Occupy Nothing

Ecologism approaches a theory of the whole by reducing “the economy,” the only thing that “the people” are said to care about in our exceptional democracy, to a scientific experiment whose implications lethally undermine its own rationale. For that reason, which is a material as well as an ideological reason, the libertarian, conservative, and capitalist paranoia regarding superficially “market-oriented” or market-imitating measures like cap-and-trade is not paranoia at all. Cap-and-trade would be backdoor socialism to the precise (if likely small) extent it succeeded in achieving its higher purpose, a progressively self-totalizing industrial policy in deteriorating free market costume. Even the premonition of its success would have been as problematic for free economism as the system catastrophe the proposal was intended to help avert. By the same logic, the defenders of 18th Century liberty must remain absolutely – politically, professionally, intellectually, philosophically – committed to a refusal of the absolute concept, to the point of being prepared to annihilate the whole rather than submit to it. In advanced capitalism, we have learned, “the whole is false”; the system produces “rationality of the part processes, irrationality of the whole”: To qualify as an ideologue of the system, or true believing patriot of the nation of production, one must refrain from thinking of the whole, which means refrain from thinking ecologically, from understanding how my freedom eventually costs us all our lives: “Give us liberty, and with it death.” Ecologism and economism must negate each other (as one totality meets another in the respective etymons logos and nomos, perhaps as becoming/what-must-become vs being/what-is): Their absolute if not necessarily remainderless contradiction is equivalent to the absolute if not necessarily remainderless danger: nihilism realized as process of annihilation, as realization finally of nothing. In this way ecologism comes as close to dialectical materialism as positive or bourgeois science can while still remaining positive science, somewhat in the same manner as cognitive science and physics at their limits, where they approach each other asymptotically, but on the level of lived history. Nature itself finally envelops human nature. Proletarian Earth, the working world itself, reveals that it has already staked out the revolutionary absence we workers of the world have never quite managed to occupy.


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    […] CK’s recent post on ecologism resounded deeply with me, specifically his claim that pro-market forces are right to be scared of carbon taxes because their rationale seems to logically point to self-totalized industrial policy.  It reminds me a lot of (right-libertarian) Walter Block’s article in which he argues that everything (including the decision to wear socks) can be characterized as an externality, and therefore there’s no inherent limiting principle to externality-based arguments for regulation: There are any number of external economies, neighborhood effects, spill-overs, benefits to third parties, which  flow from the purchase and use  of supposedly private  goods. Take,  for example, the paradigm case of a private good, socks. First, there is a health question.  People who do not wear socks are liable to colds, sore feet, blisters,  and possibly pneumonia. And sickness means lost days of work and lost production; it means possible contagion (as in the diphtheria case); it may result in rising doctor bills and increased health insurance premiums for other policyholders. Increased demand for doctors’  time and energy will result in reduced medical attention for others. There is, in addition, an aesthetic problem: many people take umbrage at socklessness. Restaurants often forbid  bare feet,  presumably in the  interests of retaining their more sensitive customers. Not wearing socks is also interpreted by some as a  disturbing political statement, like flag or draft-card burning. Many mothers — a third party, if ever there was one — rejoice when their “hip”  sons finally don footwear. That benefits of sock-wearing “spill  over”  to these mothers cannot be  denied. […]

  2. […] CK’s recent post on ecologism resounded deeply with me, specifically his claim that pro-market forces are right to be scared of carbon taxes because their rationale seems to logically point to self-totalized industrial policy.  It reminds me a lot of (right-libertarian) Walter Block’s article in which he argues that everything (including the decision to wear socks) can be characterized as an externality, and therefore there’s no inherent limiting principle to externality-based arguments for regulation: There are any number of external economies, neighborhood effects, spill-overs, benefits to third parties, which  flow from the purchase and use  of supposedly private  goods. Take,  for example, the paradigm case of a private good, socks. First, there is a health question.  People who do not wear socks are liable to colds, sore feet, blisters,  and possibly pneumonia. And sickness means lost days of work and lost production; it means possible contagion (as in the diphtheria case); it may result in rising doctor bills and increased health insurance premiums for other policyholders. Increased demand for doctors’  time and energy will result in reduced medical attention for others. There is, in addition, an aesthetic problem: many people take umbrage at socklessness. Restaurants often forbid  bare feet,  presumably in the  interests of retaining their more sensitive customers. Not wearing socks is also interpreted by some as a  disturbing political statement, like flag or draft-card burning. Many mothers — a third party, if ever there was one — rejoice when their “hip”  sons finally don footwear. That benefits of sock-wearing “spill  over”  to these mothers cannot be  denied. […]

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[E]ven Fox didn’t tout Bartiromo’s big scoops on Trump’s legislative agenda, because 10 months into the Trump presidency, nobody is so foolish as to believe that him saying, “We’re doing a big infrastructure bill,” means that the Trump administration is, in fact, doing a big infrastructure bill. The president just mouths off at turns ignorantly and dishonestly, and nobody pays much attention to it unless he says something unusually inflammatory.On some level, it’s a little bit funny. On another level, Puerto Rico is still languishing in the dark without power (and in many cases without safe drinking water) with no end in sight. Trump is less popular at this point in his administration than any previous president despite a generally benign economic climate, and shows no sign of changing course. Perhaps it will all work out for the best, and someday we’ll look back and chuckle about the time when we had a president who didn’t know anything about anything that was happening and could never be counted on to make coherent, factual statements on any subject. But traditionally, we haven’t elected presidents like that — for what have always seemed like pretty good reasons — and the risks of compounding disaster are still very much out there.

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So, does Mitchell make any money on the work, which has been shared so many times? He uploaded a high-res image of the symbol and granted permission for anyone to use it personally for free. But for those who want to support his work or simply want something readymade, you can also buy T-shirts, sweatshirts, mugs, and journals emblazoned with the symbol through Threadless.“I really just want to spread the image as much as possible and cement it in history,” Mitchell says. “In all honesty, the amount I’ve made from my Threadless shop so far is still less than my hourly rate, so I don’t really see it as a big deal. If you look at my Twitter, half the replies are people wanting to know where they can buy a shirt. Threadless is happy to help them out with that, and so I’m happy to let that happen.”Now that the symbol has flooded our streets and our timelines, Mitchell just has one request: “Impeach this idiot already,” he says.

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This is a Waterloo moment for Trump, the tea party and their alliance. They have been stopped in their tracks not only by Democratic opposition but because of a mutiny within their own ranks. Although never particularly liked or respected, it is now clear that they are no longer feared. The bankruptcy of their ideas and their incompetence have been exposed. Their momentum has been dissipated. Their rejection of political norms has itself been scorned. Our long national nightmare may finally be coming to an end.

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