Archive for November, 2013

Democracy instead of heroism

November 17, 2013
I’m reminded of one of my mother’s sisters and her husband. When they visit my mother they eat unhealthy food. Then they feel guilty for eating the food (they eat healthy at home). So then they go on a walk to “burn off the calories” – in other words they cleanse the guilt by “burning it away” through the healthy activity of walking.
The problem is that reality doesn’t work like that. Calories can of course be “burned off” with exercise but the effects of saturated fat, sugar, sodium, etc. are permanent. They aren’t “burned off”. So this cleansing must necessarily go hand-in-hand with fundamental insanity, with reality kept at arms-length through denial.
So let’s translate this metaphor to the big issues of reality. The major problems of reality are high-capital (often corporate) domination of decision making, global warming, and the possibility of the rich and powerful permanently leaving earth so as not to have to face the consequences of their actions. All of these problems have one solution – democracy.
What do liberals do in the face of these problems? They recycle, vote a certain way, “live clean”. So they cleanse the guilt of benefiting materially from the global economic system (the core reason why they are unable to experience reality) by “doing what they can” aka “fighting the good fight”. But an unfortunate newsflash which is invisible to the blind and insane reads – blindness prevents victory.
It’s possible, not easy of course but possible to create a democratic world. For regular people to seize corporations away from a small ruling body beholden to investors and make them beholden to the people and places they impact. For regular people to end the system of high capitalism in favor of egalitarian capitalism, or whatever system the people decide upon.
Since there’s no victory using liberal techniques, the outcome liberals actually want is a dead and devastated world in which they delude themselves into believing they “fought the good fight” and therefore can smile during the death of the world. This is why liberals are narcissistic and utterly selfish – because despite the passion with which they pursue their own delusion reality always is knocking on the door to their souls.
There’s another trap, promoted by liberals, progressives, and other people who are well meaning which lionizes martyrs and heroes. So Martin Luther King, Jr. is awesome, Chelsea Manning is awesome, Edward Snowden is awesome. According to this thinking, the solution is for more people to become like them. For more people to do good things which results in them being hunted down, assassinated, or imprisoned.
The reason these people have to be heroes in the first place is that the system is world-destroying and corrupt. The solution is not for more individuals to become heroes, the solution is for individuals to band together into democratic political organizations who assert political power in accord with democratic principals.
The problem is, “banding together into democratic political organizations” isn’t sexy. There’s no front page headlines, no CNN waiting breathlessly for the next Snowden scoop, no Martin Luther King, Jr. national holidays waiting for people who are democratic. There’s no GLORY in democracy. There’s just truth, justice, and saving the world as a possible outcome of a lot of hard work, not the typical Wikileaks “wham, bam, thank you ma’am” orgasmic leak of documents.
Glory, martyrdom, and heroism is a trap which is just as destructive as the Rupert Murdochs of the world.

How Samsung became the new Sony, and South Korea became the new Japan

November 2, 2013

In the 1980s and 1990s Japan claimed a small amount of revenge for WWII atrocities by capturing the imaginations of Americans, by means of business executives mimicking “just-in-time” and other Japanese business practices and American youth turning to Japanese media, first video games and then anime. America was thought by Americans to be too big, too obnoxious, too arrogant, too abusive, with the remedy being the small, humble, and industrious Japanese (stereotypes of course but readily believed). With “I Think I’m Turning Japanese”, The Cure, and Mario being cute, determined, and industrious playing in the background, America would cure itself of it’s terrible arrogance and become one with the new world order, an alternative vision to the Neoconservative model of global domination.

The 1997 Asian financial crisis (aka the International Monetary Fund crisis) had a profound impact on the region and irrevocable hurt economic relations between Japan and the US, allowing South Korea to replace Japan as the region’s most dynamic economy. Sony’s decline began while Samsung became the new Sony.

There’s a problem here for Americans, one no amount of Starcraft and Starcraft 2 can quite solve. Americans cannot figure out their relationship to South Korea. While Japan was the humble cure for American arrogance, the sheer inhumanity of Flash’s cyborg twitch reflects a lack of meaning at the core of the South Korean project. This has resulted in a dramatically different relationship between Americans (and other Westerners) and the Asian country – from the warm and hopeful embrace of Nintendo and anime to a fearful attempt to catch up to the juggernaut of South Korean gaming, with frequent refrains of variations of “we bow before our South Korean overlords”.

As the glistening metal of South Korea’s high-tech cities climbs to the sky, we’re left wondering just where, beyond transhumanism, androids, and cybernetic sex dolls, the future they envision is going to lead us.