Sunday, March 18, 2018

For the Illinoisian's: Check Out 1IL and Think About Contributing to the Kickstarter

Just because I think this is a worthy, and hopefully someone interested will stumble on 1IL here rather than anywhere else:

If you like what you see here and in the past and want to free me up for more, support my endeavors by Buying Me a Coffee!

Saturday, March 17, 2018

An Act of Civic Responsibility ACCOMPLISHED! I Voted. You Should, Too. And Some Twittervism

Only a little more than a month has passed since I last posted, but it feels like it forever. I guess it feels that way because we find ourselves in an existential crisis of what our country means thanks to electing a cult of personality into the White House.

It's not 100% bad, though. The Blue and Progressive waves feel heartening. If they prove successful, hopefully we can keep them going, continue the activism and momentum for local and State Democratic campaigns and action (though I'm disappointed that my State House and Senate Democratic elections didn't have any contenders for the incumbents. I want people in those offices to fight good against gerrymandering and dividing up Illinois districts in the way that best represents the people of those districts).

Today, I voted and man, there were a lot of candidates! After watching Thor Ragnorak with Michi, I started in on researching the candidates. Stopped researching at about 12:30 this morning then got up at about 11 AM this morning. Start researching again around 12:30 afternoon and ended up about 4:35ish. That gave me about 20 minutes to walk a couple blocks to the library for the early voting. I worried about not making it in time, but I did, and I overheard one of the Election Officials say that they weren't closing until everyone who showed up gets to vote. That reassures me.

Part of me wants to post who I voted for and another part of me doesn't want to. Part of me wants to throw up some of these candidates in support or at least to say that they're better than the other ones. But another part of me doesn't want to add to a "poll fire" of giving other voters the sense of security that the candidate they want to vote for has support and has a good chance of winning, so they're vote isn't needed. I know that I'm just one voter, not a "scientific" poll, but I don't want to contribute to that kind of security people might adopt. Frankly, part of me beliees this might have happened in past elections.

Yes, I want the public to feel insecure about the election, insecure enough to get out there and vote. About 50% of our electorate didn't vote in the 2016 Election. If everyone in that 50% made their one vote, it could have made a huge difference and might have prevented the national mess that we find ourselves in.

I will acknowledge that some of that 50% might be counted as voted because of voter suppression, and that's an example of injustice. But the people who likely wouldn't have been suppressed, if you didn't vote, I believe you should have and regret that you didn't. Even if you think the options aren't great or even that you don't think that any candidates will affect your experience of this American life, our current Federal government proves that the options can be worse than you think, that your experience can get worse, AND seriously, there are other people who will be affected if we let someone like [45] get into our offices again. More than likely, we will have a less worse option or even an option that is OK instead of THE WORST.

So everyone in the United States: Get out there in and vote in your state's primaries and get ready to vote in the General Elections in November. We are crafting the character and fabric of our neighborhoods, our villages, towns, and cities, our counties, our states, our country, and our world. This is the least that we can do for the sake of justice, sanity, peace, civilization, and prosperity.

As for the rest of life and future expectations of the blog, things still remain hectic. Work has remained crazy, which should calm down once we reach the summer. Taxes has been another hang up on me "filing" entries but frankly, I haven't addressed them as studiously as I would like. After reviewing some facts about taxes, though, I've realized that I don't have to be as studious. I don't believe my family's charitable donations and stuff like that will even reach our standard deduction, so there's no point in gathering all those records together. I will continue making donations and such, but the two of us can't realistically afford to make enough deductible contributions to compete with the standard deduction (especially considering the increased standard deduction starting this year).

But I'll let y'all in on something of a NOT SECRET that I need to promote more often: the more "coffee" you buy me, the more chance I have of reaching a point to "filing" more blog entries and even getting to work more on my creative endeavors and possibly more activism. I doubt those coffee purchases will get me my "creative time license" tomorrow, next month, or even next year or two, but a person can dream!

All that being said, have some Twittervism! I didn't even plan to write so much in this supposed intro!

If you like what you see here and in the past and want to free me up for more, support my endeavors by Buying Me a Coffee!

