Links of the Month: November 2023

Fridge magnet by, from Salt Spring Island BC

Why do we build the wall, my children, my children?
Why do we build the wall? We build the wall to keep us free.
That’s why we build the wall. We build the wall to keep us free.

How does the wall keep us free, my children, my children?
How does the wall keep us free? The wall keeps out the enemy,
and we build the wall to keep us free.
That’s why we build the wall. We build the wall to keep us free.

Who do we call the enemy, my children, my children?
Who do we call the enemy? The enemy is poverty,
and the wall keeps out the enemy, and we build the wall to keep us free.
That’s why we build the wall. We build the wall to keep us free.

Because we have and they have not, my children, my children!
Because they want what we have got!
Because we have and they have not! Because they want what we have got!
The enemy is poverty, and the wall keeps out the enemy,
and we build the wall to keep us free.
That’s why we build the wall. We build the wall to keep us free.

What do we have that they should want, my children, my children?
What do we have that they should want? We have a wall to work upon!
We have work and they have none.
And our work is never done, my children, my children,
and the war is never won.
The enemy is poverty, and the wall keeps out the enemy.
And we build the wall to keep us free
That’s why we build the wall. We build the wall to keep us free!

Why We Build the Wall, Anaïs Mitchell, from Hadestown

Well, another month’s passed. We’re now up to as many as 500,000 “casualties” (the war industry loves euphemisms) in the NATO-Russia proxy war in Ukraine, with no end in sight. And we have both of the US Tweedle parties cheering the deranged career criminal Netanyahu’s genocide and ethnic cleansing of Palestine, with upwards of 12,000 dead, half of them children, almost all of them civilians, and a couple of million to go. The 2024 US presidential election seems almost certain to be a rematch of the two demented thugs from 2020, with the choice between a slide into fascism, or a ratcheting up of brinksmanship and war with nuclear powers, or maybe both, depending on who ‘wins’. Meanwhile 2024 looks almost certain to be a year of multiple climate catastrophes, the hottest year on record by a margin worse than even the worst estimates of climate scientists a year ago, and another record year for carbon emissions, ecosystem destruction, and biodiversity loss. And global productivity of real goods, which has eked out a few more (wildly unequally distributed) gains at a staggering cost to the environment, is now stuttering, with nowhere to go but down.

Good thing we’re all doing our best.


The IMF totals up the cost of continuing to subsidize and prop up a dying and massively destructive industry. Thanks to Just Collapse for the link.

Bracing for impact: John Michael Greer encourages us to “collapse now and avoid the rush“.

Antarctica is melting: We were far too optimistic about the pace of polar ice loss, as usual.

Otis, harbinger of the future: No one knows how tropical storm Otis became a Cat 5 hurricane so fast. Maybe because parts of the ocean are now the same temperature as a hot tub?

First of the water wars: As the US west and central states run out of water, they’re starting to look at Canada’s dams and glaciers, and demanding their share.

Methane release cycle is accelerating: Just what we didn’t need. Tropics and wetlands are the main sources of the increase. Thanks to Just Collapse for the link.

The global economy stalls out: Tim Morgan explains once more why our economic systems will collapse faster than the ecological ones.

Corporatism meets the limits to growth: Tim Watkins explains how the relentless neoliberal/neoconservative agenda being pursued today mirrors the rise of corporatism (fascism) in the 1930s, and is on a collision course with our accelerating economic and ecological systems collapse. And nobody has a plan. A reading of the first chapter of his new book Death Cult, which draws heavily on John Ralston Saul’s The Unconscious Civilization.

The religion of perpetual growth: Jonathan Cook explains the divergence between the economic and ecological realities we are now facing, and the utter myths that the neocorporatists are spinning, which we’d love to believe are true.


cartoon from Andrew Marlton’s First Dog on the Moon

Understanding what’s really going on: Aurélien suggests a mountain of books to help you understand current events and the history behind them, so you don’t have to rely on the bullshit from the MSM, the spooks, and the op-ed columnists. And he explains why each book is worth reading.

Circumventing the paywalls: FamousDrScanlon suggests using Spaywall to read articles buried behind corporate paywalls. Here’s an example of how it works.

How to die a good death: A compassionate and nuanced explanation by Michael Greger of the process called VSED: Voluntarily stopping eating and drinking. It’s legal, and not agonizing as the religious right would have you believe. But it is not a DIY process and does pose ethical challenges to sort through before you need to apply it. Part 1. Part 2. Part 3. You can read the transcripts below the videos if you don’t like watching videos.

Citizens’ assemblies to deal with polarization and political gridlock: A good summary of the uses of this direct democracy technique. Thanks to Kavana Tree Bressen for the link.


The 1 megaton tonne MK-84 bombs the US is sending to Israel to facilitate the siege and genocide of Gaza; thanks to Indrajit for the link. In what must be the cleverest wordplay of the year, and drawing on how rich corporations are financially benefiting from the proxy wars, Indrajit calls this “Capital Punishment”.

