Category Archives: SocioPolitical

Thoughts about Sociopolitical issues

The risk of workers

Remember in the past when I wrote how the idea that capitalists deserve profits because they’re taking on the “Risk”, is nonsense? Well,in another installment of ‘Why “Anarcho”-Capitalist apologia is always bullshit”, here’s the Google developers for the Stadia game studio being laid off, a year into their contract.

This is one of the biggest and most well known IT companies in the world, hiring people for something that typically takes 3-5 years. Imagine for a bit how “safe” the bet they were making was when deciding whether to take this job. Some people had to relocate state, if not countries to take this job. Which means massive expenses and huge opening for disaster if they are left without job.

But this risk the workers take, is not actually compensated like the capitalist’s is. It’s reversed!

The developers who put their neck on the line for this job, are not going to see the full profit of their work or have any decision-making rights. Instead, if it were successful, Google owners were going to skim a very good portion of the income as profit and the workers were going to get a portion of what their work achieved. Now that it’s unsuccessful, Google owners lost a bit of money (effective chump change for rich people) while the workers face a very real prospect of economic devastation during a global pandemic and a massive downturn in the economy.

You tell me who is taking the higher risk here. The owners, or the workers?

Capitalism laid bare

The Coronavirus pandemic is making painfully clear to everyone what socialists of all sorts have been pointing out for years: Capitalism doesn’t work!

Nowhere is this more obvious than in the response to the crisis where the “invisible hand of the free market” did absolutely nothing until it was too late and the costs of handling it have become prohibitive. Instead what is actually working is mutual aid. With people springing to the front and volunteering their life, health and even their very lives to help others.

You might see it in all those news about this or that celebrity donating so many millions to the Coronavirus response (we should of course not be praising a billionaire that if effectively giving what amounts to chump change for them, but mass media is gonna propagandize), but it is primarily the thousands of health workers and grocery store employees who are continuing to work with minimal wage and massive health risks because nobody else will. Sure the threat of homelessness is certainly making some people continue to work in life-threatening conditions, but from what I’ve seen, most do it out of a sense of duty. And even if it was the threat of destitution that made doctors and clerks for to their job during a pandemic, it would not exactly be a high praise for the system.

And the free market even now continues to malfunction. Sure a lot of companies are switching only now production to critical provisions, but either they’re doing out of sense of civic duty again (or at least, that’s how they’re portrayed in the media en large), or under pressure from their respective states. Not to mention that the pressures of the capitalist system are putting pressure to non-essential companies to continue operating, putting their workers and the general populace in danger, in order to not collapse.

This situation also makes it blatant on how illusionary money and monetary policy is. When things are going well, it’s all important to save money and “be responsible” and whatnot. But when a crisis comes, money is not important anymore, rather workers are expected to self-sacrifice for the common good, while companies get bailed out and CEOs can just take month-long vacations on their private yachts.

Think about it: For the world, nothing critical has changed. You’re still living in the same house and are getting food and supplies. The people providing supplies are also getting the same things, so they can stay alive and keep working. Now take money out of the equation: Nothing changes.

The only thing that money does in this situation is support the parasitic class of Landlords and Capitalists! We can plainly see that the world will keep turning without them but our ancestors were forced into a fool’s game and people have been running in that wheel out of sheer momentum ever since.

Now that suddenly so many people don’t get any income while their parasites still continue asking their due, people are starting to ask the question: “Wait a minute, why am I even having to give you money?”. And this is why as the bills are coming due, rent strikes and organized action are suddenly becoming widespread. And it’s beautiful!.

And believe me, Capitalists and their bootlickers are shitting their pants right now. The propaganda campaign is going in full-force in places like the /r/coronavirus subreddit whenever posts about rent-strikes rise to the top, but they can’t control it anymore. Governments are dumping trillions (fucking trillions! You can’t even comprehend how big a number that is) into people and companies, hoping to keep the illusion of the monetary system going until thing go back to normal. They literally give money to the workers to pay their landlords so that the workers who don’t have any money left, don’t question why they’re having to pay a landlord in the first place. That’s how desperate they are getting. Last time anything close to as massive happened, they ended up with The New Deal, and they remember!