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Poking Head Above Surface to Provide Some Twittervism & Update

The day job has started to calm down a little, and I've made some progress at putting together a spreadsheet to "automate" some major compliance reporting. Most of my advances in developing that spreadsheet have occurred during after hour periods, though, so now I just have a better ability to leave work "on time". Nonetheless, a lot of random pop up "emergencies" occur and the workload still remains in the high volume area. I expect it to go down within the next few weeks to a month or so, though, then I should do fine until probably October.

I've also done good with some resolutions on spreadsheeting stuff at home. Honestly, though, I could do without spreadsheeting for at least week (though I doubt any luck will come of that wish). At some point this week, I dreamt about spreadsheeting, which probably ended up being one of my most frustrating dreams, EVER!

I still have plenty of stuff that I need to address for family and home, though, so I still have no prediction for when a good, thoughtful entry will occur. I point a lot of blame on getting stuff together for 2017 income tax filing, but I have some other stuff that needs to get addressed, too.

Until then, though, how about some Twittervism?

If you like what you see here and in the past and want to free me up for more, support my endeavors by Buying Me a Coffee!

Sunday, February 04, 2018

A Journey to Epiphany (that still requires more analysis)

The end of January got busy. I want to get my epiphany out then take a short hiatus to address a few things. If my Twittervism remains active, I’ll post them. I also might post something if I get worked up. Other than that, though, I plan to focus on home and family stuff that needs attention.

After getting home from the "Int'l Solidarity First! Honduras; Philippines, Antiwar Movement" forum, I got into some research that lasted on and off throughout the rest of the weekend then peaked in The Epiphany on Sunday. It revolved around my wondering why people do horribly divisive greedy behavior in the face that more fellowship with other humans has more potential for happiness and my mulling over the image of neo-mercantilist colonialist neoliberalism painted at the forum.

For the life of me, I won't accept greed or power hungriness as enough of a reason. If I did, it wouldn't support people out there that seek good to blossom in the world because it makes things better. Though I may crticize the guy from Answer! who presented at the forum of vanguardism, I have to believe that not everyone in the world seeks power, money, and influence for the sake of those things, as a primary driver. Using this argument against those in power logically leads to even those who seek good would eventually fall into evil when they do come into power (which we do have examples of in the world).

But what about those selfless examples in the world and throughout history that engage in action out of the goodness of their hearts and even seek to do so without any gain for themselves or even at great cost? We have numerous examples of such people throughout history and, dare I say it, in our stories.

I also don't follow the dictum of "doing good for the sake of doing good" or "because it's the right thing to do." I don't believe we have an amazing inborn moral compass inside us that pings us if we do bad. I remain fairly agnostic about a divine authority or permanence of morality. These dictums feel too simple to me.

I may argue against motivations for greed, power, and selfishness, but I believe, on some level, doing good benefits us, and it does benefit us through social and biological awards because doing good for the world outside us will motivate the outside world to give us pleasant and agreeable feedback in the proper circumstances. Even in less than ideal circumstances in which greed, selfishness, and power mongering have dominance, I believe consistent, longer term rewards can come to the person doing good, even for a martyr that ends up being sacrificed or disgraced.

But before striking out for the good, though, and to try taking action to help against the powers of greed, selfishness, and powermongering, I feel the need to understand what can possibly motivate humans to go there, especially in the case of an essay that I've been working on for more than ten years going. A lot of the difficulty for this essay has been to understand the social environment of this one guy who went from minister of 10 or so years then turned activist socialist reformer that went as far as to settle his own utopian community that failed about 5 years later.

This man was George Ripley, a Unitarian minister and also a member of the Transcendentalist Club with Ralph Waldo Emerson back in the 1830's. He could have had a pretty cushy life as a minister. His congregation liked him. The Unitarian ministry had a pretty good hold of the religious communities in Boston and Cambridge. Even with immigrants coming in, Catholicism and other religions making inroads into the two cities, and poltical tides of government making decisions that didn't necessarily put the "religious establishment" as prime anymore, the Unitarian church wouldn't lose their influence of those cities within a decade or two.

In some ways, Ripley saw this evolution and argued for initiatives to make Unitarianism more attractive to potential congregants, considering his heated pamphlet wars with the "Unitarian pope", Andrews Norton. These pamphlet wars instead came more from his disposition to better society for the common people rather than solely seeking to increase the number of worshippers and the footprint of the Unitarian church.