“American leadership is what holds the world together”: That’s the highlight of Biden’s latest deluded White House speech, filled with a litany of inflammatory, propagandized untruths about his avowed “evil” “enemies”. This man really believes it — the very idea of a multipolar world, such as the United Nations was designed to facilitate, is completely anathema to him. His toady Blinken added in a subsequent speech: “The world doesn’t organize itself. When we’re not engaged, when we don’t lead, then one of two things happens: either some other country tries to take our place, but probably not in a way that advances our interests and values, or no one does, and then you get chaos.” What utter fucking arrogance! The rest of the world can only hope that America’s massive and insoluble domestic problems will soon cause it to vacate the world stage to address its own hopeless incompetence at home, and leave the rest of us to collaboratively sort out the problems of the world, most of them caused or exacerbated by America’s “leadership”, in a relatively sane manner. /rant

The bozos driving the bus: Aurélien explains why most of the world no longer cares much about how western “leaders” or their compliant media “explain” what (they think) is happening in the world. He also explains why genocide is so often a mumbled but real strategy for “resolving” conflict (even though it has almost never been successfully carried out). Excerpts:

The prevailing [neo]Liberal discourse of conflict at the moment is this uncomfortable and unattractive mixture of normative moral hysteria and half-understood technical legal concepts, which accounts for the incoherent, and frequently incomprehensible, way in which [the current] conflicts are reported and commented on. Worse, it also affects the way in which western governments see the options for management of crisis and conflict itself. For example, western governments cannot comprehend that what they say about the Gaza fighting is of no interest to Hamas, whose political and propaganda targets lie elsewhere, and for that matter of very limited interest to the Global South generally. Indeed, the West’s incapacity to understand the reality of conflict and atrocity, unwillingness to learn, and insistence on loudly trying to impose its mixture of moral bluster and legal fussiness pretty much rules it out as a credible actor.

It is not as if these things were actually that difficult to understand. We do know a great deal, from first-hand observation, about how conflicts arise and atrocities happen. The briefest possible summary would say that they typically occur because people feel themselves justified in acting that way—even to have no choice—and usually because they are scared

The “us or them” discourse has fear as its starting-point, and fear is a major component in the advent of war and conflict. Fear that if I don’t kill my rival, he or she will kill me. Fear of the minority surrounded by a majority. Fear of the majority with a minority inside it. Fear that minorities will combine against you, perhaps orchestrated by an outside power. Fear that the Other will want revenge for what you did to them last time. Fear that the Other will do what they did to you last time, but worse. Fear that the weaker will become strong enough to challenge you. Fear that the stronger will attack just because they are stronger. In such circumstances, the only solution is to get your blow in first and hardest Only when you have completely wiped out the enemy can you be sure that there can never be a threat.

Corpocracy, Imperialism & Fascism: Short takes: Thanks to John Whiting for many of these links:

Propaganda, Censorship, Misinformation and Disinformation: Short takes:

CoVid-19 the endless saga: Short takes:

  • Slight dip in the numbers this month, though on average the number of deaths and the number of people in hospital has been pretty constant throughout 2023. Cases are up (judging by water sampling), though the new variants seem slightly less deadly than previous ones. I’d guess the pandemic continues to kill about 1 person per million per day, and that in countries with decent hospital systems about 40 people per million are in hospital with CoVid-19 on any particular day. Of course these numbers are wildly skewed by age, so your risk is as much a 50x greater if you’re over 80. So I have the latest booster, mask in crowded public places, and will test if I have symptoms, and isolate if I test positive. It seems the least I can do for a top-5 killer of people my age.


from the memebrary

Why Shakespeare didn’t care about getting his plays published: A fascinating review of the bard’s First Folio, with the argument that in those days, most communication, including learning play scripts, happened orally from those who’d memorized the lines, not from printed copy. And, he might have thought, a little improvisation might actually have made the show even better. There was a play about this, by the celebrated American playwright Lauren Gunderson, called “The Book of Will“. I saw it in Ashland Oregon, and it was one of the most extraordinary performances I have ever seen. Brilliantly written, and performed by a true ensemble cast. This all reminded me of an earlier post of mine on the pre-corporate model of how groups get things done, in the arts at least: by ensemble, which is like an enriched version of consensus, and through rehearsal, not textbook learning. So many corporate terms (players, roles, ‘staging’, ‘company’, performance reviews) actually came from the world of theatre.

More than just “production values”: Naked Capitalism’s Lambert Strether admits that, like me, he stans for K-Pop. But as much as I like Twice, I think XG is even better.

Talking to nobody: Radical Non-Duality speaker Tim Cliss delivers the impossible message and answers questions at a meeting in Copenhagen. Best parts are Friday and Sunday sessions. This is the reason I am so intrigued by the Entanglement Hypothesis. Favourite quote: “Life still appears to be the same hamster wheel. The only difference is, the hamster is dead.”

Freakonomics falsehoods: Rebecca Watson exposes the highly dubious arguments in the best-seller, especially the Roe vs Wade leading to lower violent crime rates 20 years later ‘correlation’. Heaven save us from pseudoscientists.

