Sunday, 31 October 2021

Oil states as an analog to the United States – and resource rather than settler status as key?

During the 1990s and 2000s, I was extremely aware that the working classes of the United States and Australia were radically different from the powerfully Communist working classes of Europe. The working classes of the United States and Australia, indeed, opposed Communism as anti-Christian.

More recent reading, especially since the 2016 presidential election, has seen a much darker side in that the conservatism of the United States lower class, at least of its white component, is largely or even wholly driven by racism. The fact that, despite massive increases in the wealth of the richest 1 percent, stagnating real wages, and major decreases in religious observance (although they remain much higher than of European workers 150 years ago), poor white Americans are voting for Republicans in larger proportions than they did for Richard Nixon in his 1972 landslide over George McGovern suggests that the role of religion is less marked than I had assumed.

In the 2010s – I think before the Trump victory – I looked online at a book titled Settlers: The Mythology of the White Proletariat by one J. Sakai. “J. Sakai” does not sound like a real name but web searches have failed to find out what his real name actually is. “J. Sakai” argued that the poor white population of America was much more different from the working classes of Europe, East Asia and Latin America than I had presumed previously. He argues that lower-class whites are essentially a petit bourgeois or a “labor aristocracy” and that as settlers they had the same interests as the ruling class.

Whilst I was sceptical of Sakai, I was much less sceptical of Michael Goldfield, who argued and argues that race has always been the mainspring of American politics. A recent article by Mitchell Peterson on medium.com demonstrating the the US is mapped towards a one-party authoritarian regime made me wish to look deeply at this. It is abundantly clear that poor whites are the critical group to reverse increasing income inequality and voter suppression. What I found was an (admittedly outdated, written in January 2010) article by Sebastian Lamb titled ‘J. Sakai’s Settlers and Anti-Racist Working-Class Politics’ which argued that defending the privilege of belonging to the dominant racial group is attractive to lower class whites and promoted constantly by the ruling class as a means of protecting itself. Concurrently the US ruling class invests heavily in making it as difficult as possible for white workers to unite with workers of color. Lamb argues that this emphasis on white supremacy has led to many distinctive traits of US politics and culture.

What Lamb did not discuss, but might, is why the US ruling class has been so much more able to do this than ruling classes in other Enriched nations. I think a relatively simple answer exists:

  1. that the US is vastly richer in natural resources than almost any other Enriched nation
  2. capitalists who own natural resources are uniquely vulnerable to a united lower class because their assets are so physically immovable
  3. ownership of natural resources gives capitalists more financial ability, as well as need, to divide lower classes
I believe that there exists a “hidden” and consistently ignored example elsewhere in the world of an analogous situation to the absence of a socialist party independent of the ruling class in the United States. This being the absence of any democratisation movement in the Gulf oil monarchies (except for an unsuccessful attempt in Baḥrain), as is noted by Sean L. Yom and F. Gregory Gause III in their 2012 ‘Resilient Royals: How Arab Monarchies Hang On’ which emphasises the role oil reserves play in preventing any democratisation movement in most of the oil states. That the United States’ vast and more diverse mineral resources could play an indispensable role in allowing the ruling class to so successfully and consistently divide white workers and workers of color is ignored by Lamb. So is the fact that the Gulf oil monarchies possess similar blood-based caste systems to the white/nonwhite racial classification in the United States. Once one sees this, it actually becomes logical to think that the racial caste system of the United States is more analogous to that of the Gulf Oil monarchies than of India or perhaps even South Africa. Yet writers like Michael Goldfield and Isabel Wilkerson (in Castenever mention the Gulf oil states as a possible comparison to the United States, despite what I have said above.

If we look at the traits noted by Sebastian Lamb that distinguish the United states, and which he notes are due to racism, and then make a comparison with the Gulf States, one can in most cases see possible similarities as the table below shows 

US trait noted by Sebastian Lamb

Comparative Feature in Gulf Oil States

bad jobs

high frequency of low-paying jobs by expatriates in oil states

low pay

low-paying jobs taken by expatriates in oil states

extreme relative scarcity of jobs full stop in states from which oil state expatriates originate

low level of unionization

unions are banned by law in all oil monarchies

the dominance of bureaucratic business unionism

no mass workers’ party organizationally independent of the ruling class

complete absence of movements amongst citizens of oil states for any democratisation

almost no public health care or welfare

exception because segregation is sectorial (public v. private) rather than geographic as in the US

the influence of patriotic nationalism and narrow individualism

extremely strong nationalism is apparent amongst citizen populations in oil states

As the table shows, there is one key difference: the Gulf States do have large public health and welfare systems for their citizen populations. The reason for this difference is that caste segregation takes upon a different form in the oil states from the United States. Whereas in the United States caste segregation takes the form of confining nonwhites to urban ghettoes or impoverished reservations, in the Gulf States segregation takes the form of privileged citizens working in the public sector with much greater security than expatriates who dominate all but the highest positions in the private sector. This is possibly because in the United States the expansion of the public sector coincided with nonwhite civil rights movements. These in turn coincided with imperialist competition with Stalinist Russia that forced a degree of racial reform on the United States to avoid being viewed as a pariah internationally and prevent mass international support for Moscow over Washington.

Despite this difference, it does seem logical to me that the US is politically similar to the Gulf oil states to an extent unrecognised. I even suspect that for the Republican Party and its academic supporters, the oil monarchies may be a political model of “privately owned government” (Hans-Hermann Hoppe) regardless of the powerful anti-Islamic bent of the Republicans.

Even the radical left, as can be seen in Gabriel Kuhn’s 2017 ‘Oppressor and Oppressed Nations: Sketching a Taxonomy of Imperialism’, has failed to consider that the US (and Australia) may be much more critically “resource states” than “settler states”. Of the Gulf States, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are undoubtedly true imperialist nations, as seen in their support for international Islamic terrorism and their ability to blockade greenhouse gas emissions reductions. Kuhn also does not recognise that New Zealand – although a settler state – has much more in common politically and economically with noncolonial European nations or the European periphery (especially Iceland) than with Australia or even perhaps the US.

