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Treading water

By Owen Paine on Wednesday July 13, 2011 08:41 PM

I submit the delightful little site known as SMBIVA has arrived at a decisive nodal moment. In fact it's prolly been treading water there for many months now.


The call for a disengagement from the two party bumper-pool gig that was its orginal mission statement has by steps both intended and unintended arrived at the cult of strategic disengagement not just from two-party ballot boxing but from politics in the grander sense.


SMBIVA has cast its lot with the stateless nihilists, the bottom-up spontaneous pure negationists.

Now this is far from a barren outcome. Indeed just saying "nyet" has its big moments in the long and winding human pageant. The dynamic of class history within state-centered societies, looked at consistently from one side, is nothing but a series of untimely timely negations.

And yet...

Change -- forward change, at least -- must take concrete form; and that requires something more then mere "nyets" and yes, a certain sense that human society is travelling somewhere we might want to go.

Nothing here recently seems calculated to produce even attempts at forward motion -- not even the prefiguring toy models of fantasy that might spark the needed new and terrible forms of society-wide struggle.

Forms? Yes; as in, effective vehicles of struggle. Is it really idiotic to strive for something beyond simple burps born of a cultivated bile?

I suggest we leave the burping and belching to lists like those of Dougwood Hen and the Lulu Lolly Project.

Perhaps the useful transferable value of this exercise was the one damn thing I despise most: a self-realization.

Operating here over the last several years, at least for this one participant, in the end has only brightened the light shining on one all too too obvious reality: I leave here with an even keener sense of personal limitations, extended quite accurately to protracted unsublated small-circle words-only activity.

That in itself is perhaps a gift of fortune important for any of us to receive.

If however we insist for ourselves there is forever only the choice between a small circle of unlikely minded co-chatterers... a bicker box of ceaseless babbling and strutting... an ever-more familiar vessel full of unmeasured unneighborly vitriol, and the morally bankrupt alternative: a cool cage of unhumble solitude... blissfully off line... where an atheistic anchorite can smolder away into final ashes...

That's a choice worthy of Hell itself. And if in fact this bus has brought its riders here, what a perfect opportunity to call "everybody off"!

I suppose SMBIVA could rededicate itself to its inceptual mission, particularly as we approach yet another major election cycle. One shudders in self-wounding glee at what might be mustering over the horizon.

But at any rate the present condition of inner-absorbed strategic nihilism that has siezed the high ground here calls out for change. SMBIVA! Either go back, or call it "over" -- even if, like Father Smiff's Antinous, IOZ, you're not yet "Soooo over this."

Comments (80)


The flip response, of course, is Hey, it's just a blog -- never meant to be a vanguard party.

But then there are some real questions here -- questions that have been on my mind too. Time for my long-promised manifesto "Against Progress".

Al Schumann:

1) I think the examined life is not worth living. That's one reason why I find SMBIVA invaluable. It's a great place to examine horrible people and encourage them to realize that their lives are, in fact, not worth living. Where they take things from there is entirely up to them. I could not possibly make any recommendations, aside from a general admonition to tidiness.

2) It is just a blog. I'd like to spend more time on the care and feeding of it, but I presently have vast lumps of labor to get through (there's no fixed amount of work, alas).

3) The official histories and current events of capitalism are written by cretins. That's a feature, not a but. There's little to be done about that other than trying to write things fit for human consumption. A blog can be useful there.

Drunk Pundit:

OP, I sense a bit of impatience in you. Because we can't change things *now* you seem frustrated and angry.

We can change things, but it might take generations. And change will come from the bottom up from people making hard choices about how they will live and then proceeding to actually walk their talk. Cultural evolution is fairly quick compared to biological evolution but it is still a painfully slow process.

I hate to be cliche but free you mind and your ass will follow. Now multiply that by all the people around you, approximately 6.5 billion at last count. It'll take some time.

I don't know if you think me a nihilist or not, I certainly don't consider myself to be one. But I'm not going to fool myself by thinking that we're going to get anywhere until we have changed the minds of people.

And that could take generations. Meanwhile, we'll all get together and yak at each other on blogs and mailing lists.

It's something to do in the great void of time and space.

At the risk of missing the point to affirm it, words don't change the world. Battlefield recovery does.

But, being likeminded is a good way to figure out who'll take to the contest in the first place. I appreciate the hell out of SMBIVA for that, and have for years, long before I ever gummed up the courage to offer a thought.

But, if you're beginning with a list of types and people who you reject because they don't get your doctrine, you're starting at the end.

The narrower your strictures for right action, the more you'll likely preserve your reasons to struggle, and the less likely you'll figure out how to actually do it.

Perhaps less concern with other peoples' alleged nihilism, or doctrinal apostasy, will serve a person's time in the tunnel better than any swan song of old age and exhaustion.

I mean, OP, we're all there at some point or another. People who don't get lost in the catacombs can't be trusted. They're faithless. Too cheerful. Too bright. Too willing to take the primrose path.

But, that's not really your problem, in the end, I surmise.

It's the problem of our entire school of thought, one which places a whole bunch of modeling, theory, abstraction, big thinking and up-scaled projections for the course of history way out in advance of doing anything at all.

It's debilitating. It's constantly washing up to take a bath. It's angel-on-pin counting.

We'd all probably be better served communicating how to field dress a wound, ferment grapes, lie to a cop with a straight face, persuade school children to lose the books for the study of royal history, sabotage street lights and traffic signals or whatever else actually disrupts the operation of the machinery of control and costs its comptrollers more loot to fix than any mere maintenance scheme...


Maybe it ain't my place, cuz I don't have any long-term solution/strategy and nothing I say ever makes any sense anyway.