If anything, Ripley saw that the Unitarian church should have the goal of bettering society for the common people as part of its makeup, not as a vehicle for individual powermongering and influence building. This motivation of his becomes apparent when reading his later sermons, whether the one in which he urges his congregants to help the poor because the burdens and hardships of others around the church represents the state of the congregants, society, and their souls, especially since the congregants had fairly good lives and didn't do anything to spread the good state of things.

Ripley eventually resigned his post as minister because his congregation didn't have the motivation to do better. The congregation liked him and felt that he challenged them in a good way, and they wanted him to stay on as minister. His congregation had no desire to help those who had true material needs that the needy couldn't meet through their own efforts. Despite the fact that he could have led a good life as their minister, at least for probably another decade or two, his conscience would not let him stand aside while society and nations ground down the lives and souls of people.

Brook Farm, Ripley's utopian community, didn't amount too much more than a historical community and a really good memory for some young students that took its curriculum and some other community members that enjoyed the company of others. Brook Farm can also provide some level of instance of a utopian experiment for someone like me to try drawing some useful meaning or lesson from it (with much frustration). For Ripley, though, it broke him and destroyed much of his faith in humanity. He led a comfortable life afterward and engaged in literary jobs that he enjoyed, but he lived mostly a private life that didn't feel too concerned about the welfare of society and the people that made it up.

I don't know the personal histories or situations of the people in Ripley's congregation, but I assume that Ripley did. He likely had a good idea of how much time and resources they had to spare for the relief of the burdens and hardship of those less well off. As minister, I bet he knew a good many of them well. Despite his belief in their ability to do more, they refused to do so. They chose friendly complacency (though the church was near South Boston around the time that the Irish began to settle into Boston, including Catholic churches, so I have little problem believing that their complacency came from some prejudice and xenophobia).

The "more contemporaneous" social activist, Martin Luther King Jr., had a couple things to say about this kind of inaction that strikes a little more closer to the heart:

"He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it."


"First, I must confess that over the last few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro's great stumbling block in the stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen's Council-er or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate who is more devoted to 'order' than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says 'I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I can't agree with your methods of direct action;' who paternalistically feels he can set the timetable for another man's freedom; who lives by the myth of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait until a 'more convenient season.'

Shallow understanding from people of goodwill is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection."

Another example in the historical time of George Ripley and Massachusetts that touches upon my difficulty with trying to understand greedy evil or good fellowship comes from Massachusetts politicians. The Federalists than the Whigs held the power in Massachusetts during that time, and they did a lot to build up industries and trade in Massachusetts while many others in the United States focused on agriculture.

Politicians and intelligentsia that supported industry tended to believe in what we'd consider "trickle down economics" these days. By building up total wealth, it would drop down to workers and others without a ton of wealth just by virtue of the vast amounts of wealth. It would grow industry, and with industry comes work, and with work comes wealth for all. Sound familiar? Another water-based metaphor: raising the water level will lift everyone up.

A couple weeks ago or so, I learned that Rockefeller pushed hard for Prohibition. He believed that alcohol contributed a lot to keeping people from being industrious while increasing crime. Only after Prohibition did he and many others with power see that restricting alcohol increased crime even further and in savagery. And if crime and smuggling can be seen as industry, then I guess Rockefeller had his finger on the pulse of the People. . .but I don't think that's the case.

Rockefeller and the many others that railed against alcohol and pushed for Prohibition didn't take an original stance. The Massachusetts clergy and politicians in the first half the 1800's often blamed the laziness and drinking habits of the laborers and common people for industry not being strong. They even argued that by making laborers work long hours, it would instill better morals because it would keep the laborers busy and not allow them the time to be idle and engage in drinking, being abusive to their families, and other things detrimental to society. After all, "idle hands are the devil's workshop."

Who cares that the wealthy could engage in such horrible behavior and argue that they pretty much lived on a different moral plane (their reputation would be hurt by such behavior rather than they should just be good)? Who cares that the wealthy would erect private libraries, put up colleges like Harvard, support hospitals, and other "altrustic," charitable activities, but the common people couldn't benefit from them. Instead, they received and recriminations that they should work long hours and don't do all these horrible things because it's causing them to be poor.

