Category Archives: Opinion

Stories from a Rubber Room

This morning on my way to work I had the car radio tuned to the local classic FM station. It’s a safety precaution more than anything. Keeps me (relatively) calm in the traffic and safe from the media commentary of the day, mostly. On this morning’s playlist was Sibelius’ Karelia Music Overture, apparently rich in nationalistic imagery, a recurring theme in Sibelius’ music at a time when the Russians were busy hacking the Finnish elections, or annexing Scandinavia, or doing whatever it is that Russians do. You see, even on Classic FM the gaslighting is inescapable.

Tonight an ‘expert’ on the telly was going on about how ‘professionally’ organised the Hong Kong riots are. The most professional he’d seen in all his 30 years as a security analyst, apparently. Rapid, coordinated, and perfectly timed to cause maximum disruption. Just the kind of paramilitary precision you’d expect from a bunch of random student activists. The waving of British and American flags in protest against the oppressive ‘colonial’ Chinese communist regime didn’t seem out of place at all; in fact it fit right in with the incredulity of the whole shitshow. Have these people even read a history book?

In other news, One of Trump’s top senior advisers insists that it’s time for all nations to join the US in holding Iran to a new level of accountability for its “lawless pursuit of ballistic missiles”. Of course there was no mention of what law, treaty or international convention Iran is said to be violating in exercising its right under the UN Charter to develop missile technology for defensive purposes; In a recent intelligence bulletin the FBI has determined that conspiracy theorists pose a serious domestic terrorism threat. Apparently there are “conspiracy theory-driven domestic extremists” who would have us believe that certain high-profile politicians and celebrities might be involved in child trafficking and paedophilia. Scandalous! It’s enough to make you want to smash your television. To be fair I turned mine off years ago, but it seems wherever I go the corporate media finds a way to shine its gaslight in my face.

I often find myself asking how we got to here. Was there an historical pivot, or just a slow decline? How did we come to the point where a handful of corporate monoliths control ALL access to information; where any alternate information source is deemed ‘conspiracy’, and ‘conspiracies’ are officially labelled ‘terrorism’? It must be said that even the kookiest conspiracy theories seem more credible today than the approved talking points echoed by publicly sanctioned channels: Carbon dioxide, an invisible gas which which gives life to plants and trees, is thought to be causing catastrophic climate change and the only way to stop it is to deprive poor countries of any realistic path to development (conveniently maintaining their status as cheap resource and labour markets); A man can be a woman just by saying so, and refusing to wax her balls in a private salon is blatant misogyny; Babies under six weeks old must be injected with mercury and other lethal substances in the name of epidemiology, and four year olds who like to play dress-ups should be given puberty blockers to prepare them for gender reassignment. And of course there are the usual stalwarts: America is a beacon of liberal democracy; Mass murderers and terrorists are humanitarians and freedom fighters.

Cheerful stuff. Meanwhile France’s gilets jaunes are in their 40th week of protest, repelled by gas and live ammunition; India just repealed article 370 of its constitution concerning the special status of Kashmir, which it now seems determined to annex – creating a potential flash point between two nuclear-armed powers, and of course another excuse to slaughter Muslims en masse; Immigration and Customs Enforcement, an agency of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, has broken the record for child abduction previously held by Nigeria’s Boko Haram; Italy will impose fines on anyone caught rescuing migrants at sea to the tune of €1m; Global currency markets have begun falling like dominoes, the Dow has dropped 800 points and it looks like we are entering a global financial meltdown worse than 2008. All mere distractions of course. We need to stay focused on what really matters. Gender identity, stopping CO2, and choosing the next sock puppet to replace the oh-my-god-he’s-so-racist orange buffoon in the White House.

Oh by the way, that guy Epstein – the one who supposedly had all the dirt on the elite paedophiles the conspiracy theory-driven domestic extremists were going on about – he strangled himself in a Manhattan prison cell on Saturday, breaking his neck in several places. Craig Murray writes: “There are a number of royal palaces and grand residences of former Presidents and Prime Ministers where the inhabitants have a little bit more spring in their step following the death of Jeffrey Epstein.” Jared Beck frames the issue more succinctly: “Someone sent a loud and clear message to Americans today: “We control you, and if we want to traffic your children to control your pathetic, puppet politicians, there’s nothing you or anyone else can or will do about it.” I wonder how Julian Assange is feeling right now…

I guess there’s really not much more to say. Rather than run the risk of any further media gaslighting I think I might retire and enjoy some vintage Shostakovich on hipster vinyl, or better still wind up the old Victrola in the basement – pretty certain the mind control rays weren’t designed to work with 78s. Better make it one of his pre-Soviet cantatas though – I wouldn’t want to die from polonium poisoning in my sleep.

Murder on the Lolita Express

It would appear that the Jeffrey Epstein case has pushed its bony elbows through the gauzy fabric of our “reality” narrative and bumped us all closer to a long overdue CRISIS of confidence with both our government and the mainstream media.

Even people, who just a week ago were still accepting whatever the capital “M” Media was throwing their way, have begun voicing doubts, while those who for YEARS have diligently volunteered themselves as staunch defenders of “approved” taunts against supposed crackpots and conspiracy theorists, are backing off on the intensity of their attacks.

Too many years with too many incongruities, perhaps — (going back to the JFK assassination, and well before that) — may finally be instigating an unraveling in the “TRUST” circuits of the popular imagination.

The purely farcical nature of the Epstein “suicide” has much of America trying to wrap their throbbing heads around the whole fraught and twisted spectacle.

Think about it. NO individual criminal action has ever implicated SO many wealthy and powerful people. NO inmate was ever more in danger of suicide (or homicide) than Epstein. YOU knew that, I knew that and everyone in law enforcement knew that. And yet, it STILL happened… though WHAT exactly happened, we’re still not sure. (See below)

At this point, if you are someone who still believes that very wealthy and powerful elites are NOT constantly conspiring and using THEIR media to advance and steer their various preferred narratives, then maybe it’s just too late and none of this “behind the curtain” stuff will ever cause you to suffer doubt. To that I say okay… because you know, everyone has their own unique circumstances and challenges and and trust me, this cloak and dagger shit sucks a ton of time – time, that in a saner world, could be spent in more “human” pursuits. (I expect this must have been the case for most Germans in the 1930s.)

You are, of course, still entitled to any idea you want to hold… but I don’t think you can still count on getting those automatic thumbs up from your like-minded friends with the same frequency as you did. Such previously presumed certainties are melting faster than sweet green icing.

Let me reiterate.  I am NOT suggesting that I know what’s true and what’s not. Far from it! The assumption that ANY of us “spectator/ audience members” can know the truth for certain is just silly and naive.

Naturally, you believe YOUR thinking is objective and reality-based and that your beliefs are NOT distorted by cognitive biases, because we ALL believe that! The more relevant distinction between us is that some of us KNOW we DON’T know the truth… while others of us insist that we DO know and that anyone who disagrees with us is WRONG, stupid, sick, fukt-up, etc., etc.

