Who is Arrby?

Rick Battams 2011

Hello all! Here’s some bio of myself. I am, by the way, Rick Battams. I use Arby (RB) all over the net, or try to. I often end up using a variation of Arby because the name’s already in use or for some other reason. I used Arby on Baywords. I couldn’t use it on WordPress because someone (me?) is already using it. So here I’m Arrby.

It’s not that I imagine that it makes me invisible. But I quite possibly avoid getting harassed by yahoos and other unhinged folks who hate to hear views that don’t jibe with the propaganda they think is revealed truth. It’s probably too easy for folks to hit a few keys and make someone else miserable. I’m just filtering those people out of my life and cutting out the crap a little, theoretically. I very well know that there are those out there – also yahoos and unhinged but smart, capable and empowered – who could get through any amount of disguising myself I might do.

I really don’t want to hide. I’m just being cautious, to a reasonable, not extreme, extent.

I’m single and without dependents. I was born in 1956. I connect with people easily. Paying attention to what’s going on in the world has some side benefits, such as enabling you to hold a decent conversation with people pretty much no matter what the conversation is about. There’s that. But then people don’t always like to be challenged to think. That can make them antsy rather than interested in anything further you might want to say to them. Also, Being non conformist and religious (but rational) sometimes puts people off, even though I really don’t bring up religion unless it’s reasonable to do so. Other subjects, my views on which make me non conformist, I am more willing to bring up. For example, I often toss out that I’m anti-capitalist since capitalism is against me.

I feel no need to talk to people about things they are not interested in, whether it’s religion or politics or sex, which are things I’m very interested in. I am happy to talk to people about anything, depending. If you make me feel uncomfortable or if I detect belligerence, I’m going to disengage. Other than that, I love a good conversation because I like people. And I like to learn and teach. Which isn’t to say that I have all the answers.

I don’t plan on changing who I am, which isn’t to say that making changes is automatically a bad thing.

I’m a wage slave. I’m also anticapitalist, as I’ve noted. Bosses don’t have to pull their weight, so they don’t. But they are encouraged to whine about taxes and beg for tax cuts that politicians, pursuing their neoliberal agenda, are eager to give. The problem is, The only ones who really benefit from those cuts are those who already have money. Then the politicians complain about the deficits that their endless tax cuts cause, telling the people – the majority who don’t benefit from tax cuts – that they must endure austerity now that there’s a deficit. The politicians who complain about the deficits that ‘they’ create are simply setting the people up for the next set of announcements, including the main one: “We must have austerity.” Of course, The ‘we’ will be ‘the people’, but not the important people (the iconic 1%) and not the supposedly wealth-generating corporations. And that sets things up for their partners in the private sector who will then try to make the case for privatizing the services etc that are falling apart because they are now not properly funded due to austerity.

It doesn’t matter that we don’t consciously vote for politicians who are bent on stripping the ‘civilization’ from society, which is what we get when they do this deficit terrorism at the behest of privatizers and corporations that benefit from it. Enough people, accepting the campaign rhetoric of “We are all in this together” and “I will create jobs, protect the environment and hold rich corporations accountable,” ‘do’ vote for such politicians and the consequences to the majority are negative.

It’s a conundrum actually. When the majority eschews voting, because so many don’t understand politics or have other challenges, and because others just don’t believe in politics, which they have good reason not to, then that leaves a minority of eligible citizens who will vote and who will find that the electoral system is tailored for them. That’s how this sham electoral system/ democracy is perpetuated. We can all vote and make the best of a bad situation, voting for the best of a bad bunch of corporatocracy-approved candidates, which really changes little, or we can leave this harmful election ritual alone and try to build something else that we can use to replace the corporatocracy-imposed system with. But that leaves the corporatocracy-imposed system in place while we’re spending time building. And while it’s there, it will be used to consolidate power and keep the people sidelined and unable to build anything anti-corporatocracy.

