Democrats Keep Dropping the Ball

Published at 23:23 on 16 May 2022

So, there was yet another mass shooting last weekend, this time in Buffalo. No doubt you heard about it already.

In response to this, top Democrats have… issued the standard pleas for more gun control.

Yes, the Democrats are being that pathetic.

I mean, really now. The dynamics have not changed. Gun control couldn’t pass in the wake of any of the previous mass shootings, and it’s not going to pass in the wake of this one, either.

By contrast, this is a golden opportunity to set the narrative that the Republicans are a dangerous party of fascists and fascism enablers. It is easy to do this because it is true. (Witness how one of the worst offenders in this regard hails from upstate New York). And it just might help the Democrats in the coming elections.

It is this sort of mind-blowing incompetence that makes me conclude that just like there is no better Republican Party, there is also no better Democratic Party. The two parties are not equally evil but they are nonetheless co-responsible for the direction the USA is heading.

What It Will Take for Me to Revise My Pessimistic Assumptions

Published at 18:32 on 11 May 2022

Basically, it will take a significant fraction of the American public acting in ways that demonstrably falsify these assumptions.

We can start with various forms of sustained resistance to the impending Supreme Court decision. The American public being diverse, the resistance will naturally take diverse forms, all the way from electoral politics to nonviolent direct action to armed actions that many would label terrorism.

On the latter part, yes, that is pretty much inevitable. Just look at what recently happened in Wisconsin. There will be more from where that came from. (This is not an endorsement; it is merely an observation.)

It all boils down, again, to the sophistication of that same public. They don’t have to like the violence. They don’t even have to support it. All they have to do is realize that there is a difference between supporting every last tactic used by any person striving for a goal, and supporting that goal itself.

It is possible to oppose political violence while still agreeing with those using violence about some common cause. Martin Luther King managed to very eloquently do this in the Sixties; here is one such example.

But if the overall reaction is, “I’m going to vote Republican because I don’t like the small subset of the Left that is being violent,” well, we are right back to the American public being stupid and ignorant again.

Remember, unlawful violence has been used on the anti-abortion side, too. (And that is aside from all the violence we saw on January 6th of last year!) So what this really would amount to, is a hypocritical double standard, in which the Right (and only the Right) is given a pass on political violence.

In that case, what we have is basically a fascism-friendly public, and as a result fascism is basically inevitable; given enough bootlickers, ample opportunities for boot-licking will be furnished. Ending this state of affairs will then have to be the job of younger generations, who as usual will be made to pay for the sins of their forebears, unfair as that is.

Despite all the hand-wringing about violence discrediting the cause, it is really a red herring. Assume a world in which the violence did not happen. This would also be a world in not much of anything happened at the grassroots level, per the principles in the second paragraph. In other words, a world where the task of opposition fell to the so-called “opposition” party, i.e. the same people who failed to effectively oppose the increasingly fascist GOP for decade after decade. It’s pretty obvious how that would play out.

So yes, the public reaction is critical. The Democrats are so institutionally incompetent that there is no way they will effectively lead on anything. They might, however, be dragged into following a lead from the public. If, that is, the American public surprises me and proves me wrong.

Why I Am Generally Pessimistic

Published at 21:19 on 10 May 2022

  1. There is no better Republican Party. It is a gang of fascists and authoritarians, and is unlikely to change.
  2. There is no better Democratic Party. It is weak and incompetent, and is unlikely to change.
  3. There are no better American voters. They are generally ignorant and stupid, and are unlikely to change.

I will post in a day or two about what it would take for me to revise any of these assumptions.

Cut the RBG Admiration, Liberals

Published at 00:55 on 6 May 2022

Get it straight: RBG is a big part of the reason why we are where we now are!

Oh, yes she is. Obama tried to drop hints to her that it was time to retire, but she would have none of it. You see, it had been a lifetime goal of hers to serve until age 90, and she wasn’t going to get a little thing like a cancer diagnosis — pancreatic cancer, mind you, one of the worst kinds — dissuade her.

By any measure, such behavior should be regarded as short-sighted, unstrategic, and selfish. That doesn’t make her evil or anything, just deeply flawed and complicated, and clearly unworthy of being lionized as some sort of judicial demigod.

