Category Archives: 10. Labor Power is Suppressed

Regime Change is Not Revolution

“”There was no meaningful revolution. It’s former members of the Soviet elite and their kids who are still running the country as we speak. Nothing’s changed for the general populace except that their rights to medical care, education and (shitty, but functioning) housing has been removed. Life expectancy is fucking worse in modern Russia than it was under Communism and yet its seen as progress. Here’s what happened, in a simplistic description:

“Some of the wealthy elite decided that they weren’t getting rich enough in a closed economy. They realized that they could pacify the populace more effectively by stapling up a thin veneer of freedom while they privatized all the state-built infrastructure by way of selling it off to their buddies and simultaneously built an economy designed to do more for lining their pockets than stealing shared internal wealth ever could.

“Then they decided to clean house with the coup. This gave the illusion of distancing future government from the Central Committee and making a fresh start where the abuses of the past were blamed on historical figures, and not the people taking over who just moments ago had been ideological companions of those historical monsters.

“Yay! Communism’s over! We’re going to have elections! We’ll totally be counting the votes but there’s no corruption anymore so you can trust us! We’re going to be free now. ‘Free’ means that you can potentially purchase consumer goods that weren’t designed and manufactured by gibbons, and you can watch sitcoms instead of watching ballet and playing god damn chess. Backpacks for your children with cartoon characters on them, just like your cousin in Toronto has for his kids! Doesn’t that sound fucking sweet?”

“Then when the mic was off, they said “Of course, most of you still aren’t going to have the money to buy anything except turnips, rags and methanol. But a plutocracy’s an easier sell when people can aspire to step over their neighbor’s corpse to join it instead of that ‘we’re all in this together’ bullshit. And we won’t actually provide free speech or free elections. We’re not idiots; the idiots are those grimy people out there. Their lives are going to be virtually unchanged because they’re still going to have jack shit and they’re still going to have to be careful about how loud they complain. Hey guys, who wants an oil refinery?”

“A regime change doesn’t always equal a revolution. A revolution causes a fundamental shift in how government works. The “revolution” in question caused as much change for the ordinary Russian citizen as Bush I taking over for Reagan did for Americans.”

Commenter on a Metafilter discussion about the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Aerosolized Pork Brain and Why You’ll Never Eat SPAM Again


“The symptoms were inconsistent with any known infections, and workers’ families were unaffected, so the disorder didn’t seem to be transmissible by human-to-human contact. Like Lachance, DeVries concluded that the illness had to be an autoimmune response, most likely triggered by something inside the plant. DeVries arranged a site visit for November 28. Accompanied by QPP officials, the MDH team, led by state epidemiologist Ruth Lynfield, progressed down the head table and eventually reached the brain machine. They stood silently for a moment, watching the bursts of air rising into a red cloud, a small amount each time but enough, as it drifted and accumulated, to gradually coat workers at the head table. Lynfield pointed out that nearly all the affected workers were stationed near the brain machine and asked CEO Kelly Wadding, “What do you think is going on?” Wadding reportedly replied, “Let’s stop harvesting brains.”

The Spam Factory’s Dirty Secret, Mother Jones via Metafilter

Very Simple Puzzle Pieces

“There’s something a lot more sinister in this trend. It goes something like this:

  • It’s too expensive to hire Americans locally to do grunt work, because they’re all too proud, and want to improve their lot, so they all get college degrees. And, hiring people with college degrees still comes at a premium.
  • We can outsource, or import uneducated immigrants, but those options have downsides.
  • Hey, why don’t we wage a campaign to start convincing Americans that they shouldn’t go to college at all? Then, we can get even closer to our ideal of a permanent underclass, who we can hire cheaply and locally, by taking people who would have been expensive to hire, and making them cheaper in the long run. It’ll take a while to get there, but we’re good at playing the long game.

Anyone notice how it’s all rich captains of industry who are poo-pooing higher education? You know, the same ones who imploded the economy and are blocking all manner of job recovery by insisting that the deficit is the biggest problem, rather than unemployment? It all fits together like very simple puzzle pieces.”

