Sunday, November 13, 2011

Roll over, Frank Miller: Or stop lying about prancing-futile Spartans!

Originally published November 13, 2011… based on earlier, informal postings.

I had a new essay prepared -- balanced and funny -- about Ayn Rand and the film version of her epic novel Atlas Shrugged.  But that can wait, because a few days ago, the famous comic book writer Frank Miller issued a howl of hatred toward the young people in the Occupy Wall Street movement.  After reading even one randomly-chosen paragraph, you'll agree that  "howl" understates the red-hot fury and scatalogical spew of Miller's lavish hate:

Occupy” is nothing but a pack of louts, thieves, and rapists, an unruly mob, fed by Woodstock-era nostalgia and putrid false righteousness. These clowns can do nothing but harm America."


Well, well, putting aside contemporary left-right politics, I've been fuming silently at Frank Miller for a years. The time's come, so get ready for steam!

I'll do it by dissecting - calmly and devastatingly - his most famous and lucrative piece of modern propaganda.  The comic book and movie tale about Spartans at the Battle of Thermopylae.

A tale called - "300."


== Leni Riefenstahl would be proud==

Though I'm not best-known for graphic novels*, I've done a few. I've been sketching out a script about one of the greatest heroes of western civilization - Themistocles - the man who actually defeated Xerxes. the Persian emperor, during his brutal invasion of Greece, after the Spartans failed so miserably at Thermopylae.  In part, this would be an answer to Frank Miller's "300"... a book and film that I find both visually stunning and morally disturbing.

For one thing, "300" gave all credit to the Spartans, extolling them as role models and peerless examples of manhood. Adorably macho defenders of freedom.

Uh, right.  Freedom. Sorry, but the word bears a heavy burden of irony when shouted by Spartans, who maintained one of the worst slave-states ever, treating the vast majority of their people as cattle, routinely quenching their swords in the bodies of poor, brutalized helots... who are never mentioned, even glimpsed, in the romanticized book or movie. Indeed, the very same queen who Frank Miller portrayed as so-earthy, so-kind, was said to be quite brutal with a whip, in real life.

Miller's Spartan warriors honestly and openly conveyed the contempt for civilians that was felt across the ages by all feudal warrior castes. An attitude in sharp contrast to American sympathies, which always used to be about Minuteman farmers and shopkeepers - citizen soldiers - the kind who bravely pick up arms to aid their country, adapting and training under fire. Alas, Frank Miller's book and movie "300" ridiculed that kind of soldier...

...even though the first invasion by Persia, ten years earlier - under Xerxes's father - had been defeated by just such a militia army... from Athens... made up of farmers, clerks, tradesmen, artists and mathematicians. A rabble of ill-disciplined "brawlers" who, after waiting in vain for promised help from Sparta, finally decided to handle the problem alone.

On that fateful day that citizen militia leveled their spears and their thin blue line attacked a professional Persian force many times their number, slaughtering them to the last man on the legendary beach of Marathon.


== The inconvenient truth of Marathon

BattleMarathon2Think about that for a moment. Can you picture it? Damn. Please pause here and Wiki "Marathon." Even better, watch it computer dramatized. Prepare to be amazed there were once such men.  Go on... I'll wait!

Frank Miller rails against effete, pansy-boy militias of amateur, citizen soldiers. But funny thing, none of his Spartan characters ever mentions those events, just a decade earlier! How bakers, potters and poets from Athens - after vanquishing one giant invading army, then ran 26 miles in full armor to face down a second Persian horde and sent it packing, a feat of endurance that gave its name to the modern marathon race. A feat that goes unmatched today. Especially by Spartans.

That Athenian triumph deserves a movie! And believe me, it weighed heavily on the real life Leonidas, ten years later. "300" author Frank Miller portrays the Spartans' preening arrogance in the best possible light, as a kind of endearing tribal machismo. Miller never hints at the underlying reason for Leonidas's rant, a deep current of smoldering shame over how Sparta sat out Marathon, leaving it to Athenian amateurs, like the playwright Aeschylus, to save all of Greece. The "shopkeepers" whom Leonidas outrageously and ungratefully despises in the film.

41lK4RKGI9L._SL500_AA300_With that shame over Marathon fresh in memory, Leonidas was eager to prove Spartan mettle when Persia invaded a second time, even though he could find just three hundred volunteers.  That much, "300" gets right.  Alas, truth is rare in that book and film. Like the notion that Xerxes cared a whit about rustic Sparta in the first place.  Athens was always his chief target. It was the heart of the West.

Even when it comes to the Battle of Thermopylae itself, "300" tells outright lies.  For example, 1,000 Thespians refused to leave their comrades at the end. They stayed in the pass and died next to Leonidas's 300 Spartans.  More shopkeepers. Their valor was inconvenient to Miller's narrative, So he just wrote them out. Worse, he slandered them, depicting them running away.

Oh, remember those helots? As slavemasters, Spartans made the later Romans seem positively goody-two-shoes, by comparison. In his book and movie "300" Frank Miller never shows the two thousand helot luggage-bearers who Leonidas's gang of bullies whipped before them into the pass at Thermopylae, carrying their masters' gear and food and wine and shields.

Where were those slaves during the battle? Why, in the front line! Handed spears but no armor, they slowed down the Persians with their bodies, then made the ground conveniently slippery with their blood. Huh, funny how that got left out! I'm sure it was just an oversight.

== Thermopylae: what was going on in plain view

But the worst slander of all is one of glaring, outrageous omission and tunnel vision. It is what "300" might have shown happening just offstage, simply by turning the camera! Indeed, Leonidas could see it with his own eyes, in plain view throughout the fight, if only he chose to swivel his head.  (Alas, Frank Miller doesn't let him turn, in the comic and film.)

The Athenian navy, hard-pressed and outnumbered, guarding his flank in the nearby Artemisium Straits.  Again, a citizen militia of fishermen, merchants, blacksmiths and philosophers, they too were at Thermopylae! A few miles out to sea, they battled odds no less desperate than Leonidas faced, without the convenient cliff and wall, against vastly superior Persian forces.  Only with this one important difference.

Where Leonidas failed to hold for more than a day or so, the Athenians kept firm!  They only retreated when the Spartans let them down!

The commander of that brave flotilla, Themistocles, is a hero far more in keeping with American traditions.  A Washington-like commander who makes good use of volunteers - plus new technology and brains - to stave off hordes of arrogant, professional conquerors. Less interested in pompous bragging and macho preening, he cared about his men, striving to achieve both victory and survival. He despised "bold gestures." What mattered were results.  Saving his country. His civilization. His men.

And now that you know this, can you believe that Miller and his partners refused to let Leonidas turn his head and witness such a wonderful thing? And maybe give a brief, respectful nod to his allies' epic courage? Don't you feel cheated? You were.

Forced to give way when Leonidas failed to hold a narrow pass, Themistocles and his sailor militia kept up a fighting retreat, survived the burning of their city, (where their dauntless women handled a skillful evacuation)... till they finally drew the vast Persian navy into a trap at a little island called Salamis... glorious Salamis...

...where outnumbered Athenians - and their neighbors - utterly crushed the invading armada, sending Xerxes fleeing for his life.  THAT was what saved Greece, not futile boasting and choreographed prancing on the bluffs of Thermopylae.  (And again, what a movie someone might make out of the true story!)

As for the later land battle at Platea - glorified by the book and film "300" - it was hard-fought tactically. But strategically it wasn't much more than a mopping-up, slaughtering a demoralized and cut-off Persian force that Xerxes had already abandoned. And even at Platea, there were more men from Athens (and Attican towns) than Spartans! And it was Athenians who raced ahead and turned the Persians' flank.

Oh, one more thing about Platea. At the exact moment that Frank Miller portrays the Spartan Dilios taunting and deriding his own allies before a desperate fight -- (yeah, that's likely) -- it happens that simultaneously Themistocles and his fleet of volunteer sailors were also finishing off the rest of the Persian navy, at Mycale. Dig it, the Athenians fought two epic battles on that same, fateful day. The day the West triumphed and survived.  A day worthy of Tolkien and Peter Jackson!  And those are the facts. Live with it Miller.

Do the Spartans at least get credit for commanding Greek armies ashore?  A couple of years after Platea, repelled by Spartan arrogance and brutality, the Greek cities dumped Sparta from any further leadership role as they spent the next thirty years pushing Persia ever further back, expelling them entirely from Europe and liberating enslaved populations. Led by the democratic rabble from Athens.

In other words.  History wasn't at all like the book, or the movie "300." It was much, much better!

== Artistic license? Or goddam evil-batshit lying?

BattleMarathonLook, artists get a lot of leeway. At least in this society of freedom they do. (They sure didn't get any slack in feudal times, dominated by warrior-caste bullies.) Miller and the makers of the 300 flick were entitled to emphasize the Spartans and their martial spirit, even though their brave "sacrifice" at Thermopylae accomplished very little, except to make a fine tale of futile bravado. A three-day delay? We're supposed to be impressed by a three-day delaying action?

Well, okay, that's about equal to Davy Crockett at the Alamo. I'm willing to give credit and always have been! Okay, Leonidas and the brave 300 Spartans (and 1000 Thespians!) deserve a movie. (They've had several.) But please.  This was a small "feat" at best.

Okay, okay. I'll also admit, "300" certainly offered a great excuse for ninety minutes of homoerotic dancing! Hey, I can appreciate the aesthetics, in abstract. It's not especially my thing - and real Spartans did NOT engage in combat that way - still, 300 gets full marks as a lavishly choreographed fight'n'flex number. And for terrific painted-on abs.

But there comes a point when artistic license turns into deliberate, malicious omission.  And then omission becomes blatant, outright-evil lying propaganda. "300" not only crosses that line, it forges into territory that we haven't seen since the propaganda machine of 1930s Germany. White is black.  Black is white. Good is defined by the triumph of will.

I might have just sat and glowered, if they simply omitted the Athenians.  But to sneer at them and call them effeminate cowards?

After Athens' citizen soldiers accomplished epic triumphs the Spartans never imagined and that they would never, ever come remotely close to equaling? At battles whose names still roll off our tongues today? Achieved by the same kind of "cincinnatus" militias that propelled both Republican Rome and the United States to unparalleled heights, during their time of vigor?

The kind of soldiers who make up our U.S. military today! Citizens-first, despite their vaunted professionalism.

 (Historical note: Yes, the Athenians had their faults too! They owned slaves, though far more gently than Sparta. Women had few rights - though the legend of Lysistrata was born there. After they lost Great Pericles, their democracy fell into the kind of populist foolishness that we see in America today, idiotic foreign adventures and callousness toward neighbors. But all of that came later. And at their worst, they kept the basic virtues that are at-issue in this matter of "300"... and in my response. Fierce pride in citizenship.)

No, this is not just artistic license. Expressed repeatedly - with the relentlessness of deliberate, moralizing indoctrination - "300" idolizes the same arrogant contempt for citizenship that eventually ruined classical Greece and Republican Rome, and that might bring the same fate to America.

My own graphic novel "The Life Eaters" never sold as well as Miller's. Heck, that's not my expertise. (Though it was a finalist in France, where they adore the Graphic Novel art form.)  With gorgeous art by Scott Hampton, "The Life Eaters" tells a vivid story of rebellion and resistance to a very Spartan-like oppression. But forget the shameless plug. I'm not competing with Frank Miller on his turf.  I've got plenty-enough turf of my own.

What I do suggest is this: use your own imagination! Picture an answer to "300," told from the point of view of an escaped Spartan helot-slave serving aboard one of Themistocles's ships, staring up at the frenetic death-prancing of his former masters on the cliff of Thermopylae, shaking his head over their futile, macho posturing, then turning to help the amateur fighters of Athens and Miletus and Corinth get on with the real job of saving civilization.

Doing it without boasting -- or painted-on abs -- but with wit, courage, comradeship, skill... and the one thing that matters most. Something Leonidas never came close to achieving.

The only truly indispensable accomplishment. Something that is often best won by citizen soldiers -

- victory.





David Brin
                        http://www.davidbrin.com
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225 comments:

1 – 200 of 225   Newer›   Newest»
Mark said...

I thought 300 was particularly abhorrent with its depiction of disabled, maimed people as evil, 'perfect' bodied people as good.

Frank Miller seems to be bat shit crazy.

Scott Sigler said...

At the very least, I'm watching the riveting program on Marathon. Very rational post, David.

Kennethos said...

Thanks for the link to the Marathon video. I'll have to watch it. Regarding Frank Miller and 300, well, he's a master story-teller, as are you. He's apparently lately taken a right-turn (unlike you). So, divergent viewpoints. Perhaps he took lots of license with 300. That's allowable, and takes nothing away from the history books.
Besides, I'm not seeing a point regarding the OWS protests, which do in fact seem to be a lot of whiny kids complaining about stuff while lenient adults look the other way. The great thing about freedom of speech: Frank Miller can rant all he wants. So can you! I just didn't see any good point in defense of OWS in your post. (Unless you're defending irresponsibility?)

Jesse Hallett said...

I enjoyed this essay - it is great to look at history from all sides. But I am wondering what sources you consulted while putting this together?

From what I understand it is difficult to get a clear picture of what occurred during the Persian invasions since much of the record of that time comes from Herodotus, who is known to have embellished a bit and who was more friendly toward Athens than toward Sparta.

For example, another version of the Battle of Marathon holds that one man, Pheidippides, ran 26 miles to Athens after the battle - not the entire Athenian army. That is actually the version of events that Wikipedia gives in the article on Marathon that you linked to.

Again, from what I understand, it is even more difficult to piece together accurate details of life in Sparta since the people who ended up writing down histories tended to be Athenians. Athens was often at odds with Sparta; and scholars whose sympathies lay with Athens may not have been motivated to portray Spartan culture with strict accuracy. They may not have had much first-hand knowledge of Sparta to begin with.

You are certainly right that Frank Miller's interpretation puts Sparta's military tradition on a high pedestal. Real events cannot have been so glorious. But when you read about Spartans slaughtering their slaves without compunction, well, you might want to keep a grain of salt on hand for that too.

ZarPaulus said...

I realize that Frank Miller was horribly wrong with 300, but he has some points about the OWS kids.

I mean, come on, they're ranting about how the corporations aren't giving them jobs while tweeting on $300 iPhones and Blackberrys made by the big corporations.

Pawel said...

While I agree with pointing out Miller's lack (intentional?) of historical accuracy and his idealizing of rather brutal Spartan slave-masters (if our sources are correct, as Jesse Hallett explains), I would be rather cautious in portraying Athenians only as defenders of freedom, civilization and democracy. The Delian League, an organization of polis that Athens set up to fight with Persians after Xerxes defeat, pretty quickly transformed into de facto Athenian empire. Sure Athenians had democracy, but usually only for themselves - in polis that were members of the League, they often supported pro-athenian oligarchy. If the members want to opt-out Athens' response was usually war - war with Greeks, not with some eastern invaders.

John A Arkansawyer said...

ZarPaulus said: "I mean, come on, they're ranting about how the corporations aren't giving them jobs while tweeting on $300 iPhones and Blackberrys made by the big corporations."

I know. Why, it's almost as bad as complaining about polluted air while continuing to breathe it.

Anonymous said...

Actually, no they aren't ranting about corporations not giving them jobs ZarPaulus, they are ranting about sensible laws being changed over the past 15 years which has resulted in a handful of mega-banks destroying the global economy and being rewarded with tax-payer bailouts which they then gave to their top executives in bonuses for a job well-done. During the same time, corporations were given all of the rights of individuals while holding none of the corresponding responsibilities. This situation has resulted in corporations not being able to give them jobs because the wealth of the entire world has been stolen by the few who lucked into top positions with the right banks. Here is a link to a very well-written and BALANCED article from MSNBC's Bloomberg Business Week: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/45071151/ns/business-us_business/t/occupy-wall-street-its-not-hippie-thing/#.TsBFxj1FuiY
I hope this helps you understand the movement a bit better. It seems to me that spoilt kids would have gone home by now.

Peace,
-Anonymous, here for you-

A, El-Habre said...

@Kennethos Obviously if you've taken the time to go beyond the right-wing hype and conjecture, as well as the demonetization and outright hatred of the young AND old AND military AND veterans who are standing in the OWS crowds, you would know that Mr. Brin is trying to use the Athenian army as a metaphor for those in OWS that Mr. Miller made such a stink about. They are the shopkeepers, the blue collar workers, the students who are attempting to make things better - to fight against a hostile take-over by those who would like to see them slaves. However, I could be totally incorrect in my interpretation...

LarryHart said...

Mark:

Frank Miller seems to be bat shit crazy.


It all started with 9/11. After that, he seemed to go all "You're either with the terrorists or against them". Note how his rant goes against the OWS crowd for "hurting America" and "al-Quaeda is MY enemy but not theirs." He leaps from "protest against the status-quo power structure" to "helping Islamofascists take over America." And in his mind, there's an obvious, straight-line cause and effect connection.

