Saturday, January 28, 2017

Electronic Music Piece of the Day Give-Away

Today marks another Give-Away from the 391 & the Army of Astraea BandCamp page. This piece is entitled "Macronominal" - an oxymora inspired by the "micro-aggression" psychology of Social Justice Warriors. Sometimes the little things are indeed big, but sometimes, just sometimes, the very large things are unimportant. Or is it the other way around? Hmm.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Global Trends: What the Left and Legacy Media are not seeing in the arc of the Socialist Ideal

2017 marked not just a change of the political party governing the good 'ole USA, but also a vote of major importance for the western world on the other side of the Atlantic. I haven't commented much about Brexit, but if one looks at the bigger picture of the decline of Globalism and Socialism across the world stage, we can see the shift in its larger implications for the future of our planet Geo-politically, and yes, even environmentally. So, let's start with the United Kingdom's vote to fully divest themselves of the European Union.

England opted into the European Common Market system in the early 1970's to much ballyhoo, and the British people were promised all of the typical tropes nations bandy about when cajoling others into creative investment schemes. It was to be the beginning of a great period of growth, shared interest, mutual protection, and oodles and oodles of cash. Well, it didn't quite go that way in the big picture, and were it not for some brief periods of Conservatives attempting to stimulate the market micro-cosmically, the brakes were off and the globalists seemed to be at the wheel, steering England headlong into full membership in the European Union. But, there were, problems.

Here are just a few. 

Every year exports out of Great Britain to non-E.U. nations literally double, while they decrease by half to E.U. states. In the meantime the European Commission regulates British industries so they don't out-compete the less productive nations within the Union. In fact, the E.U. trades with very few nations outside of Europe.

The European Union is at its heart an inward looking system that is designed to limit trade and commerce, not stimulate it. Add to it that many of the weaker European nations (i.e. Greece and Spain) require financial aid from dominant members (i.e. German, France and England) to stay solvent. This all makes sense to those who are engaged in a romance with wealth re-distribution, but clearly this is recipe for financial disaster. It doesn't take a psychic to see that first world European nations will be dragged down bailing out the second, and arguably third world members of their alliance.

Tiny Iceland was the first to get out, much to the globalist controlled media's silence. The island's half-a-million or so citizens knew that their humble economy could gain nothing from giving charity to states like Greece, and opted out. Since then they have moved a step further into sovereignty, and are now in the process of implementing direct vote democracy. That's right, full representative rule by the people - one vote per person, via their computer. It's a paradigm that's not immediately foreseeable for implementation in larger populations, but, bravo Iceland.

England on the other hand needs a representative government, and a fine one they already have. And here lies yet another problem. In essence, the un-elected faceless bureaucrats in Brussels can pass into law policies that the government and people of England are not supportive of. The people are told that this is all for the best, because these un-elected faceless foreign bureaucrats just know better than them. They have degrees from important business and legal schools, didn't you know?

Well, for many, and spear-headed by Nigel Farage, this didn't add up, and a movement grew to get out of dodge. Of course the left love this paradigm, since it moves us all closer to their utopian ideal of a one-world-government, which by the way, I envision as one of the most terrifying possibilities ever conceived by man, barring it being guided into practice by the arrival of the Vulcan's, the Messiah, or some other coupled fantasy. So, no, it's a recipe for totalitarian control and oligarchic abuse. In response to the rejection of their preferred system, liberals who support the globalist notion have resorted to the usual tired emotional tropes to defend their ideals, claiming that those who voted for Brexit are "old people" who are "racist", etc., etc., and just like the SJW emotional breakdowns caused by the media's manipulation of leftists voters in the recent US election, they envision Farage and his followers as some kind of Hitlerian pretenders. Similarly to the US, leftists in England have called for a re-vote, a nullification of the referendum, etc., etc. They are sad, very, very sad. 

Inevitably, the United Kingdom will find its way out of the European Union. I suspect that France will follow, leaving Germany holding the ball. What happens after that I can't fully envision, but I imagine the burden of holding all of the other European states up by itself will be too much for the taxpayers of Deutschland, and they'll eventually opt out as well. So, bye, bye E.U.

Some may have noted that Brexit and Trump's election share some major commonalities, such as returning the power to citizens, and bolstering national sovereignty, particularly in regard to economic aspects, but what most don't connect is the increasing shift away from Marxist ideology in the east. We must remember that when the European Common Market was conceived, Russia was still the Soviet Union, a full repressive Communist entity, with "equality" enforced at the barrel of a gun. Russia may still be a corrupt oligarchy, powered by its military-industrial complex in league with corrupt mafia-like business principles, but it is fully Capitalist now.

