The Dream Café

Steven Brust: “A masterful storyteller of contagious glee and self-deprecating badassery” —Skyler White

22 Comments

  1. But Steven, foreign oligarchs subverting American Democracy is very different from local oligarchs doing the same… for some reason.

  2. Does anyone still read the New York Times?

  3. Millions of people can’t vote due to voter ID laws, gerrymandering, and interstate crosscheck, but you know … Russia.

  4. skzb

    …and bullshit felony convictions, while domestic spying is going on, but, yeah…Russia.

  5. An anonymous source high up in the DOJ confirms this infographic may be a Russian plant.

  6. ben- hey! It is completely different when a Russian oligarch buys a US election! C’mon!

    Its OK if US oligarchs manipulate the system because, in America, absolutely anyone can become an oligarch! You see, we have this thing called upward mobility. The downward kind, that is just a dirty rumor, but upward mobility is totally real! Just ask anyone.

    Why, I’m sure we can all think of a story about someone who started out poor and ended up a rich, entitled, nutsack! There is Ben Carson, for one. Then there’s… no, he… well, Trump was only kind of rich, and in 40 some years of wheeling and dealing, he managed to stay pretty much rich, until he finally got into the White House and really cleaned up. And there is that other guy, I think he was a plumber, he’s an oligarch now, right?

    In any case, because Capitalism is inherently fair and Market based, our oligarchs are really a democratic institution, so having them pick the President is like a school board picking the principal of a school.

  7. But what percent of the threat is from skzb having access to making pie charts on the internet?

  8. skzb

    Jen: That’s not a threat to democracy, that’s a threat to sanity.

  9. Now, for extra credit, just what do All those slices have something in common?

  10. Steve, they all have labels with words on them.

  11. Almost perfect. Steve. But you’re missing a fair chunk: the white working class. Especially the poor ones (which is, you know, most of them) who dwell in trailer parks in mountainous regions and the south (oy, the dreaded south). The New York Times says they’re responsible for Trump, at least they used to.

    But I’m sure Russia was involved somehow. God damn Russians. They’re like cats. Can’t have nothing nice with these Russians and cats around.

  12. Lars: This is a thing of beauty. I almost choked on my coffee. Love it. “Its OK if US oligarchs manipulate the system because, in America, absolutely anyone can become an oligarch! You see, we have this thing called upward mobility. The downward kind, that is just a dirty rumor, but upward mobility is totally real! Just ask anyone.”

  13. I have a felony conviction for possession in the state of Texas. I was in possession of less than a gram of a particular substance. The reasons I accepted said felony conviction were twofold: 1- Money – fighting this charge with my previous record would cost a fortune or would result in years of incarceration and; 2 – If I accepted the felony I would serve less than a year of day-for-day time then would regain my right to vote, if not my right to bear arms. Two weeks ago (and four years+ after I had served my time) I received a letter from the Travis County Voter Registrar informing me that my voter registration had been cancelled.

    Yeah. Wait. It gets better.

    I had been disenfranchised not because I am a convicted felon who had served their time, but because I had not responded to a letter I never received within 30 days. Yup…that’s right. I now have to appear before a judge and fight for my right for the county not to disenfranchise me due to mis-delivered mail, not due to a felony conviction. Even though pursuant to Section 11.002 of the Texas Election Code a convicted felon immediately gains his/her right to register to vote upon completion of the terms of their sentence, i.e. incarceration, probation, parole or the (incredibly) rare pardon.

    I am a 39 year-old, college educated, (Kenyon College) straight, white male, who has a work and tax record going back to the time I was 14. I have voted in every primary, general, and local election since I was 18 years old. In most other states, my possession charge would have only resulted in a misdemeanor instead of a felony. And now, under this administration, I am being disenfranchised due to a failure to respond within an arbitrary time period to a letter that was never delivered.

    I love this country. I have traveled widely on 5 continents and truly realize just how good “we” have it. But…I am becoming more and more convinced that without a systemic overhaul of our current three-branch, representative, democratic system of government, this country is headed for violent revolution.

    The end result of capitalism can only result in the loss of democracy. A capitalist economy will always result in a concentration of wealth by the owners of the means of production and credit in a nation as opposed to a democracy which entails a rule by the people. I am not as well versed in Socialist philosophy or theory, so I welcome responses from Marxist/Trotskyist or even Entryist adherents.

    Thanks for letting me vent; can’t wait for Vallista!

    Derek Smith – Austin, TX

  14. skzb

    That’s pretty sucky; sorry it happened.

    “The end result of capitalism can only result in the loss of democracy.”

    Yep. The two great lies of the 20th Century are 1) That Stalinism is communism, and 2) that capitalism can be compatible with peace and democracy over the long term.

    I’d suggest reading wsws.org and see what you think of it. Or I can recommend a reading list if you’d like.

  15. I’ve had wsws.org bookmarked for some time; when life allows I expect to give it a thorough going over. A few of your choice book recommendations on the subject would also be very welcome!

  16. skzb

    Usually the best place to start is the Communist Manifesto, bearing in mind that it is a manifesto, a statement or principles, not an attempt to convince. My personal favorite is Anti-Duhring by Engels (there are discussions of parts of it on this blog that you can find by clicking it in the categories). If you’re ready for a major commitment, there’s Trotsky’s History of the Russian Revolution–three volumes, but after the first chapter is reads like an adventure novel.

    I guess a better way to approach it is: what’s the most comfortable way for you to approach the topic, through economics, history, or philosophy?

  17. Thanks for the input!

    I believe you need all three of those perspectives to claim even a basic grasp of a particular subject; to answer your question though, I am far more comfortable exploring a topic starting with its history (which should also include some cultural, social and economic bases) then moving on to philosophy and examining moral and ethical concerns, and finally getting slapped in the face by the cold, hard truths often revealed when looking at a subject from a purely economic standpoint ;-)~

    Since you describe yourself as a Trotskyist-sympathizer and, due to my penchant for history and adventure novels, History of the Russian Revolution sounds like the best place to start. It will likely fit in well with a study program I’m currently involved in taking an in depth look at Natural Law vs. Social Contract Theory.

    I’ll take a look through past posts on the topic as well. I know it’s been touched on many times here and I think I even had an old reading list on socialism by you from way back in the early days of The Dream Cafe that I may have printed out or archived somewhere. I seem to remember using it as a bookmark for one of your books many years ago…and then, of course, promptly forgetting to follow up on it.

  18. skzb

    Cool. Questions and discussion always welcome.

  19. @Derek

    In addition to what Steven suggested, I would also recommend the writings of Victor Serge, for a uniquely independent insider view of both the October Revolution and the eventual deterioration into Stalin’s totalitarianism. His “From Lenin to Stalin” is in my opinion the definitive insider look at the death of Soviet democracy.

  20. Good day, Mr. Brast!
    I am a big fan of your work, and also re-read a series of your books Vlad Taltosh. I really hope for the soonest release of new books in this series.
    And I’m from Russia, from the city of Vladivostok. And I have absolutely nothing bad against the people of America, we ordinary people are far from the high-political games of our government. I would very much like to hope that people of other countries do not consider the Russians any enemies. We are wonderful, open and kind people.
    Regards, Alexey.

  21. skzb

    Thanks, Aleksey. It’s great to hear from you. Most Americans do not, I hope and believe, consider Russians to be enemies, no matter how much our government and the mass media wants us to. Remember that the same media outlets that are lying to us about you are lying to you about us.

  22. The biggest unsolved problem of the day. How to convince the poor whites that their true enemies are not the poor blacks who still earn only about 70% of what they do, but the oligarchs who are responsible for the poor lives of both.

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