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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

An Open Letter to the Winter Patriot

An Open Letter to the Winter Patriot

The following letter reflects my view on the subject of civil
disobedience and does not necessarily mirror the general
opinion of New Economic Perspectives.

I offer my opinion as an Army veteran, student of the economy,
and critic of an ongoing effort to wage economic war on the
vast majority the population.

If these words move you, I urge you to consider honestly the consequences if you decide to act.

By Mitch Green
New Economic Perspectives
Tuesday, November 29, 2011

As the occupy movement continues to grow in defiance of the heavy-handed police action determined to squelch it, a natural question emerges: What point will the military be summoned to contain the cascade of popular dissent?

And if our nation’s finest are brought into this struggle to stand
between the vested authority of the state and the ranks of those
who petition them for a redress of grievance, what may we expect
the outcome to be?

If history is our guide then we know that story all too well.

Behind a thin veil of red, white and blue stands a nation that has used its military might to respond forcefully to any public contempt for the very institutions which bind us in exclusion from the liberty those colors evoke.

Just as a training collar keeps a dog in check, a highly militarized police force responds mercilessly, sharply, and without hesitation with an array of chemical warfare and thuggish brutality.

And where they fail, divisions of soldiers stand ready to deliver a serious and painful lesson to all who demonstrate their unwillingness to wait for democracy.

This has been the history of democracy in America.

The ink on the pages that chronicle the use of state violence towards an unruly citizenry is dry. We cannot rewrite them. We read them in lament.

But for each new day history waits; at the dawn of each morning
we are presented with the gift of creation.

The prevailing thought woven into the fabric of our society today, threaded through both patterns of conservative and liberal ideology, remains the recognition that something is very wrong with the world.

Naturally, we form the question: Can we do things differently?

Once we animate that thought and present it to society as a
question demanding an answer, we begin to sketch out our
draft of the world in the pages of history.

I call upon my brothers and sisters in the armed forces to ink their
pens and help us write these next few, and most important pages
in the history of our social life.

Soon, it is quite likely that you will be mobilized to aid the police
in their effort to contain or disperse what their bosses see as
an imminent threat to the sanctity of their authority.

As that day draws near, I remind you of these familiar words:

I, (NAME), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and
defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies,
foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the
same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United
States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according
to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me
God.

Those that take this oath seriously are faced with a terrible conflict.

You must battle internally between the affirmation that you will place your body between the social contract embedded in the Constitution and those that seek its destruction, while maintaining your loyalty to the government you serve and the orders issued by its officers.

Sadly, society has placed a twin tax upon you by asking that you sacrifice both your body and your morality.

This tax has been levied solely upon you overseas, and soon they’ll come to collect domestically.

Your government in its expression of corporate interests relies upon your tenacity to endure, and your relentless willingness to sacrifice. And so you do.

Now, more than ever we need your sacrifice. But, I’m asking you to soldier in a different way.

If called upon to deny the people of their first amendment right to peaceably assemble and petition their government for a redress of grievance, disregard the order.

Abstain from service. Or if you are so bold, join us.

Make no mistake: The consequences for such decisions are severe. You will be prosecuted under the full extent of the law. But sacrifice is your watch word.

Thomas Paine wrote in 1776:

These are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and
the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of
their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and
thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily
conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder
the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.

Today we are faced with a new revolution.

This time we are fighting to preserve our democracy, rather
than to establish a new one.

And just as a grateful nation relied upon the Winter Soldier to
deliver us from the colonial yoke of oppression, we ask that you
aid us in our struggle to be free from the bonds of debt peonage
and false representation.

In return we will stand in your defense as the elite, who have gained so much from your service, attempt to strip you of your hard won honor.


Mitch Green is a Ph.D. student at the University of Missouri, Kansas City. He earned his B.S. in Economics at Portland State University in 2010.

http://neweconomicperspectives.blogspot.com/2011/11/open-
letter-to-winter-patriot.html

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Would Jesus Join the Occupy Protests?

Would Jesus Join the Occupy Protests?

In the holiday season, many Christians take pride in helping the poor
– by donating food and toys – but U.S. religious leaders have stayed
in the background of challenges to an inequitable economic system,
leaving that Jesus work to mostly secular young people of the Occupy
movement, the Rev. Howard Bess observes.

By Rev. Howard Bess
Consortium News.com
November 26, 2011

When the Martin Luther King Jr. monument was dedicated recently
in Washington DC, I was reminded that the civil rights movement in
America was led not by a politician fulfilling campaign promises, nor
by a popular evangelist bent on saving souls, but by a highly trained
theologian who put his religious teachings into practice with a
demand for justice for those who had suffered at the hands of the
rich and the powerful.

The Rev. King was a Baptist preacher who took his religion into the arena of racism, economics and social disparity. However, hatred caught up with him, and he was killed.

Now, nearly a half century later, there is another broad-based protest that is gaining momentum.

The Occupy Wall Street protests echo some of King’s complaints
about economic inequality and social injustice – and the message
can no longer be ignored.

The significance of this latest public protest movement, erupting all over the country, may eventually rival the impact of the civil rights movement of the 1960s, yet when comparing the two movements, there is one glaring difference: priests, pastors and clergy of every stripe are rarely in the forefront of Occupy protests.

Instead, secular young people are doing the very work that Jesus from Nazareth would urge us to do.

Just as Jesus condemned the injustices of his own day – and
overturned the money-changing tables at the Temple – the
Occupy protesters are challenging how Wall Street bankers and
today’s rich and powerful are harming the masses of people.

This week, religious people have felt proud of giving turkeys to the poor, but they should be joining the protests against the haughty rich.

I maintain that Jesus would be a part of the actions in Portland, Denver, New York and many other cities.

For Christians, the crucial issue should be “what would Jesus do”?

Today, Christian theologians and Bible scholars agree that the Jesus trip to Jerusalem at the end of his life is essential to understand what Jesus was about.

Yet, Christian tradition has brainwashed followers of Jesus about
the realities of his trip south to Jerusalem.

We have all been exposed to the worship services in which children march waving palm branches and singing “Hosanna.”

Traditionally we have called the event “the triumphal entry.”

However, put into the political and social context of Jerusalem in the early first century BCE, Jesus riding into Jerusalem on a donkey was probably more like a protest march that mocked every leader in the city.

Political and religious “leaders” of the day probably would have ridden into town on a prancing horse, certainly not a humble donkey.

So, Jesus’s choice of transportation was more street theatre
than triumphal entry. It triggered a week of confrontations
and arguments with the leaders of state and Temple.

The key event of the week was the incident in the Temple.

Once again church tradition has given us a special name for the incident, “the cleansing of the Temple.” But It was more likely another piece of street theatre that became a bit physical.

To better understand the Temple incident, we need to understand its context. The Temple had become a lot more than a religious temple.

It had become a tax collection agency and a bank. The Temple
held large sums of money accumulated by collecting tithes from
the faithful.

In reality, the tithe was a tax, not a freely given gift to God. In addition, fees were charged for participation in the Temple’s religious exercises. So, the Temple collected lots of money.

