February 22, 2004

The Decline and Fall of Adbusters Magazine

A few years ago I was a big fan of Adbusters magazine. I loved the way it mimicked the obnoxious manipulation techniques of TV and magazine ads and flung it all right back at ’em. The skewering of shallow consumer culture really struck a chord with me.

After 9-11 I put this project on my own back burner. It was suddenly all so trivial. The writers, designers, and editors of the magazine must have sensed what they were doing was getting shunted off to the side by momentous events. So they ramped it up. They pushed their previously mild subversion into overdrive.

The current issues of Adbusters would have turned me off even then.

Here are some excerpts from a current piece by the editor Kalle Lasn. It’s called World War IV.

It has come down to this: a fight to the finish against the evil forces of capital that would wage a terror upon terror upon terror without end.
The evil forces of capital? I don’t remember the old Adbusters ever publishing sentences like this. Kalle Lasn has previously written that he has a visceral hatred of Communism. That wasn't so hard to believe. He’s from Estonia and knows Communism up close and personal. But it looks like some of the propaganda got hard-wired into his brain.
In time we will learn to modulate our resistance — to raise it to the point where airport-type security systems are needed just to let customers into stores, until the daily pain and cost of doing business as usual becomes simply too high to bear.
In other words, he wants to terrorize his community.
Then, at our pleasure, we will lower our resistance to reward the concessions being made.
Well that’s nice. At least he still has some sense of restraint. Let’s hope his readers share it.
We don’t have to get the shit kicked out of us like we did in Miami. Instead, we grow the power and sophistication of our networks and ratchet up our disobedience. We attack in the dead of night and under the noonday sun. We hit them before, during and after world events. Bit by bit, hit by hit we bend them to our will.
“We bend them to our will.” This thuggish mentality is definitely not the Adbusters I used to know.
Military might does not count for much anymore. The global capital machine is now so finely tuned, so delicately balanced, that just one virus, one blackout, one bushfire, one mad cow, one hand-held rocket launcher, one gram of plutonium, has the potential to crash the whole deal. From now on, all the king’s horses and all the king’s men will not be able to keep it together.

That’s the dirty, anarchic, kick-ass side of World War IV. [Emphasis added.]

From the context of the piece, it doesn’t look like Mr. Lasn expects his “culture jammers” to be the ones wielding the rocket launchers and the plutonium. I guess (although I am guessing) he expects Al Qaeda to carry out those attacks.

But it’s awfully telling, is it not, that he thinks downing a passenger jet with a rocket launcher or destroying New York with a nuclear weapon is “kick-ass.”

This brings to mind a powerful recent piece in Slate by Christopher Hitchens.

Having been screened by the special operations department of the Pentagon last August (see Charles Paul Freund's piece in Slate), The Battle of Algiers is now scheduled for a run at the New York Film Forum. Unless I am wrong, this event will lead to a torrent of pseudo-knowing piffle from the armchair guerrillas (well, there ought to be a word for this group). I myself cherished the dream of being something more than an armchair revolutionary when I first saw this electrifying movie. It was at a volunteer work-camp for internationalists, in Cuba in the summer of 1968. Che Guevara had only been dead for a few months, the Tet rising in Vietnam was still a fresh and vivid memory, and in Portuguese Africa the revolution was on the upswing. I went to the screening not knowing what to expect and was so mesmerized that when it was over I sat there until they showed it again. I was astounded to discover, sometime later on, that Gillo Pontecorvo had employed no documentary footage in the shooting of the film: It looked and felt like revolutionary reality projected straight onto the screen.

When I next saw it, in Bleecker Street in the Village in the early 1970s, it didn't have quite the same shattering effect. Moreover, in the audience (as in that Cuban camp, as I later found out) there were some idiots who fancied the idea of trying "urban guerrilla" warfare inside the West itself. The film had a potently toxic effect on Black Panthers, Weathermen, Baader-Meinhof, and Red Brigade types. All that needs to be said about that "moment" of the Left is that its practitioners ended up dead or in prison, having advanced the cause of humanity by not one millimeter.