But I really like the idea of getting behind this Frau Bachmann. Sure ironically and following a certain penultimate flavor of nihilism, but also quite seriously and full on. I think we can take this thing!


excellent responses each and every one

then again despite all
i still find myself snared
by the lump of vanguard party fallacy

here's what i was writing when syrian lightening struck me

"the yankee global empire and little mark engler

leftists often see the signifier these days in fact he's a pocket vanden heuval eveywhere you might wish your voice might be
so what is the signifigance behind the mark engler brand ????
three letters CIA

yup mark is like a one man Force ouvrière a product of yankee imperial "steering "
here's a line of his that haunts with its broader truth http://www.democracyuprising.com/2008/03/capitalism-as-catastrophe/

"A strange contradiction afflicts nonhierarchical social movements. Those activists who are most hesitant to create formal mechanisms for naming leaders give the media the most power to choose their leaders for them. Certainly this has been the case in the globalization movement, where an anarchist ethos has prevailed"

yup and the cia cut outs are media darlings everywhere from medea benjamin to our strenously sincere mister engler

i hear a bellow from the front row :

"my god paine you amoral freak ...what baseless slander !!!!!!! why poor mark here is prolly a decent innocent striving self promoting honest goo goo pinko ass wipe
hey maybe even meda is too .. if you weren't totally a laughing stock we'd have to conclude you'r e deliberately creating no dangerously provoking
a hideously contagious social disease : solidarity rifting paranoia

yup... and that's precisely my point:

without a vanguard party we have no north star to lead and mislead us we are caught in a petty bourgeois chaos easily infiltrated by
the invisible hands of empire easily "told " just who among the rabble in motion are the charismatic spontaneous world historical leaders and prophets among us

a filtering hierarchy is missing our conviction our loyalty is free forming ... the organization that can be decisive does not exist on today's left and hasn't existed
since henry wallace took that awefully hammering back in 1948 "


rereading it now
besides the typos etc

i leave the wrong impression perhaps at the flip end of the above

the wallace /progressive party movement
was a decidely wrong turn in retrospect
in fact i'll be damned if i have even a vague notion of what dennis and bill and ben shoulda oughta coulda done as the kold war pulled the ground apart under the browder teheran mirage

looking back from here
all up and down the line
along every global meridian
across every border north
of the post colonial revolution and liberation zones

vanguard party motions
in the late 40's
headed their national struggles
straight into the early 60's stalemate

where once arrested long enough
in its own peaceful co existence
the stalinoid
frankensteinstein's monster
gosplan 1.0
the first post apitalist totalization
in unmajestic grinding
gear mashing cacophony
milled itself
into gigantic unbailed heeps of scrap

if that wasn't a spectacle
fit for a nihilist
what is ???


vanguard party building ...now ??

no certainly that would be laff able
we are in a post party period as sure as the sky is above us and dirt below

but just as certainly
the meta of anarchism

is a total wrong turn
a strageic surrender

today is at least the time to discover
who amongs share the party goal
eh ??
or at least battle over the why's and why nots ??


Jack's got the deal:

It's the problem of our entire school of thought, one which places a whole bunch of modeling, theory, abstraction, big thinking and up-scaled projections for the course of history way out in advance of doing anything at all.

It's debilitating. It's constantly washing up to take a bath. It's angel-on-pin counting.

People who have spent a life admiring the abstraction or the esoteric, they tend to think abstract esoterica is the essence of life. Economists are especially guilty of this, and it's made worse for everyone because economics is bullshit. Its practitioners know this too: you can see it in their whiny-but-oh-so-superior defensive retorts to the calling-out of the fraudulent nature of their field of "study."

I find it laughably absurd that people who would want to change the world would do so with economic theory.

I find them interested more in a pose.

Pose away, Twiggy.


And for something constructive:

Small scale is superior to large scale.

Tribal living off the land is superior to urban industrial living.

What IS is always superior to what is theorized.


fuck economics.

If you're an econ-fan, you have big changes ahead of you.

Or not.

The "not" puts you in the "not willing to improve things for myself, let alone anyone else" camp, but it's yours to choose.


In my 46 years, I haven't seen global capitalism and US imperialism more on the ropes than they are now. While I have damn near given up on huge portions of the US population, which seem hopelessly informed by false consciousness, I have not for a minute given up on objective conditions, nor have I given up on that persistent thing called Reality.

I don't think global capitalism and US imperialism are sustainable, objectively. I think many people in the world know this and are resisting these forces, from the ground up. They are not sitting by quietly, as all too many do here. I also think Reality is having its say, as well.

Seems to me a more hopeful time than I can remember.



The behavior of Leading Capitalist Interests (USA, UK, Israel and their bidnethmen) suggests capitalism and American imperialism are well on the ropes and just about ready to be knocked to the canvas for the 10-count.

What we're seeing globally is an end-stage looting, "get it while the getting's good" kind of behavior -- their acknowledgement that their time of World Domination has ended.

And of course it's ended. There are not enough resources on the planet to support urban industrialized modern convenience life for all.

REPEAT: we can't urbanize and moderninze everyone.

We cannot.

This is where econ-fanboys and the vast majority of Americans are wrong: they would like to modernize "poor Africans" etc. They don't realize: the "poor Africans" are the ones who have a clue on how to sustain existence here on Earth.



Humble yourself.

And stop fawning over those gew-gaws, trinkets, tchotchkes, houses, cars, and babies.


Also, w/r/t Engler,

I'd be embarrassed if I spent my time on a review of Naomi Klein's work.

A person's inability to see where Klein is a fraud is a big obstacle, sure, and one rooted in a religious faith, an idolatry, an admiration that is well unearned.

Anyone whose practice involves "do as I say, not as I do" is dismissible from the outset.

Yet dinky Engler refuses to dismiss Frau(d) Klein, and instead does the opposite: works to buttress her pseudo-criticism of capitalism.

Someone ought to shove a stick of dynamite up Frau(d) Klein's hoo-ha. Whether it should be lit, well... I leave that to those who ponder misogyny.

Capitalism is dead. Even the "noble" form practiced by Frau(d) Klein. Even the "no logo" form. Even the "no corporate" form.

Even that.

But in the meantime, Frau(d) Klein will make millions pretending to straddle the fence on capitalism, because she knows most have internal contradictions, and most would love to modernize and urbanize everything -- just in a more tasteful, less tacky way.

Which is true, if you assume her audience is a bunch of pretentious liberals and progressives.

