On the Intellectual Dark Web | Glenn Loury & Bret Weinstein [The Glenn Show]

An excellent conversation between two people I admire:

Also, Bret Weinstein’s perspective on Trump’s Hitler-esque strategy was interesting. His general political views are somewhat in line with my own, although his are more liberal or Left-leaning, but I do grasp how there’s something very wrong with our political system on both sides of the partisan aisle and agree that Trump isn’t necessarily a special indicator of how off the rails it’s all gone. Trump is just one more in a long line of people who should never have been elected, but Hillary Clinton was certainly no better option, and that in itself is the problem: the choices we’re being presented with are shit and have been shit for a long, long time. Guess it’s difficult for me to be strongly distressed over Trump they way some of my fellow Americans are since I felt similarly about Clinton, though neither option were worth a damn.

But, then again, we get the System we’re willing to tolerate. I vote 3rd party while others scoff, but I don’t see any benefit in playing into the duopoly game. Not in my lifetime anyway. Observing the Political Left losing its shit over this most recent election is somewhat amusing, though also kind of unnerving how animated they’re all becoming, particularly in the mainstream media. Some do indeed seem to be angling toward stoking a civil war, and that’s not likely in any of our best interests. But whatever will come will come. Can’t probably stop that train, try as we might. Good to keep the channels of communication open though and to prod one another to think more deeply about all these topics, including what elements of society we think we’re aiming to recreate and/or preserve.

Reckoning with where to go from here (Saturday morning journaling)

Not been writing much on here lately. Less and less over the last year or more. Been trying to get out of my head and more into my body through exercise and distractions. Why? Because I am stuck in a mental rut and can’t break free. On and on and on it goes.

Existential panic a few years back turned into a full-blown crisis, which now has subsided a bit and transformed into what might be considered a curious form of nihilism-of-sorts. Not sure how to define or describe it, but I grasp that it’s not a state of mind a person wishes to remain in indefinitely. How to escape it, though, is the million dollar question. Can’t reason my way out of this conundrum, as I’ve figured out.

Hence why people like Dr. Jordan Peterson can have such an impact and attract our attention, giving us hope for pulling our shit together by offering a gameplan for physical action. BUT…even there in studying his words the last couple of years I’m feeling left out in the cold due to irreconcilable differences in our outlooks for the future. His traditional orientation, life-affirming as it may be, does not gibe with this 21st-century citizen’s outlook on life. One reason being that I am child-free by choice and out of a sense of necessity, the reasons for which are numerous. This obviously reduces my ability to place so much emphasis on family in my own orientation. Not to mention that I am from a fractured family myself and lack a sense of connectivity in that sense as well. Which then can spill over into impacting one’s view of the community — in my case I live a very atomized existence within a community where I did not originate and apparently have never successfully assimilated. These aspects alone create a severe discrepancy between what Dr. Peterson teaches and what I actually experience, much as I continue to appreciate his viewpoints and share his material with others.

Furthermore, I’m not so interested in becoming what he and others suggest is the healthier option. Not because I wish to remain unhealthy by comparison, but because it doesn’t make sense for me personally. A few years ago I tried to fit this square peg through that round hole and created a great deal of pain for myself and others in the process. In the end, it doesn’t appear to have worked much and likely only shaved a few years off my life through the emotional/psychological turmoil it brought about. Wasn’t the answer I had hoped for in the end either, but here we are, required to face the facts that not all can live in accordance with such ideals. If anything, it’s spit me out with a renewed understanding of how deeply my own personality penetrates my being, how it cannot simply be overhauled or denied without severe consequence to my overall well-being. Come to find out.

Yet where I stand now doesn’t feel like somewhere I’d recommend to others. Doesn’t feel like a place where one can grow comfortable and accepting of what’s what. Hence why I continue searching for answers or at least better questions to ask.

Introducing routine exercise over the last 3 years has proven very beneficial insofar as helping lift the sense of depression that had been plaguing me. Quitting drinking for several months also aided me with better orienting myself and improving self-control, though nowadays I go back and forth between spells of drinking and not drinking. Giving up cigarettes this year was another bonus, though I remain addicted to nicotine through vaping technologies. Finally severing the relationship of the last 7 years also provides some peace of mind, though he and I remain friends at a distance. Been sleeping more, at least some days, and that too has improved my mood stability. Lost 40 lbs. from my highest weight, with hopes of losing 10-20 lbs. more through improving my diet.

And yet, the neuroticism remains. Ain’t that a bitch? Appears to be a deep-seated part of my personality. Some say you must find some sort of creative endeavor in which to pour all that energy, and there I’ve been coming up empty-handed. Been writing less than usual, assuming writing even helps in that regard. Haven’t painted in years. So instead I offer up my help to others to work on projects around their home or yard occasionally so as to keep myself busy and learn new skills. And I cleaned my apartment thoroughly this spring, trying to reduce the smoke smell in this place after 9 years of smoking indoors here. Been trying to socialize more and meet new people, with mixed success. Haven’t been reading print books much despite a desire to do so, though I continue listening to audiobooks regularly. Resumed cooking new recipes that are in line with a low-carb diet. Also have been training at the range with my weapon, trying to improve my marksmanship.

