“I acknowledge that there is a problem but I don’t want things to change”

I always find it interesting when people say that “7/10 Americans believe in climate change” but then are shocked that nothing is done politically on this matter. The problem is with such surveys it makes an assumption that out of belief comes a call for action or at the very least that the people say they believe in climate change actually understand and care about the consequences of it. In otherwords, they’re giving the reply they think they should give when the survey is done but their act says the complete opposite.

It reminds me of the whole voting in of Labour and how surveys of New Zealanders talking about how we need to become a more caring society by addressing the gap between the rich and poor but the moment that the idea of a capital gains taxed was even mentioned there was the screaming and howling from the slum lords and the would be middle class who like to see themselves as some sort of landed aristocracy with 3 rental properties. These would be landed aristocracy some how hard done by that they have to pay taxes on the capital gains they made while everyone else income be it interest in a term deposit or money from work is taxed accordingly. Happy to virtue signal their concern as so long as it doesn’t require them to change or that there is any sort of policy that might impact them personally – happy to talk of change as long as nothing ever actually changes.

The sad part about this is the fact that what was proposed was pretty modest in terms of social democratic reforms – no one is declaring the overthrowing of the bourgeoisie in favour of distributing the means of productions back to the people in the form of common ownership. Heck, someone like me who is stuck in a moderate centre left party would like to see is capital gains tax and for that money to go into building more social housing so that Housing New Zealand becomes the primary provider of rental accomodation so then stability for renters is possible rather than the current situation where the renter is at the mercy of whether the landlord feels like selling thus leaving the renter high and dry with no where to go.

The problem is also the situation where people now see the whole idea of owning a home as, rather than a safe haven in ones old age to provide stability but instead as a way to make a dollar, a asset that increases in value or what I call it ‘a magical piñata’ so the end result is a fixation over price and anything that impacts that price ends up with people voting in a reactionary way even though over the long term they would end up benefiting from it.

Getting back to the original point – it is difficult to establish a link between what people say in a survey and the actions (voting) that they take. People are more than happy to say something but it is en entirely different thing when it comes to putting those ideas into practice and income cases people like the sound of the idea but recoil at the idea of actually having to do wha tis required for the change to take place.

Looking back at last week and looking forward to the coming week

One more day to go before I can have a day off and next week I’ll be doing an extra day of overtime – eventually the number of hours available for overtime will be reduced as new employees are trained up so I’m making hay while the sunshines. On a good side of all this has been the fact that the winter hasn’t been as cold as expected so I haven’t used my heater for the last week or so which will probably result in me having some of the lowest power bills over winter when compared to last year. The other factor which contributed to the warmer home has been the double glazed windows that were installed before winter which has resulted in a more 

Hakim, someone I subscribe to on YouTube, has uploaded a video regarding the collapse of the USSR:

If you’re looking for more videos into the USSR from a left wing perspective then check out the numerous Michael Parenti videos that are available – doesn’t use unnecessary jargon and a great way to get into the left wing by having someone who can talk about otherwise completely topics in an accessible format. Here is a good video to give you a ‘taste’ of his style of lecture.

With all that being said I’m pretty happy with how things are going and this weeks big pay packet (from doing almost 20 hours overtime) will enable me to fill up the freezer with some added food. I think what I’m going to do going forward is have a wider variety of food as to avoid ‘getting bored’ and then buying take aways which ends up costing more if one were to add it up over a fortnight. Since I’ll have two days off and opportunities for overtime diminish, I might start making home made pizzas with my favourite being Hawaiian with the added kick that I use Hot Pork (link) rather than just standard ham  which adds an extra zest and I might throw some charred grilled capsicum (link) which has a lovely delicate sweet profile that goes well with the pineapple (yes, I like pineapple on pizza).

Reddit Anarchism: Weekend political cosplay

I’ll start my blog post with a disclaimer, my participation in the anarchism subreddit was fleeting at best – I might upvote the occasional post I found interesting and reply if there was something interesting I could contribute but most of the time I was subscribed but never participated. What I thought was funny was a moderator from the subreddit banning me:

Was it because I said something racist? homophobic? I was trolling? I was stirring up drama and derailing? nope, it is because I had the audacity to maybe, just maybe, look at the world and realise that getting from point (A) to point (B) actually requires strategy and tactics, it requires building alliances, having temporary relationships of convenience for the sake of holding ground when confronting a larger more vicious enemy then regrouping to deal with the original institutionalised power structures once the immediate enemy is taken care of. When dealing with the situation in Syria, as anarchists, do you keep your resources stretched by fighting both Assad and ISIS (and its allies/sympathisers) at the same time or do you recognise that it is firstly ISIS (and its allies/sympathisers) who pose the greatest threat and secondly that although Assad is horrible you recognise that a temporary truce with Assad’s forces gives you enough space to fight the greater threat to then regroup to then focus on Assad at a later date.

It is called strategy – something the online anarchists never talk about because the only time they leave the house is when they check their letter box but other than that they’re privileged enough to live in an middle to upper class existence where they can do political cosplay on the weekend because to them it is all fun and games which doesn’t matter in any material way for them because they’ve got nothing riding on it – they’ve got what they want, it is little flirtation with rebellion that they have online to make their otherwise drab suburban middle class existence appear to be remotely interesting.