With that fat treasury, the Temple had entered the banking
business and regularly made loans, primarily to poor people.

Poor people were the victims not only of a flat tax, but also
high-interest loans.

So, the gap between the haves and the have-nots was growing rapidly. The poor were getting poorer, and the rich were getting richer.

Yet, equity was a key concept in the Israelite tradition. Torah (the law) had very specific rules demanding systematic redistribution of wealth.

But those who controlled the Temple operation completely ignored their own religious teachings. The banking operation that had developed was very good to those who controlled the system.

Christians believe that Jesus Christ died for the sins of the whole world.

However, from the perspective of history, Jesus died because
he challenged a banking system that passed itself off as being
righteous.

Today, bank buildings are the temples of America and the financial industry is a key pillar of an increasingly inequitable economic system.

Although banks and their controlling officers claim to be upholders
of orderly American life, a growing number of people know better.

Recent surveys have asked people “who in the banking business
do you trust?” Credit unions came out on top, followed by locally
controlled banks. Then, came regional banks.

Large national banks came in dead last.

Christians should thank the current Occupy Wall Street protesters
for their message and their activism. They are doing our justice
work for us.

The current crop of national bank leaders are being shown to be
just as corrupt as the Temple bankers were in Jesus’s day.

If Jesus were present among us today, he would be moving from
Portland, to Los Angeles, to Kansas City, to Dallas, up to Chicago
and on to Wall Street in New York City.

He would join the protest in every city.

He would be demanding an overhaul of our financial and banking system. He would be standing with the poor and their allies — and against the rich and their protectors.

When Jesus pursued the corruption of his own day, the representatives of the religious and political status quo killed him.

And Jesus said to his followers “take up your cross and follow me.”


The Rev. Howard Bess is a retired American Baptist minister, who
lives in Palmer, Alaska. His email address is hdbss@mtaonline.net.

http://consortiumnews.com/2011/11/26/would-jesus-join-the-
occupy-protests/

Friday, November 25, 2011

Occupy Peace

Occupy Peace

By David Krieger
Truth Out.org
November 25, 2011

The Occupy movement is demonstrating its durability and perseverance.

Like a Daruma doll, each time it is knocked off balance it
serenely pops back up.

The movement has been seeking justice for the 99 percent,
and justice is an essential element of peace.

For decades, our country has been in permanent preparation for
war, spending over half of the total annual discretionary funds
that Congress allocates on "defense," our euphemism for war.

World military expenditures exceed $1.5 trillion annually, and the United States spends more than half of this amount, more than the rest of the world combined.

The United States has been engaged in wars around the globe, from Korea to Vietnam, from El Salvador to Nicaragua, from Serbia to Afghanistan, from Iraq to Libya.

In all of these wars, many in the 1 percent reap financial gains.

Many large corporations, such as Halliburton, formerly led by Dick Cheney, are the beneficiaries of lucrative government contracts that support war, while it is mainly the poor who are enlisted to fight, kill and die in our wars.

War is surefire way of transferring wealth up the social ladder.

It is time to wake up to being used as tools in warfare while others profit. War is not an effective or reasonable way to settle disputes.

It uses up resources and destroys human lives. In war, people are expendable.

Civilians all too easily become "collateral damage." In the nuclear age, civilization itself could become collateral damage.

As President Eisenhower pointed out in 1953, "Every gun that is
made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the
final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those
who are cold and are not clothed. The world in arms is not spending
money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of
its scientists, the hopes of its children.... This is not a way of life
at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is
humanity hanging from a cross of iron."

How little our politicians have responded to the deep concern of
this former military leader.

War is costly not only in dollars, but on our national psyche.

We slaughtered innocent men, women and children in Hiroshima
and Nagasaki and then celebrated our prowess.

We went to war in Vietnam based on lies, killing millions of
Vietnamese and dropping napalm and Agent Orange on them
while they struggled for their freedom and independence.

Ultimately, after the death of more than 58,000 Americans, we withdrew in defeat, declaring victory.

We seem to have learned little that is meaningful from the
experience, since we continue to send our soldiers to fight and
die in far-off lands, and, still, their sacrifice is based on lies.

Enough is enough. How do we occupy peace?

First, we change our modes of thinking and stop basing our self-worth as a nation on our military prowess.

Second, we bring our troops home from exploitative foreign wars.

Third, we seek peaceful solutions to conflicts.

Fourth, we make our priority justice, and peace will follow.

Fifth, we work to end deaths due to starvation and preventable
diseases rather than to inflict deaths by high-altitude bombing
and drone attacks.

Sixth, we take the lead in abolishing nuclear weapons so that
no other cities or countries will suffer the fate of the citizens
of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Seventh, we reallocate our resources to health, education and ending poverty rather than continuing to gorge the military beast until it is too fat to move.

War is a place of fear, and fear is a place of borders.

Fear requires us to dehumanize our enemies and, in the process,
to dehumanize ourselves.

Borders should not provide a justification for dehumanization.

That is a trick of militarists who are in need of enemies, real or imagined, to make the war system work for them.

But there is another way to deal with enemies, and that is to turn them, by our actions, into friends.

We need to stop fearing each other and treat each other with kindness.

Consideration for the 99 percent does not stop at a country's border.

We are all humans together, and we need each other to be fully human. We need to embrace our common humanity.

In the nuclear age, war is far too dangerous; it has the potential to end civilization and most life on the planet.

Peace is an imperative.

We need to find a way to occupy peace, which begins in our hearts and must expand to encompass the world.


David Krieger is president of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, an organization that has worked since 1982 for peace and the abolition of nuclear weapons.

http://www.truth-out.org/occupy-peace/1322006337

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Let Them In!

Let Them In!

By Ralph Nader
Common Dreams.org
November 23, 2011

From New York City to Oakland, and several cities in between, the police, on orders from city officials, have smashed the Occupy encampments and evicted the protestors from public parks and spaces.

More politicians from Congress to the state and local level want the Occupy people OUT!

Well, why don't they start letting them into the places where decisions are being made against their legitimate interests?

Let them IN to:

Having jobs and affordable housing;

Their legislatures without having to pay to play;

The courts when they are wrongfully injured or have other grievances without being blocked by corporatist dogmas and judges;

Access to civil lawyers pro bono when they are in dire need, as suggested by Cincinnati attorney Paul Tobias;

The dispensing and regulatory agencies with their petitions (without having to face grinding delays and costs);

Universal health care so they can escape the present avariciousness called "pay or die";

Fair contracts, from student loans to mortgages, without fine print and gouging fees and robo-signing type shenanigans that trap them into contract peonage (see FairContracts.org)

Fair and clean elections with voluntary public financing and easier ballot access for third party candidates to give voters more choice beyond the two party dictatorship;

The media to express themselves on television, radio and in newspapers, so dominated by the plutocratic values of corporatism;

Public places to petition and circulate their materials in these large malls that are taxpayer subsidized but considered off limits because they are corporate owned;

The political process, with other citizens, with full rights to challenge in courts and by referenda the politicians and their corporate paymasters who unconstitutionally and illegally plunge our country into wars, invasions and occupations abroad;

A clean environment where they can breathe clean air, drink clean water and eat safe food by enforcing the existing laws with adequate budgets;

The facilities to band together as workers, consumers and taxpayers that exist for commercial companies and their investors;

There would be no need for encampments or street demonstrations if people were allowed IN to these arenas of power, communications and good livelihoods.

