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I wish I had a pair this week what with all the damn Consumass muzak
in every business I've visited. Add to that five holiday parties in
six days and I never want to say or hear "Nice to meet you." ever
again. 'Cause frankly it's NOT nice to meet you any more. It's
actually tiresome to meet you. And I won't remember you 10 minutes
later. Where's the booze? What? You're out of mixer?!?
On the other hand I have had some damn fine food this week. The
creamed spinach at Hal's On Old Ivy was absolutely incredible.
"Creamed spinach?!?" you ask? I was doubtful at first too. In fact I
wouldn't order it even though it was highly recommended by someone
who'd been there before. However, degenerate SW followed the
recommendation and we were scraping her bowl clean by the end of the
meal. The big damn filet of beef was tasty too.
So there ain't no Ear Plug this week due to all the holday fuckin'
joy. But I did buy myself a few cool presents. Satan came to the
Degenerate Press office early this year!
And no, that's not a typo.

Nothing like picking on the Almighty Dollar to get people's goat. I
got more responses than I initially wanted to run. Then I thought I'd
choose one or two or maybe edit or whatnot. But then I decided I'd
just run it ALL.

In response to Degenerate PH: As with most defenders of the status quo, an error was made in PH's article assuming that the only alternative to capitalism is some totalitarian "socialist/communistic" regime. Could we not be more creative and decide to harness capitalism, minimalize it, and turn it into a humanistic tool rather than allowing it to dictate to us what is of value in our society? That is, why couldn't we neutralize the materialism that is the philosophical core of capitalism and replace it with other values? After all, as PH so deftly failed to notice, capitalism is just as materialistic as any Marxist system ever dreamed of being, and the failure of Marxism represents the failure of MATERIALISM in all its forms, including capitalism. And, as a passing thought, PH should go back to ivory tower and contemplate the phenomenon of cultural influence with a little more vigor. People may indeed choose to be and act identically, but the fact is, their choice is conditioned by cultural factors and historical location. Mass homogenization, "averageness", is not an accident born of many people deciding, all on their own, to do the same thing at the same time. To think so is to call into question the principle of causality by asserting that things "just happen" for no reason at all, and that all phenomena are absurd, especially the human ones. Entire sciences rest on a view the opposite of PH's - e.g. sociology, psychology, history. Perhaps the charge of "flippancy" ought to be leveled elsewhere than at me? degenerate RVI

Regarding the consumer culture: admittedly, we are surrounded by brand-enslaved chain-store patrons. However, the rampant spending of these clueless consumers provides me with a comfortable income. (I work in merchandising for a hotel supply company, doing catalog layouts for signs, forms, ice buckets, and other thrilling products.) I cram 20% into a 401(k)--with matching, yet--stuff another $2k into a Roth IRA every year, and make a strong effort not to accumulate piles of useless material shit. I am going to use my happy little hoard of cash to have a comfortable early
retirement: travel, sin, reading (hell, reading probably is a sin), sleeping late, etc. If everyone saved and spent the way I did, our entire economy would come crashing down in ruins and I would have to begin killing and eating my neighbors to survive. Fortunately, most people in our fair nation can't spell "savings" with a pair of free vowels, so I will continue to recycle their money for my own foul purposes. Every time I see another nitwit wearing legible clothing, yakking away on a cell phone, glittering with jewelry, and driving a leased SUV, I mentally add another hefty chunk of change to my portfolio. In a world full of herd animals, it's good to be a carnivore. degenerate SY

