybody as "scum". We should promote more tolerant discourse, accepting or arguing, not fighting somebody else's war. The letter of this "anti-fascist Network" looks like an attempt of the Jewish lobby to make its adversaries to fight each other. This thing has no end. Today they want us to fight NA, tomorrow they would ask us to condemn Farrakhan, and next day - to reject Hezbollah and Hamas. Maybe some of us would like to be approved and promoted only by the Yale professors. But we live in real world. Israel accepts support of every racist that extends its support: be it South African apartheid of old, or present-say fundamentalists, and it does not hurt its "credibility". It does not mean that one should run forward and endorse the NA get-together. But these people should be worked with, not rejected out of hand. Some of their erroneous ideas could be corrected. If they would just say "affirmation of European legacy" instead of "white supremacy" you would discover that the arguments against them collapse. It is like saying "let us make love" instead of 'fuck you' - the meaning is quite similar, but wording is important. I do not intend even to enter discussion, whether the organisers of the event are good guys or bad guys. They can't be more racist than the present Israeli government and the American Jewish community leadership. They can't be more racist than Pat Roberson and his bunch of (anti-)Christian Zionists. Let this anti-fascist (and surely crypto-Jewish) network go out and fight them first. I would bless whoever supports the cause of Palestine without checking their ideological credentials. I bless all supporters of Palestine full stop. However, navigating to the home page of the NA, one finds a cartoon[ii] to sympathise with. It is rather crude depiction of a Neo-Con, looking like a cross between Kissinger and Perle, asking America to kill his enemies: Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia and so forth. Yes, these guys are short of finesse, some of their ideas are weird, but they came to correct conclusion: America should not fight the WWIII for the Zionists' sake. In our Togethernet, "the freest discussion group in the known Universe" J, we had some people who will attend the concert. One of them wrote: "I don't know of ANY white "supremacists" outside of a couple of fantasizing juvenile delinquents in the World Church of the Creator and some Hollywood Nazis. And a section of the Republican Party personified by George Bush. "Supremacist" is a label created by the Zionists of the ADL and kindred spirits. It was used for the same purpose as calling all Palestinian opposition to Zionist occupation and invasion, 'terrorism'. Methinks the Zionists engage in a lot of projectionism when they cast their epithets". If we go out now to defend the powerful American Jews and to fight these 'White' guys, because we do not like their ideology, our next step should be to go out and defend Israel with our own bodies against possible attack from Saddam Hussein's Iraq. Saddam is also supposed to be a bad guy, and I am ready to accept he is. In 1991, I wrote in the leading Russian newspaper, "Probably Saddam is a bad guy, but the Middle East needs a strong bad guy to counteract other, Zionist bad guys". The world is full of bad guys, and things are good only if and when the bad guys balance each other. Saddam would balance Sharon, while the White supremacists would balance the Jewish supremacists. If indeed these men are not supremacists, but cultural separatists, as they claim, we certainly can do things together with them, and with another group of cultural separatists, the Black Muslims, too. The author of the epistle offers, with his low grade cunning, an additional reason for Palestinians to go and fight for Jews: "If we don't do this, our Nazi enemies will claim our noble cause and our Zionist enemies will try to present them as our face". Let him rest assured. In Israel, and in Jewish communities overseas, Palestinians are presented as Nazis on daily basis. Menachem Begin called Arafat, "Hitler" years ago. If there is a nasty thing that the Jewish-owned media could say and print about Palestinians, they already did it. When Palestinian children are shot, Palestinians are blamed that they let their children out. The Palestinians are already smeared so much that they can not be smeared more: they are already described as Jew-haters and baby-killers. How come we Jews do not become "discredited" because of Kahane terrorists or Sharon's assassins? Because people understand: not every Jew is a Judeo-Nazi. In the same way, Americans can distinguish between different opponents of the Israeli apartheid. Let us suppose for the sake of argument, that these 'white supremacists' are real Nazis. (They are not). It would be enough for them to cease attacking Jews, and they would become perfectly good in the eyes of the US media. After that, they would be permitted to say whatever they wish against Muslims, Palestinians, Blacks. All this talk against fascism lasts only as long as the fascists are against Jews. The moment they switch sides, they get kosher approval. Now, an Israeli government delegation participated in deliberations of European extreme right ("fascists") in Brussels[iii]. In the US, the "pro-white" people are not courted by the Jewish community, but it still could happen, if we do not watch out. Probably you had seen this last Bruce Willis movie, Last Man Standing. In a small Texan town there are two gangs, and Willis helps them to fight it out. The Jewish supremacists are a million times stronger than all White supremacists put together. Elementary strategy calls us to avoid giving any support to the Jewish cause, until the apartheid in Palestine is dismantled. As for the concert, probably some Palestinians and their friends will get there, and the rest would stay away. The organisers did not ask for anybody' s endorsement. Let the anti-fascists keep their strength for more worthy cause. And whoever will go to fight for the American Jewish community, let him be prepared for disappointment. His chivalry will not be reciprocated. --------:::::::::::::::::::::------- Statement of the Open City Anarchist Collective (NYC) of the Northeastern Federation of Anarcho-Communists, with Bilal El-Amine.  