You don't see corporate executives and managers protesting in the streets.

Because they are already IN!

It has been said repeatedly that the Occupy Wall Street movement has no specific agenda. Look at their signs and banners.

It is obvious; they want IN.

They no longer want to be excluded, disrespected, unemployed, defrauded, impoverished, betrayed and in big and small ways OUT.

They want justice, opportunity and, as the ancient Roman lawyer Marcus Cicero advocated for, the freedom to participate in power.


Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer, and author.

http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/11/23-6

Monday, November 21, 2011

Our F— You System of Government

Anti-Occupy Crackdowns Highlight Lack of Services

By Ted Rall
Common Dreams.org
November 21, 2011

Governments are supposed to fulfill the basic needs of their
citizens.

Ours doesn’t pretend to try.

Sick? Too bad.

Can’t find a job? Tough.

Broke? Can’t afford rent? We don’t give a crap.

Forget “e pluribus unum.” We need a more accurate motto.

We live under a f— you system.

Got a problem? The U.S. government has an all-purpose response
to whatever ails you: f— you.

During the ’80s I drove a yellow taxi in New York. Then, as now, there were no public restrooms in the city.

At 4 in the morning, with few restaurants or bars open, the coffee
I drank to stay awake posed a significant challenge.

It was—it is—insane. People pee. People poop. As basic needs go, toilets are as basic as it gets.

Yet the City of New York, with the biggest tax base of any municipality in the United States, didn’t provide any.

So I did what all taxi drivers did. What they still do. I found a side street and a spot between two parked cars.

It went OK until a cop caught me peeing under the old elevated West Side Highway, which later collapsed due to lack of maintenance.

Perhaps decades of taxi driver urine corroded the support beams.

“You can’t do that here,” said the policeman.

“Where am I supposed to go?” I asked him. “There’s aren’t any restrooms anywhere in town.”

“I know,” he replied before going to get his summons book from
his cruiser.

The old “f— you.” We create the problem, then blame you for the results.

I ran away.

In recent days American mayors have been ordering heavily armed riot police to attack and rob peaceful members of encampments allied with Occupy Wall Street.

Like NYC, which won’t provide public restrooms but arrests public urinators, government officials and their media allies use their own refusal to provide basic public services to justify raids against Occupations.

In the middle of the night on November 15th NYPD goons stormed into Zuccotti Park in lower Manhattan. They beat and pepper-sprayed members of Occupy Wall Street and destroyed the books in their library.

Citing “unsanitary conditions,” New York’s billionaire mayor,
Michael Bloomberg, then told reporters: “I have become increasingly
concerned…that the occupation was coming to pose a health and fire
safety hazard to the protesters and to the surrounding community.”

Four days before the police attack The New York Times had quoted a city health department statement worrying about the possible spread of norovirus, vomiting, diarrhea and tuberculosis: “It should go without saying that lots of people sleeping outside in a park as we head toward winter is not an ideal situation for anyone’s health.”

So why don’t they give the homeless some of the thousands of abandoned apartment units in New York?

Anyway, according to the Times: “Damp laundry and cardboard
signs, left in the rain, have provided fertile ground for mold.
Some protesters urinate in bottles, or occasionally a water-
cooler jug, to avoid the lines at [the few] public restrooms.”

Of course, there’s an obvious solution: provide adequate bathroom facilities—not just for Occupy but for all New Yorkers. But that’s off the table under New York’s f— you system of government.

Doctors noted a new phenomenon called “Zuccotti cough.” Symptoms are similar to those of “Ground Zero cough” suffered by 9/11 first responders.

Zuccotti is 450 feet away from Ground Zero.

Which brings to mind the fact that the collapse of the World Trade Center towers released 400 tons of asbestos into the air. It was never cleaned up properly.

Could Occupiers be suffering the results of sleeping in a
should-have-been-Superfund site for two months?

We’ll never know. As under Bush, Obama’s EPA still won’t
conduct a 9/11 environmental impact study.

Sick? Wanna know why? F— you.

One of the authorities’ most ironic complaints about the
Occupations is that they attract the mentally ill, drug users
and habitually homeless.

To listen to the mayors of Portland, Denver and New York, you’d think the Occupiers beamed in bums and nutcases from outer space.

When mentally disabled people seek help from their government, they get the usual answer: f— you.

When people addicted to drugs—drugs imported into the U.S. under the watchful eyes of corrupt border enforcement officers—ask their government for help, they are turned away. F— you again.

When people who lost their homes because their government said “f— you” to them rather than help turn to the same government to look for safe shelter, again they are told: “f— you.”

And then, after days and years and decades of shirking their
responsibility to provide us with such staples of human survival as
places to urinate and defecate and sleep, and food, and medical
care, our “f— you” government has the amazing audacity to blame
us, victims of their negligence and corruption and violence, for
messing things up.

Which is why we are finally, at long last, starting to say “f— you”
to them.

© 2011 Ted Rall

http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/11/16-11

Sunday, November 20, 2011

A Global Revolution

A Global Revolution

By Frank Scott
Media Monitors.net
November 20, 2011

What began in Tunisia and was dubbed an Arab Spring has spread to the rest of the world, seemingly for different reasons in different places but slowly becoming one vast movement toward democracy and the political economic transformation necessary for humanity’s survival.

But while this hopeful sign of people on the move increases, the threats to it become more numerous and deadly. As electronic communication tools help the tendency toward unity and democracy among the 99%, they also increase the destructive power of the 1%.

The imperial minority’s ability to kill more people, destroy more
governments, enslave more populations and increase damage to
the environmental basis of all life while rushing to further exploit
it in pursuit of profit has brought dangers of a newer and more
deadly kind.

The dawning consciousness among people across the globe needs
to overtake and end the destructive process of private profit
accumulation at the loss of all publics on the planet, wherever
they may reside and whatever belief system they practice or preach.

The American phase of this movement began with the Wall Street occupation in New York and has spread to many American cities since, with success in highlighting a radical democratic governance technique and message of unity that surpasses its flaws and overcomes attacks by agents of the 1%.

This is all happening at a time when American belief in supposedly democratic government has sunk to deservedly new lows.

Established power is at an extremely bipolar phase in response as
it simultaneously attempts to crush, subvert or incorporate the
growing demands of a public frustrated into becoming what minority
power fears most: a majority democratic movement for substantial
and not merely cosmetic change in the system.

Minority dominators practice obsessive concern for their economic
private parts and this masturbatory focus brings the system closer
to moral and financial bankruptcy.

As the perverse lust for private profit reduces well paid employment
in the center by increasing low paid labor in peripheral parts of the
shrinking empire, it attacks meager social safety nets in that center
which were created to save capitalism during its last global crisis in
the 1930s.