Not to say that such horrible things aren't horrible, but Boston and Cambridge didn't have much social mobility back then. Andrews Norton, the Unitarian pope, even argued with Ripley that the common people shouldn't question or learn to think because it would lead to acting immorally. What did it even matter, anyway, because their boss's made them work instead of going to church where the Unitarian ministry supposedly preached self culture and that if someone worked hard, remained attentive, and tried to learn when they could, they could make something of themselves.

Albeit, the economics of that time gets complicated. On the federal level, Andrew Jackson played games with the fiscal system, dismantled the Second Bank of the United States (pretty much the Fed at that time), and other things that caused a lot of economic turmoil. Tariffs, which were used to pay for debts from the Revolutionary War, ended at some point. Tariffs had actually bolstered wages since tariffs encouraged consumers to purchase goods and products from domestic sources rather than cheaper ones from foreign sources. Since the end of tariffs caused foreign goods to go down in price, people bought from foreign sources. To more agrarian parts of the country, it probably helped them, but in a region of the country that depended on industry, the pain of a recession from these activities would hit eastern Massachusetts especially hard.

Massachusetts had a labor movement soon after industry came to the state, and probably even before that. For some time, though, when industry first came or before that, Massachusetts didn't have a big population while it had plenty of work, whether in an internal agrarian economy or for industrial factories. The labor market benefited workers. At one point, workers could switch between factories or even come and go as they pleased and get paid a lot, simply because their was more work than laborers. If an industrialist or business owner wanted to get something made to sell, they needed to keep the labor pool happy enough and paid enough to make the wares.

With the cotton gin, other industrial innovations, immigration, other forms of population growth, and the federal-level politics, labor conditions got worse and the labor movements fought to better those conditions, whether to increase safety, reduce the amount of hours of work (can you imagine working in a factory for 12-14 hours per week?), fight against child labor, and for many other reasons I'm probably not aware of, tensions grew between common people/labor movements and the wealthy/industrialists, politicians supported by the wealthy, and the intelligentsia that supported them, including the Unitarian establishment that mingled with the upper classes.

I remember that one or two of the books I've read to accumulate this knowledge had plenty to say about the perspective of the upper classes and politicians of Massachusetts at that time. A political speech quoted at the end of it especially sticks in my head. It had something to do with the lower classes not having enough gratitude and weren't thankful enough to just work and accept the "good things" that they were getting in life. They had to agitate and had to protest and strike to try improving their side of the labor deal, when they should be happy with what they had and feel grateful (sounds familiar, doesn't it? (skip ahead to the 2 minute mark if you don't want to see everything before that)). The quoted part especially struck me because it came from a politician that other people at that point in history from many walks of life praised.

Unfortunately, I can't name that politician because I don't have the book that has the quote. I must have borrowed it from the library. I forget the title of the book and everything. At this point, I wouldn't even know how to start finding the book. . ..

The memory remains strong, though, and I latched onto it that Sunday. I combed through what books I have from that time years ago when I engaged in intense research because they had some bits about the two politicians from that time that stick in my head, Daniel Webster and Edward Everett.

In my heart, I believe that Webster made the speech quoted in that book. That Sunday, I tried finding things by the both of them in relation to labor because the books in my current inventory mentioned them quite a bit in connection with the establishment views of labor. With Webster, I found some interesting texts, but one struck out in which he praised the working class then in the last quarter page, last few paragraphs took a sudden change of tone in which he struck out at lazy people who got drunk all the time and that it was BAD! I have the feeling he wanted to paint an ugly picture of the labor movement.

I read Edward Everett's "A Lecture on the Working Men's Party". The text of the lecture didn't really stick in my head, but the characterization of the lecture in William Hartford's Money, Morals, and Politics: Massachusetts in the Age of the Boston Associates strikes me as accurate as to how I feel about the lecture. Everett pretty much All Lives Mattered labor and work. To him, everyone but the immoral and indolent work, so the Working Men's Party shouldn't exist to separate themselves from everyone else because it's an insult to everyone else. To go a little further, though, I guess it also felt like an attempt to appease agitators and get them to calm down from the all the agitation, just trying to calm them down in a nice way.

Suffice to say, I couldn't find any deep dive into either the politicians to present what they really believed, their justifications for believing, and how they could believe that they stood up for the common person, the laborer. The lack of anything useful from them or any other writer about them left me back at square one, except a little bit more angry. It frustrated me that I couldn't figure things out.

