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Showing posts from 2008

Ten Best Albums of 2008

Like last year, I decided to list my top albums of the year. Also like last year, I only chose from albums I own, so I'm no doubt missing some great music. (Please, feel free to make recommendations!)


10. Coldplay- Viva la Vida

Coldplay sells a lot of records. After X&Y I wondered if they decided they had a good thing going and should be content making hummable bland music (the kind U2 makes now). Viva la Vida proved me wrong, at least for now. Death and all his friends, also the alternate title of the album, is one of the best songs of the year.


9. Sun Kil Moon- April

Every time I listen to Sun Kil Moon I tell myself I'm going to get hold of everything Mark Kozelek has done and spend a weekend listening to it. I haven't yet, but I will. April isn't as accessible as Ghosts of the Great Highway, but if you put in the effort you will be rewarded with a beautiful album. (I recommend checking out the lyrics as well.)


8. Erykah Badu- New Amerykah Part One (4th World War)

With…

Flower power

This past weekend I attended an immigrant rights coalition meeting. It was my first meeting, but friends have been there since it formed in 2006. Its formation was a direct result of the working class movement of immigrants, primarily Latinos, in the Twin Cities area. From what I could tell, the people at the meeting were a mixture of democratic party activists and socialists (although it was hard to tell the difference with some folks).

The reason I bring this up is to examine an exercise we did at the beginning of the meeting. The moderator, in all seriousness, had us draw a flower. Our flower needed at least four large petals, with a smaller petal drawn inside the outline of the larger one. We were then to label each petal. One should be race, one gender, one whether or not English is our mother tongue, and one marking our social class (which wasn't talked about much, if at all). If you are white, male, and speak English, then you were to fill in the outer layer of your flower …

"Life teaches."

News of the worker occupation in Chicago has spread across the web quite quickly and odds are readers of this blog already know the story. I think, however, it is important to point out this sort of action is most likely not ideological. I doubt too many workers at this factory are reading a whole lot of Marxist, Anarchist, or any other "radical" literature. Just like Marx and Engels didn't create the idea of a workers state, and Lenin didn't create Soviets (councils); theorists didn't tell these workers they should occupy their factory. It was their objective situation, i.e. the failure of capitalism, and their own ingenuity. The same goes for the worldwide factory occupation movement.

My point isn't to make this relatively small action in Chicago into something it isn't. My point also isn't to knock theorists and those with the knowledge and talent to play a leadership role in our struggle. My point is simply this: never underestimate the ability of …

Yet another mandate for revolution in Venezuela

Yesterday's state elections in Venezuela saw Chavez's allies win the vast majority of races. The opposition did make strategic gains, however, winning the two most populous states and the Capital District of Caracas. They, quite correctly, point out Venezuela still faces many problems similar to those faced before Chavez took office. Of course, they neglect to mention they're the main reason for this. Those in the opposition tend to make good use out of the fact they've prevented much of the needed actions (and those bureaucratic "Bolivarian" leaders opposed to the revolution do nothing but help them).

This election is yet another mandate for revolution from the people of Venezuela. It is time for their leaders to follow through. It is time for serious land reform, nationalization of all major industry under democratic workers' control, meaningful power centered in councils, etc. Those opposed to the revolution, including "Bolivarian" officials, …

Adam Smith the populist

I can't recommend Michael Perelman's The Invention of Capitalism enough. It destroys the myth that classical economists were against government economic intervention and points out that in order for market capitalism to develop, state power was needed to force a largely self-sufficient society into selling their labor for wages. One thing I noticed while reading the book was a similarity between Smith's views and that of Ron Paul, or even Lou Dobbs. While Dobbs might not share the other two's market fundamentalism, they all have a divisive fetish for the "middle class." And beyond that, they proudly display a very basic understanding of the world. There are good and bad people. Some countries are bad, some aren't. The guy in the middle is always getting screwed, be it by the "illegal" Mexican immigrant or the "new world order." This line of thinking certainly divides the working class. It keeps us fighting each other and/or wasting tim…

Economics is largely bullshit

an uninterrupted rant-

My economics teacher would have me believe that the world is made up of small businesses, or perhaps more accurately, big businesses that act like small businesses. This is the theory. Capitalists justify expropriating excess profits because they are the ones who take the risks. In reality, risk is gone. Bankruptcy is profitable. Management walks away with millions while workers lose their savings. We watched a video explaining how outsourcing was actually a good thing because companies were then able to invest their extra profits back into the economy and create better, higher paying jobs. Right, tell that to the millions of people that work in the low-paying service industry after their high-paying manufacturing job went to some country that virtually enslaves their workers. My guess is that money the corporation saved went into the CEO's 5th or 6th new home. China's industrial boom has diverted social spending away from rural areas. It's also cause…

Living in shit

The last two years I have spent a few weeks in Europe. Each time, I decided to plan my train and bus rides overnight, so I didn't have to fork out the cash for an extra night in a hotel. This resulted in me sleeping on benches in train and bus stations as well as during the actual bus or train rides. I usually had to check out of where I was staying in the late morning, so I had to find somewhere to go until the afternoon of the next day. For a posh Westerner such as myself, it was a different experience. The main issue, I found, was finding somewhere to go to the bathroom. It was an event. I had to find a somewhat clean, somewhat private, place to handle my business. Back home, I certainly took such places for granted.

Mike Davis' Planet of Slums has a subsection in the chapter Slum Ecology entitled Living in Shit. [pg. 137-142] He discusses the "excremental surplus" that plagues urban areas with great detail. This is not a new problem, of course, as slums in London …