Saturday, June 6, 2020

Labor Movements

Interesting word Bourgeoisie. It's a French word that has its equivalence in the English word Burgess, meaning a freeman of the borough. A borough was and still is a town. In the middle ages boroughs were granted a royal charter and the people who lived in boroughs were generally freer and more troublesome than those who lived in the countryside. The French had their bourgeoisie and as towns developed they had the Fair Bourgeoisie who were townspeople who live just outside the town,  in the country, and the Fair Bourgeoisie became what English speakers call the suburbs. The  Bourgeoisie, had to hustle to earn their crust and as they did so they accumulated wealth. They were more interested in the political processes, paid their dues and had a sort of satisfaction that claimed all was well with their part of the world, so why mess with it. Revolutionaries have always distrusted the Bourgeoisie, too fat and well fed to man barricades and stuff. But the fact is that the elites piss off the Bourgeoisie at their peril. The English Civil War, Oliver Cromwell, was an insurrection of the Bourgeoisie, they wanted their fair share of the wealth and they wanted to be better represented in the Parliament. The English Civil War of the 1640's fundamentally changed the way British Society was run. The Peasants Revolt of the 1380's followed a demographic change caused by the Black Death, it spawned wage laborers.

As cities grew they accumulated larger and larger numbers of people who were essentially wage laborers. They rented they didn't own, and if their employer didn't need them they went hungry. Wage laborers didn't get much help from the Bourgeoisie, so wage laborers in order to improve their lot organized. The very first of these organizations, to the applause of the Bourgeoisie, were ruthlessly crushed. History is ripe with the stories of men and women wanting to be heard, improve their lot. Spartacus was one. The Tolpuddle Martyrs. The Chartists. The Peterloo Massacre, none of the charging dragoons with their sabers drawn were hurt, 18 people were killed and 700 injured. Then in around 1910 when the British Empire was at its zenith, the wage laborers got the sense of their own power when they chose to use it correctly, they found their leaders from amongst their own ranks and they were stubborn, they were persistent and the Bourgeoisie were greatly inconvenienced by things like General Strikes and not being able to get good help, coal shortages, no mail from the postman twice a day. Then in 1914 the great majority of wage laborers went willingly to the First World War. They didn't want revolution, it was their country, their home, they wanted their dignity, they wanted a fair share of the wealth and security their labor had produced. In The election that followed the Second World War, British people didn't reelect Churchill the war leader and aristocrat, they elected a Labour Government which had been born in the British Labour Movement. Labour won the 1945 election 393 to 197, it was a landslide as they say. Mind you in the 1951 Labour lost the general election and Churchill squeaked back in as Prime Minister. The current movement in the USA has been at it for 400 years.

Friday, June 5, 2020

David Schumpeter

A man called David Schumpeter, he was an Austrian political economist left his native land for the USA in 1939 and he became a professor at Harvard University, argued that many an economist had it wrong, and he kind of blamed Adam Smith. He suggested that the number of variables in an economy were enormous, and choosing just a couple of them and ignoring everything else resulted in flaws, especially when it came to deciding how to handle economic calamity. He claimed his theory was based on an historical analysis rather than a particular political bias. Capitalism he reckoned was essentially  a creative destruction, it burnt parts of itself down and continually rebuilt itself, a sort of Phoenix.

His view of intellectual elites was that they too were Capitalists because they kind of relied for their own sources of idea and income on being critical of the society they lived in otherwise why listen to them or pay them to think. I imagine he'd have agreed that cable news was a good example of his point. A result of this need for attention, new ideas were constantly flowing, some helpful, some not, some painfully self serving. Invariably he concluded that Capitalism as it was understood at any one time was doomed and whether you liked it or not, something new was on the way. And no reason not to think that Capitalism would see what I guess current business studies professionals would call "market opportunities" in socialism or fascism or whatever kind of ism you want to think of. The man died in 1950, long before many of us were born. Truman was president.