On Exaggerating the Consequences

Published at 09:09 on 30 April 2022

My last post mentioned in passing exaggerating the economic consequences of the pandemic.

I suppose I can take solace in how I am hardly alone in doing so. In particular, most central bankers did precisely the same thing, which motivated them to take actions to aggressively promote inflation and stimulate economic growth. We are now starting to pay the price (literally) of those inflationary policies.

In defense of the banksters, it is actually a logical choice to err on the side of avoiding a deflationary spiral. This is because the deflationary cycle is much harder to rein in than the inflationary one. During a period of deflation, one can profit simply by stuffing a mattress with cash, since falling prices mean that cash will become more valuable over time.

During a period of inflation, by contrast, it is best to be cash-poor and invested in physical assets. Central bankers can counter this trend by raising interest rates to the point where high compound interest more than cancels out how money is declining in value over time. Note that countering a deflationary cycle via adjusting interest paid (or in this case, charged) to savers is not possible, as it would imply negative interest rates, and if there are negative rates, one can easily beat them with a mattress stuffed with cash (0% interest).

(And no, it tends not to be literal mattresses stashed with literal cash. Safe deposit boxes full of bundles of C-notes are much more common.)

Central bankers know all of this, therefore their goal is never to stomp out inflation completely, as this is just too dangerous. (Remember, they will sometimes guess wrong, because economic forecasting is never 100% accurate.) Rather, the goal is to shoot for a low but not zero rate of inflation, a rate of inflation with enough of a safety margin to make triggering deflation extremely unlikely.

During the pandemic this was all complicated even more by being in something of unprecedented economic circumstances, and deflation did in fact start rearing its head in the early months. Seeing the danger in that, it is really no surprise the central bankers floored the economic accelerator pedal. It turns out they guessed wrong (also not a surprise, given the lack of precedent), so now we have an inflationary spiral.

But as bad as that is, it still beats the pants off an out-of-control deflationary spiral. Keep that in mind when you hear the righties moaning about big government, central bankers, fiat currencies, and (the lack of) gold standards.

The Post-Pandemic Future of Cities

Published at 08:39 on 30 April 2022

I basically predicted something like this would happen back in April, 2020, although as part of a post that exaggerated the total amount of coming economic disruption. I bet the same trend is happening in Canada, too, which is yet another reason (as if one is needed) to play it slow on any decision to purchase real estate anyplace in greater Vancouver.

One wrinkle I hadn’t completely foreseen (but probably should have) is the disconnect between commercial and residential real estate costs. It will be interesting to see how that one plays out. Hopefully, it will prove not too difficult to repurpose office buildings into residential ones, though the possibility of both regulations and architectural constraints largely preventing that cannot be discounted.

In the latter department, ultimately it wouldn’t stop the conversion any more than de-industrialization and just-in-time manufacturing stopped the conversion of vacant warehouse spaces to lofts, and the end result would, like lofts, be quirky spaces that initially appealed to artists and other creatives. Ultimately, however, can take a long time, so there may well be a prolonged period of high office vacancy rates coming.

More on the Twitter Sale

Published at 19:44 on 25 April 2022

Liberals Need to Calm the Fuck Down

Musk is not a fascist. He’s a boorish, emotionally immature capitalist. His political views don’t neatly fit into the political spectrum, largely because they are not particularly well thought-out. It’s not good that Trump and some other big fascists are about to get their platforms back, but it’s also not as if Twitter got sold to Peter Thiel, who is planning to appoint Steve Bannon as CEO.

As I Said, Expect Chaos

Musk doesn’t fully know what he’s going to do, other than he doesn’t like the “censorship” that Twitter has engaged in. Well, guess what? Terms of service are there for a reason. If Musk wants to basically scrap all terms of service, all editorial discretion, Twitter will promptly start turning into the sort of sewer that 4chan and the likes have long been.

At that point, the exodus (a real exodus, not just a few liberal drama queens crying about taking their toys and going home) begins. Also at that point, Twitter’s value (being the market leader in short-message social networking) starts rapidly evaporating into thin air.

