Watch John Pilger discuss the claims of Theresa May, Syria, Iran, Korea and the silencing of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
Now, during our catastrophically idiotic war in Vietnam, the music kept getting better and better and better. We lost that war, by the way. Order couldn’t be restored in Indochina until the people kicked us out. That war only made billionaires out of millionaires. Today’s war is making trillionaires out of billionaires. Now I call that progress.
― Kurt Vonnegut, A Man Without a Country
These ain’t popular topics, for sure, brother/sister American. You see, the entire homeless problem in America is a bigger problem of the almost homeless, the disposed, the enslaved youth heading to State U, the Amazing Theft of Wages (Tax Day, Man), Theft of the Commons by Bureaucrats Working the Soft Shoe Corporate Game — kleptocracy (a government ruled by thieves), and representative government has been rejected in favor of a kakistocracy (a government run by the most unprincipled citizens that panders to the worst vices in our nature: greed, violence, hatred, prejudice and war).
There is no skip in the beat with Boss Tweet, fawning over military hardware hustled to Saudi Arabia, Israel, the entire Empire Protecting Planet. This fawning this fourth-grade thinker does is a lot like his days at Studio 51 or the Playboy Mansions or the Pageants where his spittle lubricated his huffing and puffing orgasmic dead space between his ears. He is the leader of the pack, sad-sack of a playboy and land baron, thief, who gets the book deals, TV contracts, cameos in movies, his brand plastered all over Madison Avenue – make no bones about it, Trump is America. He is Dollar Store plastic and Neiman Marcus glitter. He is the freewheeling liberal lover of money and play things and parties, and he is the mean-assed inexperienced one, yellow belly, calling for war, a hater of soldiers, a hater of my people I serve daily – military veterans, not retired NCOs and Officers, but mostly those ending up in the Poverty Drafts and some drafted in Vietnam, Korea. A few years in and bam — total physical and mental calamity!
All PTSD-living, poverty people (most are poor). Trump would lambaste my work serving as social worker and finder of funds, and he’d laugh off PTSD as “nothing but an entitlement dream in your white cracker and people of color case loads’ heads.” Trump or his filthy generals, all of them, even cabinet-level creeps running all systems foul in DC, they hate the poor, the misbegotten, the broken, the addicted, the mentally cracked, the physically cleaved.
Make no bones about it, gents and dames, Trump is Obama is Clinton is Reagan. These people would love to see Soylent Green is People scaled up, now, and they openly love the $5 a day prison labor, and they love the stock maximization of everything private – drugs, prisons, health care, education, water-sewer-lights, and every bureaucratic thing that makes this tax time a time of death and loathing in a time of absolute penury cholera.
There is one hell of a lot of Non-Trumpers — those oh-so racist, rotten to the core Democrats or liberals or whatever creepy foodie-hot sauna-farmers’ market going folk that gentrify, who end up as WASP-Jew heads of every-self-loathing non-profit – absolutely holding onto the glory of the dollar, of the endless jujitsu that is standing for the anthem and going on and on about a few Trump loyalists and Alt-Right scoundrels being bad hombres too. Remember, these whites are voting against the people, the 80 percent, no matter how many pet projects they may undertake or scramble for Sundance documentary glory or big-time book glory, and they can go onto Amy Goodman’s show, talk the talk, but in the end, the people who should be talking or yelling or attacking, the very victims of the theft – grand theft of agency-past-future-progeny – they never get on that “liberal media.”
Make no bones about it, Democrats, with or without life coaches, all solar-powered up, bamboo floors and kids doing secular missions in third world depravity before going onto college and those non-profits, they are voting for war, voting for more jobs in the death industries, more and more work holding up the death machine of capitalism that eats at the very soul of their own, yet, for the time being, these 5 and 15-percenters, they sigh and get all Rachel Maddow like when they think they are caring about another black woman in jail, shackled during labor, or when some deranged (mentally challenged) black youth jaywalking gets mowed down by the police. The police – ahh, the variations on a theme when we say police, as in the HR departments, the school boards, the city and country code enforcers, the law firms, the forced arbiters, the endless thuggery of tax-levy-fee-fine-GAT-toll-penalty-surcharge makers and collectors, the endless Little Eichmann lever pullers and auditors, all those regulators and deregulators, all those heads of the departments and sub-agencies of all those alphabet soup Government Agencies – the grim reaper of compliant consumers, the toasty 15 and 20 percenters who make either a killing or a cool million from the depravity of these systems of usury and penury and PayDay loan-sharking.