Those on today’s radical left are having a similar “moment.” Plenty of these fools will end up dead or in jail. And even the strictly intellectual radicals aren’t doing a damn thing for the cause of humanity except reminding the rest of us that even after the fall of the Soviet Union there are enemies to the left. (No, not everyone on the left, just some of the radicals.)

It's depressing and sad to watch people I used to admire degenerate in this way. My consolation is that others, like Christopher Hitchens, who I admired at the same time for the same reasons, escaped from that quagmire, too.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at February 22, 2004 09:52 PM
Comments

In complete agreement with you, Michael. I, too, was a big fan of AB back in the late '90s, but its one-note obsession with corporate power (however arbitrarily defined) got increasingly shrill and finally seemed so piddling after 9/11. And Kalle Lasn certainly has no business uttering the phrase "evil forces of capitalism" while selling back issues of his magazine for $10.

Posted by: Peter Vidito at February 22, 2004 10:21 PM

Nice piece MJT. To put it simply, 911 inspired some to become more reasonable and responsible as well. In this, it is my opinion you are a shining example. Others unfortunately have allowed politics, prejudices, paranoia and a host of other reasons to cause them to go bonkers, for lack of a better phrase. They have become less reasonable to put it mildly. People like to say we never got over the 2000 election and that is why this election will be so heated. As for me? I say many have never come to grips with 911, this causes 911 to be used as a prism through which the woes of the 2000 election are exasperated and exaggerated as well. I was a Gore voter and as frustrated as anyone. Hell my parents are even Jewish “Buchanan” voters of West Palm Beach. Another effect however is that some people like me have not stayed as reasonable as you have.

For many like me the change has inspired us to go completely to the “dark side” in my case the neo-cons. The frustration this causes my family and friends increases the bitterness. I hold the left in contempt because they can give me no answers to justify their positions. I hold the left in contempt because I see unmarked graves in Iraq and think of my own dead in Poland, Germany, Russia and Hungary and get pissed because the left (a majority of their voices) is more than content to let such things go on for reasons that go from pathetic to downright selfishly sick. I carry my own guilt because I wasn’t as ardently anti-communist as I should have been and viewed Reagan as much a war-monger as the Soviets. I see the collective left as dogs consuming their own vomit. For me the day of forgiveness is passing fast.

Posted by: Samuel at February 22, 2004 10:29 PM

Samuel...

I completely know where you're coming from. Stuff like this boggles the mind, it really does. And turns my stomach. But before you stray any further from the "reasonable", may I suggest a subscription to The New Republic?

We are a few and ever dying breed, but there still survives a sane and rational element on the Left. We're pro-war and bleeding heart and we make no bones about it, nor do we find a contradiction between the two. We believe, in fact, that in a post-9/11 world the two become one in the same. We're pretty goddamned hard to find anymore, but we're still here. Don't forget about us.

Posted by: Grant McEntire at February 22, 2004 11:15 PM

I second Grant's suggestion. Everyone should subscribe to The New Republic. If you're left, it will sober you up. If you're knee-jerk right, you'll hate the Democrats less. If you're moderate right, you'll appreciate that there are people on the moderate left worth listening to.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at February 22, 2004 11:19 PM

"your over-zealous desire to defend the left however, dilutes your reasonableness"...

Samuel, I just caught this response to a comment of mine in a previous post. I belong on the Left because my principles are liberal in the best sense of the word: Principles above partisanship, principles above dogma, principles above the maddened crowd.

So long as New Republic Liberals, like myself, are out there then I'll keep on defending the Left. Nothing unreasonable about that.

Posted by: Grant McEntire at February 22, 2004 11:30 PM

Grant you’re still my favorite self describing liberal. Obviously if I held hope I would still be with you. Grant, I already hold a subscription to the New Republic. Hell that’s just Joe Lieberman in print. I love Joe Lieberman. Do you think he would be more respected on the right or the left? Well I know the answer to that one. The right would view him as moderate, the left views him as a sell out. Grant you have plenty of time to recover if you can’t make changes where you stand. I applaud you for bearing that standard. I just see Kerry and Edwards talking down NAFTA and free trade and see the Republicans truly more neo-liberal on fiscal matters. And I know the Republicans are more hawkish as well. When social issues come to trump my survival and fiscal reasons then I’ll think about it.