As soon as that happens, expect the concept of terms of service to rapidly (and, to reiterate, chaotically) be un-scrapped. Musk is a capitalist. As such, he worships first and foremost at the altar of Mammon. Any development that promises to take most of his investment’s value away from him will prompt an immediate recalculation.

That is, of course, the most dramatic scenario. More than likely, it will be less dramatic than that.

Elon Musk Buys Twitter

Published at 14:11 on 25 April 2022

It’s Not Good News

He has said he intends to give fascists a platform on it, there is no good reason to doubt his intent to do that, and he now has (or soon will have) the power to do it. The conclusion here seems inescapable, at least in the short-to-medium term.

Expect Chaos

I won’t say exactly what chaos to expect, but expect it. And don’t expect it all to be easily predictable chaos.

Expect Surprises

Musk has more money than sense, and he has burned himself before. This is one reason why I expect chaos. Musk will act impulsively, this will bite him, then he will act impulsively in an attempt to counter the harm his earlier impulsiveness caused him.

This may even play out in ways that the fascists haven’t thought through: what if he decides climate change denial is a threat (it runs counter to Tesla’s business model, after all) and bans it from Twitter?

Yes, Ukraine Sank the Moskva

Published at 10:41 on 15 April 2022

No, I am not just blindly taking Ukraine’s assertion on it:

  1. The Russian claim that a fire broke out and it had to be abandoned just doesn’t make much sense. Nobody just abandons a ship, particularly a prize asset like the Moskva, because a fire breaks out. They try and fight the fire. If they couldn’t, this points to crew incompetence that is even more embarrassing than a missile strike.
  2. The Russians don’t even believe their own claim. Just look at this anthology of how the Russian state media is screeching in outrage at Ukraine over the sinking. Why all the outrage at Ukraine if Ukraine had nothing to do with it?
  3. The US Department of Defense has concluded, based on the available intelligence, that Ukranian missiles were responsible for the sinking.

Simply all of the best available evidence is pointing to it being a successful Ukrainian attack.

And it is a major loss for Russia. The Moskva was the flagship of Russia’s Black Sea fleet. This is the largest deliberate sinking of a ship since World War II. Large ships are not built overnight; it will take many years to complete constructing a replacement. In the meantime, Russia is not able to move a replacement into the theatre of combat from one of their other fleets because Turkey has closed the Bosporus to Russian warships.

Still an Anarchist

Published at 02:10 on 15 April 2022

And this most recent post basically says it all as to why.

This is totally a crisis of bourgeois politics. The radical left is a tiny and insignificant part of US politics. One bourgeois party went fascist, largely because fascism is compatible with, and is in fact a natural outgrowth of, the authoritarianism of the capitalist corporation. The other bourgeois party failed to do much of significance to oppose the fascists, because doing little of consequence (while soaking up political energy that might do more of it) is the political niche that party evolved to fill.

When the authoritarian transition completes, the USA will hardly be the first capitalist society to have gone fascist. The fascist form is merely one of capitalism’s natural forms. To be shocked at it all is to be shocked that some deserts contain cacti.

Really now, just what does one think the natural consequence of an authoritarian economic system, one contrary to the material interests of the vast majority, might be in an otherwise open and free society? That freedom is obviously a danger to capitalism, because freedom implies the freedom to pursue alternatives to capitalism.

The way to deal with that, without just throwing freedom away right off the bat, is to somehow create a culture of lies and indoctrination so as to snow the majority, or alternately to nurture anti-freedom attitudes in that majority (so that they perceive themselves to be better off if there are bosses in their midst). And once one does that, political freedom is always at risk because of the beliefs that make economic domination safe; it only takes a relatively modest additional amount of propagandizing to get to the point where full fascism becomes politically feasible.

I worked the above out decades ago, and when I worked it out, was the moment I consistently began self-identifying as an anarchist, because I knew that, if allowed to stand, bourgeois society would inevitably bring us to basically just the sort of place that it has now brought us. Unfortunately, and for a variety of reasons, the movement that I was part of failed in its historic task (at least for now).

And here, as they say, we are.

That I will, and have, when the time came, made alliance with those who are pro-capitalist but anti-fascist, does not mean I have ceased to believe any of the above.