But this is not going away soon, and the more plutocrats print money to throw at people to pretend the situation is still normal, the more people are going to start to wonder: “If money can just be made out of thin air like that, then what’s the fucking point of pretending it’s necessary?”

Sadly, disaster capitalism can’t let a good crisis go to waste, so we’re already seeing autocratic governments use this opportunity to take as much control as they always wanted. Just take a look at Hungary becoming a full-blown fascist dictatorship, or the Trumpian USA straight-up disemboweling environmental protections as they always wanted (and I fully expect Trump will try to postpone elections indefinitely once things get sufficiently worse, just as well). And on top of that, misinformation is taking advantage of the epidemic news coverage to reinforce denial of climate catastrophe. It’s completely fucked up.

Due to this, if we miraculously manage to contain Coronavirus fast enough, and “save the economy” (i.e. maintain the illusions of the working class) then we’re going to find ourselves in a much worse system. Much more authoritarian and much more dystopian than anything we’ve experienced until now.

However, as is looking much more likely, the endemic corruption of the capitalist class has become so terminal that it has stymied any effective response they might have taken and Coronavirus is set to last for months, if not years. And for the current system based on the absurd concept of infinite growth, this is fatal. And the more this takes to get under control, the more working class consciousness will grow as direct action for mutual aid will replace the state and market (non-)response. And if it grows fast and strong enough, when the system inevitably collapses from abject stagnation, we might just replace it with something wonderful just soon enough to start the massive global work we’ll have to undertake to stave of climate apocalypse.

Coronavirus has come at the worst time for the global capitalist system but as counter-productive as it sounds, the longer it takes to run its course, the better it might be for the future of humanity as a whole, as it lays the species-ending flaws of capitalism bare for all to see.

Slowly, but surely, we’re becoming cyberpunk.

I grew up in the 80s and 90s and saw cyberpunk stuff first at middle/end of the nineties. A lot of the cyberpunk imagery back then was taking current technologies and attempting to extrapolate them. The Internet was still new back then, so a lot of people thought it would evolve into some sort of virtual reality interface or use some direct feed into the brain, possibly something involving a large spike and wires, ala The Matrix. A lot of the other trappings,  as envisioned by books like Neuromancer or RPGs like cyberpunk 2020, tended to involve bulky machinery, like a cyberdeck, or cassettes and whatnot, as those worlds were imagined in the 80s where computing was a much “bigger” affair.

Cyberpunk, for those who don’t know, is a science fiction setting, which typically merges near-future high-tech, along with dystopian societal themes. As such, what feels “cyberpunk” tends to change as time goes on, as our current technology catches up to the imaginations of the authors. Some  trappings that looked possible 30 years ago such flying cars and monofibers, stubbornly fails to materialize, while others take their place which the authors didn’t imagine, such as widespread smartphones, instead of decks.

And it sometimes, you get some tech that actually matches cyberpunk imagination. For example the recent breakthrough in cyber/implant technology is still mind-blowing to me. We’re now at a level where we have people using mechanical extremities where scientists are effectively actually making neural connections between machinery and brain. We have the internet combined with mobiles phone in the form of affordable smartphone and tablets, widely reshaping how society behaves and organizes, much more than what we would expect even just twenty years ago.

As someone who’s seen many of my early cyberpunk imaginations come to life, I still couldn’t declare now is cyberpunk, because there is an important piece missing.

You see, cyberpunk is not just near-future tech + dystopia. Otherwise every generation would merely be the previous generation’s “cyberpunk”. Rather cyberpunk is how high-tech (and more specifically transhumanist tech) is implemented in a world to enhance its existing dystopian themes.

We have literal themes out of Black Mirror playing out in places like China, with their Orwellian surveillance and mandatory social credit system. We have actual crimes and even genocides (!!) being commited due to false news being spread via unchecked social media. However the thing that made me say “hold up now” and write this post, was reading this article about one of the most notorious “IRL streamers”: Ice Poseidon. This is like a caricature out of goddamn Transmetropolitan!