I watch the Beltway Boys on Fox and see Mort Kondrake and say to myself, “man if they were all like him”. Alas I am twice your age and have three teenagers, they need to see their Dad pull that Republican lever not just once, but a few times with vigor so I might break that paleo-liberal Ted Kennedy type curse that hangs over my family’s politics, I’m the oldest son, that is my duty. Grant, I totally respect your position. If my congressman hadn’t blamed our current problems on the pro-Israel cabal he would have had my vote this time as well. But alas he also went “bonkers” and broke my heart as well. For now I’ve chosen to give benefit of the doubt to Republicans for a cycle or two, we’ll see after that. I’m not sticking with anyone just because they have a party label, it is just my benefit of the doubt allegiance has switched for a season, I will reevaluate. I should have voted for Reagan though and didn’t because I went bonkers then. I was college age then, like you are now. If you vote Bush now, you will show more maturity than I ever did at your age. I give you credit. Trust me however, with your greater maturity at a younger age, if you find the Democrats keeping the same stupid habits for as long as I have, when you are 45, it will have gotten to you as well.

Posted by: Samuel at February 22, 2004 11:47 PM

Grant,

"your over-zealous desire to defend the left however, dilutes your reasonableness"...

I said that because if I as a neo-con found myself somehow excusing inexcusable paleo type behavior from the right I would be made to look less reasonable. There is a difference between liberal and leftist as we both know. In my opinion you were getting caught up into sliding past that distinction, that's all. I obviously think highly of you and MJT.

Posted by: Samuel at February 22, 2004 11:56 PM

Samuel...

My party allegiance goes no further than my allegiance to principled liberalism of the bleeding heart variety. As such, in my short time on this earth, I've traditionally identified with the Democratic Party.

Today, I'm faced with a Democratic Party quickly losing her liberal heart for healing the world around her and a Republican Party slowly warming up to Wilsonian idealism. These are a strange set of events, to say the least.

In the year 2000, George W. Bush described himself as a compassionate conservative. To tell you the truth, I didn't believe him for a second. But then 9/11 happened and something woke up in the guy I would never had expected: Bleeding Heart Conservatism was born.

Now, I'm not completely certain which is more liberal in spirit: "Bleeding Heart Conservatism" or "Stone Cold Liberalism". Conservative Republicans still spew an intollerant rhetoric in regards to gays, arab minorities, and the rights of women. Conservative Republicans still don't seem to be bothered by the 44 million uninsured Americans living in the land of plenty, at least not bothered enough to do something (anything) to help them. Yet, they are leading the global democratic revolution Democrats have so stridently given up on and exporting liberalism overseas.

And so as the modern Democratic Party leads the call for a return to normalcy, I'm at a loss for words. I'll vote for the bigger bleeding heart in November. Sad to say, I still haven't figured out just who that is.

Posted by: Grant McEntire at February 23, 2004 12:19 AM

Christopher Hitchens is God, by the way. Or at least His second or third cousin.

Posted by: Grant McEntire at February 23, 2004 12:39 AM

Grant…Conservative Republicans still don't seem to be bothered by the 44 million uninsured Americans living in the land of plenty, at least not bothered enough to do something (anything) to help them.

What? Horseshit! Republicans don't care! Intolerant rhetoric! Againts women, Arabs, minorities, gays! Knock it off and open your eyes! Grant, these are prejudicial statements period! References please! Come up with them and I will match them with like crap from the left.

Grant just admit it this. They approach problems differently. You think the Democrats ideas and policy is better. It is not that they care more. State the differences. Great Society caring created poverty for Gods sake. You overlook much by the left in these departments. I see the Democrats views on school choice and labor unions as cynical at best. Every major Democrat down to even Barbara Boxer is abandoning gay marriage. 44 million uninsured, ascribed to Republicans not caring? Who are you Terry McCullough? Please Grant that is class warfare. I have over 700 well insured employees. And screw the unions I know what they are about these days. I don’t care. Republicans insure more people than democrats, of course to Democrats government good, business evil. Governmet is more evil than a business can ever be. Uninsured isn't about Republicans it is about the economy and things that need to be addressed. I know more business owners than you will probably ever shake a stick at and they are for the most part Republican and give just as much of a shit as you do. I grant you that Democrats are better at rhetorically saying they care. Republican's will do more to try to fix them. Medicare? The left carps and says it isn't enough. Hell the Democrats just preferred to have it as an issue to demagogue the Republicans over. Well see I've seen these scripts before. Like Great Society Welfare Programs the Dems plans for fixing them suck to say the least. They are sliding back to those tendencies. I run a business I deal with the Government in Washington D.C. I know where solutions come from. It isn’t the government unless it comes riding in the form of a tank.