Also continue keeping a finger lightly on the pulse of what’s going on out in society, though my interest in politics in general has waned over the years. All appears to be a losing battle — yet another reason for not bringing kids into whatever the future may hold. There are literally thousands of causes and issues calling for our attention, and yet we could spend 10 years focusing on only one and still may (likely) wind up with nothing to show for it in the end. Sad but true.

Sounds nihilistic? Does to me also. It’s not much fun being accused of being “negative” and a “downer,” so I try more and more to keep my mouth shut around most folks. It remains true that technologies are moving too fast for someone like me, that they’re leaving me behind and giving me a strong sense of foreboding for what is to come on down the line. We humans care an awful lot about power, control and respect, and yet here we are, confronting a very uncertain future where it looks extremely likely that the vast majority of us will lose more power and control over directing our own lives. And what does respect even mean in a time when it’s become customary to sell our souls to the highest bidder? Or just to make a living? Giving ourselves over to corporations in order to secure our livelihoods as well as for our material sustenance.

This is an inescapable existential quandary I find myself in. Simply shifting my perspective and pretending that what is occurring is actually fine and fun doesn’t appear to be a realistic option for someone like me. Consider it a shortcoming on my part if you must. Blame it on a lack of imagination or pragmatism. Whatever. I’m coming to resist this outlook less and less though. Hurts less when I accept it as being just the way things are and cease chomping at the bit so much. But it’s also a very alienating way to live. Gets in the way of social connections, particularly with new people. I do pray occasionally and ask for guidance, direction, and the answer I’ve received back troubles me. Sounds like another waste of time and energy, although I can see where it’s more than that, where it’s an opportunity for honing one’s skills in a way that never truly goes out of style despite being threatened by emerging global political designs. One word: sustainability. Seems to me it all comes down to that and always has, always will.

Yet I’m reluctant to jump in that direction as well. Not sure why, considering I’m not doing myself or others much good sitting here preserving myself in this apartment year after year, fretting over matters I have no control over. But I think we grow so accustomed to our lifestyles, even when they’re painful, because they’re at least known to us. The unknown is far more unnerving, even if it might prove ultimately beneficial in the long run. And of course changes often require money, financing. Life doesn’t sit on hold without money to maintain it. All of our material goods require a place to store them, lest we give up everything we ever worked for. The car must be paid off. Credit cards must be paid down. Have to figure out how to afford gas and the cell phone bill each month if no longer bringing in an income.

The plan that keeps running through my mind is giving myself over to helping on small, family-owned farms. Sounds crazy, right? But what’s crazier — trying that or continuing to live like this without a sense of purpose? Grandma says I wouldn’t last a day in that life, and maybe she’s right. But what realistically is my alternative at this point? When life gets to feeling like a very slow death, something must give. I’m less miserable than I was a few years back, but still I’m feeling the years slipping by, wondering what it’s all for more and more. Life’s been teaching me that suffering is inevitable, that really your only choice is to choose your pain. Suffer here or suffer there. Suffer physically or suffer mentally. Helps to become addicted to the pain, to embrace one’s inner sadomasochist. Endorphins are our friends. So far as I can tell, it’s all crazy no matter which way you turn. Human life all unto itself is crazy. We just grow accustomed to certain forms of craziness and accept them as the norm.

I don’t have a better answer than this. It’s not exactly what I wished to be presented with either, but that’s what I get for praying. Whatever I am praying to…

Self-preservation for the simple sake of doing so is such an empty endeavor. That much I have figured out. Life is meant to be lived, not hidden from. Not merely managed through the use of mind-altering substances. We’ve become the domesticated beasts who must beg others for what we need, and that’s a pathetic mode of existence unfitting for human beings. Our relations with one another are growing less authentic with each passing year while our lives are simultaneously growing more complicated. What’s all this technology for nowadays? To cage us? Does it really make our lives easier and of better quality? In some ways yes, in others no. Slavery truly never really ended, it just changed forms. Seems to me that now most of us are slaves and serfs, even if we don’t realize it. I’ve stayed out of the corporate game so far as work goes, but there’s no escaping corporatism in this day and age. This is what people are resisting when they call out capitalism, though they aren’t articulating their concerns very clearly. It’s a worthwhile fear, if you ask me. Not as benevolent as some like to portray it as. Extreme economic disparities being just one problematic feature it possesses.

I don’t know if humans can overcome this trend or if it will eventually overcome all of us. Am not convinced we common people might win this battle — that remains a question. Plus, I’m not sure most even want to. We’re not all on the same team, nor will we ever be. Any alternatives envisioned can’t help but differ as well. For years I’ve rolled around the thought of 10,000 communities going their own way, pondering what that might mean and why it seems necessary, so now I’m being called upon to practice what I claim to believe. To deny this calling is to become a complete hypocrite, a talker who will not DO. And it kinda pisses me off to feel like my hand is being forced here, being the rebel that I am and all. But what real alternative is there for me? Keep sitting here, day in and day out, pondering on life and growing more weary while feeling like I contribute little of actual value in response? My contributions will always be small, and so be it, but contribute in some productive way one must. Lest the nihilism blacken our hearts and minds and turn us against Life and those who seek to affirm it.