Occupy Wall Street was inspired by the Arab spring that started in Tunisia. That died. And other movements that bubble up will come and go. (I keep revising this page and it’s probably mainly due to events and changing circumstances, such as the Occupy movement that came and went. Yes, The movement has left traces.) Among the (former?) Occupiers are those who see the current electoral system the way I do. But, as a number of my 2012 posts show, OWS is seriously outgunned. Some, like Murray Dobbin, saw it coming. The goats, the macho, pushy, destructive capitalists, weren’t going to suddenly become nice and embark upon a project of society-building together with the rest of us so as to make a world that works for everyone. On the contrary. And they knew what their pushing would lead to, which is to say, They knew they were going to produce wounded, angry citizens who would take to the streets not because they want to be there, but because they have no other way of being heard. Certainly the electoral system doesn’t afford an outlet.

Glorious! And hey! Why not make money off of it? Aren’t we clever? Before OWS hit the streets everywhere, the security/surveillance network that began in earnest post 9/11 was being assembled, and the necessary legislation (easy enough to do when you – corporations and special interests – ‘are’ governments) was being put in place to allow that network to operate. OWS arrived and so did the corporatocracy’s answer to it. We are outgunned. (But that doesn’t mean that the wild beast has no powerful enemies. Indeed, It has powerful enemies – not the people – who it will by no means crush. That’s another story.)

Crumbling publicly funded institutions and programs lead to the rightwing call to fix them by privatizing them. And privatizing poorly funded programs and services doesn’t lead to more efficient anything, since you no longer have investments going mostly into the programs and services offered. ‘For profit’ operations mean that investments are geared to returning a profit to owners of those operations and associated shareholders and investors. And deregulation means that there is no real guarantee that services – like buses or postal services that service sparsely populated areas, for example – will continue (everywhere or at the same relatively high level), since private companies can do what they want and they won’t prioritize the social aspect of their businesses over the profit making aspect of their businesses.

I have spent way too much time in payday lender hell, Penalized for what? This is how hard working ‘law and order’ governments treat their citizens. Maybe they want us to join the terrorists they help create. I pay little rent, sacrificing freedom and privacy. And health to some extent, since I don’t own the house in which I have a room and can’t clean it, everywhere, or cool it by turing on the landlord’s central air which he doesn’t want to turn on. (I now have an air conditioner in my room, which he asks me to give him extra money to allow.) Another roomer lives in the bathroom we share, horks all over everything in an effort to clear his throat and walks away without cleaning it up. Anytime I do more than use the toilet or shower, I have to do major cleaning or else touch surfaces that might lead to a bad outcome for me. Home is not my refuge and thinking about it when I’m on my way there stresses me out. I don’t have debts (that are hunting me down anyway) or kids or pets or much in the way of expensive habits. I like my indie coffee and organic food. That’s where I could save money – which would leave me with no life if I were to do so. But that’s my problem. Right? So, While I still find myself frequenting payday lenders, I am also reasonably comfortable.

The media is full of people, capitalists (only some of whom actually own capital), complaining, essentially, about capitalism, even if they are conditioned to not bring up the subject and not use the word. (And they, and the Left, have a hard time with the word ‘fascism’, although that’s changing. But are activists among the 99% playing at activism or serious when they can’t call fascism fascism?) Those ones are conditioned in different ways. Some within the 99% who truly benefit (in important if limited ways) from the exploitative capitalist system consciously or instinctively protect it by helping to kill open, frank discussion of it, partly by trying to not name the system/problem. (And I’m sure that ego sometimes plays a role. I think leftists sometimes slow down discussion when they avoid plain language, which they do because they want to dominate the discourse and they therefore use inappropriate terms – messing up their own narrative – that have us pausing to scratch our heads. It must rankle when uneducated nobodies like myself can sometimes offer a narrative that is more compelling than their own.) By avoiding focussing on the exploitative system that many of us call corporatocracy and which is fascist (demonstrating the correct approach that ‘we’ should take) themselves, they hope to have us not focus on it. That’s how they hide the problem of our neoliberal capitalist system.