These two politicians made me even more angry, though, because they believed they knew better and entitled about everything, and, if anything, they felt that they just had to explain to the non-activist laborers and working class that they just needed to find pride and enjoyment through their labor. Heck, these two politicians didn't sound that different from today's Republicans just telling people that if they stick to their morals, everything will turn out well and people can find fulfillment in their character, enough so that their physical state won't matter. "Let us run things, and we'll get you good jobs!"

And at some point, in the depths of frustration, the epiphany hit me: Humans are still territorial creatures, maybe not territory over land, but territory over power, influence, money, and people. Humans are still animals. One of the most universal features of the wildlife shows is animals protecting territory and fighting over reproductive domains. Animals of the same species will generally leave each other alone and might even work together but once they threaten each other's domains, the teeth and claws come out, the fighting starts, and the fight ends when one of the adversaries surrenders and retreats or one of them dies. And sometimes, that fight happens with the potential mate.

This epiphany really struck me. Look at the sexual improprieties that have run wild throughout human history, White Supremacy, especially in the time after the Civil War to the Civil Rights Movement (a time span when they took pictures of lynchings and sold them as postcards!), mercantilism, colonialism, neoliberalism, political leaders gaining and keeping power, corporate leaders building and building, cults, corporate politics, Gamergate, Puppies in science fiction pissing all over awards because SJW's are taking away eyeballs, police killing black men and woman, black people representing a disproportionate amount of the prison population, the current government of the United States fighting amongst itself, giving the rich massive tax cuts while doing very little for the middle and lower classes, Charlottesville, dictators like Stalin, Hitler and World War II.

The list goes on and on and on, but a natural, animal instinct for gaining domain over territories of power, money, influence, and people feels like one of the most intuitive factors for explaining why people can choose the evil of greedy, selfish power instead of using their influence to bring people together and have them grow stronger, more fulfilling bonds. Part of my theory relies on oxytocin, the brain chemical that can pretty much strengthen the power of other neurochemicals that influence and are influence by social interaction.

In the weeks since then, I've tempered this hypothesis and have looked to inject more nuance into it. Having that animal territorial instinct feels like a good stand in for larger, background arguments, especially for those who demonstrate this disposition or become dictators, whether of their states, corporations, or home. The epiphany, however, doesn't seem to address the masses of people who follow along or who are just happy with the middling that they're doing and don't engage in some mass battle to try reaching the top. Vying for power happens to some amount, but I feel like the fabric of all societies would be torn apart by the seams and wouldn't have gotten as "civilized" as they have and whole races of humanity would have been fully destroyed if that were the case. In some other words, I can't find enough intertextual evidence to show territorial pissings as a universal enough manifest or latent primary function of humanity.

I'm finding myself fall back onto terms like moral contagion, moral transference, affirmation. I've experienced the revulsion of seeing someone I couldn't do anything for, someone that did something stupid, or someone facing much hardship. A podcast I listened to once talked about how people try to distance themselves from such things, as if they feared a contagion.

Having such a phenomenon also seems to make some sense to the texts of Ethan Frome's about Hitler and why the German people had followed him at the time along with some understanding as to why people in the US support Trump and the Republicans, though if you look at their policies and actions, they don't help the common people that vote for them. I don't get it, but these common people can feel like they're experiencing the 'success" and "power" as if they had it themselves, much like how I might experience the stresses and pain of someone going through hardship and burdens. Whereas I might shy away from the bad, the supporters of Trump and the Republicans lean in toward the euphoric and confident feelings that Trump and the Republicans try to put out there.

I don't have it all figured out yet. And unfortunately, as I mentioned from the top, I've got a lot of day-to-day personal and home stuff that needs to get addressed. Work has gotten even busier than it had been in December. I don't plan to write much over the next few weeks or months. I might post some Twittervism or if I get some sudden inspiration or anger, but I don't expect to do much. Just too much to do! Until then, I hope I've left enough hearty thought to chew on. Enjoy!

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Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Twittervism for Wednesday Night Virtual Dinner

Work kicking my ass this week. I've posted to social media more than I expected. Enjoy some Twittervism.