I used to be a fan. Miller's Batman ("The Dark Knight" series of graphic novels) revived the entire superhero genre and led to the recent popularity of that particular hero. I've got every issue of his "Sin City" books of the late 90s. His "Daredevil" for Marvel is second to none on that title, and prefigures "Dark Knight" in many ways. There was a time when I'd scoop up anything with Miller's name on it and devour it in a heartbeat.

But "9/11 changed everything", and not in a good way.

LarryHart said...

By the way, Dr Brin, thanks for the response in defense of OWS against that insanity.

But please, don't let that stop you from getting to the Ayn Rand thing.

As forecast in "Earth", the "dragon vs tiger" meme war for the hearts and minds of humanity really does seem to be shaping up, and the two memes battling it out are Ayn Rand and OWS. The 2012 election seeps to be turning into a major battlefield for that meme war, but the war itself isn't about who becomes president, but which story we as a society end up telling ourselves. Thank goodness for storytellers such as yourself on the good side.

David Brin said...

Kennothos, the OWS kids are feeling their way forward. Why do you resent them, and not the blatant theft of a trillion dollars out of middle class pockets by Wall Street oligarchs?

I'll listen to your gripe if you can show me when, in human history, the "bureaucrats" (and scientists, teachers, doctors, journalists and so on) who are railed against on Fox were EVER the same threat to freedom that oligarchy posed in 99% of human cultures. Go on. Come back in a week and please give us one example. Just one, across 6000 years.

Funny how Fox's message is financed by Saudi princes and mega billionaires... hm... I wonder why oligarchs might want attention shifted toward everyone but themselves!

Jesse Hallet, the persian invasions did not happen in the illiterate bronze age of Homer but in the very literate iron age of the widely published Greek plays. For ciminy's sake, Aeschelus was there at Marathon! We do not only have the testimony of Herodotus. Thucydides knew old guys who had fought in the Persian Wars.

There are records from Persia itself! Not one scholar disputes the story as I generally outlined it. Cripes, the Athenians themselves helped the Spartans put down a huge helot revolt, some years after this, afraid that it might spread to their own (much better treated) slaves. It was not a popular policy move and came back to haunt them.

Sorry. This ain't Troy. It was all well known, in black and white in annals from many nations.

ZarPaulus, your unbelievable hypocrisy is stunning. Do you enjoy being prodded and buggered by the TSA at airports? Guess what, the top 1% evades the TSA entirely. They ride charters and corporate jets and have abandoned First Class, leaving us all to suffer. You shrug over that, but begrudge middle class kids their cell phones!!!!

Get bent.

Pawel, the many faults of the democratic Athenians are well known. I mentioned Corinth and Miletus and other allies. If you want to talk about the mess that happened after Pericles's death, I'll be happy to. But at their very worst, the Athenians were better than the Spartans very best.

Larryhart, I suppose today's Frank Miller may be a "pod person" replacement of the old brilliant one. Same thing happened to George Lucas. The fellow who wrote the civilization loving "Young Indie Jones Chronicles" could not be the same guy who gave us the SW prequels. No way.

Ayn Rand vs OWS?

Hmmmm... Ayn Rand allied with Nehemia Scudder... batshit crazy cult-variats of libertarianism (alas!) allied with would be ayatollahs...

... against Adam Smith and FDR. I put those two together for obvious reasons. The OWS kids have got to understand. They MUST NOT BE LEFTISTS! They must ignore the flakes of the left and realize that CAPITALISM AND FREE MARKET ENTREPRENEURIAL ENTERPRIZE ARE THE CHIEF VICTIMS OF THE RECENT OLIGARCHIC PUTSCH.

Jurjen said...

I'm prepared to cut Miller a generous helping of slack for the absence of historical accuracy in 300 in that the story is narrated by a Spartan soldier named Dilios, who has every reason to "sex it up," exaggerating the role of the Spartans, downplaying everybody else's, making the Persians look more creepy and dangerous than they actually were, etc. In a sense, it's actually quite a good portrayal of how a Spartan would choose to remember the story. Problem is, Miller seems to have forgotten that that's what 300 is, and not a historically accurate depiction of the battle itself.

P.F. Bruns said...

@Jesse Hallett: I would suggest reading the Wikipedia account more closely. It indeed points out the Pheidippides' run was probably embellished if not entirely apocryphal, but it also points out that the Athenian army did march the roughly 25 miles from Marathon to Athens with remarkable speed, considering their encumbrance. At what speed did they march? Dr. Brin indicates it was a run, but even that can mean a great many things. It almost certainly wasn't a sprint, as any marathon runner will tell you that that simply isn't possible at even our current ability to train an unencumbered runner. (Full disclosure: as a runner, I am best suited to handing out water at waypoints. However, marathons are not won at sprinters' speeds.) Moreover, the modern military uses forced, sometimes double-time, marching, over remarkably difficult terrain. I don't know the exact speeds; though when I was required to double-time during boot camp (pretty much any time I had to get from one place to another while not in formation), I was expected to clearly double the speed of a company at a regular march. At that speed, I probably would still have taken a good 8 hours to finish a marathon, which is not an unreasonable pace for fully laden Athenian hoplites.

@ZarPaulus: You're falling into a recently and heavily-laid trap that the mass media are promulgating that Occupy is protesting "the corporations." They're not protesting all corporations, or even most of them. Okay, some people are, but that's because the Occupy movement, like "the corporations," are not monolithic. But the general consensus from the protestors is that they're almost exclusively protesting the banks and financial traders who speculated wildly and crashed the economy, and then compelled government to force taxpayers to pick up the tab.

Apple and RIM (the makers of the BlackBerry) had nothing at all to do with that, unless you have evidence to the contrary. The Occupy movement and its supporters would really like for consumer companies to employ more local labor and pay them fair wages, but that's a different fight. This is specifically about the cheaters who are wiping out people's savings and taking away their homes.

Speaking as a supporter, I think I can reasonably say that we don't care how much money you make. We start caring if you are hurting people to do it.

ZarPaulus said...

Sorry, I was under the impression that nearly all OWS people were unemployed English majors (useless for anything but teaching and journalism), but apparently half of them are employed full time. http://www.fastcompany.com/1789018/occupy-wall-street-demographics-statistics

And seriously, GET BENT?

nolo said...

For those fretting about the historical accuracy of tales of Marathon and Thermopylae, let me say this: What matters is not the historical accuracy of the story, but the story Frank Miller decided to aggrandize. Both in their way are myths, but Miller preferred the fascistic myth. Nuff said.

David Brin said...

Jurien sorry, but your explanation doesn't wash. There were more Athenians (and their close allies) at Platea than Spartans. Dilios would simply manage to incentivize the Athenians to hang back and let the Spartans "prove themselves.

It would have been the stupidest thing possible for him to do, to insult the heroes of Marathon and Artemesium and Salamis

Your excuse is terrible. Miller was preaching an indoctrination at millions of gullible Americans! Look at the message, pounded over and over, to ignore our Cincinnatus tradition and adore feudal lords. Cripes, when a film-maker rants on and on, you gotta dump the "it's only a movie" excuse!

PF Bruns you are cogent. Please come back and be a blog-citizen here. Report to us about the ratio of OWS folks who are true leftists versus moderates who just want parasites taken out of our economy, letting it flourish the way Adam Smith intended.

David Brin said...

ZarPaulius, I apologize. But you must understand. Expect the article of clothing to be adopted by the OWS kids will be a union soldier's blue civil war cap.

Think about that. Then recall that the civil war began in 1851 with rampaging bands of irregular southern cavalry terrorizing northern states. There is similar anger now. Blue America is starting to rise up in defense of science and reason.

Expect more.

LarryHart said...

Jurjen:

I'm prepared to cut Miller a generous helping of slack for the absence of historical accuracy in 300 in that the story is narrated by a Spartan soldier named Dilios, who has every reason to "sex it up," exaggerating the role of the Spartans, downplaying everybody else's, making the Persians look more creepy and dangerous than they actually were, etc. In a sense, it's actually quite a good portrayal of how a Spartan would choose to remember the story. Problem is, Miller seems to have forgotten that that's what "300" is, and not a historically accurate depiction of the battle itself.


"300" the graphic novel (published in 1999 or 2000) may well be exactly as you portray.

"300" the movie (released in...2006, I believe), although an almost shot-for-shot copy of the graphic novel, was intended as something different. It's a too-obvious-for-words metaphor for the authoritarian "freedom-loving" Bush administration against the Persian (ancient Iranian) eastern terrorist. Though the story takes place 400-some years before Christ and a millenium before Mohammed, the movie is clearly meant to portray the Islamofascist threat to Christian civilization, and demands that the audience "take a side."

That's why, while I can still somewhat begrudgingly re-read the graphic novel and get some pleasure out of it, I had to turn the movie off about a third of the way through because I needed a drink and a shower.

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin:

Ayn Rand vs OWS?


The two memes I see fighting it out for supremacy in the present day media are:

* * *

1) Thank God for the wealthy and the corporate. They own the means of survival, and by their grace, they allow us to work for them and earn what pieces they deign to dole out. Without them, we, the inept masses would starve in our dark caves, or worse, be ripe for invasion by Islamofascists.

Anyone who protests the cheating of the wealthy and powerful do so out of envy and spite. They see someone else possessing good stuff, and rather than work for their own good stuff, they want to forcibly confiscate it from the wealthy, not realizing until it is too late that they'd kill the goose which lays everyone's golden eggs.

This is the Ayn Randist view, curiously stripped of her characteristic hatred of all religion, and was almost word-for-word the Nov 2010 acceptance speech of Senator Rand Paul.

* * *

2) The game is rigged! We've got nothing against capitalism per se, and no problem with those like Steve Jobs who attain great wealth by building a better mousetrap. But the present concentration of wealth endangers democracy and the commons itself as campaign funding by the wealthy pays for legislation that rigs the game FOR the wealthy.

We don't protest the rich and powerful because we hate their success, but because they effing CHEAT!

This, whether or not they're fully cognizant of it yet, is the sentiment given voice by OWS. It was the sentiment that got President Obama elected too, but he allowed it to fizzle shortly after November 2008. It hasn't even gotten a fair, non-dismissive HEARING since Reagan's presidency until now.

* * *

I shorten that to a sound byte as "Ayn Rand vs OWS". Not exactly "the dragon or the tiger", but basically the same choice. I have no idea which side will prevail, but at least now there IS a side for me to be on.

Tony Fisk said...

Thanks for the Marathon re-enactment link, David: fascinating. It reminds me of that old film about King Alfred, where the common folk come to save the day against the Danes at the battle of Ethandun (ironically using tactics from a Spartan war manual. I don't claim this to be historically accurate, btw, just an interesting observation!)

Not being familiar with the name, I immediately dismissed Miller as just another trollish rant.

If you follow the tweets from the occupy movement, you'll realise that they're *well* aware of the risks of being hijacked by the socialist left (eg: quotes like 'we're saving capitalism from greed')

What I'm a little more concerned about is their getting obsessed with the outrageous behaviour of some of the constabulary. While most cries of police brutality (and accompanying footage) doesn't really stand up to close inspection, there's plenty that does! It was most recently seen at Berkeley campus, where riot police started laying into occupiers with their batons without any apparent provocation, in broad daylight! An officer (not involved) later explains that 'jabbing with sticks (even with your full body weight behind it?) wasn't necessarily violent'. He also went on to say that swinging is another matter (ahem... there was some of that on display as well).

Chilling to be told 'you have no rights'. Be chilled here.

It's stuff to get anyone fulminating with the 'Oh be wrothful' indignaholic outrage!

The point is, it's a distraction. Occupiers aren't doing what they do to highlight what assholes a few folk in uniform can be (especially the ones who remove their identification: are such still to be considered as LEO's or Spartan imposters?). I think occupiers know that, too. So I'll end with this link instead. (also a bit of biochemical counter-warfare: oxytocin and all that)

flobb: derogatory Spartan term for an Athenian foot soldier (Huh! Guys, help me scrape this flobb off my sandal? Guys? Uh Help?? ono! OMG! Argh! *Tickles*!!)

Anonymous said...

" recall that the civil war began in
1851 with rampaging bands of irregular southern
cavalry terrorizing northern states."

Except that it *really* began when Ohio, etc. financed agitators in other sovereign states...

C'mon, Dr Brin, if you're gonna rail against someone taking license with history, it's only fair that you refrain from doing the same. ;)

Tacitus2 said...

I am not exactly sure why it should matter to me that Frank Miller-none of whose work I have been able to stand for more than five minutes-does not like the OWS protestors.

There are legitimate things to discuss regarding motives and means of OWS, but does the opinion of a guy who makes movies where sweaty people stab each other count for anything much? No, and to be consistent I hold most of the utterances of Angelina Jolie and her ilk to be equally vapid.

When a serious discussion on the subject starts up I will join in. But to say that a moderately successful creep does not like something has no influence on my world in the slightest.

Tacitus

Tony Fisk said...

On the Tiger vs Dragon meme:

Meet Lord Mayor Cr Doyle (an example of Draconis Australis Minor). Don't complain, or else!

minstulo: a fungal hot-pot dish served at cabinet lunches.

Tony Fisk said...

Recent New Scientist: Why Corruption is Normal

It gives results of tests that suggest that we tend to cheat more when we feel more empowered (which might go some way to explaining why power corrupts).

I don't fully buy it. Why *don't* we cheat as a matter of course? What effect would such factors as satiation or empathy have on the outcomes?

rewinn said...

Miller made factual claims ("“Occupy” is nothing but a pack of louts...") that are so obviously false that we have to wonder: why?
The basic content is of a piece with Miller's authoritarian bent; he really does seems to think that we helots need to serve the minority of heroes in order to gain their protection against enemies foreign and domestic. But his presentation undermines his case by larding it with crude falsehoods.
Perhaps, pre-internet 2.0, he could reasonably assume that his claims would be accepted, as the corporate-owned media has no motivation to publicize criticism of corporate rule. Now, however, every kid with an iPhone can broadcast images showing that the 99 percent are a completely normal spectrum of Americans. It must be driving Miller and his political buddies crazy that their control over information is slipping, just as my Catholic Church reacted badly in an earlier era when Gutenberg printing the Bible, and the Soviets were just as harsh to the printers of samizdat.
I have no idea how all this will turn out, but the democratization of information distribution has got to be a huge plus for civilization at large ... and that includes actual free market entities. The best protection against error is criticism, or something like that.
---
I was going to comment on the difficulty Miller and lamestreamcomics in general seem to have adapting to the larger, non-fanboy audience that is actually engaged in real-world issues, but I think Shortpacked beat me to it.

Stefan Jones said...

I love this bit:

"The powerful worry far less about us seeing how bad things are than us speaking up about how good things could get. Cynicism is obedience."

-- Alex Steffan

P.F. Bruns said...

Dr. Brin, I think I just may frame your response to my comment!

Seriously, though, I've always been a very passionate thinker, but taking in some of the increasingly angry dialog taking place on all sides of every issue over the past 20 or so years, I've been learning to work to keep my own emotions at bay, and concentrate on the points I want to make.

Sometimes I forget that, because my instinct is to go right for jabs, wisecracks and insults. I have to remember that just because I treasure both comedy and debate, using one will not advance the other--at least not if I make it personal.

So I feel good that I actually got some points across.

As to reporting on OWS, I am frankly not sure how useful I can be. I can really only report at this point from the standpoint of a working-class dog who doesn't feel secure enough to give up his mediocre job to go down to the front. In addition to worrying about my share of the bills if I lose my job as a phone drone, I'm worried that if I show up on camera, I'll not only wreck my chances of someday becoming a voice actor, but also cost my wife her job.

Yeah, I know, courage is easy on a full stomach, but still.

Nonetheless, I think there's a HUGE amount of common ground on this very blog post you have made (though, like Mr. Hart, I really hope to read your take on Ayn Rand very soon), even among people who disagree about some particular elements of the overall debate.

ZarPaulus, I was particularly heartened by your discovery of the FastCompany chart. I'm just really hoping that people don't read too much emotionally into the demographics on education and gender.

David Brin said...

Anonymous said "Except that it *really* began when Ohio, etc. financed agitators in other sovereign states..."

And I defy you direct. Back up this assertion. SHow that official Ohioan policies, backed by the population, resulted in assaults on the sovereignty and rights of people elsewhere, breaking down doors, backed by US Marshals and federal troops, because that's what southern states did up north in 1851 and beyond.

I can back my assertion up with HUNDREDS of individual cases. Can you? feh!

Jonathan S. said...

