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Mirror, mirror, on the wall

By Mike Flugennock on Monday December 13, 2010 01:19 PM

Comments (34)


carl davidson made me do it :

" Nothing appears more surprising to those, who consider human
affairs with a philosophical eve, than the easiness with which
the many are governed by the few; and the implicit submission,
with which men resign their own sentiments and passions to those
of their rulers. When we enquire by what means this wonder is
effected, we shall find, that, as FORCE is always on the side of
the governed, the governors have nothing to support them but
opinion. It is therefore, on opinion only that government is
founded; and this maxim extends to the most despotic and most
military governments, as well as to the most free and most
popular. The soldan of EGYPT, or the emperor of ROME, might drive
his harmless subjects, like brute beasts, against their
sentiments and inclination: But he must, at least, have led his
mamalukes, or praetorian bands, like men, by their opinion.
Opinion is of two kinds, to wit, opinion of INTEREST, and
opinion of RIGHT. By opinion of interest, I chiefly understand
the sense of the general advantage which is reaped from
government; together with the persuasion, that the particular
government, which is established, is equally advantageous with
any other that could easily be settled. When this opinion
prevails among the generality of a state, or among those who have
the force in their hands, it gives great security to any
Right is of two kinds, right to POWER and right to PROPERTY.
What prevalence opinion of the first kind has over mankind, may
easily be understood, by observing the attachment which all
nations have to their ancient government, and even to those
names, which have had the sanction of antiquity. Antiquity always
begets the opinion of right; and whatever disadvantageous
sentiments we may entertain of mankind, they are always found to
be prodigal both of blood and treasure in the maintenance of
public justice. There is, indeed, no particular, in which, at
first sight, there may appear a greater contradiction in the
frame of the human mind than the present. When men act in a
faction, they are apt, without shame or remorse, to neglect all
the ties of honour and morality, in order to serve their party;
and yet, when a faction is formed upon a point of right or
principle, there is no occasion, where men discover a greater
obstinacy, and a more determined sense of justice and equity. The
same social disposition of mankind is the cause of these
contradictory appearances.
It is sufficiently understood, that the opinion of right to
property is of moment in all matters of government. A noted
author has made property the foundation of all government; and
most of our political writers seem inclined to follow him in that
particular. This is carrying the matter too far; but still it
must be owned, that the opinion of right to property has a great
influence in this subject.
Upon these three opinions, therefore, of public interest, of
right to power, and of right to property, are all governments
founded, and all authority of the few over the many. There are
indeed other principles, which add force to these, and determine,
limit, or alter their operation; such as self-interest, fear, and
affection: But still we may assert, that these other principles
can have no influence alone, but suppose the antecedent influence
of those opinions above-mentioned. They are, therefore, to be
esteemed the secondary, not the original principles of
For, first, as to self-interest, by which I mean the
expectation of particular rewards, distinct from the general
protection which we receive from government, it is evident that
the magistrate's authority must be antecedently established, at
least be hoped for, in order to produce this expectation. The
prospect of reward may augment his authority with regard to some
particular persons; but can never give birth to it, with regard
to the public. Men naturally look for the greatest favours from
their friends and acquaintance; and therefore, the hopes of any
considerable number of the state would never center in any
particular set of men, if these men had no other title to
magistracy, and had no separate influence over the opinions of
mankind. The same observation may be extended to the other two
principles of fear and affection. No man would have any reason to
fear the fury of a tyrant, if he had no authority over any but
from fear; since, as a single man, his bodily force can reach but
a small way, and all the farther power he possesses must be
founded either on our own opinion, or on the presumed opinion of
others. And though affection to wisdom and virtue in a sovereign
extends very far, and has great influence; yet he must
antecedently be supposed invested with a public character,
otherwise the public esteem will serve him in no stead, nor will
his virtue have any influence beyond a narrow sphere.
A Government may endure for several ages, though the balance
of power, and the balance of property do not coincide. This
chiefly happens, where any rank or order of the state has
acquired a large share in the property; but from the original
constitution of the government, has no share in the power. Under
what pretence would any individual of that order assume authority
in public affairs? As men are commonly much attached to their
ancient government, it is not to be expected, that the public
would ever favour such usurpations. But where the original
constitution allows any share of power, though small, to an order
of men, who possess a large share of the property, it is easy for
them gradually to stretch their authority, and bring the balance
of power to coincide with that of property. This has been the
case with the house of commons in ENGLAND.
Most writers, that have treated of the BRITISH government,
have supposed, that, as the lower house represents all the
commons of GREAT BRITAIN, its weight in the scale is proportioned
to the property and power of all whom it represents. But this
principle must not be received as absolutely true. For though the
people are apt to attach themselves more to the house of commons,
than to any other member of the constitution; that house being
chosen by them as their representatives, and as the public
guardians of their liberty; yet are there instances where the
house, even when in opposition to the crown, has not been
followed by the people; as we may particularly observe of the
tory house of commons in the reign of king WILLIAM. Were the
members obliged to receive instructions from their constituents,
like the DUTCH deputies, this would entirely alter the case; and
if such immense power and riches, as those of all the commons of
GREAT BRITAIN, were brought into the scale, it is not easy to
conceive, that the crown could either influence that multitude of
people, or withstand that overbalance of property. It is true,
the crown has great influence over the collective body in the
elections of members; but were this influence, which at present
is only exerted once in seven years, to be employed in bringing
over the people to every vote, it would soon be wasted; and no
skill, popularity, or revenue, could support it. I must,
therefore, be of opinion, that an alteration in this particular
would introduce a total alteration in our government, and would
soon reduce it to a pure republic; and, perhaps, to a republic of
no inconvenient form. For though the people, collected in a body
like the ROMAN tribes, be quite unfit for government, yet when
dispersed in small bodies, they are more susceptible both of
reason and order; the force of popular currents and tides is, in
a great measure, broken; and the public interest may be pursued
with some method and constancy. But it is needless to reason any
farther concerning a form of government, which is never likely to
have place in GREAT BRITAIN, and which seems not to be the aim of
any party amongst us. Let us cherish and improve our ancient
government as much as possible, without encouraging a passion for
such dangerous novelties "