Thursday, June 4, 2020


When French elites decided they were going to own Algeria back in the 1840's there was a big discussion. The military part was fairly straightforward, and the general opinion was that the various peoples of Algeria would soon enough get the idea that becoming part of France was the civilized thing to do. Except for the Berbers who according to Alex de Tocqueville were too unruly in their understanding of freedom, brotherly love and so on. Better he argued to tease the Berbers into the French idea of civilization through commerce and cultural interactions. Otherwise he was all for the invasion of Algeria by whatever means necessary, primarily because a small war would be good for France's self esteem and sense of purpose which was rather lacking since the days of Napoleon. He reckoned that once conquered Algeria should be segregated into two separate legislations, one for the French, the other for the Arabs. De Tocqueville had visited the United States, the attempts to exterminate the indigenous populations made him a little queasy, but after much world travel and study he did conclude that some time in the future the United States and Russia would "share half the world." And why, because both lands were rich in natural resources. so they wouldn't have to have things like colonies.

When I was little, the grownups had to wait a couple of days or even a week to get the newspaper. During times of international crisis it was down to what was called a Steam Radio. A large delicate device that didn't get "reception" indoors, it had to warm up and needed a working car battery to give the electricity it needed. The device would then hum and whine, someone would hold an aerial, everyone had to be quiet to listen to a distant voice that sometimes was very hard to understand. From my own narrow horizon and deep ignorance I came to the idea back then that South Africa and the United States were pretty much the same country. Unlike us they had things like ice cream every day, sugar daddies whenever they wanted one, and whole pile of stuff like the electric light and they were downright frightened of black people. De Tocqueville in his various opinions of cultures concluded that in many ways Arabs were less barbaric than Europeans, and as a result the colonization of Algeria would be concluded fairly swiftly. France would then benefit from Algerian resources and be a genuine colonial power on the African Continent and could hold its head up when in company with other colonial powers. Since the days of Steam Radio I might have changed a little, but one simple opinion remains with me. White people are afraid of black people, argue all you want.

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Summer Tanager And Foucault

Beginning to think that Socrates and the Summer Tanager have much in common, but at least it was decent of Plato not to force stuff down our throats, which puts a whole new perspective on that story about Plato which suggested he was actually much more challenging in person. In person, I'd suggest, he had Summer Tanager qualities. For any who may have forgotten a Summer Tanager is a post structuralist, he just rambles on endlessly, pausing occasionally to grab a bight of something like a Bee. There was a lot of fuss around 2016 about how the world had ended because people had just given up on structure. May own response, if I remember, was to leap to the defense of post structuralism. And every time I heard critical attitudes toward the post structuralist thinkers, I realized that the critics had no idea what they were talking about, instead they were yearning for a form that didn't make them feel fundamentally uncomfortable. In another way they had their cake and wanted to keep it and they reckoned ignorance was their answer.

My argument was that structure is all very well and fine, but structure was static to the extent it could ever by be usefully analyzed. And to place all your bets on structure, especially with us people, was an error in our constantly changing environment, we are more like chaff than we are like stones. Normal, to my way of thinking at least, doesn't exist, and if you're worried about this, think of a Family, and ask yourself "what is a normal family." Rather, what we as people are looking for is somewhere to go, it's a path through the forest, and it's scary. Then when structure or normal becomes something like a wall blocking our way, effectively what happens with us people is that many of us rather lose interest in questions like, "where are we going, why are we going there," and as a result for many of us normal becomes a real pain. So much easier if the slope in our existence actually had a structural answer instead of being an often horrible adventure. So when you hear the Summer Tanager remember the warnings of Foucault, "Justice must always question itself, just as society can exist only by means of the work it does on itself and on its institutions." "It" of course is us.