Sunday, 10 October 2021

‘Rolling Stone’’s Updated 500 Greatest Songs of All Time

  1. Aretha Franklin – ‘Respect’
  2. Public Enemy – ‘Fight the Power’
  3. Sam Cooke – ‘A Change Is Gonna Come’
  4. Bob Dylan – ‘Like a Rolling Stone’
  5. Nirvana – ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’
  6. Marvin Gaye – ‘What’s Going On’
  7. The Beatles – ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’
  8. Missy Elliott – ‘Get Ur Freak On’
  9. Fleetwood Mac – ‘Dreams’
  10. Outkast – ‘Hey Ya!’
  11. The Beach Boys – ‘God Only Knows’
  12. Stevie Wonder – ‘Superstition’
  13. The Rolling Stones – ‘Gimme Shelter’
  14. The Kinks – ‘Waterloo Sunset’
  15. The Beatles – ‘I Want to Hold Your Hand’
  16. Beyoncé feat. Jay-Z – ‘Crazy in Love’
  17. Queen – ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’
  18. Prince and the Revolution – ‘Purple Rain’
  19. John Lennon – ‘Imagine’
  20. Robyn – ‘Dancing on My Own’
  21. Billie Holiday – ‘Strange Fruit’
  22. The Ronettes – ‘Be My Baby’
  23. David Bowie – ‘Heroes’
  24. The Beatles – ‘A Day in the Life’
  25. Kanye West feat. Pusha T – ‘Runaway’
  26. Joni Mitchell – ‘A Case of You’
  27. Bruce Springsteen – ‘Born to Run’
  28. Talking Heads – ‘Once in a Lifetime’
  29. Dr. Dre feat. Snoop Doggy Dogg – ‘Nuthing but a ‘G’ Thang’
  30. Lorde – ‘Royals’
  31. The Rolling Stones – ‘(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction’
  32. Notorious B.I.G. – ‘Juicy’
  33. Chuck Berry – ‘Johnny B. Goode’
  34. James Brown – ‘Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag’
  35. Little Richard – ‘Tutti-Frutti’
  36. The White Stripes – ‘Seven Nation Army’
  37. Prince and the Revolution – ‘When Doves Cry’
  38. Otis Redding – ‘(Sittin’ On) the Dock of the Bay’
  39. Outkast – ‘B.O.B.’
  40. The Jimi Hendrix Experience – ‘All Along the Watchtower’
  41. Joy Division – ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’
  42. Bob Marley and the Wailers – ‘Redemption Song’
  43. The Temptations – ‘My Girl’
  44. Michael Jackson – ‘Billie Jean’
  45. Kendrick Lamar – ‘Alright’
  46. M.I.A. – ‘Paper Planes’
  47. Elton John – ‘Tiny Dancer’
  48. Radiohead – ‘Idioteque’
  49. Lauryn Hill – ‘Doo Wop (That Thing)’
  50. Daddy Yankee – ‘Gasolina’
  51. Dionne Warwick – ‘Walk on By’
  52. Donna Summer – ‘I Feel Love’
  53. The Beach Boys – ‘Good Vibrations’
  54. Smokey Robinson and the Miracles – ‘The Tracks of My Tears’
  55. Madonna – ‘Like a Prayer’
  56. Missy Elliott – ‘Work It’
  57. Sly and the Family Stone – ‘Family Affair’
  58. The Band – ‘The Weight’
  59. Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five – ‘The Message’
  60. Kate Bush – ‘Running Up That Hill’
  61. Led Zeppelin – ‘Stairway to Heaven’
  62. U2 – ‘One’
  63. Dolly Parton – ‘Jolene’
  64. Ramones – ‘Blitzkrieg Bop’
  65. Earth, Wind & Fire – ‘September’
  66. Simon and Garfunkel – ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’
  67. Bob Dylan – ‘Tangled Up in Blue’
  68. Chic – ‘Good Times’
  69. Taylor Swift – ‘All Too Well’
  70. Elvis Presley – ‘Suspicious Minds’
  71. Tracy Chapman – ‘Fast Car’
  72. The Beatles – ‘Yesterday’
  73. Beyoncé – ‘Formation’
  74. Leonard Cohen – ‘Hallelujah’
  75. Pulp – ‘Common People’
  76. Johnny Cash – ‘I Walk the Line’
  77. The Modern Lovers – ‘Roadrunner’
  78. The Four Tops – ‘Reach Out (I’ll Be There)’
  79. Amy Winehouse – ‘Back to Black’
  80. Ray Charles – ‘What’d I Say’
  81. The Velvet Underground – ‘I’m Waiting for the Man’
  82. Adele – ‘Rolling in the Deep’
  83. Bob Dylan – ‘Desolation Row’
  84. Al Green – ‘Let’s Stay Together’
  85. Prince – ‘Kiss’
  86. The Rolling Stones – ‘Tumbling Dice’
  87. LCD Soundsystem – ‘All My Friends’
  88. Guns N’ Roses – ‘Sweet Child O’ Mine’
  89. The Beatles – ‘Hey Jude’
  90. Aretha Franklin – ‘(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman’
  91. UGK feat. Outkast – ‘Int’l Players Anthem (I Choose You)’
  92. Little Richard – ‘Good Golly, Miss Molly’
  93. Kelly Clarkson – ‘Since U Been Gone’
  94. Whitney Houston – ‘I Will Always Love You’
  95. Oasis – ‘Wonderwall’
  96. Jay-Z – ‘99 Problems’
  97. Patti Smith – ‘Gloria’
  98. The Beatles – ‘In My Life’
  99. Bee Gees – ‘Staying Alive’
  100. Daddy Yankee – ‘Gasolina’
  101. Yeah Yeah Yeahs – ‘Maps’
  102. Chuck Berry – ‘Maybelline’
  103. Alanis Morissette – ‘You Oughta Know’
  104. The Jackson 5 – ‘I Want You Back’
  105. David Bowie – ‘Life on Mars?’
  106. The Rolling Stones – ‘Sympathy for the Devil’
  107. Wu-Tang Clan – ‘C.R.E.A.M.’
  108. The Cure – ‘Just Like Heaven’
  109. Sly and the Family Stone – ‘Everyday People’