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Saturday, January 20, 2018

A Week or So Ago: [45], Politics, & a Leftist Forum on Honduras and the Philippines that Inspired an Epiphany

A few events have converged thematically for me two weeks ago to help me reach a useful epiphany for my project, for my cause(s), and for life (this entry took me a few days of a couple-hour sessions to write!). The events are:

The essay from two weeks ago really speaks for itself, my despair, and my hope. If anything, I think it set the base for my asking about the motivations of people to do or neglect to do things that increase suffering in the world, especially when they do it under the auspices of love, kindness, and good.

The double dealing of [45] and weaselness of Stephen Miller and the Far Right Congressmen provide me example of the lack of caring, the shameful one-upmanship real politicking, and crass bigotry (made even worse over last weekend by [45] when he said that he's the least racist person that the media would interview. Add to that fire, the enabling of [45] by Martin Luther King's nephew and the Haitian Ambassador when they just called him ignorant rather than outright call at least his statements racist.

(COMMENT FROM RIGHT BEFORE POSTING: I appreciate Lindsey Graham's point out [45]'s penchant for vengeance, but Graham provides another example of enabling by stating that [45] isn't racist)

These two events only set the stage, put the logs in the fire pit. The forum last wek put the kindling and newspaper in the fire pit with the logs. I don't remember many specific details, mostly feelings and interactions when they occurred. The forum generally went as follows:

  • Lorena Cervantes had a slide show cycling on a screen of protests and scenery in Honduras while she related the events that have occurred in that country since the 2013 General Election that has generated much unrest and protest in the country over corruption and Election Fraud.

    Some quick research reveals, however, that the recent issues down in Honduras started with the 2009 coup d'etat staged by their Supreme Court and military (but can be traced all the way back to the '70s and '80s Cold War action by the US). If you kept up with things during the 2016 Election starting in 2015, that coup should ring a bell since many of her Progressive and Conservative critics attribute the final result to Hillary Clinton (in what appears a little facilitation and mostly inaction to try mitigating supposed "communist" influence in South America and increase the US military-industrial complex influence down there).

    I've reached this understanding of the events by reading some articles at The Intercept, The Guardian, and The Nation. I remember hearing some stories on NPR years ago about corporations disrupting the land and lifestyles of indigenous people, too, but I don't recall too many details about that news.

    I won't make judgments on Clinton's suitability for President since she didn't get elected, and frankly, our relationship with Honduras probably wouldn't be that different. Right now seems like just a continuation on past policy in Honduras. Hearing this woman talk about the protests and and Human Rights violations of the Honduras government moved me, but there were a lot of details that I didn't record and can't remember.
  • Lorena Buni, Solidarity Officer for Anakbayan Chicago started with a Filipino protest chant that got the audience a little energized, which they needed. Cervantes provided an interesting slide show and presentation, but we had been sitting for awhile in a room with minimal air circulation. We couldn't resist the soporific influence of the air.

    Buni started by mentioning Ferdinand Marcos then also mentioned Rodrigo Duterte. Clicking on those links will take you to their Wikipedia entries, where you will find many horrors that they had and do perform with a large amount of impunity in the Philippines. Duterte even won his last election by bragging about extrajudicial shootings he performed to kill drug users and others who would insult him because of his tribal ethnicity. Law and order, these types of kleptocrats don't need it apparently.

    After mentioning these two most infamous names, Buni provided a bunch of reliable alternative journalistic resources to get up to date and stay up to date on news and their Resistance. Below is a screen capture from their Facebook page of the media list:

    She provided a bunch of numbers about atrocities and showed them on the screen at the front of the room, a lot of numbers. Then she moved onto probably the best part of the forum. Up on the front screen, Buni projected a map of the Philippines that had symbols that showed the locations of natural resources. Most of the resources lay in the south part of the Philippines, not surprising with the uprisings occurring there and the martial law that Duterte has declared. That type of sense doesn't make for valid logic, but where there is smoke, there is fire.

    She also showed a great slide illustrating colonialist neoliberal neomercantilism. Arguably all these three words describe the same thing. Buni explained that the Philippines imports a lot of finished products, while a lot of their raw natural resources get exported out of the country, mostly from and to the United States.

    It benefits the leaders of the Philippines while putting a large burden on the middling and lower classes since much of their work comes from extracting the resources then shipping it out. Workers in the Philippines enter the chain of labor at the bottom, generating the most raw materials, then as those materials move up the chain of labor and become refined into a more usable product, the surplus value/value added of the produccts grows increasingly until the end consumer purchases it, providing the final seller the most value.