We condemn Israel Shamir's unprincipled and dangerous article, "Rock of Dissent", which seeks to malign the demonstration against the nazi white power rally by the National Alliance at the US Capitol building on August 24th. Through a shroud of unsavory and often tangled rhetoric, Israel Shamir takes the honorable position of opposing the State of Israel's oppression of Palestinian Arabs who are fighting Zionism. Unfortunately, his political preferences are disoriented. His chosen allies, enemies of both Palestinians and Jews, as well as of all working people, are suspect. Shamir makes clear that he will support any political force, no matter how vile, if it will oppose Zionism. He praises Saddam Hussein as a strong "bad guy" who is needed to oppose Israel. In a public statement brought to our attention by Tim Hall of Struggle magazine, Shamir cheers the French vote for the fascist Jean-Marie Le Pen, who is hostile to both Jewish and Arab immigrants. (Shamir agrees about the need to limit immigration.) In these remarks, which anticipate his coziness with nazis in "Rock Of Dissent", Shamir gives advice to them of ways to appear less offensive. In "Rock of Dissent", Shamir adopts an "enemy-of-my-enemy-is-my-friend" posture in an attempt to fool the naive and neutralize the militant. We repudiate him. Israel Shamir lies. Arguing that Palestinians and the Palestinian solidarity movement should be grateful for the backing from them, he denies the National Alliance is nazi or white supremacist. This is important for his argument, given that white supremacists in the United States are known to despise Arabs and Muslims. But the temporary, opportunistic support of racist extremists for Arabs in other countries does not change this. Shamir's denial that the National Alliance is racist runs counter to documented facts. The National Alliance has been the largest nazi group in North America for years. Founded by the late William Pierce in 1974, it has built an organization of over a thousand members. Pierce's novel "The Turner Diaries" has served as a blueprint for many white supremacist mass murders, from those of the Fort Bragg nazi gang "The Order" to Timothy McVeigh's Oklahoma City bombing. Furthermore, with the acquisition of Resistance Records and Nordland Records, two well know white supremacist labels, the National Alliance not only earns millions of dollars annually from music sales but, more importantly, enacts a greatly expanded involvement in the fascist youth subculture. Finally, the National Alliance maintains one of the most technologically sophisticated web sites on the Internet, bringing hate to a mass audience. Shamir's facile dismissal of these virulent murderers and would-be murderers ("Now, nobody likes Nazis") is a contemptible understatement. Shamir vilifies the U. S. Arab anti-fascists who call for participation in the demonstration against the nazis. On no evidence whatsoever, in a bizarre claim they are not even Arab, he calls them a front group for Jews, part of a "crypto-Jewish" "network". He falsely implies that they and other members of the anti-fascist movement have not opposed Zionism in the past. In fact, the activists who wrote the call for Arab opposition to the National Alliance are indeed Arabs. We are long-time activists for the Palestinian cause who do not intend to fight on anyone's behalf but our own. Our view is that the National Alliance is a very dangerous and sophisticated nazi organization that must be stopped. We will not stand by to allow the Palestinian issue to be exploited for racist ends--not only against Jews but against all immigrants, including Arabs and Muslims. Furthermore, the anti-fascist, anti-Zionist movement has worked in mutual support and solidarity, with numerous examples of public opposition to the State of Israel's brutal, illegal occupation of Palestinian land, including, in New York City, at the most recent Salute to Israel Day parade. But anti-fascist anti-Zionists are united in yet another area: against anti-Semitism. We will not dehumanize or denigrate any group of human beings for the noble cause of Palestinian liberty. We will not ally ourselves with those who do. We reject Shamir's notion that fascists, nazis and racists are acceptable if they manufacture a reason to support the cause of Palestinian liberty. We are aware that Shamir has become notorious among people of principle for explicit anti-Jewish statements. We stand with them in opposition to him. Shamir argues that pro-Israeli U. S. Jews are more influential than U. S. Nazis. This is true, for now. Yet, all around us, we see cities and towns infested with racism. Racism against Jews. Racism against blacks. Against