  110. The Beatles – ‘Something’
  111. Bruce Springsteen – ‘Thunder Road’
  112. R.E.M. – ‘Losing My Religion’
  113. Stevie Wonder – ‘Higher Ground’
  114. Britney Spears – ‘Toxic’
  115. Etta James – ‘At Last’
  116. Rob Base and DJ E-Z Rock – ‘It Takes Two’
  117. Aretha Franklin – ‘I Say a Little Prayer’
  118. Radiohead – ‘Creep’
  119. Marvin Gaye – ‘I Heard It Through the Grapevine’
  120. X-Ray Spex – ‘Oh Bondage! Up Yours!’
  121. The Beatles – ‘Let It Be’
  122. The Impressions – ‘People Get Ready’
  123. Talking Heads – ‘This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody)’
  124. Buddy Holly – ‘That’ll Be the Day’
  125. Sex Pistols – ‘Anarchy in the U.K.’
  126. George Michael – ‘Freedom! ’90’
  127. TLC – ‘Waterfalls’
  128. Led Zeppelin – ‘Whole Lotta Love’
  129. Drake feat. Majid Jordan – ‘Hold On, We’re Going Home’
  130. Martha and the Vandellas – ‘Dancing in the Street’
  131. Ben E. King – ‘Stand by Me’
  132. Eric B. and Rakim – ‘Paid in Full’
  133. Journey – ‘Don’t Stop Believin’’
  134. Tina Turner – ‘What’s Love Got to Do With It’
  135. The Beatles – ‘She Loves You’
  136. Otis Redding – ‘Try a Little Tenderness’
  137. Ariana Grande – ‘Thank U, Next’
  138. Blondie – ‘Heart of Glass’
  139. Madonna – ‘Vogue’
  140. Bob Marley and the Wailers – ‘No Woman No Cry’
  141. Rod Stewart – ‘Maggie May’
  142. George Jones – ‘He Stopped Loving Her Today’
  143. The Clash – ‘London Calling’
  144. The Rolling Stones – ‘Jumping Jack Flash’
  145. Outkast – ‘Ms. Jackson’
  146. James Taylor – ‘Fire and Rain’
  147. Fats Domino – ‘Blueberry Hill’
  148. Led Zeppelin – ‘Kashmir’
  149. Elton John – ‘Rocket Man’
  150. Green Day – ‘Basket Case’
  151. The Shirelles – ‘Will You Love Me Tomorrow’
  152. Creedence Clearwater Revival – ‘Proud Mary’
  153. Rick James – ‘Super Freak’
  154. Howlin’ Wolf – ‘Spoonful’
  155. The Strokes – ‘Last Nite’
  156. The Kingsmen – ‘Louie Louie’
  157. Sonic Youth – ‘Teenage Riot’
  158. The Meters – ‘Cissy Strut’
  159. The Who – ‘Baba O’Riley’
  160. R.E.M. – ‘Nightswimming’
  161. Madonna – ‘Into the Groove’
  162. Nick Drake – ‘Pink Moon’
  163. Fleetwood Mac – ‘Landslide’
  164. Bob Dylan – ‘Mr. Tambourine Man’
  165. Hank Williams – ‘I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry’
  166. Mott the Hoople – ‘All the Young Dudes’
  167. Eminem – ‘Lose Yourself’
  168. Dusty Springfield – ‘Son of a Preacher Man’
  169. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers – ‘American Girl’
  170. The Five Satins – ‘In the Still of the Night’
  171. Louis Armstrong – ‘What a Wonderful World’
  172. Nina Simone – ‘Mississippi Goddam’
  173. Television – ‘Marquee Moon’
  174. R.E.M. – ‘Radio Free Europe’
  175. The Flamingos – ‘I Only Have Eyes for You’
  176. The Kinks – ‘You Really Got Me’
  177. Van Halen – ‘Jump’
  178. Billie Eilish – ‘Bad Guy’
  179. Pink Floyd – ‘Comfortably Numb’
  180. Lou Reed – ‘Walk on the Wild Side’
  181. The Byrds – ‘Eight Miles High’
  182. Simon and Garfunkel – ‘The Sounds of Silence’ 
  183. Stevie Wonder – ‘You Are the Sunshine of My Life’
  184. Sinéad O’Connor – ‘Nothing Compares 2 U’ 
  185. Michael Jackson – ‘Beat It’
  186. The Staple Singers – ‘I’ll Take You There’
  187. Bob Dylan – ‘Subterranean Homesick Blues’
  188. The Jimi Hendrix Experience – ‘Little Wing’
  189. David Bowie – ‘Space Oddity’
  190. N.W.A – ‘[expletive] tha Police’
  191. Bobbie Gentry – ‘Ode to Billie Joe’
  192. Geto Boys – ‘Mind Playing Tricks on Me’
  193. The Rolling Stones – ‘Wild Horses’
  194. PJ Harvey – ‘Rid of Me’
  195. Patsy Cline – ‘Crazy’
  196. James Brown – ‘Get Up (I Feel Like Being A) Sex Machine’
  197. Ann Peebles – ‘I Can’t Stand the Rain’
  198. Marvin Gaye – ‘Sexual Healing’
  199. Aerosmith – ‘Dream On’
  200. David Bowie – ‘Changes’
  201. Johnny Cash – ‘Ring of Fire’
  202. Elton John – ‘Your Song’
  203. Stevie Wonder – ‘Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours’
  204. David Bowie – ‘Young Americans’
  205. Britney Spears – ‘…Baby One More Time’
  206. Glen Campbell – ‘Wichita Lineman’
  207. Rage Against the Machine – ‘Killing in the Name’
  208. Hole – ‘Doll Parts’
  209. Don Henley – ‘Boys of Summer’
  210. Funkadelic – ‘One Nation Under a Groove’
  211. U2 – ‘With or Without You’
  212. Boston – ‘More Than a Feeling’
  213. The Rolling Stones – ‘Paint It, Black’
  214. Steely Dan – ‘Deacon Blues’
  215. Mobb Deep – ‘Shook Ones, Pt. II’
  216. Elvis Presley – ‘Jailhouse Rock’
  217. Stevie Nicks – ‘Edge of Seventeen’
  218. Wilson Pickett – ‘In the Midnight Hour’
  219. Tom Petty – ‘Free Falling’