Other capitalists, including those who are not actual capitalists, who are even victims of corporatocracy but who don’t get what’s going on, just follow the example set by capitalists who do know what’s going on. They are also victims of what I refer to as horizontal vs vertical (aka demonstration) thinking and behavior, namely discussions and dire warnings about subjects that are relatively shallow and diversionary. It’s the “Look over there” ploy by manipulators who take the means of survival in various ways. ‘Over there’ is most effective when whatever topic is over there is of interest, for whatever reason, to us. And it can even a worthwhile topic. But that’s not the point. Our being manipulated, not by people who care about us or believe in social justice, but who are trying to do things that are socially harmful, is the point. use the term ‘horizontal’ this way because I’m trying to convey the idea of relative shallowness. The shallowness consists primarily in the way social progress is hindered by the manipulators’ effectiveness in having their agenda tended to and the citizens’ agenda sidelined. Getting ‘down’ to business escapes the people when they are successfully herded by exploiters who convince us that not only is what they want to discuss (taxes for example) what’s important but when it’s discussed. Their priorities come first, always. The end result is social inequality and injustice, making it clear that they should therefore ‘not’ hog the dialog or the power.

Demonstration thinking and behavior isn’t genuine, in the above sense. It’s an act. It’s designed to demonstrate to onlookers – who don’t grasp how shameless corporatocracy politicians, and other leaders, are – how they should think and behave. Again, It’s usually done in relation to other subjects that elites want de-emphasized, sometimes permanently. Some of those subjects – Quebec’s language laws – replacing bumped subjects are not unimportant, obviously. But they are diversionary, or shallow, in the sense that the politicians and their media allies consciously prefer to keep those issues and problems alive, and hot, as a way to avoid discussing with us other, more pressing issues relating to institutions and structures of power that need changing before we can have a society that works for everyone rather than solely for a minority. Then you have those on the Left who also engage in horizontal thinking and behavior, with the idea that divisive, diversionary electoral politics are essential. They hide behind the the qualifier “but the street is also important.” Others on the Left, such as Linh Dinh, state the obvious about the undemocratic electoral system that the corporatocracy forces on us.

While elites and their political partners would like (in some ways) the people to believe that they are democratic and that our society is democratic, they are not and it isn’t. Democracy today only resides in pockets here and there, due to the democratic credentials of those individuals in charge of progressive organizations and within the breasts of individuals. Today, those individuals are viewed, collectively, as the 99%. It’s a useful way of looking at things, I think. I would only add the caveat that being a victim of criminals doesn’t automatically make you righteous. In fact, I’ve taken to referring to the 1% within the 99%, where that 1% is comprised of caring, principled people, especially activists ‘doing’ rather than just talking (like myself), who carry the entire 99%. That’s because that’s what I see.

Back to what elites and their political partners (and even those who presume to speak for the 99% while they selfishly and unhelpfully avoid speaking plainly) want us to not focus on. Think about how often you find the word ‘capitalism’ in your daily or hear it on the radio or tv. Not too often, Right? Even stranger is the way some folks, complaining about what capitalist politicians are doing, blame socialism or socialists for it. They are often right, but not the way they think they are. The socialists causing problems that those folks are complaining about are usually their beloved capitalist idols. People see socialism where there is none and they don’t see it where it operates! This too, is partly a product of horizontal thinking and behavior by authorities.

That is how the rightwing Toronto Star and CBC have been made to appear socialist to some. Rightwingers, through constant tirades against the socialist Star and and the socialist CBC (insert your own examples here to add to the list), partly in an effort to discourage any individuals in those orgs who would, if the opportunity arose, take those orgs in a socialist (sane) direction, seek to make their audience believe that, one, It’s true and, two, It’s a bad thing to be socialist. One has to wonder about the wisdom of that tact.