Milton Marx:

No point in showing that poll to the SMBIVA's, Nonny. I happen to agree with the merit babies about Wikileaks, but don't trouble them with what The People *actually* think. These merit babies have no interest whatsoever in what the unwashed have to say.

Oh, and this poll just proves a point that's been made elsewhere here. Assange is deluded if he thinks these indiscriminate data dumps are going to have even the slightest impact on policy or public opinion.

" I happen to agree with the merit babies about Wikileaks, but don't trouble them with what The People *actually* think"

Heh... I'm reminded of that old Monty Python skit where the guy walks around saying "spam spam spam spam" all the time.

You've substituted "merit babies" with about the same comic effect.

I can tell you're enjoying yourself.

Trail of Tears:

It will obviously be very difficult to prevent people from DOWNLOADING from Wikileaks.

But how about UPLOADING?

Wasn't it easier when there was one site that you could trust instead of 100?

DP, you're on fire!

MM, you've been tagged.

Meanwhile, you agree with us on WL, but want us all to join you in brainlessly swallowing the Democratic Party?

Oh, and by the way, if you actually stopped ranting and noticed your surroundings, you'd notice that SMBIVA puts no abuse on those who still choose to vote for Dimbots with a firmly pinched nose. It's the apologists we're after, not the voters.

"DP, you're on fire!"

It's the 80 proof content blood. Highly flammable.


"It's the apologists we're after, not the voters."

No Comment:

Not exactly, I regret to say, from recent experience.

Milton Marx:

"but want us all to join you in brainlessly swallowing the Democratic Party?"

I never said anything of the sort, Michael.

I am not an apologist for the Dems either.