You know, on a quick review of Miller's Dark Knight, it seems this tendency toward far-right authoritarianism isn't really all that new. Consider that the villains of the piece, aside from Two-Face and the Joker, are those "bleeding-heart liberals" who first drove the heroes into hiding, and who are simultaneously calling for the arrest of the Batman as a bad influence on society and the release of the Joker from prison on humanitarian grounds. (The "respected psychologist" leading the charge on both fronts also appears to be a Freudian - a school of thought long disregarded, if not entirely discredited, in mainstream psychology.)

Meanwhile, all the worst, most fascistic tendencies of the Batman, the ones he works hardest to control in the comics, are extolled, presented as his virtues rather than his faults. Of course the courts are unreliable - since not everyone who goes before the bench heads straight to prison, the justice system has obviously been corrupted by lefty liberal commies! We need the Batman to casually disregard the rights of everyone, victim and criminal alike, or else the streets will be overrun with violent youth gangs straight out of A Clockwork Orange!

Yeah, Frank Miller's been batshit crazy for a while now...

Greg said...

As silly as '300' could be made to seem, going off on it is still nothing but a very involved ad-hom.

David Brin said...

And Greg, if your life depended on it, you could not possibly paraphrase my arguments, proving that you skimmed maybe two paragraphs before writing that absurd "statement."

Rob said...

I think the only thing I could say about this is that I fell asleep during '300'. Yeah, it was *that good*.

Tony Fisk said...

I had a new essay prepared -- balanced and funny -- about Ayn Rand and the film version of her epic novel Atlas Shrugged.

It seems the delay was serendipitious, because the DVD has been recalled. Here's why!!

gmoke said...

#OWS isn't just kids. There are quite a lot of older people participating.

When I visited Zuccotti Park in October, there was at least one woman with a PhD in biology handed out her resume as part of her protest. There are a lot of people there who are looking and ready for work.

#Occupy is part of a world-wide movement against corporate globalism and for person-to-person globalism that started with the self-immolation of Mohammed Bouazizi in Tunisia last December. It includes the Spanish indignados who occupied the squares of major cities all over Spain last Spring and are now bringing their grievances to the EU Parliament and the anti-police violence marchers in 40 cities in Brazil last summer as well as the anti-gang violence protesters in Mexico.

Everywhere people around the world are saying enough is enough. They want justice and a fighting chance and an end to a corrupt system where the wealthy and connected can get away with wholesale theft, child rape (Jerry Sandusky), and even murder.

The rule of law is now a radical statement. #OWS wants, simply, the laws to apply equally to everybody.

At least, that's my reading of the situation after visiting the occupations at Wall Street, Boston, and Providence RI.

Paul451 said...

Anonymous,
"Except that it *really* began when Ohio, etc. financed agitators in other sovereign states..."

Politically campaigning against slavery is the moral equivalent of sending armed raiding parties over the border to kidnap people from neighbouring towns and sell them into slavery (on the grounds that they may have "escaped" 20 years earlier)?

Seriously?

I doubt you believe that. Hell, I doubt they believed that.

(biasym: Bilateral asymmetry. "One of these is not like the other.")

ndgmtlcd said...

A few years ago I felt I should tell all those US "Christians" who were cheering 300 when it came out that the Persians were monotheists, like them, while the Greeks were a bunch of pagan idolaters.

I feel the same now. The Persians were not just any monotheists but amazingly tolerant monotheists for that era. The official religion of the empire was single-god Zoroastrianism but they tolerated all of the religions of their multinational empire whether they were Jewish religions or Egyptian religions or even the Greek religions of their allied/subject Greek states of the islands and the Ionian coast. They required tribute, not conformity. In contrast the Greeks often massacred or enslaved anyone who was not like them and the Athenian "democracy" was limited to a tiny minority who actually voted only when the time came to ostracize somebody.

credit repair help said...

If Atlas Shrugged were required reading for every member of Congress and the Obama administration, the current financial mess would end.

duncan cairncross said...

"If Atlas Shrugged were required reading for every member of Congress and the Obama administration, the current financial mess would end."

Only if it was the annotated version with all of the falsity highlighted otherwise some of the dumber politicians might believe it was sensible.

Michael McClung said...

"If Atlas Shrugged were required reading for every member of Congress and the Obama administration, the current financial mess would end."

I bet you believe in homeopathy, too.

Ian said...

"The Delian League, an organization of polis that Athens set up to fight with Persians after Xerxes defeat, pretty quickly transformed into de facto Athenian empire. Sure Athenians had democracy, but usually only for themselves - in polis that were members of the League, they often supported pro-athenian oligarchy. If the members want to opt-out Athens' response was usually war - war with Greeks, not with some eastern invaders."

Not to mention that the Persian WArs started when the Persians intevened in a Greek city in Asia minor (which had been a Lydian tributary until the Persans were attacked by the Lydians who they then defeated)to remove a tyrant who had siezed power there and restore the previous democracy.

The Persians really didn;t care how their tributaries ran their internal affairs so long as they paid their taxes.

Mike Beckett said...

Thank you David I enjoyed your analysis and it made me think which is the result I hope for when reading blogs!

Ian said...

"It all started with 9/11. After that, he seemed to go all "You're either with the terrorists or against them"."

Which, of course, didn't stop him from palling around with IRA-supporter Micky Rourke on the set of Sin City.

DemetriosX said...

While I'm in near complete agreement with your basic argument, I fear I must quibble with your depiction of Thermopylae, Artemisium and Plataea.

Thermopylae itself was never intended to be more than a holding action and they did hold for closer to three or four days than the one day you credit them with. And they might well have held longer if a secondary route had not been betrayed. You are absolutely right about the other forces who stayed (although the main group were Thespians, not Artemisians and there was also a group of Thebans who weren't allowed to leave because no one trusted them). But there had been other troops there as well. They were sent away in order to keep the losses to a minimum, leaving as large an army as possible to fight the actual invasion. More importantly, the reason there was a battle at Thermopylae at all is due to Themistocles! The Peloponnesians wanted to fight at the Isthmus, even before the Persians arrived. It was Themistocles who convinced the Greeks that doing so would give the Persians too much momentum. Of course, he had to do it all over again later, but that's another story.

Artemisium was largely a draw, though the Persian fleet suffered heavy losses mostly due to weather. The main benefit was that the Greeks learned that they were better than the Persians in a confined space, rather than the open sea. That made Salamis the next obvious site for a naval confrontation. Had they tried to face down the Persians in the more open waters of the Saronic Gulf, the Persians could easily have sailed around them to land troops in the Peloponnese.

Plataea was a heck of a lot more important than just a mopping up. The Persians were neither dispirited nor starving by any account I've read. Xerxes' departure wasn't much more important than the picnickers at Bull Run deciding that an outing to view the battle maybe wasn't such a good idea. There may have been more Athenians than Spartans there, but that's more because there were more Athenians period. And the Spartans played a very important role anchoring the line, thus allowing the Athenians to maneuver.

Finally, 1) I'm curious about your source that Gorgo was "brutal with a whip". She's usually shown to have been tremendously smart and nothing more. And 2) it's Aeschylus (or Aiskhylos if you're feeling academic).

But yeah, Frank Miller needs a kick in the fork or to be tied in a sack with Victor Davis Hanson and rolled down a steep hill.

Pat Mathews said...

David, the difference between those who believe in the values of the warrior aristocracy and those who believe in the values of the marketplace, the agora, was very neatly outlined by Jane Jacobs in "Systems of Survival", a book I found most enlightening. The emotional gap seems to run as deep as a major earthquake fault.

(The one fault of the system of the agora is that it too readily falls into the idea that everything is for sale. And don't get me started on how the Late Modern "Crush the Bourgeoisie" movement helped undermine the agora system; Mike Flynn tried to cover that in a single hour at Worldcon this past year.)

Anyway, I seriously think that only rarely shall the twain ever meet in the hearts of men. Sigh. (Cue up soundtrack from The Shadow.)

Tony Fisk said...

Why are we discussing a vilifying sad man like Miller anyway?

Then I saw the local ad for 'Immortals' (from the producers of '300')

Ian said...

David, I think an even better countepart to 300 would be the story of Epaminondas, The school teacher who finally defeated Sparta.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epaminondas

François Marcadé said...

I got interested in Sparta a long time ago, long before it was cool (~ 78) I was given presentation on Sparta as an assignment at school, later I choose a Spartan Army for my first miniature wargame tournament. I think you are too harsh with the historical Spartans, not with Miller’s 300.

Before Leonidas, the Helots were considered luckier than slaves because they were property of the city and not subject to the whims of a master. They were more serfs than slaves. Furthermore there was a path to citizenship open for them. They could serve as auxiliary in the Spartan army and they were recognize for their bravery, their sons would be accepted to the gymnasium and trained to be Hoplite and therefore citizen. I am not saying that being an auxiliary was easy, they were skirmishers, light infantry no armor (although the army lists I had allowed Javelin + Shield or Sling + shield) and with the mission the harass the opposing Heavy infantry until they contacted the Spartan Hoplites. All Antique armies had skirmishers; the Athenian skirmishers were either citizens to poor to buy the Hoplite kit or mercenary from poorer city.

Further Leonidas was the honorable man; he went to Thermopylae with only its personal guard because king was mainly an honorific position and the real power was with a war veteran council (the Geronts? I think) . The Geronts were reneging on their alliance against Persia; probably they expected Xerxes to solve for them their Athenian problem. They were delaying sending an army because of some religious festival. Either Leonidas tried to shame the Geronts into keeping their word, or maybe the Geronts sent him to edge their bets. In any case his sacrifice allowed Sparta to be counted among the victors.

Afterward things went much more wrong, as you told the Spartan were ashamed by the success of the Athenian. The Spartan’s (the Geronts?) answer was not to get inspired by Athens but to blame it on the lack of purity of the Spartan spirit. No more new blood in the Citizen rank, the Helots became Training target for the young Spartan Hoplites. Of course without renewal and waging war, the rank of the real citizen became thinner and thinner, more paranoid and they became the caricature of the Pre-leonidas Spartan 300 shows (although has far as I know they were never stupid enough to fight without pectoral armor). It is interesting that the same person that idolizes the paranoid warriors of the Spartan decadence thinks that Al-Qaeda is still the worst enemy in 2011.

Anonymous said...

As a national champion of the JCL, I applaud your dissection of Miller's trashy book and movie. As a former Marvel employee, I soundly condemn Miller as the backstabbing creep and puny little dork that he is. Ask him how he stole his "style" from the Japanese comics shown him by the girlfriend he dumped as soon as he made big bucks. See how he took credit for other people's work and contributions. Take a gander at his laughable physique. Wonder at the pathology hiding in his closet when you consider the homoerotic nature of "300" and his other junk. He IS batshit crazy, boys.

Anonymous said...

As a former national champion of the JCL, I applaud your condemnation of Miller's trashy, ignorant book and film. As a former Marvel employee, I condemn this squalid, puny little dork with delusions of grandeur.
He stole his "style" from Japanese comics shown him by a girlfriend he betrayed and dumped as soon as he made big bucks. He stands on other people's accomplishments as if they were his own. He is a physically ridiculous specimen, the opposite of his homoerotic fantasy figures. He is and always has been batshit crazy and it's about time someone noticed.

LarryHart said...

Johnathan S:

You know, on a quick review of Miller's Dark Knight, it seems this tendency toward far-right authoritarianism isn't really all that new. Consider that the villains of the piece, aside from Two-Face and the Joker, are those "bleeding-heart liberals" who first drove the heroes into hiding, ...

Meanwhile, all the worst, most fascistic tendencies of the Batman, the ones he works hardest to control in the comics, are extolled, presented as his virtues rather than his faults. ...We need the Batman to casually disregard the rights of everyone, victim and criminal alike, or else the streets will be overrun with violent youth gangs straight out of A Clockwork Orange!


That WAS there, but it wasn't so one-sided. Recall the way Superman was presented as a stooge for the corrput old guys in the miliary. "Clark, you idiot! You let them do it. I always knew you would."

Also remember the role of Green Arrow. He was the anti-Superman, the flaming lefty, and while he was presented as slightly insane, he wasn't a "bad guy" in the story. He was on Batman's side AGAINST the fascist Superman.


Yeah, Frank Miller's been batshit crazy for a while now...


Again, maybe, but he used to be a crazy rebel who does things his own way rather than the expected way. Now, he's just a one-issue authoritarian.

To Tacitus's point--why should it matter? I guess because I was a fan once.

Kip W said...

The comment from "credit repair help" is particularly amusing in that it's a comment spam from some online scammer looking to lure fools to spend money trying to recover from previous bad decisions. Who better to defend Atlas Shrugged from the harsh light of information?

I don't suppose it's possible to munge the link to the web site, is it? The comment itself should stand as a monument to Objectivism. Although the movie, and those peiking off to Rand's Mary Sue avatar, are a monument already.

rewinn said...

Does Miller's faction thinks Longfellow should have written:

"By the rude bridge that arched the flood,
Their flag to April's breeze unfurled,
Here once th'embattled farmers begged
A superhero to come and save the world"

... ?

---

Compare The Dark Knight to Hellboy or Powers. All three have flawed heros battling bad guys, but only the latter have character and plot.

Carl M. said...

"300" the Che Guevera T shirt for Republicans

Alan said...

I am one of the few who sees the common ground between OWS and Tea Party as more important than the differences, but even so - if the Tea Party is analogous to the Patriots who formed the troops of the line, then OWS is analogous to the mob that attacked the British troops in Boston.

That said, Brin is playing loose with the facts in his description of the Spartans at Thermopylae. The troops that failed were not Spartans but Phocians, the delay was not one day but one week, including over two days of constant combat, the willing sacrifice was neither vain nor hopeless but a rearguard action to allow about 3000 other Greek soldiers escape to fight another day, and the contingent that most deserves glory is neither the Athenians nor the Spartans, but the 700 Thespians who represented almost the entire military force of their city, and voluntarily fought to the death while the Thebans surrendered - the Thespians, who were ordinary citizen-soldiers from a city that worshiped Eros.

About Thermopylae.

Tacitus2 said...

Many features of #OWS mimic the protests in Madison last spring, so I assume-from my rural and uninvolved perch-that there are common elements. Back then there was a core of idealists, surrounded by a larger group of self interested public employees, and accompanied by a still larger group that was "into" a sort of 60's chic thing. This latter group were more historical re-enactors than anything else.

Something of the same makeup at OWS, with the wrinkle of the self interested being not public employees but homeless folks.

I am mostly OK with this, First Amendment and all.

But I worry not about what a political movement is in its early stages but what it might evolve into.

Consider a political movement that evolves in the political paralysis of _______

In addition to assorted troublemakers it contains honest citizens with a legitimate grievance against the economic hardships imposed by _________

Although claiming to be the voice of the people, in fact there are other forces in society that are also energized. Violence naturally flares when _________ are encountered in the streets.

Police and government officials are exhorted to "join us" as we take back what is rightfully ours from ___________

When OWS can demonstrate that it has purged itself of elements that would be the equivalent of
1.The Weimar republic 2. The Treaty of Versailles 3. The wicked Communists and 4. The money hoarding Juden
I will be more comfortable with their legitmate concerns about Wall Street.

Disregard for the law is not chic or thuggish depending on your political orientation. It is what it is. (I would make some exceptions for genuine peaceful civil disobedience in rare cases)

Tacitus

LarryHart said...

Tacitus2:

Disregard for the law is not chic or thuggish depending on your political orientation. It is what it is.


But the thing is, who exactly is disregarding the law? The protestors or the police?


Amendment 1:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.


And before you say that this applies only to federal law...


Amendment 14:

1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.


As to your concern about the OWS movement becoming a Nazi putsch, maybe it's just the different places we sit, but I see it much, much more likely that the Tea Party goes in that direction. The cheering for the idea of letting an uninsured man die, the verbal and physical abuse of a disabled veteran...the frenzy that that group goes into at the smell of any red meat. Can you point to any non-hypothetical examples of similar tendencies on the OWS side of things?

bradhawks5 said...

First I'd like to thank Mr. Brin for a new mantra. "Militant, Pragmatic Moderation!"

Second I'm very glad that I wasn't the only one who saw the absurdity of the Spartan battle cry of "Freedom!" in 300. And the impossibility of a society composed entirely of soldiers (as Miller would have us believe by ignoring the Helots). Farmers, builders, and thinkers create a society, soldiers defend it. The myopic idolatry of "The soldier" in 300 really is bordering on comical. And any Spartan idiot enough to go into battle without his breastplate would have been cast out to die.

Although I think Mr. Brin is a little harsh on Spartans and generous with the Athenians, as others have already ably detailed this I won't. Spartans did have their good moments and some fascinating philosophical thinking.

As Per the analogies to our society, I recall an article I read a while ago (can't remember who to give credit to) about the contrast in philosophy between Star Trek and Star Wars. The collective group striving for a better future vs. the highborn powerful fighting each other for supremacy.