As a woman I will probably always have one foot in chaos, per my nature. And that’s all right. It’s to be expected. In the end, I expect Nature will ultimately win out regardless of what we humans might do. And I’m okay with that. Keep trying to remind myself that it truly is about the journey and not the destination since we’re all destined to be turned to dust. Waiting for what the future might hold is a waste of each day. Dark as I might be, I do love. Much as I personally might lack a sense of community, I can grasp the importance of it. No human being is an island. And local power is the only real power most of us will ever potentially be afforded. Which is to say through our interactions, interpersonal communications and work. Squalling online doesn’t change a thing. Forever trying to get laws passed to force the hands of others only will ensure that others will fight you on the political battleground indefinitely. Reason and argument can go a long way in changing hearts and minds, but not quite far enough. Not as far as bonding can take us. And we bond through what we share in common, through the work we do side by side and the respect we earn in one another’s eyes. Perceived differences tend to shrink in such scenarios.

I don’t know what’s right, but I have a few ideas on what’s wrong. What’s unsustainable yet heavily invested in leads to wrong. Leads to people doubling down on what won’t work. Leads to ideological possession and fanaticism because the truth can’t or won’t be accepted. And that leads us to a very ugly side of our natures, good intentions be damned. I’m not sure what’s really real anymore, but I have an idea or two on what’s obviously fake and false. It appears this is what’s meant by worshiping false idols — human-made idols that we’ve grown attached to and have our egos enmeshed with. Hard to let that go. Tough to admit how wrong we’ve been.

I don’t have any answers here, just a bunch of questions. And a recognition that what’s been tried so far isn’t sufficiently fulfilling. Life feels very long, even as each day slips by too fast. Might want to take advantage of our health while we still have it, put it toward some better use. Might want to use our minds for something better than continuously arguing with one another over matters that most of us don’t have any real control over. Casting blame and shame and forever seeking scapegoats to pin life’s problems on. Or entertaining ourselves to death through means that don’t actually help us improve our skills or well-being. Someday, when this country eventually falls, will we be a failed nation full of people with few practical skills beyond pushing buttons, rendered helpless and/or criminal when that which we’ve relied on falters? Will we then beg for any leader, foreign or otherwise, to remedy our plight, even if that means forsaking all the freedoms this nation was once about? I bet we will. Unfortunately so. We’ve lost something, in fact so much, that was once considered sacred in our spirit. It’s not about religion, it’s about character. My own character needs adjustment and healthy growth, and I don’t know if that’s possible in this current setup. Seems our common way of life unto itself is undermining in this respect. Impacts us all. What might change that? Guess that’s a question we each get to ask ourselves.

An introduction to the Frankfurt School (Philosophize This!)

Don’t expect any mention of Erich Fromm in this podcast though, unfortunately. Fromm being the Frankfurt School author I’m most familiar with. But it’s still an interesting podcast to listen to, especially recommended for those who have a knee-jerk reaction against anything relating to the Frankfurt School.

Part 1, “Introduction”:

Part 2, “The Enlightenment”:

Part 3, “The Culture Industry”:

Part 4, “Eros”:

Part 5, “Civilization”:

Part 6, “Art As A Tool For Liberation”:

What is referred to therein as “monopoly capitalism” sounds to be the same as what I generally refer to as Corporatism and/or oligopolistic capitalism. The difference being that the market situation has grown and expanded through the domination of sectors by key major (and increasingly global/multinational) corporations that wind up working in tandem to shut out competition from smaller businesses and upstarts (whether via political lobbying efforts or through technological strangleholds, etc.). To me, calling it monopolistic at this point oversimplifies the reality we’re confronting, though I can understand why Marcuse would use that language in the 1970s.

Part 7, “The Great Refusal”:

Pausing at 4:55 in that last clip…yes, and it’s precisely that concern which drives my own interest in the arguments and ideas put forth by people like Dr. Jordan Peterson. Though Peterson is well-known for criticizing neo-Marxists and those he refers to as “postmodernists,” he’s still absolutely right about how one needs to “clean your own room” before attempting to engage too far in the process of attempting to overhaul society. Why? Because “cleaning one’s own room” is about more than just literally doing domestic chores — it’s about developing our own individual selves, grappling with our own limitations and shortcomings, and taking more time to study history broadly so that we can have a better handle on what all has come before and why we humans find ourselves where we’re collectively at now. These are complex matters, not simply bumbling errors brought about by idiot, racist/sexist/”traditionalist” predecessors who gave too little thought to life and living or who were all so blinded by their own destructive agendas that they gave no shits for the fate of future generations. That’s too close-minded and uncharitable of an interpretation of the unfolding of history and the motives of people in the past and the institutions they designed over time. We have to step back and really take time to think deeply about what we’re confronting here today and how it came into being incrementally over the course of the rise of civilizations. Not any easy task. Requires a great deal of personal reckoning as well, due to our own individual biases and wishful thinking and brainwashed programming delivered via mainstream sources, educators (even those who were well-intentioned in their own right), and the wider culture and the narratives it depends on in order to survive.