If there is truth to be found, chances are it will be uncovered through persistent research and attention to detail. So, don’t look to me (or anyone) to tell you what it is; look to yourself! Though I make NO claim to KNOW what is true, after having followed countless contrarian and “contra-pundit” news threads for a decade now, I think I’m getting better at figuring out what is NOT true, who and WHAT is most SUSPECT and WHICH of the LIES that we have for so long been programmed to believe, are more substantial than others.

In the case of Jeff Epstein’s “SUICIDE” – we have all seen MANY conspiracy theories flying around… including those simplistic ones being echoed across the mainstream news – although even there, cracks are showing.

Here are my favs so far…

= ACT I

  1. Epstein hangs himself – (Forget about how, as it would be a HUGE stretch by ANY method.)
  2. Assuming some ridiculously high-level access to the impregnable Metropolitan Correctional Center, where Epstein was being held… (and where video cameras are somehow NOT working!)…

– 2A. Epstein is killed in his cell – by unidentified outside person(s) connected to the Clintons.

– 2B. Epstein is killed in his cell – by unidentified outside person(s) connected to Trump.

– 2C. Epstein is killed in his cell – by unidentified agents of the Deep State or by some squad of assassins recruited to protect the guilty pervs… of all persuasions.

– 2D. Epstein is killed in his cell – by unidentified agents of Russia.

  1. Epstein’s “corpse” arrives at the morgue, where on Sunday, an autopsy is conducted (under the observation of celebrity pathologist Dr. Michael Baden who was there for JFK, MLK, and the O.J. victim autopsies) No definitive conclusions of the autopsy have yet been released.
  2. Alternately, Epstein is removed from his cell – by ultra high-level operatives of SOME agency – and another body put in his place (to match theory #1 above.) It is that body that is then sent to the morgue. (Shades of Officer Tippet in Dallas.)

= ACT II

  1. Epstein is REALLY dead, as is the indictment against him… and the many high-profile pedophile accusations begin to get blurred and BURIED, as the whole thing fades away over time and as all the purported high-profile trafficking and abuse soon resumes, with new levels of protection around it.
  2. Epstein is REALLY dead, as is the indictment against him… but in this scenario, the many high-profile pedophile accusations get EXPOSED and much of the purported high-profile trafficking and abuse is brought to light by some insanely persistent renegade arm of the government, on the way to the perps being actually indicted.
  3. Epstein is NOT dead, but in the custody of U.S. Military Intelligence.
  4. Epstein is NOT dead, but in the custody of the CIA – of which (most insiders believe) he was a long-time asset.
  5. Epstein is NOT dead, but in the custody of MOSSAD – of which (most insiders believe) he was a long-time asset.
  6. Epstein never died, because he never lived, having been substituted for A.I. bot of dark alien technology.

 ACT III (Stay Tuned.)

Epstein, Faction, and Neopatrimonialism

Faction: a number of citizens, whether amounting to a minority or majority of the whole, who are united and actuated by some common impulse of passion, or of interest, adverse to the rights of other citizens, or to the permanent and aggregate interests of the community.

— James Madison Federalist #10

Never has the word “conspiracy” been spoken so easily.

Never has the dark evil that is Factionalism and Neopatrimonialism been on such stark display.

If you think Jeffrey Epstein, a man with an inordinate, if strongly misguided lust for life, killed himself rather than was murdered by his erstwhile “friends and associates” you still haven’t taken the red pill.

The writers of the Federalist Papers were famously concerned about the possibility of faction in the United States; their fear was founded in part by their understanding of human psychology and ancient history. They were rightly skeptical about the possibility of totally avoiding the rise of an organized collection of individuals who would capture the state and by implication spread their influence and power throughout the fabric of civil society.

Such a relatively large faction is in existence today, although it is, for the most part, hidden in its day to day workings. As the founding fathers well understood, nothing is more natural than a group of persons tacitly agreeing to work together to further their own private interests at the expense of all others who are not included in their surreptitious compact. The group that can successfully capture the state is master of all else. This activity is emphatically not a direct result of capitalism but of something much more ancient and primordial; the lust for total control and unlimited power. Cabals, cliques, compacts, conspiracies, secret hierarchies have existed in all types of polities, places, and times. Machiavelli spoke of it at length. Even Kant mentioned it. It is nothing outlandish or new. People will scheme for unfair advantage and privilege; even animals do it on a regular basis.

Yet the problem is that human beings are also equipped with a sense of justice and fair play. When a polity that purports to epitomize the ideal of a modern democratic state with the rule of law, representative government, separation of powers, an impartial bureaucracy, and careers open to all talents is de facto nothing of the sort, it becomes inevitable for symptoms of decay, rot, and outrageous human vice not unlike that of the Roman Empire to increasingly appear.

When a faction, however large, has taken over a society that society becomes what is known as Neopatrimonial. Even conservative thinkers such as Francis Fukuyama have pointed out the accelerating nature of this political disease that, like a cancer, spreads its tentacles throughout the world’s bodies politic, even the most “progressive ones”. Neopatrimonialism presupposes powerful elites who as patrons work closely with armies of less powerful clients who are often dependent on them for current positions, possible advancements, and other privileges and emoluments not limited to themselves, but crucially, for their offspring as well. A telephone call, a manipulated email, a lunch meeting, a tacit agreement by powerful lawmakers, all the way to secret directives tailor made by the security forces and the “executive” (often, maybe always, one of the de facto administrative chiefs not of the “people” but of the “faction”); all are but a few examples of how Neopatrimonialism functions.

At times, the fierceness of the faction shows as well as their haughty disregard and unconcern at public exposure. So sure are these consummate assassins of the body politic of their perfect unassailability. So sure are these cool headed ringleaders in their total command of the real that nothing can threaten their mobility, reach, and Morphean powers over the manufacturing of collective gullibility. Sheep are to be sheared and faction rules are to be obeyed.

Somewhere along the line, Jeffrey Epstein, for all his power, wealth, and connections significantly betrayed the trust of those who not only raised him up from literally nothing but protected him for so many years. A protection that extended, not surprisingly, from the state itself. The “faction” has the power of deciding the “exception”. And for a long time, Jeffrey Epstein was one of those exceptions.

If you believe that Epstein’s sexual depredations are what ultimately brought him down you are confusing means with cause. The fatal breach that led to both his incarceration and eventual murder within the heart of American Empire (for it is truly New York City and not Washington D.C.; the first is the iron fist, the second the theatrical glove) the public will never know. But the draconian rules of the faction are clear; we are many and you are only one; nothing, not billions, fame, potential usefulness, belated contriteness, can excuse the dictatorial rules of factionalism in a Neopatrimonial state masquerading as a representative democracy. Jeffrey Epstein’s demise is not one of conscience, fear, self-pity, inmate rage, or ironic justice; the voracious hive has deliberately, admonishingly devoured one of its own.

