All forms of prostitution do not automatically equate with sex trafficking.

I continue to have mixed emotions on prostitution.

Look, this shit is complex. People like to try to reduce it down to one dimension, but that’s not how it rolls. I acknowledge this from personal experience. Plus, I read history and comprehend how tribal rituals weren’t minimized to the extent as casual and pornographic sex is today.

Not that Sodom and Gomorrah hasn’t existed before…

Anyway, a point here that continues bothering me is human trafficking. Someone forced into prostitution is seriously a slave destined to be psychologically scarred. I’ll be the first to tell anybody that prostitution isn’t for everybody. Takes a certain type of person to choose to do that line of work independently and willingly, by her or his own volition, to whatever degree of involvement and for however long. Past conditioning factoring in however much it may.

But I continually, for years running, hear people disparaging prostitution while equating it with sexual slavery. While it can and does have its downsides, working as an independent sex worker is an individual choice. In a country as open and free as the U.S., we do have a choice. Many do come in as a result of economic hardship, myself included to an extent, but still. We can make a choice. The money is there, sure, but we who have the ability to choose opt to go that route because it appears like a better deal than whatever alternatives we’re taking into consideration. Let’s be real about this.

I, for one, don’t regret having worked as an escort. Still don’t, despite my epic burnout and mixed emotions ever since. It proved to be a worthwhile learning experience, IMO. BUT, I’d still caution others to be very careful about entering that line of work. Think long and hard on it. I personally studied two books from the library (Delores French’s On Working and Prostitution: On Whores, Hustlers, and Johns by James Elias, et al.) for a full 2 months before taking the plunge, and even there greater preparation probably would’ve been helpful. BUT, I carved out my own way according to my own boundaries instead of caving to whatever everybody else in the Industry happened to be offering or requesting. And that’s the beauty of independence in that line of work.

Anyway, I’m not going into it any further tonight. Just felt the need to state that bit.

“Jordan Belfort: In-depth interview with The Wolf of Wall Street”

Jordan Belfort’s website: http://jordanbelfort.com.

Yeah, he sounds rather sheisty, but still interesting to listen to. Makes some good points and offers worthwhile advice.

“Joe Rogan Experience #634 – Abby Martin”

REALLY enjoyed that podcast. Very worthwhile.

“Cultural Marxism” (videos by Anekantavad)

“Cultural Marxism”:

“Cultural Marxism II”:

“Cultural Marxism III”:

Skipping part 4 in the series and heading on to “Cultural Marxism V” (including actual quotes from Karl Marx):

“Cultural Marxism VI”:

“Re: A Brief History of Feminism (Cultural Marxism VII?)”:

“Cultural Marxism VIII”:

Those were the best videos, IMO, out of a series created by Andy back in 2011.

I present these videos here simply as another perspective on the matter, considering how frequently I hear and read the term “cultural marxism” lobbed around these days online. Andy’s views don’t necessarily encapsulate my own views on this topic entirely, though I do share his recognition that this term is used so broadly and vaguely (plus has very little to do with Karl Marx’s actual expressed views) to where it’s rendered nearly nonsensical and is incapable of being accurately descriptive. It’s become a popular buzzword (at least in certain circles) lacking in clear content, which of course leads to the term obscuring more than it illuminates.

A look at Bill Clinton of the so-called “Left” (part 2 of my inquiry into “Leftists” vs. “Rightists”)

Been thinking about how I want to further open up the conversation about “Leftists” vs. “Rightists,” and I’m immediately bogged down by the labels and how they mean such different things to different people. For example, is “liberal” synonymous with “leftist”? Is “conservative” synonymous with “rightist”? I don’t personally think so. There are liberal-minded libertarians, so where might they fall on the spectrum? And there are plenty who call themselves Democrats and Republicans who wind up supporting nearly identical policies that wind up expanding the scope and power of government in all the wrong ways.