All you need to do, as I am doing, is point out to people that if socialism basically means collective problem solving and society building, which would involve using government, then those with power and money do that very efficiently but not ethically. That is to say, Capitalist socialists want socialism for their class only because they also believe, conveniently, in inequality. Capitalism, especially now (neoliberal capitalism), is based on exploitation and oppression and is headed right back to the nineteenth century not because of any economic forces in play, but due to the beastly nature of those who have accepted from this world’s invisible ruler (for now) his gift of mysterious lawlessness, which means the freedom to sin in return for survival. And so, Many today, including victims of the vampire capitalism represented in the corporatocracy, busy themselves playing the game of ‘riches for the strongest’, namely a game in which there has to be many losers. That godless game is terrible. We need a new game.

When you have power without principles, you get lazy. You start talking trash to those who don’t have money, thinking “What can you do about it?” “Hey mister capitalist: Why are you breaking laws and hurting people and destroying the liveable earth in order to make more money that you don’t need?” “Well, my friend; It’s necessary. It’s the only way to preserve national security, law and order, democracy and the liveable earth.” Right. When you have power, you get lazy – once your world has been built and there is no perceptible threat to it and you are on top of it. And you seek glory, which comes from others who notice you and how strong you are, which certainly happens when you’ve taken the means of survival from those others. While elites like glory, it’s a bit of a bitter dish. The people who notice – glorify – the powerful takers are also insisting that those powerful takers make things, problems they’ve created for people, right. The powerful and privileged are morally responsible for the economic and environmental destruction they’ve caused and utterly unwilling to act accordingly. They like the glory but they are perturbed by our efforts to get them to rectify their very socially and environmentally destructive ‘mistakes’. (See my blog post titled “TPP: Why We Can Say We Are Being Mugged.”) They are who they are. And I guess that we just need to grasp that.

Oh yes; When you have power, you also get stupid. Darkness is it’s own reward. Running the world may take cunning and hard work, putting aside the evil that you also do. But, eventually, Those who choose darkness for gain, who come to dominate the planet, run it… into the ground. Fools who reject reality lose all their good sense and certainly look like fools.

As I’ve indicated, There’s lots of unacknowledged socialism happening. It’s called capitalism. The problem is, the minority of capitalists get most of the benefits of socialism for themselves. The rest of us get harsh, neoliberal capitalism. Capitalists will never call the socialism they do – where the public bails out banks and underwrites all of their risky ventures which are intended to benefit only those ‘risk’ takers – ‘socialism’. If they did that, that would cause the majority to sit up and take notice and ask for some socialism for themselves. And we can’t have that.

I’m no fan of Barack Obama, a corporatist through and through. But to see how the Right has whipped it’s base into a frenzy about ‘that socialist Obama’, to the point where ARMED rightwingers have attended events at which Obama was present is downright frightening. And they weren’t arrested!!! To be clear: Obama is far from being a socialist. He’s fascist, in fact. Fascism is the polar opposite of socialism.

I have no problem with other people having more than me if they show ambition and work hard to get it. (Funny how capitalists who lay that on us – claiming that they are rugged individuals who sacrifice and take risks and work hard – just happen to omit the bad things they also do to get to the top.) That’s not the issue. In a money system, money means life. You should not, therefore, fool with peoples’ incomes. If I’m doing what my boss requires, whether that’s hard labor or not, then he or she needs to pay me, at a minimum, a ‘living’ wage (until I can get free groceries and shelter). That’s not happening and capitalist political leaders are perfectly happy with that. I’m therefore not happy with them.

And I’m not happy with corporations joining with politicians to run the country, the provinces and the cities, which is the definition of fascism. I’m not happy with the way the ruling class (which includes, improperly, that business class component) excludes the majority from policy formation and decision making. All stakeholders should have some input into matters affecting them, regardless who makes final decisions. And final decisions shouldn’t be consistently against, in so many ways, the interests of the majority. That is not democracy. That’s fake democracy.