Public sector work forces are savagely slashed and pensions are
cut as less and less people are employed in a political economy
that has further reduced humanity from commodities in a market
to electronic symbols on a computer screen.

Positive changes in communications offer an opportunity for a massive democratic leap forward but private profiteers still control staggering wealth and their blind lust to amass even more billions has eclipsed – until now – the need to trans-form and not simply re-form material reality.

The American movement has corporate media parroting the political line in the same bi-polar fashion that often lauds the democratic aspect of what’s going on while questioning its purpose.

Meanwhile, military slaughters continue unabated, sometimes with long distance murderers who kill innocents with electronic devises that enable them do their dirty work in rooms thousands of miles away from their victims with no more human contact than someone playing a video game while seated on a commode.

The isolated assassins are an ironic contrast in a world that sees millions in contact they have never before been able to achieve.

While some agents of the 1% operate in solitude totally removed
from the bloody murders they commit, Bradley Manning sits in
prison for acting on his conscience and informing his fellow
citizens of the crimes of modern warfare.

His action, representative of the high moral ground most people at least wish to occupy, contrasts with the murderous idiocy of what passes for “normal” material reality, and what the new global movement stands against.

Electronic media have finally become truly social but they are
not simply the domain of those organizing demonstrations
that represent the 99%.

Agents of the 1% operate networks of murder and spying that can’t succeed in the long term but add to producing confusion and more violence in the short term.

Attacks on the 99% in order to maintain criminal profit margins for the 1% and their agents are taking on increasingly insane character, with even some ruling class members worrying that this could destroy everything and not just their personal wealth.

As an example, continued and ever more feverish claims that Iran
is threatening to annihilate jews with nuclear weapons which do
not exist, while the hundreds of nuclear weapons which do exist in
Israel are unmentioned by the fanatics there and alleged American
government representatives who work for them here.

More deadly war is threatened, with death and destruction that
would make the present crisis even greater, and it is already
slipping beyond the control of the ruling 1% and its agents.

Truly, it has never been more essential that the great majority of
the 99% move towards the radical economic restructuring and totally
transformed political process that is the only thing that will save
humanity.

And political democracy means the end of private profit accumulation in control of the social and natural environment of planet earth, and the beginning of a system that acknowledges the rights of all people to share the benefits of their world.

We should thank the demonstrators in Tunisia, Egypt and of the Occupy Wall Street Movement for calling our attention to the fact that another world is not only possible but necessary.

And then we should join them in bringing it about. Quickly.

http://usa.mediamonitors.net/content/view/full/91810

Friday, November 18, 2011

This Is What Revolution Looks Like

This Is What Revolution Looks Like

By Chris Hedges
Truth Dig.com
November 18, 2011

Welcome to the revolution. Our elites have exposed their hand.

They have nothing to offer.

They can destroy but they cannot build. They can repress but they
cannot lead. They can steal but they cannot share. They can talk
but they cannot speak.

They are as dead and useless to us as the water-soaked books,
tents, sleeping bags, suitcases, food boxes and clothes that were
tossed by sanitation workers Tuesday morning into garbage trucks
in New York City.

They have no ideas, no plans and no vision for the future.

Our decaying corporate regime has strutted in Portland, Oakland
and New York with their baton-wielding cops into a fool’s paradise.

They think they can clean up “the mess”—always employing the language of personal hygiene and public security—by making us disappear.

They think we will all go home and accept their corporate nation,
a nation where crime and government policy have become
indistinguishable, where nothing in America, including the ordinary
citizen, is deemed by those in power worth protecting or preserving,
where corporate oligarchs awash in hundreds of millions of dollars
are permitted to loot and pillage the last shreds of collective wealth,
human capital and natural resources, a nation where the poor do
not eat and workers do not work, a nation where the sick die and
children go hungry, a nation where the consent of the governed and
the voice of the people is a cruel joke.

Get back into your cages, they are telling us.

Return to watching the lies, absurdities, trivia and celebrity gossip we feed you in 24-hour cycles on television. Invest your emotional energy in the vast system of popular entertainment.

Run up your credit card debt. Pay your loans. Be thankful for the scraps we toss.

Chant back to us our phrases about democracy, greatness and freedom. Vote in our rigged political theater.

Send your young men and women to fight and die in useless, unwinnable wars that provide corporations with huge profits.

Stand by mutely as our bipartisan congressional super committee,
either through consensus or cynical dysfunction, plunges you into
a society without basic social services including unemployment
benefits. Pay for the crimes of Wall Street.

The rogues’ gallery of Wall Street crooks, such as Lloyd Blankfein at Goldman Sachs, Howard Milstein at New York Private Bank & Trust, the media tycoon Rupert Murdoch, the Koch brothers and Jamie Dimon at JPMorgan Chase & Co., no doubt think it’s over.

They think it is back to the business of harvesting what is left of
America to swell their personal and corporate fortunes. But they
no longer have any concept of what is happening around them.

They are as mystified and clueless about these uprisings as
the courtiers at Versailles or in the Forbidden City who never
understood until the very end that their world was collapsing.

The billionaire mayor of New York, enriched by a deregulated
Wall Street, is unable to grasp why people would spend two
months sleeping in an open park and marching on banks.

He says he understands that the Occupy protests are “cathartic”
and “entertaining,” as if demonstrating against the pain of being
homeless and unemployed is a form of therapy or diversion, but
that it is time to let the adults handle the affairs of state.

Democratic and Republican mayors, along with their parties, have sold us out. But for them this is the beginning of the end.

The historian Crane Brinton in his book “Anatomy of a Revolution” laid out the common route to revolution.

The preconditions for successful revolution, Brinton argued, are
discontent that affects nearly all social classes, widespread feelings
of entrapment and despair, unfulfilled expectations, a unified
solidarity in opposition to a tiny power elite, a refusal by scholars
and thinkers to continue to defend the actions of the ruling class, an
inability of government to respond to the basic needs of citizens, a
steady loss of will within the power elite itself and defections from
the inner circle, a crippling isolation that leaves the power elite
without any allies or outside support and, finally, a financial crisis.

Our corporate elite, as far as Brinton was concerned, has amply
fulfilled these preconditions. But it is Brinton’s next observation
that is most worth remembering.

Revolutions always begin, he wrote, by making impossible
demands that if the government met would mean the end
of the old configurations of power.

The second stage, the one we have entered now, is the unsuccessful attempt by the power elite to quell the unrest and discontent through physical acts of repression.

I have seen my share of revolts, insurgencies and revolutions, from
the guerrilla conflicts in the 1980s in Central America to the civil
wars in Algeria, the Sudan and Yemen, to the Palestinian uprising
to the revolutions in East Germany, Czechoslovakia and Romania
as well as the wars in the former Yugoslavia.

George Orwell wrote that all tyrannies rule through fraud and force, but that once the fraud is exposed they must rely exclusively on force.