This is also part of the reason why echo chambers on the internet resulting in nothing ever being achieved in the real world – because deep down inside they don’t want any sort of success as so far as winning power because what that would require of them is for them to deliver not heir promises. Part of delivering on promises involves actually having to take theoretical ideas and bring them into the real world where real people are having to be dealt with – and sorry to be the bearer of bad news but that means having to make compromises, having reform in a piece meal way, that the process sometimes involves 5 steps forward and 2 steps back. Long story short, the nice clean surgical grade purity of a given ideology cannot exist in the real world because the real world is complex, real world involves dealing with people, dealing with conditions that are outside of your control and at times that means making decisions that you wouldn’t have otherwise thought you would have had to do back when your only exposure was participating in an online circle jerk.

When you’re in the world of theoretical speculation you can be as far up your own backside as you want, you can make wild speculative ideas not grounded in reality but utopian views of how one would like the world to work. Sure, it’s a fun parlour game that anyone can play but like the parlour game of “if I had a $1million what would I spend it on” the participants at least admit that it is all fun and games which is more than I can say for the many online anarchists. It reminds me of the critique of neoconservatives by George Will regarding their over estimation of the United States power and influence in the world not to mention the self delusion that United States will be welcomed as liberators after Saddam was toppled. Michael Parenti wrote a great essay dissecting the anti-communist left which touches on some of the issues I’ve raised in this blog post (link).

Keeping the eye on the prize….

So the three orders have arrived; Moondog the German Years (2 CD set), Brahms Hungarian Dances and Tchaikovsky Complete Symphonies and Piano Concertos (7 CD set). They’ve been all ripped and now backed up to the cloud where they’re safe and sound but I’m looking forward to my new Blu-Ray desktop external drive (USB 3.1) that will hopefully be arriving in the next couple of days since the one I’m using will go back to mum since the one I’ve given mum is a bit dodgy in terms of reading/writing reliability.

Pay week this week – I love being able to look at my pay each week and not see the huge deduction coming off for my student loan – freeing me up from having to deal with the other big focus in my life with getting everything in a good financial order. I guess it is about walking that fine balance between wanting to live a life where one can occasionally spoil oneself but at the same time ensuring that there is a general trend towards getting to the eventual goal.

I’ve been following the run up to 2020 in the United States and the biggest factor will be whether the media gives the candidates a fair representation and whether they they get sucked into the same pearl clutching bullshit that ultimately got Trump elected in the first place. If the media provide a platform during the primaries that doesn’t tilt in favour of one candidate over another as well as ensuring that reporting on Trump sticks to the facts – such as the fraudulent growth, the $1.2trillion yearly budget deficit etc. then there won’t be the sort of backlash like last election. Lets hope that the main stream media in the United States has learned from the 2016 election and that the rich in the US recognise that paying a little bit extra in tax is worth the stability and predictability that comes with having a sane president in the White House.

I’ve been following macOS Catalina, specifically, the work that Apple is doing with Catalyst – it is great to see, based on a recent article (link) that it is moving beyond a few niche applications into maybe the eventual harmonisation of all the bundled applications to a single unified code base so that when features there added to Messages for iOS that it can be made available on macOS almost instantly. I kind of wonder how far they can take Catalyst and whether long term Apple might be looking at SwiftUI for the way forward.

Moving to the Overton window to the left

There is a an interesting discussion that is occurring on the left (or what is considered ‘the left’ in United States discourse) about whether it makes sense to appear on Fox News – whether it is a tacit endorsement by appearing on the platform or whether it is a situation that you need to the advantage of the platforms that are made available to reach a wider audience who maybe interested in hearing an alternative message outside of the right wing echo chamber. It reminds me of the argument that Republicans had while Obama as president that the United States shouldn’t negotiate with Iran without preconditions – that merely negotiation was validating or possibly approving of said regime. The reality is that we have to deal with the world as it exists not how we’d like it to exist which means that we cannot just dig in our heels and behave like obstinate children demanding what we want on the threat that if we don’t get what we want that we’ll throw a noisy temper tantrum. 

When it comes to also reaching out, it is important to run candidates in every seat and for the presidential candidate to visit every state even the most Republican states – why? Because it is about the long game, it is about gradually turning those red states purple so that even if they still remain Republic the mere existence of a viable Democratic challenge will force the Republicans to moderate. The benefit of a moderated Republican Party? The Overton window moves to the left, moderate Republicans come into congress, senate and state or local government thus it is possible to come up with grand policy because there is a incentive for Republicans to compromise because they’re forced to fight for the middle ground rather than just pandering to their base and hope that the other side isn’t as motivated or pass laws to suppress voting by gutting poling booths, introduce ID checks etc.