    This process sounds great in theory, product value generation as more people work and get paid wages. Problems arise, however, when these workers at the bottom then purchase the final products because they can't purchase that much or many times not any product at all, and they probably put the most physical work and most risk in the whole process obtaining the raw materials to send up the chain of production. All that to get little in return, even when taking into account the local economy where a lot of people get into this situation. How many hours do they have to work attaining a natural resource that makes multiple units of a product, so that they could make enough money to buy one unit of that product?

    A lot of this happens in the Philippines, in Honduras, and many other places in the world because the governments of these countries end up ceding or selling land and resource rights to corporations that originate in more developed countries, a lot of the times companies from the United States and Europe. We can likely include China, Russia, and other large economies, too. A lot of this activity occurs through bribery and corruption with polticians in high positions. They even mentioned Dole as one of the big corporations engaging in this activity, a company that I referenced back in 2012 when discussing how big corporations do major stuff like this in Costa Rica and Central and South America for the huge banana industry.

    Mercantilism, this category of national economic policy, is when a country looks to maximize its profits, through the form of its people laboring, its corporations, and in the modern-day United States, to pay the taxes and pay back debt it has accumulated. The worst part: mercantilism doesn't care what damage it does to people outside of the nation, it only concerns itself with that particular nation.

    During the colonial times of New England, Britain put in a lot of mercantilist laws to restrict trade between New England traders and non-British West Indies. Britain wanted the resources and goods from the colonies. If they weren't going to keep the trade in the British empire through unregulated trade, they would tax and tariff legitimate trading with foreign countries, restricting trade going to other countries and keeping it in Britain, or at least putting money into their coffers from trade going out of the empire.

    This very profitable direct trade, which Britain didn't like, supported slavery, but the British Empire wasn't putting these laws into place to fight slavery. They wanted a cut of the profits, and they didn't want other countries to get it. As all the countries saw it back then (and many insider elites see now), wealth was a zero sum game, the more you had, the less they had; the more they had, the less you had. These laws and acts by Parliament contributed a lot to at least New England pushing for the American Revolution.

    That pretty much sums up colonial mercantilism: gain control of the resources and direct them all back to home to maximize assets and capital, other parties be damned. The politicians and wealthy don't care much about the workers, either. Do whatever is needed to bring that wealth back into their hands. Add neoliberalism, basically let the corporations do all the work outside the mother country but provide them with covert and even military support. If possible, though, let forces of other nations do the dirty work and, if required, invite those forces to the motherland to teach them how to do the dirty work. Do it right, then profits, taxes, and prosperity will come back to the motherland. Who cares about the little people who get in the way? (Sound familiar?)

    The explanations of the neo-mercantilism that Buni provided gripped me, mixed with the questioning that I did here a couple weeks ago, and also my understanding of the British Empire colonial history in America, especially the slave trade and all the ancillary markets that came from it -- all these things bothered me, boiled around in my head, and supported a statement I made on social media some time ago about Marx was right that workers worldwide will need to Resist and discussions during the 2016 Election about outsiders/Progressives needing to resist for the good of the planet and the human race.

    All of this mixing around in my head still bothered me, though. As I had for a long time, I couldn't understand the motivation of the insiders and the controllers of this system. Many of them feed us propaganda about how capitalism and free trade support freedom and prosperity. Small businesses and direct trade would lead to a better world. The fact that at least the US needs people to work and pay taxes to bankroll it seems to contradict these practices. I even put forward the hypothesis that corporations and producers of goods and services need customers, and wouldn't more customers be better than minimal customers, so wouldn't they seek to get more people free, more people to work, and more people producing, so that these people can end up paying more in taxes and buying more products to bankroll the corporations? (But with how much Conservatives in the US hate birth control and push for untrained labor, their Stoic moral code seems to also support their neoliberalism.)

    And based on my questions, feelings, and the elucidation provided by these two presentations, my mind gets pushed closer to reaching my epiphany. Before getting there, though, I need to address John Beacham's part in the forum (coordinator from Answer Chicago -- of this forum or of the organization?).