Hispanics, Asians, South Asians, Arabs and Muslims. Hatemongering and institutional racism are far more widespread than support for Zionism. The National Alliance understands this. In a climate of governmental and social hostility, amid everyday problems of poverty, homelessness, drug abuse and police brutality, the nazis appeal through this widespread racial tension in an attempt to expand their ranks. The fascism of white racists, and of all those who advance their cause, is a threat to any "non white" people, as well as to women, queers, and people with disabilities. It is a threat to their declared enemies--liberals, progressives and anarchists. It is a threat to the empowerment of the working classes. Shall we wait to oppose the National Alliance until their sadistic redistribution of power becomes more of a threat? Shall we wait to oppose the National Alliance until they become more numerous and dangerous? We say no. We affirm our intention to defeat racism in all its forms, from the front steps to the back rooms of the U. S. Capitol. in true solidarity with the Intifada, Bill Bachman, Christine Karatnytsky, John Korber and Wayne Price \ul opencity45@hotmail.com \ulnone Bilal El-Amine \ul zaloom33@yahoo.com ---------------------------  financial times on Marx + Indy (198730) comments:   As Marx might have said, had he taken the right side in the class war, the bourgeoisie united will never be divided. But right now the American middle class is split unevenly between suckers and CEOs. What's more, history suggests that when the suckers strike back, they usually demand regulations far stricter than is good for capitalism itself. After all, Marx himself was once an unlucky day trader, whose dreams of making a "killing on the Stock Exchange" in the 1860s came to nothing. And look at the revenge on capitalism he took. Niall Ferguson is Professor of Political and Financial History at Oxford and Visiting Professor at the Stern School of Business, New York University -------------- The problem (english) Hiranmay \i 4:56pm Sun Aug comment#198742 think the biggest problem with the current global system is this. neo-colonialism. the exportation of surplus from the country of origin (invaribly third world countries) to the Imperialist country. Following world war II and the collapse of British and French colonial rule it tended to be American capital that exploited these underdeveloped economies. America grew rich (and still does so) by exporting the profits of their neo-colonies AND through government sanction of these imperialist tactics. The separation of government and Business is non-existant. Government (international relations) IS business, IS corporate rape of underdeveloped countries. That is why there are such problems. The people of the world are sick of being raped by America. That is the truth of the matter and that will be the next big sticking point/hot spot/conflict area. The current system is justified by the Clauswitzean ideology i.e. war is the natural state of relations between nations. That is war for resources. America is the worlds most resource hungry, polluting and downright shallow society. The change may or may not come in my lifetime, but there are many people around the world who are ready to live in a new society. One not dominated by American Capital. The biggest hurdle is the current system of indoctrination. Mass-media. --------------Peter Principle In Action (english) Record StraightA shame that halls of academia and newspapers of record today yield such unmitigated tripe. It would take me pages to correct all of the shallow intellectualism in this article, just a few comments will suffice to make the point: Marx was not a "washout" as a "prophet," since he never pretended to write about anything but conditions in the 19th century. He did note certain trends that he expected to continue or intensify, and certainly the jury is still largely out on those--how quick the defenders of capitalism are to dismiss Marxism forever! Certainly he was not a "class traitor," let alone the "quintessential 19th century bourgeois"; he lived in abject poverty most of his life, and lost several of his children to poor people's diseases of the time. "His socialist uptopia" did not "[turn] out to be a corrupt tyranny" since his vision of socialism has never been realized on this earth. It is obvious that Ferguson finds Marx's great work, Capital, "unreadable," since he has not taken to the time to read it--we should "skip" everything up to Chapter 32! And this is a professor?--------------------------------198718 Turmoil by Doug Henwood (dissident voice): DISSIDENT VOICE AUGUST 17, 2002 www.dissidentvoice.org __ Turmoil by Doug Henwood August 17, 2002 _Bill O'Reilly, host of the O'Reilly Factor on the Fox News Channel, one of the funniest shows on TV (and not always intentionally so), has a feature on every show called "The Most Ridiculous Item of the Day." O'Reilly's politics are largely appalling, but he's entertaining, and I'm going to steal this idea and begin presenting a Most Ridiculous Item of the Week on this show. Here's the premiere. According to official capitalist ideology, CEOs and other top execs deserve their enormous salaries because they're big risk takers and because they contribute so much to society. It's pretty well established that executive pay actually bears little resemblance to performance - and here's an extreme case. Neal Travis reports in today's New York Post (uh-oh, that's my second citation in less