Okay-okay – heroes and villains, part one:
Hero in Merced, California, way past mid-sixties, Joe, who has worked the land as an agricultural purveyor, and he’s seen water rights go the wrong way, seen the endless corporate theft in his neck of the Northern California woods ramp up yearly. He knows the crimes of school boards, the crimes of the big businesses, big ag, big energy, big everything.
I’ve been in communication with him for several months, and his wisdom and ire, his history, and his perspective over time, and his heart and soul, and his humor, man, well, this is a hero. He just sent me some links to Counterpunch and Global Research and came up with this quick reaction, triggered by Tax Day, and comments on a great writer’s works, stuff that has been published at Counterpunch and Dissident Voice to name just two – John W. Whitehead. Here’s Joe’s take on Whitehead’s most recent:
An electorate as indoctrinated as the American people are by corporate media would have a hard time distinguishing between shit and a poor grade of mush. This country’s citizens have never experienced war except for the fantasy war that Hooligan-wood and the latest X-box crap-app subjects them to 24/7. The public’s minds have been Disney-fied and fried by corporate media. The sad thing is that even Europe has few citizens left that remember the horrors of war. I’m afraid we are going to have to relive that lesson all over again. Maybe after the idiot populace of this country experiences the ravages of war right here in the land of easy credit, fantasy and denial, they won’t be so stupid as to support idiots that lead them into this misery. I don’t hold out much hope though. This country has been electing these corrupt war mongering bastards from both parties as long as I can remember. I don’t think it will change until the American public is walking around with their flesh dripping off their bones. Even then the public is so indoctrinated with this endless military crap brought to them as patriotism they will still be clamoring for revenge and more war. Stupid, ignorant and arrogant rules in this country, whether it be from Democrats or Republicans.
I hope some of the wildlife I hold so dear makes it out alive.
Hero, versus villain – I’d say anyone looking to bullseye Joe for being cantankerous, for being old and critical, for pointing out the futility of a country prostituted by both parties and ravaged by the stupidity of its populace, for having a keen sense of humor (not this one blurb, but he has some hilarity in this series he’s been writing – Letters to Cousin Linda) that person is the villain.
Hero – Three strikes and you are out. Now, out at age 64, African American, in prison for using drugs, and, whoops, when you use drugs, well, the excess is sometimes bartered off, traded and sold. Black man with cocaine equals the villains’ mark – criminal courts, public defenders, bail bondsmen, lawyers, municipal departments, prison systems, PayDay crap, probation officers.
This man is working at my shelter, a veteran, though he doesn’t pull that card much, and he is doing some amazing work making music, electronic stuff, sampled and using his own keyboard. There is no way in hell this fellow isn’t a hero: he is looking to reconnect with his sons and daughters in California. He ran the streets of Portland, and the villains – cops, judges, prosecutors, the entire carnival that is the criminal injustice system and its auxiliaries, including some social service non-profits – are a constant reminder to me that the white class – whatever that is – has ensconced itself into this people-killing, African-American defiling, people-of-color-community-imploding monster.
My hero and I talk about the way of the black man, the way of the white racists, this supremacist shit-hole that is America, and he calls me his advocate, his rare white man on the side of real justice friend.
Hero, 78, calling himself the gravedigger’s son, grew up in Massachusetts, near Boston, and he’s been a vagabond, man, and I am helping him get his studio apartment, getting him some free furniture, helping him think outside the meth-amphetamine box. Fucking 78, and he relapsed, recently, one day bender, and, he’s got COPD and hallucinates – talks about the people around me he sees and I do not.