India can now boast a middle class that now numbers about the same as the entire population of the United States. India's flirtation with Marxism is on the ropes, with some last minute re-shuffling of their fiat currency, but I suspect that this middle class will continue to grow, and slowly shrink the massive population of poor beneath them. Just a tad further east is China, whose burgeoning middle class is even larger than India's and growing even faster. They still define themselves as Communist, but I have always believed that Maoism has always contained a strong undercurrent of Confucianism, so, in essence they are really just "being Chinese". Unlike Russia, China has always maintained a strong Capitalist element, even at their most "Communist". I even envision that this Capitalist middle class in China will soon tire of having their children grow up in environmentally toxic zones, and will come to pressure the government to ameliorate the pollution produced by the machinery of Chinese industry. Thus, the free market will reverse the size of our global toxic imprint on the earth. It will not be fixed by Socialists passing endless condemnations at the U.N. which everyone ignores.  

So, what is the overall pattern here? I think it's really clear, but let's look at it step by step. After the Black Plague, the upward mobility created by the millions of deaths allowed for the creation of a huge middle class in Western Europe. In tandem with the further industrialization of these states, this in turn led to the economic exploitation of the Third World starting in the late sixteenth century. In response to this exploitation Marxism, Socialism and Communism evolved. As the Capitalist nations subtlety incorporated some these notions into their systems, the more open forms became more aggressive. In its most benign forms we can look to the emergence of labor unions in the US, and the evolution of the Kibbutz system in pre-statehood Israel. The polar opposites were the Russian revolution, followed by the rise of Communism in China, Korea, Cuba and Vietnam. As it turns out, Marx was absolutely wrong that Socialism would only take root in post-industrial western nations, and instead it flourished in largely agrarian lands, as long as their was not a competing philosophy, such as Islam, which took precedence over these secular notions, if not initially, eventually.

In the west the division seemed overt, with the Cold War pitting Capitalism and Communism as ultimate incompatible opposites. But Socialism was more dogged than that, and its proponents knew that education was the key, and slowly infiltrated the school systems of the west, and then the moderate left political parties, biding their time until they could put their measures in place to a chorus of agreement from a yielding public.

This process began in the 1970's, as the Hippies and activists entered the mainstream and, quite nobly, designed to instill in the powers that be their philosophic leanings. As universities, public schools, and increasingly, politicians on the left center continued to lean further left, this completely coincided with the birth or of the Common Market in Europe. As the torpor of the left's entitlement heritage destroyed inner cities and factory towns, the Conservatives took power in both the US and Britain (Reagan and Thatcher), and attempted to reverse the debacle. This led to an upswing in the global economy in the 1980's, much bemoaned by leftists as interfering with their entitlement state. The Anarcho-Punks in England called for the end of the Thatcher, the government and the class structure, but unsurprisingly, not for the dole.

On the other hand, the economies of the Communist states, for all their re-distribution of wealth, were flat-out tanking. In 1989 the Berlin Wall came down and shortly after, the Soviet Union fell apart, re-envisioning itself as the Russian Federation shortly after. Meanwhile, as the Communists incorporated more and more Capitalism, the western nations leaned left again with Labor in power in England, and the Clinton (Bill) White House deregulating stock market safeguards as fast they could.

Through the Obama years, the middle class, and the ultra-rich arose in Russia, China and India, and the other Communist states, and excluding North Korea and Cuba, they all embraced trade more and more. With the emergence of Trump and Brexit, the left became more desperate, and in light of their policies being clearly rejected not only by the voting populace, but also by nations that once championed full Communism, they promoted candidates leaning to the far left. Watching a Sanders-Clinton debate was like watching a contest of who could promise the most entitlements.

If you study this pattern objectively, you could almost ignore the right-wing reactions and see a clear rise and fall of the Socialist idea from its conception in the mid-nineteenth century, to a watershed in the early twentieth century, to peak in the late 1970's, and an overall decline since. Barring the flailing attempts of the left in response to Brexit and Trump, one could actually view their dismay as the emotional death throes of the larger movement.

As the European Union dissolves and the Republicans are realized to not be the dinosaurs liberals predicted they would be, the future may hold the ultimate demise of the Socialist-Globalist ideal. By this I do not mean that there will not be those who hold onto the theory, doggedly, or that social programs that were inspired by the left will not be incorporated by the moderates and right-wing. They certainly will, and that may be the catch. If the more moderate aspects of the left's agenda can be incorporated seamlessly into policy, with the more fringe elements disregarded, and the paths to globalism submerged (until the Vulcans do indeed land) then we will be very lucky.

In the end, it's all just theory, but in an ideal world, people on both sides will function in their best interest, and by extension, the best interest of the entire world. 

Friday, January 20, 2017

Inaugeration Day 2017

It's been a bit of a sparse month for posts on the Gauntlet, but in light of the peaceful transfer of power between the administrations of the Obama regime and the Trump presidency, I thought it might be once again an opportune point at which to comment on the state of things political on the American landscape.Through the long day of televised and streamed footage presented by the legacy media franchises, the focus was on ceremony, but often shifted to commentary coded with cursory admonitions not so subtly aimed at President Trump in attempts to placate those who have certain perhaps legitimate reservations about the newly elected POTUS. The right and left, as usual, processed both the substance, and the analysis, with seemingly different ears.