Unfortunately I think we find ourselves in just such a separation of philosophies today. The OWS in a very real sense are the foot soldiers trying to fight back against the tyranny of corrupt mega corporations. I wish I could figure out a way that I could really be of help to them while selfishly protecting my own moderate family and means. I had been considering going down to offer my help with food or such as I could, until the local group was arrested.

It does not surprise me at all that the media and extremists like Miller are attacking the OWS as unwashed hippies and extremists. If people started listening to their genuine message then more people might start turning against those who are oppressing them. I also find it fascinating that the Tea Party sympathizers are largely being turned against the OWS when they have a great deal of common ground and should be trying to join forces (just goes to show that the Tea Party has probably been irreparably hijacked).

"Militant, Pragmatic Moderation"
-- David Brin

Misanthropic Meanderings said...

Not gonna lie, I adore Frank Miller's comic books. But, I had huge problems with the jumbling of facts, the depiction of minorities, ignorance of Spartan culture, etc etc etc. Sorry to see that he truly means the dystopic, fascistic (yeah, I said it) mind set along with a healthy dose of armchair warrior fapping (yeah, I said that too). This take down is a thing of glorious beauty.

Robert said...

I enjoyed your blow-up against Miller; it's a real shame to see the author of "The Dark Knight Returns" turn into a robotic Bushite hysteric. A real waste of talent.

I'm looking forward to your post about Ayn Rand. She almost certainly would despise OWS, and zero in on the leftist component without checking on who else was there. But... What would she have to say about clowns who drove Wall Street into the ground without suffering the consequences, enjoying a taxpayer guarantee the whole time? About the Tea Parties? About the religious fanatics? And, God forbid, the Saudis? She, at least, had a clear view of the Old Lords and despised them. In the present situation she would probably attack all the parties. She was not for wealth as such, but for wealth that was truly earned by real entrepreneurs who had to produce goods that others bought voluntarily, with no deceit or coercion involved. So, if you want to contrast Rand vs. OWS, go for the best in both; that would be interesting.

Last, the Greeks of the generation after the Persian war, whatever they may have thought of Sparta, admired the stand of the 300. The words of Simonides, an islander who moved to Athens, are still valid:

Go tell the Spartans, traveller passing by,
That here, obedient to their laws, we lie.


Needless to say, none of this gets Miller off the hook.

Tacitus2 said...

LarryHart

I am trying to ameliorate the many deficiencies of the Health Care system at the moment, so can't answer you. Try instapundit, they have a lot of info on various OWS shenanigans. There have been a few molotov cocktails, a few deaths, some kristalnacht broken glass etc. All disavowed by OWS of course.

To be fair, there are various Larouchies drifting around Tea Party and OWS, some of the bad smells come from them, although they are only there for the attention.

Tacitus

Anonymous said...

The storytelling of 300 is appalling, the movie worse than the graphic novel. The graphic novel looks a little more openly at the brutality of the Spartans. My problem is the story arc, in which men trained from birth to die for the state.....do. It lacks a certain drama from where I sit. The actual history is so much more interesting.
The widespread hatred of certain people for OWS puzzles me. Someone has to stand up to power and question the status quo. These questioners don't need answers, only questions. If your yardstick for revolution is that it is neat, tidy and well thought out we would all still be tree dwelling apes living in a tiny bit of tropical african rainforest.

Marion Delgado said...

This is among the best things you've ever written, Mr. Brin. In particular, it's ADMIRABLY succinct. Mark Twain would approve, it's all lightning and no lightning bugs.

David Brin said...

Thanks Marion.


Tony thanks for the link to Epaminondas.

Francois Marcade, I meant no insult toward Leonidas in particular... the REAL Leonidas and not the horrible person portrayed in the movie, who taunted his allies and refused to ever mention Marathon or Themistocles.

But you make light of the helots' misery. Spartan boys were told to sneak up and kill a helot as part of becoming a man. They were treated with gruesome cruelty, given wooden swords once a year and then Sparta declared "war" upon them. The enslavement of the entire Messenian population for 300 years? Do not try to soften the horribly indefensible.

The biggest problem of OWS is their fetish to be seen as "leaderless." It is an admirable philosophical notion... and results in months or years of floundering, with lefties making the biggest noise.

Still, when they start wearing blue kepis....

sociotard said...

Nonviolent protests are hard. As a grassroots movement, it is impossible to 'fire' somebody and send them home.

And the Civil rights movement had its share of violent participants, even if most people remember the MLK type stuff. The same applies to the Vietnam war protests.

Even so, it is hard for me to empathise with this:
OWS Goes After The 1% – Hot Dog Cart Vendors

A pair of Southland street cart vendors were forced to shut down their businesses after “Occupy” protesters vandalized their carts.

The coffee and hot dog carts were located in Civic Center Plaza, the same location as the Occupy San Diego protesters.

Coffee cart owner Linda Jenson and hot dog cart operators Letty and Pete Soto said they initially provided free food and drink to demonstrators, but when they stopped, the protesters became violent.

And according to one city councilman, bodily fluids were used in the attacks.

“Both carts have had items stolen, have had their covers vandalized with markings and graffiti, as well as one of the carts had urine and blood splattered on it,” said Councilman Carl DeMaio.

The damages will likely require at least a complete cleaning if not a replacement of the cart covers, DeMaio said.

In addition to the attacks, the vendors also said they recently received death threats.

rewinn said...

"...kristalnacht broken glass ..."

Please stop before we must invoke Godwin's Law.

Reasonable discussion of the insanity/stupidity/immorality of window breakers stands on its own merits; it persuades no-one nor helps with the eternal search for truth to conflate OWS and Nazism.

Tacitus2 said...

Rewinn
cut me some slack. I am well aware of Godwins Law.
I was trying to indirectly make a point, that street violence from either end of the political spectrum is unacceptable. For some reason it is deemed noble to break a window while wearing a Che shirt.
Can you explain to me why your t shirt makes a difference to the owner of the shop?
Tacitus

Robert said...

I believe the Che shirts are used by the Anarchist movement, which is not the 99% Movement. I believe the Anarchists have caused trouble during every single protest movement in recent times... including the Tea Party. It's a shame as it diminishes the effectiveness of genuine protests and results in people painting the protesters with a wide brush. This is true whether the protests are Conservative, Populist, Moderate, Liberal, or Lefty in origin.

In essence it's a bunch of trolls who like to cause trouble. Fortunately, the Internet has allowed the vast majority of these trolls to become fat and lazy so they don't bother stirring from their computers to cause trouble in the real world.

Rob H.

Art of Guerra said...

Mr. Brin,
Great post. It's nice to see someone else who shares my view about 300. I remembered walking out of that film completely aghast as to the distortion and assault on ancient antiquity . As I told of a friend of mine it was like a channel comercial with a Wagner twist. For years I've been arguing with friends who refused to see it only as though it was entertainment and refused to see that it was pure propaganda for the military industrial complex.

Tacitus2 said...

Robert
I concur. I recall the Tea Party dealing with it by having guys stand on either side of the LaRouchniks with signs saying "He is not with us!". OWS needs to purge the unwholesome elements, anarchists, agents provocateurs, nuts. Then they will have a message that will resonate.
Conservatives find the largely positive media coverage of OWS rather funny, given how the Tea Party was savaged. How many deaths at Tea Party meetings? How much property damage?
Tacitus

Anonymous said...

It's a pleasure to read Brin's lucid and measured prose in contrast to Miller's vitriolic, fallacy-laced screed. About the OWS movement, it was easy to see from the start that an extended camp-in would result in trouble from the nihilists and other psychologically damaged types that attach inevitably and parasitically to such actions. The critique of corporate business and corporate politics is valid, and most Americans would agree with it, but strategically and tactically, the core of the movement needs to be more agile and not get bogged down and trapped in one place.

Cel said...

Good post, though I think it's important to remember that Athens was also a slave state, and that our present world order is also based, less directly and accountably, on oppression and brutality.

Shopkeepers and philosophers and veterans of war can achieve justice for themselves through resistance, but any kind of lasting peace requires systemic change and some hard self-examination.

Shane K said...

Thanks!

LarryHart said...

Tacitus2:

First of all, I'm not defending violence from OWS. I just haven't heard of that much of it. I HAVE seen violence directed AT them.


Conservatives find the largely positive media coverage of OWS rather funny, given how the Tea Party was savaged. How many deaths at Tea Party meetings? How much property damage?


Liberals find the conservative meme that the media cover OWS positively and that the Tea Party are saveaged equally funny.

How much national coverage do rallies like 15,000 people at your own state's "Fighting Bob-Fest" get in the media? It took them a week or so to notice the Feburary protests in Madison. Meanwhile, if 50 people show up at a Tea Party gathering anywhere, all three real networks and FOX are there with a bevy of cameras.

The media have tried as hard as possible to ignore or ridicule the OWS movement into obscurity, and they've only hopped on the bandwagon now because there's no avoiding it. Even so, they always have to mention that the group doesn't know what their demands are, and that they are dirty hippies.

If your side of the aisle perceives coverage of the Tea Part as negative and coverage of OWS as positive, I suspect what you're seeing is the "liberal bias" inherent in reality.

LarryHart said...

BTW, I will soon be reporting from the front lines of how sucky the economy actually is. My company just informed my entire department that our jobs are being outsourced.

David Brin said...

Agh!!!!
Everybody send great good luck vibes to LarryHart!

Survive bro.

Carl M. said...

@Robert: I was not accusing the OWS people of wearing Che shirts, though that could easily be implied. (I haven't been following OWS enough to know either way.) I was suggesting that both left and right can get fooled into romanticizing that which is quite contrary to beliefs. Lots of anti-death-penalty types wear Che T-shirts, even though Che was a rather enthusiastic practitioner of executions.

Neener dance at the righties and 300 yes. Just don't think the fetish is unique to the right. Happens on both sides.

---

The true heirs to Sparta are the radial feminists. Spartan women did have more freedom than most women. And the Spartans were enthusiastically pro abortion -- fourth trimester even.

David Brin said...

Carl, you have heard me holler at AVATAR.

sociotard said...

I feel your pain Larry. All I have is an internship that could end at any time. I'm applying all over, but . . .

Stefan Jones said...

"The true heirs to Sparta are the radial feminists."

As opposed to linear feminists?

* * *

I could Cranky Old Man talk all day about the ways that OWS are doing it wrong, but I'm proud as hell of them for doing it on their own without the lefty equivalent of Fox News commentators telling them where to go and stage-managing the crowd for their coverage.

* * *

Did you hear why the Tea Party counter-occupation got cancelled?

Both of the RVs got repossessed.

Anonymous said...

"I was not accusing the OWS people of wearing Che shirts"

Not an intirely meritless accusation. I was once accosted by a guy wearing a Che Guevara shirt who accused me for wearing a KGB shirt (an ironic propaganda throwback). He accused KGB of atrocities blatantly unaware that Che was renowned for his cruelty having summarily executed scores of men accused of being spies, informants or traitors. Of course my shirt was meant to be satire as I would never think of glorifying my formerly oppressive masters; his shirt was worn without a hint of irony.

As a related side note, perhaps some have heard of a series of incidents in Brooklyn, NY involving anti-Semitic vandalism or harassment of the Orthodox Jews using anti-Semitic slurs. The incidents appear to be timed to coincide with Kristallnacht commemoration.

While the culprits remain unknown, I have a suspicion that the fringe element of OWS is implicated. Among those with legitimate criticisms and frustration over a number of issues, there is a fringe element who blame
a vast conspiracy of Jewish bankers, often linking them to 9/11. This is a abhorrent development, and OWS should lead by example and condemn racial scapegoating.

Igor.

Tony Fisk said...

CITOKATE: It was Ian, posting just after me, who gave the Epaminondas link.

Meanwhile, I'd like to see how Oakland mayor is going to square the economics of dragging in hundreds of Spar.. riot police (of questionable origin: many had no id) to clear the protest in the wee small hours... without undue scenes. As an aside, her legal advisor just quit in protest.

Anonymous said...

While this is a fine post and a good point you're making, Mr. Brin, the irony is that it doesn't apply to OWS, because their movement is based on countless fallacies. They believe capitalism doesn't work. They believe in communism. Monsters like Che Guevara are their heroes. They wouldn't hesitate to act violently, not just against bankers, but against their fellow Americans, as they've proven only recently during the "Tribute to Ronald Reagan" in DC.

For the record, I'm not a conservative, I'm a libertarian, and I, too, would stand with working people who want to end corporate greed and baleouts, and make opportunity equal for every American.

But I will not stand with communists, anarchists, anti-capitalists or anti-Americans.

Why would you?

I grew up in a communist country. I'm a successful, proud American. Back in the old country, I could've never achieved what I've achieved here. And it saddens me to see that so many successful, famous Americans don't realize that they owe their success to this country, and in particular the free trade system. When government owns and controls everything, it also owns and controls its artists. You become its lapdog, its slave, its mouthpiece. You either create what you're told to create, or you're ostracized and, perhaps, even made to disappear without a trace.

Is this what you want for America? Is this what you want for yourselves as artistic, creative people? Wake up. Capitalism is not the problem, and owerthrowing it will bring nothing but slavery, poverty, and misery.

Thank you for your time.

David Brin said...

Anonymous, have you asked any OWS people... or nearby democrats if they ACTUALLY BELIEVE the things that you (and Glen Beck) claim that they believe?

That's called science, and libertarianism used to be friendly to science, before it became an incantation-parroting cult.

I know a LOT about libertarianism. I was invited to give a major talk at a LP national convention. I am a top promoter of Adam Smith, whose TRUE libertarianism formed the basis of the greatest civilization in history.

You simply do not know what you are talking about. Admitting that would be the beginning of wisdom.

In factthere are a few crypto-Marxist lefties at any OWS gathering... tolerated with smirks by the moderate kids who want to SAVE capitalism from its old enemy.

Oligarchy.

Anonymous said...

No one is going to be overthrowing capitalism anytime soon--like in the next few centuries so. And when you call the OWS communists, you over-reach, overgeneralize, and commit other fallacies that undermine your argument. They are a mix of types, and such movements always attract extremes on the fringes. Hardly anyone would say that capitalism "doesn't work." Heck, even the "Communists" in China are workin' it like there's no tomorrow. What it does not do, has never done, and never will do in its "free market" form is produce conditions in which all can prosper, or at least have some reasonable safety net. What some on the far right now call socialist and communist (e.g., the tepid social initiatives advocated by Democrats) are what helped save capitalism from itself and gave some vestige of a humane face to the society and culture. The kind of fierce moderation and pragmatism advocated by Mr. Brin--that is the only thing that will keep us afloat and relatively civilized.

Anonymous said...

"They believe capitalism doesn't work. "

All of them? I work near OWS and talked to a few who fully endorse capitalism with regulations calling for freater oversight, accountability and transparency. If that sounds too rational for you I can also neo-nazis endorsing OWS, and they almost never endorse Communism.

"I grew up in a communist country."

So did I, Grab a ticket and get in line. If that was the case, why would you vilify OWS for engaging in the kind of action our former totalitarian regimes restricted? As a proud american aren't you glad you can protest and criticize your homeland's shortcomings and failed policies without being denounced for it as a traitor?

"I'm a libertarian, and I, too, would stand with working people who want to end corporate greed and baleouts, and make opportunity equal for every American."

As a libertarian do you support Federal and state deregulation of the markets to promote free enterprise? How does that mesh in with your opposition to corporate greed which will remain unchecked in face of such deregulation?

In order to make opportunity equal, or as equal as it can realistically get, one needs to reduce the economic inequality, which is not the same as saying giving money to lazy people. Poverty and broken households remain to be the single most influential factor in depriving children of the opportunities afforded to the children of the wealthy. This is not a well demonstrated fact in analyzing the test scores of children of various economic backgrounds before and after summer break and tracking the increasing score gap over the years. Moreover, even the brightest of the poor kids were shown to earn significantly less then their worse performing wealthy counterparts.

A proud american should recognize these simple facts and strive to provide better opportunities for the underprivileged without condemning it as communism.

Igor

Anonymous said...

Correction: *above should say "this is a well demonstrated fact."

Igor

Tony Fisk said...

Anonymous: follow twitter tags like #ows or #occupyoakland.

I don't get the impression that the occupy people are all communists, or even necessarily anti-capitalist (as I said earlier, one meme has been that they're trying to save capitalism from greed... see David's references to oligarchism)

Of course, tweets can come from anywhere. The best way is to go and ask 'em. (I'm going into Melbourne CBD tomorrow, so I might chat to the locals then)

LarryHart said...

Anonymous (signed "Igor"):

As a related side note, perhaps some have heard of a series of incidents in Brooklyn, NY involving anti-Semitic vandalism or harassment of the Orthodox Jews using anti-Semitic slurs. The incidents appear to be timed to coincide with Kristallnacht commemoration.