Posted by: Samuel at February 23, 2004 12:54 AM

Sigh...so much for all the glowing reviews.

Women's Rights = Freedom of Choice

Gay Rights = A Constitutional Amendment Comes To Mind. Do I Even Really Have To Defend This?

Arab Minorities = The Vast Majority of Rank and File Republicans I Know. Personal Experience.

As for the rest: I never claimed to be arguing policy, I claimed to be arguing principle. Republican Party priorities speak volumes to what matters most to them. Bush pushes Tax Cuts and not Health Coverage. Democrats push Health Coverage and not Tax Cuts. Looks pretty cut and dry to me.

I offend you somehow when I submit normative opinions so you come back at me with 10 times the volume. I'm not going to get into a shouting match with you. We agree to disagree, or at least I do. Please be "reasonable".

Posted by: Grant McEntire at February 23, 2004 01:23 AM

Michael,

A year and a half ago Adbusters published a "deep green" genocidal fantasy piece by Doug Copeland called "The Vanishees". I highly recommend it for anyone who wants to clue in about these folks. The problem isn't capitalism, apparently, it's people. Period.

As befits a Green/Left publication, the issue is only available in dead tree form, and you have to pay for it. But someone at a quaintly transgressive site apparently typed the whole thing in and you can read it here.

Posted by: lewy14 at February 23, 2004 02:22 AM

"As befits a Green/Left publication, the issue is only available in dead tree form, and you have to pay for it. But someone at a quaintly transgressive site apparently typed the whole thing in and you can read it here."

So, Adbusters apparently publishes articles that advocate that I be murdered and that my girlfriend be turned into a roboticized zombi.

Charming.

Posted by: Moe Lane at February 23, 2004 03:32 AM

Yo McEntire,

I got news for you; Democrats dont' give a flying hoot about the uninsured either. If they did, they wouldn't let demographic rating get instituted by the insurance companies in all those Democratic controlled states in the Northeast. If they actually cared about the uninsured, they'd do something about the trial lawyers that are driving malpractice insurance rates so high that doctors are LEAVING certain states rather than practice there. But knowing that actually requires knowing something. Wait till you actually get into the real world, not that cocoon of a college life you're in.

As to the radical-chic-left--oh pleez pleez pleez pleez I hope they take up arms again. It will be so much more entertaining this time.

Posted by: eric at February 23, 2004 05:32 AM

"It's depressing and sad to watch people I used to admire degenerate in this way."

Degenerated or simply followed their premises to their logical conclusion?

I maintain that it isn't THEM that have changed, Mr. Totten. YOU have altered your premises (not a terrible thing BTW).

Posted by: ex at February 23, 2004 05:47 AM

It's not like the magazine used to be called Adcompromisers...

Posted by: Phil at February 23, 2004 06:42 AM

It's fun to criticize westerners like those at adbusters who embrace a dimwitted anti-americanism of the luddite or ultraleftist variety. It's much less fun, but much more important, to come to grips with the worldview of those preaching hatred of america in the muslim world. Berman's Terror and Liberalism is a start, and I suppose Benjamin Barber and Bernard Lewis have some good stuff to say too. Further in this regard, the current New York Review of Books has what looks to be a very interesting article by Avishai Margalit and Ian Buruma called Seeds of Revolution. It contains an amazing photograph of a pakistani holding a cell phone sporting a screen design that illustrates a plane flying into the two towers, accompanied by the phrase "death to america," or something like it. I haven't read the whole article, but its a meditation on the "why do they hate us" theme, a damn good question, despite the fact that some silly people are asking it as well. Know thine enemy.