The further I’ve gone down this rabbit hole over the years, the deeper I recognize the rabbit hole to be. There are no simply answers here. Not even that many clear-cut enemies necessarily. Just a bunch of us humans trying to make sense of reality and to play the games according the rules we understand (or rebel against them if that’s our bag). Domination and power certainly do factor in to the lived human experience, but so does SO MUCH else. It’s not so simple of a matter as destroying hierarchies and we’ll all eventually be free to live in peaceful equality with one another. No, that’s just begging for the creation of a power vacuum which will be filled by the ambitions of other groups of people operating under their own ideologies that will very likely prove even less effective than what’s currently in place. It’s a precarious situation at present, compounded by so much idealism in the hearts of protesters who like to imagine themselves as having the magical, never-before-tried answers to what plagues humanity. And many of them are blind to the lessons of history as well, largely due to ideological obsessiveness and the narrowing of focus that commonly entails. They will not prove to be saviors either, I’m willing to bet.

That doesn’t mean we have to throw our hands in the air and accept the current status quo as the only game worth playing because all else (like communism) likely will prove even more fatal. But it does ask of us to be careful and cautious in moving forward, to pay closer attention and to not be so arrogant as to assume we ourselves and those we politically/socially identify with have discovered ultimate answers to these complex problems and issues. Humility is absolutely essential here, lest history just keep on repeating (or rhyming, rather) in a downward spiraling fashion (thanks, in part, to new and powerful technologies coupled with greater centralization than the world has ever known before). Power available today is like that of no other time in history — be heedful of that fact.

Many of us want to see change be brought about, for human societies to become healthier and less dominated by economic interests solely. Plenty of us grasp the alienating features of modern life and what that can and does do to us psychologically and socially, and how that then spills out to impact all other aspects of society. But the way to bringing about change indeed isn’t going to come through simply protesting in the streets or certain interest groups vying to dominate within academe and the corporate and political world. That’s just a recipe for more disaster, so far as I can tell. I lost all faith in that approach. It’s become more a question of individual development and social evolution, of working with what is within our direct control and making decisions that allow us as individuals (and the communities we choose to devise or partake in) to live more in alignment with the values we claim to hold dear. Not trying to force the hands of others, since that won’t work. Better to find ways around the perceived obstructions and to test our own mettle than to attempt to overthrow society as a whole, especially when no better game plan is yet afforded to all of us on a society-wide scale.

People don’t wish to hear this, because it sounds harder. Much easier to instead try to push for change in the streets or by screaming at people in lecture halls and pulling down audio equipment so as to disrupt speakers we dislike. Much easier to behave destructively, rebelliously, than to take the time to comprehend our own inner tyrants and the consequences that produces in a reverberating fashion across society and on up through history. Much easier to blame the “other,” somebody else, than to recognize our own part played in this due to the human nature we share. Doesn’t matter that we were just born into this and didn’t ask for this. Nobody originally ever asks for anything, and all were born into it. That’s no excuse for refusing to do the heavy lifting required in this life. Turns out that giving in to such destructive tendencies and acting like rebels without a clue winds up doing more harm than good oftentimes, especially to our own selves, though it’s usually years on down the road before we can recognize it for what it is.

There are no easy answers here, and there likely never will be. It’s just us and our strivings and our need to learn to communicate more effectively with one another about our conflicting points of view. And that’s okay. This is what we have to work with. There was never a rose garden back before, no ideal worth returning to necessarily. Just the movement and expansion of Life in all its complexity on up through time. Never perfect, at least not in the rational sense that we humans like to dream about, nor will it ever be. But we co-constructors of this reality, particularly in terms of our own actions and choices herein. So we start there, inside oneself, that being where we have the most control and are capable of reaping the greatest benefit in our lifetimes.

Simple, yet not easy. C’est la vie…

“MENTAL ILLNESS IS THE BIG TENT SCAPEGOAT FOR CIVIL RIGHTS/POWER GRABS FAR BEYOND GUN CONTROL”

“White Farmers Slaughtered in South Africa | Lauren Southern and Stefan Molyneux”

“Joe Rogan Experience #1081 – Bret Weinstein & Heather Heying”

“Russell Brand & Jordan Peterson – Kindness VS Power | Under The Skin #46”

Evening thoughts on Valentine’s Day

Maybe I will come to repent on certain matters. It’s a question of damage to souls.

Looking back, there are lots of reasons why, lead-ups and bad influences, and I’ll continue to take them into consideration when contemplating this matter. Not much more to say about them aloud though. Tired of my complaining anger. It was understandable at the time, but I’d really like to live the next half of my life without its bitter input. Scarred the mind, distorts the thoughts. Turns one into a full-grown problem child.

Amazing the webs we humans can weave for our own selves.

Civilization’s a hell of a drug. Plus, all this new responsibility foisted on all of us right as religions began dying. Interesting how that worked out. Though it probably couldn’t have been any other way.