Cutting through the shit in online dating: Alicia Bunyan-Sampson asks potential dates to answer 30 questions of her own formulation, before she will date them. Some of them are serious, some of them are funny, and filling it in informs both parties what they might be in for in dating the other. Way better than the commercial ‘profiles’ of most dating services. There is no magic to the questions, and she suggests you create your own, to get the answers you really want to know before you meet someone new.


cartoon by Barry Blitt in the New Yorker

From Canadian living in China Daniel Dumbrill: “In the west you can change the party but not the policies; in China you can change the policies but not the party. Which is more important?”

From Caitlin Johnstone: “I feel sorry for Zelenskyy. The US abandoning your country for Israel is like your husband leaving you for his first wife.”

From my friend John Whiting on the state of America (reprinted with his permission):

An American academic friend who lives in a good neighborhood near D.C. recently wrote to me:

My wife told me this morning that if she didn’t have children, she’d emigrate somewhere else. It is becoming really unpleasant to be in public in the United States. The level of hostility is startling. The disparity of wealth is depressing. The struggle is ongoing. The roads are falling apart. Fewer and fewer human beings relate to customers anymore. I am flooded with commercials everywhere I turn, including on public radio. I have 100 to 130 emails every morning when I wake up and only five or six are from someone I want to hear from. Facebook is much the same. Instagram is gone. TikTok is a joke. I survive with self-medication.

From Aurélien on the schism in the Professional-Managerial Caste (PMC) in the west [slightly paraphrased]:

So there’s actually a deep and irreconcilable conflict between the interests of the main body of the PMC, and those of the real elites; often described as the “one per cent.” The main body of the PMC is subject to discipline, loyalty checks and compulsory ideological conformity, yet seems to enjoy little extra status or concrete advantages over ordinary people. The main body of the PMC is the historical descendant of the intellectual servant class: the tutors and secretaries, the functionaries in great houses, the lawyers and intellectuals. It is significant, perhaps, that this is the class which hijacked the French Revolution from ordinary people and took it to its conclusion. Like the intellectuals of the eighteenth century, today’s members of the main body of the PMC, prize (or affect to prize) logic, science and rationality. And like those intellectuals, they are, I suspect, boiling with frustrated ambition and anger, hating both the aristocracy [the elite portion of the PMC] on the one hand, and the common [working class] people on the other.

From Indrajit Samarajiva, on genocide:

The truth is it’s all one genocide, and we are all Palestinians.

It’s the same imperative as American colonizers attacking ‘merciless savages’ in their Declaration of Independence. Kill the native people and take their land… The Original Genociders are human rights experts now; their founding genocides are covered up and the money’s long-since laundered… White supremacism and human supremacism are one continuum, the separation of us from each other, from our animal kin, and from the land. It is, in the short run, the genocide of the Palestinians, but in the long run, it’s the ecocide of us all.

From my colleague Daniel Cowper, from Grotesque Tenderness:

Last Wishes

From the white void
hiding the sea,
familiar foghorns roll.

Why are they so worried?
There’s no better way to be buried.
When it’s my turn, wrap

my failed body in linen straps,
between the loops slip
skipping stones for weight.

Send me down the thermoclines
with silver dollars on my eyes,
watch me become a brightness,

shrinking and fading
as I sink. I’ll take
my Thieves’ Communion

with the crabs, bless them.
Let my meat repay the sea for meat
I’ve taken out with line, with net and trap.

No doubt, the dogfish
will find me and weasel
their fill from the loosening linen,

but bless them too. If I leave
debts behind,
and nothing in the till

to make them good, don’t pay the banks.
No, pay them, if you like,
it’s no concern of mine. By then

my only business will be
with sharks and crabs
and worms, the ocean’s undertakers,

among bottles and sunken
deadheads from which fishhooks
float translucent lines.

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5 Responses to Links of the Month: November 2023

  1. Joe Clarkson says:

    Please note that the MK84 bomb is one tonne, not one megaton as indicated in your caption under the photo. Still, the 25,000 tonnes of bombs dropped on Gaza is a horrific tonnage.

    But despite my general sympathy for the Palestinians of Gaza, the West Bank and the diaspora, I think Indrajit’s analysis of the reasons why the bombs are falling is … asinine. US support of Israel has always caused more problems with mid-east oil-producing countries than it has solved. Support for Israel has always been the exact opposite of a colonial-business decision. Just ask the shareholders of Aramco.

  2. Vera says:

    I have more and more of a sense that Biden will be ousted, one way or another.

    Slick Lizard vs Trumpster? Ain’t Clown World fun?

  3. Dave Pollard says:

    Thanks Joe — caption corrected.

  4. Vera says:

    So as I slowly grapple with the non-self ideas… this has emerged for me. I wonder, Dave, if you could write about what you mean by this “self.” I just read the FAQ and you say that animals don’t have selves. To my mind, they very much do. But perhaps my sense of what “self” means is different from yours. (?)

Comments are closed.