Jul 11, 2013 npc commented on The California Prison Strike: Day Four.
@1 and 2:

The prison-strike broadsheet being distributed by the movements' supporters actually includes an article (last page) comparing US prisons to the authors' experience in an Iranian prison, with less rosy conclusions than you seem to have come to:

Jan 30, 2013 npc commented on The Rent Hike.
Why not organize directly against it? It sounds like this company is doing this same thing all over the city -- why not try for a general rent strike against them? You don't need a state initiative for rent control to pass before you can take direct action against these scumbags. Let them lose the money they invested in the place, they have no right to it anyways.

And yes, this is abysmally common--not to mention the fact that many of these companies then try to steal people's deposits, go back on the lease, etc. SeaSol has had a number of fights like this in the past (and won them).
Jan 16, 2013 npc commented on A Game of Drones.
Paul, I have two questions for you:

1. Doesn't your dismissal of revolution (of some sort) as an actual option--based on people in the US being relatively well fed, clothed, with access to particular privilege, etc. -- doesn't this just displace the revolutionary justification to outside US borders? This is what's called the "third worldist" hypothesis in revolutionary theory, which argues that we have a "labor aristocracy" in the 1st world that makes it impossible to instigate revolution or real (positive) world change of any sort. I mean, I disagree with this (on an empirical and anecdotal basis, since I am from one of the many parts of the US that are basically abandoned zones, "wastelands" of the type described by Chris Hedges in his recent book--and these areas are larger and closer than liberals like you make it seem). But still, do you think that revolutions (including against US Imperialism) are justified overseas, but just not here?

2. I think you're misportraying the revolutionary argument about historic change -- the idea isn't that there are there massive "jumps" that occur after revolutions (if anything, every revolution begins with a material step BACKWARD as people rebuild from the revolutionary war). The argument is that revolutions are necessary points of abrupt discontinuity, where that graduated, snails-pace of actual historic movement CHANGES TRAJECTORY. At certain points this change in direction involves a (relatively quick) restructuring of "productive forces." Today that would mean, for example, the immediate start of a process toward entirely dismantling coal and oil energy networks, paired with massive projects to build up new energy sources and decrease/redistribute existing productive capacity throughout the world--including more localization of agriculture. All of this comes through ABRUPT breaks in political power--breaks in which people directly assert themselves, which often means some degree of violence against the police/military/pinkertons/etc. suppressing those people and against the material conditions (such as prisons, military installations, sweatshops, etc.) aiding this suppression. It doesn't mean there is some magical "jump ahead," just a kind of torsion which changes the ultimate arc of history.

So do you actually think you have historical examples which contradict this (the actual) revolutionary argument? If so: WHAT? What real basic changes in productive forces or fundamental social relations actually came out of simple slow growth with no abrupt discontinuity in trajectory, with no people directly rising against injustice and (often violently) destroying it?

I also want to point out that I think much of your portrayal of Obama (and even his differences with Romney) is inaccurate even according to the liberal-progressive metric you seem to be using. Here's more data on that in the best (that I've read) of the "progressive" critiques against Obama by Matt Stoller:


Finally: Though I don't think it's reasonable that you offer a straw-man argument for revolution here, I also want to emphasize that I have little interest in defending the particular revolutionary arguments of World Can't Wait -- an organization which is simply a front-group for the wingnut RCP Bob Avakian cult. But if you're looking for a straw man to burn, they're a goddamn good one.

Aug 9, 2012 npc commented on Housing Authority Opposes measures to Accommodate Low-Income Residents In Yesler Terrace Redevelopment.
Is anyone at all bothered by the fact that the City is basically again just selling public lands to private developers? This time, SHA did not even look anywhere else for funding before deciding to go down the normal path of leasing to for-profit development companies. Not to mention the fact that most of the members of the planning commission themselves had to declare some pretty serious conflicts of interest, while still recommending that the project go forward. Here's that list, taken from the bottom of their official recommendation:

- Catherine Benotto disclosed that her firm, Weber Thompson, designs projects and advises clients who might be interested in pursuing development projects at Yesler Terrace.
- Commissioner Luis Borrero disclosed that his firm, DRVE LLC, has a strategic partnership with Heartland, LLC, which is working on the Yesler Terrace project.
- Commissioner Josh Brower disclosed that his firm, Veris Law Group PLLC, represents single and multi family developers throughout the city of Seattle. He added that used to serve on the Advisory Board of Full Life Care (formerly Elderhealth NW), which works closely with SHA to provide housing and adult-day services to people suffering from dementia.
- Commissioner David Cutler recused himself from the discussion and vote on this matter.
- Commissioner Colie Hough Beck disclosed that the firm I work for, HBB, works with SDOT, SPU, Parks, and City Light on projects throughout Seattle. She added that her firm also work for private and public housing developers in Seattle.
- Commissioner Brad Khouri disclosed that his firm, b9 Architects, design single family and multi-family housing throughout Seattle and might in this neighborhood.
- Commissioner Jeanne Krikawa disclosed that she serves on the Yesler Terrace Citizen Review Committee, which will also submit a letter to City Council.
- Commissioner Amalia Leighton disclosed that her firm, SvR Design, is working on the infrastructure for the Yesler Terrace redevelopment project.
- Commissioner Chris Persons disclosed that his organization, Capitol Hill Housing builds affordable housing throughout Seattle and may develop replacement housing or on-site housing for the Yesler redevelopment.
- Commissioner Matt Roewe disclosed that his firm, Via Architecture, works on municipal planning and private development projects throughout Seattle and that he serves on the board of Capitol Hill Housing, which may develop replacement housing or on-site housing for the Yesler redevelopment.
- Commissioner Morgan Shook abstained from the discussion and vote on this matter.
- Commissioner Sarah Snider disclosed that her firm, LMN, does urban design and various types of architectural projects and works for clients who might be interested in pursuing development projects at Yesler Terrace.
Jun 25, 2012 npc commented on Defending FDR.

But Keynesianism had its crisis as well, in the 1970s, and the neoliberal reforms were a symptom of that crisis -- this was when stimulus became increasingly difficult simply because of its sheer scale and because of the enormous saturation of capital. Neoliberalism, despite the libertarian tirades, was itself very much like a massively distributed world war which cleared overseas markets in the same way, destroyed infrastructure overseas in the same way and opened up labor populations in the same way -- it acted as the stimulus that the Keynesian economists of the 1970s could not perform. The difference, of course, was that the accumulation gained was simply re-concentrated in the upper percentiles (much the same thing happened in the 1920s, after WWI and the flu epidemic).

But now the gains of neoliberalism have largely been sucked dry -- the largest labor populations (in China and the former soviet block) gave us the biggest and last boom of neoliberal restructuring -- so they are turning to countries like Greece, formerly well within the "safe zone" and imposing their austerity there. But it's clear that neoliberal stimulus also makes money -- they just like to stimulate with their guns instead of, like, dams and shit. And at the end we don't get any.

Meanwhile, China seems to be well aware of the benefits of government stimulus, funding all sorts of old-school Keynesian style programs (in its own borders as well as in Africa and Southeast Asia). Yet it has still cultivated an enormous real estate bubble, it still has gruesome levels of inequality, and it is still tearing apart the environment.

As much as you are correct in attacking the conservative view, it is still bothersome to use Keynesian stimulus like it is some sort of magic bullet. This is a convenient way to get around the core contradictions of capitalism, in which crises are always guaranteed -- does it really matter if the specter of Keynes hangs over them rather than Hayek?
Jun 25, 2012 npc commented on What Has the City Done for You Lately?.
Have you seen Harvey's discussion with Graeber?


The most interesting part is about 2/3rds into the video, where they begin discussing this notion of larger-scale forms of organization. Graeber concedes that it is one of the most important things facing radical thinkers today, but also notes that there is no reason this large scale form needs to necessarily look like states do now. His examples (Zapatistas, etc) sort of suck. But I agree with the core of that argument: The majority of "the state" does indeed seem to be completely superfluous to actually serving the needs of people, in the same way that the majority of our city has been turned into a sluice for liquid capital, rather than a real social infrastructure.

So why do you think that large-scale forms of organization must be "like the state"? This seems equivalent to saying that density development plans must be "like a concentration camp" -- sort of true, in that concentration camps did concentrate population very efficiently, but everything else in their functioning was, you know, not so nice.

I certainly agree on the need for large-scale institutions that have a "nested" or hierarchical form (though also ones which are able to mesh with more horizontal structures below the 15,000 person limit that Harvey points out). But I think it's incorrect an overly dismissive to portray anarchists in general as dogmatic horizontalists -- most anarchists absolutely believe in the need for these same large scale institutional forms. Harvey himself points out that there were once strong syndicalist models for doing precisely what he's talking about.

It's a good book, though.
Jun 25, 2012 npc joined My Stranger Face