Sunday, November 21, 2010

U.S. $60 billion dollar arms deal with Saudi Arabia Single Q&A with Noam Chomsky

a U.S. $60 billion dollar arms deal with Saudi Arabia has been in the news lately, and given the dominance of the U.S. over most nations in the middle east, it appeared at first, to be a significant shift away from the U.S. imperial framework that we use to maintain control over the energy resources in the gulf. The core roles of the U.S. energy system is that Israel is our #1 client--they police the region, and the Saudis were given the role established by British planners prior to the 2nd world war. With other state power systems coming in and out of fashion but managed by the U.S. at various points in time. Given the established role of the Saudis to maintain a weak central government which could be protected by "gendarmes" in the case of attack or an internal revolt, I wondered if this 60 billion dollar arms deal would be a major shift away from the dominant order

I asked Noam Chomsky on this topic, and here was the response:

ER: It's my understanding that the weapons are not as advanced as what we send to Israel, but does this undermine the imperial framework established by the Franco-British empires and... inherited and expanded by the U.S? Is the tension between Israel and Saudi Arabia significant given their respective roles in the system? Is it a major policy shift to allow the Saudis greater internal military control?

NC: You’re right that the arms are not as advanced as what is sent to Israel, which doesn’t object to them. And it’s doubtful that they have any purpose beyond internal repression and tying Saudi Arabia more closely to the US, with more control by the US (training, logistic support, repair, etc.). It strengthens the imperial framework, in this sense. Israel and Saudi Arabia have been tacit allies since 1967, with rare shifts.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

A simplified political spectrum.

There has always been some confusion and arbitrary discussion about what the American political spectrum is. What defines the left and what defines the right. In many cases, there is an overlapping spectrum for libertarianism, socialism, liberal on social issues type stuff, but I don't use that stuff. It doesn't work for me from a framework standpoint. Anyone can arbitrarily define what they want "right" or "left" or "liberal" or "conservative" to mean. They are just labels. But if there is a continuum, I prefer the one I laid out below. But I do understand the concepts of the libertarian socialists and that the historical difference between was the difference in tactics between the anti-statist wing of the left (called libertarian) and the statist wing--which went in the socialist direction. But I do not find this to be relevant today.

In essence, the further left you go, the less power you have in few hands and the more power you have as broadly distributed as possible. The further right you go, the more it is concentrated in fewer and fewer hands. That's my metric.

Using the left as democratic, right as authoritarian and hierarchical is simply easier and clears up the muddy confusion over libertarians and socialism, liberals and the older political language. The language and discourse of modern politics is important because we power levelers are at a disadvantage for getting our message out, and the right wing has all of the advantage. We need to be quick with our message so it can be passed along quickly, without always needing such an extensive explanation.

Then there is the matter of labeling the opposition. I am growing fond of the term "right wing socialists" For starters, there is just a tiny splash of "national socialists" in the word, but most importantly, they have spent so much time and effort defining socialism as what they want it to mean through decades upon decades of business financed corporate propaganda--that the base of the right already has such an imprint of it to make it an extremely uphill, costly, and unnecessary battle to attempt to reclaim the word. The same applies to the word "Liberal".

The reason the term applies and fits so well is the bottom line economic reality that the right wing socialists very willingly, especially since Ronald Reagan's election in 1980, have taken the public money, and pooled it collectively and redistribute the wealth upwards. This has always been done, but it has been done at a more accelerated rate since Reagan's presidency. From a historical standpoint, it is the exception, not the rule to have power distributed towards the majority and away from the top. This a predictable consequence of living in a society that is dominated by privately financed corporate propaganda relaying precisely the opposite message: That the broader population is somehow in control and has somehow restricted the super special people who are not powerful because of their positions and experience in those positions but because of their inherent specialness.

To really change minds, you cannot operate on the terms of your opponents. They are setting the framework, and to play in to their frame and defend is not a winning strategy. They have already defined socialism and liberals. By using the updated, realistic term "right wing socialists" we mitigate their positioning by muddying the water--while building up the movement that defines the left: economic democracy and a broader distribution of power and decision making to the majority.

Attack and build, attack and build.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Expand the house of represenatives.

One huge problem with the house is that you really are just about as removed from your house rep as you are the executive branch (and certainly the aristocratic Senate, with its archaic 6 year terms). The country has expanded a great deal, and yet the house is capped at 435 (an arbitrarily established number I should add).

An excellent solution to me is to acknowledge the telecommunications revolution, and allow remote voting on national legislation, this will also allow the expansion of the house to a much larger number.

The clear and obvious advantages to a house of 4350 rather than 435 is that gerrymandering would be greatly reduced (though not impossible over time, I will concede) and local control over reps would be increased because there would be much smaller district sizes (right now the average district is well over 600k per rep. The second advantage here is that the problem of the 20th century was that political candidates were privately financed by the interests that privately control the country. So to pay off 435 is manageable, to a pay off 4350 is much costlier, and to pay off 43,500 even more so. Voting today is done on financial and party line basis...there is not enough of an advantage to be found in the networking and compromise side to outweigh the expansion of the house of representatives into something that can actually represent the varied people's interests in the country.