Bodies on The Ground And The Rise And Rise Of The Economic Elite

The US is less of a nation than a collective, psychotic episode.

Within day to day life in the nation, a cultural aura exists that shifts, mingles, and merges between a sense of nervous agitation and displaced rage, in combination with a sense of weightlessness. The fragmented quality of daily life imparts an insubstantial, unreal quality wherein the citizenry of the capitalist/consumer empire of hungry ghosts drift through a nadascape comprised of ad hoc, fast-buck-driven, suburban/exburban architecture and the ersatz eros of constant, consumer come-ons.

Yet beneath the nebulous dread and nettling angst of it all, there exists the primal human imperative for connection and social communion; i.e., authentic eros. The most lost among the lost in the ghostsphere of the collective mind attempt to animate the realm of shades with libations of blood. The gods of the capitalist death cult demand no less.

Where does an impulse to possess an unlimited number of firearms fit into the scheme of things? A firearm’s heft, for one. The weapon feel substantial when held and hoisted thus serves, provisionally, to mitigate a psychical sense of weightlessness. The act of engagement eases nervous agitation. Guns reality is antithetically to the weightless content of media reality. Focus is achieved when one aligns the weapon’s site to a target. Nebulous dread transforms into adamantine purpose. The presence of an Angel Of Death will focus the mind. The ground, for the moment, feels solid beneath one’s feet. Hence, there arrives a craving, in the sense of addiction, to hoard the object that provides relief; in addition, massive quantities of ammunition must be stored as emotional ballast. The mystifying, rankling, uncontrollable criteria of this weightless Age and the white noise of uncertainty seem to yield to the clear and decisive crack of a rifle shot. Relief is imagined in the concomitant carnage. Rebecca West captures the phenomenon in prose:

Only part of us is sane: only part of us loves pleasure and the longer day of happiness, wants to live to our nineties and die in peace, in a house that we built, that shall shelter those who come after us. The other half of us is nearly mad. It prefers the disagreeable to the agreeable, loves pain and its darker night despair, and wants to die in a catastrophe that will set back life to its beginnings and leave nothing of our house save its blackened foundations.

― Rebecca West, Black Lamb and Grey Falcon, 1941

Because we, on a personal level, in most cases, choose the primary option, our hidden, shadow half will live out the latter on a collective basis. During the blood lust on display at Trump rallies, the mob finds a collective comfort zone in catastrophic longings. The domestic landscape of paranoia works in behalf of the profiteers of perpetual war, perpetrators of the U.S.-created deathscapes overseas, and vice versa, in a self-resonating feedback loop of carnage.

In our era, in which the US empire is in decline, as a consequence the White supremacist order no longer seems inevitable, Trump’s frightened legions have personalised the decline. In their gut, they feel as if their identity is under siege. Seal off the nation’s borders. Construct an unscalable wall. Create a cordon sanitaire to protect and preserve racial purity. A strong authority figure is craved in order to set the world back in order. The phenomenon could be termed, Authoritarian Simpatico Syndrome (ASS) — a pathology manifested in personality types who have been traumatized by the authoritarianism of the US socio-political milieu but who seek to assuage their hurt and humiliation by identification with the very forces responsible for their torment.. The stuff of a cultural nervous breakdown.

To that end, according to its own laws, the nation’s citizenry, sufferers of mental distress, should be restricted from purchasing a gun. Yet without a doubt, the most disturbed of all are the nation’s political class, those responsible for gun legislation. There is compelling evidence that they present a clear and present danger to themselves and others. The political class is a menace to society; they make decisions, more often than not, based on delusional thinking, that are responsible for harm on a massive scale. Thus they should be subject to institutional-style restraint, within the confines of the most heavily secure, lockdown ward in an asylum for the criminally insane.

Although the so-called mentally ill, as a rule, are not any more inclined to commit violent crimes than are the general population of capitalist dystopias. The US nation was founded in genocidal violence and the fortunes of its ruling class are protected by the state sanctioned violence of the police and are bloated by the violence inherent to imperialist shakedown operations.

It comes down to this: In our emotionally brutal era, those deemed mentally ill are suffering from capitalism. The pummelling stress and boot-in-the-face, hierarchy-inflicted humiliations inherent to the system inflict trauma on large swathes of the citizenry.

Epidemic levels of middle age, US citizens are dying with needles in their arms. The inherent and internalised White supremacy of the societal order has been exacerbated by Trump’s self-serving, reckless agitprop and acts in a drug-like manner causing dopamine levels to rise in those experiencing emotional torment due to humiliation-caused despair. Demagogues such as Trump are aware and exploit the manner despair can be palliatively mitigated by the emotional displacement of rage.

Fascist insignias rise when the hopes and aspirations of the working class lay shattered across a capitalist economic wasteland. Hoisted torches provide the illusion that dark despair has been banished. The fascist mob becomes possessed by a belief that they, en masse, can ascend into the precincts of heaven by scaling a mountain of corpses comprised of outsider groups.

Fascism not only acts as anaesthetic to the wounds delivered by capitalism, it is a psychoactive drug because incantatory rhetoric and imagist psychical material get those susceptible to its crude allure high.

Capitalism is borne on manic wings. The economic elite move from corporate skyscrapers and high rise rooftops in order to travel by helicopter, where upon landing, they board private, luxury jets, then, whereupon landing again, they are transported by helicopter to corporate skyscrapers and high rise rooftops. Touching the earth is a fleeting experience. The ruling class have lost touch with ground level verities. In a classical sense, such displays of hubris were understood as the progenitor of madness. The gods first elevate those they drive mad.

And, yes, race-based fears and animus are in play. Racism engendered mass murder has been coming to pass since armed Europeans trudged ashore in the Americas, with their blood-sodden religion and their murderous craving for gold and land. Of course, the racist demagoguery of the Bloated Orange Tub Of Nazi Goo oozing into and agitating the limbic systems of violent cretins during homegrown Nuremberg Rallies and his compulsion to blitzkrieg the pixel-sphere with Der Stürmer tweets is fomenting racist mayhem that includes bacchanals of blood. US mythos is rancid with the reek of the corpses of the innocent slaughtered by White men brandishing firearms. Mass murderers have been and continue to be enshrined as heroes, from Wounded Knee to Afghanistan.

The nation was established by gun-enabled genocide and the intimidation of African slaves held at gunpoint on capitalist plantations. The truth has never been faced; e.g., the suppression of the Nixon tape in which Ronald Reagan displayed his racist mindset.

The US citizenry thanks the soldiers of its racist wars of aggression for their “service.” Perpetual shooting sprees origins can be traced to the heart of darkness of the nation and its concomitant White supremacist creed. The killings happened long before the rise and election of the Tangerine Tweet Führer. Of course, the racist shit-heel Trump has exacerbated the situation. He deserves all scorn cast his way. It is obvious his capacity for malice does not possess a governor’s switch.