Commenter on MetaFilter

At a Guess

“At a guess, it will make a subset of random minutiae of everyday life more like Facebook while we continue to change the climate, burn up all our energy without developing any sort of sustainable replacement, turn dwindling supplies of rare earth metals into bullshit lifestyle gadgets that basically serve only to functionally make people be on call at their jobs all the time while socially engaging them in a hollow shared experience of morally and intellectually bankrupt media while isolating them from actual human contact, which will shortly be thrown into a landfill along with an undifferentiated torrent of unsorted solid waste, while we steadily push our population towards a peak of nearly 10 billion, and a tiny population of unimaginably wealthy oligarchs continue to further transform the global economic and political systems to their overwhelming benefit, whilst the majority of those 10 billion slip further into poverty, amongst endemic war, increasingly unreliable access to usable water, and the continued, heedless creation of pesticide resistant pests, herbicide resistant weeds, antibiotic resistant germs? Et fucking cetera?”

Commenter on Metafilter, Internet of Things: how it will change the world.

David Brooks is an Elitist Asshole

“Here’s the crux of what makes their system so admirable in [David Brooks’s] eyes:

‘Britain is also blessed with a functioning political culture. It is dominated by people who live in London and who have often known each other since prep school. This makes it gossipy and often incestuous. But the plusses outweigh the minuses.’

It has long been the supreme fantasy of establishment guardians in general, and David Brooks in particular, that American politics would be dominated by an incestuous, culturally homogeneous, superior elite “who live in [Washington] and who have often known each other since prep school.” And while these establishment guardians love to endlessly masquerade as spokespeople for the Ordinary American, what they most loathe is the interference by the dirty rabble in what should be their exclusive, harmonious club of political stewardship, where conflicts are amicably resolved by ladies and gentlemen of the highest breeding without any messy public conflict. In the wake of the financial crisis of 2008, Brooks fondly recollected that “once, there was a financial elite in this country” — “middle-aged men with names like Mellon and McCloy led Wall Street firms, corporate boards and white-shoe law firms and occasionally emerged to serve in government” — but that glorious “cohesive financial elite began to fall apart” in the 1960s.”

Glenn Greenwald, Salon.com.

Feudal System 2.0

“America is the one place in the western world where, if you profess to liking leisure time, travelling, working-to-live instead of the other way around, you eventually get branded as a lazy do-nothing and, consequently, rarely build up enough years of service at one place to get more than two weeks per year of paid vacation. It’s not enough to put in 10 to 12 hours a day and several hours on a Saturday to be recognized as putting forth the minimum effort to do your job. You have to sacrifice the scant bit of time you get away from your masters promising to work on projects and answering your phone and work email. Combine that with flat salary growth, diminishing benefits, the disappearance of pensions, and essentially what we’re working toward is the feudal system 2.0.”

Commenter on MetaFilter.

Roseanne Barr on the Lack of Change in the TV Industry

“The line was a ridiculously sexist interpretation of what a feminist thinks—something to the effect of “You’re my equal in bed, but that’s it.” … Matt, who was watching from his office, yelled over the loudspeaker, “Say the line as written!” I said, “No, I don’t like the line. I find it repulsive, and my character would not say it.” Matt said, “Yes, she would say it. She’s hot to trot and to get her husband in bed with her, and give it to her like she wants it.” I replied that this was not what she would say or do: “It’s a castrating line that only an idiot would think to write for a real live woman who loves her husband, you cocksucker.” ABC’s lawyers were called in. They stood around the bed while the cameras filmed me saying, very politely, over and over, “Line change, please.”

I made a chart of names and hung them on my dressing-room door; it listed every person who worked on the show, and I put a check next to those I intended to fire when Roseanne became No. 1, which I knew it would.

When the show went to No. 1 in December 1988, ABC sent a chocolate “1” to congratulate me. Guess they figured that would keep the fat lady happy—or maybe they thought I hadn’t heard (along with the world) that male stars with No. 1 shows were given Bentleys and Porsches. So me and George Clooney  took my chocolate prize outside, where I snapped a picture of him hitting it with a baseball bat. I sent that to ABC.

If I could do it all over, I’d sue ABC and Carsey-­Werner under those provisions. Hollywood hates labor, and hates shows about labor worse than any other thing. And that’s why you won’t be seeing another Roseanne anytime soon. Instead, all over the tube, you will find enterprising, overmedicated, painted-up, capitalist whores claiming to be housewives. But I’m not bitter.”

Roseanne Barr on the Lack of Change in the TV Industry, New York Magazine