We have now entered the era of naked force. The vast million-
person bureaucracy of the internal security and surveillance
state will not be used to stop terrorism but to try and stop us.

Despotic regimes in the end collapse internally.

Once the foot soldiers who are ordered to carry out acts of
repression, such as the clearing of parks or arresting or even
shooting demonstrators, no longer obey orders, the old regime
swiftly crumbles.

When the aging East German dictator Erich Honecker was unable to get paratroopers to fire on protesting crowds in Leipzig, the regime was finished.

The same refusal to employ violence doomed the communist governments in Prague and Bucharest.

I watched in December 1989 as the army general that the dictator
Nicolae Ceausescu had depended on to crush protests condemned
him to death on Christmas Day.

Tunisia’s Ben Ali and Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak lost power once they could no longer count on the security forces to fire into crowds.

The process of defection among the ruling class and security
forces is slow and often imperceptible.

These defections are advanced through a rigid adherence to
nonviolence, a refusal to respond to police provocation and a
verbal respect for the blue-uniformed police, no matter how
awful they can be while wading into a crowd and using batons
as battering rams against human bodies.

The resignations of Oakland Mayor Jean Quan’s deputy, Sharon
Cornu, and the mayor’s legal adviser and longtime friend, Dan
Siegel, in protest over the clearing of the Oakland encampment
are some of the first cracks in the edifice.

“Support Occupy Oakland, not the 1% and its government facilitators,” Siegel tweeted after his resignation.

There were times when I entered the ring as a boxer and knew,
as did the spectators, that I was woefully mismatched.

Ringers, experienced boxers in need of a tuneup or a little practice, would go to the clubs where semi-pros fought, lie about their long professional fight records, and toy with us.

Those fights became about something other than winning.

They became about dignity and self-respect. You fought to
say something about who you were as a human being.

These bouts were punishing, physically brutal and demoralizing.

You would get knocked down and stagger back up. You would
reel backwards from a blow that felt like a cement block.

You would taste the saltiness of your blood on your lips. Your
vision would blur. Your ribs, the back of your neck and your
abdomen would ache. Your legs would feel like lead.

But the longer you held on, the more the crowd in the club turned
in your favor. No one, even you, thought you could win.

But then, every once in a while, the ringer would get overconfident. He would get careless. He would become a victim of his own hubris.

And you would find deep within yourself some new burst of energy, some untapped strength and, with the fury of the dispossessed, bring him down.

I have not put on a pair of boxing gloves for 30 years.

But I felt this twinge of euphoria again in my stomach this morning, this utter certainty that the impossible is possible, this realization that the mighty will fall.


Chris Hedges writes a regular column for Truthdig.com. Hedges graduated from Harvard Divinity School and was for nearly two decades a foreign correspondent for The New York Times.

http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/this_is_what_revolution
_looks_like_20111115/

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Are You An Anarchist?

Regardless of what your answer is, David Graeber’s classic
essay “Are You An Anarchist? The Answer May Surprise You”
is food for thought regarding what is possible.

By Jacob Sloan
Disinformation.com
November 15, 2011

Via the Anarchist Library:

Many people seem to think that anarchists are proponents
of violence, chaos, and destruction, that they are against
all forms of order and organization, or that they are
crazed nihilists who just want to blow everything up.

In reality, nothing could be further from the truth.

Anarchists are simply people who believe human beings are capable of behaving in a reasonable fashion without having to be forced to.

It is really a very simple notion. But it’s one that the rich and powerful have always found extremely dangerous.

At their very simplest, anarchist beliefs turn on to two elementary assumptions.

The first is that human beings are, under ordinary circumstances, about as reasonable and decent as they are allowed to be, and can organize themselves and their communities without needing to be told how.

The second is that power corrupts.

Most of all, anarchism is just a matter of having the courage to take the simple principles of common decency that we all live by, and to follow them through to their logical conclusions.

Odd though this may seem, in most important ways you are probably already an anarchist — you just don’t realize it.

Let’s start by taking a few examples from everyday life:

If there’s a line to get on a crowded bus, do you wait your turn and refrain from elbowing your way past others even in the absence of police?

If you answered “yes”, then you are used to acting like an anarchist!

The most basic anarchist principle is self-organization: the
assumption that human beings do not need to be threatened
with prosecution in order to be able to come to reasonable
understandings with each other, or to treat each other with
dignity and respect.

Everyone believes they are capable of behaving reasonably
themselves. If they think laws and police are necessary, it
is only because they don’t believe that other people are.

But if you think about it, don’t those people all feel exactly
the same way about you?

Anarchists argue that almost all the anti-social behavior
which makes us think it’s necessary to have armies, police,
prisons, and governments to control our lives, is actually
caused by the systematic inequalities and injustice those
armies, police, prisons and governments make possible.

It’s all a vicious circle.

If people are used to being treated like their opinions do not matter, they are likely to become angry and cynical, even violent – which of course makes it easy for those in power to say that their opinions do not matter.

Once they understand that their opinions really do matter just
as much as anyone else’s, they tend to become remarkably understanding.

To cut a long story short: anarchists believe that for the most part it is power itself, and the effects of power, that make people stupid and irresponsible.

Are you a member of a club or sports team or any other voluntary
organization where decisions are not imposed by one leader but
made on the basis of general consent?

If you answered “yes”, then you belong to an organization which works on anarchist principles!

Another basic anarchist principle is voluntary association. This is simply a matter of applying democratic principles to ordinary life.

The only difference is that anarchists believe it should be possible
to have a society in which everything could be organized along these
lines, all groups based on the free consent of their members, and
therefore, that all top-down, military styles of organization like
armies or bureaucracies or large corporations, based on chains of
command, would no longer be necessary.

Perhaps you don’t believe that would be possible. Perhaps you do.

But every time you reach an agreement by consensus, rather than threats, every time you make a voluntary arrangement with another person, come to an understanding, or reach a compromise by taking due consideration of the other person’s particular situation or needs, you are being an anarchist — even if you don’t realize it.

Anarchism is just the way people act when they are free to do as
they choose, and when they deal with others who are equally free
and therefore aware of the responsibility to others that entails.

This leads to another crucial point: that while people can be
reasonable and considerate when they are dealing with equals,
human nature is such that they cannot be trusted to do so when
given power over others.

Give someone such power, they will almost invariably abuse it in some way or another.

Do you believe that most politicians are selfish, egotistical swine
who don’t really care about the public interest?

Do you think we live in an economic system which is stupid and unfair?

If you answered “yes”, then you subscribe to the anarchist critique
of today’s society – at least, in its broadest outlines.

Anarchists believe that power corrupts and those who spend their entire lives seeking power are the very last people who should have it.

Anarchists believe that our present economic system is more likely to reward people for selfish and unscrupulous behavior than for being decent, caring human beings.

Most people feel that way.

The only difference is that most people don’t think there’s anything that can be done about it, or anyway — and this is what the faithful servants of the powerful are always most likely to insist — anything that won’t end up making things even worse.

But what if that weren’t true?

And is there really any reason to believe this? When you can actually test them, most of the usual predictions about what would happen without states or capitalism turn out to be entirely untrue.