Trump is a two-legged emblem of the hypertrophy at play in late US imperium. Gun-inflicted violence is steeped into the blood-stained fabric of the US (sham) republic. Withal, Trump is not an anomaly; he is an emblem. Gun-strokers are no more going to shed their mythos than liberals and progressives are going to shed theirs that the US is a democratic republic, governed by the rule of law, and progressive reforms will be implemented by its High Dollar owned and controlled political class that will serve to turn around the trajectory of the blood-built and maintained US empire.

Defensive Charter School Advocates

Charter schools are privatized arrangements imposed on society by the rich and their retinue.

There is nothing public about charter schools. Nonprofit and for-profit charter schools lack most of the features of public schools and typically operate as deregulated businesses.

Calling a charter school public is mainly for the self-serving purpose of illegitimately funneling vast sums of public money from public schools to wealthy private interests who own-operate nonprofit and for-profit charter schools. Charter schools are essentially pay-the-rich schemes masquerading as “innovations” that “save public education” and “give parents choices.”

Charter school owners-operators would not be able to fleece public money from public schools if they were openly recognized as the privatized arrangements that they are. Most people understand that public money belongs solely to the public, not private interests. They understand that public wealth must be used only for public purposes and that private interests have no right to decide how to use public money.

Fear of losing billions of dollars in public wealth—money that charter schools have no valid claim to—easily and quickly angers profit-obsessed charter school promoters, especially in the context of a continually failing economy and a falling rate of profit for major owners of capital. Even the loss of a tiny fraction of this public money is enough to trigger a vicious reaction by the advocates of segregated nonprofit and for-profit charter schools. The overriding aim of maximizing profits as fast as possible, no matter how damaging to education, society, and the economy, naturally compels charter school advocates and their wealthy backers to be belligerent, self-righteous, and irrational in protecting their narrow financial interests. They have no regard for the social and natural environment.

At a press conference on July 16, 2019 Governor Tom Wolf of Pennsylvania did what few, if any, governors have done: he publicly called charter schools “private” and criticized them on several counts. Further infuriating charter school advocates, the governor also publicly defended public schools.

In an August 1, 2019 letter to the governor, Ana Meyers, executive director of the Pennsylvania Coalition of Public Charter Schools, the state’s largest organization representing privately-operated charter schools, expressed “grave concerns” with the governor’s legitimate criticism of the privatization of public education. Meyers lashed out at Governor Wolf, saying: “I am shocked that you and your staff are unaware that none of Pennsylvania’s charter schools [brick-and-mortar or cyber] are private or for-profit institutions.” Meyers righteously tells Governor Wolf: “I would have thought that a governor who has championed public education like you have over the past four-plus years would know better. I believe that you would have a much better understanding of how charter schools operate in Pennsylvania if you took the time to visit a few of them.”

Meyers angrily repeated other worn-out assertions, diversions, and distortions that are supposed to convince the gullible that charter schools are public in nature. In this regard, a key ideological device used repeatedly by charter school advocates is to create the impression that just because something is enshrined in law, it is therefore automatically right, just, ethical, principled, and acceptable. A closely related ideological device is to treat ideas totally in the abstract so as to divert attention from the actual concrete reality of things.

When a scam as entrenched and lucrative as charter schools is at stake, the beneficiaries of such antisocial arrangements will speak and act in belligerent, irrational, and brazen ways. Unlimited greed has always had a negative toll on society.

The public must not be scathed by such desperate and predictable antics. They are a sign of weakness, not strength. The public should stay the course and keep developing new creative ways to oppose charter schools and defend public education and democracy to ensure a bright future for all.

The Integrity Requirement

As our political and governmental systems deepen their dysfunctionality, as corporations act ever more brazenly in their greed, as our planet suffers from the horrors of a broken culture, we clearly recognize that these systems fail miserably when it comes to integrity. When we look at our local and statewide political institutions, we see a similar pattern of corruption, with policies and attitudes that favor the folks with lots of money.

And when we see two horrendous mass shootings only hours apart, one a mere 50 miles from me, we know we are descending into chaos due to corruption.

President Trump is not the cause of our deep seated problems, though he certainly typifies the policies and attitudes that are so destructive to human health and happiness — and that of our planet.

You see, Donald Trump was never taught the value of integrity. Just like so many of the ruling class, greed, power and control far outweigh any thoughts about ‘doing the right thing’. This pattern has been endemic for so long that rich folks like Trump cannot even empathize with those of a ‘lesser station in Life’, much less hold integrity in their hearts and minds.

So why is integrity important, or even required as I suggest in the title? It’s obvious in most areas of our lives. If our home doesn’t have integrity it falls down. If all the hardware and software of the Interweb lacked integrity our phones and computers would be worthless.

Looking toward nature, the integrity of ecosystems is truly a marvel. Patterns of beginning, growth, stability and ending are common to all Life. Without something as simple as the integrity of cell walls we would not exist. The implicit integrity of water or of an ancient forest calls us to reverence. There is a simple elegance to integrity. It is what it is. It requires no bullshit for its justification. Indeed, integrity is a requirement for functionality.

Now let me get personal for a moment. Without our personal integrity we cannot know peace and love. If you are not honest, it leaves a mark, as we are out of alignment with nature and with truth. As children of the Source of Integrity, we require integrity to be happy. We’ve all had failures of integrity, and know the rotten feeling in our gut for exploiting or lying or cheating on another. Again, there is no peace without integrity.

A culture without integrity is doomed to fail, even as ours is failing now before our eyes. How many shootings will it take? How many destroyed lives from war, pollution, climate chaos and inequality will it take? How much can our planet take until it becomes uninhabitable for us?

For too long we have accepted stories because the story teller is ‘important’ or a presumed expert. Growing up in the 1960s there was blind acceptance of what we read in the paper or saw on the TV. And both were more honest back then.

We’re now learning that our culture was hacked by our corporate overloads. It was in the 1980s and 1990s that great waves of media consolidation took place, and the new bosses didn’t want any unfavorable stories. So they put a stop to them. We continue to be hacked by corporate media. Sinclair Corporation, owning nearly 200 TV stations, continues to force local newspeople to spew their biased stories. It’s the reason Rob Braun and Cammy Dierking are leaving Local 12 here in Cincinnati. And in that hacking, the first thing media conglomerates left behind was integrity.

And that’s just in media. In healthcare, finance and Wall Street, food and energy corporations, we find the same patterns. There is no integrity when the only rule is to make money. It’s time we remedy that monumental failure.

What Maketh a Man?

Monday morning is here, dawn has broken over the home of the brave and the land of the free. As those first shafts of sunlight creep westerly across the nation they illuminate, one after another, the flags that have risen to half-mast on this, another day of national mourning. The refrain is all too familiar to us now as we come to grips with the body count from the latest mass shooting. On this particular day after we confront the results of back to back slaughters that left over thirty people dead in the space of just over twelve hours this weekend.

