Saturday, May 07, 2011

Meaningless Theater

This description of Russian politics in the run-up to the 2012 presidential election fits well here in America as we approach our own plebiscite next year.
“I believe there is no competition,” says Olga Kryshtanovskaya, a member of Putin’s United Russia party and a sociologist at the Russian Academy of Sciences who studies the decision-making elite. “Our politics are a theater. There are directors and a script. And for some reason they love it when the public says there are conflicts.”

Lilia Shevtsova, a mordant critic of the administration and a senior associate at the Carnegie Moscow Center, uses remarkably similar language in reaching a comparable conclusion. “There are no politics,” she says. “Politics exist where you have an independent media, attentive audience and unpredictable script. What’s interesting is that the Kremlin supports this story-telling.”
(emphasis added)

We certainly have no independent media, no attentive audience. We do not have an unpredictable script. The only unpredictable elements in American politics are which shill will be chosen to serve the moneyed interests and how irrelevant the public discussion, to the extent it occurs at all, of critical issues will be.

The similarities between Russian and American politics these days are enough to make a body wonder who buried whom? The glitz and pretense in Russian politics are definitely American and western features. But for much of its history, Soviet Communism was primarily an elite convincing the masses that they were living in paradise while forcing them to accept much, much less. These days that sounds all too familiar in America.

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Friday, May 06, 2011

Why America Needs a Revolution

Chris Hedges, writing in Empire of Illusion: the End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle:
Our elites-the ones in Congress, the ones on Wall Street, and the ones being produced at prestigious universities and business schools—do not have the capacity to fix our financial mess. Indeed, they will make it worse. They have no concept thanks to the educations they have receive, of how to replace a failed system with a new one. They are petty, timid, and uncreative bureaucras, superbly trained to carry out systems management. They see only piecemeal solutions that will satisfy the corporate structure. Their entire focus is numbers, profits, and personal advancement. They lack a moral and intellectual core. They are as able to deny gravely ill people medical coverage to increase company profits as they are to use taxpayer dollars to peddle costly weapons systems to blood-soaked dictatorships. The human consequences never figure into their balance sheets. The democratic system, they believe, is a secondary product of the free market—which they slavishly serve.

You need only to look at health care "reform" that simply continued a failed system or the response to the financial meltdown that left all the major perpetrators firmly in place to know that so-called leaders in both parties are incapable of thinking outside of the very comfortable box they have created for themselves and their well-heeled supporters.


Sunday, May 01, 2011

Procession of the Species 2011

Last weekend was the 17th annual Procession of the Species here in Olympia. This is a signature event for this community. Here are a few of my photos.

Queuing up on Legion Way:

The Artesian Rumble Arkestra (the band that plays for the weekly Peace Vigil) leads the Procession:

Much whimsy follows:

You can find even more photos at the Procession website.