To think that ideologies aren’t busily filling that vacuum is naive. Welcome to most-modern life. It’s bound to be a wilder ride.

It’s easy to get scared about the future, to feel overwhelmed, anxious, fearful about what rights we may lose. Nervous about crime rates spiking. Weirded out by the extremist fringes on sex and race being paraded in the mainstream press as if heroic and prominently promoted in various colleges — only to then have their ideologies embraced by global tech-giants Google and Facebook.

Known unknowns of the future…

Don’t know what’s going to happen to us as a nation or as the West. I care very much, but arguing with people over it isn’t changing a thing. There’s gotta be a better way. Put our money where our mouths are and gets some skin in the game.

So modern civilizations are fucking us up? Some say so. I don’t doubt it so far as its alienation is concerned. But what it’s become isn’t necessarily what it must be. Is there not room for positive change, for better innovations and more sustainable, psychologically-healthier options? I think there is. Why not have faith in that possibility?

But nothing will come into fruition the way we’d like it to if we sit here wasting time bitching while taking no effective action. No, standing around with a sign or pressing the government for more laws to govern what we’re allowed to say to one another does not count as effective action. That is unless you’re in cahoots with the idea of expanding government’s power, which isn’t a smart move any time but especially now when major corporations have come to exert more control over our political system than the voters. Not a good time to call on government to start censoring us over our pet grievances. Not smart — it won’t stop there.

We American fiddles are played easily. Get us up in arms over this or that cause, getting us foaming at the mouth at one another and demanding new laws to set limits on one another down here on the ground. It’s almost as if we humans don’t know how to stay out of shackles. Can’t seem to learn that trick. Too easily persuaded to put politics before principles. That’s us. Welcome to it.

I’ve been chomping at the bit for years. As have bunches of people. Most probably haven’t fully figured out why yet. We get to focusing on our petty grievances, our personal life drama, our perplexing pasts and upbringings, political drama, social drama, TV drama, internet drama. Can distract us for years. Often does. Hard to not get caught up in these traps — maybe even impossible. We feud as if sectarians, as if the other has caused our current national situation. Not I. Never I.

Man, I get so tired of chomping on that bit, waiting and wondering, feeling so powerless to do anything about the state of the world, let alone figure out my own personal bullshit. Then an idea struck me, something I first looked into about 10 years ago. Researching those possibilities currently. Gives me a little more hope and reminds me that this game isn’t over yet. We still do have options, at least in how we choose to live out the lives we have. Might not be able to control the future, but perhaps we can add alternatives to the mix. And perhaps we’d be better off in doing so. Maybe we’d learn more tolerance for one another, learn to work with one another on projects of actual value. Real work and real living. Ten thousand communities going their own way. It’s a beautiful dream that isn’t dead yet.

Maybe through reconnecting with nature and the roots of our survival we’ll learn a thing or two about that which we call GOD in the process. Just maybe. And likely we’ll be better off for it.

We’re not dead yet. We’re not bought and enslaved yet. Our minds and bodies haven’t ceased functioning yet. Nor has our creativity, good will, and desire for community. There can be more to this life than what some of us experience.

Isolation has its limits. Alienation is soul-damaging. Bitterness, resentment, depression, envy, false pride, and procrastination are ruining our lives.

Love can find a way.

“Identity Politics & The Marxist Lie of White Privilege | Dr. Jordan B. Peterson | SNC 2017”

Tonight I believe I found the best speech thus far from Dr. Jordan Peterson:

Naomi Klein on Latin America, particularly Venezuela (2007)

Today I’d like to transcribe portions from Naomi Klein’s book The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism (2007). The reason being that I was introduced to this book by a close friend back in 2008 during my more “radical” years which involved both feminism and my 4-year stint volunteering within the local peace community (i.e. Left-leaning political circles). Libertarian-leaning as I’ve always been, still I too was attracted to various messages advanced by the Political Left during my 20s, so here’s one example of information I was presented with back then.

Beginning on page 446:

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Despite the attempts of everyone from Pinochet to Cavallo to Berezovsky to Black to portray himself as a victim of baseless political persecution, this list, by no means complete, represents a radical departure from the neoliberal creation myth. The economic crusade managed to cling to a veneer of respectability and lawfulness as it progressed. Now that veneer was being very publicly stripped away to reveal a system of gross wealth inequalities, often opened with the aid of grotesque criminality.

Besides legal trouble, there was another cloud on the horizon. The effects of the shocks that had been so integral to creating the illusion of ideological consensus were beginning to wear off. Rodolfo Walsh, another early casualty, had regarded the Chicago School ascendancy in Argentina as a setback, not a lasting defeat. The terror tactics used by the junta had put his country into a state of shock, but Walsh knew that shock, by its very nature, is a temporary state. Before he was gunned down on the streets of Buenos Aires, Walsh estimated that it would take twenty to thirty years until the effects of the terror receded and Argentines regained their footing, courage and confidence, ready once again to fight for economic and social equity. It was in 2001, twenty-four years later, that Argentina erupted in protest against IMF-prescribed austerity measures and then proceeded to force out five presidents in only three weeks.

