War and Capitalism and Stupidity and Aquariums

A friend of mine had an aquarium with a snail problem.  In case you didn’t know (I didn’t), snails in an aquarium can cause nitrogen build-up that can kill the fish.  She dealt with the snail problem and the nitrogen build-up.  A year later, she carelessly permitted the filters to become clogged with the waste products of the fish (yeah, fish poo).  This caused a nitrogen build-up that can kill fish.

As she was explaining this to me, you know what I didn’t say?  I didn’t say, “fish poo can’t be the cause of nitrogen build-up, and the proof is, there was nitrogen build up last year before there was a fish-poo problem.”  Because, you know, that would have been a very stupid thing to say.

Here’s another stupid thing to say: “Capitalism can’t be responsible for war, and the proof is, there was war before there was capitalism.”

Um, hello?  No one said capitalism invented war.  War, in the most general sense, is a product of scarcity.  (No, it is not  because “people are evil,” and it isn’t the product of religious differences, though certainly religious differences can be and often are used to incite a population into doing what it would druther not.)  But you know those other economic arrangements we monkeys came up with in order deal with the problem of scarcity? They don’t exist any more.  Today, we have capitalism.  And, you know what?  Capitalism, among many other benefits (as well, to be sure, as countless crimes), has improved the productivity of labor so much, there is no longer any need for scarcity.  And thus, there is no longer any need for war.

So why is there war?  Because capitalism is organized on the basis of nation-states, and because of the nature of the profit system, in which production is inextricably tied to amassing personal wealth.   Thus, production, through the medium of accumulation of personal wealth, is tied to control of markets, resources, labor, all of which are divided among nation-states.  The US is bombing civilians in Yemen so the Koch brothers and Jeff Bezos can add more zeroes to their bank accounts, and they are in the position where they can (and in some ways must) do that because of the capitalist mode of production.  The irony is not lost on me that it is as a result of scarcity that millions of people have had to die to keep a few bastards living in luxury.

The point is, the fact that we can eliminate scarcity doesn’t mean we have eliminated scarcity. And we cannot eliminate scarcity until we break once and for all the relationship between production and the amassing of personal wealth.  Once we’ve done that, there will no longer be scarcity, and thus, no longer war.  In the meantime, the reason we still have war, is because we still have capitalism.  Kapeesh?

(Just in passing, this provides the answer to those smug idiots who like to say, “Neener neener  under socialism who gets to decide who gets the rare things like vintage wine and caviar?”  Just ask yourself: would you go to war for it?  If not, shut up.  If so, you’re a bloody sociopath, and kindly go shoot yourself.   I’m not feeling patient right now.)

Anyway, the next time some guy tells me that capitalism can’t be responsible for war because there was war before there was capitalism, I’m going to look him dead in the eye and say, “Fish poo.”

Defending a President I Hate

To be clear before we start, in case there’s anyone here who doesn’t know it, I did not vote for Hillary Clinton, and I am not a fan of, well, anything she’s done since she was elected. She was so universally despised that she nearly lost an election to Donald Trump for god’s sake, and nothing since she’s taken office has made me think she should be more popular.


The attacks on her from the extreme right have gotten so absurd, that I just have to say something. I’m not talking about Republican accusations of treason for her meeting with Kim Jong-un; anyone with half a brain knew that was coming. It’s other things.

One thing that makes me rub my eyes is immigration. What the hell do the Republicans want? She is already continuing Obama’s mass deportations (as well, of course, as the slaughter in Yemen and the bombing in Syria to make sure of a growing supply of refugees to abuse and deport), and even continuing his massive deportation of children. She is on pace to break his record of most deportations of any administration in history.  Isn’t that enough?  Will the Republicans not be satisfied until concentration camps are set up? Sheesh.

Of course, the Republicans are silent about the worst aspects of her presidency: her continuing Obama’s policies of cuts to SNAP benefits, her support of police militarization, her “get tough” talk against Russia and China (along with increasing the US supply of nuclear weapons!), her continuing drone killings of non-combatants, her failure to do anything about climate change, constantly pushing for legislation that will benefit no one but Wall Street, her headlong retreats before the religious right, &c &c. Those things the Republicans like, so they just ignore them like good little hypocrites.

What broke it for me was the accusation, again, of treason (do you guys even realize that there is no such thing as treason absent a foreign power being a legally defined enemy, which pretty much means a war?  No, of course not; why would Republicans bother learning about the law before making accusations?) for what happened in her meeting in Copenhagen with President Rivlin of Israel. I mean, come on. Did Israel interfere in the US elections, as the Republicans keep yammering about, and as the various intelligence services say they did? No doubt they did—as did thirty or forty other countries, all working for their own agendas, as happens in international politics. Chances are, Putin (Vladimir Putin, president of Russia) interfered just as much on behalf of Trump. But if Trump had won—as nearly happened—I don’t think we’d have seen the Democrats complaining about his “interference.” And, seriously, when President Clinton (or “President Hillary” as Fox News has started calling her, using the thin justification that there was recently another President Clinton) implied that she didn’t necessarily believe the report of the intelligence services, well, it was like every Republican Senator was about to have his head explode. I mean, did you hear Paul Ryan, during his reelection campaign? I thought he’d have a coronary right there. *scream scream* treason *scream scream* anti-American *scream scream* bought and paid for by Israel *scream scream*.   Here is a place where I have to agree with my Democratic friends who have been doing such a good job of pointing out the history of the US intelligence services.  If it’s treason to mistrust everything said by the NSA, the CIA, and the FBI, then treason has just been defined as, “having a minimal amount of common sense.”