While the culprits remain unknown, I have a suspicion that the fringe element of OWS is implicated. Among those with legitimate criticisms and frustration over a number of issues, there is a fringe element who blame
a vast conspiracy of Jewish bankers, often linking them to 9/11.


I thought "Jewish banker" conspiracy theories came from the Tim McVeigh types. Somehow, Republicans have turned Israel into a one-issue thing that Jews are supposed to support them for, just as they have turned abortion into the one-issue for Catholics to support them for. The problem is that I'm old enough to remember when Jews and Catholics were not allowed in their country clubs. It wasn't all that long ago.

I guess I'm getting my OWS news from different sources from everyone with these accusations of violence, death, and commie-love. The OWS that I've been defending here are the ones protesting the influence of concentrated wealth on our democratic institutions. The ones who by their very persistent presence actually got the news media talking about an economic issue other than the deficit.

Interesting how your post ends up relating Krystalnacht to 9/11, since I've been trying (with little success) for years now to spread the meme that Krystalnacht was "the OTHER 9/11". In Europe, they put the date first and then the month (as in 'One-September'), so their "9/11" date would be November Ninth.

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin:

Everybody send great good luck vibes to LarryHart!

Survive bro.


Oh, I'm not planning otherwise. I wasn't playing for sympathy. I really do plan on reporting from the front lines of job searching--letting you know how realistic it is to demand of someone "Get a job!"

I'm not bullish on the present economy, but I'm open minded enough to be proven wrong. In fact, I HOPE I'm wrong.

And as outsourced workers go, I realize I've got it good (relatively speaking). I have several months notice that my job is going away in March. There's a good chance the outsourcing will just mean I work for a consulting company doing my old job. And even if that doesn't work out--even if I'm pounding the pavement in a few months--I've got a wife with good earning potential and both parents and in-laws who won't let their granddaughter starve, or even move out of our great school district.

As potentially-unemployed people go, I'm pretty well off.

Nonetheless, I appreciate the good will. And Dr Brin, as someone who fell in love with "The Postman" in the 80s, and whose wife then talked him into reading the entire "Uplift" series (both trilogies) in the 90s...well, you may not know what it means that the author of those books gave me a personal shout-out, but trust me, it means a LOT.

Short of being on the verge of actual starvation, I'm still buying a copy of "EXISTENCE" when it's available.

Anonymous said...

?I guess I'm getting my OWS news from different sources from everyone with these accusations of violence, death, and commie-love."

My source is the Southern Poverty Law Center which brought to attention David Duke's endorsement of OWS as well as notable Klan members with the occupiers at various locations. The few 9/11 truther signs I saw were also indicative of a potential bigot or just an idiot. This is not a condemnation or generalization of OWS on my part as bigots, but rather a call to avoid the Tea Party pitfalls and be proactive in denouncing such nonsense in all its shapes or forms.

The funny part is that since the source is Southern Poverty Law Center the fringe right is facing an existential dillema: how can they portray OWS as bigots without giving credence to that bastion of liberal hatemongering and finger pointing that is SPLC.The gloat about neo-nazi involvement in OWS and caution each other about using SPLC as a source.

It's like watching two guys urinate against the wind too stubborn to simply turn around.

The jewish banker conspiracies can come from anyone on the fringe left or right given proper motivation to blame that group. McVeigh was actually influenced by the Turner Diaries although he allegedly rejected the white supremacist creeds in the book.


Igor

rewinn said...

" Rewinn ... cut me some slack. I am well aware of Godwins Law.
I was trying to indirectly make a point..."

Well, in the spirit of good fellowship, let me try to indirectly make a point using comparably socially improper imagery

J said...

Frank Miller belongs in the Republican presidential debates.
Otherwise, he's not worth your time.

sociotard said...

I would just love for Frank Millar to sit down for a cup of coffee with this guy, just to be a fly on the wall and hear the conversation.

Robert said...

Here's an interesting article: Republican Senator Tom Coburn has pointed out billions of dollars that go to millionaires and billionaires that could easily be cut. I suspect he's going to find himself voted out of office next term when he gets almost no donations... ;)

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/14/tom-coburn-30-billion-millionaires-tax-breaks_n_1092692.html

Rob H.

Pangolin said...

Igor_ Various groups such as the Ron Paul types the (terrorist) Sovereign Citizens movement, the LaRouchites and associated fringe nutcases have all run to the front of OWS events in hopes of stealing eyeballs.

We can't make them go away; it's public space after all.

But.... since the order of the day in the media is to portray ALL of the OWS movement with the actions of a few people who happened to be in the area we'll just apply that broad brush generally. '

All football coaches can be assumed to be sexual predators. All christian pastors can likewise be assumed to be pedophiles or sexual predators. All federal agents can be assumed to be selling guns to mexican drug gangs. We could go on but you get my point.

Occupy Wall Street and the scattered Occupy Everywhere movement doesn't have I.D. badges and background checks except we are somehow supposed to be more pure than organizations which actually have those resources. Why is that?

It couldn't have anything to do with a propaganda drive to discredit them? Nah, not in America; the most free country on earth.

Tacitus2 said...

ReWinn
It's good to laugh at demons.

LarryHart
Best of luck.

Tacitus

Cassandra Gets No Love said...

igor,
I have been a part of the OWS movement in Oakland, so perhaps I can offer some actual experience to temper your opinion. I'm a 54yr old accountant, (white, female, not homeless)who has oveer the course of my 35yr career literally watched the transfer of wealth/assets to the 1% because the 1% wants to be sure that their payouts are accurately calculated. With GW, they moved the transfer from the private sector (mergers and acquisitions that sold capital assets for balance sheet debt) to the public sector, where we dropped Trillions of dollars on our war machine post 9-11 ("off the budget" , yeah, right) billions of dollars 'lost' in Iraq (when was the last time your bank 'lost' your
money? They just don't want to tell you where it went) and according to the recent GAO audit of the Fed, 16 TRILLION dollars loaned to a variety of banks to secure losses on their 'credit default swap' gambling. THAT's why I am with OWS. That's why most people are with OWS, because they see that the rules are different if you can purchase a lawmaker, and that is what is wrong. Just so you know, from someone who is there.

Anonymous said...

"We can't make them go away; it's public space after all."

I didn't say that. In fact, I'm a proud American precisely because it doesn't restrict Holocaust deniers and Nazi sympathizers like Canada, Sweeden, Germany, etc. The cure for bad speech is not less but more speech.While many bigots on the fringe are trying to co opt it to promote their message, there are unaffiliated individuals clinging tight to their Zionist bankers destroying the Towers nonsense. Speaking out against these will go far to enhance OWS's credibility and may actually knock some sense into a guy who previously derived all his evidence from you tube videos.

My opposition is not limited to white supremacists and anti-Semitism, but also to similar attitudes against Muslims, Hispanics, Blacks, etc.

Liberals are often unjustly accused of failing to criticize their own who erred. I usually see the evidence to the contrary. OWS with a form of loose leadership can and should rise above stereotypical portrayals in the media.

ZarPaulus said...

On the whole "Che Guevara t-shirts" thing, actually I think that these days Guy Fawkes masks have replaced those shirts as "anarchist attire". I suspect because of the V For Vendetta movie because the real Guy was a Catholic extremist who wanted to replace the British government with a puppet state of the still-burning-Protestants-at-the-stake Vatican.

And Bonfire Night celebrates his execution, they used to burn effigies of him and the Pope.

Anonymous said...

Cassandra: I have first hand experience talking to OWS participants, so your clarification is appreciated, but unnecessary. Nor have I disputed anywhere the grossly unjust and unethical practices in allocating various public funds. Moreover, I have volunteered, as allowed by my practice, as a civil rights watchdog at the bequest by the National Lawyers Guild. I understand and appreciate that OWS is a diverse group of individuals and cannot actively police all of its participants. My qualm was precisely with the persons who do not represent OWS otherwise legitimate gripes.

The portrayal of Jews as the Zionist cabal of bankers and what appears to be a resultant wave of crimes in Brooklyn are a legitimate concern not just for me, or affected Orthodox communities, but for the OWS who need to condemn such views and actions and direct blame where it belongs regardless of race, religion, etc.

Igor

Tony Fisk said...

Official walk #2: Deputy Oakland mayor has now resigned. Is someone being kettled?

Pangolin said...

Igor_ I think this covers your concerns:
http://www.nycga.net/resources/good-neighbor-policy/

Of course, if you're waiting for a statement from Occupy Wall Street general assembly exonerating Jews in particular from responsibility for the excesses of certain banks and trading houses which I will not name...... you might as well hang that one up because it's not going anywhere. It's a total non-starter.

You don't get to blame OWS for the actions of a few nutjobs any more than everybody else gets to blame Judaism for Bernie Madoff. That doesn't wash either way.

Anonymous said...

"Of course, if you're waiting for a statement from Occupy Wall Street general assembly exonerating Jews in particular from responsibility for the excesses of certain banks and trading houses which I will not name...... you might as well hang that one up because it's not going anywhere. ?"

I can't possibly imagine what in my posts would even suggest something so nonsensical, unless you consider condemning ethnic slurs and vandalism directed at the Jews as a whole as an exoneration of those culpable simply for being Jewish, the same way it wasn't the blacks fault because of Stan O'Neal.

"You don't get to blame OWS for the actions of a few nutjobs any more than everybody else gets to blame Judaism for Bernie Madoff. "

I see that my continuous referral to these people as the fringe not reflective of the general OWS participant somehow led you to the opposite conclusion. I may not always mince words when it comes to bigotry, but I don't let that affect my ability to represent mainstream and fringe protesters alike. Even Skokie Nazis had the right to march.

At any rate, I am aware of the Good Neighbor Policy which has so far been a well-intentioned, albeit ineffective attempt to limit undesirable conduct. I was simply calling for a positive action regardless of actual obligations. I though OWS would condemn such actions precisely because they are good people separate and apart from the fringe. In fact, even out of self interest, why let the feww nut jobs detract from the legitimate message? It may not be pleasant to acknowledge the involuntary association, but that's what should separate progressive ideals from conservative status quo.

Anonymous said...

The above anonymous comment was mine. I am reluctant to use my only Google account as a log in since I use it only for work. I don't have any other means of logging in.

Igor

David Brin said...

All you anonymous guys are getting very confusing. Please START your post with "Igor here..." or "This is Joe-Bob, weighing in from Texas..."

K?

Igor said...

Point well taken, but apparently I was ignorant of a very simple solution. I didn't realize url was optional. My apologies, I have never used this type of blog to post before.

Tony Fisk said...

Well well. Zucotti park is being raided by the NYPD. Let's see who's going to abandon Bloomberg now.

Useless Eater said...

David,

I disagree somewhat with your criticism of OWS for remaining leaderless. The Japanese aphorism about the nail that sticks up comes to mind.

You might recall the "Dean Scream", the Mainstream Media (M$M) hammered Dr Dean's candidacy into the ground by playing a few seconds of video literally hundreds of times. Dean was headed in a political direction that the powers that be (TPTB) found not to their liking so it became necessary to discredit him, their propaganda arm, the M$M, did that quite handily.

Anyone who stands up for OWS as a "leader" is going to get Deans' treatment on steroids, meth and human growth hormone in a powered suit, not only will they have to be shining moral exemplars without the slightest hint of any impropriety in their lives ever, they will have to be able to speak without ever giving the M$M the equivalent of the Dean Scream which is basically impossible.

I realize that what I've stated is an oversimplification on many levels but this is just a blog post and I'm trying to convey a general principle.

Larry Hart,

I wish you the best of luck, you are where I was about four years ago and it hasn't gone well for me. Godspeed sir.

Useless Eater said...

David,

I disagree somewhat with your criticism of OWS for remaining leaderless. The Japanese aphorism about the nail that sticks up comes to mind.

You might recall the "Dean Scream", the Mainstream Media (M$M) hammered Dr Dean's candidacy into the ground by playing a few seconds of video literally hundreds of times. Dean was headed in a political direction that the powers that be (TPTB) found not to their liking so it became necessary to discredit him, their propaganda arm, the M$M, did that quite handily.

Anyone who stands up for OWS as a "leader" is going to get Deans' treatment on steroids, meth and human growth hormone in a powered suit, not only will they have to be shining moral exemplars without the slightest hint of any impropriety in their lives ever, they will have to be able to speak without ever giving the M$M the equivalent of the Dean Scream which is basically impossible.

I realize that what I've stated is an oversimplification on many levels but this is just a blog post and I'm trying to convey a general principle.

Larry Hart,

I wish you the best of luck, you are where I was about four years ago and it hasn't gone well for me. Godspeed sir.

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Pangolin said...

According to multiple reports the NYPD just deliberately destroyed the Occupy Wall Street library and threw all the books in a dumpster.

Over 5000 books destroyed.

When I was a kid this was the kind of thing the propaganda types used to smear the Soviet Union with. "Communists destroy books that aren't on their approved lists."

Who's burning books now Mr G.H.W. Bush?

Useless Eater said...

From what I have seen so far, I think Elizabeth Warren could be a leader I support, but it will be assured destruction for her if she links herself directly to OWS.

Ori Brafman's "The Starfish and the Spider" is an interesting examination of leaderless organizations and why they can have advantages. Much US military strategy today is based on decapitation, taking out the leaders, from my perspective down here at the bottom of the slop bucket political strategy doesn't differ much from military, Clausewitz directly stated such and I see no reason to doubt him.

Igor said...

Incidentally, the Guy Fawkes masks were initially adopted by the Anonymous, an internet based group which gained fame after their declaration of war on scientology. They used these masks during protests. Similar to OWS, Anonymous is composed of internet users and hackers who are only loosely associated with each other or aware of each other's identities. Since even the members of the group don't know each other, the informal nature of its membership allows for anyone to join and/or claim responsibility on the group's behalf. This phenomenon and its futuristic implications are addressed in one of the Ghost in the Shell productions.

Useless Eater said...

Pangolin,

I'm getting old and my memory is a little hazy but I do recall a well known book where agents of the state were charged with destroying books.

But then "It Can't Happen Here", eh?

Tony Fisk said...

Igor, I think Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 is the book you are thinking of, and it's what occurred to me when I heard what NYPD were doing. Not *quite* the same scenario but still...

Useless Eater said...

Well, that prediction didn't take long to come true..

No, I hadn't seen this before I posted the first time, just stumbled on it a moment ago.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/plum-line/post/under-attack-elizabeth-warren-keeps-focus-squarely-on-wall-street/2011/11/14/gIQADDWaLN_blog.html

Elizabeth Warren’s campaign is up with its first ad of the cycle — a direct response to Crossroads GPS’s ad attacking her for embracing Occupy Wall Street. It’s now clear that Warren will be the number one target for an emerging national conservative strategy: Seizing on the protests to tar Dems as culturally out of touch with struggling blue collar whites and moderates, and to discredit Dem policies designed to address inequality by depicting them as radical and out of the mainstream.

Igor said...

Tony: I am thoroughly familiar with Farenheight 451 which initiated my foray into science fiction. I was talking about the animated movies/series called Ghost in the Shell which take to the extreme the extent of human presence and associations on the web. When the Anonymous formed over time on the 4chan.com forums and comprising of savvy internet it had no defined leadership, identifiable membership or a clearly stated agenda. Similarly, in GiS, the line between individuality and a single group identity was blurred by users gradually forming creating a singular superior online consciousness. At any rate, this is fairly convoluted requiring familiarity with the series.

Virgil Bierschwale said...

Thank you for this.

Over the last 5 years many items that have crossed my desk have shown me that generations have continued this pendulum swing between the (Greed, Republican, Business) and (People, Humanity, Democrat) sides.

I first noticed it when I wrote "Your Future - Part 1" and one of the writers at Keep America At Work noted that we keep swinging from one extreme to the other over generations.

Recently another writer showed me an article that proved to me that it happened back in the time of Benjamin Franklin.

Now you have shown me that it was even happening way back here.

My question to all of us is this.

We are the best and brightest that the World has ever produced.

Why do we not teach our people about this pendulum swing so that we can adopt the necessary balance between Business, People, Government and Media?

Igor said...

"We are the best and brightest that the World has ever produced."

Is that so? Certainly not the best educated with ever waning scientific and historic literacy. I hope you are correct.

"Why do we not teach our people about this pendulum swing so that we can adopt the necessary balance between Business, People, Government and Media?"

A big part is our innate ability, an evolutionary byproduct perhaps, to interpret information in accordance with existing beliefs, fears, hopes, etc. When life was brutish and very short, lengthy risk/utility analysis was a luxury that would get you killed, so we are wired to make spurious hasty associations based on gut reactions that is a demonstrably poor at measuring risk.