Members of the elite would never be caught saying it, but they’d be happy if we believed that democracy meant voting in their (useless) elections every few years and shutting up and going away so as to be silent and invisible in between. Unfortunately, A lot of regular people (including victims of rightwing policies) seem to believe that that’s exactly what democracy means. Corporatists believe in inequality and are unprincipled. Corporatist political leaders are also traitorous, for, following the program (the internal threat of citizens with ‘wrong’ ideas) since the Kennedys, the people who you depend on for votes and political legitimacy are actually the enemy, which they may or may not come to see. Scott Walker was elected as Governor of the state of Wisconsin in 2010 and began serving in that capacity in January of 2011. Eventually, in order to please powerful and rich friends, he turned on the people, as those powerful and rich friends require from their political partners. When he was campaigning to be Governor, Walker didn’t tell Wisconsinites that he intended to attack their freedom of association and right to bargain as equals with their employers and he didn’t tell them that he intended to turn them against each other – divide and conquer – but that is what he proceeded to do. The rightwing, pro Walker forces, among them very rich people like (non Wisconsinites) David and Charles Koch, had lots of (mostly out of state) money for ads and so they blitzed Wisconsinites with ads that made it look like those who wanted to remove Governor Scott Walker from his position – after he turned on Wisconsinites – were undemocratic, as the video below will demonstrate:

Check out this video in which tough guy Walker is pranked by a man named Ian Murphy. The toughness isn’t the problem Scott. It’s your lack of principles and love.

Yes, Decision makers should make decisions. But should that be in a democratic fashion or a dictatorial fashion? And who voted for corporations and other capitalists outside (formally) of governments? The (neoliberal) capitalist’s motto is: ‘Take what you get, whether you like it or not and even if it hurts you.’ How often have we seen capitalist politicians ask us for our opinion and then, when they get it and don’t like it, they ignore it? A slight majority of Canadian citizens didn’t want the original free trade agreement between the U.S. and Canada (once Canadians, including many formerly ignorant capitalists) were told what it was about. We got it anyway. Torontonians were asked whether they wanted Mike Harris’s amalgamation of Toronto’s boroughs into one big city. A majority said “no.” We got amalgamation anyway, and it never fixed anything. It just caused problems. Canadians were asked if they wanted honesty and details in their food labels. They did. And they didn’t get it. That’s not something that industry wants. One of Barack Obama’s campaign promises was to have gmo (genetically modified organisms) food labelled as such. That talk ended once he was elected, as Ronnie Cummins explains in his entry in “Hopeless – Barack Obama And The Politics Of Illusion,” edited by Jeffrey St. Clair and Joshua Frank (pub 2012).

“…I took part in a historic two-part debate on the FTA on CBC’s The Journal, pitting Bob White and me against Tom d’Aquino and Peter Lougheed…

“…Lougheed and d’Aquino, who had obviously not prepared, wrapped themselves in the flag and spoke in generalities about how they loved Canada, and free trade would be good for us. Bob and I got right into the technicalities of the agreement… [Brian] Mulroney’s people were very unhappy with the performance of their “side.”

“The second evening was even better. D’Aquino and Lougheed were much more specific about the intricate details of the FTA, but gave up the passion they had displayed the night before. Bob and I decided this was our chance to speak from our hearts…

“Alas, it was all to no avail. Even though polls showed that our collective opposition had managed to change the hearts and minds of the majority of Canadians about free trade, and, although a majority voted for the two parties opposed to the deal, Mulroney’s win in 1988 ensured passage of the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement and ushered in a whole new political and economic era in Canada.” -pages 110 & 111 of “The Fight Of My Life – Confessions Of An Unrepetent Canadian,” by Maude Barlow

“Obama’s Administration, like the Bush and Clinton Administrations before it, has become a literal “revolving door” for Monsanto operatives.” – “Monsanto’s Minions: The White House, Congress, and the Mass Media,” by Ronnie Cummins. (Ronnie doesn’t indicate why he put ‘revolving door’ in quotation marks.)