Anyway, sorry for the rant. No, I do not support President Clinton. But I can’t watch this absurd Republican hypocrisy without saying something.

Rant: The Bubble of the Upper Middle Class

This is probably one of the dumbest rants I’ve made.  I mean, I know why it bugged me, but my reaction was entirely out of proportion.  On the other hand, that’s why I created the “rant” category.  So here goes:

This came across my twitter feed a couple of days ago:

The person who has the most power over your life is the person you have not forgiven. That person holds a part of you in bondage.

Seriously?  That is who has the most power over your life?  It’s not the boss who decides if you make rent next month?  It’s not the cop who might or might not decide to shoot you because he doesn’t like how you look?  It’s not the government clerk who decides if your child support should continue?  It’s not the insurance company functionary who decides if you’re going to get that medical treatment you need?  It’s not the executive making millions by failing to supply your city with clean drinking water?  It’s not the abusive spouse you can’t leave because you have no way of feeding the children without him?  It’s not the guy giving the order to send a drone missile strike that will make your home collateral damage? It’s the person you haven’t forgiven?  That’s who has the most power over you?

Yeah, yeah, I know.  The sentiment is that we ought to forgive those who have wronged us.  Sure, fine.  But the way it’s put, I mean, just what sort of comfort,  security, and isolation do you have to have in order to be so completely unaware of what life is like for the mass of humanity?  When I lose patience with the thinking of the upper middle class, this is why.

Okay, rant over; thanks for listening.  And to the person who made the tweet: I forgive you.



Rant: Lying, or Simply Stupid?

I’ve heard a couple of time on this blog and a couple of times on other media that I believed Clinton and Trump are “the same.”  My patience with this rubbish is gone.

Obviously, I at no time said or implied that Clinton and Trump were “the same.”  On the contrary, I repeatedly insisted on the difference, and attempted, as best I could, to analyze those differences within the context of capitalist politics.  I used the phrase “the threat of Trump” in this post, made several posts on Facebook in which I referred to the different interests of the various capitalists who supported each of them and how that was significant, and on twitter linked to a WSWS article that said (paraphrasing from memory) that millions of workers will see a Trump victory as the herald of increased assaults on their living standards, and will see a Clinton victory as continuing an intolerable status quo.  Anyone who considers those to be identical is an idiot.

However, for those of you who are either foolish enough or, more likely, dishonest enough to still maintain that I think Clinton and Trump were “the same,” let me pose a simple question: If you voted for Clinton, that means you did not vote for Trump, and you also did not vote for the Jill Stein. Are you, therefore, claiming Trump and Stein  are the same?

Rant: Germany, Nazis, Historical Ignorance

Rant on

You never know what Twitter will do with a casual remark.  Yesterday, just because it was on my mind, I tweeted this: 

My favorite line from Captain America: “People forget that the first country the Nazis invaded was their own.” 

I guess it struck a chord, because it kind of took off; it seems other people had been thinking the same thing.  But the part of that quote that gets the emphasis in my head is, “People forget.”

And, sure enough, someone had to jump in with a comment to the effect that the quote seemed to excuse the Germans.  And there you have it: historical ignorance in the service of reaction.   It does not seem to matter to this person that “the Germans” were divided into classes, a petty bourgeoisie and a lumpen-proletariat that rushed to Hitler’s banner, a bourgeoisie that financially supported him, and proletarians that were prepared for any sacrifice to stop him.  It doesn’t matter to this person that many of these Germans whom he wishes not to be “excused” were heroic fighters, waiting by the millions for a signal from the Social Democrats (Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands) or the Communist Party ( Kommunistische Partei Deutschlands)—a signal that didn’t come until it was too late.  But yes, blame “the Germans.”   It doesn’t matter that Hitler was so hated by the working class that, as late as 1936 there were major industrial cities he didn’t dare enter, because they couldn’t guarantee his safety.  Hell, it doesn’t seem to matter to this person that many of these Germans were Jewish!  They were Germans, and let us, by all means, not excuse them.

If there is no scientific understanding of the class basis of Nazism, if we view racism and xenophobia apart from the class interests they serve, if we do not think things through, we will find no way forward.

Fascism: What it is, How to Fight it

What is National Socialism?

Rant off