For thousands of years people lived without governments. In many parts of the world people live outside of the control of governments today.

They do not all kill each other. Mostly they just get on about their lives the same as anyone else would.

Of course, in a complex, urban, technological society all this
would be more complicated: but technology can also make all
these problems a lot easier to solve.

In fact, we have not even begun to think about what our lives could be like if technology were really marshaled to fit human needs.

How many hours would we really need to work in order to maintain
a functional society — that is, if we got rid of all the useless or
destructive occupations like telemarketers, lawyers, prison guards,
financial analysts, public relations experts, bureaucrats and
politicians, and turn our best scientific minds away from working
on space weaponry or stock market systems to mechanizing away
dangerous or annoying tasks like coal mining or cleaning the
bathroom, and distribute the remaining work among everyone equally?

Five hours a day? Four? Three? Two? Nobody knows because no
one is even asking this kind of question. Anarchists think these
are the very questions we should be asking.

Do you really believe those things you tell your children (or that
your parents told you)?

It doesn’t matter who started it.” “Two wrongs don’t make a
right.” “Clean up your own mess.” “Do unto others …” “Don’t
be mean to people just because they’re different.”

Perhaps we should decide whether we’re lying to our children when we tell them about right and wrong, or whether we’re willing to take our own injunctions seriously.

Because if you take these moral principles to their logical conclusions, you arrive at anarchism.

Take the principle that two wrongs don’t make a right.

If you really took it seriously, that alone would knock away almost
the entire basis for war and the criminal justice system.

The same goes for sharing: we’re always telling children that they have to learn to share, to be considerate of each other’s needs, to help each other; then we go off into the real world where we assume that everyone is naturally selfish and competitive.

But an anarchist would point out: in fact, what we say to our children is right.

Pretty much every great worthwhile achievement in human history, every discovery or accomplishment that’s improved our lives, has been based on cooperation and mutual aid; even now, most of us spend more of our money on our friends and families than on ourselves; while likely as not there will always be competitive people in the world, there’s no reason why society has to be based on encouraging such behavior, let alone making people compete over the basic necessities of life.

That only serves the interests of people in power, who want us to
live in fear of one another.

That’s why anarchists call for a society based not only on free association but mutual aid.

The fact is that most children grow up believing in anarchist morality, and then gradually have to realize that the adult world doesn’t really work that way.

That’s why so many become rebellious, or alienated, even suicidal
as adolescents, and finally, resigned and bitter as adults; their only
solace, often, being the ability to raise children of their own and
pretend to them that the world is fair.

But what if we really could start to build a world which really was at least founded on principles of justice? Wouldn’t that be the greatest gift to one’s children one could possibly give?

Do you believe that human beings are fundamentally corrupt and
evil, or that certain sorts of people (women, people of color,
ordinary folk who are not rich or highly educated) are inferior
specimens, destined to be ruled by their betters?

If you answered “yes”, then, well, it looks like you aren’t an anarchist after all.

But if you answered “no’, then chances are you already subscribe
to 90% of anarchist principles, and, likely as not, are living your
life largely in accord with them.

Every time you treat another human with consideration and respect, you are being an anarchist.

Every time you work out your differences with others by coming to reasonable compromise, listening to what everyone has to say rather than letting one person decide for everyone else, you are being an anarchist.

Every time you have the opportunity to force someone to do
something, but decide to appeal to their sense of reason or
justice instead, you are being an anarchist.

The same goes for every time you share something with a friend,
or decide who is going to do the dishes, or do anything at all with
an eye to fairness.

Now, you might object that all this is well and good as a way for small groups of people to get on with each other, but managing a city, or a country, is an entirely different matter. And of course there is something to this.

Even if you decentralize society and puts as much power as possible in the hands of small communities, there will still be plenty of things that need to be coordinated, from running railroads to deciding on directions for medical research.

But just because something is complicated does not mean there
is no way to do it democratically. It would just be complicated.

In fact, anarchists have all sorts of different ideas and visions about how a complex society might manage itself. To explain them though would go far beyond the scope of a little introductory text like this.

Suffice it to say, first of all, that a lot of people have spent a lot of time coming up with models for how a really democratic, healthy society might work; but second, and just as importantly, no anarchist claims to have a perfect blueprint.

The last thing we want is to impose prefab models on society anyway.

The truth is we probably can’t even imagine half the problems that
will come up when we try to create a democratic society; still, we’re
confident that, human ingenuity being what it is, such problems can
always be solved, so long as it is in the spirit of our basic principles-
which are, in the final analysis, simply the principles of fundamental
human decency.

http://www.disinfo.com/2011/11/are-you-an-anarchist/

Friday, November 11, 2011

Occupy America

The most common and effective mode of news repression is
omission.

By Michael Parenti
Information Clearing House
Friday, November 11, 2011

Beginning with Occupy Wall Street in September 2011, a protest
movement spread across the United States to 70 major cities and
hundreds of other communities.

Similar actions emerged in scores of other nations.

For the first two weeks, the corporate-owned mainstream media along with NPR did what they usually do with progressive protests: they ignored them.

These were the same media that had given the Tea Party supporters saturation coverage for weeks on end, ordaining them “a major political force.”

The most common and effective mode of news repression is omission.

By saying nothing or next to nothing about dissenting events,
movements, candidates, or incidents, the media consign them
to oblivion.

When the Occupy movement spread across the country and could no longer be ignored, the media moved to the second manipulative method: trivialization and marginalization.

So we heard that the protestors were unclear about what they were protesting and they were “far removed from the mainstream.”

Media cameras focused on the clown who danced on Wall Street
in full-blown circus costume, and the youths who pounded bongo
drums: “a carnival atmosphere” “youngsters out on a spree,”
with “no connection to the millions of middle Americans” who
supposedly watched with puzzlement and alarm.

Such coverage, again, was in sharp contrast to the respectful reportage accorded the Tea Party.

House Majority Leader, the reactionary Republican Eric Cantor, described the Occupy movement as “growing mobs.”

This is the same Cantor who hailed the Tea Party as an unexcelled affirmation of democracy.

The big November 2 demonstration in Oakland that succeeded in closing the port was reported by many media outlets, almost all of whom focused on the violence against property committed by a few small groups.

Many of those perpetrators were appearing for the first time at the
Oakland site.

Some were suspected of being undercover police provocateurs. Their actions seemed timed to overshadow the successful shutdown of the nation’s fourth largest port.

Time and again, the media made the protestors the issue rather than the things they were protesting. The occupiers were falsely described as hippie holdovers and mindless youthful activists.

In fact, there was a wide range of ages, socio-ethnic backgrounds, and lifestyles, from homeless to well-paid professionals, along with substantial numbers of labor union members.

Far from being a jumble of confused loudmouths prone to violence, they held general assemblies, organized themselves into committees, and systematically took care of encampment questions, food, security, and sanitation.

One unnoticed community protest was Occupy Walnut Creek. For those who don’t know, Walnut Creek is a comfortable conservative suburb in northern California (with no known record of revolutionary insurrections).