A famous case-in-point: Bill Clinton. He ran on the Democratic ticket and yet when we look at what he actually promoted throughout his time as president, nearly everything he did paved the way to making it possible for George W. Bush to take shit to the next level once he was elected. Important examples include Bill Clinton’s role in supporting:

  • NAFTA and CAFTA (North American and Central American Free Trade Agreements, respectively), which virtually destroyed the incomes of small farmers in Mexico and Central American countries by pushing cheaper U.S. produce, which then helped pave the way for so many out-of-work Hispanics to vie for a chance to cross our borders in search of better economic opportunities (which subsequently led to their own exploitation as “cheap labor”);
  • GATT (General Agreement on Trade & Tariffs), which shortly thereafter allowed for the formation of the WTO (World Trade Organization) that claimed to be about “liberalizing trade” but actually turned out to be a global scheme devised to cater to major corporate interests;
  • helping chip away at and by the end of his presidency effectively gutting the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933 with the passage of the Gramm–Leach–Bliley Act (a.k.a. the Financial Services Modernization Act of 1999), which was what had been put in place to restrict affiliations between commercial banks and securities firms, opening our country up to the crazy, albeit lucrative for some, derivatives game that has severely threatened and weakened our markets despite pandering to select corporate interests;
  • federal “Three-Strikes” law that did more to fill prisons than to actually seek proper justice in too many cases, at a time when the U.S. prison system’s incarceration rate was already growing nearly exponentially since the 1970s;
  • selecting as U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Robert Rubin, a man who’d previously spent 26 years working for Goldman Sachs, a company that has since been playing an ever-increasing role in U.S. and foreign politics and global economics via lobbying efforts and direct infiltration (as is also clearly evident in the Obama administration);
  • selecting as his Vice President Al Gore, a man who later got involved in (and became very rich off of) carbon-related shenanigans and who was also tied in with Goldman Sachs (not that I doubt humans are impacting our environment in deleterious ways, just that I don’t believe Gore actually cares about any of that nearly as much as padding his own pockets);
  • as well as selecting Janet Reno as U.S. Attorney General during his presidency, a woman who came to be involved in several high-profile and questionable cases, including the extermination of the Branch Davidians in Waco, Texas, and the ATF entrapment of Randy Weaver in Ruby Ridge, Idaho, giving the impression that she was instrumental in helping push a new form of conformity on the American citizenry (though she now, while knowingly afflicted with Parkinson’s disease, serves on the board of directors for the Innocence Project, which strikes me as a bit tragicomical, to say the least).

More could be said about him (not to mention his wife), but that’s enough for now to get my point across. How much of Bill Clinton’s actions strike a person as actually “rightist” in nature as well as in outcome? More police control. More corporate control. Guess it depends on how one defines “rightist” and “leftist,” huh?

Reviewing situations like this led me to see both the “Right” and the “Left” as belonging on a modern scale that has virtually nothing to do with true conservatism or libertarianism or independent thought and individualistic strivings. Both of these supposed “camps” are pushing toward greater government involvement in the lives of U.S. citizens and less allowance for individual initiatives on the ground level. Both are promoting corporatist agendas, first and foremost, above and beyond taking into account the needs and desires of average people and their voting constituents.

Where does corporatism fall on the scale? Can we really consider it “conservative” in nature when it’s really a radical economic overhaul? Surely not. Seems to me we’re dealing with separate scales altogether when we aim to make sense of what’s “left vs. right” and “liberal vs. conservative”; the former being more about the leanings within a corporatist political-economic environment and the latter being about how average individuals identify themselves (despite their voting tendencies).

Next time I hope to go into the so-called “Christian Right” and demonstrate how that too largely panders to and embraces corporatist ideology.

“There is NO HONOR in this shit!” . . .

“Let Your Life Be a Friction to Stop the Machine”:

A very worthwhile video I recommend to all, most especially my fellow Americans.

A comment was left on the video’s comment section if anyone cares for my elaboration on the topic.

Thanks to Janet (known on YT as Janet OntheSpot) for bringing this channel to my attention through her feed.

Welcome to the machine: The Administered Society (an excerpt from the book “Habits of the Heart”)

Reposting a section that I previously transcribed from the 1996 book Habits of the Heart: Individualism and Commitment in American Life (updated edition) by Robert N. Bellah, Richard Madsen, William M. Sullivan, Ann Swidler, and Steven M. Tipton, beginning on page 267:

The Administered Society versus Economic Democracy

The Administered Society and Economic Democracy represent the two boldest efforts to imagine a next step beyond the stalemated efforts of Welfare Liberalism and Neocapitalism to solve the problems of our society. The advocates of these new visions strongly reject the notion that the United States can return to anything like the situation that prevailed before 1929. In accepting the interpenetration of private and public power, they represent a crucial break with the assumption that fundamental economic interests can be effectively integrated either through the market alone or through informal alliances among interest groups. Rather, these two visions declare the need to go beyond exclusive reliance on voluntarist strategies for integrating major sectors of society such as business, labor, and government. They propose a more visible, public institutionalization, expanding the linkages between sectors and placing them in a more encompassing national framework.