He’s well-read, not college educated, and grew up in an Irish Catholic family, and he’s been to Ireland and parts of Europe. He hates the military, and talks about being in Korea, and seeing the shit hole America created in both zones. He is Irish and socialist, but he has been wandering the world, cook here and dishwasher there. Imagine, he’s been wandering the country and the world for more than 40 years, and, alas, Portland is his home.
He’s been throughout the Pacific Northwest, to encampments of hard-living people in the Cascades, living hard and off the grid. Story teller, gift of gab, and he’s the typical detritus of America – whether Trump or Hillary, whether young or old. People do not listen to him.
Villains? Think of the thousands of people who have shut off when he’s been around. Think of the hundreds of people lording over him in the social services and government agencies. Think of the hundreds that look right through him on public transportation or when he’s at the side of the road.
A dignity in drifting, and he’s kipped in more than just a few cemeteries around the country and the world. He attended a poetry workshop I was holding, and his memory is amazing, and his son of the gravedigger narratives are more amazing. Pure poetry!
Villains – not one soul would want his stories published. The American attention span is all hooked into Zombie-Land, faux memoir writing, Marvel Comics thinking, absolute shit-hole narratives and fiction.
Hero – Irish American socialist who questions every step of the military might of this messed up country.
Villains are the takers, the judgers, the ticket givers, the processors, the CPAs, the balance sheet coveters, the liberal social services folk who talk like HR people and who know shit what it’s like being old or imprisoned or full of meth nightmares. It’s the villains who soft-shoe through the DSM-V and saunter through workshop after conference on what it is to be trauma-informed social workers, or what harm reduction principles are, or what it is to be middling people and middling social workers.
Heroes are the ones that live it out in tents, on the road, under overpasses, who crunch down in old cars and pick-up trucks, who cardboard surf in warehouses and in friends’ garages. These people are heroes in the sense that my social services non-profit believes everyone who served their country in the armed forces is a hero.
Heroes know that’s bullshit. Golden ticket for what? So, that family of four, mother with children, mother who works two jobs and has friends watch the kids, whose husband booked – yes, military veteran dude – so she’s not worthy of the golden ticket because she sweated over hamburgers and cleaned up feces of the rich and decaying, or she turned beds and sheets at the multi-billionaire’s chain of hotels?
Heroes and villains. Not difficult to spot the true hero, the survivor, the ones with a sense of dignity or perspective or time on the road, versus the ones who cut homeless programs, who vote against more food stamps, who demand drug testing for the shit pittance one might get in benefits.
Villains who gutted social security and gutted the post office and who closed the libraries and who Dread Scott-ed the world, who attack the good schooling public schools used to give. Villains are the militarists, Lords of War, the heathens and devil worshipers in the military industrial complex.
I am working with veterans who have been shot up with bullets, shrapnel, chemicals, toxins, propaganda, debasement, demands. Soldiers who were put on military bases/forts where the water is so bad, so polluted by solvents from military machinery and laundry (dry cleaning) that the Veterans Administration even has a name for the Parkinson’s — Camp Lejeune Parkinson’s: various chemicals, including the VOCs (volatile organic compounds) known as PCE (Tetrachloroethylene aka Perchloroethylene), TCE (Trichloroethylene), DCE (Dichloroethylene), Vinyl Chloride and BTEX (Benzene, Toluene, Ethylbenzene, and Xylene). These chemicals are either known or suspected human carcinogens. Many Marines, Sailors, their families and loyal civilian employees have been affected by the contamination in various ways including, but not limited to: liver cancer, kidney cancer, breast cancer, bladder cancer, ovarian cancer, prostate cancer, cervical cancer, lung cancer, leukemia, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, liver disease, miscarriages, birth defects (cleft palate, heart defects, Choanal atresia, neural tube defects, low birth weight, and small for gestational age),etc.