From my perspective, the tech that we have now, fits absolutely into my idea of what tech would look in the near-future of my childhood, and not only that, but this tech is widely being used to make the world a darker place. All the pieces fit!

Tell me which other examples of technology used in the service of dystopianism have you noticed yourselves.

 

Meh

So…yeah

The janky mods of the Anarcho-Communism group in Facebook decided to ban me because I vented against U.S. Imperialism in a thread venting against cis people, in the same style the OP did. They piled-on me trying to prove that privilege-don’t-real if you’re poor, and deflected criticism by pointing out they’re not U.S. citizens themselves. Eventually I pissed one of them enough by applying the same logic to my arguments, that they muted me and asked one of their buddies to ban me.

Unfortunately this is par for the course for anarchist organizing on shit platforms like Facebook and that group had just devolved into the anarchist version of purge-bait. Here, I’ll give you a sample of the daily quality of posts:

“All people not in my oppressed class are crap!”

You now have seen 90% of the “content” posted in this group.

Unfortunately in too many public anarchist spaces, this kind of venting (that should normally be reserved for your affinity group) is par for the course, and then mods fall on top of each other trying to prove who is the best ally by banning whoever tries to use this as a springboard for discussion.

It’s all just immature fucking posturing by immature people who just discovered anarchism. Followed then by more posturing by the resident in-group who has 5% more power than the rest and wants a reason to exercise it. This shit is what passes for activism for many, and the reason why I have lost a lot of interest in trying to contribute as much as I used to in /r/anarchism.

The funny thing is how the people who are ban-happy when they think they’re on the right, cry foul when they end up on the opposite side, like a mod in reddit who whined about me oppressing them for reverting their deletion of a post1.

Now to be clear, there is nothing inherently wrong with banning or venting online, and neither of these acts, nor being a ban-happy fuckhead is isolated to anarchists, in fact right-wingers seems to be naturally more complacent and glad to fall in-step to a leader-figure. However there is something wrong when most online discourse on this subject is dominated by immature anarchists trying to prove how radical they are. Even more frustrating when they are stumped that they go digging into your profile and attempt to start an oppression olympics with you as a silencing tactic.

It had gotten so ridiculous at times that I managed to avoid getting banned for the longest time because I am Greek (and therefore “non-white” somehow? Dunno how that works, but whatevs) and could speak with some experience about U.S. imperialism. But someone from mainland U.S.A. making the same arguments would be banned without a second thought if they didn’t “win” at the oppression olympics at some other area. I.e. it stops being about what you say, and rather about who you are.

So, meh. Probably for the best as the group had just devolved into people daily calling each other “trash” and high-fiving each other about it in a group-masturbatory celebration of how progressive they are.

  1. It was nothing reactionary but rather a silly anarchism-related game they didn’t personally like []

Outrage Culture or Male Indignation

The latest Wondermark comic once again hits the spot perfectly, but I feel it also makes a secondary point more obvious to me. I’ve always wondered why so many dudebros online just get so unreasonably upset about someone calling them out on something, even the smallest issue in the most polite way, and I just realized that it’s not really “outrage” per se that they’re expressing, but rather a sort of pre-emptive indignation at someone pointing out they might be wrong about something.

In other words, it’s not really a case that someone is upset about SJWs taking over popular culture and other such nonsense, but rather a case that someone not wanting to accept or hear that they might have done something shitty.

The reason I think this is because it’s a classic result of toxic masculinity to react aggressively to any suggestion that they’re not perfect, or that someone else might be better at them at something. And it doesn’t have anything to do with how aggressive you are when you make such a statement, or even a specific subject. This reaction might be triggered from something as innocuous as a suggestion that they may not know as much about cars as another dude.