I was living in Buenos Aires in that period, and people kept exclaiming, “The dictatorship just ended!” At the time I didn’t understand the meaning behind the jubilation, since the dictatorship had been over for seventeen years. Now I think I do: the state of shock had finally worn off, just as Walsh had predicted.

In the years since, that wide-awake shock resistance has spread to many other former shock labs—Chile, Bolivia, China, Lebanon. And as people shed the collective fear that was first instilled with tanks and cattle prods, with sudden flights of capital and brutal cutbacks, many are demanding more democracy and more control over markets. These demands represent the greatest threat of all to Friedman’s legacy because they challenge his most central claim: that capitalism and freedom are part of the same indivisible project.

The Bush administration remains so committed to perpetuating this false union that, in 2002, it embedded it in the National Security Strategy of the United States of America. “The great struggles of the twentieth century between liberty and totalitarianism ended with a decisive victory for the forces of freedom—a single sustainable model for national success: freedom, democracy and free enterprise.” This assertion, made with the full force of the U.S. military arsenal behind it, was not enough to hold back the tide of citizens using their various freedoms to reject free-market orthodoxy—even in the United States. As a headline in the Miami Herald after the 2006 midterm elections put it, “Democrats won big by opposing free-trade agreements.” A New York Times/CBS poll a few months later found that 64 percent of U.S. citizens believed the government should guarantee health care coverage to all and “showed a striking willingness . . . to make tradeoffs” to achieve that goal, including paying up to $500 a year more in taxes.

On the international stage, the staunchest opponents of neoliberal economics were winning election after election. The Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez, running on a platform of “21st Century Socialism,” was re-elected in 2006 for a third term with 63 percent of the vote. Despite attempts by the Bush administration to paint Venezuela as a pseudodemocracy, a poll that same year recorded that 57 percent of Venezuelans were happy with the state of their democracy, an approval rating on the continent second only to Uruguay’s, where the left-wing coalition party Frente Amplio had been elected to government and where a series of referendums had blocked major privatizations. In other words, in the two Latin American states where voting had resulted in real challenges to the Washington Consensus, citizens had renewed their faith in the power of democracy to improve their lives. In stark contrast to this enthusiasm, in countries where economic policies remain largely unchanged regardless of the promises made during election campaigns, polls consistently track and eroding faith in democracy, reflected in dwindling turnout for elections, deep cynicism toward politicians and a rise in religious fundamentalism.

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Pausing there on page 448 and picking back up again on page 453:

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In December 2006, a month after Friedman’s death, Latin America’s leaders gathered for a historic summit in Bolivia, held in the city of Cochabamba, where a popular uprising against water privatization had forced Bechtel out of the country several years earlier. Morales began the proceedings with a vow to close “the open veins of Latin America.” It was a reference to Eduardo Galeano’s book Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent, a lyrical accounting of the violent plunder that had turned a rich continent into a poor one. The book was first published in 1971, two years before Allende was overthrown for daring to try to close those open veins by nationalizing his country’s copper mines. That event ushered in a new era of furious pillage, during which the structures built by the continent’s developmentalist movements were sacked, stripped and sold off.

Today Latin Americans are picking up the project that was brutally interrupted all those years ago. Many of the policies cropping up are familiar: nationalization of key sectors of the economy, land reform, major new investments in education, literacy and health care. These are not revolutionary ideas, but in their unapologetic vision of a government that helps reach for equality, they are certainly a rebuke to Friedman’s 1975 assertion to Pinochet that “the major error, in my opinion, was . . . to believe that it is possible to do good with other people’s money.”

Though clearly drawing on a long militant history, Latin America’s contemporary movements are not direct replicas of their predecessors. Of all the differences, the most striking is an acute awareness of the need for protection from the shocks of the past—the coups, the foreign shock therapists, the U.S.-trained torturers, as well as the debt shocks and currency collapses of the eighties and nineties. Latin America’s mass movements, which have powered the wave of election victories for the left-wing candidates, are learning how to build shock absorbers into their organizing models. They are, for example, less centralized than in the sixties, making it harder to demobilize whole movements by eliminating a few leaders. Despite the overwhelming cult of personality surrounding Chavez, and his moves to centralize power at the state level, the progressive networks in Venezuela are at the same time highly decentralized, with power dispersed at the grass roots and community level, through thousands of neighborhood councils and co-ops. In Bolivia, the indigenous people’s movements that put Morales in office function similarly and have made it clear that Morales does not have their unconditional support: the barrios will back him as long as he stays true to his democratic mandate, and not a moment longer. This kind of network approach is what allowed Chavez to survive the 2002 coup attempt: when their revolution was threatened, his supporters poured down from the shantytowns surrounding Caracas to demand his reinstatement, a kind of popular mobilization that did not happen during the coups of the seventies.