Heroes are the one’s shaking so hard at 65 they can’t even sign their names on forms that will get them subsidized housing. Heroes who are homeless, misbegotten, broken, incapable of navigating systems and job markets and economic hoops with Parkinson’s and the other effects associated with the decay caused by the military pollutants.
Villains? Just imagine the cadre of corporatists, the protectionists, the Little Eichmann’s, anti-whistle blowers, the lock-step ones fighting the science behind the disease and destruction and decay and denuding of humanity and ecologies because of that profit margin, and that grim reaper’s scythe chopping off the heads of us, the 80 percent. How difficult is it to see those lip-less white men and women, hear their ameliorating, their HR bullshit, listen to their shallow and pedestrian articulation?
Facts – the systematic lack of affordable housing and the Draconian limited scale of housing assistance programs all contribute to the current housing crisis and to homelessness. Foreclosures? In the hundreds of thousands each year! Result? Homeless.
The 2008 recession forced two million more people into homelessness over the following two years, according to estimates by The National Alliance to End Homelessness.
One or two out of 50—or about 2.5 million—American children are homeless each year, according to a 2009 study by the National Center on Family Homelessness. These are nine year old stats.
Here are some of the causes of homelessness:
For persons in families, the three most commonly cited causes, according to a 2008 U.S. Conference of Mayors study are:
• Lack of affordable housing
For singles, the three most commonly cited causes of homelessness are:
• Substance abuse
• Lack of affordable housing
• Mental illness
Veterans are more likely than other populations to be homeless.
We are talking around 40% of homeless men being veterans, although veterans comprise only 34 percent of the general adult male population, according to research on veterans by the National Coalition for Homeless. On any given night, 200,000 veterans are homeless.
Do wages count? The National Low Income Housing Coalition estimates that the 2017 Housing Wage is $21.21 per hour, exceeding the $16.38 hourly wage earned by the average renter by almost $5.00 an hour. This $16.38 an hour exceeds wages earned by low income renter households. In fact, the hourly wage needed for renters hoping to afford a two-bedroom rental home is almost twice ($13.96) higher than the national minimum wage of $7.25.
What about the food insecure. It’s 51 million people in the United States living in food insecure households, 15 million of whom are children. While the magnitude of the problem is clear, national and even state estimates of food insecurity can mask the nuances that exist at the local level.
What is the real unemployment figure for US of A?
The U-3 unemployment rate is the monthly headline number. The U-6 unemployment rate is the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) broadest unemployment measure, including short-term discouraged and other marginally-attached workers as well as those forced to work part-time because they cannot find full-time employment.
The ShadowStats Alternate Unemployment Rate for March 2018 is 21.7%.
Heroes and Villains? Rage and reckless indignation. Anger and attack, those are the hero’s tools, and the villain’s tools are based on hierarchy of consumption, the power of the people who have and the impotence of those who do not have.
What is it to have anything, that’s what many of my heroes ask, those who are homeless, on $1,200.00 a month for Social Security? Imagine this world with heroes. One hero, oddly, is the lady doing my taxes. She despised what has happened to this country, and she knows the true figures for saving and investing in a social security system – average person would come out at age 65 with $250,000 or $500,000 in his or her retirement account based on social security deductions. If this fact came out, parsed and discussed daily at the water cooler and forklift bay, we’d be pounding constantly how this country is one giant theft-creating/theft-inducing continuing criminal organization . . . then would more people revolt?
Whitehead: All of those nefarious government deeds that you read about in the paper every day: those are your tax dollars at work. It’s your money that allows for government agents to spy on your emails, your phone calls, your text messages, and your movements. It’s your money that allows out-of-control police officers to burst into innocent people’s homes, or probe and strip search motorists on the side of the road, or shoot an unarmed person. And it’s your money that leads to innocent Americans across the country being prosecuted for innocuous activities such as raising chickens at home, growing vegetable gardens, and trying to live off the grid.
Just remember the next time you see a news story that makes your blood boil, whether it’s a child being kicked out of school for shooting an imaginary arrow, or a homeowner being threatened with fines for building a pond in his backyard, remember that it is your tax dollars that are paying for these injustices.
