September 29, 2013 archive

Sep 29

Anti-Capitalist Meetup: Yet another windy response to “What is Capitalism” by Annieli

I’ve been writing diaries here as a matter of praxis, that is, bringing theory and practice together as dialectically critical action, this is yet another attempt to make the somewhat odious task of understanding the core of marxist thought and applying it to coherent contemporary circumstance. This example shows the fundamental problem in taking an oppositional stance to capitalism as anti-capitalist thinking, how to discuss the alternatives as types of post-capitalism, and what comes afterward in terms of development. One first must understand the materialist approach to history and see capitalism’s place. Human development as cultural/social development laid upon nature’s development is always sets of uneven development even in terms of the prehistoric, knowing that many different versions of humanoids did at some moments live in parallel, some evolving to survive and others not, in a godless ecological struggle. Similarly uneven development exists for each of the historical stages of human social/economic development often described as Modes of production and the Five stages of history. Where it can get complicated is specifying the forces of production.

History can be described as divided into these stages

2.1 Primitive Communism

2.2 Slave Society

2.3 Feudalism

2.4 Capitalism

2.5 Socialism

2.6 Communism

We can still see echoes of more primitive relations even today in the informal economies of barter as forms of primitive communism and the indentured labor of some immigrant labor whether in this country or others. Enslavement exists in many forms in these uneven developments whether as actual human ownership in sex traffic or wage slavery as in globalized mass-market, corporately-owned consumer industries. Socialism or collective ownership of the means and forces of production has been achieved at various historical moments with varied success and failure and always exists as a non-totality in that other historical stages have and continue to exist in an uneven relationship and in various evolutionary forms.

This diary’s example will be of necessity a schematic version applied to the current situation of wind energy production in the United States signifying those uneven stages of historical development

The economy in which these modal stages are situated have three moments: production circulation consumption, which as a circuit reproduces itself. that is. each consuming moment induces a new, subsequent producing moment, much like the dialectic of thesis, antithesis, and synthesis producing a new thesis.

Writers who identify with historical materialism usually postulate that society has moved through a number of types or modes of production. That is, the character of the production relations is determined by the character of the productive forces; these could be the simple tools and instruments of early human existence, or the more developed machinery and technology of present age. The main modes of production Marx identified generally include primitive communism or tribal society (a prehistoric stage), ancient society, feudalism, and capitalism. In each of these social stages, people interact with nature and produce their living in different ways. Any surplus from that production is allotted in different ways. Ancient society was based on a ruling class of slave owners and a class of slaves; feudalism was based on landowners and serfs; and capitalism based on the capitalist class and the working class. The capitalist class privately owns the means of production, distribution and exchange (e.g., factories, mines, shops and banks) while the working class live by exchanging their socialized labour with the capitalist class for wages.

In order to apply this to wind power, the task is to project those stages as simply as possible. Wind is basic yet necessarily tied to other natural factors of production in terms of marine or terrestrial environment. It appears greater in various locations yet even those quantities are not consistent even seasonally and as a natural resource are difficult to capitalize upon. More problematic is its availability as seemingly costless, yet also impossible to accumulate in any surplus in its natural form, hence its designation as a common-pool resource. If you put up a windmill you are being a primitive communist until the height or appearance interferes with your neighbors. As you derive power whether as grinding mill, water pump, or electrical generator, you accumulate various types of materially transformed surplus. Its subsequent transformation into “wind capital” comes in the means by which power is produced and its relation to the entire productive circuit. In the mercantile or feudal case of grinding grain or pumping water it comes from being one part of producing other goods, whereas as under capitalism it can be not only an industrialized farm but as in the case of mineral exploitation, speculative contracts auctioned off among capitalists over a very long cycle of manufacturing, siting, and operating. These are of necessity coexisting uneven developments whether you have a single subsistence farm windmill in the Southern Hemisphere or a massive industrial wind farm fueling a national energy grid in the Northern Hemisphere. As has been mentioned here and elsewhere in DK, alternative capital accumulating organizations with a public/social purpose, whether organized cooperatively or collectively continue to emerge with varying success to resist the hegemony of capitalist energy corporations. Just as the development of the Cape Wind turbine farm off the shore of Massachusetts is less about the capital and labor needed for construction or the deconstruction of class narratives about environmental hazard or aesthetic blight, than the fictive capital embodied in auctioned speculative leases and their relation to the corporate energy oligopoly of the New England electricity grid. Unevenness occurs in the scale of such endeavors since the NIMBY-ness of small scale backyard wind turbines ranges from the quaint reproduction of historical windmills to the pathological fear of eyesores, noise, and dead birds.

Sep 29

Cartnoon

Sep 29

On This Day In History September 29

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

September 29 is the 272nd day of the year (273rd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 93 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1547, Miguel de Cervantes, author of Don Quixote, is born this day near Madrid.

Cervantes led an adventurous life and achieved much popular success, but he nevertheless struggled financially throughout his life. Little is know about his childhood, except that he was a favorite student of Madrid humanist Juan Lopez, and that his father was an apothecary.