  220. New Order – ‘Bizarre Love Triangle’
  221. Ike and Tina Turner – ‘River Deep, Mountain High’
  222. David Crosby – ‘Suite: Judy Blue Eyes’
  223. Eminem feat. Dido – ‘Stan’
  224. Derek and the Dominos – ‘Layla’
  225. Joni Mitchell – ‘Both Sides Now’
  226. The Smiths – ‘There Is a Light That Never Goes Out’
  227. Creedence Clearwater Revival – ‘Fortunate Son’
  228. Beyoncé – ‘Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It)’
  229. Woody Guthrie – ‘This Land Is Your Land’
  230. The Byrds – ‘Mr. Tambourine Man’
  231. Whitney Houston – ‘I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me)’
  232. The Who – ‘My Generation’
  233. Deee-Lite – ‘Groove Is in the Heart’
  234. The Supremes – ‘You Keep Me Hanging On’
  235. New Order – ‘Blue Monday’
  236. Bill Withers – ‘Lean on Me’
  237. Hank Williams – ‘Your Cheating Heart’
  238. Aaliyah – ‘Are You That Somebody?’
  239. Big Star – ‘September Gurls’
  240. Backstreet Boys – ‘I Want It That Way’
  241. Digital Underground – ‘The Humpty Dance’
  242. Jerry Lee Lewis – ‘Great Balls of Fire’
  243. The Beatles – ‘Eleanor Rigby’
  244. Pavement – ‘Summer Babe (Winter Version)’
  245. Beastie Boys – ‘Sabotage’
  246. Faces – ‘Ooh La La’
  247. Joni Mitchell – ‘River’
  248. N.W.A – ‘Straight Outta Compton’
  249. Joan Jett – ‘Bad Reputation’
  250. The Jimi Hendrix Experience – ‘Purple Haze’
  251. Gloria Gaynor – ‘I Will Survive’
  252. Parliament – ‘Flash Light’
  253. Willie Nelson – ‘Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain’
  254. The Supremes – ‘Stop! In the Name of Love’
  255. Loretta Lynn – ‘Coal Miner’s Daughter’
  256. Metallica – ‘Master of Puppets’
  257. Martha Reeves and the Vandellas – ‘Heat Wave’
  258. Gil-Scott Heron – ‘The Revolution Will Not Be Televised’
  259. Neil Young – ‘Heart of Gold’
  260. The Wailers – ‘Get Up, Stand Up’
  261. Curtis Mayfield – ‘Pusherman’
  262. Paul Simon – ‘American Tune’
  263. Dolly Parton – ‘Coat of Many Colors’
  264. Marvin Gaye – ‘Let’s Get It On’
  265. The Replacements – ‘Left of the Dial’
  266. Augustus Pablo – ‘King Tubby Meets the Rockers Uptown’
  267. Drake feat. Rihanna – ‘Take Care’
  268. The Isley Brothers – ‘Shout (Parts 1 and 2)’
  269. The Righteous Brothers – ‘Unchained Melody’
  270. Nine Inch Nails – ‘Closer’
  271. Procol Harum – ‘A Whiter Shade of Pale’
  272. Thin Lizzy – ‘The Boys Are Back in Town’
  273. Roberta Flack – ‘Killing Me Softly With His Song’
  274. Al Green – ‘Love and Happiness’
  275. Randy Newman – ‘Sail Away’
  276. Buzzcocks – ‘Ever Fallen in Love (With Someone You Shouldn’t Have)’
  277. Bo Diddley – ‘Bo Diddley’
  278. Toots and the Maytals – ‘Pressure Drop’
  279. Radiohead – ‘Karma Police’
  280. The Beatles – ‘Penny Lane’
  281. Clipse – ‘Grinding’
  282. INXS – ‘Never Tear Us Apart’
  283. Ray Charles – ‘Georgia on My Mind’
  284. Leonard Cohen – ‘Suzanne’
  285. Destiny’s Child – ‘Say My Name’
  286. ABBA – ‘Dancing Queen’
  287. AC/DC – ‘You Shook Me All Night Long’
  288. The Funky 4 + 1 – ‘That’s the Joint’
  289. Bruce Springsteen – ‘Atlantic City’
  290. Usher feat. Lil Jon and Ludacris – ‘Yeah!’
  291. Phil Collins – ‘In the Air Tonight’
  292. A Tribe Called Quest – ‘Can I Kick It?’
  293. Alice Cooper – ‘School’s Out’
  294. The Velvet Underground – ‘Sweet Jane’
  295. The Who – ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again’
  296. Bikini Kill – ‘Rebel Girl’
  297. Beach Boys – ‘Wouldn’t It Be Nice’
  298. Bruce Springsteen – ‘Jungleland’
  299. Screamin’ Jay Hawkins – ‘I Put a Spell on You’
  300. The B-52’s – ‘Rock Lobster’
  301. Bob Seger – ‘Night Moves’
  302. Pink Floyd – ‘Wish You Were Here’
  303. TLC – ‘No Scrubs’
  304. Kraftwerk – ‘Trans-Europe Express’
  305. The Police – ‘Every Breath You Take’
  306. Aretha Franklin – ‘Chain of Fools’
  307. Gnarls Barkley – ‘Crazy’
  308. Liz Phair – ‘Divorce Song’
  309. Bill Withers – ‘Ain’t No Sunshine’
  310. The Doors – ‘Light My Fire’
  311. The Eagles – ‘Hotel California’
  312. Isaac Hayes – ‘Walk on By’
  313. Smokey Robinson and the Miracles – ‘The Tears of a Clown’
  314. The Stooges – ‘I Wanna Be Your Dog’
  315. John Coltrane – ‘Pt. 1-Acknowledgement’
  316. The Shangri-Las – ‘Leader of the Pack’
  317. Bob Dylan – ‘Visions of Johanna’
  318. Big Mama Thornton – ‘Hound Dog’
  319. Tears for Fears – ‘Everybody Wants to Rule the World’
  320. 2Pac – ‘California Love’
  321. U2 – ‘I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For’
  322. Neil Young – ‘After the Gold Rush’
  323. Everly Brothers – ‘All I Have to Do Is Dream’
  324. Billy Joel – ‘Scenes From an Italian Restaurant’
