It’s a very big Internet, so you can be forgiven if you’ve missed David Simon’s absolutely incendiary op ed ‘There are now two Americas. My country is a horror show’ that was published on The Guardian’s website on December 7th. But if you’re reading this sentence, you no longer have an excuse and need to click over to said essay NOW and return here after you’ve read it.
You’ll thank me. Trust me, you’ll be smarter after you’ve read it. Go. Now. If there is anything worth your time, it’s THIS. Who wants to be ignorant? Not you, right?NOW.
In the days since it was published, Simon’s essay has turned into a shot heard ‘round the world. In my opinion it’s the most incredibly articulate, passionately argued, well-thought out meditation on America since, I dunno, something Mark Twain (or Kurt Vonnegut) wrote. I believe David Simon’s words to be of historical importance, that is to say future historians will read his essay in an effort to try to understand HOW the American people let it get THIS BAD and still allowed those responsible to continue to operate exactly as they had before. You’d think the economy crashing might have ushered in some change. And it has: Bad for the common man, but great for the capital-hoarding elites.
As Simon rhetorically asks—I’m paraphrasing here—“How much longer until the entire shithouse goes up in flames?”
David Simon’s words have incredible power. The kind of power that educates people, changes minds and makes them do something. It needs to be passed on and on and on until everyone has read it, even your idiot teabagger Fox News-watching Uncle Dumbshit. Especially him.
If you’ve already read Simon’s piece, what you may not be aware of (and the YouTube views thus far would seem to bear this out) is that the essay is actually an edited version of an extraordinary speech that The Wire creator gave in Australia at the Festival of Dangerous Ideas at the Sydney Opera House. Simon spoke for about 30 minutes and then there was an extended Q&A beyond.
Watch this and then pass it on. On and on and on. He’s not exactly offering much of a prescription here—that’s not his goal—but the diagnosis is spot on…
Federal income tax resister and libertarian author Larken Rose is concerned about the ideological purity of the libertarian community. In the video, he laments fair-weather free-marketers with a wishy washy commitment to orthodox dogma. While the most visible libertarians range from Randian anti-humanists to paleo-conservative rugged individualists to your odd college pot-smoker, I really don’t think any of these archetypes screams “trendy.”
As a socialist, I can’t help but feel a little comradery with Rose, despite our antithetical economic philosophies; he seems like a sweet guy, and it’s frustrating to have your politics constantly misrepresented and misunderstood by the public at large.
At the same time, no offense dude… but I really wouldn’t worry about those libertarian poseurs.
As I hail from a rural agricultural town, I completely understand the political disaffection of country life, and I think a lot of it is merited. Almost no one can make a living on a family farm, and the regions are frequently economically depressed, their problems largely ignored by urbanites. Moreover, that fresh, clean, country air is not always so fresh, since the “not in my backyard” environmental policies in this country meant I grew up around factories. These steel mills intended to bring jobs, though they paid poorly.
That being said, some disaffected country folk are just super-insular, unsophisticated batshit crazy crackpot nutjobs, with no concept of their political or economic relationship to the world around them.
Take, for example, Weld County Commissioner Sean Conway. In early May, Conway attempted to evade state gun control laws, arguing that Weld County law holds more water. Weld County is actually a “home rule” county, meaning they can pass local laws and establish their own internal government structure, but only within the limits of state laws, obviously.
Before that, Conway made a stir pushing for hydrofracking, a gas-drilling technique associated with earthquakes that has left quite a few folks with flammable tap water. He also argued against emissions standards during an undignified appearance on The Scooter McGee Show (whose tagline is “Paranoia IS patriotic,” and show summary is “Is there a New World Order agenda? Can we stop Globalism? Anything goes and all bets are off when it comes to the TRUTH behind the stories of the headlines of the day!”).
More recent attempts to curb oil and gas drilling with green energy programs as substitutes appear to have been the last straw for this great leader of men and his fellow pioneers.
Between environmental regulation and gun control (in addition to what I’m sure is some weird internalized nostalgia for the American “frontier” and/or libertarian isolation fetish) Conway and other CO county commissioners (and including pols from Nebraska) think they have a case to push for secession, not from America, but from Colorado and Nebraska because they don’t believe in the laws. These people want to make their own state. According to Detroit Free Press, “North Colorado” (I can’t believe I just typed that), would take about 7% of Colorado’s overall population, making it the least populous state in the country. The second least populous, Wyoming, would still have 40% more people. It would be, as you might be expect, overwhelmingly white, Republican and have an incredibly low gross domestic product.
What could possibly go wrong?
Below, a local news report on the proposed new state of “North Colorado”—that’s sure some nutty hairpiece Sean Conway’s got, isn’t it?
Excerpted from the much longer “It’s Hip! It’s Cool! It’s Libertarianism!” which was cross-posted today at both Naked Capitalism and The Exiled:
Libertarianism isn’t some cutting-edge political philosophy that somehow transcends the traditional “left to right” spectrum. It’s a radical, hard-right economic doctrine promoted by wealthy people who always end up backing Republican candidates, no matter how often they talk about civil liberties, ending the wars and legalizing pot. Funny how that works.
So what do we get? The libertarian line: “No, no: the problem isn’t that we’re too capitalist. It’s that we’re not capitalist enough!”
At a time in which our society has never been more interdependent in every possible way, libertarians think they’re John fucking Wayne looking out over his ranch with an Apache scalp in his belt, or John fucking Galt doing…whatever it is he does. (Collect vintage desk toys from the Sharper Image?)
Their whole ideology is like a big game of Dungeons & Dragons. It’s all make-believe, except for the chain-mail–they brought that from home. Elves, dwarves and fair maidens for capital. Even with the supposedly “good ones”—anti-war libertarians—we’re still talking about people who think Medicare’s going to lead to Stalinism.
So my advice is to call them out.
Ask them what their beef really is with the welfare state. First, they’ll talk about the deficit and say we just can’t afford entitlement programs. Well, that’s obviously a joke, so move on. Then they’ll say that it gives the government tyrannical power. Okay. Let me know when the Danes open a Guantánamo Bay in Greenland.
Here’s the real reason libertarians hate the idea. The welfare state is a check against servility towards the rich. A strong welfare state would give us the power to say Fuck You to our bosses—this is the power to say “I’m gonna work odd jobs for twenty hours a week while I work on my driftwood sculptures and play keyboards in my a chillwave band. And I’ll still be able to go to the doctor and make rent.”
Sounds like freedom to me.
Read more of Connor Kilpatrick’s “It’s Hip! It’s Cool! It’s Libertarianism!” at either The Exiled or at Naked Capitalism. Trust me it’s a fantastic, totally worthwhile read.
Libertarian Party nominee Gary Johnson’s new advertisement calls out Obama and his hypocritical policies on marijuana. Johnson’s position finds him more in the mainstream of American opinion on the matter than either Obama or Mitt Romney, with over half of the country now favoring reform of cannabis laws
As Johnson and others have pointed out, had Obama been arrested and jailed when he was a smoking pot in his youth, he would not be President today.