So what are you going to do about it?
There was a time in our history when our forebears said “enough is enough” and stopped paying their taxes to what they considered an illegitimate government. They stood their ground and refused to support a system that was slowly choking out any attempts at self-governance, and which refused to be held accountable for its crimes against the people. Their resistance sowed the seeds for the revolution that would follow.
Unfortunately, as I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, in the 200-plus years since we established our own government, we’ve let bankers, turncoats and number-crunching bureaucrats muddy the waters and pilfer the accounts to such an extent that we’re back where we started.
Once again, we’ve got a despotic regime with an imperial ruler doing as they please.
Heroes are students trying to solve this shit-hole’s problems, hitting the books, and attempting to coalesce around strong thinking, critical solutions-generating thinking, and holism. Villains are the ledger counters, the money changers, the actualizers of debt.
Nasser: The burden weighing like a nightmare, to coin a phrase, on 44 million indebted current and former students will haunt these people for a good portion of their lives. The average student debtor graduates owing close to $34,000 and is projected to spend 21 years paying it off. At present, the average monthly payment for those between 30 and 40 years old is $351.00. It is not uncommon for repayment obligations to be borne by underwriters of these loans, typically the primary borrower’s parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles. Taking these co-signers into consideration, we have about 100 million people adversely affected, directly or indirectly, by the difficulty very many have repaying these loans.
Because the serving of warrants and jailing of debtors has begun picking up steam in recent years, and the financial situation of these potential prisoners has been gradually deteriorating, we have reason to expect that student-loan debtors could come to make up a significant portion of the growing ranks of those threatened with debt prison. Arrest warrants have been issued in California, Florida, Minnesota, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts and Texas. Arrests have been heaviest in California, Texas and Minnesota. In many cases there was no announcement of court orders or that the debtor was being sued. U.S. marshals in Minnesota conducted “Operation Anaconda Squeeze” to arrest student-loan debtors who had failed to appear in court for a “debtor’s examination.” Whether they had received prior notice was often thought by the court to be beside the point. As with the cases described earlier, often defendants are ordered to pay much more than the amount of the original loan. A Texas man, who received no prior notice about the debt or the court case brought by a private collection agency on behalf of Uncle Sam, was arrested by seven armed U.S. marshals for an unpaid $1,500 student loan he had borrowed 29 years earlier. He was ordered to pay, after interest and court fees, more than twice the amount of the original loan. $1,258.60 was added to reimburse the marshals for his arrest.
There is a certain bullishness in French circles these days, even if there was an initial attempt, with the Macron government, to calm matters down. The need to assert Gallic might in the face of brutality has again surfaced; and has a familiar ring to it. With Syria’s Bashar al-Assad getting more comfortable with military progress, officials in the United States, France and Britain are chewing finger nails and churning out policy papers of concern.
For them, Syria remains a chess piece they never quite controlled, an entity filled with failed “free” rebel fighters and packed with such agents of spoliation as murderous jihadi groups. But one group’s murderous antics are another’s decent balancing act in terms of strategy.
Even before US President Donald Trump decided to huff and issue the order that lead to the launch of 105 missiles from the triumvirate, France’s President Emmanuel Macron was being egged on to do something. He was also egging himself on to target the Assad regime for its alleged use of chemical weapons, despite having previously suggested that there was no “legitimate successor” to the Syrian President.
This impulse to punish, to instigate the use of force for the specific purpose of correcting a supposed violation of international norms was already being flagged last summer. “When you set out red lines, if you are unable to force them, then you decide to be weak.”
The Syrian imbroglio has not been an easy one to define for Macron. His predecessors – Nicolas Sarkozy and François Hollande were of the more traditional Gallic mould of intervention and interference, finding untrammelled sovereignty in North Africa and the Middle East a bit difficult to stomach. Macron, at least initially, found the nightmare of intervening in Libya part of a neo-conservative impulse, and issued that sober warning that failed states were hardly in France’s best interest.