Toxic Masculinity then demands that they re-assert their dominance, and when they’re clearly in the wrong, their options are rather limited;  either unwarranted aggression to cower the opposition or denial and misdirection. Both of these examples are plentiful in the recent examples of reactionary outrage against feminist strides in online spaces. From the constant harassment of prominent women (and other minorities) online in an attempt to silence them, to “sealioning”, to conspiracy theories and constant regurgitation of debunked lies.

So, in the end, I feel a lot of the reaction I see from dudebros is not really truly an expression of outrage culture1 but rather a case of classic male indignation to the idea that someone else might be better than they are at a subject.

  1. even though I find it exquisitely funny how this is another perfect case of dudebros perfectly exemplifying a concept they claim to be railing against []

Syriza’s Judo techniques

I’ve been following the latest happenings between Greece and EU with some amount of fascination. While I’m not a believer in parliamentarism, I can’t help but be glad the current government is sticking to their guns and promises to their voters and is willing to go head to head with a very hostile and condescending Europe.

I do not think they have a chance in hell to succeed. Even if it’s merely a bluff. But I suspect they didn’t intent to. I believe this is part of their strategy.

My feeling is that Syriza knows that it’s been given a unique opportunity to break the bi-party lockdown of greek politics which has led to unprecedented corruption and nepotism. Something which EU/US government and businesses have been more than happy to take advantage. But this support is yet very fragile. The Greek people do not trust politicians anymore and most expected just another PASOK. However without the historical opportunities the original PASOK had to win people (i.e. effectively money away for votes) it would be impossible for Syriza do retain power in a similar fashion, so the only way to do this is to retain the popular vote.

And this is where their main antagonist comes in. EU, and particularly Germany looms especially large in the minds of Greeks, with a lot of dislike for what they’ve done to their country in the past 5 years. And while German media loves to coddle German citizens with tales of lazy Greeks who live beyond their means for decades, the reality for the Greek citizen has been completely different. Greeks saw the “support” of EU go to save EU, German and Greek banks with the capitulating Greek governments as an intermediary, with very little benefit to their own lives. In other words, the Greek Bailout was just another EU Plutocracy Bailout with the Greek populace as the ones socializing the damage.

At the same time, the actual life quality of the average Greek family has been declining rapidly as public services and social nets have been slaughtered on the altar of austerity and increasing competitiveness. Something which conveniently started raising the specter of Greek Nazism to the forefront of politics. One thing which EU is very happy to see when it serves their interest (see: Ukraine)

But it seems the Greeks are a bit less tolerant than our Slavic counterparts. I never expected Greeks to tolerate living with 100 Eur per month and I was surprised at how little social upheaval was happening as wages were being slashes lower and lower. But it finally seems they grasped their first chance to break the cycle and demand some radical change, by voting for a seemingly radical party to try something different from abject capitulation to economic demands.

Which takes us back to Syriza. Their current moves are unlikely to convince Germany and EU to change their course. But I suspect they already know that, given how Varoufakis had even precisely predicted the ECB’s retaliatory move a few years ago.  Rather I suspect their “stick to their guns” strategy is meant to show Greeks that there is another path than the way of the “Ragias”1. And Greeks are responding VERY positively to it. Not only is Syriza giving Greeks something to be proud of, but they are promising and taking actual steps to attack the local Greek Plutocracy and crony politics at its root! If you live outside Greece, you have no idea how many Greeks were waiting for something like this to happen for decades and instead saw corrupt politicians continue business as usual.

This is unprecedented in modern Greek history!

At the same time, the unwavering negativity from our EU partners and Germany in particular is playing exactly into the strategy of Syriza, who do not even need to propagandize to show how Europe is hostile to any valid fix in the Greek situation, and would rather prefer to keep the above stated “business as usual” strategy going until they squeeze blood from stone (or “fat from a fly” as the Greek prefer to call it).

This economic hardline is akin bombing a military dictatorship. Your tactics might defeat the dictator but they are not going to turn the people to your side. In fact, the indiscriminate damage is going to have the exact opposite effect, it’s going to make people rally around their existing government and try to repel the invading forces any way they can. We have seen this again and again such as in US interventionism is Serbia and Iraq.