Which it is.

For a bit of positivity regarding this site, I think it's important to focus on what it does provide: a place for well written, thoughtful and thought provoking commentary and dialogue. Yes, it does get unnecessarily contentious, but I find the contention here to be one of heartfelt belief in the thoughts expressed in conflict with each other rather than the usual I'm-right-you're-stupid stuff you usually find on blogs. Of course there's some of that as well, but I think if everyone stepped back and looked at it from the perspective that they critically view other sites with, they'd probably laugh at their own absurdly petulant arguments pitched at the level of a World War.

And yes, it may be 'just' a blog, but that's like saying a spirited conversation with a friend is 'just' talking. I'm not saying that there wouldn't be other places to fill the void, this just seems to me better than a lot of the alternatives.


they would like to modernize "poor Africans" etc. They don't realize: the "poor Africans" are the ones who have a clue on how to sustain existence here on Earth.



Humble yourself.

And stop fawning over those gew-gaws, trinkets, tchotchkes, houses, cars, and babies.

horseshit. there is simply no way to feed ~7 billion people with handtools and sweaty backs. this dream is dead and buried and youd have to bury 5 billion and more breathing human beings to get it back up from the depths.

no, when we first put plow to earth we started running down a hill. no its near steep as a cliff and to stop or slow is to tumble to injury or death. all thats left is to run faster and hope for sure footing.

"...there is simply no way to feed ~7 billion people with handtools and sweaty backs. this dream is dead and buried and youd have to bury 5 billion and more breathing human beings to get it back up from the depths..."

Fundamentally agreed.

"...no, when we first put plow to earth we started running down a hill. no its near steep as a cliff and to stop or slow is to tumble to injury or death. all thats left is to run faster and hope for sure footing."

The second law of thermodynamics won't budge just because we keep having babies. The EROEI ratios aren't going to stop approaching zero, and then flip over, just because it's desperately wrong to triage 5/7ths of the human race.

Running faster is not necessarily wrong. But, it's not enough.


Sure Leon. Whatever. Technology is the answer. Sure.

Nice trolling, completely detached from reality.

You forgot to say we need to move to another planet, and that's where technology comes in.

Your fantasy is incomplete.

"SMBIVA has cast its lot with the stateless nihilists..."

Nah. The nihilists are the flip side of the non-profit executive directorate. I see them getting together for coffee on the Drive. They're collecting nickels and dimes for UNICEF at Halloween and pocketing the rake.

“by the age of six, my older brother had developed an uncanny knack for remembering the jingles from television commercials and would tear around the house in his Incredible Hulk T-Shirt declaring himself ‘cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs.’”


See what I mean?


You can't give up that easy, and give the contest to us stateless nihilists - that's no fun. Was there supposed to be some vanguard party around here, unfurling banners and celebrating Bob Avakian? No. There was no sect here, no membership, nothing but an open door to a loud party.
This is an observational post, unlike any other, and should be enjoyed for its low entrance fee and raucous spirits. The weird vitriol and freakish misogyny go along with the lack of security personnel, and if the drinks seem watered down lately and the owners staggering, well, it's been a fine run in a rotten colony, and if you really anticipate performing some useful function in the latest US political fox chase, well, jesus, that kind of morose sobriety should be left for the straight folks. Thanks for the endorsement of nihilism, though - it couldn't have come from a finer source.
If this is not decipherable by MJS, I beg his pardon - life should be lived at a glance.


Karl -- Do me a favor and dial it down a bit. Too many posts all saying the same thing, and saying it a little too abusively.


Wendell Berry wrote that each acre cultivated by a Chinese peasant produced on average 9 times the calories produced by an acre under American mechanized agriculture.

It is ignorance of how to do Chinese peasant styled agriculture or even 19th century American agriculture that threatens the billions with starvation. When African nations' elites decide that growing cut flowers for European romantics with heavy, oil-run equipment is more economically (or financially) advantageous than growing the traditional staple grain crop with oxen that millions starve.


Nobody seems to want to talk about Owen's original 'vanguard party' question. Least of all me. But I'll bite anyway, just to be a pal, and because it's an interesting question, though a difficult one.

The fact that nobody wants to talk about it suggests that the whole issue is very much off the table at this point in the game. Which Owen acknowledges. Still, there might be a point in raising a purely hypothetical, what-if question, just to get at some of the deeper sources of our various attitudes and stances.

I realized this a few weeks ago in the context of one of our many schooling debates -- it was actually useful to say what one would do if one were Commissar for Education, with a very broad mandate. The usefulness of this apparently idle exercise lies in the fact that such fantasies show where one is really "coming from", as we used to say in the 60s. It can actually clear out a lot of the underbrush of mutual misunderstanding; it's a conversational heuristic.

So here's my fantasy: I'd love to see a real credible vanguard party show up. I'd be a very enthusiastic fellow-traveler; probably not a cadre, since one of the things I've finally figured out about myself is that I'm just too odd and self-indulgent to work well in any organization. And needless to say -- like the rest of us -- I have no clue how to get such a thing going.

But of course the crucial question is whether this is an obsolete pattern -- 1920/1920 vision, as some wag once called it. And on this question we simply have to suspend judgement, I think. We don't have enough to go on. The present is sufficiently unlike the past that inferences based on Lenin's predicament in exile may simply be useless. On the other hand, the present is always enough like the past that analogies are always richly suggestive.

In these circumstances, the best thing an obscure blog can expect to be is a sort of tiny flickering campfire in the wilderness, around which a handful of shadowy figures huddle, their faces obscured by ponchos and burnooses, hoodies and broad-brimmed fedoras -- wanderers who have turned up, drawn by the light and warmth. They exchange stories -- some of them perhaps made up. They float suggestions and see what response they get. In their own wilderness way, you see, they are still trying to get a sense of who else is out there.


but yes,

The new Clio is set to receive a facelift to bring it into line with the new design direction introduced in Latin America during the 1990s. [Well, at least the Renault Clio is so scheduled - can we add the entire Eurozone, China and S E Asia, the U.S., Mexico, China, India is already underway? I think so but very unevenly.