  325. Iggy Pop – ‘Lust for Life’
  326. Rilo Kiley – ‘Portions for Foxes’
  327. Mary J. Blige – ‘Real Love’
  328. Red Hot Chili Peppers – ‘Under the Bridge’
  329. Bad Bunny – ‘Safaera’
  330. The Notorious B.I.G. – ‘Big Poppa’
  331. The Marvelettes – ‘Please Mr. Postman’
  332. Rihanna feat. Jay-Z – ‘Umbrella’
  333. The Temptations – ‘Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone’
  334. The Grateful Dead – ‘Ripple’
  335. Marshall Jefferson – ‘Move Your Body (The House Music Anthem)’
  336. Hall and Oates – ‘She’s Gone’
  337. Cher – ‘Believe’
  338. Black Sabbath – ‘Paranoid’
  339. Prince – ‘1999’
  340. The Clash – ‘(White Man) in Hammersmith Palais’
  341. The Monkees – ‘I’m a Believer’
  342. Chuck Berry – ‘Promised Land’
  343. The Doobie Brothers – ‘What a Fool Believes’
  344. Black Sabbath – ‘Iron Man’
  345. Carole King – ‘It’s Too Late’
  346. BTS – ‘Dynamite’
  347. Elvis Presley – ‘Heartbreak Hotel’
  348. Roxy Music – ‘Virginia Plain’
  349. The Zombies – ‘Time of the Season’
  350. John Prine – ‘Angel From Montgomery’
  351. Jorge Ben – ‘Ponta de Lança Africano (Umbabarauma)’
  352. Ice Cube – ‘It Was a Good Day’
  353. Eurythmics – ‘Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)’
  354. Michael Jackson – ‘Rock With You’
  355. Thelma Houston – ‘Don’t Leave Me This Way’
  356. Cheap Trick – ‘Surrender’
  357. Taylor Swift – ‘Blank Space’
  358. Patti Smith – ‘Because the Night’
  359. Fugees – ‘Killing Me Softly With His Song’
  360. Prince – ‘Little Red Corvette’
  361. Jimmy Cliff – ‘The Harder They Come’
  362. Kacey Musgraves – ‘Merry Go ‘Round’
  363. Bob Marley and the Wailers – ‘Could You Be Loved’
  364. The Grateful Dead – ‘Box of Rain’
  365. Sex Pistols – ‘God Save the Queen’
  366. The Crystals – ‘Da Doo Ron Ron’
  367. Frank Ocean – ‘Thinking ‘Bout You’
  368. Soundgarden – ‘Black Hole Sun’
  369. The Cars – ‘Just What I Needed’
  370. Buddy Holly – ‘Peggy Sue’
  371. Elton John – ‘Bennie and the Jets’
  372. Bonnie Raitt – ‘I Can’t Make You Love Me’
  373. Drake – ‘Hotline Bling’
  374. William DeVaughn – ‘Be Thankful for What You Got’
  375. The Drifters – ‘Up on the Roof’
  376. Merle Haggard – ‘Mama Tried’
  377. The Cure – ‘Pictures of You’
  378. The Killers – ‘Mr. Brightside’
  379. D’Angelo – ‘Untitled (How Does It Feel)’
  380. Fountains of Wayne – ‘Radiation Vibe’
  381. The Slits – ‘Typical Girls’
  382. Fiona Apple – ‘Paper Bag’
  383. Childish Gambino – ‘Redbone’
  384. Cardi B Ft. Bad Bunny & J Balvin – ‘I Like It’
  385. Diana Ross – ‘I’m Coming Out’
  386. The Kinks – ‘Lola’
  387. New York Dolls – ‘Personality Crisis’
  388. DMX – ‘Party Up (Up in Here)’
  389. Pretenders – ‘Brass in Pocket’
  390. Metallica – ‘Enter Sandman’
  391. Eric Church – ‘Springsteen’
  392. Coldplay – ‘Fix You’
  393. James Brown – ‘Say It Loud (I’m Black and I’m Proud)’
  394. Jeff Buckley – ‘Grace’
  395. Afrika Bambaataa and the Soulsonic Force – ‘Planet Rock’
  396. Elvis Costello – ‘Alison’
  397. Public Enemy – ‘Bring the Noise’
  398. Duran Duran – ‘Hungry Like the Wolf’
  399. Sylvester – ‘You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)’
  400. David Bowie – ‘Station to Station’
  401. Fleetwood Mac – ‘Go Your Own Way’
  402. Bill Withers – ‘Lovely Day’
  403. Rufus and Chaka Khan – ‘Ain’t Nobody’
  404. Kiss – ‘Rock and Roll All Nite’
  405. Selena – ‘Amor Prohibido’
  406. Run-DMC – ‘Sucker MC’s’
  407. Lynyrd Skynyrd – ‘Free Bird’
  408. Cat Stevens– ‘Father and Son’
  409. Foo Fighters – ‘Everlong’
  410. Allman Brothers Band – ‘Whipping Post’
  411. Wilco – ‘Heavy Metal Drummer’
  412. Neneh Cherry – ‘Buffalo Stance’
  413. Them – ‘Gloria’
  414. Blondie – ‘Dreaming’
  415. Depeche Mode – ‘Enjoy the Silence’
  416. Pearl Jam – ‘Alive’
  417. Mark Ronson feat. Bruno Mars – ‘Uptown Funk’
  418. Booker T. and the MGs – ‘Green Onions’
  419. Mariah Carey – ‘Fantasy’
  420. The Mamas and the Papas – ‘California Dreaming’
  421. The Smiths – ‘How Soon Is Now?’
  422. Craig Mack featuring Notorious B.I.G. – ‘Flava in Ya Ear (Remix)’
  423. Fiona Apple – ‘Criminal’
  424. Blackstreet feat. Dr. Dre and Queen Pen – ‘No Diggity’
  425. Muddy Waters – ‘Mannish Boy’
  426. Nicki Minaj – ‘Super Bass’
  427. Sugar Hill Gang – ‘Rapper’s Delight’
  428. Harry Styles – ‘Sign of the Times’
  429. Queen and David Bowie – ‘Under Pressure’
  430. Pete Rock and CL Smooth – ‘They Reminisce Over You’
  431. Prince – ‘Adore’
  432. Eddie Cochran – ‘Summertime Blues’
  433. Pet Shop Boys – ‘West End Girls’
  434. Ramones – ‘Sheena Is a Punk Rocker’
  435. Rush – ‘Limelight’