As familiar as the carnage has become so too has been the familiarity of the rhetoric that follows the bloodshed. Politicians, pundits, and citizenry quickly fall into their ideological camps and point their collective fingers in a dizzying array of directions. This is not to discount every point of view but rather it is acknowledging the lack of genuine discussions and concern from many. Solutions are looked for, proposed, demanded, or ignored depending on the political leanings of those articulating the problem.

What is obvious by now no matter the denials from some quarters is the reality that this country is in the midst of a domestic terrorist problem. Radicalized white men have taken upon themselves to express their vision of manhood through violence and destruction. They see the world through a lens colored by hate, bigotry, and misogyny and have been convinced that they are some sort of ordained agent of change.

This particular social dynamic has been labelled as “toxic masculinity” by many and has become both an analytical tool and a catch phrase to describe the brutality and cruelty that has become so prominent in recent years. The deindustrialized United States of the 21st century has spawned a generation of men facing harsh economic realities of a consumer society, a world vastly different from the one in which they grew up in. For communities of color the lack of economic opportunity has been a way of life but for white America there has always been the promise of an “American dream” which is now out of reach for a growing segment of young white men. This inability to prosper strikes directly at their masculine self-conception and contributes to this implied toxicity.

None of this excuses the violence and hate but we would be remiss to not honestly examine and attempt to understand the forces at play here. There are those that refuse to even breach such subjects, proclaiming that what we call toxic masculinity is “the reason your ancestors weren’t eaten by wolves.” Any critic of this hyper machismo is seen by some as an attack on men in general and an attempt to weaken the gender by the forces of feminism. The make America great again mentality would hearken back to the mid-20th century example of the male ideal John Wayne whose character in the film She Wore a Yellow Ribbon says, “Never apologize and never explain–it’s a sign of weakness.” This then is the paradigm we seek to understand, what maketh a man? What is the parameters of the masculine ideal and how does the perception of that ideal relate to the barbarity on display in the mass shootings that continue to plague this country.

Beyond the economic realities of the 21st century there are also the new frontiers of media and culture that are defining this age. Masculinity must be elucidated in a world of increasingly less human interaction where the borders between fantasy and reality are becoming blurred and undefined. Those that seek to blame the rise in mass shooting on violent video games are simply looking for a convenient scapegoat and lack any statistical proof when we compare America to other nations who consume the same media and do not produce the same dire side effects. What is of real concern is not the violence of the games per se but rather that men are consumed by the games themselves and spend an inordinate amount of time “living” within them. Online communities can foster this escapism going beyond simple entertainment and enabling the avoidance of true maturity. Groups such as incel, self-described “involuntary celibates” turn their social awkwardness into a movement that avoids responsibility and growth in favor of victimization. This movement and others have been a part of the cruel dynamic that has fueled the continued carnage.

So today we have an image of manliness that is inextricably linked to violence. Open carry laws give us the pleasure of going to our local Walmart with our neighbor who feels the need to shop for groceries with an AK-47 slung over his shoulder. Ironically the statistics tells us that the number one danger he faces is not a robber but rather another white guy with an automatic rifle slung across his shoulder. Any attempt to identify or deal with these skewed male ideals is seen as attacks on American virility and a weakening of masculine resolve. So we hear ad nauseam that the only thing that can stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun; the only way to prevent violence is with more violence.

There is another path, there are better examples of masculinity than John Wayne who was neither a cowboy nor a soldier but somehow became a cultural icon by pretending to be both. It is possible to be virile, manly, and strong without becoming aggressive, abusive, and insensitive. The theatrics of sports such as MMA have overshadowed the Martial Arts at their foundations. The arts, not so much the sports, produce individuals that can break bricks with their bare fist but simultaneously hold themselves to creeds that promote courtesy, integrity, perseverance, self-control and an indomitable spirit. An example of this version of masculinity can be found in the life and writings of the Karate Master Gichin Funakoshi.

Sensei Gichin Funakoshi

Born sickly and premature in late nineteenth century Okinawa he was raised by grandparents who made sure he was schooled in classical Chinese literature and introduced to the practice of Karate-Do which at the time was taught in secret because of the prohibition by the occupying Japanese authority.

An overview of his life; Martial Arts master, father of modern Karate (bringing it from Okinawa to mainland Japan in the early 20th century), founder of Shotokan Karate (one of the four major schools), grandfather of Taekwondo (two of its founders were Funakoshi’s students), and author of some of the arts foundational textbooks. From such a resume we would imagine a fierce fighter with an intimidating persona in the mold of Steven Segal or Jason Statham. The real person we find in the pages of his autobiography (Karate-Do My Way of Life) is quite the opposite.

Funakoshi recounts a story of being accosted by a young would be robber while in his later years. Doing his best to defuse the situation proved to be unsuccessful when the culprit swung his umbrella at his head. Funakoshi, at eighty years of age, ducked under the swing and grabbed the assailant’s testicles and held him till a patrolman came along minutes later. He includes the story not as a boast but rather as a disappointment over which he expresses shame because he was not able to resolve the situation without offensive action.

These were not just the sentiments of an elder teacher, and earlier account in the narrative describing Funakoshi as a young Karate novice in the company of several other students who are confronted by a gang who seemed intent on confrontation. A fight is avoided because of the guidance of their Sensei who defuses the situation and prevents his student from depending on simple violence even though they were more than capable of defeating the more numerous opponents. Here too Funakoshi expresses regret, thankful that his Sensei had prevented them from using their martial skills on “untrained men.”

Among the many teachings and precepts left by Gichin Funakoshi are that there is no first strike in Karate, we should void self-conceit and dogmatism, and that Karate should be an aide to justice. These and other teachings are the foundational truths that mark the martial artist and indeed the man himself. This is the counter narrative to the ideal of aggression and violence being hallmarks of masculinity. Funakoshi was as, or more, capable of inflicting harm than most but found balance in his compassion and humility.

The term Martial Arts itself is a misnomer to a great degree. The term budo is translated into English as the “Martial Way” or the “Way of War” but a more accurate translation would be the “Way of Stopping Violence” or of making peace. This current propensity of so called toxic masculinity is nothing new, the realities of instant prolific communication has merely heightened its exposure. On a governmental level the two main responses to confrontation are war or sanctions that aim at crippling foreign populations. There has always been a department of war/defense but never one whose chief aim is peace.

Again, I do not believe we have the current epidemic of mass shooting because disaffected young white men are watching too many violent movies or are playing too many violent video games. What is at the root of this however are young men who loose themselves in the fantasy that those and other mediums reinforce? This ideal male that stretches back to John Wayne, Dirty Harry, or the like has ingrained itself within our culture and finds life today through the rhetoric of Donald Trump or Rush Limbaugh. It is the mentality that says that the rugged individual, properly armed, can survive the apocalypse when history has taught us the opposite; it is the community of connected people that has the strength and tenacity to make it through. It is not our ability to knock down our opponent that makes us a man but rather our desire to reach down and pick them up.

