Idle hands are the devil’s workshop. Here’s a leftish, anti-consumerist, anti-capitalist rant of some interest (excerpts):

Clearly, resisting this system can’t just be a part-time hobby inevitably undercut by the full time jobs that keep it in place. When the economy itself is an engine of destruction, withdrawing from it isn’t just a matter of personal taste, or a hedonistic exhibition of privilege — it’s the only way to engage with the total horror of it all, the only way to contest it in deed as well as word.…

It is a foregone conclusion for the average white collar worker that she would never sell sexual favors on the street — but spending her life in a cubicle, engaged in meaningless repetitive tasks, she willingly sells away more precious parts of herself.…

As free-lance slaves hawking our lives hour by hour, we come to think of ourselves as each having a price; the amount of the price becomes our measure of value. In that sense, we become commodities, just like toothpaste and toilet paper. What once was a human being is now an employee, in the same way that what once was a cow is now a medium rare steak. Our lives disappear, spent like the money for which we trade them. Commodities are consumed, working to produce commodities, and we become less than the sum of our products.

This reminds me a bit of Bob Black’s essay The Abolition of Work. Fun to read, but a bit utopian-sounding. On the other hand, Butler Shaffer reminds us that the status quo is just a utopian fantasy gone bad, and that we should resist the temptation to label alternatives as “utopias” just because they remain untried or difficult to imagine:

Those who criticize me for alleged visionary tendencies are, more often than not, themselves the defenders of the most pervasive of utopian schemes: constitutional democracy. Most Westerners have an unquestioning attachment to the belief that political power can be limited by the scribbling of words on parchment!…

A belief in constitutional government remains nothing but a collection of undigested reveries. Like the gullible soul who purchases stock in a non-existent gold mine and hangs onto his investment lest he admit to himself that he was bilked, most of us are fearful of confronting the inherent dishonesty of the idea of “limited government.” We prefer a new illusion: there is some “outsider” who can be elected to the presidency, and who will go to Washington and “clean up” the place. What is more utopian than the current tunnel vision mindset that, whatever the problem, the state can resolve it?


In The Nation, Naomi Klein reports on how the U.S. is planning to hand over “sovereignty” to the people of Iraq — complete with the quotation marks:

As the “handover” approaches, Paul Bremer has unveiled a slew of new tricks to hold on to power long after “sovereignty” has been declared.

Some recent highlights: At , building on his Order 39 of , Bremer passed yet another law further opening up Iraq’s economy to foreign ownership, a law that Iraq’s next government is prohibited from changing under the terms of the interim constitution. Bremer also announced the establishment of several independent regulators, which will drastically reduce the power of Iraqi government ministries. For instance, the Financial Times reports that “officials of the Coalition Provisional Authority said the regulator would prevent communications minister Haider al-Abadi, a thorn in the side of the coalition, from carrying out his threat to cancel licenses the coalition awarded to foreign-managed consortia to operate three mobile networks and the national broadcaster.”

The CPA has also confirmed that after , the $18.4 billion the US government is spending on reconstruction will be administered by the US Embassy in Iraq. The money will be spent over and will fundamentally redesign Iraq’s most basic infrastructure, including its electricity, water, oil and communications sectors, as well as its courts and police. Iraq’s future governments will have no say in the construction of these core sectors of Iraqi society. Retired Rear Adm. David Nash, who heads the Project Management Office, which administers the funds, describes the $18.4 billion as “a gift from the American people to the people of Iraq.” He appears to have forgotten the part about gifts being something you actually give up. And in the same eventful week, US engineers began construction on fourteen “enduring bases” in Iraq, capable of housing the 110,000 soldiers who will be posted here for at least . Even though the bases are being built with no mandate from an Iraqi government, Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, deputy chief of operations in Iraq, called them “a blueprint for how we could operate in the Middle East.”

The US occupation authority has also found a sneaky way to maintain control over Iraq’s armed forces. Bremer has issued an executive order stating that even after the interim Iraqi government has been established, the Iraqi army will answer to US commander Lieut. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez. In order to pull this off, Washington is relying on a legalistic reading of a clause in UN Security Council Resolution 1511, which puts US forces in charge of Iraq’s security until “the completion of the political process” in Iraq. Since the “political process” in Iraq is never-ending, so, it seems, is US military control.

In the same flurry of activity, the CPA announced that it would put further constraints on the Iraqi military by appointing a national security adviser for Iraq. This US appointee would have powers equivalent to those held by Condoleezza Rice and will stay in office for a five-year term, long after Iraq is scheduled to have made the transition to a democratically elected government.


And, rounding out today’s line-up of things other people have written: Ending the American Pre-Occupation and the Occupation of Empire (excerpts):

We tried and we failed. Amassing in the streets , was simply not enough to stop the war. , we must do more than lick our wounds and shake our heads in dismay. The changes that need to be made are systemic. In order to affect real change, our resistance needs to be systemic as well.…

We want to feel like we can make a difference and change the game, but that requires that we first start thinking about how to change our game. These days the only thing more predictable than being herded around by riot police at a protest and marginalized as uninformed dangerous lunatics by the corporate media, has been the gathering of anti-establishment archetypes yelling three word chants and repeating the same desperate attempts at worn out, or half baked street strategies.…

What about a protest that has duration, that is invisible, that cannot be corralled or stopped by the physical force of riot police, surveillance technology, or batons and tear gas. What about moving beyond disconnected acts of resistance and participating with an intelligent guerilla style attitude towards a resistance to end the war machine.…

The machines of war require support systems to persist. These include everything from food producers to new recruits to the weapons of war themselves. While the country of Iraq may seem incredibly distant, we can still affect the occupation of Iraq by influencing the support systems here at home. Every tool of warfare has a maker and a person who decides to make those tools available. They are our neighbors, they are members of our community and they are people who should share accountability for their actions. Their participation is an act of complicity that can be affected. We cannot turn our backs on the men and women who have been forced to serve the interests of Empire, but we can work to bring them home now, and make every attempt to make the business of Empire unprofitable.


And I note that the National Pork Council is back at work…

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