Global strategy is organized by an unknown many.

I think parties in general are stupid and putting faith in a single person or group of people is personal suicide. I could never do it and those that would and have are craven and gross mental mutants. What happened in Russia and other such situations, it wasn't as if the main push was because of power of belief in the main coterie attempting to steer the 'movement'. Rather it was a spontaneous outburst of rage at their circumstances mixed with a sense that there was an opportunity actually change them. Whoever was able to position themselves as representative of that particular movement became the brand name and benefactors when peace was reestablished. I guess you could say that they at least provided a channel into which the motley mob could funnel their energy into and more importantly provided an alternative to the current political arrangement. At least this is how it appears to my under read mind.


we've both got our fantasies karl. the only difference is that mine only probably ends with chewing our fingers to ease our bellies.

In thinking about "effective vehicles of struggle" I would distinguish between ideologies and mentalities. Ideologies are more or less interchangeable and thoroughly expendable these days. Mentalities you don't even know you have. A vanguard party may once have been an effective vehicle for promulgating an ideology but these days that would be like selling vacuum cleaners to the homeless.

Double-entry bookkeeping. Now THERE was an effective vehicle of struggle. And it still is. Forget the party line. Who's going to argue against THE BOTTOM LINE? Vladimir Illich was of the opinion that:

"The accounting and control necessary for [the socialization of industry] have been simplified by capitalism to the utmost, till they have become the extraordinarily simple operations of watching, recording and issuing receipts, within the reach of anybody who can read and write and knows the first four rules of arithmetic."

In short, Comrade Lenin did not comprehend social accounting! Nor, I might add, did Comrade Oskar Lange. On the the other hand, those bourgeois economists, John Maurice Clark and Simon Kuznets, did. Trying to graft a socialist ideology onto a double-entry bookkeeping mentality is like one of those chintzy man/monkey head transplant photo-montages they used to feature in the supermarket tabloids.


"the present is always enough like the past that analogies are always richly suggestive"

and if we use the stiffest possible
most pompous nomenclature
like "vanguard party "
we are less likely to reify the analogy

hold these analogies with a nice pair of tongs


as usual you double ever entry
not in a swan's way
but in a shadow's way

the lamont cranston
of the ever over punch-able time clock

great to see you here
pretzelizing the meme trees


needless to say

this site was intended to be broad
in its attractions

but as a veteran marketeer
one must attend to what actually is coming thru the door

no broadnesss here at all

hence the rather obscure issue
of the VP
raised among the assembled nihilists

nothing more blatantly hurls
" deep difference "
in your faces

actual movement types out there today
in the thick of it
hardly need to discuss the vp

we are in a period of camp fires as mjs suggests

but we ought i think to look
at who's around this one

after mjs turned scrooge on progress ...


where am i ??

yes its all too easy for me
when i'm around here these days
to feel like vincent price
in last man on earth


i never fail to remind myself

in that brave new world
its vincent
that is the monster


"I'd love to see a real credible vanguard party show up. I'd be a very enthusiastic fellow-traveler"

that is the mjs i know and admire !!!!!

MJS, et al,

I think the Greens are a good example of what happens to an intended vanguard. Co-option is too easy, in this climate.

I understand the urge to support a visible vehicle, but our age is one of managed visibility. And we don't have the resources to compete. If we ever achieve the political cohesion, resource base and party structure which puts us in a position to compete, we are already likely lost. You don't accumulate that sort of political viability and survive the process un-bought. Again, the Greens.

Anonymity serves our age, better.* And, the appearance of weakness and separatism. Our task, if such a word even applies, is to find the interstices, and like mold, fill them. Spread the cracks. Undermine the structures integrity. Be like rot, and other, nobler infections.

* - For those who doubt, see Assange.


"...anticipate performing some useful function in the latest US political fox chase"

no i leave that to my daughter
and her common law husband

plato suggests we need ten years
to review and evaluate
every one year of our active life

i'm reviewing and like a Shandy
i'm falling ever more behind schedule


jc are you suggesting there have been times
and places or could be times and places
when a VP might find you a fellow traveler ???

though the US green party
i must say strikes me as a party of another kind then what is meant by the term Vanguard party
after all a VP
is a rather narrow and highly specified type of party eh ??


anarchists :
a potentially deadly social infection .....

quite a romantic self image that jc no ???

crud easily scraped off the boot


I still owe Owen -- and anybody else who's interested -- the Critique of Progress.

It isn't intended to be an apology for regress. In a nutshell, it boils down to this: we really don't and can't know where history is going. On the other hand, at any given moment, there are clearly people we need to fight, with whatever modest means we have.

So my short-term thinking is, let's identify those people, and rank them in order of importance. Thought experiment: who should rank higher on the Fight List -- Michelle Bachman or Hillary Clinton? Justify your answer.


Absolutely. When the conditions are ripe, and right.

I don't subscribe to vanguardism, in general, because the temptation, following any success, to form a new shielded elite is too great.


...if you've got a region which has (a) developed labor with a trend toward unification in "one big union," or at least coordination across sectors (b) a popular movement working with the unions to expand demands on the system to include housing, health care (and not just health insurance), and public transport as guaranteed social services for all, (c) the capacity for those workers to strike and win the enforcement of Finnish length mandatory vacation time,* (d) and a test legislative win on something significant like mandatory overtime after six hours total worked in any twenty-four hour period (with no exceptions for split shifts, etc), per diem, then I think at least some of the conditions for a regional or national coordinating vanguard would be met.

I think it especially that they only draw a wage equal or lesser to the lowest paid employee in any federation or confederation of represented unions, and are willing to forgo election to public office.**

* - I would personally go further, and demand ten weeks minimum per year for all workers, with no conditions or weekly hours minimums...

** - I know that's a stickler, for some, but I think it's important to make sure that anyone entrusted with the capacity to coordinate efforts across regions be kept from elective office and its corrosive environment, at least for some period of time after serving in any vanguard capacity. Not that I'm generally a fan of elective office, in the first.