This is likewise rallying people around Syriza. And this includes Anarchists, right-wing “anti-communists” (Syriza’s leadership is Ex-Communists or Communists on paper), and a lot of apolitical people who never cared to support a party which would continue “business as usual”. If elections happened right now, merely a few week after the previous ones, Syriza would win in a landslide!

I do not believe however that Syriza leadership is being merely cynically opportunistic about it. I think they believe in what they do, but they MUST know that either of two things will happen. Either EU will blink, or Greece will completely collapse. I think they’re OK with both outcomes. The former, one I am not sure will happen, but if it does is because EU knows that a defaulting Greece will start a domino effect in Portugal, Spain and Italy and they cannot afford it, and not only that, but if a Greece outside of the Euro manages to recover faster than the doomsayers propagandize, then it will provide fuel to parties similar to Syriza in those other countries. Already Podemos of Spain is making huge gains just from being in the same timeline as Syriza’s rise to power!

The latter is what I think is more likely. The political cost of being lenient to Greece is far too large for the German government to stomach, especially since their mass media has been busy brainwashing their populace to dislike Greeks for the past half of a decade. So diplomacy will fail and Greece and Germany will start getting increasingly hostile to each other (more than they are already), with Greece poking at Germany more and more to illicit a response. This is, in fact, already happening with Syriza once again bringing German reparations owed to Greece into the spotlight.

Syriza knows a Grexit might be unavoidable at this point if they want to keep to their campaign promises, but they seem to want the decision to be made by their EU partners, rather than deciding it themselves. And if EU does kick Greece out, then it’s another chance to radicalize and rally people around them and manage to grab complete control of the government to follow their own strategy once out of the Eurozone.

And if THAT happens, I believe Germany and EU will have only one option remaining to them, a road richly paved by US realpolitik before them. Interventionism. I believe EU cannot allow Greece to succeed in any way after a Grexit. Not just because plutocrats are vindictive bastards, but because it will inspire others inside and outside the Euro to do similar. It’s one thing to have an Argentina or a Venezuela do that at the other part of the world, but this is in their own back-garden. You can’t let Portugal and Spain start getting ideas!

IF a Grexit happens, I foresee very bad times in the future of Greeks. Not necessarily because of Syriza’s flawed strategies, but due to supreme capital flight, as well as very likely funding of Nazi parties and even a potential attempt at a military coup. There is no doubt in my mind that a Greece of Syriza cannot be allowed to succeed.

I can only hope that the intervening times will radicalize Greeks more and more to be able to counteract these classic Capitalist reactions. Neo Nazis have been dealt some serious blows and I hope the recent courage Syriza provided will be enough to keep people on the left, rather than start blaming immigrants once more. Although I want to hope that if it’s EU that forces Greece out, it’ll be far more difficult to do so. In the same vein, the Greek standing army has been demotivated for long that I hope they won’t be able to use it for a military coup, even if they have support of a police force they’ve been busy making into happy little fascists for the past decade.

If all else fails, a proxy war via Turkey might be their last chance. And I truly hope it’ll never come to that.

  1. meaning, Greek Slave []

“I can get along with left anarchists…”

In yet another chapter of ‘anarchists don’t get along with “Anarcho”-capitalists but the latter are in denial’, I just saw this post on reddit, which made me laugh internally.

I suggest reading it in whole, but the last part is what did it for me

Me: My advice would simply be to be upfront about the fact that left anarchists and capitalists can’t get along. That’s what most left anarchists do.

ACap: Well I give the benefit of the doubt to statists

Me: Well great. The trouble with giving the benefit of the doubt to people, and trusting that they fit into an narrow and unprecedented category of anarchism you’ve invented, is that you’ll end up looking like an idiot.

ACap: Except that it’s the official definition.

Me: Boo hoo. Left anarchists ruined your “official definition”.

ACap: They didn’t ruin anything, they are quite irrelevant really

Me: I can’t believe an anarcho-capitalist just said that.

Indeed.