Here's what I am for: Scaring the shit out of Washington into doing the right thing. No one is afraid of the left anymore, and it's been this way since Tricky Dick, who actually threw us some crumbs out of fear.

There are many ways to scare the shit out of Washington. Taking to the streets, etc. You know the ways. NOT voting, however, is NOT one of them. Corporate Power want you to stay home and type obscure nonsense and OP-verse in a big, cyber circle jerk.

And I can tell you two words that don't scare Power one iota: Lefty Listservs.

Get off your asses and organize. And get out of your little white-boy cyber-bubble and mix it up with the real working class.


"Not exactly, I regret to say, from recent experience"
please show where Dem boters are attacked ??
i submit
i try to find out what motives are
behind choices
if choices appear to conflict with
underlying job classers self interests
i try to understand why they exist

party voting is very crude

issue voting and polling is more instructive

after oregon voters voted yes to higher state income tax rates for higher income brackets
washington state voters
voting down an income tax targeted exclusively
at the high incomed
i suggested
unweighed fact
washington state has no state income taxit makes sense to fear the thin edge of the wedge here

or say one i'm turning over in my head now

why a majority of polled americans
recently opposed the payroll tax holiday

that one is worth a post to unwind

No Comment:

Somewhere in here:
and in the threads above and below, NC got flak from the principals for suggesting that a vote for Democrats was preferable to sitting at home or voting for Republicans, while NC was simultaneously characterizing the Democrats as the worst party available save one.

Was that NC's apology for Democrats?

MM, I hear you, though I think you're splitting a non-existent hair. This website has never made great claims for itself or the blogosphere.

And how do you think the DLC would react if the left Dem masses started joining the SMBIVA strike? They's crap purple nickels, they would.

This isn't to suggest such an eventuality stands much of a chance.

But what else does? Going into the streets is always a top-shelf option, but doing in ones and fives, unless one is ready to abandon oneself to suicidal gestures, is a self-cancellation. Obama murdered the anti-war movement, from what I can see, and labor remains wholly owned.

I would even suggest we SMBIVistas would be among the first into the streets, if critical mass could be gained.

This IS a totalitarian society. Commercial media are the pot in which we're all slow-warming frogs.

And the Dims have their hands on the stove dial as much as anybody else.

P.S. I could be wrong, but isn't SMBIVA as much a corner saloon as a vanguardist effort?

"Get off your asses and organize. And get out of your little white-boy cyber-bubble and mix it up with the real working class"

Pot, Kettle, black.

Hypocrisy is no crime but it sure as hell stinks like one.


nc i still don't se us doing as u suggest where baby where ??
where do we attack dem voters simply for voting dem

"The Parry argument is that punishment will make things worse for the base. But the base is in a no-win situation already. Cooperation with the party means their punishment will come from the Democrats. Non-cooperation means it will come from the Republicans. The one thin hope is that sufficient punishment for the Democrats, now, will force better behavior from them at a future date. That's all that's left, and it's entirely the Democrats' fault."

where are dem voters attacked in that ??

perhaps commenters here have called dem voters fools
but regular posters ???

yes there are certainly reasons forwarded here
for voter consideration of the form
don't vote dem
but the site is here to swat lesser evil apologists like yourself
to soft soap for the Dem-party on the basis of bogus counter factuals
"with gore no war " etc
or "not Dems then fascists " etc etc
i think Al in the above massage makes the basic point
punish the jack asses
they've certainly punished their votin' base for votin' em in

case in point
barry uber alles


"Get off your asses and organize."

always good advice

" get out of your little white-boy cyber-bubble and mix it up with the real working class"
that hortatory however
misses the mark so far as i know
all we posters here
more or less jobble away
in the cavity of the whale
embedded amongst the wagery

immersion by itself produces nothing
extra ordinary mm

No Comment:

I see myself as a lesser evil voter not a lesser evil apologist. I am trying to imagine what variety of Democratic Party voter you think is not attacked implicitly by the arguments the posters advance. ? If one suggests that the lesser evil argument has a point they get pictured as a pathetic instrumentalist thinker by mjs. If they see a fascist warning flag in the tea party, Al takes them down (target. me). OK. I don't mind. I'm agitating for my amusement.