Meh: "...especially important..."

Hillary Clinton. Without doubt or hesitation. Bachmann represents the declining form of the old republic. Clinton is its technocratic and milice future.

Bruce Wilder:

for those wanting an end,
my advice
find a fat lady
and sing, sing, sing!

Crow is dumb to dance with Paine.
His good faith, unrequited.
Crow has nothing he can gain.
Owen will always spite it.


Bachmann or Clinton? Scheiss egal!

But when there is a longing for someone to guide a nascent movement, take the Grüne as a lesson. Herr Fischer made them what they were as a political force and brought them to their knees in twenty-five years, just when they had a chance to influence actual policy.

He strove for maintaining a share in the administration ahead of any principles that garnered him the respect that put him in his position. Now, no matter how successful in winning the occasional minister-presidency and representative seats, or swapping majority-minority roles with the Libs, it is political power they are after, to be followed by a cushy lobbyist position or corporate chair.

As far as I can tell, the co-option Jack speaks of, when not by intention, is simply a law of nature.

But that ain't just nihilistic viewpoint: We can live our lives as far outside of their influence as possible. Nobody has to take their shit. But you better look where you drop your dough.



this is a good outline

the pivot of course is
the rejection of the "apple " in the garden

no bites of "state power"

your org remains a red franciscan outfit

if cadred at all
then i guess highly "lower archish"
an order of horizontally organized
secular monks
not an L shaped party at all
and thus in L lingo
not by anymeans a vanguard party
more a catalytic agency
for people's power

a gaggle of gandalfs

if we are to shape analogies
more like the poum obviously
with a bit more solemn adjuration
of org position sourced
personal power and fortune

syndicalism plus

more then the iww as purefied
in the pre "october" mind of bill foster
but decidely less then the bolshy hive

to me a vp is primarily built to act as an administrative apparatus
to the extent this is above ground it can be
governed from below
ie serve the shared goals and means of its membership

but it remains a self perpetuating self selecting entity
for the people and of the people
and particularly of the wagelings

but as surely
--and here's another problematic --
not by the people
in the sense dear martov had in mind


your epitome remindsme of jm keyenes

he claimed taken from burke

to the effect
we can not know our destiny's righteous path
so let us proceed by steps not wild leaps

i fear i remain a wild leaper
and that requires a good deal of revelationing and abduction

vide the gret leap itself

i ponder it ...daily
like a red indian taboo totem
but like any brassy fronteer settler
i brush it aside with a manufacture bravura

to my small band of coarse resolutes
operating on the scetchiest of orders from the politbureau

""i piss on their benighted superstitions

there's gold for the taking
and nubile native dancing gals
up ahead boys

avanti avanti "


that simple letter reversing slip
suggests an id eager to "party " eh ??


one looks at the L party as v party model
and meditates
here in the belly of the beast
where reform seems to outer limit of the plausible..
surely browderism wasn't all that loco
and yet the L party was attacked savagely
the timing was such that who struck first might seem ambiguous
but the party turn away from association back to party
hardly motivated the attack
and to suggest the ties to the kremlin expanis the savage nature of the state repression also
i think misses the core motive

the l party as v party in 46
had a potential
class struggle amping capacity
that the greater kold war occluded
with international priorities and dispositioning

but the wallace versus truman
cross roads inside the "new deal"
had deeper more intrinsic class roots


"the co-option Jack speaks of, when not by intention, is simply a law of nature."
as in
law of class society ???

in some sense so profoundly comprehensive that is a tautology and short of that sense'merely a cop out
an alibi for "keep it small "
a state of affairs forever degenerating into a pieous quietism
the german greens were by design
reformers only

even if their notion of reform
was self conceived as socially transformative

green corporatism is nopt a contradiction in terms
not like red corporatism at least eh ??

my take:

anything focally about greening the planets societies
no matter how challenging
to todays free range global corporate
non pigou harnessed privateering
by design
not a v party in any serious sense
to be a v party in the L sense
the very design must be aimed at the destruction
of the corporate privateers cross border hegemony
as it is incarnated
ie the present state system

not reforming it even radically but demolishing it
at this level l's and anarchos
are in solidarity


what then of spontaneous struggle fronts and institutions??
a pre v party circle takes em as they emerge trying to draw out and characterize
the deeper source and longer view forward
that propells these surface convulsions
whether mighty or mini

here is where the science of society comes into play

example in a hunt
which spots
on one of these limited liability beasts
to aim for



jc on
socializing the struggle for hours min and wage max
is absolutely a core mission

no need to go sectarian
in such movement currents as aim for these
results eh ??

any more then
the shared effort
to turn the activist left
minority away from
imbecile ballot boxing
in an orthrian system
of highly constrained
popular "choice "
as contextualized by lesser evilism
scare mongering
or by
"go pwogie go pwogie "
cheer leading


sharing experiences with my daughter and son in law
us "cellmates "
the upshot seems to be
without the shatrpness of a top striving for max efficiency utlization of job hours
and its attendant gains"
social improvement or social change orgs
tend to waste prodigiously thopse hours
darping from one core mission to another

perhaps this is only an understandable function of unfruitful times

but a hazard and source of base cadre
de-motivation once that cadre has cycled thru n of these radical re focus moments

i suggest
for profit and or market discviplined outfits self construct middle sections of their hierarchies that "produce " similar
wave of "org self reform "
new " best pratices " etc etc
often in contradiction to earlier best practices

all hugely wasteful rituals
best example
middle cadre meetings
conferencing etc
"blame diluting ceremonies"
and essential no one is personally slacking
group slack time

the science of organizations is a key region of discovery here too eh ??

i think of herr Al as a great source of insight into the rat tailing aspect of these middle-o-cracy types
moves and behaviour mods
as the hierachy reproduces itself with a combo or replication degeneration and drift
as embodies in
middle cadre vs base cadre interactions

the top of these oufits ??

uncle joe said it best
in i think 1952
as he tossed the ultra
secret latest edition
of the massive prodigiously detailed
of the next 5 year plan "fiction"
into the out bin
" return to gosplan for further corrections"
with barely ten pages of it
not scribbled on

"i mostly x out stuff in there
why take a chance ...no ??"
laffs a deeply poisonish sardonic chortle
eyes glittering with impish delight
" well i guess we got em all fooled eh comrades ?? ...okay Georgi
where's lunch ?? "



its too easy to take the malthus exit
from all this

just another form of nihilist rejectionist reactionary class parochialism

just heard a nice chitter on npr about the local food movement
in one vermont community
the deeply locaist faction ??
pure bouvard and pecuchet


So sprach (und spricht) op: "law
as in
law of class society ???"

