Meanwhile, in the American digital favela  

Posted by Big Gav in ,

Bruce has a typically cynical take on a recent John Robb post at Global Guerrillas (as per usual, Bruce's intervjections are marked ((())) ) at Beyond The Beyond - Meanwhile, in the American digital favela.

“There are growing signs — from a black swan in savings/debt reduction to massive debt loads to quarterly trillion dollar losses in personal wealth to stagnant/falling consumer purchases to persistently low consumer confidence — that the parasite ridden American “consumer” is finally dead. (((Okay, maybe so, but if any other non-American consumer is still alive, aren’t they going to use their brilliant capitalism to simply *buy* American consumers? Consumer society is vastly more productive than any rival form of economics.)))

“If this is true, the economic model of the latter half of the last Century is likely dead too, and that will mean wrenching change. It’s my belief that the dominant solution is to prepare for a local future to ride out this storm. Here are some of my random (more random than I would like) thoughts on what you should do to prepare:

(((Check out how much like a favela this is.)))

“Ruthlessly reduce debt. Nothing on credit. Pay off every loan. Strategically walk away from underwater assets (like homes that are worth less than the mortgage). This will allow you to stay one step ahead of the death throes of the old economy. (((Not to mention that this activity, carried out on any large scale, would *murder* the old economy. It’s called “capitalism” because people borrow “capital,” am I right?)))

“Turn your hollow home into a productive asset. Most homes are devoid of any productive capacity. Adding energy, food, etc production to them turns them into real, productive assets. Get your assets out of financial derivatives (stocks, bonds, etc.) as fast as you can and put them into productive assets (not commodities) you can touch. (((The busy workshop slums of Dharavi, biggest favela in Asia. After leaving your underwater home, sleep in the sweatshop.)))

“Make everything you can yourself. Grow your own food. Produce your own energy. Make/repair your own clothes. Turn costs into savings. Reskill to do this. The new “fashionable trend” isn’t what you can buy, it’s what you can make. Anyone that buys “designer or branded” anything is a fool. (((Okay, but suppose you start making stuff so good that people actually want to buy it. Wouldn’t you need a brand at that point? If not a “brand,” at least some kind of recognizable ID like a big Arduino Italian logo.)))

(((Also, isn’t a division of labor proven to be more productively efficient than this primitive autarky? I seem to recall something cogent about Adam Smith explaining how to make pins with assembly lines.)))

“Work online. Convert your skills into something that can be sold electronically (most of my complex work is done this way). Develop the skills necessary to work as part of a virtual team. Telecommute whenever possible (and push to do this, even if it means less money), reduce the number of cars/dress clothes/etc you own in synch with this conversion (and move to a less expensive locale when possible!). Always have two jobs going at the same time. (((This is the really interesting part. I mean, to accomplish this you’ve gotta have some financially bomb-proof homemade Internet equipment that you made in your favela out of bark and twine. Otherwise your pretense of sturdy urban yeomanry is ludicrous, because you’ve just traded in the Constitution, US Treasury and the Justice Department for your new feudal overlords, Microsoft and Google. )))

(((Now, a grown-up Favela Chic would in fact run the means of Internet production out of the favela, presumably with open-source, free hardware and instructables. They’d also use community banking and cellphone micropayments on their own equipment. This wouldn’t be survivalism though, it would be some variety of Kevin Kelly Digital Socialism. If the upshot was a stable middle-class of petty and haute bourgeoisie, as opposed to the buccaneers who wrecked everything, you’d be back to a workable economy, except they wouldn’t be “consumers,” they’d be “sharers” (or whatever). )))

“Build a local business. Own assets that produce and sell that production locally. Even if it is small, it will help down the line via contact networks/experience (a new spin on modern “networking”). Develop the niche skills that sell locally. Group/tribe up when possible to tackle larger opportunities. (((Why not group/tribe up from the beginning? Presumably that would be called something like a “labor union” or maybe a “political party.” Or who knows, if they were superambitious and had lots of solidarity and social cohesion, they might call themselves a “state” or “nation.” Sounds great, eh? However, since this is the “Global Guerrillas” site, presumably these hapless national entities get torn shreds between the global guerrillas with money and the global guerrillas with guns.)))

“Barter. Cashless trades. Convert what you have to what you need. Skill set bartering is amazingly effective. Become part of a local barter network (the backchannel). (((”The favela black market.”)))

“Bring your family home. (((You know those right-wing horror stories of entire Mexican immigrant families crammed into a single room? This is like that, except in a solarized McMansion.))) Grow your home to accommodate more people. Bring back parents and grown kids (with their families). This will allow you to pool incomes and radically reduce workload/costs. It’s also beneficial for security. NOTE: I’ve found that consideration/compromise is the best way to handle an expansive family home environment.

Suggestions welcome!! (((I think I’ve got the ideal post-national guerrilla leader for a family-centric, moose-skinning scheme of this sort: Sarah Palin. “Prayer-Time and Barter With Sarah.” Neato!)))

This change doesn’t require cute and crunchy notions about “lifestyle” environmentalism. (((I agree, but unless it finds some cuteness and crunchiness, its inhabitants will swiftly die of despair.)))

Also at BTB, some cold civil war style analysis of some recent conservative political meltdowns - American centipedes.
*Happy 5th of July! Let’s study recent political meltdowns in the USA and examine their electronic elements!

*First, Senator John Ensign of Nevada. Senator Ensign ruefully announced that he had an affair with a staff member — not because of sudden remorse for his affair, but because the offended husband, also a member of the Ensign staff, compiled a damning dossier about Ensign’s activities and leaked it to the right-wing press.