For Freedom's Sake, Kill the WTO!
Howdy Howdy, thought I'd throw in my two cents worth concerning your statements about decentralization and, "freedom, as a process, does not tend to produce individuality, autonomy, diversity, but rather conformity, enslavement, and homogenization." Hope I'm not to late to participate in this free exchange of ideas and info (the real source behind ideological change). Sometimes it's hard to appreciate the fact that people may choose to drink Coke (or the many, many, many other choices of drinks), or pick entertainment like Television, Nintendo, etc, over tea, story-telling, poetry, etc. On the average, people might have average tastes. Yes, the masses may act average, and to many of our eyes, may not have so desirable tastes and preferences, that's what makes them the masses-- but as long as they act by choice and not by force, it's ok with me. There's a difference between individuals making good-bad-or- "average" choices and
socio-economic systems making the decisions for them. No one is forced or
brainwashed into buying or not buying a Whopper, at least yet, there is currently a lobby in Washington hoping to pass anti-cholesterol laws. In fact, it's probably even unfair to generalize about the "masses." It's statistically impossible for millions of individuals to routinely and simultaneously make the same decisions and execute the same actions. Not everyone is going for the instant satisfaction of fast food, televisions, etc, everyday. My friends and I tell stories every time we hang out, play music, etc. I know thousands of others do also. As an aside, check out the many annual story-telling festivals held throughout Alabama during the Summer, or try going to the Possum Trot in Seale, Al for some good tales anytime. Right now, we'll still use the term "masses" for the sake of argument. Actually, I think the term "masses" can be defined more precisely as a currently perceived and stereotyped parent Culture ( defined as a generalized set of standards, mores/"morals", and behaviors). And along with the "masses" always comes the counter-culture. Personally, I appreciate the fact that I still have the liberty to choose between spending my time reading W.B. Yeats or watching the Simpsons. I also appreciate that I can choose to drink Coke vs. Fresca vs. my wondefully made sweet tea vs malt, lite, or regular beer, vs water vs many dark or lite liquors, etc. I have lots of choices. How I make these choices depends on my individuality--my character. I cherish the freedoms of individuality and choice. It pisses me off that I can not fearlessly roll a joint in my own home. Unfortunately, the government has chosen to limit that freedom, along with an ever growing number of other behaviors because they feel it's in bad taste and an immoral behavior. Our so called representational government (do you know what your congressional representative is doing today, much less doing during his or her entire term?) made this judgment. They write the laws, they enforce the laws, they are the monopoly of force and law. And smokin' grass just is not considered a normal or average activity in the White House. Remember Clinton didn't inhale. Because I appreciate my freedom of personal choice, I surely try not to condemn others for exercising theirs, and I certainly do not tell them they "can't" behave certain ways. Who am I, and who are you, and who are they to determine what's right for anyone. Like many, I hate suburbia. I grew up
there, and I do not want to go back. However, I'll never tell a suburban
family who's happily alive that they must move - though I might suggest a few different flavors in life they might want to try sometime. I give people credit enough to make their own decisions. I am not a lemming, neither are you, neither are they. And speaking of monoplies, no monopoly has lasted over time in a market unless supported by Government edict. In an economy, if a monopoly (loosely defined as the single seller in a market with the ability to restrict output and charge monopoly prices) occurs, it is for relatively short periods of time due to a person's newly discovered invention, or technology, or original idea that is patented for some duration with the government . Also the owner/inventor could be "just the first one on the block". Buisness savvy can too arguably contribute to monopoly if the owner (despite whether he or she is moral about it) maintains prices very low and/or quality very high; both actions being so beneficial to customers that potential competitors are dicouraged from entering the market. In reality, somebody usually still enters and competes on qualities like service and reputation.
If a company is making huge monopoly like profits and unless the owner figures some way to "get in bed" with the lawmakers (for example many local cable providers have government protected monopolies), then invariably someone else sees the profit, wants a piece of the pie, and enters into competition thereby destroying the monopoly (hereafter, customers get to choose between the two, like Abbie Hoffman once so eloquently stated, "Damn right we get to vote with our feet!!"--so in the long run, it usually doesn't pay karmically or financially to be a bastard ).
On the other hand, Government, a better term might be the STATE, is a monopoly of force. They have the tanks. They have the lawmakers. The World Trade Organization (WTO) is just another manifestation of this
monopoly of force. Just like the North American Free Trade Organization
(NAFTA), just like the United Nations (UN), just like the European Community (EC), it's one more step in the globalization and centralization of power. The WTO is made up of non-elected, self-interested politicians (all politicians probably desire success financially, strive for good reputaions, and work towards political power, since re-election or re-appointment are their goals and politikin' their trade. They have mouths to feed too.), trying to agree on how to run planet Earth. With this in mind, it can be reasoned that mere chance did not determine Seattle as the WTO's meeting place. Seattle is a well known hotbed for "Labor" and "Enviromentalism." WTO probably hoped for this conflict between
the Right and the Left. Now Clinton has made his pilgrimage to Seattle
to "settle the unrest", and along with the WTO, made concessions to all sides, and the WTO remains intact--another concentration of Authority over people. An authority that all sides of the issues now turn to for decision and lawmaking. Everyone definetly played their parts for the advancement of the WTO's place in the world. If the WTO was really about free trade, why was the whole fiasco about politicians, their picked corporate bedfellows, and THEIR powers over tariffs, taxes, and trade laws? Also if people, like both the militant and pacifist activists in Seattle last week, believe government organizations like the WTO are the answer to solving labor disputes and saving the enviroment, consider the logging in America's national forest, the Superfund bullshit, the South American rainforest, or the long and depressing history of labor law and Unions. In the long run, Government hasn't helped any of these situations, usually it's sold them out. The real answer lies in a system where individuals can freely unite, or act alone depending on their preference, and hold companies, bosses, governments, and individuals directly accountable for their actions. For instance, if more people knew who exactly was using resources from the rainforest, and larger and larger boycotts of their products were promoted; Those mining the forsest could then be put permanently out of buisness, or at least made to feel the economic heat right where it counts--in their stomachs, in their lifestyles. Depending on governments to save the world by passage of laws that aren't enforced efficiently or effectively, if they're enforced at all, just has proven futile. Last week in Seattle was about interest groups (from all sides) trying to gain influence with a new and powerful government bureaucracy (the WTO), and that bureaucracy's clever affirmation of it's image and power to the world. The media played its role wonderfully--and so did you. Now I play my part. This is not the first time someone has made a statement liken to, "freedom, as a process, does not tend to produce individuality, autonomy, diversity, but rather conformity, enslavement, and homogenization"; 1. In the 1800s, American white slave owners rationalized that their black slaves led better lives under ownership rather than as free citizens. Owners stated blacks weren't intelligent enough to responsibly handle the many choices freedom could give them. 2. A similiar rational was used against the American Indian, or savages, as their oppressors called them. Globalization is occuring. It's the centralization of power. Political power allying with large corporate concerns is an extreme threat to freedom. For me, I continue to revel in what individual freedoms I still have left, and hope some day I can roll a joint anywhere I please in spite
of Imperialist America. And I continue to hope that individuals will
resist politicians, interest groups, and the like from determing what's best for them, from determining what their tastes and preferences should be; I hope in the near future that individuals will still be allowed at least to continue to decide whether they want a Coke, herbal tea, Chevy, Honda, salad, or Whopper. Just like American Blacks and Indians; ask those of Jewish faith who survived Nazi Germany; and ask those who survived Stalin's Russia, what happens when centralized power, including it's lobbies, and it's interests, begins to decide what's best for the people. The people know what's best for themselves, they know best how to spend their time and money. Let them decide whether they want to be average, stand-out, be part of the so called "masses" or members of the counter-culture. Let them decide for themselves, and let's respect their freely made decisions. People are aware of their choices. You are not stupid. I am not stupid. We are not stupid. For Freedom's sake, Kill the WTO ! degenerate CW

