Feb. 6th, 2016


Historical background to the Western land wars and Bundy militia

Letter from Nevada -- the Great Republican Land Heist

This Harper's article has good background info on how Western land eventually wound up in the federal government’s hands to begin with, and how little good that ultimately did. It helps to understand what a "tragedy of the commons" is.

They falsified titles using the signatures of cowhands and family members, employed fictitious identities to stake claims, and faked improvements on the land to appear to comply with the law… .

The cattle barons were not cowboys, though they came to veil themselves in the cowboy mythos. They were bankers and lawyers, or mining and timber and railroad tycoons. They dominated territorial legislatures, made governors, kept judges, juries, and lawmen in their pockets. They hired gunmen to terrorize those who dared to encroach on their interests. They drove off small, cash-poor family ranchers by stampeding or rustling their herds, bankrupting them with spurious lawsuits, diverting water courses and springs, fencing off land to monopolize the grass, and, finally, when all else failed, by denouncing the subsistence ranchers as rustlers who should be lynched… .

Overgrazed and underregulated, the public rangelands descended into a spiral of degradation, the grass in ruin, the topsoil eroded by rain or lifted off by the wind. Only in the 1920s did Congress take serious notice. Ferdinand Silcox, the chief forester of the U.S. Forest Service, testified in 1934 that unregulated grazing was "a cancer-like growth." Its necessary end, Silcox said, was "a great interior desert," a vast dust bowl.

… "Nothing in history suggests that the states are adequate to protect their own resources, or even want to, or suggests that cattlemen and sheepmen are capable of regulating themselves even for their own benefit, still less the public's."
– historian Bernard DeVoto

Feb. 3rd, 2016


Just wanna share this with everybody

I've had this jewel in my Favorites list on YouTube for years, but hardly anyone has ever seen it.

Cambrian(Precambrium) -- Bert Anjewierden

Jan. 29th, 2016


What I'm reading on the web at the moment -- on creeping fascism

A Movement of Long Knives

Thesis: that fascism has found its way into many social movements by mutating into unusual forms that seem to find common ground. It then works to influence them. So, what is fascism, really, and why should we always oppose it?

In this, it's similar to what Greer said in Fascism and the Future, Part Three: Weimar America, with his little thought experiment concerning Fred Halliot: "Get over your picture of fascists wearing swastikas stomping down Main Street worshiping Hitler. It won't look anything like that. It'll look like something you want."

I'll never forget the subtle, scary chill I felt the first time I read that, and I realized just how easily the fascism of Halliot would have slipped right through my defenses . . . how I could easily have ended up supporting him. The feeling you get when you learn, only later, just how close a brush with death you had, and were saved only by sheer chance.

So I'm reading this. What can it tell me that Greer didn't in that blog entry?

This shows the next key element of fascism, which is a paleogenic myth about the "true nature" of society. Fascism promises to restore the true order, the heroic history that never was. Fascism outlines a mythology about a particular grouping by suggesting that in the past it was racially homogenous, filled with heroes, perfectly run, and where by people are spiritually fulfilled.

(I've noticed this is a recurrent theme in neopagan fascists' images of "our pagan forefathers": the notion of a a society of "racially pure" people all of one ethnic background, where people really do act like the old legends. Worse yet, they've been known to claim that their pet nation was once like this. There has never been a nation or empire on earth that wasn't multicultural, and in fact the nation-state as we know it today didn't exist until less than a thousand years ago. Before that, at most you had "tribes" -- and even there, kinship was as much fictive as biological.)

Fascism is not defined by its command economics or its anti-capitalism, but by its elitist, hierarchical, racist nationalism and mythology. It's perceived return to the past, its utopian visions of superiority, and its belief in the essential nature of sexual, gender, racial, and social roles.

Nostalgia; essentialism. Those are key ingredients of fascism, not minor details of how the economy is organized. It may mean something that in recent years feminism has moved away from gender essentialism.

More later, if I feel the need.