Only one local TV station gave Occupy Walnut Creek brief attention, noting that about 400 people were participating, average age between 40 and 50, no clowns, no bongos.

Participants admitted that they lived fairly prosperous lives but still felt a kinship with the millions of Americans who were enduring an economic battering.

Here was a contingent of affluent but rebellious “middle Americans” yet Walnut Creek never got mentioned in the national media, as far as I know.

The Occupy movement has promulgated a variety of messages.

With a daring plunge into class realities, the occupiers talk of the 1% who are exploiting the 99%, a brilliant propaganda formula, simple to use, yet saying so much, now widely embraced even by some media commentators.

The protestors carried signs condemning the republic’s terrible underemployment and the empire’s endless wars, the environmental abuses perpetrated by giant corporations, the tax loopholes enjoyed by oil companies, the growing inequality of incomes and the banksters and other gangsters who feed so lavishly from the public trough.

Some occupiers even denounced capitalism as a system and hailed socialism as a humane alternative.

In all, the Occupy movement revealed an awareness of systemic politico-economic injustices not usually seen in U.S. protests.

Remember, the initial and prime target was Wall Street, finance capital’s home base.

The mainstream news outlets not only control opinions but even
more so opinion visibility, which in turn allows them to limit
the parameters of public discourse.

This makes it all the more imperative for ordinary people to
join together in demonstrations, hoping thereby to maximize
the visibility and impact of their opinions.

The goal is to break through the near monopoly of conservative orthodoxy maintained by the “liberal” media.

So demonstrations are important.

They have an energizing effect on would-be protestors, bringing together many who previously had thought themselves alone and voiceless.

Demonstrations bring democracy into the streets.

They highlight issues that have too long been buried. They mobilize numbers, giving a show of strength, reminding the plutocracy perched at the apex that the pyramid is rumbling.

But demonstrations should evolve into other forms of action. This has already been happening with the Occupy movement.

It is more than a demonstration because its protestors did not go home at the end of the day.

In substantial numbers they remained downtown, putting their
bodies on the line, imposing a discomfort on officialdom just
by their numbers and presence.

At a number of Occupy sites there have been civil disobedience actions, followed by arrests. In various cities the police have been unleashed with violent results that sometimes have backfired.

In Oakland ex-Marine Scott Olsen was hit by a police teargas canister that busted his skull and left him hospitalized and unable to speak for a week. At best, he faces a long slow recovery.

The day after Olsen was hit, hundreds of indignant new protestors joined the Occupy Oakland site. Police brutality incites a public reaction, often bringing more people out, just the opposite of what officials want.

Where does this movement go? What is to be done? The answers
are already arising from the actions of the 99%:

1. Discourage military recruitment and support conscientious objectors. Starve the empire of its legions. Organize massive tax resistance in protest of corrupt, wasteful, unlawful, and destructive Pentagon spending

2. Transfer funds from corporate banks to credit unions and community banks. Support programs that assist the unemployed and the dispossessed. It was Giulio Tremonti, Italy’s embattled finance minister who declared: “Salvate il popolo, non le banche” (“Save the people, not the banks”). It would be nice to hear such sentiments emanating from the U.S. Treasury Department or the White House.

3. Coordinate actions with organized labor. Unions still are the
99%’s largest and best financed groups. Consider what was done in
Oakland: occupiers joined with longshoremen, truckers, and other
workers to close the port. Already there are plans for a general
strike in various communities. Such actions improve greatly if
organized labor is playing a role.

4. We need new electoral strategies, a viable third party,
proportional representation, and even a new Constitution, one
that establishes firm rules for an egalitarian democracy and
is not a rigmarole designed to protect the moneyed class. The
call for a constitutional convention (a perfectly legitimate
procedure under the present U.S. Constitution) seems long overdo.

5. Perhaps most of all, we need ideological education regarding the
relationship between wealth and power, the nature of capitalism,
and the crimes of an unbridled profit-driven financial system. And
again the occupiers seem to be moving in that direction: in early
November 2011, people nationwide began gathering to join teach-
ins on “How the 1% Crashed the Economy.”

We need to explicitly invite the African-American, Latino, and Asian communities into the fight, reminding everyone that the Great Recession victimizes everyone but comes down especially hard on the ethnic poor.

We need to educate ourselves regarding the beneficial realities of publicly owned nonprofit utilities, publicly directed environmental protections, public nonprofit medical services and hospitals, public libraries, schools, colleges, housing, and transportation--all those things that work so well in better known in some quarters as socialism.

There is much to do. Still it is rather impressive how the battle is already being waged on so many fronts.

Meanwhile the corporate media ignore the content of our protest
while continuing to fulminate about the occupiers’ violent ways
and lack of a precise agenda.

Do not for one moment think that the top policymakers and plutocrats don’t care what you think.

That is the only thing about you that wins their concern.

They don’t care about the quality of the air you breathe or the water you drink, or how happy or unhappy or stressed and unhealthy or poor you might be.

But they do want to know your thoughts about public affairs, if only to get a handle on your mind.

Every day they launch waves of disinformation to bloat your brains, from the Pentagon to Fox News without stint.

When the people liberate their own minds and take a hard clear
look at what the 1% is doing and what the 99% should be doing,
then serious stuff begins to happen.

It is already happening. It may eventually fade away or it may
create a new chapter in our history.

Even if it does not achieve its major goals, the Occupy movement
has already registered upon our rulers the anger and unhappiness
of a populace betrayed.


Michael Parenti is an internationally known award-winning author
and lecturer. He is one of the nation’s leading progressive political
analysts. www.michaelparenti.org/

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article29672.htm

Monday, November 7, 2011

The Powerful Know We Are Right

Occupy Demands: Let's Radicalise our Analysis

The crisis we face is caused by failed systems - replacing
leaders while keeping the old system intact will not help.

By Robert Jensen
Information Clearing House
Monday, November 07, 2011

Critics now compare capitalism to cancer.

The inhuman and antidemocratic features of capitalism mean that, like a cancer, the death system will eventually destroy the living host.

Both the human communities and non-human living world that
play host to capitalism eventually will be destroyed by capitalism.

Capitalism is not, of course, the only unsustainable system that humans have devised, but it is the most obviously unsustainable system, and it's the one in which we are stuck.

It's the one that we are told is inevitable and natural, like the air
we breathe.

But the air that we are breathing is choking the most vulnerable
in the world, choking us, choking the planet.

Ecology: Out of gas, derailed, over the waterfall

In addition to inequality within the human family, we face even greater threats in the human assault on the living world that come with industrial society.

High-energy/high-technology societies pose a serious threat to
the ability of the ecosphere to sustain human life as we know it.

Grasping that reality is a challenge, and coping with the implications is an even greater challenge.

We likely have a chance to stave off the most catastrophic consequences if we act dramatically and quickly.

If we continue to drag our feet, it's "game over".

While public awareness of the depth of the ecological crisis is growing, our knowledge of the basics of the problem is hardly new.