If you get a chance to read it, Michael, I'd be curious to hear what you think.

http://www.nybooks.com/articles/16955

Posted by: markus rose at February 23, 2004 07:41 AM

Thank you eric.

I offend you somehow when I submit normative opinions so you come back at me with 10 times the volume. I'm not going to get into a shouting match with you. We agree to disagree, or at least I do. Please be "reasonable".

I came back holding you to account for what I truly have come to believe. The left holds more unsubstantiated prejudice these days. Even your answers said nothing…

Women's Rights = Freedom of Choice

Do you really believe this? Has it come down to that? Grant pretty shallow, don’t run for office on that slogan. Your reasons are simplistic. I am pro-choice however the arguments are more complicated than that. It is more about things like partial birth abortion and fetal right’s these days, the pro-choice crowd is becoming increasingly “the sky is falling on this issue” I truly am pro-choice and say yawn! Saying a women right to partial birth abortion, because that is what we are arguing, is "trampling" on a women’s right to choose is ridiculous.

Well guess what Grant, married women voted for Bush in higher percentages than married men. It is single men that drive the Republican male numbers so high and single women that drive women’s numbers down. Are married women collectively prejudiced? People disagreeing doesn't always make them bigots or tramplers of rights! Most pro-life people are happily married to a women they don't beat and treat with dignity. Abortion is way too complicated to be so cavalier as you. Are fetal rights against women? I don't think so. Hard core pro-choice people think so. Well I don’t. Those are the margins being argued now so I guess we are all tramplers now. A majority of women for the first time in history are being seen in recent polls as pro-life for the first time anyway. I’ll let them speak for themselves, somehow I believe they will anyway.

Gay Rights = A Constitutional Amendment Comes To Mind. Do I Even Really Have To Defend This?

No Grant, but you do have to defend the Mayor of San Francisco and Massachusetts Supreme Court, if you agree with them then start defending. Extreme measures will evoke extreme responses, the left struck hard and unwisely. I know as a former liberal all ends justify such means. However the tactics by the left will push others to the right because these tactics are premature and way over the top.

Arab Minorities = The Vast Majority of Rank and File Republicans I Know. Personal Experience.

Well I know a lot of liberals and they are just as prejudiced and it is way more veiled, of course like you they don’t think they are either.

As for the rest: I never claimed to be arguing policy, I claimed to be arguing principle. Republican Party priorities speak volumes to what matters most to them. Bush pushes Tax Cuts and not Health Coverage. Democrats push Health Coverage and not Tax Cuts. Looks pretty cut and dry to me.

Read Eric’s comments on this one. If you ran a business like I do you would see the folly in the above statement. Democrats push health coverage in a government expanding way. I have outgrown that, I know better. Like I said the only thing the government does well I see comes in the form of a riding tank.

Grant, abortion will always be legal, the pro-choice crowd like the Mayor of San Francisco don't know how properly push that side of an issue. Reasonably minded pro-gay and pro-choice people see this, you aren’t reasoning in your comeback. It was just as unserious and simplistic as you first statements. They said nothing! This is not about shouting matches, it is about your taking pot shots with poor reasoning, or even no reasoning. You have to show better arguing from both sides of an issue before you can be taken serious by the opposite side. To backhand without show of reasoning for opposing arguments is bad tactics and bad manners. To treat pro-life people with the same attitude, like they are equivalent or parallel to Jim Crow is a fool’s errand.

Like Tammy Bruce says, Liberals need to learn to accept that Conservatives differing opinions aren’t some form of corruption, but a legitimate opposing opinions. If you do this your arguments will carry some weight. Republicans believe Health Care can be better solved through policy that doesn’t require greater taxation. That is a fair view point. The Democrats feel the Government’s hand needs to be more involved, otherwise why would you equate higher taxes with solving Heath Care? Grant that doesn’t make you evil either, or trampling on my right’s as well. Hell I would argue re-distribution of income is as trampling of rights as any are trampled today. I won’t call you a thief. You don’t call me a trampler of rights OK? That is what I mean, and what Tammy Bruce means when she criticizes the left. The right argues with much more reason.