There is a similarity between the proponents of these still inchoate visions. Both announce that something new to American politics is required because of the failure of older visions. Proponents of these new views join others in a widespread criticism of Neocapitalism and Welfare Liberalism as alike sacrificing the general welfare to “special interests.” Welfare Liberals such as Walter Mondale are thought to give too much attention to labor, ethic and racial minorities, and other special constituencies, and Neocapitalists such as President Reagan are criticized as agents of the corporations and the selfish rich. The proponents of the Administered Society and Economic Democracy present their visions as efforts to incorporate and transcend contending interests. Like earlier reformers, they do so with confidence in expertise as the way to extricate our society from its apparent impasse.

As yet, major politicians have embraced only fragments of these new visions as they seek to update fundamentally older conceptions. For coherent expression of these visions we must turn to theorists rather than politicians. We may consider first a vocal advocate of an administratively more integrated national society, the well-known investment banker Felix Rohatyn. In the 1970s, Rohatyn figured prominently in the rescue of New York City from bankruptcy, a rescue carried out by placing fiscal authority in the hands of an appointed board of the city’s creditors, employees, bondholders, and bankers, operating outside ordinary legislative channels. Rohatyn proposed in the early 1980s that the United States, confronting an increasingly competitive international economy, needed a similar rescue that would produce “stable growth, low unemployment, reasonably balanced budgets, and reasonably valued currency.” Such a policy would need to be “committed to maintaining our social gains by promoting economic growth and full employment,” which Rohatyn argued could not be realized by the kinds of political compromises characteristic of congressional politics. “Only institutions that can take the long view and act accordingly will be able to bring about the kinds of changes that are required,” he contended.

In arguing for the necessity for such new institutional arrangements, Rohatyn spoke in a language strong in technical economic and administrative terms, as Welfare Liberalism and Neocapitalism have done for a long time, but with a weaker evocation of the moral tradition of American politics than even these long-dominant positions usually contain. Rohatyn’s specific proposal was for a “tri-partite economic development board,” made up of representatives of “business, labor and government,” appointed by the president and the Congress, in order to intervene in the economy to promote the economic goals described above. The board, the centerpiece of Rohatyn’s “industrial policy,” was modeled after the New York City rescue board and drew inspiration from the Reconstruction Finance Corporation designed by Herbert Hoover to fight the 1929 depression. To bring so massive a reorganization into being, Rohatyn called for strong national leadership by a “bipartisan administration in which a Republican or Democratic president would include opposition leaders in his cabinet” and which would select members of the economic board in a similar spirit.

The Administered Society is above all a vision of social harmony among different and unequal groups cooperating for the goals of improved individual security and widely shared economic growth. To accomplish these ends, it would link private groups, especially business and labor, with governmental agencies to steer economic development through this period of technological and international change. At the same time, traditional Welfare Liberal programs such as improved opportunity and assistance for those dislocated by major change would be continued. One key to this vision is the idea of “partnership” among various sectors of the economy and society, brought together through governmental boards, commissions, and agencies. Such a policy would depend heavily on the administrative structure of government, rather than on popular representation, and would thus bring technical and managerial experts to increased prominence. Yet the basic understanding of work as a means toward private goals would remain the same as in Neocapitalism and Welfare Liberalism. The “permanent and aggregate interests” of the nation would receive more focused and perhaps more expert attention, but presumably only by those at or near the summits of their respective institutions. The ironic result of the Administered Society is very likely to be an increase of privatized attitudes for the many, now more securely provided for.

Unlike the proponents of the Administered Society, advocates of Economic Democracy consciously worry about how to empower citizens to take part in the array of new integrating institutions that they, too, see as necessary to a more humane, as well as a more abundant future. An important voice of this developing position in the early 1980s was Michael Harrington, a long-time advocate of what he has termed “democratic socialism.” To Harrington, neither Welfare Liberalism nor Neocapitalism will do: “We have entered a decade of decisions, a crisis of the system, whether we like it or not.” As an alternative to the failed policies of the past, Harrington endorses a part of Rohatyn’s logic on the grounds that conscious centralization in economic policy is the precondition for more citizen participation in economic decisions—for “decentralization.” Seeing corporate domination of the economy as the chief obstacle, Harrington proposes an active government role to bring about a “democratization of the investment function.” Such a policy would lead eventually to “introducing democracy from the shop floor to the board room.”

