Saturday, March 08, 2003

Either my mouse or my computer is very sick. If it's the mouse, I should be spewing indignation again soon. If not, well, blogorrhavings will be short and few for some time to come.

Thoughts for the week include the conviction that the Libs should put someone a little more impressive up against Latham than that irksome little twit Pine; that I'd like to know how many Halliburton shares Cheney and associates have; that Tony Fry is a lot funnier than Robin Williams; that the 'super-goal' idea is not a goer; that anything Oscar Wilde could do, William Congreve did even better; and that Herbert Muller nailed it 51 years ago, when he concluded his wise *The Uses Of The Past* with the observation that "the most apparent use of the 'tragic' view of history is the melancholy one of helping to prepare us for the worst. It gives us vast and eminent company in our misery; for if we feel that our society is damned and doomed, we can add that all the great societies were sufficiently damned and were certainly doomed. We might also remember what written history too
seldom shows, that ordinary men have always had to suffer the history their leaders were making ..."

Friday, March 07, 2003

I’ll let you in on some blogorrhoeaic secrets, blogorrheaders. Firstly, if you want to look prescient, be dismarrhoeaic. If the intentions of a government, CEO or politician are not clear, assume the worst. And secondly, if a story hardly sees the light of day before it disappears from sight, investigate it for that which does not fit the orchestrated discourse du jour. For it is bound to come back some time – typically (if the spin-meisters and besuited editor-botherers have done their jobs properly) too late for it to matter much vis the issue in question at the time.

Thus was it with a story blogorrhoea reported on 18 October. It was all about Iraq’s chances of getting within a hanging chad of formal democracy apre The Cleansing Fire. Everything reported then (and duly forgotten by the 19th) applies still, and I see the story is having another go at public consciousness today. I don’t like its chances even now, but as both my readers are busy people, here ‘tis.

UPI’s Martin Sieff reports that Ahmed Chalabi (the chap, of shady past but likeable enough countenance, who the war-makes-everything-better crowd assured us would get the chair in Baghdad once Saddams entrails were steamed off the upholstery) suddenly finds his old mates in Washington aren’t returning his calls. Not even his erstwhile champions Cheney, Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz.

It seems the litany of urgent warnings from the CIA and repeated sobering assessments from the boys in uniform (all duly blogorrhecorded) have finally found an ear in the Whitehouse. It turns out Iraqis might react to invasion much as Americans would. It transpires that, pace Chalabi’s sanguine assurances, the majority of Iraqis are not falling over themselves to greet their 'liberators'. It comes to seem that Chalabi was spinning ‘em the happy words to ensure he’d be at the top of the pile when Uncle Sam was grasping for a puppet to hide the scarlet hand.

Which all means that the chickenhawks dare not extend even the formal sheen of democracy to the vanquished. Chalabi’s Iraqi National Congress (the closest thing to a democratic organisation disaffected Iraqis and Washington spin-meisters had to work with, but actually no more than the brainchild of a PR consultant) has been duly cast aside, and an Arab-infuriating, terror-fuelling, demagogue-facilitating, blood-inducing direct military occupation opted for.

I feel sorry for the Iraqis, I feel sorry for the tommies and grunts – shit, I feel sorry for us all.

Nice one, Shrubya.

Sunday, March 02, 2003
... which would make worm meat of us all.

Ozplogistan mutters with surfeit unto nausea. Too much of Saddam and George in a world replete with beauty and interest, they moan. Having just watched the greatest non-test-playing batsman I have ever seen take Australia to yet another unlikely triumph over the hapless Poms, I cannot pretend to miss their point. And, yes, between the acting of a dreadful thing and the first motion, all the interim is like a phantasma or hideous dream (dipping the lid to Bill The Bard's Brutus).

Nevertheless, you only escape a hideous dream by waking up - and blogorrhoeaics will keep hollering at you until you do. Thus is our affliction, and thus are we yours.

Tom Bottomore tries to define fascism in his splendid little *Political Sociology* and arrives at two ways so to do: "From one aspect ... fascist regimes ... can be regarded as the means by which a modernizing 'revolution from above' was effected in societies which had not experienced successful bourgeois democratic revolutions. From another aspect such regimes may be seen as an embodiment of tendencies inherent in modern 'mass societies', resulting from the increasing power of the state and the extension of its influence, from the growth of nationalism and international rivalries ... " (pp 66/67 of the 1993 edition)

Both aspects ring bells in the blogoshed ...


Having coquetted with those worthy chaps Keynes and Schumpeter for some time now, I am obliged to admit neither floats the blogorrhoeaic boat quite like a good Marxist can.

Ah, cathartic dismarrhoea, thy name is David Harvey.

In 1999 - a year before the schemers of the PNAC had captured the presidency, and two years before the pretext to implement their strategies presented itself - Harvey finished the new edition of his classic *The Limits To Capital* with these words:

"Marxists, ever since Luxemburg first wrote on the subject, have long been attracted to the idea of military expenditures as a convenient means to absorb surpluses of capital and labour power. The instantaneous obsolescence of military hardware, and the easy manipulation of international tensions into a political demand for the increase in defence expenditures, adds lustre to the idea. Capitalism, it is sometimes held, is stabilized through the defence budget, albeit in ways that rob society of more humane and socially worthwhile programmes ... not only must weapons be bought and paid for out of surpluses of capital and labour, but they must also be put to use. For this is the only means that capitalism has its disposal to achieve the levels of devaluation now required. The idea is dreadful in its implications. What better reason could there be to declare that it is time for capitalism to be gone, to give way to some saner mode of production?"

Come to think of it, perhaps Schumpeter does have something more to add. How about this: "[capitalism's] very success undermines the social institutions which protect it, and 'inevitably' creates conditions in which it will not be able to live".

BTW, the 'Luxemburg' Harvey mentions was the brilliant (and ill-fated) Rosa, whose reading of Marx's critique of capitalist political economy (poor Marx was too much the perfectionist - and chain-smoker - to finish many books, and never got to his projected volume on the state and imperialism) occasioned her to come up with this thesis in 1899 - affording a deaf world some fifteen years' notice.

Mayhap, a century's notice ...

political economic and cultural observations in the register of dismal dilettantism

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