Latin America’s new leaders are also taking bold measures to block any future U.S.-backed coups that could attempt to undermine their democratic victories. The governments of Venezuela, Costa Rica, Argentina and Uruguay have all announced that they will no longer send students to the School of the Americas (now called the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation)—the infamous police and military training center in Fort Benning, Georgia, where so many of the continent’s notorious killers learned the latest in “counterterrorism” techniques, then promptly directed them against farmers in El Salvador and auto workers in Argentina. Bolivia looks set to cut its ties with the school, as does Ecuador. Chavez has let it be known that if an extremist right-wing element in Bolivia’s Santa Cruz province makes good on its threats against the government of Evo Morales, Venezuelan troops will help defend Bolivia’s democracy. Rafael Correa is set to take the most radical step of all. The Ecuadorean port city of Manta currently hosts the largest U.S. military base in South America, which serves as a staging area for the “war on drugs,” largely fought in Colombia. Correa’s government has announced that when the agreement for the base expires in 2009, it will not be renewed. “Ecuador is a sovereign nation,” said the minister of foreign relations, Maria Fernanda Espinosa. “We do not need any foreign troops in our country.” If the U.S. military does not have bases or training programs, its power to inflict shocks will be greatly eroded.

The new leaders in Latin America are also becoming better prepared for the kinds of shocks inflicted by volatile markets. One of the most destabilizing forces of recent decades has been the speed with which capital can pick up and move, or how a sudden drop in commodity prices can devastate an entire agricultural sector. But in much of Latin America these shocks have already happened, leaving behind ghostly industrial suburbs and huge stretches of fallow farmland. The task of the region’s new left, therefore, has become a matter of taking the detritus of globalization and putting it back to work. In Brazil, the phenomenon is best seen in the million and a half farmers of the Landless People Movement (MST) who have formed hundreds of cooperatives to reclaim unused land. In Argentina, it is clearest in the movement of “recovered companies,” two hundred bankrupt businesses that have been resuscitated by their workers, who have turned them into democratically run cooperatives. For the cooperatives, there is no fear of facing an economic shock of investors leaving, because the investors have already left. In a way, the reclamation experiments are a new kind of post-disaster reconstruction—reconstruction from the slow-motion disaster of neoliberalism. In sharp contrast to the model offered by the disaster capitalism complex in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Gulf Coast, the leaders of Latin America’s rebuilding efforts are the people most affected by the devastation. And unsurprisingly, their spontaneous solutions look very much like the real third way that had been so effectively shocked out of the way by the Chicago School campaign around the world—democracy in daily life.

In Venezuela, Chavez has made the co-ops a top political priority, giving them first refusal on government contracts and offering them economic incentives to trade with one another. By 2006, there were roughly 100,000 cooperatives in the country, employing more than 700,000 workers. Many are pieces of state infrastructure—toll booths, highway maintenance, health clinics—handed over to the communities to run. It’s a reverse of the logic of large corporations and losing democratic control, the people who use the resources are given the power to manage them, creating, at least in theory, both jobs and more responsive public services. Chavez’s many critics have derided these initiatives as handouts and unfair subsidies, of course. Yet in an era when Halliburton treats the U.S. government as its personal ATM for six years, withdraws upward of $20 billion in Iraq contracts alone, refuses to hire local workers either on the Gulf Coast or in Iraq, then expresses its gratitude to U.S. taxpayers by moving its corporate headquarters to Dubai (with all the attendant tax and legal benefits), Chavez’s direct subsidies to regular people look significantly less radical.

Latin America’s most significant protection from future shocks (and therefore from the shock doctrine) flows from the continent’s emerging independence from Washington’s financial institutions, the result of greater integration among regional governments. The Bolivian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA) is the continent’s retort to the Free Trade Area of the Americas, the now buried corporatist dream of a free-trade zone stretching from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego. Though ALBA is still in its early stages, Emir Sader, the Brazil-based sociologist, describes its promise as “a perfect example of genuinely fair trade: each country provides what it is best placed to produce, in return for what it most needs, independent of global market prices.” So Bolivia provides gas at stable discounted prices; Venezuela offers heavily subsidized oil to poorer countries and shares expertise in developing reserves; and Cuba sends thousands of doctors to deliver free health care all over the continent, while training students from other countries at its medical schools. This is a very different model from the kind of academic exchange that began at the University of Chicago in the mid-fifties, when Latin American students learned a single rigid ideology and were sent home to impose it with uniformity across the continent. The major benefit is that ALBA is essentially a barter system, in which countries decide for themselves what any given commodity or service is worth, rather than letting traders in New York, Chicago or London set the prices for them. That makes trade far less vulnerable to the kind of sudden price fluctuations that devastated Latin American economies in the past. Surrounded by turbulent financial waters, Latin America is creating a zone of relative economic calm and predictability, a feat presumed impossible in the globalization era.

When one country does face a financial shortfall, this increased integration means that it does not need to turn to the IMF or the U.S. Treasury for a bailout. That’s fortunate because the 2006 U.S. National Security Strategy makes it clear that for Washington, the shock doctrine is still very much alive: “If crises occur, the IMF’s response must reinforce each country’s responsibility for its own economic choices,” the document states. “A refocused IMF will strengthen market institutions and market discipline over financial decisions.” This kind of “market discipline” can only be enforced if governments actually go to Washington for help—as Stanley Fischer explained during the Asian financial crisis, the IMF can help only if it is asked, “but when [a country is] out of money, it hasn’t got many places to turn.” That is no longer the case. Thanks to high oil prices, Venezuela has emerged as a major lender to other developing countries, allowing them to do an end run around Washington.