We aren’t offered, in plain English, ‘fascism’, but we’re getting it. (I’m parting company with the majority of anti-establishment commentators in bluntly calling our system here in North America and in all corporatocracy states ‘fascist’.) It’s not like thinkers don’t notice we have it. There are those who see it happening, but are reluctant to bluntly state that it’s here, preferring instead to warn others about it in (often overly) diplomatic language. Which is better than ignoring it. Check out Murray Dobbin’s article titled “The Frightening Face Of American Fascism,” or Noam Chomsky’s article titled “Remembering Fascism: Lessons From The Past.” The Truthout article looks like it’s saying it’s part 2. That’s actually the entire article. The presentation is sloppy is all you’re seeing.

I like simplicity. I like clarity. And if you don’t already know me, I am as honest as an imperfect human being can be. A joint political / corporate ruling class that excludes the majority from meaningful participation in national life is a fascist ruling class. Paul Bigioni’s Toronto Star article dealing with the subject is illuminating. You can read it here: Fascism then. Fascism now? The word at least sounds nasty to most ears and so the offer wouldn’t be put to us that way. Fascism is just given to us.

We are, of course, told that what we have is democracy. We have a free press and progressive institutions and freedom of assembly, yadda, yadda. Canada is not Iran or China, for sure. But there’s lots wrong, unless you’re too propagandized and caught up in consumerism to notice.

It’s up to us to give consuming and self-tranquilization a rest now and then and think about matters affecting us. If we don’t, then we deserve to be used the way we are being used. The sad thing is, we (who don’t own capital and who don’t exploit others) are the majority. If each of us just devoted say 20 minutes a week to thinking about something important, we’d fairly quickly be impervious to harmful elite propaganda. But there is no law that can be passed that will make people care – about others and about themselves.

So. That gives you an idea about my frame of mind. It’s not the whole me though. I like fun too. I live rather simply and cleanly. I don’t swear (heavy stuff), smoke (anything), do drugs or eat crap. Despite poverty, all of my food, except for maybe my coffee and tea, is organic. I like Toronto for it’s variety of eateries and independent coffee shops. I’d like to one day have my own coffee shop. I enjoy just sitting in a coffee shop and reading my paper, although I’d rather socialize if that’s possible. And now that I have a (electronic) notebook, I’m not reading paper as much as I used to. And I miss it.

I don’t do as much exploring of restaurants as I’d like to simply because I don’t have money. But there’s a few that I like which I can sort of afford and I go to them now and then as a treat.

I don’t believe in shoving my views, political or religious, down other people’s throats. You can read me or not. I can read you or not. I just don’t bother with people who prefer rancor and bluster to thoughtful engagement. Some folks don’t get it. They never learned that it’s harmful to others and to themselves to be angry and loud and bullying. But I have a saying: You can be happy being happy or you can be happy being miserable.

It’s the same with music, I notice. I hear the worst music (Rap anyone?) out there and I just shake my head. Maybe people lack the capacity to check how something they themselves are doing is affecting them and don’t even notice when something is in some way tearing them down rather than building them up. What’s worse is some folks think that being tore down ‘is’ being built up. Doesn’t that figure though?

We all have to live with ourselves. If we are making bad choices for whatever reason (peer pressure, bad judgment) and aren’t prepared to show wisdom and humility enough to say “I made a mistake,” then we will rationalize and justify the wrong course we are on. Rationalized thinking and behavior then becomes normal thinking and behavior. Everyone who disagrees is now off course. And that’s how it is.

Reach me at: Arrbyy at gmail dot com, making the obvious changes needed.