Posted by: Samuel at February 23, 2004 08:06 AM

Sorry Sammuel, but conservativism is just a sign of uninformed conformism, think-tank corporate propanda, authoritarian personalities and/or veiled racism, classism, greed or intolerence.

Posted by: ex at February 23, 2004 08:28 AM

MJT:
In Britain we're having a similar changeover with regards to the hard left. It's not so much with the Labour Party (apart from Galloway and others), its more with the hardline activists like the Socialist Workers Party.

Grant:
I remember in the 2000 election campaign Bush said that the US needed a more "humble" foreign policy and that the army wouldn't be used for "nation building". That was probably the main reason that I was hoping that he lost. When he got in I assumed that the US would become more isolationist, with fewer interventions in foreign countries. Boy, was I wrong.

Since Bush came into office we've seen interventions all over the world. Getting rid of the Taliban was something I've been hoping for for years, much less Saddam. The fact that it's a Republican president doing this is a bit of a surprise. But, as I said in an earlier thread, I dont care which party does it so long as it gets done.

Posted by: sam at February 23, 2004 08:31 AM

PS: Above is just SATIRE! But I have heard it many, many times.

Posted by: ex at February 23, 2004 08:32 AM

Samuel -- "you do have to defend the Mayor of San Francisco and Massachusetts Supreme Court, if you agree with them then start defending."

Since the state of California regulates marriage, and the state has already passed a gay marriage ban, the events in San Francisco are nonbinding and ill-conceived political theatre. The Massachusetts Supreme Court decision, on the other hand, was a binding legal decision that was made after a majority of justices were persuaded that the CIVIL RIGHTS of gay people who wanted to get married were being abridged for no compelling reason. Civil rights are things that the majority CANNOT take away, except through extraordinary, supermajority actions like passing a state constitutional amendment. Which is what anti-gay marriage people are trying to do in Massachusetts (so far unsuccessfully, cause they can't agree on civil unions). Whether you agree with their reasoning or not, the judiciary was not stepping out of their bounds. Desegrating public schools was just as unpopular in 1954, in the south at least.

Posted by: markus rose at February 23, 2004 08:37 AM

Christopher Hitchens: ... the Tet rising in Vietnam was still a fresh and vivid memory ...

Is Hitchens lightly mocking himself by using the romantic "rising," or is he just incorrigible?

Posted by: Michael at February 23, 2004 09:00 AM

Markus I am somewhat in agreement. I view winning the battle for gay rights to be better waged, I and am looking for factual arguments not prejudicial rants about those who hold differing opinions. The definition of civil rights however whether I like it or not is subject to argument. A constitutional amendment stating that marriage is between a man and a woman, though not one I may agree with will be more probable if the left doesn't maintain sensibility in how it goes about waging this war, and it would be constitutional. I don’t think gay marriage will fly today, civil unions would, but hey I could be wrong but I doubt it. I just don’t think people who see marriage as between a man and a woman quite the evil bastards some do, not withstanding my own gay brother. And Grant my youngest son is named Benjamin Wade Freedman. Does the name Benjamin Wade sound familiar? Quit painting those with differing views as some how jaundiced, most issues aren’t as black and white as slavery, abortion is a clear example.

Posted by: Samuel at February 23, 2004 09:17 AM

Michael:
It could be both, its hard to tell with Hitchens sometimes.

Posted by: sam at February 23, 2004 09:29 AM

http://www.salon.com/comics/tomo/2004/02/23/tomo/index1.html

Posted by: check out this cartoon at February 23, 2004 09:47 AM

Michael,

I was given a subscription to Adbusters by my husband's vegan yoga-instructor brother and his lifepartner in (where else) Venice, CA. This was post 9/11, so our tolerance for this rubbish was low to begin with (I also started watching "Sex in the City" too late--I seem to have a real timing problem).

As a window into the contemporary extreme left it is well worth a monthly flip-through. Fragmentary. Incoherent. Raising poor design to the status of revolution. This month it is particularly at war with itself, boldly attacking lefty organizations that start selling things (then closing the magazine with a picture of the ugly shoe it, Adbusters, is--gag--selling!). It attacks the left for being too dogmatic, and also gives plenty of pages to dogmatic lefties.