than a minute of a Murdoch media property -- I assure you this is entirely accidental) Bob Pittman, who's been squeezed out of a top job at the troubled media giant AOL Time Warner, is going to leave with a $60 million-plus severance deal. Now this is a company whose stock is off more than 80% over the last two years - twice as much as the overall market, and which is now under investigation by the SEC for accounting chicanery. If you get $60 million for being part of a colossal failure, what would the price tag be for success? But Pittman's parting check is nothing compared to that enjoyed by ex-CEO Gerald Levin, architect of the merger of AOL and Time Warner that is now universally regarded as a disaster. Levin left the company earlier this year with more than $200 million. Nice work if you can get it. I was thinking about potential guests to discuss the stock market meltdown and the corporate scandals tonight, but I was overcome by an irresistible attack of vanity, and concluded that I could do it better than anyone. So here we go. First, a measure of the damage. As of Tuesday's closing prices, the most widely used benchmark for stock prices, the Standard and Poor's 500 index, was off 48% from the high it made on March 24, 2000. (The S&P 500 is a broader measure than its more famous cousin, the Dow Jones Industrial Average; the Dow is made up of just 30 stocks, while the S&P, as its name suggests, is comprised of 500.) That decline a hair behind the achievement of the last major bear market, the October 1974 low, which was off just four tenths of a percentage point more. The Nasdaq was off 76% from its March 2000 high. Both averages have a way to go before matching the granddaddy of them all, the 1929-32 decline, which was 82% on the S&P. The 1973-74 bear market was the worst since the 1930s, so we've pretty much matched that record, and I don't think the bloodletting is over yet, despite yesterday's powerful rally and today's see-saw action. Indeed, it wouldn't surprise me to see the Dow tack on 500 or 1000 points over the next weeks or months. But that wouldn't change the big picture much. And what is that big picture? What does this all mean? As I've said here before, in normal times, the zig-ing and zag-ing of the stock market doesn't mean much to the outside world. Unless it's your job, or your own money's on the line, stocks often inhabit a world of their own, with little impact on or relevance to the real economy. But we haven't seen normal times, at least as far as the stock market is concerned, since around 1996, when individuals started playing with stocks in a big way, and the market began escaping the earth's gravitational field. To imagine what effects the bust might have, lets think back on the boom. A rising stock market can have several economic effects. One is direct: strong markets encourage companies to go public, meaning that the small circle of original owners float shares in an initial public offering, or IPO. The proceeds of an IPO generally go towards cashing out the original investors (typically the founders and their earliest funders, like venture capitalists), and if there's money left over, towards investing in expending the underlying business and hiring new workers. We saw a big gusher of that sort of thing in the late 1990s, though it's clear in retrospect that lots of those businesses, like Pets.com, should never have been funded in the first place. But there are also indirect economic effects. A rising market encourages optimism, leading established businesses to invest and hire more than they would have otherwise, and inspiring stock-owning households to save less and spend more than they would have otherwise. We saw lots of that too, as the personal savings rate in the U.S. declined to near 0, the lowest level since the early 1930s, and personal debt levels made new highs. So the rising market goosed the real economy to levels beyond what it normally would have managed, whatever we mean by normal. There were more subtle effects too. The bull market greatly raised the prestige of American capitalism around the world; suddenly other countries wanted to be more like us, which means with flexible labor markets and no welfare state. Flexible labor markets is the polite way to say no job security, no benefits, and low pay (unless you're Bob Pittman or Gerald Levin). Millions of people came to believe that the market could not only fund a comfortable life in the present, it could assure a comfy retirement in the future - especially since Social Security was certain to go broke. (Social Security is not certain to go broke, but that's the myth.) And people came to think that brilliant ideas and clever branding strategies produced value in themselves, without needing mortal human workers, because the stock market said so. So let's throw that all into reverse. Falling markets mean very few IPOs, choking off funding for new businesses to expand and hire, and depressing what Keynes called the animal spirits of entrepreneurs, putting them in the mood for retrenchment, not fresh undertakings. Households who thought they were getting richer suddenly feel poorer - much poorer - and spend less and borrow less. Prudent for individuals, yes, but not so good for an economy dependent on high, even excessive, levels of consumption. Workers who were close to retirement are now having to re-evaluate their plans; those who thought they could retire at 60 or 62 may find themselves working until they're 70 or