*Partisanship is now so toxic in the US that rightwing leakers feel compelled to leak sex scandals to their own pet press, rather than leak it to what they consider the entirely savage “main stream media.” They consider this a mercy, the classy way to handle a sex leak.

Near the end of the two-page, single-spaced document, he (((the injured husband/leaker))) noted: “I could have sought the most liberal, Republican hating media to expose this story, but there are people’s lives at stake and justice is about proper process as well as outcome. Senator Ensign has no business serving in the US Senate anymore!” (((I want you to imagine a future America where “proper process” involves the proper crafting of mini-Lewinsky scandals rather than any proper processes of actual law or governance.)))


In his letter, Hampton (((the husband))) said he sought Fox News’ help out of desperation.

“It appears there may be nothing the law can do to correct and bring justice and restitution to this terrible wrong that has been done us,” he wrote. “I have sought a number of lawyers who are having difficulty finding charges that may hold up in court.”

Hampton said he understood the story was difficult to believe, but he added that there was a paper trail, phone records and witnesses to corroborate the allegations.

(((Mr Hampton carefully collated all this evidence for the use of Fox media.)))

“It is my belief we are dealing with a very powerful person and institution in the U.S. Senate that only the media can pierce to expose the wrong and bring light and focus to what needs to be done.

“Please help me! This should not be how the leadership of our country should be allowed to behave. I need justice, help and restitution for what Senator Ensign has done to me and my family.” (…)

Ensign’s sudden acknowledgment of the affair continues to create fallout in the nation’s capital and Nevada.


The affair with Cynthia Hampton occurred while she, her husband and their adult son were all on the senator’s payroll. (((One has to wonder about the psychological dynamics of this feudal entourage.))) She was Ensign’s onetime campaign treasurer and the former treasurer of the senator’s Battle Born Political Action Committee.

Unnamed sources cited in various media reports (((centipede/bimbo-eruption brigade))) initially raised the specter of extortion as the reason for Ensign’s news conference, but Metro Police and the FBI said they were not investigating. Ensign’s office on Thursday declined to say today whether the Hamptons sought any money to keep quiet. (((Hampton wasn’t asking anybody for yet more money, he’s an upset insider who probably believes in Ensign’s Christian rightist “Promise Keeper” rhetoric. But why didn’t he confront the Senator privately, and resign on principle (along with his son)? Why fight this out in front of cameras in a massive rupture of privacy? Because that’s contemporary politics; that’s how he was trained as a modern Senate staffer.)))

(((Meanwhile, Governor Sanford of South Carolina gets outed for having a South American mistress. Somebody hacked her email account and passed their correspondence to the political press in the South Carolina state capital. A classic centipede tactic: but who did it? Sanford didn’t out himself; he was mousetrapped. How? Why? Rumor said a jealous South American boyfriend, but Maria Belen Chapur apparently says otherwise.)))

Here’s what Sanford’s lover wrote to Argentine journalist

This is the e-mail sent by Maria Belen Chapur to Eduardo Feinmann, a journalist with Argentina’s C5N television, as published on the television station’s Web site. It was translated from Spanish by McClatchy’s Mark Seibel.

Dear Eduardo:

I’ve decided to send you this communication, which will be the only one, to clarify certain incorrect things that are being said and in that way put an end to the subject that, as you can imagine, is a huge source of pain for me, my two children, my whole family and the good friends, men and women, whom I’ve gathered throughout my life and who have always been with me.

1. Of my private life I won’t say anything, now or in the future. It’s been made public enough already, a fact that causes me terrible discomfort.

2. I deny categorically that the person who hacked my “Hotmail” was the friend with whom I shared some days in Brazil during the Rolex Regatta. This friend, as everyone can read in my emails, is a most excellent, respectable and honorable man incapable of doing such a thing. Not only is he not the author of this perverse act, but he also was a victim. In December 2008, the e-mails were sent to him as well as to The State newspaper, anonymously by whoever hacked them.

3. My Hotmail account was hacked around the 24th of November through an old e-mail account provided by an Argentine company. I filed a complaint then with both the Argentine company that was still hosting my old account, and Hotmail.

I was able to shut down this old account and recover my hacked Hotmail on Dec. 8, after answering a long questionnaire sent by Microsoft. All this is on file with Microsoft as well as the Argentine company. I have in my possession all the complaints I sent to Microsoft and all the responses; Microsoft responded to my problem quickly and efficiently. Due to the seriousness of my complaint, the Argentine company, by phone, made an exception and immediately shut down this account, even though it wasn’t in my home.

3. (sic) Finally, I have a firm suspicion of who did this great act of damage, which was aimed at me specifically but at the same time destroyed the lives of so many others. Since I don’t have sufficient proof and live in a country of laws, I’m obligated to keep their identity anonymous. I’m no one’s judge; I leave all that in the hands of God.

María Belén Chapur

(((Ms Belen Chapur may have her firm suspicion about her own enemies, but I kinda wonder why the enemies of some minor Argentinian businesswoman would want to methodically destroy the Presidential aspirations of the Governor of some remote American state. And do that so swiftly and effectively, too. It’s not like this lovelorn Argentinian has been the guy’s mistress for 15 years. Sanford engaged in some weird machinations to get down there, spent three nights in a hotel and got hammered immediately on his return. My suspicion? Somebody was watching the Governor’s computer for quite a while now. They didn’t release its hacked contents, because that’s 87 kinds of GWOT cyberwar. However, they cracked open the girlfriend’s account using the good old Palin method, and had that wrapped up with a ribbon for domestic consumption as soon as the guy committed his blunder.)))

(((Anybody gonna bother to investigate that? Or are they content to leave vengeance in the hands of God (while the next victim Governor awaits the same tactic)?)))


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