Perhaps I don't know the correct usage of the term 'apologist' but if anyone who rationalizes their vote for a candidate IS an apologist, then the only Dem. voters SMBIVA doesn't take down are ones without a rationale. I suppose that variety of voter is beneath even SMBIVAs scorn.

Thank you for your response.


"the only Dem. voters SMBIVA doesn't take down are ones without a rationale"

well if like u the Dem voter has an apology
all worked out
ie a justification not based on self defined values
like economic interests or moral values or whatever
but on something like lesser evilism
or the party choice we have not the party choice we'd like
or guys and gals that are progs need to unite with
"centrists" like barry and bill because
that's the only way real progressive can occur
or barry has faced limits
yes mistakes were made but
u know those nasty institutional barriers like the supremes and the fed
and the super majority senate ...blah blah blah
those are arguments not against
"isolating the left vanguard from the masses "
which this site's posters obviously oppose
but seperating the left from the Dembots
now that splits into pieces from there

i for one here in thebeasts belly and under present conditions within the masses
oppose building
"an independent mass electoral party
of the left"
other posters here might agree or disagree with that
the collegial point is simply this
stop voting Democratic out of a misplaced
set of notions like ..well... u represent
to us as your reasons lesser evilism

now if we faced benighted voters in the raw here voters as you suggest "without a rationale"
or at least a coherent fact based rationale
i suspect we'd approach them
with open dialogue methods
and we'd try to persuade and inform
not attack

unfortunately this site operates primarily
as a site for the overly rationalized
self conciously reflexive opponent or apologist types ...like your self

are w on a voyage of discovery or simple an agit prop tour ???
well obviously the agitprop not the discovery is the paramount mode here
but self clarification ..even qualitative modifications of the mission and message are inevitably part of the "progress" thru blog time

i'm not sure i've clarified anything mush in this back and forth
at least for myself but it doesn't just feel like i've pushed a button and turned on an algorithm

surely challenges to us are or ought to be welcome
i certainly do
even if when faced with yet another
in an endless srtream of
solemnly repeated geezers by some confident aplogist
or another silly strike
at our suspect class underwear
by a salt of the earth avatar
or black clouded and fogged in
by an unshakeable
rubber nosed
nihilist anti authoritarian ogre ...
etc etc

yes we or i should confine this to I
might react with a burst
of ill considered counter productive
knee jerk grape shot
rather then reasoned patient presentation
of our
deeply held
why's and wherefores


"a vote for Democrats was preferable to sitting at home or voting for Republicans"

what lies behind this assertion
a strategic rationale
a purely contextual decision
for the first tuesday in november 2010 ??

if the first
it's execrable
if the second
merely debate-able
the SMBIVA mission is to destroy this strategic rationale in as many
goddamn amurican heads as possible

Al Schumann:

No Comment,

Any conduct that's criticized amounts to an implicit attack, if not necessarily a directly personalized one. Most people run through whatever method of assessment they have before deciding whether or not the attack applies to them, and whether or not it requires a response. When it comes to politics, sober assessment goes out the window on a regular basis. In the US, that's just plain weird. The political system is designed to curtail citizen participation in government. Only the ingenuous believe otherwise.

But any attack on even the most minor, least efficacious act—voting—gets overly personalized by the actor. The number of responses and the heat of them are astonishing. The critical attacks are treated as adding insult to injury, even though the very real injury comes from the beneficiaries of the votes—it's not the commies who are drooling over looting Social Security. It's the Democratic poindexter sociopaths and their Punch and Judy pals, the hebephrenic Republicans.