So, in retrospect what is there to say? We could look back at the successes and failures of the outgoing president, and depending on your allegiance, that task has been aggravated by partisanship, especially through the election cycle, so, no, let's not. We could instead analyze Trump's inaugural address, and try to deduce how much of the rhetoric within is truly Republican dogma versus moderate populist nationalism, but there, also no. Some might suggest that trying to deduce how much change will or will not get accomplished during President Trump's forthcoming tenure is a road to hoe, but also. no. What do we pretend to be, psychics? No, I think the most informative thing that can be gleaned from today's festivities is the slowly developing snapshot of the divided political tensions that have defined this election and its aftermath.

Liberals, Socialists, Progressives and Democrat Party hardliners have long controlled college campuses and our public school system, and have over time influenced the nascent social consciousness of America's youth in order to further their globalist agenda, and to insure their future constituency. This is an undeniable truth. Other the other hand, Republicans have long been guilty of becoming the other side of the same rotten coin of beltway insider corruption. In addition, by allying with the far right evangelical demographic starting in the 1980's, they nudged themselves into being socially representative of "the fringe". For the party that has supplied the vast majority of the nations presidents since its founding, especially when one bundles standard Republicans together with Jefferson's Democratic-Republican party, the Whigs, and National Unity party, it seemed as if there might never be another sitting Republican president due to evolution of urban vs. rural demographics across the land. The Democrats and their Federalist antecedents had finally won, and it seemed that this was perhaps a permanent victory.

Ironically, President Trump's rise and triumph literally turned that paradigm upside-down. Suddenly, Anarcho-Libertarians and mainline Republicans, along with old school Conservatives, and the religious right, started to sound quite reasonable to moderate voters, even to moderate Democrat voters. Internationally, globalism took a hard hit, and the more that Democrats, as a party, embraced the fringe elements of their constituency, the more they were forced to court a cock-eyed union of aggrieved "victim identities", for whom the only commonalities that truly seemed to unite them was their emotional investment in "hating Trump". Ironically, these are the same people who generally depict Republicans as hateful, sexist, racists who long for martial law. Yet, I see every little hate coming from that side of the aisle. In my opinion.

President Trump said in his address "When you embrace patriotism, there is no room in your heart for prejudice", or something like that, and with this I agree. There are those who like to frame both sides as being equally motivated by their love of country, etc., etc., but I just don't see it. I see liberals burning the flag, destroying property, purging friends on facebook for not complying with a uniform opinion, and even manufacturing fake news stories for their own goals and to manipulate the "ignorant typical American" that I see they have contempt for. They try to convince each other that under Trump, African-Americans will be lynched, gays will be tortured, women will be pushed into elevated subservience, and illegal aliens will, heaven forbid, be deported (ignoring that fact that Obama has deported more Mexican illegals in the last eight years than any president since Eisenhower).

What I think will be most interesting over the next eight years (and I do believe it will be eight years, not four), is studying how the left bounces back from their unexpected reversal. Will they look inward to the fringe elements and lose even more of their moderate base? Will they even be able to locate candidates of substance to represent them in future vote offs? These are the real questions that present themselves, and far overshadow the simple paradigm of "will Trump achieve all that he has promised he will?". As long as President Trump doesn't prove to be a mediocre and unambitious president, the social movement, and the healthy dissatisfaction toward big government he crystallized will prevail. As Ringo Starr once famously said "Everything the government touches turns to shit". Let us all just hope that Trump's earnestness for patriotism is not concocted and that his billions will render him impervious to the pervasive corruption of D.C., and that he will be capable of "draining the swamp" as he has vowed.

For someone like me, who has sat through many presidential regimes that he has neither voted for or supported, I recommend to those who are fearful of the change-over due to partisan posturing and media rhetoric, that they might offer some patience to the process and give President Trump a chance notwithstanding their resistance to the incoming regime's policies. After all, the Republicans pined their way through "the Obama years" and waited their turn, mostly with patience, and pretty much, that's how the game is played.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Electronic Music Piece of the Day Give-Away

Today's Bandcamp hosted 391 & the Army of Astraea Electronic Music Piece of the Day Give-Away series is a super-noisy track entitled "Horde (Badon Hill Mix)". It's suitably oppressive enough to match it's name and content (clearly a conflagration of some sort), and is veers to being categorized as Industrial to the "Hmmph" degree.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Sculpture Garden

With imminent political, literary, and musical updates slated for the early part of this year, I thought it might be a nice time for another exclusively visual post on the Gauntlet. So, I created a little photo triptych of a few of my most recent ceramic pieces. Sculpting certainly takes a back seat to screenwriting, writing of other sorts, music, illustration and computer graphic arts, but in the grand scheme these three are cute little fellas. From left to right we have a mask entitled "Hellenic Woman", a blue-glazed bust of Odin the All-Father (with eye-patch), and a free standing dragon in movement that I'm calling "Laertes".

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Electronic Music Piece of the Day Give-Away

Part Industrial clanging, part retro-Victorian Gothic dementia, "Construction D" is a darling little "ditty" that I created in the last week or two of 2016. It is the tenth 391 & the Army of Astraea track posted to our Bandcamp page and embedded here on the Gauntlet of Balthazar.