older. Also, governments at all levels are experiencing much lower tax collections, in part because of economic weakness, but also the direct result of lower stock prices; service cutbacks are inevitable, especially here in New York City, where the economy has never been so dependent on Wall Street. One bright spot, though, is that the global prestige of U.S. capitalism is taking severe hits, which is what it deserves. There are also more subtle messages in the market's steep decline. As I've been saying here, it's extremely unusual for the stock market to fail to respond to the stimulus of lower interest rates, as engineered by the Federal Reserve. Normally, a generous Fed inspires strong stock markets, not once-in-a-generation declines. But that's what we've gotten. The only precedent for this behavior is the 1930-31 period, when the Fed was actually less aggressively indulgent than it has been over the last year and a half. And though by most measures it looks like the recession ended last December or January, the market's not acting like it; this is the only post-World War II recovery in which the market has fallen rather than rising smartly. Why should this matter? For several reasons. The market does have a pretty good record of anticipating major turns in the economy - not every squiggle, for sure, but major trends. And there are several reasons for that. One is that the market is a measure of liquidity in the system - how much spare cash is floating around. If there isn't much spare cash - if cash is all devoted to paying basic expenses and servicing debts - then the market may be weak. But the market is also what pollsters call a "feelings thermometer" for the investing class - a measure of how flush and optimistic people with money feel. Since they're the ones who ultimately determine what's produced by whom, if they're not feeling so good, the rest of us will feel the effects. When the stock market kept declining in the early 1930s, it was a sign that a deflationary depression was underway. I'm pretty confident that a collapse of that sort is impossible today -- government is just too big for the whole economy to implode. But what we've seen in Japan over the last 10 years may be a taste of how a deflationary depression operates today -- a long period of economic stagnation and increasing social stress. There's that possibility -- or for another precedent, there's the economy of the 1970s that followed upon the last great bear market. That was inflationary rather than deflationary, but it was also a time of high unemployment, falling real wages, and mass alienation. I don't know what form this bust is likely to take, but I'm pretty sure we've entered a period of economic troubles. For a decade, the U.S. economy chugged along while the rest of the world experienced stagnation or worse. I'm pretty sure that phase of American exceptionalism is behind us. I don't know what's coming next, but it's probably not good. Which is why it's essential for leftists or progressives or radicals or whatever we call ourselves to get out there and explain what happened to the public and organize against the austerity, crackdown, and reaction that generally accompany bad economic times. A final point. Many Wall Street types are talking about a "disconnect" between the market and the real economy. Yes, the real economy is doing a lot better than Wall Street, at least for now. But they never talked like this on the way up. On the way up, the rising market was proof that everything American finance and industry did was right and great. Now we know that a lot of those heroic financiers and industrialists were crooks, and the rest were in the grip of manic self-deception. Related to the disconnect argument is another frequently on the lips (or typing fingers) of pundits: the U.S. is nothing like Japan ten years ago. Our economy is fundamentally stronger and more "flexible" (that word again) than theirs. But there are other differences too. Japanese households were big savers, not borrowers; today, U.S. households owe record amounts of money to their creditors. Japan was (and remains) a giant creditor on the world scene; the U.S. today, a giant debtor. So those are also ways in which the U.S. is no Japan, though ways less flattering to us. And let's revisit the late 1980s for a moment. Then, it was a commonplace that the U.S. was washed up and Japan was poised to take over the world. That aura of invincibility turned out to be a byproduct of Japan's great speculative bubble. It may be that the notion of the fundamental greatness of the U.S. economy is the last surviving byproduct of our own bubble. ____ d\sb100\sa100 Doug Henwood is the editor of the Left Business Observer, and the host of Behind the News, a weekly radio program covering economics and politics that airs on WBAI (FM 99.5) in New York. Henwood is the author of "Wall Street" (Verso, 1997) and the "State of the USA Atlas" (Simon & Schuster, 1994). This article is an edited version of comments made by Henwood on Behind the News, July 25, 2002. Email: dhenwood@panix.com This article can be viewed on the web at: \ul \ulnone Please spread the word about Dissident Voice newsletter! ===== Dissident Voice is a semi-regular newsletter dedicated to challenging the lies of the corporate press and the privileged classes it serves. "To be truly radical is to make hope possible rather than despair inevitable." -- Raymond Williams Editor: Sunil K. 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