More like "Power corrupts absolutely."

I do believe the best we can do is local and to strive for a collective of localities whose cooperation prevents larger state-run oligarchies, but would never pretend to have a solution. I just don't see an answer within this democracy paradigm. Seems like a Teufelskreis to me.

I have a personal solution, which combines not giving "power" my resources, monetary or otherwise. While I have my heart in anarchy, I favor the commune.

It has been an honor speaking to you directly.


"state-run oligarchies" ???

"never pretend to have a solution."

maybe there isn't one at this stage of social development

if you start with a premise like

there shall be no king or queen of the neurons
that we can make a level network suffice

we are really using the same barren intuition as the libertarian pure marketeers
yes they mediate everything by markets
you i guess --commune-- might stress maximal self sufficiency multi tasking and localism
to their maximal exchange universalism
and hyper intricated spontaneous volitional division of social labor

but both visions start with the present nasty
mix and go to opposite extremes to accomplish the same thing

end force as a basis for social interactions
in particular end institutions with necessary hierarchies

you both imagine an abolishment
without a new concretion

perhaps hierarchies at this point
can't be sublated
and that's why you can't imagine a resolution a concrete social formation
to fulfill your abolition

In the Hollywood production of Lenin's "What is to Be Done" Mickey Rooney jumps up and says, “Hey, let’s put out a well-organised all-Russian militant newspaper." And then Judy Garland pipes in with, “Yeah, we’ve gotta have a great newspaper, with a million laughs… and color… and a lot of lights to make it sparkle. And songs – wonderful songs. And our newspaper must be not only a collective agitator, but also a collective organiser.!"


Got me, OP. I certainly don't like to be associated in any way with Edmund Burke.

Al Schumann:

For what it's worth, the Lump fallacy and the Lump canard are now very easy for me to explain in person. This is valuable. It took brain sweat to understand them, but their centrality to elite thinking makes it worthwhile. The Republicratic/Demopublican dog and pony show is also now easy to explicate, and also valuable. It helps to have reserves of writing on the farce. Hence, SMBIVA and allied blogs.

Face-to-face still matters. A lot. God only knows where anything I try will go. Probably nowhere, but...

Thanks, Al. I feel honored.

Lump work continues to be an astonishingly fruitful line of inquiry, with my latest hunch being that the ubiquitous and elusive lump has a real -- and to the bourgeois mind, threatening -- referent in the commons. In my manuscript I proposed a new institution I call the "labor commons" but subsequently I have to acknowledge that it's more of a restoration than an innovation.

Labor power as a common resource, rather than a commodity for sale by the individual, lies behind such traditional activities as quilting bees and barn-raising but also the earliest modern notions of trade unionism as typified in the manifesto of the Society for National Regeneration (Manchester, 1833):

"That society in this country exhibits the strange anomaly of one part of the people working beyond their strength, another part working at worn-out and other employments for very inadequate wages, and another part in a state of starvation for want of employment;"

"That eight hours' daily labour is enough for any human being, and under proper arrangements, sufficient to afford an amply supply of food, raiment, and shelter, or the necessaries and comforts of life, and that to the remainder of his time every person is entitled for education, recreation, and sleep;"

"That the productive power of this country, aided by machinery, is so great, and so rapidly increasing, as from its misdirection, to threaten danger to society by a still further fall in wages, unless some measure be adopted to reduce the hours of work, and to maintain at least the present amount of wages:—"

"It was unanimously Resolved,
1. That it is desirable that all who wish to see society improved and confusion avoided, should endeavour to assist the working classes to obtain ' for eight hours' work the present full day's wages,' such eight hours to be performed between the hours of six in the morning and six in the evening; and that this new regulation should commence on the first day of March next."

Labor power as a common resource, rather than a commodity for sale by the individual
Yes. Yes yes yes.

"'state-run oligarchies' ???"

The oligarchy is administered by the citizenry's ostensible representatives (state-run), irrespective of the concentration of executive power: republican, parliamentary, totalitarian. Any cosmetic political differences don't do much to change the flow of wealth and resources.

My lack of imagination simply means, that since I have abandoned the belief that representative democracy can achieve substantial change to the structure I describe above, I cannot pretend that my personal solution is going to liberate anyone else from their democracy.

"but both visions start with the present nasty
mix and go to opposite extremes to accomplish the same thing"

I don't start "with" anything. I start from a position, which is defined by what it is, but unlike the market-driven disciples, I am talking of personal action, lifestyle. Call it extreme if you want. What I call it is knowing who grew that apple you're eating - and if you can't know that, go somewhere where you can; knowing where your electricity comes from - not getting into arguments about whether or not solar is too expensive to grid out, but prove that 100 percent of your energy consumption is provided thusly (it is easily verifiable on a personal level (with help from a friend)).

If by extreme you mean "a pain in the ass", then you might have something. But my personal solution doesn't grease the wheels of the nasty machine. And the extent to which some of my pennies trickle up for their co-option is something I have to strive to change for myself, because nobody will do it for me.


^^ That was not me being holier than thou, for what it's worth. I know the value of having someone achieve something on a local legislative level, indeed, have personal interest in our locals coming September.

I benefit from being represented by a Grüne, but one who seems to have an attachment to its student-roots origins; it's the power of the brand that he wouldn't be able to do without. I'm wary of the brand, to say the least. Political involvement is my tossing a few chips to Pascal. Or a lark. Or not wanting to schlepp my ass to the next place where the stormtroopers might lay off.