  436. Carly Rae Jepsen – ‘Call Me Maybe’
  437. Lucinda Williams – ‘Passionate Kisses’
  438. Megan Thee Stallion featuring Beyoncé – ‘Savage (Remix)’
  439. Celia Cruz – ‘La Vida Es un Carnaval’
  440. Alicia Keys – ‘If I Ain’t Got You’
  441. Miranda Lambert – ‘The House That Built Me’
  442. Motörhead – ‘Ace of Spades’
  443. Fall Out Boy – ‘Sugar, We’re Going Down’
  444. 50 Cent – ‘In Da Club’
  445. T. Rex – ‘Cosmic Dancer’
  446. Bruce Springsteen – ‘Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)’
  447. The Beatles – ‘Help!’
  448. Erykah Badu – ‘Tyrone’
  449. Blue Öyster Cult – ‘(Don’t Fear) The Reaper’
  450. Neil Young – ‘Powderfinger’
  451. Migos feat. Lil Uzi Vert – ‘Bad and Boujee’
  452. Toto – ‘Africa’
  453. Missy Elliot – ‘The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly)’
  454. Sister Nancy – ‘Bam Bam’
  455. Jefferson Airplane – ‘White Rabbit’
  456. Lana Del Rey – ‘Summertime Sadness’
  457. Bon Jovi – ‘Living on a Prayer’
  458. Beck – ‘Loser’
  459. Sade – ‘No Ordinary Love’
  460. Steel Pulse – ‘Ku Klux Klan’
  461. Roy Orbison – ‘Crying’
  462. Van Morrison – ‘Into the Mystic’
  463. John Lee Hooker – ‘Boom Boom’
  464. Joni Mitchell – ‘Help Me’
  465. Daft Punk feat. Pharrell Williams – ‘Get Lucky’
  466. Luther Vandross – ‘Never Too Much’
  467. Nirvana – ‘Come as You Are’
  468. Mazzy Star – ‘Fade Into You’
  469. Dixie Chicks – ‘Goodbye Earl’
  470. Gladys Knight and the Pips – ‘Midnight Train to Georgia’
  471. The Animals – ‘The House of the Rising Sun’
  472. Peter Gabriel – ‘Solsbury Hill’
  473. Tammy Wynette – ‘Stand by Your Man’
  474. Curtis Mayfield – ‘Move On Up’
  475. Janet Jackson – ‘Rhythm Nation’
  476. Kris Kristofferson – ‘Sunday Morning Comin’ Down’
  477. The Go-Gos – ‘Our Lips Are Sealed’
  478. Juvenile feat. Lil Wayne and Mannie Fresh – ‘Back That Azz Up’
  479. Santana – ‘Oye Como Va’
  480. Biz Markie – ‘Just a Friend’
  481. Robert Johnson – ‘Cross Road Blues’
  482. Lady Gaga – ‘Bad Romance’
  483. The Four Tops – ‘I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch)’
  484. Weezer – ‘Buddy Holly’
  485. Azealia Banks – ‘212’
  486. Lil Wayne – ‘A Milli’
  487. Solange – ‘Cranes in the Sky’
  488. The Weeknd – ‘House of Balloons’
  489. The Breeders – ‘Cannonball’
  490. Lil Nas X – ‘Old Town Road’
  491. Guns N’ Roses – ‘Welcome to the Jungle’
  492. Miles Davis – ‘So What’
  493. The Pixies – ‘Where Is My Mind?’
  494. Cyndi Lauper – ‘Time After Time’
  495. Carly Simon – ‘You’re So Vain’
  496. Harry Nilsson – ‘Without You’
  497. Lizzo – ‘Truth Hurts’
  498. Townes Van Zandt – ‘Pancho and Lefty’
  499. The Supremes – ‘Baby Love’
  500. Kanye West – ‘Stronger’
Taking into account my lack of knowledge of commercial music after the 1994 Republican Revolution – due to both my own dislike and the criticism of the likes of Joe S. Harrington and Piero Scaruffi – there are not many songs I would be likely to include in a “best-of” of my own:
  • #12 – ‘Superstition’ – is a definite exception that I wholeheartedly agree could be almost as high as it is
  • #28 – ‘Once in a Lifetime’ – is also exceptional but its predecessor on Remain in Light – ‘The Great Curve’ – is even better
  • #40 – ‘All Along the Watchtower’ – is another that fully deserves its place here and which I might include myself
  • #60 – ‘Running Up That Hill’ – is truly deserving, although third track ‘The Big Sky’ is even better
  • #61 – ‘Stairway to Heaven’ – is deserving, although ‘The Battle of Evermore’, ‘Four Sticks’ and ‘When the Levee Breaks’ are better to my mind
  • #68 – ‘Good Times’ – I have recently listened to and feel fully deserves its place, although why ‘Le Freak’ is not there at all is a big question
  • #172 – ‘Mississippi Goddamn’ – is probably the greatest civil rights protest song and would have to be on any list I make
  • #358 – ‘Because the Night’ – is a deserved selection but not necessarily the best from its parent album
  • #410 – ‘Whipping Post’ – is an equal must to ‘Superstition’
  • #462 – ‘Into the Mystic’ – I also would have to include, although on a top-10 album probably it would have to be alongside the title tune and several others
  • #210, #235, #289, #371, #468, #495, and Aretha’s several late-1960s and early 1970s songs would also be considerations, and if I thought carefully I could certainly add to this list further
However, what is apparent to me is that it is much more difficult to make a list of best songs than best albums. In many cases, I would certainly have chosen a different song, or one of several different songs, from the same or nearby albums:

Artist

Song

Song(s) I would have included myself

Fleetwood Mac

 ‘Dreams’

‘Rhiannon’

‘Sisters of the Moon’

‘Sara’

 ‘Landslide’

 ‘Go Your Own Way’

Patti Smith

 ‘Gloria’

‘Birdland’

‘Ain’t It Strange’

‘Poppies’

Stevie Wonder

 ‘Higher Ground’

‘Living for the City’

Elton John

 ‘Rocket Man’

‘Honky Cat’

Television

 ‘Marquee Moon’

‘See No Evil’

‘Venus’

‘Friction’

‘Torn Curtain’

‘Foxhole’

Parliament

 ‘Flash Light’

‘Sir Nose D‘Void‘Of Funk’

‘Funkentelechy’

‘Bop Gun (Endangered Species)’

The Police

 ‘Every Breath You Take’

‘Message in a Bottle’

‘Don’t Stand So Close to Me’

‘Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic’

‘Spirits in the Material World’

Steely Dan

 ‘Deacon Blues’ (in my view one of their worst songs)

‘Josie’

‘Black Friday’

‘Hey Nineteen’

‘Glamour Profession’

The Doors

 ‘Light My Fire’

‘Break On Through’

‘Twentieth Century Fox’

‘Alabama Song (Whisky Bar)’

Roxy Music

 ‘Virginia Plain’

‘Do the Strand’

‘Re Make/Re Model’

‘Psalm’

The Slits

 ‘Typical Girls’

‘Spend, Spend, Spend’

‘Shoplifting’

‘Earthbeat’

‘Animal Space/Spacier’

Bruce Springsteen

 ‘Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)’

‘The E Street Shuffle’

‘Kitty’s Back’

These cases really do make me think a lot. The fact that Rolling Stone have so often not chosen what I think of as the best songs on even those albums I would rate most highly really makes me feel that it must be more difficult to list best songs than best albums. I say this despite the fact that I rarely listen non-stop through even what I consider the best albums like MoondanceCountry Life, SpiderlandHejira, The Milk-Eyed Mender, alongside other lesser-known masterpieces. (The lack of full album listens may be influenced by lack of opportunity under record COVID numbers for long periods of non-stop listening as I formerly obtained via extended bus rides).

Even with my knowledge limitations, I am not willing to discredit entirely Rolling Stone’s list, and the possibly greater difficulty might call for more lenience than with their Top 500 Albums.

Monday, 30 August 2021

Is this a verification or not of conventional democratisation theories?

Over recent weeks and months, my brother has consistently said that the middle classes have always been the drivers of democratisation, an idea that contradicts the explicit and implicit viewpoints of both the Trotskyists and the anti-democratic far right. Both have said democratisation is driven by the poor and working classes, differing greatly of course in the evaluation of their intentions – the Trotkyists view democratisation as driven by a lower class fight for justice whereas the anti-democratic far right view it as driven by pure envy.

This morning, however, I found a fourteen-year-old Socialist Worker article (‘What Is Real Democracy?’) that on first sight suggest that my image acquired from Trotskyists of democracy as a product of class struggle by the working classes is not perfectly accurate. Author John Molyneux argues that the roots of modern democracy came from the early entrepreneurs known as burghers (from which we get bourgeoisie) who resented the power of the feudal aristocracy and the royal families. Democracy developed because the new bourgeoisie needed allies amongst the lower classes in order to defeat the old feudal ruling class. Nevertheless, the bourgeoisie rejected even the very limited democracy of universal suffrage, and was only forced to grant it by the pressure of the working classes, although Molyneux argues that there was always some pressure for inclusion of lower classes.

If we look at Molyneux’ assessment, I will first note that pre-Reformation Christianity was intransigently opposed to minimal democracy, as is discussed by Vladimir Moss. Both Catholicism and Orthodoxy viewed democracy as per se atheistic and anarchistic. As Socialist Worker notes here, this view was never challenged until the Radical Reformation. I will next note that Molyneaux never mentions the middle classes as an agent of democratisation in themselves, only noting the urban poor and peasantry as allies of the bourgeoisie. He does not discuss the position of the petit-bourgeoisie in these struggles at all, failing even to note that the petit-bourgeoisie (at least the rural petit-bourgeoisie) possessed the necessary property to vote in the early constitutional oligarchies of Britain and the Netherlands. Nor, critically, does Molyneux discuss the differences between the four struggles which he mentions, especially between the conservative American Revolution and the much more radical French Revolution which actually began as a radical peasant struggle.

So, actually, whilst Molyneux does in some respects challenge the theory that democracy emerged purely and simply out of the struggles of the poor, he does not accept in any way the conventional role of the middle classes in democratisation. Rather, Molyneux, in effect, is arguing that democratisation results from severe elite conflict allowing the mobilisation of the poor. His argument is very incomplete: when he says:

“Increasingly the bourgeoisie came to resent the arbitrary hereditary power of the aristocracy, which they believed to be holding back not only their own advancement but also society as a whole”
he does not discuss why the bourgeoisie resented the aristocracy. The history of many states that have remained authoritarian, especially in the Middle East and East Asia, shows that there is no necessary hostility between the bourgeoisie and the older aristocracy, and that the bourgeoisie can often incorporate itself into an aristocratic government.