Women We Are Fighting For

There are stories that are unrelated to the news, but can explain much better than many combat reports, why people like me are fighting against the Empire and imperialism, with such determination and vehemence. Not all stories are ‘big’ or ‘heroic’; not all include famous people or iconic struggles. Not all take place on battlefields.

But they ‘humanize’ the struggle.

Once in a while, I like to share such stories with my readers. As I will do right now.

Because without them, frankly, nothing really makes sense.

*****

It was a hot, humid night in Jakarta; a megapolis with the worst pollution on earth, and with some of the most monstrous contrasts on our planet. A literally sinking city, constructed against the people; fragmented, serving only the few hundred thousand extremely rich (most of them accumulating wealth through corruption and theft), while condemning millions of struggling individuals to a slow death.

For the ruthless Indonesian elites and their Western handlers, the poor of Jakarta (the great majority of city dwellers) simply do not exist. They live in crammed slums, called kampungs – literally translated as villages. Kampungs fill huge spaces between the skyscrapers, malls, and mostly empty five-star hotels. Individuals living there consume very little, and therefore matter close to nothing. Even their number is underplayed in the official statistics.

One night, my small film crew and I were driving though the Klender neighborhood in East Jakarta; a poor, religious and monotonous part of the city.

Re-editing my big film about Indonesia after the US-sponsored military coup of 1965, an event which I often describe as an “Intellectual Hiroshima”, I had to again spend a few days in Jakarta, collecting latest footage, filming contrasts between the people and feudal elites.

We were all tired. Traffic jams have brought the city to an almost permanent gridlock. The pollution is unbearable. Life has come to a standstill. As planned by the regime, no one seemed to be thinking. Nothing seemed to be working.

We were driving past Klender train station a few minutes after midnight.

There were two young women standing by the side of the road. One of them caught my eye. She was clearly a prostitute, or a ‘sex-worker’, as they would call her in the West. But in reality, no, she was not a ‘worker’; not her. Just an abused, tired women.

I liked her face. Hers was an honest, good face. And after all that nonsense I heard during the day, after all that ‘feel good’ crap, I needed to hear something real, honest.

“Stop!” I shouted at my driver. He stepped on the brakes, then backed up a few meters.

“I want to talk to her,” I explained. Then to her: “I want to talk to you.”

She did not find my request strange. She nodded. After years of moving all around the world, while documenting the state of our humanity, I have developed certain instincts. I can tell from the faces of people, whether they have a story to tell; and whether they have the desire to speak. She did, both.

We emptied the front seat for her, next to the driver. She got in. Jakarta is a dangerous city, especially for women. But she did not seem to be frightened. She trusted me, as I trusted her.

“My name is Andre,” I said. “I am a filmmaker, and this is my team”.

“My name is Risna,” she answered and smiled.

“I want to hear your story,” I said.

“OK,” she said.

“Do you mind if I film?”

“Go ahead. I don’t mind.”

I put my GH5 over my knee, turned on the little light on the ceiling of the car, and pressed the “Record” button.

Just like that. No coaching, no preparation. And then it happened. She spoke. Clearly. Bitterly. Honestly.

*****

“It was four of us,” she began, softly:

Four children. Little ones. Two boys and two girls. Our father, a pious religious man, used to use all of us. He had sex with us, with males and females. By then our mother was gone. He wanted to get married for the second time. To a young woman. But he had no money. And so, he began pimping all of us, for cash, so he could save enough, to start his new family. All four of us… you know; we all failed in life. At seven, I often slept on the streets. My siblings are all dysfunctional. I got married, had children, but my husband left me. I’m thirty years old now. I do this to support my children, and my brothers and sister.

Trains kept passing-by. Loud express trains, rushing to far away cities: Yogyakarta, Solo, Surabaya.

“I couldn’t talk to anybody. Here, it is always woman’s fault. No matter what happens, it is woman’s fault.”

I was frozen in my seat.

“This is my story.”

“And now?” I could not think about anything else to ask.

“Now I am speaking to you.”

I stopped the car in the middle of the night. I wanted to hear a story of a woman who was working by the side of the road. And that is precisely what I got: she described to me, briefly, her life.

She did it in a simple, touchingly naïve, pure way. There was nothing unnatural in her voice.

She spoke for herself, and for millions of Indonesian women like her, too.

I cared about her, but did not know how to express it, what to say.

We spoke for a bit, about the terrible fate of women in Indonesia. About the hypocrisy of this society. But it was well after midnight, and she had to earn her living. I had to let her go.

“You will be in my film, together with your former President Gus Dur, and the greatest writer, Pramoedya Ananta Toer.”

She nodded, in a matter of fact way.

“What do you dream about?”

And that’s when her eyes filled with tears:

“I want to raise my children as a good mother; from honest work.”

I looked at the monitor of my camera. 8 minutes and few seconds had passed since I began recording. One human life, in a summary. One complex, broken human life. I bowed to her. Shook her hand. Thanked her.

“Do you have hope?”

She looked at me, deep into my eyes. Then she nodded.

“Yes!”

*****

At night, I couldn’t sleep.

I knew all about what she was talking about. My friend who works for the UNDP once explained to me, that Indonesia has one of the highest child abandonment rates in the world. And also, one of the highest amounts of sexual child abuse cases, particularly inside families; committed by family members. All these topics are taboo, and no ‘official’ study can be produced, as most women are only willing to speak ‘off the record’.

In Indonesia, after 1965, everything collapsed; was destroyed. But this downfall, and almost nothing related to it, can be discussed openly. Here, the fear of truth is omnipresent, and I will soon address this shocking issue in one of my upcoming essays.

*****

In 1979, when the pro-US Somoza’s regime collapsed and the Sandinistas took over the devastated Nicaragua, my friend, an American poet and translator, happened to be in Managua.

He was very young and confused.

He understood, theoretically, the greatness of the revolution. But he was still lacking examples.

Then, one afternoon, he saw a bus. A beat-up public bus, slowly moving towards the center of the city, while sun was setting down, behind the hills.

He told me the story, a long time ago, in New York, as I was ready to depart for Peru, to cover the so-called Dirty War:

It was the end of the week. The bus was full of girls; young women from slums. Some were barefoot. But they were dressed in their best. They were travelling to the center of the capital, to dance!

The voice of my friend broke. He was overwhelmed by his memories.

Do you understand? Before, they only went to the rich parts of the city in order to serve, to be humiliated, used; to labor for the rich. Now, they were going to those clubs that only a week ago were frequented exclusively by ‘gringos’ and local elites. They were going to dance. It was their country, suddenly. It was their city. They were free. The country belonged to them.