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Who knew

Stark reality. Let's loot Macys. Don't know much about Macys. Something to do with a balloon parade and quality designer handbags, but clearly for those devoted to the shopping experience it's a temple of some sort, no doubt righteous tears will be shed, calls for vengeance and human sacrifice, and oddly enough I haven't seen a vapor trail for some weeks now, there's normally one or two in the sky. Which is not to say I don't have my own responsibilities, I am currently acting primary caregiver to two semi-domesticated felines both of whom know my weaknesses and insecurities. Last night I was permitted a sheet, a pillow and one third of my bed, so it was an uncomfortable and sleepless night for me but my charges were well rested by morning when they roused me for their breakfast at 5 am. Unrest! Absolutely, might be time to find a bible take it to the nearest church stand outside wondering how one's suppose to hold a sacred scripture. It'll be iconic and certainly it'll impress the Girl Cat, but maybe not the Kitten, who did notice I've been a little casual with her water bowl.

In the 1960's you had President Johnson, he couldn't take it anymore, Vietnam destroyed him, broke his heart some say. The war was wrong and he couldn't get out of it with any kind of dignity other than just admitting the whole thing was a huge mistake, which wouldn't have gone down well with his party. You had the Democratic Governor of Alabama, a man called George Wallace, who like our current president had what's called the populist message, basically the whole world sucks, lets go back to something like 1776. Wallace didn't make it as a Democrat much beyond Alabama, so he had his own party, called the American Independent Party, it was real big in the Carolinas. You had a man called Hubert Humphrey, who was Johnson's vice president, he was about as exciting as cold toast. And you had Richard Milhous Nixon. So politics-wise what to do. Nixon's advisors said, "Look, you got plans which include an understanding of a useful future for our country, and good jobs for us, but you're not going to beat Wallace unless you have something that roughly makes sense to people who might be tempted to vote for Wallace. Might sound tricky for you Milhous, but how about Law and Order." Nixon went for it, and the rest is now history which we seem to be reliving, sound bights and all.

Monday, June 1, 2020

Sourcing Vitamin C

Snap Peas, rich in Vitamin C, have achieved a bountifulness that warms a gardener's heart. Mind you a person in their right mind, and blessed by plenty, can really only eat so many of them before entering the slow process of finding fault with them. Then, on the internet radio, your hear the expression "Chef Crafted Food" which somehow or other was delivered to your door, where it can be kept in the cupboard so that you can impress your friends with your ability to open packaging and straightaway you know that we're all doomed as our President hides in his basement.

I could well sound like an old fart, but some of these newer fangled seed packets are almost impossible to open without scattering Carrot seeds in your garden path, which is very stony garden path and everyone should know that Carrots, which to the uninitiated cupboard openers are root vegetables, aren't happy in stony ground. Go ahead call me a Pompous Ass, but to my mind Chef Crafted Food would be Guinea Pigs roaming the kitchen floor enjoying the left over Snap Peas, the little creatures have been a protein source for us people in parts of South America for over 5000 years, and like us, Guinea Pigs also sometimes have a problem sourcing Vitamin C.

Sunday, May 31, 2020

May 31st 1921 Tulsa

Wypipologist is a word you might have heard in your own community. I'll not attempt to define it. Instead I'll endeavor to offer examples from up and down the ballot. The liberal elite says "This is tragic, we must listen" means "Oh dear, not again, hope it blows over soon so we don't have to actually do anything." The Conservative elite says "Destruction of property is unacceptable" means "People don't matter, our life style and our economy is everything." A day or two and we'll hear it all, somber and sincere, hundreds of times, so remember the wypipologists, as bitter experience interprets.

May 31st 1921 Tulsa. Might not mean very much to many of us. It's not something Tulsa talks about, or likes to mention, a sensitive area. Interesting state Oklahoma, it has one Confederate Statue in the only county in the State named after a Democratic politician. And it's probably also accurate to suggest that those in our number who, just a few generations past were given their family's surname by their owners, might not remember May 31st 1921 in Tulsa when turpentine bombs were dropped by airplanes, and there were machine guns and death. It's like 99 years ago, so why bother. But today I'll remember, as we preserve the past.