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Saturday, February 9, 2008

Joe Bageant: "Commons" & The United States Of Jabba The Hutt

Sand Jabba
Rarely is reading about our dark human situation more entertaining than when Joe weighs in. He is especially incandescent in this latest essay, Nine Billion Little Feet:
..."Commons" may be the current precious little term embraced by environmentally concerned American writers and activists ­ including me but it rests on old European "ours together and my own private" concepts of the earth...

Sad lot that we are as a species, not everyone is a moral pig. Millions of individuals, some governments even, are unnerved by what is happening. In America the best among us are outraged, and protest that officialdom has failed us. Unfortunately, we are officialdom, indirectly as that may be. Because we are mankind and mankind is all inclusive, organically and forever ­ forever having turned out to be rather shorter than we thought. If officialdom has failed us, it is because we have failed ourselves, and in many respects, our official governments provide us with a collective excuse not to act personally.

Mainly though, aware Americans are watching and waiting for someone else to make an important move. Guts are nonexistent in Americans these days, programmed out of us during the posh captivity of the "cheap oil fiesta" that drove our grotesque and brief civilization. Still, if ever there were a time to show some guts, it's now. Not by protesting ­ -- which has become a security state supervised liberal pussy sport -- but by giving up the material life, the consumer life. Damned near all of it. Including all those leftie and alternative books from Amazon -- sitting on our asses reading and drinking green tea just because we can afford to is just another type of inaction and consumerism. It's the only real act of protest possible by the prisoners of our consumption driven monolith. True, you'll be just one iPodless and carless little guy throwing a single stone at the United States of Jabba the Hutt. But assuming you're still capable of any kind of life after the stellazine mind conditioning we've all been administered for past 40 years, I've got folding cash that says you will own your life in a way that seemed previously impossible. Hanging onto or chasing the bling is over with anyway, as dead as the economy. The Olive Garden and Circuit City are still open, true, but only because the hair and nails still grow on Jabba's corpse. Would somebody please quit pretending he's alive and yank the feeding tube?

Optimistic doomsayer that I am, I highlight the one sparkly gem of hope in his dark meditation. While I'm not inclined to discuss my personal life in this blog, I will say with some authority, however, that Joe has that exactly right.

If you're a thinking person, I highly recommend visiting Joe and reading the whole damned thing.


  1. The notion of the commons is quite interesting, and I hope there will be more discussion of it. I don't know enough about it to draw any conclusions yet, but that is part of what makes it so interesting.

  2. Hi libhom, thanks for stopping by.

    Basically, what Joe is saying is that the very concept of common, or public, property only comes into being when there is also a notion of private property. To most indigenous peoples, not having the audacity to fence of an area and call it "mine," the idea of a commons is a puzzle.

    Private property is a fiction invented by Man. As I've often said to people, G-d - or Gaya or whatever cosmic authority you may believe in - never handed out any deeds. All private property has been established by violence. Legal deeds do nothing to remove this taint.

    But we of "civilized" Western thought take the idea of property rights for granted - hence the tension over just how much should be "allocated" as a common area.

    It's ALL common, so the term is meaningless. If I pour motor oil into "my" backyard, I'm polluting everyone. If I destroy all of the trees on "my" land, I take the contribution of those trees away from everyone.

    Check out the fabulous argument about the concept of Hospitality by one of the seminal deconstructionists, Jaques Derrida, where he makes a similar argument.


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