“This is when I understood,” he concluded, “that the revolution was right. Not because I studied Marxism, not because of some theory. But because these girls from the poor neighborhoods of Managua had suddenly gained the right to dance. They gained their right to exist; to be alive!”

*****

In Cuba, they say: “Everyone dances, or no one dances!”

Covering the world, documenting wars, conflicts, but also revolutions, I often encounter women like Risna.

Whenever countries collapse, whenever they are destroyed by savage capitalism, by religious extremism, or by subservience to imperialist powers, women suffer the most. It is almost the rule.

Most of them suffer in silence, as even their voices are being muted.

The more oppressive, regressive society gets, the more subjugated are its women.

Their humiliation, repression, suffering gets glorified as virtue. While rape, molestation, and submission are hushed up, never discussed. In countries such as Indonesia, if a woman protests and speaks about her fate, she gets ridiculed, discredited, or even thrown into prison, as has happened recently, on several well-publicized occasions.

Western hypocrisy is obvious: while everyone there is obsessed with ‘political correctness’, London, Washington and Paris are glorifying, supporting and even producing regimes which treat women worse than animals.

*****

Risna deserves to be in one of those proverbial buses which are taking women to the once exclusive clubs, so they can dance. In a rough translation of the metaphor: ‘so they could become the owners of their own fate, of their cities, and their country’.

Women like her are the women we are fighting for.

Their stories are our stories. Be they in Managua, Jakarta, Kampala, or Mumbai.

They are as significant as those stories from the war zones near Syrian Idlib, or Afghanistan, or Libya.

Not to tell such stories would convert us, revolutionary writers, into liars.

Originally published by NEO – New Eastern Outlook

Greece:  Suicide or Murder?

Pundits from the left, from the right and from the center cannot stop reporting about Greece’s misery. And rightly so because the vast majority of her people live in deep economic hardship. No hope. Unemployment is officially at 18%, with the real figure closer to 25% or 30%; pensions have been reduced about ten times since Syriza – the Socialist Party – took power in 2015 and loaded the country with debt and austerity. In the domain of public services, everything that has any value has been privatized and sold to foreign corporations, oligarchs, or, naturally, banks. Hospitals, schools, public transportation – even some beaches – have been privatized and made unaffordable for the common people.

While the pundits – always more or less the same – keep lamenting about the Greek conditions in one form or another, none of them dare offer the only solution that could have rescued Greece (and still could) – exiting the euro zone; return to their local currency and start rebuilding Greece with a local economy, built on local currency with local public banking and with a sovereign Greek central bank deciding the monetary policy that best suits Greece, and especially Greece’s recovery program. Why not? Why do they not talk about this obvious solution? Would they be censured in Greece, because the Greek oligarchy controls the media as oligarchs do around the (western part of the) globe?

Instead, foreign imposed (troika: IMF, European Central Bank (ECB) and European Commission (EC) — the latter mainly pushed by German and French banks and the Rothschild clan — austerity programs have literally put a halt on imports of affordable medication, such as like for cancer treatments and other potentially lethal illnesses. So, common people no longer get treatment. They die like flies; a horrible expression to be used for human beings. But that’s what it comes down to for people who simply do not get the treatment they humanely deserve and would have gotten under the rights of the Greek Constitution; however, they simply do not get treated because they can no longer afford medication and services from privatized health services. That is the sad but true story.

As a consequence, the suicide rate is up, due to foreign imposed (but Greek government accepted) debt and austerity, annihilating hope for terminally ill patients, as well as for pensioners whose pensions do no longer allow them to live a decent life and especially as there is no light at the end of the tunnel.

Now, these same pundits add a little air of optimism to their reporting, as the right wing New Democracy Party (ND Party) won with what they call a ‘landslide’ victory on the 7 July 2019 elections; gathering 39.6% of the votes, against only 31.53 for Syriza, the so-called socialist party, led by outgoing Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, who represents a tragedy that has allowed Greece to be plunged into this hopeless desolation. The ND won an absolute majority with 158 seats in the 300-member Greek parliament. Therefore, no coalition needed, no concessions required.

The new Prime Minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis (51), son of a former PM of the same party, in his victory speech on the evening of 7 July, vowed that Greece will “proudly” enter a post-bailout era of “jobs, security and growth”. He added that “a painful cycle has closed” and that Greece would “proudly raise its head again” on his watch.

We don’t know what this means for the average Greek citizen living a life of despair. What the “left” was unable to do – stopping the foreign imposed (but Greek accepted) bleeding of Greece; the strangulation of their country – will the right be able to reverse that trend? Does the right want to reverse that trend? Does the ND want to reverse privatization, buy back airports from Germany, water supply from the EU managed “Superfund”, and repurchase the roads from foreign concessionaires, or nationalize hospitals that were sold for a pittance and – especially – get out from austerity to allow importing crucial medication to salvage the sick and dying Greek, those who currently cannot afford treatment of their cancers and other potentially deadly diseases?

That would indeed be a step towards PM Mitsotakis’ promise to end the “painful cycle” of austerity, with import of crucial medication made affordable to those in dire need, with job creation and job security – and much more – with eventually a renewed Greek pride and Greek sovereignty. The latter would mean – finally – it’s never too late to exit the euro zone. But, that’s an illusion, a pipe-dream. Albeit  it could become a vision.

If the ND is the party of the oligarchs, the Greek oligarchs that is, those Greeks who have placed literally billions of euros outside their country in (still) secret bank accounts in Switzerland, France, Lichtenstein, Luxemburg and elsewhere, including the Cayman islands and other Caribbean tax havens, hidden not only from the Greek fiscal authorities, but also impeding that these funds could, crucially, be used for investments at home, for job creation, for creation of added value in Greece. If the ND is the party of the oligarchs, they are unlikely to make the dream of the vast majority of Greek people come true.

Worse even, these Greek oligarch-billionaires call the shots in Greece not the people, not those who according to Greek tradition and according to the Greek invention, called “democracy” (Delphi, some 2500 years ago) have democratically elected Syriza and have democratically voted against the austerity packages in July 2015. Now, that they are officially in power, they are unlikely to change their greed-driven behavior and act in favor of the Greek people. Or will they?

Because, if they do, it may eventually also benefit them, the ND Party and its adherents — a Greece that functions like a country, with happy, healthy and content people, is a Greece that retains the worldwide esteem and respect she deserves — and will, by association, develop an economy that can and will compete and trade around the world, a Greece that is an equal to others, as a sovereign nation. A dream can become a reality. It just takes visionaries.

Back to today’s reality. The Greek Bailout Referendum of July 5, 2015, was overwhelmingly rejected with 61% ‘no’ against 39% ‘yes’, meaning that almost two thirds of the Greek people would have preferred the consequences of rejecting the bailout, euphemistically called “rescue packages”, namely exiting the euro zone, and possibly, but not necessarily, the European Union.