On the issue of chemical weapons, Hollande was punitively clear, instructing the French Air Force in the aftermath of the Ghouta attacks in August 2013 to ready for strikes on Syrian command centres linked to the attack. But he pinned such a move on joint US support. Having issued a “red line” ultimatum, US President Barack Obama signalled his wish to leave the strike party.
This instance of an ally backing down infuriated the already irritable French grouping. Assad was to be rid of, but to do so would require whole-hearted backing from Washington’s war machine. France’s foreign minister Laurent Fabius was all rather gung-ho about it: something needed to be done, and not getting one’s hands dirty was a sign of fatal weakness.
His interpretation of the consequences arising from such vacillation were broad and inventive. By not striking Assad, claimed Fabius in a radio interview on Europe 1 in February 2016, the Western alliance bore witness to “a turning point, not only in the crisis in the Middle East, but also for Ukraine, Crime and the World.” Those horrible Russians, again, with their insatiable belligerence, their territorial hunger!
Macron is now marking himself up as a true realist, a sombre assessor of more limited aims. Less than a neo-colonial, he is a pseudo-neo-colonial, still keen to intervene in theatres of traditional French interest.
One recent example stands out: establishing a French troop presence to shadow Kurdish ambitions within the Syrian Democratic Forces from the prying moves of Turkey in north-eastern Syria while also combating Islamic State ambitions. “He assured the SDF,” went a statement from the French President in March, “of France’s support for the stabilization of the security zone in north-east Syria, within the framework of an inclusive and balanced governance, to prevent any resurgence of Islamic State.”
He also claims to have persuaded his US counterpart to remain in Syria, despite repeated mutterings and tweets to the contrary. “Ten days ago,” claimed Macron in an interview, “President Trump was saying ‘the United States should withdraw from Syria.’ We convinced him it was necessary to stay for the long term.”
Even more of an achievement, he felt it worth noting that he had been the voice of reason for a rampant Trump itching to strike. Macron “persuaded him that we needed to limit strikes to chemical weapons [sites], after things got a little carried away over tweets.”
The US interpretation on this as unsurprising as it is predictable. “The US mission has not changed,” came White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders. Trump had “been clear that he wants US forces to come home as quickly as possible.” Trump reiterated that sense in his Friday speech to the nation. “We cannot purge the world of evil, or act everywhere there is tyranny.” He looked “forward to the day when we can bring our warriors home.” Macron might have been reading different smoke signals, even if there was some smoke to read.
The battle over Syria as a matter of “long term” garrisons suggests a very important point for Macron’s strategy. While Russia continues its customary backing of the government of the day, the French, with moderate support from the UK and even more moderate support from Trump, are seeking a garrison presence in some form – call them what you like: specialists, experts or just plain saboteurs – to keep Syria in orbit. For them, Assad and his Russian backers cannot be permitted a free hand.
As has become a standard operating procedure, an array of Western environmental NGOs, advocates of indigenous rights and liberal-left alternative media cover up the US role in attempts to overturn the anti-imperialist and anti-neoliberal governments of Rafael Correa in Ecuador and Evo Morales in Bolivia.
This NACLA article is a recent excellent example of many. Bolivia’s TIPNIS (Territorio Indígena y Parque Nacional Isiboro Secure) dispute arose over the Evo Morales government’s project to complete a road through the park, opposed by some indigenous and environmental groups.
As is NACLA modus operandi, the article says not one word about US and right-wing funding and coordination with the indigenous and environmental groups behind the TIPNIS anti-highway protests. (This does not delegitimize the protests, but it does deliberately mislead people about the issues involved).
In doing so, these kinds of articles cover up US interventionist regime change plans, be that their intention or not.
NACLA is not alone in what is in fact apologetics for US interventionism. Include the Guardian, UpsideDownWorld, Amazon Watch, so-called “Marxist” Jeffery Webber (and here), Jacobin, ROAR, Intercontinentalcry, Avaaz, In These Times, in a short list of examples. We can add to this simply by picking up any articles about the protests in Bolivia’s TIPNIS (or oil drilling in Ecuador’s Yasuni during Rafael Correa’s presidency) and see what they say about US funding of protests, if they even mention it.