>Choice is restricted by the lack of desire to find something unique and
interesting, to instead be satisfied with an average, "normal" existence.

Boy, if someone ever needed to look up "specious".... If that were true, there *would* be more to choose from. Sadly, most government regulation and taxation schemes seem intended to put small businesses in an impossible position vis-a-vis larger ones. Of particular irony is the amount a minimum wage employee costs his company as compared to how much he/she/it makes (almost twice, I am given to understand). How many independent software stores, for example, can survive when they can be undersold by CompUSA, or cannot afford mall rent by spreading occasional losses over an entire region? When you find one that has, please post it!

>But,it's better to choose it here than to have some communist or
government choose it for you.

Did I read that in the proper context? Anti-commercialism equals Communism!?! What if the socialist government was democratically elected? Oops. Sorry. Alan Dulles personally overthrew all of those by the end of '56....

>Ask the people who were starving in Russia, because their goverment
their lives for them, how much fun their lives were then.

Do you mean those Russians who, though their standard of living sucked compared to here, still had it better (in the post-Stalin era, anyway) than they did under the Romanovs whom they overthrew in 1917, and who, until we helped install their current kleptocracy, at least had a roof and
*something* to eat (even if it was only a strawberry tart without so much rat in it)?

>How about all the people who risked their lives to escape Castro's

You mean the former Cuban mafia that fled justice after the overthrow of the corrupt dictator Batista? Not to even remotely defend any form of oppression, of which the Castro government has certainly been guilty over the years, but is your reply to this going to be slicing a watermelon in half on national television to demonstrate how even green people can be RED on the inside!?! And am I going to need a rabies shot when you're done? Why not fish out the US/Cuban literacy rates and doctor/patient ratios to see just how bloody ineffective the Cubans have been at getting those damned proles back to work in the cane fields, or the cigar sweat shops (Yes, Cuba has a higher literacy rate than the USA! Call the CIA! Bomb the Cuban Schools! We have a Literacy Gap!)! Jesus H. Christ on a crutch!
READ A BOOK! And I don't mean "Your Mommie Might be a Commie!" or "J. Edgar Hoover: Hero in Heels".

>That "traditional culture" was so fun that many died trying to get the
hell out of there.

Out of curiosity, since you are an authority on refugees, did any Americans die trying to escape from involuntary servitude in the Vietnam Conflict? (perspective can be a bitter thing, can't it?)

>All I'm saying is that you should carefully consider the alternatives
this freedom that you so flippantly disdain. Personally, I like to make my own choices.

You mean like choosing to get gassed, flash-bombed, and fucking rubber-bulleted by corporate stooges in Seattle? You speak so 'flippantly' of choice, Grasshopper, but so far, your opinions seem to have been provided by others. degenerate JP

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