Saturday, December 09, 2006

Blake Fleetwood, American Commissar Amongst a Forest (If he falls, does he make a sound?)?

"All empires in history have ceased to exist. It's a historically inevitable process [my emphasis] that was pre-determined for the USSR too."

--Former Russian President Boris Yeltsin commenting-on the fall of the Soviet Union last-week, which could be applied to American Empire at this moment, too.

HUFFINGTONPOST--I'm not sure why they have individualss like Blake Fleetwood writing their flibber-flabber at Huffington Post, it must be their attempt at 'balance' (why bother in a media environment like ours?). It probably has more to do with Arianna Huffington's wooing of 'star' writers (GEORGE CLOONEY). How's that for balance? In case you didn't know, Fleetwood has written for the New York Times, the New Yorker, Village Voice, and a bunch of other rags that cater to the cognoscenti and other bourgies. Today, he's 'commemorating' (masturbatory worshipping?) the fall of the Soviet Union on this day in 1991--notice how alone he is? I know-I-know, look at all the parades today in both nations, it's everywhere! All is now pure, and everyone is prosperous! It reminds me of all the parades they had for Condi Rice--the first Black woman to be Sec. of State. Or what about the ones in the Hispanic community for Alberto Gonzales, our first Latin Attorney General? Wow! They were cleaning-up the ticker-tape for weeks. Man, those were BIG parades, especially in Black communities. Those were glorious days amigo.

Nobody cares, we didn't get any of the 'peace-dividend' we were promised, just a world where another superpower couldn't keep us in-check anymore. China is about to make it plain on this count. Hell, we knew that the Soviet Union was over when we invaded Panama and Kuwait, with December 9th & the 31st being a formality. Corruption and mortality killed the Soviet Union. But Fleetwood decides on some revisionism from that dusty old bag of corporate agitprop. He writes about how all the different Soviet Republics fell-away, then inserts this in for all us children who must be told everything:

Meanwhile, the Soviet economy continued to deteriorate and collapse from internal economic contradictions [Ed.-which he conveniently doesn't elaborate on]. "From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs"was not working, nor was it ever going to work. People are greedy and materialistic. By December 1991, food shortages in central Russia resulted in the introduction of food rationing in the Moscow area for the first time since World War II.

Being an potential American commissar, he had to omit several-things, like the fact that the Soviet system wasn't Socialist but authoritarian Marxist-Leninist forced production. Maybe this is part of the brevity required of blogging, I don't know. He's just vague about a lot, and the subject is too complicated for a blog of the length he submitted. But, Fleetwood knows what side his bread is buttered on, and his mortgage is more important than the truth. Under the Soviet system, there were no incentives because everyone there knew it wasn't a system but a regime that merely paid lip-service to Populist Socialism. Only hacks (like Fleetwood?) were rewarded for their obedience, and this was if they were lucky. Indeed, worker's councils were always portrayed in Cold War propaganda in the West as fundamentally anti-democratic, but Fleetwood ignores this aspect of the propaganda matrix he's dipping-into. Maybe he has the good fortune of brevity in blogs on his side, just like with TV. His point--if there is one--is muddled.

It's worrying to see what could be subtle, arch-conservative propaganda on Huffington Post, but it won't be the last time. This about our assumptions about how the world works and it's a point that is very susceptible to manipulation. Here's my reply that may, or may not be there today. I emailed Mr. Fleetwood with a slightly different version. This site doesn't expect a coherent or logical reply. Strangely, Fleetwood makes another observation that was part of his byline, and which doesn't support his central thesis (or does it?):
But today, Fifteen years later, 56.3% of Russians regret the disintegration of the Soviet Union, according to a survey by the Bashkirov and Partners consultancy as reported by Granma, the Cuban Press Agency.

They had certainty, at least, that's what Russians are saying. Under capitalism, they have almost none. He just sounds cagey, doesn't he? Just spell-it-out. Saying the Soviet Union had real Socialism is a relic of Cold War propaganda, it doesn't wash anymore. Newsflash: the younger-generation doesn't care about that period. They weren't indoctrinated for decades with anti-Left (RED BAITER) propaganda like many of you were. What an ass-licker. Not that telling a commissar any of this would have any effect! The commissar is deaf, dumb and blind to anything that doesn't support the aims of the power they serve, or their own selfish interests. Judith Miller & Bob Woodward, take note. 

My response, with an excerpt from his piece:

"From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs" was not working, nor was it ever going to work.

People are greedy and materialistic [Ed.-Especially Blake Fleetwood & Co.?].

Well, nice try anyway. One obvious reason why the Soviet system did not work is that it was based on cronyism and absurd power relationships. It NEVER had anything to do with that slogan. Most production--which I am sure you know, and omit--is that the Soviet system was authoritarian, and based on capitalistic 'Taylorism'--scientific management. The Marxist-Leninists adored the notion of forced production, and authoritarian management styles, because it reflected their own attitudes and desires.

No, the average worker in the Soviet Union knew full-well that their work would never be rewarded, no matter how hard they toiled. The result was: shoddy manufacturing quality, poor distribution networking, and a system based more on power-relationships and cronyism. What you had was a national slowdown of work and quality on the part of the Soviet worker, and innumerable-analogies can be found in our own labor history. Poor reasoning and oversimplification by the blogger. We will meet a similar fate, for similar reasons. In the end, it was just a regime of cronies who had seized power illegally--sound familiar?

And this wasn't even figuring-in the devastation to infrastructure created by WWI and WWII, another reason the Soviet system was dysfunctional. Crisis breeds even more social ossification. The real Communists/Bolsheviks spout what Fleetwood writes, they just call themselves capitalists. We just have a corporate authoritarianism, and as long as it continues to erode democracy, societal decay will accelerate.

I hope someone gave Blake Fleetwood his dacha, because his writing sucks, he might need property that's already paid-for. Anyone want his job? Maybe it'll be outsourced to India soon. The end of the Cold War has only been good for elites in both countries, not for working-class people. Told you so. Has Blake Fleetwood has ever read Eliot's 'The Hollow Men.' Why do I know he doesn't see the irony in his blog? Or does he? Trust: a rare commodity in America, especially concerning journalists and the media in general. I just cannot trust this man, but I could easily be wrong! This is the mess many of them have created. Too slippery, we want clarity. If he wanted to stimulate a dialog, he succeeded and deserves the credit due to him.

Blake Fleetwood on his own sense of importance:

12/12/2006: A reader has suggested that Fleetwood is being sarcastic, but I believe this is a very subjective reading of the piece. If he was attempting to make a dry-observation, he failed, and he hasn't added anything new to the dialog. Maybe that wasn't his aim. We've known for years that people in Russia have wished for a return to the assurances of the Soviet system that aren't present under 'market-discipline'. They still do. Who can blame them? The Republicans, of course.