Still: I believe vote number 1 is one of personal energy.



never a pain in the ass
just monkish just seperatist perfectionist quietist

surely you recognize the de facto "privilege"
involved here

how many of the present 6 billion
have your options

and your unrecognized
(or at least un acknowleged ) social subsidy

how can you really become self sufficient ???

and even if you did some day some how remove the social umbilical cord

can you pay back the mothering society
for what it invested in you b4 you reached full self sufficing

rejecting your parents hardly saves them too eh ??

you take your human treasure house
of a mind
with all its meme stores
all a product of one present outcome
of 100 thousand years
of human history
replete with all its slaughter bench horrors
and u plan to use it exclusively
to provide yourself and your fellow communards
with a certain secular salvation

by doing so
don't you abandon the rest of us
to m more generations in market mediated purgatory sans your bit of enlighenment

a shining commune hiding its lamps
in the woods

very 1840's


Still still: Bachmann '12 - because we can take this thing! (and watch the Dems adopt her platform in time for the olympics in Rio)

This leads me to the wondering seriously if there is a foreseeable US political climate in which this vanguard might thrive, and what would become of it if it did (not to mention why it was able to).

Anyway, like Genosse Vater Smith asked regarding Clinton or Bachmann. Is this what he was getting at?



What a vivid imagination you have.

It's a pain in the ass because we have become slaves to the system. Because growing your own food, or casting your lot with those who do seems like really hard work at first.

I am well aware of my privilege. I am well aware, that in spite of having not earned five digits in over fifteen years that I am privileged like a king of kings relative to those who struggle in ways I'll never know.

But if by choosing not to fund tanks to Saudi Arabia risks not paying back for having suckled at the teet of the social state, that is the choice I have to make. (keep in mind, that my biological father's blood, sweat, and tears had an awful lot to do with providing me that privilege; it was his taxes that made the gas so fucking cheap; and his union wages that maintained the energy policy/city planning/infrastructural investment thereof)

Monkish behavior is not what I am talking about. Nor am I suggesting being an anti-soc around the corner from the little house on the prairie.

The question here is how are the present 6 billion going to benefit from my continuing to be a slightly more than meager wage-earning cog in the quasi-social state apparatus, one; and to what extent will they be worse off in the aggregate - as a greater number of folks opt out?

I say, it is a net win. Moreover, if I modeled my personal behavior on the number of people who had my options, I'd be facing an even bigger dilemma the one I readily admit to: How to best benefit all of us.

Show people that, YES, there are alternatives. I have abandoned no one. The people I know have abandoned no one. As a matter of fact, the only place I have ever been, where everyone is accepted and assisted equally is subcultural. But I still live amongst you.


secularized community perfectionism
i like to originate arbitrarily with godwin


the target of malthus
which just goes to show you hopw these
opposing meme patterns end up
in the badness of time
inextricably inter penetrating each other ..eh ?

to put it quickly for once

you either intend to move us all along the pilgram's trail with you
or leave us in some slough of our own making

with a hearty "good riddance " perhaps

its as if you are heading back to eden
and not with a turning head full of sighs
reversing that great scene:

" no natural tears he drop'd,
but wip'd them soon;
The World was all behind him "

"where to choose Thir place of rest,
and Providence thir guide:
not hand in hand but with wandring steps and slow,
he Toward Eden took his solitarie way."

but without regrets
for a blasted poisoned
junk crammed homeland

a purgatory lost

"he looking back,
all th' Eastern side beheld Of Passaic
so late his melancholic seat "

"fuck u jersey mean streets !!!!"


Every time I pay the nineteen percent sales tax, I can't help but think of this kind of thing (minus the humor):


"slaves to the system"
and of the system
and by the system

and stuck fully complicit
right in the very gut of the system

we are captive in egypt land itself

building its pyramids !!!

each of us more or less
enlighened ones
has a moses choice

head off to the wilderness alone
or with a self chosen sifted few
or stay here and make a stand

work to set ourselves and "them " too

right here
all of us
both the chosen
and the unchosen
the free minded cojoined
to serf minded
all together join the great class tug o' war


speaking of tug o wars...


heres a team personally hand picked
by father smiff
on his recent sail
from safe harbor to safe harbor
-- armed with only a serviceable sap
and a strong 100 pound sack --

not a bad haul i'd say
if a bit fin de siecle
or better
pre Great war

but the father of SMBIVA always was and will be
one for quaint if kinky revivalisms

considering it was limited to
the stock of lost boys along
maine's piney cragged and indifferent coast
i give him a blue ribbon

"ahh paine " you say
" ...but can they pull " ???


davidly consider your hands like lady macbeths
and stop trying to wash them clean

the bloddy spots are there forever
like birth marks

indeed they are birth marks among other things


seems a good working hypothesis
that we
each and everyone of us
are utterly perverse fallen creatures
the only personal salvation
is an unearned gift of clio

forget personal good works
they are a doomed project
even if intended to purge your soul
and glorify your
" personal pilgrimage "
even if they add up to a noble stoic
set of tasks
utterly busy brutal
and self ablatingly
altruistically "we precious saintly few-ish"


combine the liberating pre destinaate axiom of calvin
without the elitest seperatist oer self elevating
guardian estate like
notion of living saint

our utter depravity must be taken more seriously
we like the islamists must seek state power
but with the humility
that in the end we too are no more
then Clio's flotsome


your apparent thurst for salvation
thru social justification of your actions
and your obviously
abiding sincerity
becomes you

not to sound anymore presumtuous then i already have
in no way
scoff at your "witness"
nor consider your social action "choices "
castgate-ably profane

there is no quarrel between us

as there's no ultimate quarrel
i can see or feel between me myself and i
on the one side
and crow or karl on the other
that blocks good will between us
and that's said
despite clear mutually
"ideologies " or convictions
that divide us
explicitly or implicitly


shall we pray ....



Brilliant stuff. We could use you in the sewer;-D

"davidly consider your hands like lady macbeths
and stop trying to wash them clean"

I can't help it: Methinks his Paine doth protest too much.