The results have been dramatic. Brazil, so long shackled to Washington by its enormous debt, is refusing to enter into a new agreement with the IMF. Nicaragua is negotiating to quit the fund, Venezuela has withdrawn from both the IMF and the World Bank, and even Argentina, Washington’s former “model pupil,” has been part of the trend. In his 2007 State of the Union address, President Nestor Kirchner said that the country’s foreign creditors had told him,” “‘You must have an agreement with the International Fund to be able to pay the debt.’ We say to them, ‘Sirs, we are sovereign. We want to pay the debt, but no way in hell are we going to make an agreement again with the IMF.'” As a result, the IMF, supremely powerful in the eighties and nineties, is no longer a force on the continent. In 2005, Latin America made up 80 percent of the IMF’s total lending portfolio; in 2007, the continent represented just 1 percent—a sea change in only two years. “There is life after the IMF,” Kirchner declared, “and it’s a good life.”

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Stopping on page 457.

My thoughts follow. To start off with, I continue to have mixed feelings over such material, more so now than ever before, because I do take issue with the policies of the IMF and am aware and critical of Big Corporate excesses. There remains truth in concerns over externalized costs and the ongoing pursuit of cheap labor and cheap resources extracted from nations where few alternatives are available. One could argue, as my stepdad and others do, that these examples of corporate outsourcing for production of products brings much-needed money to these communities and provides more opportunities than they otherwise would have. Yes, but what is to become of them when these plants up and leave, headed for other locations where even cheaper labor pools and/or resources can be had? Appears to leave economic devastation in their wake, which we can also see in the U.S. where communities depended on businesses that moved their operations to China or Mexico (as occurred in my own hometown down South). Sufficient alternatives don’t tend to spring up in the vacuum left behind, leading to a rise in economic and social problems in those areas, which can then turn political. I remain perplexed over what can be done about this, though I grasp that simply shrugging our shoulders and expecting people to make do with what little is left isn’t much of an answer. But neither is trying to implement a communistic/socialistic model instead since that too will prove unstable, and likely even more so.

This conundrum has left me frustrated since either way we turn it appears we’re damned. Though capitalism offers the most promise out of the modern models we’re presented with, corporatism that has arisen out of it is proving extremely alienating and inhuman. As in it forces humans to adapt to it, yet it cannot adapt to serve the needs of humans. Globalized corporatism adheres to a different set of values than do most human beings, which then stokes strife that often enough does result in political upheaval on down the road. Somehow this matter must be addressed, yet neither leaders on the political Left or Right are willing (or able) to do so. What Naomi Klein refers to as “neoliberalism” is often enough used interchangeably with the term “neoconservatism” and is embraced by both major political parties in the U.S. For whatever differences may be ascribed to these two terms, what they each fundamentally share in common is political fusion with global (multinational) corporate and banking agendas. And it’s that unto itself a lot of us out here continue to take issue with.

Now, was Naomi Klein’s book biased? Yes it was. She put her own political spin on events based on her Leftist political outlook. Certainly can’t claim her to be politically neutral, independent, or nonpartisan in her delivery there. And I understand that nowadays in a way I didn’t 10 years ago. Everybody’s got an agenda, or so it seems. So let’s look at a current news stories on how Venezuela is faring these days.

An article from The Guardian (Jan. 21, 2018) titled “‘We loot or we die of hunger’: food shortages fuel unrest in Venezuela“:

Angry about empty supermarket shelves and soaring prices, some people are breaking into warehouses, ransacking food trucks and invading outlying farms.

During the first 11 days of January the Venezuelan Observatory for Social Conflict, a Caracas rights group, recorded 107 episodes of looting and several deaths in 19 of Venezuela’s 23 states.

[…]

There have been previous incidents of looting but analysts fear that the current wave could linger amid the Venezuela’s economic freefall.

President Nicolás Maduro blames the country’s woes on an “economic war” against his government by rightwingers and foreign interests.

But his critics say his government has disrupted domestic food production by expropriating farms and factories. Meanwhile, price controls designed to make food more widely available to poorer people have had the opposite effect: many prices have been set below the cost of production, forcing food producers out of business.

Meanwhile the government has less cash to import food because of its mismanagement of the oil sector, where production has fallen to a 29-year low. Hyperinflation and the collapse of the currency have put the prices of foodstuffs available on the black market beyond the reach of many families.

But rather than reforming the economy, the government has resorted to handouts and far-fetched schemes.

So somewhere along the way that experiment obviously failed, and within a mere decade of when Naomi Klein’s book hit shelves. What are we to make of this? Seems to me that while relying on the IMF indeed proved problematic, so did switching over instead to a socialist scheme.

To be delved in deeper at a later date…