In 1569, Cervantes was living in Rome and working for a future cardinal. Shortly thereafter, he enlisted in the Spanish fleet to fight against the Turks. At the Battle of Lepanto in 1571, he took three bullets and suffered permanent damage to his left hand. Later, he was stationed at Palermo and Naples. On the way home to Madrid in 1575, he and his brother Roderigo were captured by Barbary pirates and held captive in Algiers. Cervantes was ransomed after five years of captivity and returned to Madrid, where he began writing. Although his records indicate he wrote 20 to 30 plays, only two survive. In 1585, he published a romance. During this time, he married a woman 18 years younger than he was and had an illegitimate daughter, whom he raised in his household. He worked as a tax collector and as a requisitioner of supplies for the navy, but was jailed for irregularities in his accounting. Some historians believe he formulated the idea for Don Quixote while in jail.

In 1604, he received the license to publish Don Quixote. Although the book began as a satire of chivalric epics, it was far more complex than a simple satire. The book blended traditional genres to create a sad portrait of a penniless man striving to live by the ideals of the past. The book was a huge success and brought Cervantes literary respect and position, but did not generate much money. He wrote dramas and short stories until a phony sequel, penned by another writer, prompted him to write Don Quixote, Part II in 1615.

Cervantes died in Madrid on April 23, 1616. In honor of the date on which both Miguel de Cervantes and William Shakespeare died, UNESCO established April 23 as the International Day of the Book. (Shakespeare and Cervantes, however, did not actually die on the same day, as the April 23 date for Shakespeare is Julian calendar (Old Style) and the April 23 date for Cervantes is Gregorian calendar (New Style) as those were the calendars in effect in England and in Spain, respectively, at that time. The Gregorian calendar was then ten days ahead of the Julian.)  

Sep 29

Six In The Morning

On Sunday

Iranian President, Hassan Rouhani, returns from Barack Obama talk to jeers – and cheers – in Tehran

 JONATHAN OWEN   SUNDAY 29 SEPTEMBER 2013

The Iranian President, Hassan Rouhani, was greeted by angry scenes on his return to Tehran from New York yesterday, with his convoy pelted with eggs, shoes and stones amid chants of “Death to America” and “Death to Israel”.

But supporters of his controversial decision to break a 34-year silence between the leaders of Iran and America, by speaking to President Barack Obama on Friday, cheered and hailed him as a “lord of peace”.

The 15-minute telephone call between the two men was the first conversation between the presidents of the two countries since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. It came after last week’s United Nations meeting in New York, and assurances made by Mr Rouhani about Iran’s controversial nuclear programme. “We say explicitly that we will be transparent; we say explicitly that we will not build a bomb,” he said.




Sunday’s Headlines:

Kenya criticizes U.S. over updated travel warning

Special report: The punishment was death by stoning. The crime? Having a mobile phone

Protesters in Khartoum call for Bashir to quit

Is population growth out of control?

Chimps are making monkeys out of us

Sep 29

Late Night Karaoke

Sep 29

Saturday Night Movie

Sep 29

Three Things On The Internet

The team of All In with Chris Hayes puts out a daily request on Twitter asking their followers to send them the things they find most interesting on the internet. This is their finds for

Bill Gates says ctrl+alt+delete was a mistake

1. JJ Abrams don’t screw up the new Star Wars. Here’s how.

2. That thing where your computer freezes and it’s horrible and your last hope is contorting your fingers and holding down “ctrl+alt+delete.” Yeah, that thing, according to Bill Gates, was a mistake.

3. Haunted houses are scary. You know?

Sep 29

The Impossible Budget

The problem is the sequester, particularly the Defense cuts (because as we’ve seen with SNAP, too many DC legislators are quite content to literaly take food out of the mouths of starving children).

Shutdown crisis rooted in GOP’s budget

By DAVID ROGERS, Politico

9/28/13 4:40 PM EDT

It promised to protect defense spending while living with the post-sequestration caps of $967 billion set in the Budget Control Act. But to deliver on this pledge, it required such large cuts from domestic spending bills that the whole appropriations process collapsed by mid-summer.

A popular $44.1 billion transportation and housing bill had to be pulled from the House floor in late July. Of the eight, annual appropriations bills which are most truly non-defense spending, none made it through the House this year.



(I)f the CR really strictly matched the post-sequester allocation of funds under the BCA for 2014, the Pentagon would have to cut roughly $44 billion from the $512.5 billion level approved by the House in late July.

That’s an immense drop which many Republicans would find hard to accept even on a two to three month basis.



“Some will complain that the bill breaks the cap placed on defense spending under the sequester level for fiscal 2014 put into place by the Budget Control Act,” (House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal) Rogers said. “To this I say of course it does.”

“If nothing is done to cancel the next round of sequestration cuts that are scheduled to take effect when this Congress adjourns, this bill would be cut to a total of $468 billion.”

And while the primary impetus is arguably Republican, the fact is that many, many Democrats think Austerity in times of Depression is a good idea and are willing to sell out their constituents to their campaign donors.