"World Scientists' Warning to Humanity" - issued by 1,700 of the planet's leading scientists:

That statement was issued in 1992, and since then we have
fallen further behind in the struggle for sustainability.

Look at any crucial measure of the health of the ecosphere in
which we live - groundwater depletion, topsoil loss, chemical
contamination, increased toxicity in our own bodies, the number
and size of "dead zones" in the oceans, accelerating extinction
of species and reduction of bio-diversity - and the news is bad.

Remember also that we live in an oil-based world that is fast
running out of easily accessible oil, which means we face a huge
reconfiguration of the infrastructure that undergirds our lives. And,
of course, there is the undeniable trajectory of climate disruption.

Add all that up, and ask a simple question: Where we are heading?

Pick a metaphor. Are we a car running out of gas? A train about to derail? A raft going over the waterfall? Whatever the choice, it's not a pretty picture.

It's crucial we realise that there are no technological fixes that
will rescue us.

We have to acknowledge that human attempts to dominate the
non-human world have failed.

We are destroying the planet and in the process destroying ourselves.

Hope Amid A Harsh Future

The people who run this world are eager to contain the Occupy energy not because they believe that the critics of concentrated wealth and power are wrong, but because somewhere deep down in their souls (or what is left of a soul), the powerful know we are right.

People in power are insulated by wealth and privilege, but they
can see the systems falling apart. US military power can no longer
guarantee world domination. Financial corporations can no longer
pretend to provide order in the economy.

The industrial system is incompatible with life.

We face new threats today, but we are not the first humans
to live in dangerous times.

In 1957 the Nobel writer Albert Camus described the world in
ways that resonate:

"Tomorrow the world may burst into fragments. In that threat
hanging over our heads there is a lesson of truth. As we face
such a future, hierarchies, titles, honors are reduced to what
they are in reality: a passing puff of smoke. And the only
certainty left to us is that of naked suffering, common to all,
intermingling its roots with those of a stubborn hope."

A stubborn hope is more necessary than ever.

As political, economic, and ecological systems spiral down, it's likely we will see levels of human suffering that dwarf even the horrors of the 20th century.

Even more challenging is the harsh realisation that we don't have at hand simple solutions - and maybe no solutions at all - to some of the most vexing problems.

We may be past the point of no return in ecological damage, and the question is not how to prevent crises but how to mitigate the worst effects.

No one can predict the rate of collapse if we stay on this trajectory, and we don't know if we can change the trajectory in time.

There is much we don't know, but everything I see suggests that the world in which we will pursue political goals will change dramatically in the next decade or two, almost certainly for the worse.

Organising has to adapt not only to changes in societies but to
these fundamental changes in the ecosphere.

In short: We are organising in a period of contraction, not expansion.

We have to acknowledge that human attempts to dominate
the non-human world have failed.

We are destroying the planet and in the process destroying ourselves.

Here, just as in human relationships, we either abandon the dominance/subordination dynamic or we don't survive.

In 1948, Camus urged people to "give up empty quarrels" and "pay attention to what unites rather than to what separates us" in the struggle to recover from the horrors of Europe's barbarism.

I take from Camus a sense of how to live the tension between
facing honestly the horror and yet remaining engaged.

In that same talk, he spoke of "the forces of terror" (forces
which exist on "our" side as much as on "theirs") and the
"forces of dialogue" (which also exist everywhere in the world).

Where do we place our hopes?

"Between the forces of terror and the forces of dialogue, a great unequal battle has begun," he wrote. "I have nothing but reasonable illusions as to the outcome of that battle. But I believe it must be fought."

The Occupy gatherings do not yet constitute a coherent movement with demands, but they are wellsprings of reasonable illusions.

Rejecting the political babble around us in election campaigns and on mass media, these gatherings are an experiment in a different kind of public dialogue about our common life, one that can reject the forces of terror deployed by concentrated wealth and power.

With that understanding, the central task is to keep the experiment going, to remember the latent power in people who do not accept the legitimacy of a system.

Singer/songwriter John Gorka, writing about what appears to be impossible, offers the perfect reminder:

"They think they can tame you, name you and frame you, aim you where you don't belong. They know where you've been but not where you're going, that is the source of the songs."

Robert Jensen is a professor at the School of Journalism at the University of Texas, Austin.

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article29601.htm

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Great American Shakedown

The Great American Shakedown

By Lawrence Weschler
Tom Dispatch.com
November 02, 2011

In the U.S., corruption is seldom “corruption.”

Take as an example our president, who has been utterly clear:
he will not take money for his electoral campaign from lobbyists.

Only problem: according to the New York Times, 15 of his top
“bundlers,” who give their own money and solicit that of others
none registered as federal lobbyists -- are “involved in lobbying
for Washington consulting shops or private companies,” and they
are raising millions for him.

They also have access to the White House on policy matters.

According to a June report from the Center for Public Integrity,
“President Obama granted plum jobs and appointments to almost
200 people who raised large sums for his [2008] presidential
campaign, and his top fundraisers have won millions of dollars in
federal contracts.”

The president’s spokespeople insist, of course, that he’s kept to his promise, as defined by the labyrinthine lobbying legislation written by a Congress filled with future lobbyists.

And keep in mind that Obama looks like Little Mary Sunshine compared to the field of Republican presidential candidates who seem determined to campaign cheek to jowl with as many lobbyists as they can corral.

More than 100 federal lobbyists have already contributed to Mitt Romney’s campaign, while Rick Perry has evidently risen to candidate status on the shoulders of Mike Toomey, a former gubernatorial chief of staff, friend, and money-raising lobbyist whose clients “have won $2 billion in [Texas] state government contracts since 2008.”

And that’s just the tip of the top of the iceberg.

None of this is “corruption,” of course, just a pay-to-play way of life, which extends to the military-industrial complex and a Pentagon that has spent a mere $1 trillion in the last decade purchasing new weapons to “modernize” its arsenal.

In the meantime, every top civilian official, general, or admiral
there knows that some weapons company awaits him with (so
to speak) open arms, whenever he decides to spin through the
revolving door into "retirement" and the private sector.

The results are stunning.

Arms giant Lockheed Martin paid out $12.7 million in lobbying
fees in 2010. Its CEO took home $21.89 million that year. And
the company just reported third-quarter net earnings of $700
million, beating the expectations of analysts, and predicts
more of the same for 2012.

Advantage Lockheed.

Similarly, the government's top economic advisors regularly come from (and/or end up in/return to) the arms of banks and giant financial outfits, the very firms which pour money into political campaigns.

It’s but another version of the same cozy, well-organized world
in which, for example, Robert Rubin spun from Goldman Sachs
into the government as Bill Clinton’s Secretary of the Treasury
in the 1990s, then out again to Citigroup, which he then helped
run into the ground until it was bailed out on such generous
terms in November 2008.

In those years, he made an estimated $126 million.

Advantage Rubin.

Just remember though, it’s not corruption. It’s just the way
our world works.

Get used to it.

http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175461/tomgram%3A
_lawrence_weschler%2C_the_great_american_shakedown/