This is not simply an oversight, it is a cover-up.
What this Liberal Left Media Covers Up
On the issue of the TIPNIS highway, we find on numerous liberal-left alternative media and environmental websites claiming to defend the indigenous concealing that:
(a) The leading indigenous group of the TIPNIS 2011-2012 protests was being funded by USAID. The Confederation of Indigenous Peoples of the Bolivian East (CIDOB) had no qualms about working with USAID — it boasted on its website that it received training programs from USAID. CIDOB president Adolfo Chavez, thanked the “information and training acquired via different programs financed by external collaborators, in this case USAID”.
(b) The 2011 TIPNIS march was coordinated with the US Embassy, specifically Eliseo Abelo. His phone conversations with the march leaders – some even made right before the march set out — were intercepted by the Bolivian counter-espionage agency and made public.
(c) “The TIPNIS marchers were openly supported by right wing Santa Cruz agrobusiness interests and their main political representatives, the Santa Cruz governorship and Santa Cruz Civic Committee.” In June 2011 indigenous deputies and right wing parties in the Santa Cruz departmental council formed an alliance against the MAS (Movement for Socialism, Evo Morales’s party). CIDOB then received a $3.5 million grant by the governorship for development projects in its communities.
Over a year after the TIPNIS protests, one of the protest leaders announced he was joining a right-wing, anti-Evo Morales political party.
(d) The protest leaders of the TIPNIS march supported REDD (Reduce Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation). The Avaaz petition (below) criticizing Evo Morales for his claimed anti-environmental actions also covered this up. As far back as 2009 “CIDOB leaders were participating there in a USAID-promoted workshop to talk up the imperialist-sponsored REDD project they were pursuing together with USAID-funded NGOs.”
REDD was a Western “environmental” program seeking to privatize forests by converting them into “carbon offsets” that allow Western corporations to continue polluting. That REDD would give Western NGOs and these indigenous groups funds for monitoring forests in their areas.
(e)These liberal-left alternative media and environmental NGOs falsely presented the TIPNIS conflict as one between indigenous/environmentalist groups against the Evo Morales government (e.g. the TIPNIS highway was “a project universally[!] condemned by local indigenous tribes and urban populations alike”). Fred Fuentes pointed out that more than 350 Bolivian organizations, including indigenous organizations and communities, even within TIPNIS, supported the proposed highway.
CONISUR (Consejo de Indígenas del Sur), consisting of a number of indigenous and peasant communities within TIPNIS, backed by Bolivia’s three largest national indigenous campesino organizations, organized a march to support of the road. They argued that the highway is essential to integrating Bolivia’s Amazonia with the rest of the country, as well as providing local communities with access to basic services and markets.
The overwhelming majority of people in the West who know about the TIPNIS protests, or the Yasuni protests in Ecuador, where a similar division between indigenous groups took place, never learned either from the liberal-left media or the corporate media, that indigenous groups marched in support of the highway or in support of oil drilling.
Therefore, this liberal-left media is not actually defending “the indigenous.” They are choosing sides within indigenous ranks, choosing the side that is funded and influenced by the US government.
(f) The TIPNIS conflict is falsely presented as Evo Morales wanting to build a highway through the TIPNIS wilderness (“cutting it in half” as they dramatically claim). There are in fact two roads that exist there now, which will be paved and connected to each other. Nor was it wilderness: 20,000 settlers lived there by 2010.
(g) Anti-highway march leaders actually defended industrial-scale logging within TIPNIS. Two logging companies operated 70,000 hectares within the national park and have signed 20-year contracts with local communities.
(h) They often fail to note that the TIPNIS marchers, when they reached La Paz, sought to instigate violence, demanding Evo Morales removal. Their plot was blocked by mobilization of local indigenous supporters of Evo’s government.