This could be the first magazine that rips itself to shreds before your very eyes! But does it recycle itself? Well, we'll have to ask Copeland's aliens (what's he been smoking?).

Really, there is no left movement anymore. Just a wailing, self-absorbed contradiction--we're rich enough to print and sell this crap, you're rich enough to buy it, we all hate ourselves TOGETHER. This is just madness. Let's get the aliens to take them first.

Posted by: Kelli at February 23, 2004 10:08 AM

The new Adbusters have thrown all reason out the window. They claim "... one gram of plutonioum ...", among other things, could crash the whole deal (whatever deal they're talking about). I hate to disappoint Mr Lasn (a gleeful sort of hate to), but a gram of Pu (either 233 or 239 isn't enough to make a nuclear bomb.

Come to think of it, we've already had one mad cow - and more - and the world is still humming smoothly along.

Looks like Kalle Lasn is not mellowing with age. His idea of rebuilding the System is to first tear it down to the ground.

Posted by: Mike at February 23, 2004 12:11 PM

"well I know a lot of liberals and they are just as prejudiced and it is way more veiled, of course like you they don’t think they are either"...

You know, Samuel, maybe I'm reading this wrong but are you calling me prejudiced?! Seems like it to me. You wanna back that up?

Posted by: Grant McEntire at February 23, 2004 01:12 PM

PS...

And I'm really starting to take offense to the whole "you're in college and don't know shit" attitude. You guys don't personally know me. Don't attack me thinking you do. I at least show that much respect to you.

Posted by: Grant McEntire at February 23, 2004 01:16 PM

We see what you write, pup. 'nuff said.

Posted by: eric at February 23, 2004 01:19 PM

Not only are they anti-Semitic scrooges, they can’t even produce decent graphic art. These posters are horrible.

If the radical left can’t produce decent art, who will make the giant paper mache puppets? They really are in a quagmire.

Posted by: mary at February 23, 2004 02:41 PM

Mary,

Yeah, that list of Jews (linked in your post) is really something. I wanted to comment on that, too, but decided it needs its own post. Coming soon...

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at February 23, 2004 03:01 PM

Michael - It’s unbelievable, isn’t it? I seem to remember that Adbusters used to be clever, but now they’ve completely lost it. Looking forward to the post…

Posted by: mary at February 23, 2004 05:59 PM

And even the strictly intellectual radicals aren’t doing a damn thing for the cause of humanity except reminding the rest of us that even after the fall of the Soviet Union there are enemies to the left. (No, not everyone on the left, just some of the radicals.)

"The Left," an accurate generalization. And the not-so-radical are not enemies, but merely useful idiots.

Posted by: David at February 23, 2004 07:13 PM

David: "The Left," an accurate generalization.

No. It's not a generalization. It's a direction. I wrote "to the left" not "on the left." It's a reference to an old French saying: No enemies to the left.

There are enemies to the left. Just as there are enemies to the right.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at February 23, 2004 07:57 PM

Michael,

but you also said, "not everyone ON the Left", in parentheses. You have me confused now.

Posted by: David at February 23, 2004 08:18 PM

David,

Are you really confused, or are we just referring to different sentences? Perhaps I misunderstood you the first time.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at February 23, 2004 08:49 PM

Michael,

one of us is confused.

Posted by: David at February 24, 2004 07:48 AM

The evil forces of capital? I don’t remember the old Adbusters ever publishing sentences like this. Kalle Lasn has previously written that he has a visceral hatred of Communism. That wasn't so hard to believe. He’s from Estonia and knows Communism up close and personal. But it looks like some of the propaganda got hard-wired into his brain.

I think Totten who has probably never been a victim of "the evil forces of capital" (white, educated, male that he is) has probably forgotten the "prime directive" of capitalism which is: Show a profit and show value to shareholders. Every other rule is a distant second. Including environment, fair labor practices, even government regulation. I would encourage a viewing of the documentary "The Corporation" for a sample of "evil forces of capital". Just because it is nearly universally accepted that communism is "evil" doesn't necessarily mean that the opposite (capitalism) is "good". In the extreme, capitalism can be just as evil as communism just in different ways. However, those who benefit from capitalism run amok will always think it is "good" no matter what happens to those who are ground under its wheels.