  • Cervantes and Buni provided a lot of powerful facts and stories about Honduras and Filipino politics and activism that got the gears going in my head. Beacham, however, brought things to a screeching stop. He generated the impression that he didn't listen to or read any of the news since somewhere between the end of the summer of 2017 and the November elections, like he didn't know that marginalized groups created intersectional coalitions in the November elections and the election that put Doug Jones into the Alabama seat left behind by Jeff Sessions.

    Instead, Beacham talked about how the working class in the "Rust Belt" that hold a lot of responsibility for electing [45] into office were very much the same as the workers in Honduras, the Philippines, and other countries outside of the United States. . .and some of the big problems come from not reaching that population. If they could be reached with information provided by Answer, this "Rust Belt" working class could liberate themselves and help make the country and world a better place.

    Beacham also made interesting statements when he compared "small" street gangs with the drug cartels. Beacham argued that the small street gangs committed crimes but not as horrendous as the drug cartels. Also, the drug cartels had influence over governments while "small" street gangs had influence over smaller communities and little interaction with governments.

    Both these claims and comparisons have some element of truth to them, but Beacham made them from a position of privilege. A black journalist in the audience, who I believe also mentioned that he may have had some sort of disability (which didn't seem very apparent by his erudite criticisms), took Beacham to task. The journalist pointed out that:

    • Beacham's "Rust Belt" comment came from a very privileged place, doesn't acknowledge the racism of the "Rust Belt" working class as demonstrated by putting [45] into office (plus surveys that these people valued [45]'s protecting of the heritage and traditions of the US), and fails to acknowledge the experience and importance of other populations in the United States.

    • Beacham failed to acknowledge the history of gangs and that gangs have had, at some points in history (and I wouldn't hesitate that maybe sometimes in the present), positive effects and functions in society. One of those functions included providing community and support systems for alienated populations, especially those in diasporic populations who were marginalized by the majority privileged part of society. The journalist did acknowledge that these gangs can and do cause harm and damage, too.
    I agree with both points of the journalist. Beacham really rubbed me the wrong way. I think he had a good knowledge of events that happened in the past and institutions in the United States that caused evil that has occurred through neoliberal ideologies and actions. Nonetheless, I found frustrating Beacham's criticizing both US intervention in the past and that they're doing nothing now about the corruption and human rights abuses in these other countries (and not just because it seems that the US continues to do some intervention in other countries, including Honduras). I didn't ask verbally, but I wondered to myself how much Beacham (and thus Answer?) had similar motivations as the imperialist, colonialist, neo-liberals, just instead of doing it for money, he would have wanted to impose his own morals and behavior on these other places. For their own good, of course.

    Today, at Women's March Chicago, a friend compared a democratic socialism focused on forming a society through the interests and the guidance of the People against a more Lenin-esque communism following Vanguardism, a revolutionary approach that sees the interest of the Communist Revolutionaries as the only real interest and that anyone disagreeing or blocking the Vanguard Revolutionaries will be crushed.

    I kind of have a feeling that Answer might have twinges of Vanguardism.

    After hearing the journalist give Beacham the run down, Beacham went off on a tirade about how racist the US is these days, and he kept talking about the importance of striking down racism. I kind of have the feeling that Beacham was using racism a little bit as a buzzword without necessarily having checked his privilege and having a fully understanding of it, especially since he focused a lot on the march co-organized by Answer Chicago that will happen tomorrow, "Shut Down Racism, War & Bigotry on 1st Anniv of Trump". Other organizers include:

    I'm not familiar with these two other groups, but they do give cause for second thoughts on the march tomorrow. After the forum last week and some thinking about the presence Beacham had, Answer Chicago has turned me off and made me have little interest in the march tomorrow. I went to the Women's March today instead for very much that reason. I wanted to be around like-minded people that would provide, even if provided by an impersonal mass crowd, some social support and embolden my beliefs in what makes up a good social fabric or at least in my distaste for the current state of the US government and toxic masculinity. Not going tomorrow won't be so much about Answer Chicago, though, it'll be more about having a whole bunch of other things that need doing.
For that reason and to finally post SOMETHING, this post is TO BE CONTINUED. In my next original essay, I discuss the epiphany I had at the end of last weekend that I believe will help emotionally provide a filler argument for my project and will give me an "opponent" to fight in the goal of increasing more emotional attunement in the world.

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