The problem is that I see far too many people confuse strategy for and end goal – just because someone is advocating something today doesn’t mean that what is being advocated is all they have in mind. Any sort of movement to the left, barring some sort of revolution, will require strategy and bringing the population along with you where by you produce results which results in that policy becoming something that the voting population doesn’t want to give up. When you advocate a policy you might have an end goal of something much grander but instead you focus on what can be achieved and then use that as a basis on which to build an expansion upon that policy to the point that in 5 years you eventually reach your end goal where, had you said what your end goal was right from the outside there might have been push back (due to capitalists controlling the media thus controlling the narrative) where as incrementalism with a long term goal allows policy proposals to gain gradual acceptance whilst still remaining focused on the big prize. The big debate though is what order one does it in – and what is where political strategy takes place.

Clarification of the recent de-platforming

I’m going to put some points out there in no particular order and I’ll let you take from it what you like.

  1. When left wing people like me were saying “they’re a private company and thus they’re first of all not censoring since they’re not the government secondly as a private organisation they’re under no obligation to provide you with a platform” we weren’t defending but rather holding those de-platformed to the very same standard that they themselves set. It was the right, during the law suit between a baker who refused to bake a wedding for a same sex couple and the same sex couple where they (the right wing) would argue that the business has a right to refuse to serve who ever they want – that they’re under no obligation. Well, that is a standard they set for themselves and those of us on the left are merely holding them to that exact standard they (the right wing) set for themselves – as a corner stone of what amounts to their political ideology. The reality is that their ideology is more a list of reactionary grievances amounting to “if I’m not impacted by it then it is fair game but as soon as I’m impacted by it then it suddenly becomes a matter of persecution”.
  2. Is it concerning that modern day public square is under the control of private business interests? Yes it is because it’ll eventually come back to bite the left in the backside even the business itself decides a few sacrificial lambs are worth throwing out there to demonstrate that they’re happy to play the game of false equivalency when kicking right wing talking heads off their respective platform. In an ideal world the internet would be dominated by things like Diaspora and Mastodon but alas such services will be always fighting an uphill battle against well funded and established players like Twitter and Facebook.
  3. The fight to remove these ‘extremist’ element is a fig leaf for the fact that the mess was created by the platform’s own algorithms and default settings in the first place. I’ll give a good example of how a system is supposed to be setup, in OpenBSD when you install it the whole operating system is locked down by default meaning that if you want to setup a web server you have to install it and then enable it – in other words it is an ‘opt in’ system so that only the services that you want are enabled because you’ve gone out of your way to enable it rather than enabling everything by default then expecting you as the administration to lock the platform down (which was was Windows Server was originally configured – everything enabled by default and you as the administrator were expected to disable what you didn’t want or need). How does that relate to social media platforms? when you setup an account with Facebook and add friends you are automatically subscribed to their feed meaning that any brain fart your friend may have turns up – you then like it and then that is broadcast over all your friends who are subscribed to you thus is the start of something going viral. If you want to break the virality of undesirable propagation of undesirable views then don’t automatically subscribe people when one adds someone as a friend. Then there is algorithms – get rid of them, if you want to make content easier to discover then allow people to refine their searches better but don’t curate using algorithms or otherwise you end up having a situation where the system leads the user down the garden path to more and more extreme videos because the algorithm assumes that “hey, the user likes x so I should find more videos that around x”. Long story short, the social media platforms created the problem and rather than fixing the source of the problem they decide that de-platforming is easier instead thus leaving the problematic nature of the system unchanged.

Their heart is in the right place….

So I’ve been looking through my Twitter feed and up pops this (as a retweet) and although their heart is in the right place my concern is that it muddies the definition of what socialism actually is and even if they called it social democratic then even that would be problematic because it presupposes that that policy prescriptions are born out of the same philosophical basis rather than just political expediency (aka to hold onto power or to win power).

Now, don’t get me wrong, I understand what they’re trying to do when they talk about various functions of government as being ‘socialist’ so it moves the conversation away from socialism being associated with the soviet union, misery, drab grey buildings, dictatorships and goose stepping. In other words, “hey, socialism isn’t scary, you’re already have it in various parts of your life” but here is the problem, would King Charles II be considered socialist because he established the general post office in 1660? under Thatcher there were various initiatives in terms infrastructure, bailing out businesses or investing into projects like the Concord – would she be considered socialist? If were wanting to use a more contemporary example then maybe using the of co-operatives – businesses owned and controlled by workers themselves would probably be a better example of the ‘socialism’ than pointing to what amounts to be some rudimentary functions of government.

On a good side though, the spreading of social democratic ideas opens the door to larger discussion about left wing politics in much the same way that Democratic Socialists of America has provided a gateway for many Americans to rediscover socialism without all the baggage of the past. Some may stick with social democratic ideas whilst others will read more and discuss ideas which will lead them to drift further left. It is about playing the long game – moving the Overton window further to the left so that policy ideas that were once considered fringe such as nationalising the rail network suddenly become within the realm of acceptable discourse or the idea of free university is gradually becoming a reality in New Zealand even if the naysayers fail to grasp that an extra $120 extra in the hand per fortnight due to not having to pay off a student loan would be a massive leg up to many graduates who have just entered the workforce and want to start saving for their first house or getting their Kiwisaver off on a good start.