Moreover, the sectors you mention are affected by chain reactions at this point, where the waves of the pebble thrown on the other side of the world will continue reaching our shores in ever increasing height.

You can never reach that balance, because balance never existed. There is no perfect middle just like there is no 100% safety or a perfect world. We are the best at being imperfect and fallibly in every way possible. It's the human condition.

LarryHart said...

Pangolin:

According to multiple reports the NYPD just deliberately destroyed the Occupy Wall Street library and threw all the books in a dumpster.

Over 5000 books destroyed.

When I was a kid this was the kind of thing the propaganda types used to smear the Soviet Union with. "Communists destroy books that aren't on their approved lists."


You're way out of date. These days, the wrap-yourself-in-the-flag Republican types cheer as a badge of honor all sorts of abuses that our generation would have thought of as "anti-American". Those things are STILL held against the commies or the Muslims when THEY do such things, but without a hint of shame or cognitive dissonance, it's a source of pride to perpetrate such outrages against any group the FOX types decide to marginalize.

Book burning?

Police brutality?

Torture?

Yeah! U.S.A! U.S.A!

(I weep for the future)

Tim H. said...

On a Spartan note, if OWS morphs into revolution, the 1% shouldn't be punished for greed, but for being so clueless as to let matters slide to the point of revolution looking like a good idea. And Larry Hart, good luck.

Corey said...

It's really amazing to me just how big an amalgamation of concerns OWS represents, something that's both an asset and a challenge to deal with (since it makes a simple, coherent message difficult).

A recent blog article from Scientific American about scientists joining comes to mind:

http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/guest-blog/2011/10/24/hungry-for-jobs-and-for-change-scientists-join-the-occupy-movement/


Some of these people are students, unable to get a job, but many are working scientists, frightened at how devalued science has becoming, how ignorant the US populace is becoming, how scientific unsound policies are getting, and how much funding for science is dwindling.



On a different note, a study done on a 10-state cap and trade program has shown that the initiative has done great things for the economies in these states.

"the program has saved money for consumers, stimulated job growth and kept money in local economies in the states that signed up."


http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/11/15/greenhouse-gas-initiative-a-success-study-says/


I'm reminded of Brin's picture from a few posts ago.

LarryHart said...

Tim H:

On a Spartan note, if OWS morphs into revolution, the 1% shouldn't be punished for greed, but for being so clueless as to let matters slide to the point of revolution looking like a good idea.


Only the comic-book fans among us will get this, but the appropriate line for what you're talking about is The Kingpin's belated realization about what he had done to his enemy Daredevil:

"I have shown him that a man without hope...is a man without FEAR."

Ironically as all get-out, that Daredevil arc was written by Frank Miller.


And Larry Hart, good luck.


Thanks. I appreciate it.

And seriously, for someone who often finds life depressing, I've been awfully lucky through most of it. Sometimes I think my personal motto should be "I can't complain, but sometimes I still do."

miken said...

What's this crap about "OWS-related elements" being tied to the antisemitic car burning and vandalism is Midwood? Any citations, facts or anything of that sort. You know, evidence? Sounds like a vile, baseless smear to me.

Having lived in Midwood for twelve years (on E.13th between O and P), and another twelve in Bensonhurst before that, I'd say it sounds like the work of your typical, ignorant, bigoted Brooklyn hooligan after too many 40-oz. Buds.

Police have made no announcements regarding suspects.

Useless Eater said...

Sousveillance reveals teachers bullying special-needs student.

http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/45302947/ns/today-parenting/t/teachers-caught-tape-bullying-special-needs-girl#.TsKiQ32JWKI

Useless Eater said...

Judge who signed injunction against evicting OWS from Zucotti park removed from case within hours.

http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/judge-lucy-billings-signed-occupy-wall-street-order-aclu-veteran-article-1.977725#ixzz1dnSdiHk4

Paging Mr Kafka, Mr Franz Kafaka to the white courtesy phone please. (yes I know I'm dating myself)

Useless Eater said...

"Oakland Mayor Jean Quan Admits Cities Coordinated Crackdown on Occupy Movement"

http://ht.ly/7u8Uh

Igor said...

"What's this crap about "OWS-related elements" being tied to the antisemitic car burning and vandalism is Midwood? Any citations, facts or anything of that sort. You know, evidence? Sounds like a vile, baseless smear to me."

Calm down, i was merely asking what some thought about the bad element having an opportunity to wonder into one of many OWS open spaces across the country and protest their own version of the problem. Incidentally, you seem to be the second person completely ignoring my careful iterations explaining that I am asking about the fringe and not imputing their lunacy upon the entire OWS movement.

The incident was reported on CNN as three cars were set ablaze and anti-Semitic graffiti was scrawled across park benches. Daily News expanded on the incident by interviewing members of the Midwood and Boroughpark communities who reported alarming increase in incidents of swastika graffiti and harassment of the Orthodox members of the community. The few mentioned instances involved anti-semitic slurs or insinuations. These incidents came in the wake of David Duke's video endorsing OWS protest of Zionist Wall Street. Another Klansman with an AK-47 armed contingent was taking part in Occupy Phoenix demonstrations as reported by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Finally, the notion of a Zionisr banker conspiracy is shared by the few 9/11 truthers I spoke with at Zucotti Park while monitoring. This was not surprising, 9/11 conspiracy theories often involve some version of a Zionist World Order. This was sufficient for me to raise it as a possible issue, as white-supremacist groups are cooping OWS legitimate qualms with the financial sector and whether these endorsements are somehow linked to the recent rise in antisemitism in Brooklyn. Certainly, even if there is a connection, I don't attribute this bigotry to all or even most OWS participants.

As a supporter and a volunteer at OWS I was a bit shocked by someone here asserting I was trying to slander OWS or that the potential threat of Klansmen exploiting the protesters' diverse nature to push white supremacist propaganda.


P.S. I lived in Bensonhurst from 95 through 2005 and haven't noticed this type of vandal activity before. Perhaps I was less observant or involved at the time.

David Brin said...

Small point. Fahrenheit 451 is a somewhat LEFTIST tyranny. Books are banned in large part because they are nearly all politically incorrect in SOME way.

Time: "if OWS morphs into revolution, the 1% shouldn't be punished for greed, but for being so clueless as to let matters slide to the point of revolution looking like a good idea."

My point exactly. They think they are smart, because they can hire people to flatter them. Human nature, alas. The really smart ones - Gates, Buffett etc - don't want 1789.

Useless Eater said...

I guess it won't surprise anyone then to learn that Bradbury has quaffed the Wingut Wine to the very dregs since 9/11.

Stefan Jones said...

Frederik Pohl, full of piss and vinegar and blogging at age 92, links to this story about a guy handing out flyers in front of a bank:

He has a right to speak


'hariditi': Not sure. Nice sounding, though

Tacitus2 said...

I'm going to stay positive today. So let me tell you about a man whose politics I do not share, but whose protests have made at least a small difference.

He is an older guy. 80s. Retired military MD. All through the Bush admin he and a few like minded sorts would spend every saturday morning on a busy corner holding up signs and flags asking that people support the withdrawal of our troops from Iraq and Afghanistan. He is a soft spoken guy, maybe showing some effects of age. But by God he is consistent. When Obama took over and protesting the war became less chic, he was there anyway. Polite. Lawful. He got me thinking.
I am not exactly sure what OWS really wants. I have no idea if they are a truely organic movement or if there is some coordination behind the scenes. In particular the Democratic Party seems to have an uneasy relationship with them. The mayor of Oakland for instance seems to have encouraged municipal employees to participate in the "general strike" then been shocked, shocked! when a riot broke out (of course OWS says it was hooligans).

I doubt OWS really cares much about getting credits from me. But when they start naming names, and when they specifically notice that some of the more egregious finacial offenders of late have been major Obama supporters*, well, we'll talk.

Tacitus

*Maddof, that Raj fellow from the Galleon Group, Corzine. to be continued.

Useless Eater said...

Tacitus 2,

There is a private forum not affiliated directly with the Democratic party called Democratic Underground. The members there were Over The Moon dancing in the streets kissing strangers happy when Obama was elected.

Nowadays the place has become a non-stop flamewar between a majority who have lost faith in Obama and the Democrats in general and a substantial minority who are still die-hard Obamabots, constant attacks on Obama from a left-libertarian perspective are a staple.

Warning, the language is often somewhat less.. refined than what is normally seen here, many members are highly irate.

http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=show_topics&forum=439

Useless Eater said...

Police closed airspace in lower Manhattan to block news choppers when they cleared out OWS last night.

I believe that would require at least Federal demurral, perhaps someone here can clarify this.

That which you are ashamed of you hide from view.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/nov/15/occupy-journalists-media-blackout

Skex said...

Greg " Greg said...
As silly as '300' could be made to seem, going off on it is still nothing but a very involved ad-hom."

That word does not mean what you think it does.

An ad-hom is a falacy because it attacks the character of the target in an attempt to discredit the argument.

Saying Miller is bat-shit crazy so his argument is wrong is an ad-hom, the fact that he's bat-shit crazy has no real bearing on the veracity of his argument.

Saying Miller's argument is wrong explaining why it's wrong then concluding that he's bat-shit crazy is not an ad-hom it's a simple observation or reality.

LarryHart said...

Tacitus2:

...He is a soft spoken guy, maybe showing some effects of age. But by God he is consistent. When Obama took over and protesting the war became less chic, he was there anyway. Polite. Lawful. He got me thinking.


In my experience, the true anti-war protesters were protesting before it was chic (in 2002) and were still protesting after Obama took over. They were protesting the war first and Bush second.

Other people were protesting Bush first and specific things he did second.

Frank Miller aside, OWS doesn't seem to be about war at all, at least not directly.

Plenty of liberals and probably plenty of leftists are no longer fans of the President. It's a bit misguided of you to equate liberals with pro-Obama cheerleaders.


I am not exactly sure what OWS really wants. I have no idea if they are a truely organic movement or if there is some coordination behind the scenes. In particular the Democratic Party seems to have an uneasy relationship with them.


I can't tell if the emphasis there was on "uneasy" or "relationship". It makes a difference.

You obviously think it casts suspicion on OWS if they're clandstinely receiving Democratic support or funding from Soros. Does the Tea Party's overt support from Dick Armey and the Koch Brothers mean anything sinister?

Tony Fisk said...

Whichever officials are behind these evictions, I think they're going to find themselves increasingly isolated.

I gather that the Zucotti books and property weren't burnt or trashed, but collected and can be picked up Wed. That's something, at least.

Larry, my sympathies. I've been in that predicament before (and actually have been for the last two months... however, this time it was voluntary, so no grumbles)

Don't get too depressed by the indifference you will probably get from employment agencies, There are some reasons for it (like the fact that they're probably overwhelmed), but it can get a bit annoying (esp. when they don't even bother responding to emails).

Useless Eater said...

Feds coordinated crackdowns on OWS..

http://www.examiner.com/top-news-in-minneapolis/were-occupy-crackdowns-aided-by-federal-law-enforcement-agencies

We have to get word to Obama, he would put a stop to this overreach by the federal cops if he but knew what was going on.

Six degrees of separation, people, we can do it.

Pangolin said...

We have to get word to Obama, he would put a stop to this overreach by the federal cops if he but knew what was going on._Useless Eater

Dog, I hope that was sarcasm. People used to go to great lengths to smuggle letters from the Soviet Gulags that were to be sent to Stalin. Even in the Gulag there were those that believed that if only the great Stalin knew what was happening to his people he would put a stop to it.

Obama isn't Stalin but I think the same general principle applies. He is aware of the plight of his nation and does little, or nothing.

Useless Eater said...

Pangolin,

You are familiar with Poe's law?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poe's_law

Pangolin said...

Best. Poe. Ever.

Tog said...

English majors (useless for anything but teaching and journalism)

That quote tells everything one needs to know about ZarPaulus, right there.

Stratigos Xenophon said...

the movie, as everyone knows, was a mostly inaccurate portrayal of the times and culture of the early classical world. thats hollywood for ya.

your portrayal of history is so woefully inaccurate i wonder if you know what the word "feudal" even means. im gonna assume your knowledge is derived from such refutable sources as "Frank Miller" and other pop culture products.

Stefan Jones said...

OWS & company need to get beyond the "tents" issue, and the notion of occupying physical territory.

Occupying the public's imagination, sympathy, and concerns is the winning strategy.

David Brin said...

Stratigos illustrates at least 4 noxious polemical tactics in just one brief paragraph! Can you fellow spot them all? Wow, an extremely instructive example.

u said...

Ad hom, appeal to belief, personal insult, strawman and enough stupid to poleaxe a charging Ezwal.

Useless Eater said...

Ooops, that last was me..

somoa: What Oliver Twist wanted.

Nathaniel Frein said...

Stefan Jones, I'm not sure how you expect disenfranchised people to get into any spotlight without money, other than going out and sitting where people have no choice to take notice of them.

The unfortunate fact is that for the most part the people with the money decide what the mainstream media shows. Mainstream media did its best to ignore OWS until the "little movement that could" had stayed around long enough that they were forced to switch to "media circus" mode. This is the only way the movement will anchor itself in the public's consciousness enough to have any effect. Without any exposure on mainstream media, other news outlets reporting on OWS simply would not be able to get any real attention.

rewinn said...

"...Occupying the public's imagination, sympathy, and concerns is the winning strategy."

That's intelligent! The goal of any campaign, after all, is to win; occupying ground is a merely tactic, not a goal, and it has the grave disadvantage of being tied down to something that can be controlled.
Today's web-enabled world, a virtual occupation can flow like water around any attempt to shut it down and into the "minds and hearts" of the 99%.
Attending every political rally, asking the awkward questions, registering every voter everywhere, GOTV and above all, bypassing the aristocracy's media (...if the Committees of Correspondence had relied on Tory publishers for spreading information, we'd still be British ...) are more important than a tent by a park bench.

Look at Wisconsin: the recall-Walker effort is facing MASSIVELY funded opposition, including explicit calls by Walker supporters to perform felony destruction of recall petitions (...and since the WI AG is a Walker flunkey, don't expect prosecutions ...). This is a time for asymmetrical warfare of the political variety.

As the saying goes:
Think. Different!
---

BTW - Already Occupy Seattle has got the City Council to take up some important issues, such as whether we're parking our money in institutions that are helping or hurting us (but this was made possible ONLY by being a Good Neighbor ... we suffered enough from the anarchist jerks during the WTO ...).

Stefan Jones said...

@rewinn: Exactly.

'Occupy *' DOES need to be in the streets, and visible. But it needs to be smart and flexible about it. Not self-kettling, as it were.

Unknown said...

It was fantastic to read your article on, well, the decline of Miller as a literary and artist creator. 300 is a work of pure objectivist fascism, it has angered me since its creation. Beautifully illustrated, morally reprehensible. Especially the handling of Ephialtes, such a message of social Darwinism. Their are numerous points of irony in Miller's anti-OWS post, especially where he states those hippies should join the army. Somehow Miller has become so insulated inside his own imaginings that he didn't hear about Iraqi war veteran Scott Olsen in Oakland. That is just shameful, especially coming from the mouth of a person who was a star artist since he was a teenager. Miller never needed to join the army, hell, he never needed to work a real job in his entire life. I feel the need to be vulgar right now but I will refrain. Great retort Mr. Brin. For some reason my username doesn't show, I think I need a blogger account or something, anyways, my user name is PulpTrash.

Anonymous said...

With all due respect, Mr. Brin, "I know what I'm talking about and you don't" without citing any proof isn't an argument. And yes, I do know more about real poverty and real suffering than the poorest protester of OWS. Has any of them ever lived in a situation where they only owned one change of clothing, had to stand in line for 5 hours just to get a loaf of bread, had nothing to eat but said bread, had no electricity, heat, or running water despite paying their bills, and worked a job without getting paid? I very much doubt it. Their idea of poverty is not having cable TV or the newest iPad.

And why on earth would you say "you and Glenn Beck"? What gives you the idea that I agree with him, or even listen to him? You say not all OWS are anarchists/communists, but then you make the assumption that if I don't support them I MUST be a Glenn Beck-listening, church-going, gun-toting ignoramus (not even close, BTW). That's called hypocrisy.

To Igor:

We must have gone to two different protests. I walked through OWS countless times, last just this Friday. From what I've seen, no, they aren't all communist, but the vast majority of them ARE anti-capitalist.

Capitalism didn't cause our poor economic situation. Banks under capitalism don't voluntarily give loans to unqualified people with zero down payment when there's little chance of being repaid. None of the government agencies who played a part in that disaster represent capitalism. If anything, our poor situation is caused by the same socialist policies that are now destroying Europe, and it's sad that OWS are rooting for the very hydra that caused their troubles.