While a planner such as Rohatyn can be sanguine about the benevolence of centralized institutions, Harrington thinks the situation requires more ingenuity. Rohatyn defends his proposals as ultimately likely to enhance democracy, saying that “far from being undemocratic, the work of such a board could add to the democratic process an element of consultation with the major forces of our society.” In contrast, Harrington sees public as well as private bureaucracies as threats to freedom. But, he asks, “What if there were legal provisions of funds for any significant group of citizens who wanted to hire their own experts to put together a counter-plan?” For Harrington, the element that divides Economic Democracy and the Administered Society is the notion of citizen empowerment.

Yet Harrington shares the same universe of discourse with Rohatyn to such an extent that he turns to the provision of funds to citizens “to hire their own experts” as the major defense of the democratic nature of his proposed reforms. But experts, no matter how “democratic” in spirit, are neither moral exemplars nor prophets nor political leaders, and the politics of competing experts sounds like a “high tech” version of the politics of interest. Harrington’s vision of Economic Democracy intends to evoke a political vision greater than the sum of competing interests, and it recognizes that this vision would require the support of a widespread social movement. Harrington even recognizes something Rohatyn gives no hint of—that the new vision requires a major cultural transformation as well as institutional innovation. But when it comes to suggesting the substance of that cultural transformation, Harrington’s vision falls as silent as Rohatyn’s. They mutely reveal a lack of a moral basis for their political purposes, the end point of a discourse of means without ends.

This is not to say that there is no difference between these two more recent visions, any more than it could be said that there is no difference between Welfare Liberalism and Neocapitalism. Though Rohatyn may not intend it, it is certainly possible that the Administered Society as he envisions it would only tighten the hold of corporate business on our collective life and result in the administrative despotism that Tocqueville warned against. The vision of Economic Democracy continues the long struggle to bring the corporate economy under democratic control that we alluded to in chapter 8. But can we not imagine that without a cultural and moral transformation, the experts—on whom the Economic Democrats, too, rely—would succeed in bringing about an administrative despotism, or what Tocqueville also called a “democratic despotism,” just as surely under Economic Democracy as under the Administered Society?

 The Unresolved Tension

Earlier in this chapter, we spoke of the belief of Madison and the other founders that our form of government was dependent on the existence of virtue among the people. It was such a virtue that they expected to resolve the tension between private interest and the public good. Without civic virtue, they thought, the republic would decline into factional chaos and probably end in authoritarian rule. Half a century later, this idea was reiterated in Tocqueville’s argument about the importance of the mores—the “habits of the heart”—of Americans. Even at the end of the nineteenth century, when Establishment and Populist visions were the chief antagonists in the continuing argument about the shape of our society, Madisonian ideas were still presupposed. The tension between private interest and the public good is never completely resolved in any society. But in a free republic, it is the task of the citizen, whether ruler or ruled, to cultivate civic virtue in order to mitigate the tension and render it manageable.

As the twentieth century has progressed, that understanding, so important through most of our history, has begun to slip from our grasp. As we unthinkingly use the oxymoron “private citizen,” the very meaning of citizenship escapes us. And with Ronald Reagan’s assertion that “we the people” are “a special interest group,” our concerns for the economy being the only thing that holds us together, we have reached a kind of end of the line. The citizen has been swallowed up in “economic man.”

Yet this kind of economic liberalism is not ultimately liberating, for, as became quite clear with the final two visions of the public good described, when economics is the main model for our common life, we are more and more tempted to put ourselves in the hands of the manager and the expert. If society is shattered into as many special interests as there are individuals, then, as Tocqueville foresaw, there is only the schoolmaster state left to take care of us and keep us from one another’s throats.

But if the fears of Madison, Tocqueville, and Debs seem today to be becoming alarmingly true, then perhaps their hopes can speak to us as well. They believed that the survival of a free people depends on the revival of a public virtue that is able to find political expression. The way a free society meets its problems depends not only on its economic and administrative resources but on its political imagination. Political vision thus plays an indispensable role in providing understanding of the present and of the possibilities for change. Is it possible that we could become citizens again and together seek the common good in the post-industrial, postmodern age?

I.O.U.S.A

Rewatching part of this film before bed tonight.

“I.O.U.S.A.”:

Food for thought from the makers of the film “Who Killed the Electric Car?”