I try to be relatively easy-going. If an otherwise decent, reasonable person finds fulfillment in adding a quarter teaspoon of empty legitimacy to the looting and murdering, well more power to them. It's disgusting, and their sanctimony is insufferable, but damaged people do funny things. Maybe they have some sick need that can only be alleviated through corporate pantomime.

Milton Marx:

You guys are debating the difference between Dem voters and apologists. That's how you're spending your time. Corporate Power quakes.

No Comment is on the money. You guys implicitly, and sometimes explicitly, insult Dem voters, many of whom are working class or poor. Way to build a coalition! In fact, now that I think about it, go back to debating how many angels are on, er, I mean, the difference betweeen voters and apologists. Go have at it. Wear yourselves out in a 98-post comment thread. You'll do less harm that way.

By the way, many of you mocked the folks who went down to DC for that pre-election rally (the non-Stewart-Colbert one; the one that drew actual members of the working class). You had a fine time making fun of those folks. How brilliant! How clever! Some people took to the streets somewhere, somehow, and many of you geniuses did what you do best....snarked. I'm sure you all had a big laugh while you typed away at Starbucks. Again, way to build a coalition!

Voters vs apologists my ass. You have contempt for both.

Milton Marx:

>>>If one suggests that the lesser evil argument has a point they get pictured as a pathetic instrumentalist thinker by mjs.

Right, No Comment. But boycotting Paypal...nothing scorn-worthy there!!

Pathetic, self-serving double-standard. Condescend to working-class voters (who cares, anyway? They're just a bunch of steppinfetchit schvartzes and fat women, mjs' fave no doubt, in polyester pants working three shifts), but rally the Internet-enabled uber-educated to boycott Paypal --- that mecca of working-class commerce!

Milton Marx:

>>>Maybe they have some sick need that can only be alleviated through corporate pantomime.

Condescend just a wee bit more, Al.

Al Schumann:

Milton, what people refer to as the working class sends the fewest people to the polls. The latest Democratic electoral debacle came from alienating them, along with minority groups that had counted on a little love in return for previous support. They didn't get it and they stayed home.

There are, however, plenty of higher wage workers who do turn out for Democrats. I think they kid themselves that they have a meaningful effect on the way the government will run their lives. "Sick need" and "corporate pantomime" are over the top, deliberately. I find it hard to resist provocation. Those voters are only marginally less vulnerable than low wage workers. They're an illness and a few missed debt payments away from misery.

The voters who are hardest to cure of their habitual support are well-educated career strivers. They can expect a tiny bit of trickle down. Although not much. Their employers will happily shitcan them and squeeze the rest if the bottom line so dictates. Given the resources they have and the access to accurate information, maybe a little condescension is in order. The net effect of their participation falls hardest on the janitors who clean their offices.

Milton Marx:

Al: Wouldn't one possible answer --- not to be confused with delusions of The Answer --- be for more of those janitors to vote?

Do the Democrats do a shit job of appealing to them? Yes, you and I would agree on that. But is an effective answer: "Hey, Mr Janitor or Mrs Waitress, I know you don't vote, and that's a good thing. Waste of time. You keep staying away, and leave the playing field to the well-educated career strivers."

Of course, this is a weird f-ing irony, but to the "well-educated career strivers," there really is a dime's worth of difference between the parties. The folks who could conceivably benefit most from policy are less likely to vote, and the ones who benefit least get the most exercised about it.

I know many working class people who never miss a vote, and unions that encourage them to do vote. But I say we need *more* working class voters, not fewer. And I'd gladly make this deal: More strivers stay home, more working stiffs come to the polls.

And none of this is a substitute for getting out into the streets.

Al Schumann:


Take a hypothetical situation in which the low wage workers get out the vote for a promising candidate who, upon taking office, pushes their agenda. What happens in practice is there's a non-electoral pushback from vested interests, who have the wherewithal to make effective, socially concerned governance difficult or impossible. Bourgeois "job actions" work very well, plus they have media holdings, the courts and the cops. The level of organization needed to defend against that is immense. What's needed in order to hang on to success is something like an informal, miniature welfare state.