As for equal opportunity, that's the ONLY equality there should be. Equal opportunity and economic equality are contradictory to each other, because people aren't carbon copies of each other, they're individuals. Take two people and put them into the same economic situation with the same exact opportunities, and you've got equality. But what if person A is smarter, more responsible, and more capable than person B? Why shouldn't they be able to achieve and obtain more? If they don't, there is no motivation to work harder. If they do - boom, you've got economic inequality. Can't have it both ways.

rewinn said...

"...Banks under capitalism don't voluntarily give loans to unqualified people with zero down payment when there's little chance of being repaid. ..."

Sure they do .... IF ... they can package them into CDOs, get a private rating agency to call the package AAA, and sell that debt to someone else.

That's rational behavior on the part of every bank AND every private mortgage lender, most of whom are not banks. The minority that refused to give out NINJA loans lost market share and either went out of business, or followed the pack.

I repeat, this was RATIONAL ECONOMIC BEHAVIOR on the part of every individual involved in the ABSENCE of market regulation. When you can re-sell debt, why should you care if it is every repaid ... and even if you did, why would you give away business to your competitors who don't care?


Do yourself a favorite and listen to the Giant Pool of Money. Seriously. I promise you will not be bored, and you will learn a lot; the only danger is that you may change your mind.

Robert said...

Dr. Brin, I know how you frequently talk about how the military saved the U.S. from President Bush's excesses. I am curious however if you've read the Time magazine article "The Other 1%" concerning the increasing isolation of our armed forces... and the growing sense of alienation and belief in a Warrior Culture among some of them.

I wrote up an abstract on it today and found the article... a tad disturbing. And worrisome. Especially about how military recruitment has shifted away from the Northeast and urban regions and moved to the Midwest and South, resulting in an increasingly regional armed forces. You'd almost think it deliberate.

Rob H.

Useless Eater said...

Anonymous,

If hard work guaranteed riches most of the women in Africa would be richer than Bill Gates and if smaller government was superior to larger then Somalia would make Kublai Khan's pleasure dome look like a cardboard box.

You might want to reexamine your postulates, even perfect logic can take you to some exquisitely strange places if your postulates are erroneous.

It's telling that when you emigrated you didn't pick the nation with the least government, you actually picked the nation with the most laws and prisoners of any other society on the planet.

David Brin said...

"Banks under capitalism don't voluntarily give loans to unqualified people with zero down payment when there's little chance of being repaid."

Utterly, dismally and foolishly wrong. That is precisely what they did, in order to repackage tranches of loans as securities and sell them as sucker investments... thereby severing all relationship between a local bank and local borrowers, the fundamental underpinning of the traditional american mortgage.

This "innovation" was not forced on them by government. Rather, they forced government to leave hands-off, when well meaning civil servants tried to enforce depression era rules that had served us well for generations.

'As for equal opportunity, that's the ONLY equality there should be. "

Fine... the difference between the majority of "liberal" democrats and the minority of lefty-flakes is that the latter do want to equalize outcomes... as Glenn Beck says...

But liberals do NOT seek that. They seek what Adam Smith "the first liberal" wanted... to maximize the number of ready competitor AT THE STARTING BLOCKS. Equalizing opportunity includes some socialist things like education, health, infrastructure. I am a libertarian (!) in that I want those socialist things that MAXIMIZE THE NUMBER OF COMPETITORS.

Funny thing. Many FDR measures did just that. In the 1950s, we had a flat social order, a booming middle class and booming market capitalism. Now - after deriding and tearing down FDR - we have NONE of those.

David Hill said...

This notion that Miller's post drives liberals crazy has been odd to me. I mean...he doesn't really SAY anything in his post.

One thing that I've done, that I find fun, is to replace 'Occupy' with any group and see how much of it you'd need to change for it to say pretty much the exact same thing. In fact, I've found that if you replace the word 'Occupy' with the words 'Zombie Bar Crawl' you don't need to change anything at all.

Basically, Miller's post can be compacted into a single sentence: I hate the 'Occupy' protestors. Insert the word 'really' as often as you'd like. The saddest thing is how much back and forth has occurred over a post that says absolutely nothing.

Nick said...

David, you remain my absolutely single favorite libertarian pain in the ass, and I refer to your blog every time I want to tell people, "Here, you want to see a really intelligent guy who's much more fiscally conservative than me? Go here." Another skillful analysis and take down, and I am so grateful we have you.

Useless Eater said...

To Protect and Serve.

NYPDs Finest.

http://i42.tinypic.com/kbyaf6.jpg

Anonymous said...

David Hill,

The best word to replace a term in that sort of rant is "Jew", it tends to focus the mind of even the most adamant of the wingerati on what they are saying.

Someone downthread mentioned lightning and lightning bugs I think?

Useless Eater said...

I just don't have this blog software down yet.. It was me again above.

Igor said...

"From what I've seen, no, they aren't all communist, but the vast majority of them ARE anti-capitalist."

Not sure where that came from, I don't reacll addressing their views on economic systems. But since you brought it up, the simple answer is that you are speculating, just like I would be if I calmed otherwise. Signs are often limited in giving the accurate ideological overview of the person holding it.

"If anything, our poor situation is caused by the same socialist policies that are now destroying Europe"

I notice a disturbing trend, and I will be even in handing out blame, myopic ideology, which involves venomous opposition to imaginary monsters. Often, the speakers are so polarized that they likely avoid reading anything about the opposite view which contradicts their image of the boogeyman under the bed. And there you have it, people rail against the horrors while ignorant of basic history and tenets of their arch nemesis.

Let me put it this way, you feel very passionate about the evils of socialism, which has never been implemented in its purest form and presents an amalgamation of widely varying socio-political climates. Then perhaps you can tell which socialist policies are wrecking Europe and why? Are there specific countries that have been economically stagnant even before becoming part of the European Union? Which countries do you believe have socialist economies?


"Banks under capitalism don't voluntarily give loans to unqualified people with zero down payment when there's little chance of being repaid. None of the government agencies who played a part in that disaster represent capitalism. "

I see you talk in very broad terms without giving any specificsDom you think it was a good capitalist strategy to leverage your risk for as much as 30-40 for each dollar of liquidity? Some of these investments could be prevented by SEC, a government agency, yet companies planning risky moves proffered lobbying FINRA a private regulator. I can go on for a while.

The point off the top of my head there are obvious examples that are inapposite of what you said. Am I a socialist because I can point out problems with out business practices and regulations. None of these are synonymous with Capitalism. Do you think i am anti-capitalism due to what I said above?


"As for equal opportunity, that's the ONLY equality there should be. Equal opportunity and economic equality are contradictory to each other, because people aren't carbon copies of each other, they're individuals."

Have you considered that you limit yourself to two choices, when there might be more somewhere in between? I am not naive, and I don't care much for utopias. There will never be econmic euqlity and there probably shouldn't be. But then you don't want to turn around and ignore some solid evidence that a large economic gap will and does drastically lower the opportunities of the growing generations. Perhaps growing up in a two party representative democracy we became accustomed to thinking in dualities? Maybe it's something else.

"But what if person A is smarter, more responsible, and more capable than person B? "

And that was exactly my point. When you actually pool the data and compare the economic groups while controlling for intellect and work the outcome shows that thinking that there is equal opportunity when the economic gap and lack of social support structures wanes. The children from the lowest eonomic strate start comparably performance wise. With each summer the scoring gap grew. By the time they reach high school they are worlds apart. When you look onward, the better scoring college bound economic minorities even when outperforming the luckier kids, on average and in the long run have a significantly lower potential.

Igor said...

"The saddest thing is how much back and forth has occurred over a post that says absolutely nothing."

That is often the case. The less substance in a statement, and the more misinformation and logical contortionism, the longer one has to spend deconstructing the fallacies. Thoughtful, educated creeds take time.

Seisactheia said...

@David Brin- Fantastic post. It was very rousing! It almost made me forget my qualms at using the Athenians as the representatives of democracy.;) Though that is a result of my anti-Hellenist classical leanings. The Greeks get too much credit, and the Romans have fallen sadly out of favor.

@Virgil Bierschwale - The Democrats were not always on the side of the angels. Actually, I could hardly call them on the side of the angels now, considering they're just as cozy in bed with corporate interests as any...just look at all the speech-restricting, privacy-destroying, due-process eliminating legislation they keep trying to pass on behalf of the RIAA/MPAA/etc. (And then there's ACTA, which the president is pushing and will do the same while circumventing the legislature entirely!)

But let's turn back to history. You've tarred the republicans with the 'bad guy' brush, but you seem to have forgotten a good chunk of the 19th century, in which it was the republican party (and especially the radical republicans) who were advocating for civil rights, equality under the law, big infrastructure projects, schools, and all the rest.

These Republicans we have today are a sorry sort and an insult to the name. But the same is true of Democrats as well, I suppose.

@Pangolin -

Oh, those people are crazy alright, but no fair blaming Ron Paul for them. I wouldn't want him anywhere near the treasury, but any more, he seems to be the one person in the senate who is against the rapid expansion of the security state. Sigh. Everything just went topsy turvy after 9/11. I never thought the day would come when Ron Paul would be the person I used as an example of sanity and right-thinking in the Republican party... let alone Congress.

and finally, at no one in particular...I just want to circle back to OWS. Everything is just so crazy, these days. The economy, the politics. We've all become bizarro versions of what we were before. I am rendered speechless sometimes by the fact that it's not considered a radical position to be against torture, assasination, and warrant-less searches and seizures. I am stunned by the absurdity of people being called communist because they dare question rampant corruption. I am just unable to wrap my brain around the brutal, heavy-handed reactions to peaceful protests, the way that violence is cheered and supported by large segments of the public...by the way that people who are really suffering in this economy can rally around blowhards who go on about how the people who are protesting are just too lazy to find work. As if there were any work to be found.

And that's kind of why I haven't minded the amorphous nature of the protests. There's just too much to protest. It's just all too big and gone to far that just protesting one simple thing wouldn't be enough.

David Brin said...

Nick I don't know if I'm fiscally conservative... I agree with Paul Krugman on most economic matters. Where I am "libertarian-conservative" is in my belief that government should serve as a helper to competitive enterprise by engendering the food it needs... scientific research (LOTS of it) and educating and helping the young to become skilled, fiercely confident adults. Government has little business deciding winners or losers after that, except through utterly transparent and fair contracting.

I further believe that there are several areas where government provides, only because the market has failed. Ideally, insurance companies should be the nexus of FDA and OSHA and other nanny protective services. I don't blame the left, I blame the right for not making this a priority. I want to see FDA and OSHA etc... (but NOT the EPA!)... wither back to a supervisory role. But we'd have to re-invent insurance.

My libertarianism is thus genuine. Competition is the great creative force of the universe! But my libertarianism also is heretical. Ayn Rand's followers hate me. But wait a couple of days. They will hate me even more!

David Brin said...

Seisactheia thanks. cogent and welcome here. Still...

Sorry. Democrats are a vast polity of diverse interests SOME of which are mild corporate sellouts and SOME of which are radical lefty flakes and SOME of which...

You simply have the wrong model. The democrats ARE the panoply of american political interests that aren't captured by Rupert Murdoch. That is their definition. It is by far the best definition. And it explains their fractured nature.

They happen also to be Blue America during a time of absolutely irrefutable bona fide civil war.

DO I like them all? How could I possibly! But they are the Union.

Pangolin said...

Is capitalism supposed to destroy or idle resources?

If not why are there so many vacant storefronts? How is it that the US has millions of houses and rental units that remain empty yet the prices never seem to drop enough to fill them? Why is the farmland washing down the Mississippi in giant floods brought on by climate change?

If that's capitalism I'll try another flavor please.

wv: shiforba_ self explanatory

Useless Eater said...

Sixty Minutes the other night ran a piece on Congresscritters using inside information in order to game the stock market for profit, evidently it's quite a common practice with both Republicans and Democrats alike.

http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-18560_162-57323527/congress-trading-stock-on-inside-information/?tag=contentMain;cbsCarousel

You really should read/watch the this, it's quite the eye opener if your eyes were not already open.

The final paragraph, just as a teaser..

The town is all about people saying-- what do you know that I don't know. This is the currency of Washington, D.C. And it's that kind of informational currency that translates into real currency. Maybe it's over drinks maybe somebody picks up a phone. And says you know just to let you know it's in the bill. Trades happen. Can't trace 'em. If you can trace 'em, it's not illegal. It's a pretty great system. You feel like an idiot to not take advantage of it.

There you go, Congresscritters feel stupid for not engaging in legal corruption that would be illegal if anyone else did it.

Approximately 1% (familiar number?) of the general public are millionaires while very nearly half of Congress consists of millionaires. It's difficult for me at least to see how the non-millionaires in the general public, the 99%, have their interests adequately and honestly represented by politicians that belong to the 1%.

I'm to the point now where I think our government is riddled with corruption starting at the very top. Obama is on track to raise a billion dollars for his reelection campaign, it's difficult for me at least to imagine that some implicit quid pro quos don't come hand in hand with that level of fundraising and I'm skeptical that such quid pro quos will be of a nature to improve the situation of the 99% vs the 1%.

Useless Eater said...

A dirty hippie who got pepper sprayed in Seattle..

http://farm7.static.flickr.com/6240/6348962379_90ed1de31a_z.jpg

It's a damn good thing we have our brave boys in blue to keep a check on these dangerous radicals.

Some screen shots from officer fullstop com, a LEO discussion board, discussing law enforcement's feelings on the protest and protesters. The original thread has been deleted unfortunately.

http://i6.photobucket.com/albums/y222/mpeake/Aminals/officercom1.png

http://i6.photobucket.com/albums/y222/mpeake/Aminals/officercom2.png

Robert said...

@Pangolin: Rent prices don't drop because rent is based in part on mortgage payments. If a house or housing project is rented out, the owner is trying to use rent to pay for much or all of the mortgage. Should their mortgage be high? Then rents will be high.

In addition, there are additional costs to renting, including repairs to the house, taxes, utilities (with electricity often being the responsibility of the renter but other utilities fostered on the owner), and lawyer fees for the inevitable eviction situations should a renter prove to be destructive or a criminal (a situation that happened in the house next door to me - the lady finally got rid of the renter when he was tossed in jail for stealing metal fencing at the city library). She found the renter had stolen a bunch of metal shelving from her basement and caused a bunch of destruction. (He also stole some of the fence from my own yard that wasn't readily visible thanks to bamboo growth.)

You can get decent rents at older apartment housing. The problem is, people don't want to rent those places because of the quality of your neighbor. It's why people want to own their own house - you don't have to listen to your neighbors screaming at each other through the walls.

In short, the banking and mortgage situation that has screwed over the homeowners has also screwed over the rental situation. And so long as the banks try to suck every last cent out of those houses rents won't go down. Especially as we're having a supply issue - fewer houses are available for rent as homes used for rent are foreclosed upon, more people are looking to rent... so demand is up, supply is down, and the bankers are the winners.

Rob H.

Tacitus2 said...

I believe there are some places that have addressed the supply and demand cycle by bulldozing vacant housing. Detroit for instance. Empty houses that are not going to be occupied anytime soon are a policing problem. Vacant lots not so much.

I think the next month or so will see the evaporation of the visible Occupation at most sites.

Which is in a way kind of sad. As a conservative I found the tactics oddly amusing. But the basic core ideas had some merit.

Who will pick through the dreck and debris and find the worthwhile concepts to champion?

In the politically charged year ahead, alas, nobody.

I could easily support a charge on short term trading. Heck, where else in the world will capital flee too? And all that disinfectant they used to swab down Zucotti park? An honest look at who benefits from the actions of Goldman Sachs, Fannie and Freddie, Solyandra (to be continued), would require much, much stronger stuff.

Tacitus

Seisactheia said...

@David Brin

I'm afraid I can't support them so cleanly. Much like any party, there are a few good eggs.

And I hate that they have my support solely because the opposing party has been captured entirely by, well, insanity. The lesser of two evils is not new to politics, but never before have I so actively loathed both evils.

And that's the thing. On nearly every issue that really matters to me(ACTA, Protect IP, COICA, privacy, campaign finance reform, unchecked power grabs by both the current administration and the past administration, relentless wiretapping and secret interpretations of the law, the TSA, the patriot act, the assasination of an American citizen, the shameful mistreatment of Bradley Manning, and on and on) the democrats as a party are on the wrong side. The leadership is on the wrong side. The way they actually vote is on the wrong side.

It doesn't really make me feel better that the Republicans might actually be a little bit more on the wrong side. (Or, you know, trying to actively destroy the economy).

The Democrats don't get a cookie from me because they might sometimes stop cozying up to the banks and to the MPAA/RIAA long enough to occasionally against the Republican's latest attempts to kill planned parenthood or NPR or whatever.

sociotard said...

Article about the problems with Phobos-Grunt, including technical and legal analysis.

http://www.thespacereview.com/article/1968/1

LarryHart said...