Posted by: Graham at February 24, 2004 09:23 PM

although I was part of the left/green fringe from the late 70's until a few years ago (now it feels like light years ago) I never found adbusters magazine to be much more than a one joke pony - continued ad nauseam. Somebody once described ad busters as "mad magazine without the sense of humour". Totally accurate, I believe. Their descent into a virulent hatred, in retrospect, seems inevitable..

Posted by: theo at February 25, 2004 01:20 AM

Graham,

The supposed "evil" forces of capital of which many on the radical left speak are usually nothing more than human nature. Human nature is greedy and corrupt. Thus, greed and corruption are common in Communist systems as well.

Many (if not most) who support capitalism do so not for reasons of right-and-wrong and good-vs.-evil. Instead, they support capitalism because it WORKS. Over the past 200 years, it has brought previously unimagined improvements in the general welfare of society.

P.S. Ironically, welfare programs that are held so dear on the left could have never been supported without the immense economic growth due to capitalism. (Even Marx knew that.)

Posted by: Montie at February 25, 2004 07:45 AM

This documentary that Graham recommends, "the Corporation," was produced by the ultra-radical Noam Chomsky wing of the left, so don't expect even an vestigal attempt at careful, balanced presentation of facts. Better, don't expect honesty at all.

But then, anybody who asserts that the sometime wrongdoing of some companies is at all comparable to communism's history of tyranny, terror, sadism, mass executions, planned famines and genocide, is, well, not worth paying attention to.

Posted by: Paul Stinchfield at February 25, 2004 07:38 PM

Gramhn and Chomsky are correct, the Evil Capitalists are to blame.

That means YOU out there with the 401k, IRA, mutual fund, bonds, savings account, pension plan...etc etc.

YOU ARE CAPITAL. You are the enemy. And at least the anti-capitalists are honest about it.

Posted by: ex at February 26, 2004 06:46 AM

Montie <<

How can you say that capitalism WORKS???
Are you blind??
Have you lifted you eyes up above your wallet lately and looked aroud you?? There are poor people who don't even have food for the day, there's unemployment, class distinctions, pollution of the environment, Industrial compaanys that moves around the world to find the cheapest manufacturing and ways of producing. All in the name of the market and capitalism. It's not a human system at all. It's all about money.

Posted by: Sven at April 6, 2004 11:05 AM

There is no end to the adventures we can have if we seek them with our eyes wide open.

Posted by: BonnerJackson Aaron at May 3, 2004 10:15 AM

In this grand B movie we call life, there is always a girl.

Posted by: Silberman David at June 30, 2004 11:11 AM

Pajamas Media BlogRoll Member



Testimonials

"I'm flattered such an excellent writer links to my stuff"
Johann Hari
Author of God Save the Queen?

"Terrific"
Andrew Sullivan
Author of Virtually Normal

"Brisk, bracing, sharp and thoughtful"
James Lileks
Author of The Gallery of Regrettable Food

"A hard-headed liberal who thinks and writes superbly"
Roger L. Simon
Author of Director's Cut

"Lively, vivid, and smart"
James Howard Kunstler
Author of The Geography of Nowhere


Contact Me

Send email to michaeltotten001 at gmail dot com


News Feeds




toysforiraq.gif



Link to Michael J. Totten with the logo button

totten_button.jpg


Tip Jar





Essays

Terror and Liberalism
Paul Berman, The American Prospect

The Men Who Would Be Orwell
Ron Rosenbaum, The New York Observer

Looking the World in the Eye
Robert D. Kaplan, The Atlantic Monthly

In the Eigth Circle of Thieves
E.L. Doctorow, The Nation

Against Rationalization
Christopher Hitchens, The Nation

The Wall
Yossi Klein Halevi, The New Republic

Jihad Versus McWorld
Benjamin Barber, The Atlantic Monthly

The Sunshine Warrior
Bill Keller, The New York Times Magazine

Power and Weakness
Robert Kagan, Policy Review

The Coming Anarchy
Robert D. Kaplan, The Atlantic Monthly

England Your England
George Orwell, The Lion and the Unicorn