Just because I am stricken by the desire not to fund the way of the state does not mean I am seeking salvation or looking to justify my (in)action, the extent to which it can be justifiably considered as such.

"there is no quarrel between us"

Absolutely not. We both carry our brief cases in our left hands on the way to the office, nodding our "mornin'"s from our doorsteps. And I suppose we both pray to the same heartless gods.


davidly 7/16 7:05 -- The free shipping is a nice touch. And what's with that bulldozer-like scoop on the front of the tank?


Alas, OP, I didn't get as far as the rocky coast of Maine on this trip. And as for the shores of Long Island Sound, and any Lost Boys who might be wandering thereon -- Arrrr! I wouldn't use 'em for bait. An insult to the fishes.



Ha! I didn't notice that. Must be a reference to the efforts to frame it as a habitat for humanity kind of undertaking.



To be clear re: me at 7:05: I took the image from Titanic magazine.
I uploaded it so that I could make use of SMBIVA's lovely pop-up feature.

I'm relatively certain that the scoop was their idea, though I'm sure Israel could make good use of the feature.


Gracias a la vida que me ha dado SMBIVA. Like many others have mentioned in this thread, I value the discussion and the writing skill of a great many who participate. A huge portion of my life has been devoted to political work within what was once termed the revolutionary left, as 'fellow traveler', as cadre. Whether fortunate or unfortunate, I no longer view that sort of work productive in any near term respect -- 'near term' meaning here over the next several decades.

I see it thus because I am convinced that nothing whatever will prevent the collapse of the vast, metastasized global system of capital. The value of the many alternatives posited -- whether communal social organization, the efforts toward restoring local productive capacities on sustainable scales, etc. -- lies in training people in skills that will be useful in a post-collapse world. Even here I succumb to a likely unwarranted optimism, in that I cling to the idea of a viable planet that will still support genus Homo; there is of course absolutely no objective way for determining this one way or the other.

I think there was a period in which the the alternatives were global, permanent revolution, and global, permanent rule of capital. Capital won, by any measure, and in winning continued in it's internally consistent path to maximum extraction of resources for maximum profit, long-term consequences be damned. Those long-term consequences are absolutely a damnation for billions of people, if not for the planet itself as a living system.

Since collapse is inevitable, and since what hope for the future lies on the other side of collapse, then it seems that anything we may do to speed it along is a good idea. Wrecking, monkeywrenching, sabotage, non-participation in anything legitimizing our current overlords to whatever extent possible, all seem worthwhile to me.

If I live to see the collapse, it's unlikely I'll live through it; my personal survival is dependent on products of technologies that will likely be swept away, perhaps forever. This is of no great moment. Whether motivated by social solidarity or species solidarity, I would like to believe that some part of what I value of human culture will survive. I won't know, of course. This wanting to believe that afflicts me is likely more of a philosophical antidepressant than any rigorous thought, but like the sertraline I take every day it does help me get out of bed in the morning.


Fr Smith,

EVERYONE in this thread is saying the same thing over and over.

Especially Owen.

I get the hint. See you theorizers at the blackboard... never.



While I have my heart in anarchy, I favor the commune.

While I favor anarchy, I have my heart in the commune.

Have to have both sides if we are to have communism.

This is an excellent, excellent thread,,,one which I'd like to add a 1866 piece by Blanqui:
"Instruction pour une prise d'armes"

Marx, if I recall, did not consider violence necessary to gain control, though this did seem to depend on level of develeopment.
Blend of organization - which types, structures, forms, levels of hierarchy, status variables, spontaneities, 'global' conjuncture[s]......

yeah this needs rewrite/content or at least seems empty to me.



Well, from 'Planet of Weeds':

Now we come to the question of human survival, a matter of some interest to many. We come to a certain fretful leap of logic that otherwise thoughtful observers seem willing, even eager to make: that the ultimate consequence will be the extinction of us. By seizing such a huge share of Earth's landscape, by imposing so wantonly on its providence and presuming so recklessly on its forgivingness, by killing off so many species, they say, we will doom our own species to extinction. This is a commonplace among the environmentally exercised. My quibbles with the idea are that it seems ecologically improbable and too optimistic. But it bears examining, because it's frequently offered as the ultimate argument against proceeding as we are.

Jablonski also has his doubts. Do you see Homo sapiens as a likely survivor, I ask him or as a casualty? "Oh, we've got to be one of the most bomb-proof species on the planet," he says. "We're geographically widespread, we have a pretty remarkable reproductive rate, we're incredibly good at co-opting and monopolizing resources. I think it would take really serious, concerted effort to wipe out the human species." The point he's making is one that has probably already dawned on you: Homo sapiens itself is the consummate weed. Why shouldn't we survive, then, on the Planet of Weeds?

Complete - http://maximusandme.blogspot.com/2011/02/planet-of-weeds-david-quammen.html

Yep we will survivive, but that's really not the point is it? You have been doing the right things - keep them up. At least when looking at decade by decade growth data, rates and forms of investment and Rate of profit, capital is not in its advertised position. We are definitely winning on a national a world scale. Long ago someone said it was its own worst enemy and that someone was correct.

Karl - i knew nothing of theory until after practice - my guess, others here have done much more than provide a lecture...but even if they hadn't, so what.

I'll toss in the materialist explanation: The captain and bridge crew of SMBIVA are careful and humorous thinkers and writers. But the conditions in which the SMBIVA thesis lives have once again gotten deeper and even more obvious, while staying just as verboten and unseen as ever among our natural audience and allies, the pwogs.

If we had treated Zerobama as a test case for whether or not the Dimmocratic Party had any new ways of becoming even more sociopathic, I think I would have wagered that Clinton had already shown the limits had been hit. Hell, I even nurtured a small hope Zero might be anything but a venal freak.

As we see, blackface did wonders for the Dims, who have once again performed vital tasks for the overclass that Republicans could never have pulled off.

And the power of money over the whole system has once again increased substantially, both because of Citizens United and because of still more class polarization.

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