Despite the overwhelming, democratic rejection by the people, the Tsipras government reached an agreement on 13 July 2015 – only 8 days after the vote against the bailout with the European authorities for a three-year bailout with even harsher austerity conditions than the ones rejected by voters. What went on is anybody’s guess. It looks pretty obvious, though, that “foul play” was the name of the game which could mean anything from outright and serious (life) threats to blackmail, if Tsipras would not play the game and this to the detriment of the people.

President Tsipras’ betrayal of the people resulted in three bailout packages since 2010 and up to the end of 2018, in the amount of about €310 billion (US$ 360 billion). Compare this to Hong Kong’s economy of US$ 340 billion in 2017. In that same period the Greek GDP has declined from about US$ 300 billion (€ 270 billion) in 2010 to US$ 218 billion (€ 196 billion), a reduction of 27%, hitting the middle- and lower-class people by far the hardest. This is called a rescue?

The democracy fiasco of July 2015 prompted Tsipras to call for snap elections in September 2015, hélas – he won, with a narrow margin and one of the lowest election turnouts ever in Greek postwar history; but, yes, he ‘won’. How much of it was manipulated – by now Cambridge Analytica has become a household word – so he could finish the job for the troika and the German and French banks, is pure speculation.

Today, the ND has an absolute majority in Parliament, plus the ND could ally with a number of smaller and conservative parties to pursue a “people’s dream” line policy. But they may do the opposite. Question: How much more juice is there to be sucked out of broken Greece? Of a Greece that cannot care for her people, for her desperate poor and sick, cannot provide her children with a decent education, of a Greece that belongs into the category of bankruptcy? Yes, bankruptcy, still today, after the IMF and the gnomes of the EU and the ECB predict a moderate growth rate of some 2%?  But 2% that go to whom?  Not to the people, to be sure, but to the creditors of the €310 billion.

Already in 2011, the British Lancet stated “the Greek Ministry of Health reported that the annual suicide rate has increased by 40%”, presumably since the (imposed) crisis that started in 2008. From this date forward the suicide rate must have skyrocketed, as the overall living conditions worsened exponentially. However, precise figures can no longer be easily found.

The question remains: Is the Greek population dying increasingly from diseases that could be cured, but aren’t due to austerity- and privatization-related lack of medication and health services and of suicide from desperation? Is Greece committing suicide by continuing to accept austerity and privatization of vital services, instead of liberating herself from the handcuffs of the euro and very likely the stranglehold of the EU?  Or is Greece the victim of sheer murder inflicted by a greed-driven construct of money institutions and oligarchs, who are beyond morals, beyond ethics and beyond any values of humanity? You be the judge.

• First published by the New Eastern Outlook – NEO

Why Should Iran be Cherished and Defended?

As I pen this short essay, Iran is standing against the mightiest nation on earth. It is facing tremendous danger; of annihilation even, if the world does not wake up fast, and rush to its rescue.

Stunning Iranian cities are in danger, but above all, its people: proud and beautiful, creative, formed by one of the oldest and deepest cultures on earth.

This is a reminder to the world: Iran may be bombed, devastated and injured terribly, for absolutely no reason. I repeat: there is zero rational reason for attacking Iran.

Iran has never attacked anyone. It has done nothing bad to the United States, to the United Kingdom, or even to those countries that want to destroy it immediately: Saudi Arabia and Israel.

Its only ‘crime’ is that it helped devastated Syria. And that it seriously stands by Palestine. And that it came to the rescue of many far away nations, like Cuba and Venezuela, when they were in awful need.

I am trying to choose the simplest words. No need for pirouettes and intellectual exercises.

Thousands, millions of Iranians may soon die, simply because a psychopath who is currently occupying the White House wants to humiliate his predecessor, who signed the nuclear deal. This information was leaked by his own staff. This is not about who is a bigger gangster. It is about the horrible fact that antagonizing Iran has absolutely nothing to do with Iran itself.

*****

Which brings the question to my mind: in what world are we really living? Could this be tolerable? Can the world just stand by, idly, and watch how one of the greatest countries on earth gets violated by aggressive, brutal forces, without any justification?

I love Iran! I love its cinema, poetry, food. I love Teheran. And I love the Iranian people with their polite, educated flair. I love their thinkers. I don’t want anything bad to happen to them.

You know, you were, of course, never told by the Western media, but Iran is a socialist country. It professes a system that could be defined as “socialism with Iranian characteristics”. Like China, Iran is one of the most ancient nations on earth, and it is perfectly capable of creating and developing its own economic and social system.

Iran is an extremely successful nation. Despite the embargos and terrible intimidation from the West, it still sits at the threshold of the “Very high human development”, defined by UNDP; well above such darlings of the West as Ukraine, Colombia or Thailand.

It clearly has an internationalist spirit: it shows great solidarity with the countries that are being battered by Western imperialism, including those in Latin America.

*****

I have no religion. In Iran, most of the people do. They are Shi’a Muslims. So what? I do not insist that everyone thinks like me. And my Iranian friends, comrades, brothers and sisters have never insisted that I feel or think the same way as they do. They are not fanatics, and they do not make people who are not like them, feel excluded. We are different and yet so similar. We fight for a better world. We are internationalists. We respect each other. We respect others.

Iran does not want to conquer anyone. But when its friends are attacked, it offers a helping hand. Like to Syria.

In the past, it was colonized by the West, and its democratic government was overthrown, in 1953, simply because it wanted to use its natural resources for improving the lives of its people. The morbid dictatorship of Shah Pahlavi was installed from abroad. And then, later, again, a terrible war unleashed against Iran by Iraq, with the full and candid support of the West.

I promised to make this essay short. There is no time for long litanies. And, in fact, this is not really an essay at all: it is an appeal.

As this goes to print, many people in Iran are anxious. They do not understand what they have done to deserve this; the sanctions, the US aircraft carriers sailing near their shores, and deadly B-52s deployed only dozens of miles away.

Iranians are brave, proud people. If confronted, if attacked, they will fight. And they will die with dignity, if there is no other alternative.

But why? Why should they fight and why should they die?

Those of you, my readers, living in the West: Study; study quickly. Then ask this question to your government: “What is the reason for this terrible scenario?”

Rent Iranian films; they are everywhere, winning all festivals. Read Iranian poets. Go eat Iranian food. Search for images of both historic and modern Iranian cities. Look at the faces of the people. Do not allow this to happen. Do not permit psychopathic reasoning to ruin millions of lives.

There was no real reason for the wars against Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and Syria. The West perpetrated the most terrible imperialist interventions, ruining entire nations.

But Iran – it all goes one step further. It’s a total lack of logic and accountability on the part of the West.

Here, I declare my full support to the people of Iran, and to the country that has been giving countless cultural treasures to the world, for millennia.

It is because I have doubts that if Iran is destroyed, the human race could survive.

First published by New Eastern Outlook (NEO)