Radically Inept
Saturday, November 20, 2004
  A post of random thoughts?

Well, not really random thoughts, just disjointed thoughts.

So, what is the goal of this offensive?

I guess I will start with the our Fallujah offensive, Fallujah 101: A history lesson about the town we are currently destroying. -- In These Times. What are we doing? Why are we doing it? Really. I do not understand the purpose of this offensive, especially in light of how we are conducting it from a military or political perspective.

If we are trying to destroy the town - we're not doing so well.
If we are trying to destroy the 'insurgents' - we're not doing so well.

Further, I am not sure I understand the purpose. As I alluded to above, if the idea is to destroy resistance to our occupation in the city of Fallujah, than militarily, we should destroy the city, or at least every single resident, or at least turn them all into slaves, and then kill them by working them to death.

If all we do is fight our way from one side of the city to the other, we will miss many of the enemy, and they will still be there when we've reached the other side. Further, once we are there, are we staying? Are we going to commit 20,000 or so troops to holding and occupying the city? If so, that's 20,000 troops that cannot be used elsewhere.

If we are not staying, what happens when we leave? Well, surely the insurgents who fled will return, and we will have created more insurgents.

Anyway, the point is that I don't understand the purpose of the US offensive in light of how it is being conducted. I fail to see what is accomplished by marching from one side of the city to the other, killing as many insurgents as we find on the way, only to leave the city unoccuppied when we're finished, and yet, I don't believe we can spare the troops to hold the city. Either that, or we need to raize the city to the ground; which of course, does not play well politically.

So, what is the goal of this offensive?

When I read the AJC (I won't bother to link to them - they want to much information to access their info) last Sunday, I was struck by the number of articles on conflict that resulted from religion. I didn't do an actual count, but between the front section, the follow on 'world' section, the metro section and the issue section, I'm sure that 70% of the articles concerning some type of conflict involved religious conflict or resulted from religious differences. Everything from Cobb County's textbook stickers stating that evolution is a theory (wsbradio.com: News Cobb Evolution Stickers Face Court Challenge via ThirdDay.com Message Boards [this could be a strange place, I'm not sure]) and should be considered critically, to the usual reports on Israel/Palestine and the divisions in Iraq. In fact, religion, a belief in the unknowable, is the source of most of mankind's conflicts. Or at least based on a review of newspaper articles. Remember, it was religious values that got Baby Bush re-elected, and has all of us haters of the US and atheists in an up roar.

Jesus would be proud. Mohammad would be proud. Hell, the Aztecs would be proud. So much death and destruction in the names of Gods, I feel like I'm living in the (name your prior century/age here).

What's the point of capitalism if not materialism?

Well, that's where my head is going. For years I've said I was trying to figure out a way to improve our economic system, but that I thought 'capitalism' had a value in the incentives it gave in promoting individual productivity.

I now realize that I was framing the question within the frame. If I wasn't living in a capitalist society, who cares about the incentives for individual productivity? I mean let's face it - free ridership (no Wikipedia info - might be worth a contribution by some of you economists) is not going to play well in a society just trying to survive, or many other societies. In fact, I'll bet many societies find mechanism to deal with free-ridership more effectively than we do. I mean, what has Baby Bush been for most of his adult life? Answer: a free rider. He had accomplished nothing on his own prior to his recent (and maybe not even that) election. And all he is doing, now that he is in a position of power, is squandering and looting the wealth of the nation. Okay, not just by himself, but truly, the wealth our nation is being looted like Vikings on a raid, or hell, so as not to come across racist, the Huns during their expansion.

Anyway, I guess where I am trying to go with this, is, well, 'what is so good about capitalism? And really, we haven't practiced true capitalism since the rise of the rail barons in the late 19th century.

And at the heart of capitalism is materialism, private property, ownership...All things that many other societies did not have, but we taught them.

Okay, one of the impetuses for this section, was watching the Antiques Roadshow on PBS the other night, and wondering why a painting, toy or piece of furniture is worth thousands of dollars? I know, the capitalist response to this question is that an item has the value that the market will bear. But, why does the market value the item in the first place?

Take a painting for example - what is the value of the painting to the viewer vs the owner? If I can view the painting, do I get as much value, non-financial, out of the viewership as the owner? And if I buy said painting, do I pay much attention to it after I have hung it on my wall? Or do I just walk by it on a daily basis on a daily basis, taking no joy in it? I argue for the later, in most cases. Many of the items I have bought in the past for purely aesthetic purposes, I no longer take the time to appreciate the very aesthetic value that I bought. I don't pause on a daily, weekly, monthly or even on an annual basis to derive the pleasure the aesthetics of the object in question are supposed to provide. So, why do I own it? What is its value? Is the value only to be recoupled when I sell it to the next person who derives pleasure from the item, or, more probably, I derive pleasure from you not owning it. Really. The value is in denying you ownership of something that gives you aesthetic pleasure, not any aesthetic pleasure I derive from the object.

In fact, the more I wandered down this line of thinking, the more I realized just how dependent our economy is on me buying something purely so you will admire me for owning it. So you will admire my tastes, and respect my financial capability to own something you can't. Materialism seems to me to be the ultimate system of insecurity. I am not valuable in my own right, so I buy 'valuable' objects in hopes that the objects' values pass on to me the individual. No wonder our society is fucked up.

So, What's the point of capitalism if not materialism?

Enough for now...

Admin Note: I am going through the sites of the people who have linked to me via http://www.truthlaidbear.com. I figure, the people who have found my stuff valuable enough to take the trouble to link to, must be deserving of my attention above those sites that don't. Self-serving I guess, but what other standard whould I base my surfing on?
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