"Anonymous":

And why on earth would you say "you and Glenn Beck"? What gives you the idea that I agree with him, or even listen to him?
...
Capitalism didn't cause our poor economic situation. Banks under capitalism don't voluntarily give loans to unqualified people with zero down payment when there's little chance of being repaid. None of the government agencies who played a part in that disaster represent capitalism.


You just answered your own question. Banks were never forced to lend to unqualified borrowers--just forced to investigate borrowers as individuals rather than prejudge them by their zip code. You're repeating FOX propoganda verbatim. If it quacks like a duck...

LarryHart said...

David Hill:

This notion that Miller's post drives liberals crazy has been odd to me. I mean...he doesn't really SAY anything in his post.


I don't think it drives LIBERALS crazy so much as it drives liberal FRANK MILLER FANS crazy.

It's hard enough finding out that an idol has feet of clay. It's that much worse coming to the realization that, if he knew or cared I existed, he'd despise me. Again, not just because he's a celebrity, but because I actually used to admire his work and (even more so) his writings about creative freedom, much of which he's essentially contradicting now with his "You're either with the authoritarians or the terrorists" ravings.

Useless Eater said...

Tacitus2,

I disagree, OWS may shrink now mostly due to weather but but come Spring I believe the numbers will climb geometrically and the tactics will change. There are plenty of smart and informed people who have either lost everything or are in the process of losing it all.

The disgust and disillusionment with TPTB is genuine, it's not going away and it's only going to get worse as nothing substantial is done to remedy the root causes of our problems. The politicians will do their usual Kabuki theater where everyone knows the broad outline of what's going to happen before anything even starts, the only quibbling will be over who gets which particular piece of pork.

There are a lot of us out here who are drowning and for more than a few of us OWS is the closest thing we've seen to a life preserver in thirty years or more. If you think we are letting go of it then you've never been in trouble in the water and you certainly haven't been trained as a lifeguard.

The quote about a man without hope being a man without fear was an illuminating one to me, I don't believe I have heard that one before, I've forgotten who posted it but thank you.

Rule 35: That which does not kill me has made a tactical error.

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin:

My libertarianism is thus genuine. Competition is the great creative force of the universe! But my libertarianism also is heretical. Ayn Rand's followers hate me. But wait a couple of days. They will hate me even more!


Can't wait! I have no idea what pecifically you're going to say, but I'm loving it already.

Incidentally, writing about Frank Miller is not as big a distraction as it might seem from Ayn Rand. I don't know if he's a complete fan of hers, but he does throw around plenty of Rand references in his work. In fact, I first became aware of "Atlas Shrugged" because of a Frank Miller comic (one of the "Martha Washington" series, for anyone who would care).

LarryHart said...

Pangolin:

Is capitalism supposed to destroy or idle resources?

If not why are there so many vacant storefronts? How is it that the US has millions of houses and rental units that remain empty yet the prices never seem to drop enough to fill them? Why is the farmland washing down the Mississippi in giant floods brought on by climate change?


That failure mode of capitalism is demonstrated most eloquently in "The Grapes of Wrath". Millions starving within sight of fruit that is rotting on the vine for lack of picking. The solution would seem to be obvious, but it wasn't profitable enough for the "owners" to get the food to the hungry people.

The problem seems to me that there are actual human (individual and social) needs that are...not ANTI-capitalist so much, but independent OF capitalism. Capitalism is a good system for serving those needs that the market takes care of. Serving those needs that the market DOESN'T handle well would seem to be the legitimate province of a democratic government. The uber capitalists like our "Anonymous" poster who buys into the "You're either with the capitalists or you want to utterly destroy capitalism" have to pretend (as an unquestioned axiom) that ONLY those needs represented by efficient market transactions are actual needs. In that warped vision of reality, there is no DEMAND for food in the "Grapes of Wrath" scneario because the hungry people have no cash to buy food with.

In the real world, you can't define a problem out of existence.

LarryHart said...

Seisectheia:
(gotta love that name!)

and finally, at no one in particular...I just want to circle back to OWS. Everything is just so crazy, these days. The economy, the politics. We've all become bizarro versions of what we were before. I am rendered speechless sometimes by the fact that it's not considered a radical position to be against torture, assasination, and warrant-less searches and seizures. I am stunned by the absurdity of people being called communist because they dare question rampant corruption. I am just unable to wrap my brain around the brutal, heavy-handed reactions to peaceful protests, the way that violence is cheered and supported by large segments of the public...by the way that people who are really suffering in this economy can rally around blowhards who go on about how the people who are protesting are just too lazy to find work. As if there were any work to be found.

In some ways, 9/11 DID change everything, and not for the better. I want to elaborate more, but you summed it up quite well.

It's chilling to realize that by any measure, "pro-American" conservatives of today would be on the side of the British in 1776 and (as Dr Brin points out time and again) on the side of the Rebels in 1861. Listening to Rush and Beck, I'd also be tempted to add "on the side of the fascists in 1939".

And yet WE are the anti-American traitors?

And that's kind of why I haven't minded the amorphous nature of the protests. There's just too much to protest. It's just all too big and gone to far that just protesting one simple thing wouldn't be enough.


Right. Just a general sense that "The system is broken and needs to be fixed."

"I'm mad as Hell, and I'm not going to take it any more!"

or my favorite, despite the hysterical irony of it having been written by Frank Miller...

"A man without hope, is a man without fear."

LarryHart said...

Useless Eater:

The quote about a man without hope being a man without fear was an illuminating one to me, I don't believe I have heard that one before, I've forgotten who posted it but thank you.


I was the one who posted it, and it's from a comic book (ironically, for the umpteenth time, written by Frank Miller). It's part of a story arc written in the mid 1980s. The villanous crime lord, The Kingpin, has discovered the secret identity of the hero, Daredevil. He works behind the scenes to destroy Daredevil's (civilian) life, and by the time Daredevil physically confronts the Kingpin, he (Daredevil) is foaming-at-the-mouth insane. Kinpin defeats him easily and has him placed in a car, seatbelt sealed with "a chemical process indistinguishable from rust", splashed with alcohol, and dumped into the river to drown.

That issue ends with Kingpin hearing the discovery of the car on the news, but the car is EMPTY.

And the usually-unflappable Kingpin is left realizing that he's made a huge tactical error (as you put it). Because his enemy is still out there with nothing left to lose and a BIG mad on.

"I have shown him," thinks the Kingpin to himself, "that a man without hope...is a man without FEAR."

(And since you probably don't know, the tag-line underneath the name "Daredevil" on every cover was "The man without fear.")

LarryHart said...

Tacitus2:

I think the next month or so will see the evaporation of the visible Occupation at most sites.


In a way, the forced evictions are a favor to the OWS folks. Paul Krugman writes today what I was thinking already:


In a way Occupy Wall Street — and all of those who are sympathetic to its concerns — should be grateful. There were, let’s face it, arguments in favor of an eviction carried out with full transparency and a proper regard for civil rights — although there were also arguments, stronger in my view, for allowing this peaceful, meaningful protest to continue. By acting so badly, Bloomberg has made it easy to see who won’t be truthful and can’t handle open discourse. He’s also saved OWS from what was probably its greatest problem, the prospect that it would just fade away as time went on and the days grew colder.


And while I'm on Krugman, he also posted this, which I think is worth repeating on his behalf:

Oh, one thing about Felix’s commentary: he describes me as always pessimistic. But my pessimism has been selective; I’ve been pessimistic about unemployment and growth, but optimistic about interest rates and inflation. So it’s not just about crying doom, doom. I think that counts for something — especially since I’ve been right …

sociotard said...

6 Terrifying Emergency Escape Pods

Useless Eater said...

Washington Post implies that OWS are vermin.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/in-occupy-movement-more-trouble-or-change/2011/11/15/gIQAu9dVPN_story.html


Is this an occupation or an infestation?

Just plug the word "Jew" in there and then see how the term "infestation" sounds.

"Are these Jews an occupation or an infestation?".

Has a nice ring, no?

Eh, it probably sounded better in the original German.

BTW, If anyone wants me to move on I'll be happy to oblige, I realize politics is not the central focus of this blog and I'm having a hard time talking about anything else right now.

Kennethos said...

Hi David:
Why do I "resent" the OWS "kids"? I suppose I "resent" them for the same reason I'd object to immature, irresponsibly teens going to late-night party, getting drunk, driving, and killing something. It's.... wait for it... irresponsible behavior!, from those who are themselves complaining about irresponsible behavior from Wall St. and the gov't. There's a word for it: hypocrisy.
I don't recall saying anything about Fox (or CNN, MSNBC, etc.), oligarchs, etc. I complained about lenient treatment for whiny kids, and adults looking the other way.
The kids stand on civilization, and then attack it, irresponsibly. Feel free to address my point, rather than ranting about everything else.

Useless Eater said...

A cheery graph on prosecutions for bank fraud.

http://economistsview.typepad.com/

whableg: A large cetacean writes a begging blog post.

Useless Eater said...

Kennethos,

I'll just point you to Mike Luckovich.

http://blogs.ajc.com/mike-luckovich/files/2011/11/newmikecolor.jpg

David Brin said...

onward...

Nocomme1 said...

What on Earth does 300 have to do with OWS? How does any fiction Miller wrote, whether abhorrent or delightful have any bearing on OWS or the veracity of what Miller says about them? It doesn't and your attempt to conflate the two is a straw man and a non sequitur. Your entire "argument" and all those who have bought into it here are embarrassing.

And your attempt to lend some sort of veneer of acceptability to the ranting, defecating, violent rabble that can be witnessed in hundreds of videos readily available to millions of people, by calling them "young citizens, clumsily feeling their way ahead toward saving their country..." is as heavy-handed an attempt at manipulation as I have ever seen.

OWS' claim to any kind of seriousness isn't just negated by their uncivil, frequently criminal behavior but also by some of their "demands" which have been posted on their web site and follow:

"Demand one: Restoration of the living wage. This demand can only be met by ending “Freetrade” by re-imposing trade tariffs on all imported goods entering the American market to level the playing field for domestic family farming and domestic manufacturing as most nations that are dumping cheap products onto the American market have radical wage and environmental regulation advantages. Another policy that must be instituted is raise the minimum wage to twenty dollars an hr.

Demand two: Institute a universal single payer healthcare system. To do this all private insurers must be banned from the healthcare market as their only effect on the health of patients is to take money away from doctors, nurses and hospitals preventing them from doing their jobs and hand that money to wall st. investors.

Demand three: Guaranteed living wage income regardless of employment.

Demand four: Free college education.

Demand five: Begin a fast track process to bring the fossil fuel economy to an end while at the same bringing the alternative energy economy up to energy demand.

Demand six: One trillion dollars in infrastructure (Water, Sewer, Rail, Roads and Bridges and Electrical Grid) spending now.

Demand seven: One trillion dollars in ecological restoration planting forests, reestablishing wetlands and the natural flow of river systems and decommissioning of all of America’s nuclear power plants.

Demand eight: Racial and gender equal rights amendment.

Demand nine: Open borders migration. anyone can travel anywhere to work and live.

Demand ten: Bring American elections up to international standards of a paper ballot precinct counted and recounted in front of an independent and party observers system.

Demand eleven: Immediate across the board debt forgiveness for all. Debt forgiveness of sovereign debt, commercial loans, home mortgages, home equity loans, credit card debt, student loans and personal loans now! All debt must be stricken from the “Books.” World Bank Loans to all Nations, Bank to Bank Debt and all Bonds and Margin Call Debt in the stock market including all Derivatives or Credit Default Swaps, all 65 trillion dollars of them must also be stricken from the “Books.” And I don’t mean debt that is in default, I mean all debt on the entire planet period.

Demand twelve: Outlaw all credit reporting agencies.

Demand thirteen: Allow all workers to sign a ballot at any time during a union organizing campaign or at any time that represents their yeah or nay to having a union represent them in collective bargaining or to form a union.

These demands will create so many jobs it will be completely impossible to fill them without an open borders policy."

What inane nonsense.

You can direct as many invectives as you like at Miller (and I'm sure you'll probably toss some my way, as well) but it won't do a thing to make you right.

Useless Eater said...

Larry Hart,

Daredevil has been around for quite a while, I do remember the old comic book and now you mention it I recall his tagline.

Pangolin said...

Nocomme1's profile lists him as a government worker. If that doesn't invalidate him these points should.......... ranting, defecating, violent rabble that can be witnessed in hundreds of videos .... The classic use of painting with a broad brush fallacy.

Conservative congressmen are well known to go on wild rants.
Everybody defecates; not everybody has access to a toilet. It's not national news when college students s#1t and p1*s everywhere in college towns.
The "violent rabble" have been observed in thousands of videos standing peacefully while police attacked them.

Nocomme1 appears to live in a universe turned 180 degrees from reality. If we all painted with a broad brush there would be no children's football, church groups, or ballet because of the documented history of sexual abuse in these venues.

I'll address only one of the OWS demands here:

Demand eleven: Immediate across the board debt forgiveness for all. Debt forgiveness of sovereign debt, commercial loans, home mortgages, home equity loans, credit card debt, student loans and personal loans now! All debt must be stricken from the “Books.” World Bank Loans to all Nations, Bank to Bank Debt and all Bonds and Margin Call Debt in the stock market including all Derivatives or Credit Default Swaps, all 65 trillion dollars of them must also be stricken from the “Books.” And I don’t mean debt that is in default, I mean all debt on the entire planet period.

Given the current economic regimes and current values of money the planet doesn't have the resources available to both pay these debts and sustain the human race. Period.

If we pay these debts we doom the biosphere and humanity goes extinct or a tiny fragment survives as cockroach ranchers. The pretense that the debts will be repaid with technology not developed and/or installed and political/economic systems not currently empowered is like wishing the Flying Pink Unicorns will make everything better. There is no foundation in fact.

LarryHart said...

Pangolin:

Nocomme1 appears to live in a universe turned 180 degrees from reality.


All right-wingers do these days. In fact, the presumption that they are lying (or incredibly ignorant) is a prerequestite to understanding what anyone could mean by the words that they speak.

rewinn said...

@noncomme wrote:
"...some of their "demands" which have been posted on their web site ..."

The lack of a link is telling!

I would call "B.S.!" but I've seen that list before. It's from a blog posting, not from a GA resolution. One might as validly argue that Dr. Brin believes "...all OWS people were unemployed English majors ..." because, after all, it's right here in his blog !!!

I feel for the @noncommes of the world, who just don't understand participatory democracy. People in a discussion of ways and means propose all sorts of ideas: some will be good, some will be bad, but none of them are the group's - at least, not until the group adopts them ... which OWS has not.

Putting things in the kindest possible light for the OWS-haters, they are blinded by their authoritarianism. They keep looking for the guy in charge, the paymaster, the Authority, and assume that whatever is said in a discussion MUST represent the boss's view, because otherwise it would not be permitted to be said.

A less kind view is that the 1%rs are just cherrypicking and hoping no-one notices. This might have worked in the old days, when going back to sources was difficult. But today, not so; we can connect directly with the 99% and judge the Tory's claims for ourselves.

It may be that Toryism is doomed by an inability to adapt to information openness (but then again, there's China, which is making a huge argument that information can indeed be contained by a sufficiently ruthless aristocracy. So who knows?)

At any rate, our duty is clear: the data must flow!

Anonymous said...

This is brilliant. Thank you for posting it. Not sure if it was brought up but another big difference between the Spartans and Athenians (I think it was Thucydides that pointed this out) is that the Athenians had a sense of daring the Spartans lacked.

Of course this led to the disastrous invasion of Sicily. Then again the Athenians were told they would be welcomed as liberators. Sound familiar.

David Brin said...

Gee whiz... and nocommie lectures ME about "ranting"???

Anyway... onward to next post... I'll not come back here!

sociotard said...

this Herman Cain blunder is worth watching.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0vr7QLp3Uhc

Seisactheia said...

@Larry Hart

Thanks! One day, I'm going to have a kickass sailboat, and I'm naming it Seisachtheia. The shaking off of burdens indeed :)

As to traitors and being anti-american...I keep thinking that someone needs to make a silly video with all the tea-party allegations of treason (and calling the democrats the party of traitors) with Jefferson and Madison and etc.

You know, we're kind of in a crazy place when Richard Nixon would be considered left wing (and on a less serious note, probably more respectful of civil liberties).

JD Rhoades said...

Wait...300 wasn't a comedy?

I know my son and I laughed the whole way through it.

Martin Millar said...

I really enjoyed this blog. Marathon and Salamis were the really epic battles that saved Greece, and the Athenians were the main heroes, and you describe all this really well.

David Brin said...

ALl right, I'll make the 200th comment... then pleas bring any further discussions to the MOST RECENT posting! ;-)

onward

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