For these reasons, it is not true, as I somewhat naïvely thought on first reading, that Socialist Worker accepts the conventional line of the middle classes causing democratisation. Rather, they argue, as Red Flag has more recently, that
“...when a major class struggle breaks out, they [the middle classes] are relatively powerless. Unlike the capitalist class, they don’t decide what happens on a grand scale. Unlike the working class, they can’t usually affect the economy by going on strike, and they have no collective power to create a new, better society.”
and that this powerlessness and that the middle classes can never represent “ordinary, everyday people” is reflected in middle class political history.

The problem of testing and of capitalism – as Victoria moves towards a completely failed lockdown

The past three weeks have been depressing as COVID-19 numbers in Victoria continue to rise without the slightest sign that they will ever fall. Yesterday – a day of reduced testing as is supposedly typical fo weekends – there were 73 cases in the community, and there is not the slightest sign that mystery cases are falling. What is worse still is that there is no academic study of why Victoria’s lockdown has failed, and I am quite suspicious academics attempting to do so will say something politically taboo (as I will discuss later).

It is virtually certain that this lockdown, originally scheduled for a week. is likely to be indefinite and most likely to last for a year or longer, with catastrophic effects on all but the biggest businesses. COVID case numbers are almost certain, as one commentator on Twitter said, to rise far above the present horrific 1,218 seen in New South Wales yesterday. The predicted number by November – when the state came out of a lockdown against a much less contagious COVID variant that was caused like the present one by a negligently prematurely easing restrictions whilst COVID was abundant in the community – is over 2,000 per day. However, with numbers doubling every week or so under restrictions similar to last year, COVID numbers in Victoria would actually reach 23,000 cases per day by the end of October!

Politicians are repetitively saying that the government is doing its best, despite the fact that personal experience says clearly that rules are not being enforced and that there is inadequate effort to test residents as soon as COVID-19 is detected in wastewater. The number of people lying around parks that are supposed to be closed is quite alarming, and what is needed is to have steel fences so that people cannot lie around parks. Reports I have read say that closed parks have been bound with tape and plastic that people can cut in the simplest manner with household scissors!

The belief is that once the supply of vaccines against COVID is improved, then restrictions will be able to be eliminated and businesses return to normal. However, Red Flag (the current version of Socialist Alternative, which I read extensively as a student two decades ago) and the World Socialist Web Site here and here have demonstrated that it is a lie that the government is doing everything possible. The WSWS demonstrate that vaccines will be at best a very short-term solution as increasing resistance and an increasing number of even more virulent and contagious strains means that in a very short time numbers will rise even more rapidly than they are today, at least under imperfectly enforced lockdown measures without full wage payment to all workers. Without full wage payment until COVID is eradicated, it is difficult or impossible for workers to get test before they have spent multiple weeks infectious in the community. Commentators much more conservative than Red Flag or the WSWS have argued that the abolition of Jobkeeper this very month may be an important factor preventing numbers going down.

The WSWS demonstrate that if all resources held by the richest 1 percent were transferred globally to eradication of COVID at a global scale, such eradication could easily be achieved before even more potent, contagious and vaccine-resistant strains emerge. The WSWS demonstrate that there is no way strains even more contagious and potent than the currently dominant Delta will not emerge. As Red Flag said in the aftermath of the Trump victory in 2017, public support for much higher taxes, possibly even for expropriation, of the rich has zero effect on policies that are entirely controlled by business. Red Flag show that the only way the immense majority can have their voices heard is by

“...revolutionary organising centres, where striking workers and mutinying soldiers can coordinate their defiance, robbing our exploiters of the ability to wield economic and political force against us [workers]”
What is clear is that COVID can only be stopped by a complete expropriation of the world’s capitalists – and that without it the world’s poor will face a complete and permanent loss of freedoms taken for granted in nominally democratic countries – most critically freedom to travel and freedom of choice in food and other products. Without expropriation to the final cent of the wealth of the super-rich, and its transfer to pay for essential health for the poor at no cost, the COVID pandemic will never end.

Saturday, 21 August 2021

Wendell Berry's 6 favorite books about environmental protection

Although I have known of Wendell Berry, a controversial though admired farmer and writer from Kentucky’s Henry County, since the 1990s, it is only today when browsing through Front Porch Republic that I discovered this list titled “Wendell Berry's 6 favorite books about environmental protection: the poet and environmental activist recommends inspiring works about how to interact with the land”.
  1. Farmers of Forty Centuries: Organic Farming in China, Korea, and Japan by F. H. King
  2. Tree Crops: A Permanent Agriculture by J. Russell Smith 
  3. An Agricultural Testament by Sir Albert Howard
  4. A Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold
  5. Home Place: Essays on Ecology by Stan Rowe
  6. Nature as Measure: The Selected Essays of Wes Jackson
I find some of the choices especially revealing in a world where the free market directs agriculture to the very countries possessing the oldest, most leached, and most infertile soils alongside the scarcest and most unreliable water resources. As early as 2008 James Kenneth Galbraith in his The Predatory State hinted at the problems posed by specialising in agriculture, although without any consideration of the disadvantages specialisers in agriculture actually have relative to countries with immense comparative disadvantage in agriculture.

The first book on the list, published in 1929 before the “Green Revolution” intensified the Enriched World’s comparative disadvantage in agriculture, illustrates how it is possible to sustain agriculture in favourable climates and young soils. The second illustrates why annual crops are ill-suited outside the Enriched World except in certain Tropical World regions of unusually fertile soils that share the Enriched World’s general agricultural comparative disadvantage. The third, fifth and sixth books appear less interesting, whilst A Sand County Almanac is a familiar American environmental classic which I have never read.

All in all, these books do illustrate the way in which intensive farming was sustained in the Enriched World, which has bene the success of the localist and organic farming movements. Their failure has been to not recognise the ipso facto unsustainability of farming many regions – all of Australia and many parts of Africa, tropical Asia and non-Hispanophone South America – and to campaign for appropriate land uses in these regions. Without appropriate land use and new economies in these regions of almost universal extreme comparative advantage in agriculture, we cannot solve the global ecological crisis.