The logistics of that are daunting, but shouldn't be taken as an argument against trying. It would go a lot better if that middle tier, the people who are an illness away from misery, would give it the energy they put into big box party politics. There'd still be a problem with recidivism—snarky, I know—but it's possible that people who get a taste of real republicanism would want to go a lot further.

Milton Marx:

Al: Fine. But in the meantime...

No Comment, Against all flags:

I didn't understand:
'if the first
it's execrable',
but there is a lot of insight from you that I don't get. I suspect 'execrable' has a demolishing impact vis-a-vis my self defense efforts, and I am too dense to catch on. Oh, well, I will assume it was for the benefit of the public.

The election is over for now. It showed that the many followed the SMBIVA line, although, I guess, without any awareness of SMBIVA itself. (By this I mean that most stayed home.)

I took my pre-election line from the 2008 position of Chomsky, that the majority of people have done a little better when the D's are in charge. My local federal D. candidates seemed better than their R. rivals. (More execrability on my part. But, hey, what a great argument from authority! Chomsky may be out of touch with today's Democrats, I acknowledge. I didn't follow his earlier advice. Couldn't bring myself to vote for Obama, who carried my essential swing state anyhow. Go figure, more execrability. )

My admiration for your contributions to SMBIVA is boundless. Really.

Now, are we hoping for outright civil war as a substitute for the current cruel hoax of electoral politics? Bear in mind that most of us don't pay any attention to electoral matters, even the quadrennial charades. What kind of post civil war settlement can we expect? Should we wait until the nativists are thoroughly outnumbered by the immigrants or go ahead now? Will the socialists fight the anarchists as well as the wingers? (I suppose the Commies are too few and have only Cuba and North Korea to offer outside assistance and therefore won't be major players this time around.) Who will be our new Franco? Will Mexico and Canada get involved? Many questions. Or false dichotomy. It is that in-between path that I have a hard time discerning. Sketch it out, please.

No Comment:

Asked and answered in your exchange with Milton. Thank you.

Milton Marx:

I didn't understand:
'if the first
it's execrable',
but there is a lot of insight from you that I don't get."

Don't bother NC. Owen writes for his own amusement, and essentially to himself. His very writing "style" demonstrates elitist contempt and direspect for readers. As with many hyper-educated snobs, he has an exaggerated and deluded sense of his own "cleverness," and is of course enamoured of it.



"I took my pre-election line from the 2008 position of Chomsky"

often a sensible option at least in my mind
if not in other SMBIVA minds
just not now
and barry might have made that clear to more folks with his play the last two years
and noam hardly suggests his 08 choice
is a blanket hall pass for lesser evil voters
maybe noam 'll notice
its at long last
time for
jack ass punishment mode ...now
maybe barry has at long last
removed the moral grounds
from under another rubber stamp
left electorate's
forced certification of the Dembots
in 2012

what angry Al calls

"adding a quarter teaspoon
of empty legitimacy "


" are we hoping for outright civil war as a substitute for the current cruel hoax of electoral politics? Bear in mind that most of us don't pay any attention to electoral matters, even the quadrennial charades"
this is well beyond the point at issue here
the stakes are closer to these

can the left bolt bring a split inside the dembot party ??
will the dembot merit progs realize they are the doomed hostages of their party's
corporate core ?
unfortunately the 10 election may have stripped them of chairmanships in the House
come january
but their ranks were not thinned only blue/new ranks really took the hammering

or perhaps seeing a denacle looming in 2012
will the party's corporate core
move to pre empt a mass base dissertion
by concrete meliorative moves between now and then
feed a few more
rumbling and growling jobbler bellies


only a real pwog bolt movement .. now
can produce real melioratives ....now


the broader "mission"

"It would go a lot better if that middle tier, the people who are an illness away from misery, would give it the energy they put into big box party politics."

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