If we do not read Fred Fuentes in Green Left Weekly, we don’t find most of this information. Now, it is true that some of the media articles did mention that there were also TIPNIS protests and marches demanding the highway be built. Some do mention USAID, but phrase it as “Evo Morales claimed that those protesting his highway received USAID funding.”
Avaaz Petition Attacking Evo Morales over TIPNIS
The TIPNIS campaign, which became a tool in the US regime change strategy, was taken up in a petition by Avaaz. It included 61 signing groups. Only two from Bolivia! US signers included Amazon Watch, Biofuelwatch, Democracy Center, Food and Water Watch, Global Exchange, NACLA, Rainforest Action Network. Whether they knew it, whether they wanted to know it, they signed on to a false account of the TIPNIS conflict, placed the blame on the Bolivian government, target of US regime change, and hid the role of the US.
US collaborators in Bolivia and Ecuador are painted as defenders of free expression, defenders of nature, defenders of the indigenous. The US government’s “talking points” against the progressive ALBA bloc countries have worked their way into liberal-left alternative media, which echo the attacks on these governments by organizations there receiving US funds. That does not mean Amazon Watch, Upside Down World or NACLA are themselves funded by the US government – if it somehow exculpates them that they do this work for free. Even worse, much of this propaganda against Evo and Correa appears only in the liberal-left alternative press, what we consider our press.
The USAID budget for Latin America is said to be $750 million, but estimates show that the funding may total twice that. Maria Augusta Calle of Ecuador’s National Assembly, said in 2015 the US Congress allocated $2 billion to destabilize targeted Latin American countries.
This information, how much money it is, what organizations in the different countries receive it, how it is spent, ought to be a central focus of any liberal-left alternative media purporting to stand up for the oppressed peoples of the Americas.
Yet, as Fuentes points out: “Overwhelmingly, solidarity activists uncritically supported the anti-highway march. Many argued that only social movements — not governments — can guarantee the success of [Bolivia’s] process of change…. with most articles written by solidarity activists, they] downplay the role of United States imperialism…. Others went further, denying any connection between the protesters and US imperialism.”
Why do they let themselves become conveyer belts for US regime change propaganda?
Why did this liberal-left media and NGOs let themselves become conveyor belts for US propaganda for regime change, legitimizing this US campaign to smear the Evo Morales government?
Some of it lies in the liberalish refusal to admit that all international issues can only be understood in the context of the role and the actions of the US Empire. As if conflicts related to countries the US deems hostile to its interests can be understood without taking the US role into account. Some liberal-left writers and groups do understand this, just as they do understand they may risk their positions and funding by looking to closely into it.
It seems easier to not see the role the Empire plays and simply present a liberal-left “critique” of the pluses and minuses of some progressive government targeted by the US. That is how these alternative media sources end up actually advocating for indigenous groups and environmental NGOs which are US and corporate funded. They even criticize countries for defending national sovereignty by shutting down these non-governmental organizations, what Bolivian Vice-President Linera exposes as “foreign government financed organizations” operating in their countries.
Some of it lies in the widely held anti-authoritarian feeling in the US that social movements “from below” are inherently good and that the government/the state is inherently bad. The reporting can be informative on social movements in Honduras, Guatemala, Mexico, Colombia where the people struggle against state repression. But when these social movements in Ecuador or Bolivia were able to win elections and gain hold of some real state power, reporting soon becomes hostile and misleading. “Support social movements when they struggle against governmental power; oppose them once they win government power,” they seem to say. Their reporting slides into disinformation, undermining our solidarity with other struggles, and covering up US regime change efforts. Upside Down World is an excellent example of this.
Some of it lies in what many who call themselves “left” still have not come to terms with: their own arrogant white attitude they share with Western colonizers and present day ruling elites: we know better than you what is good for you, we are the best interpreters and defenders of your socialism, your democracy, your human rights. They repeatedly critique real or imagined failures of progressive Third World governments – targets of the US.
Genuine solidarity with the peoples of the Third World means basing yourself in opposition to the Empire’s interference and exposing how it attempts to undermine movements seeking to break free from the Western domination.
Some of it lies in deep-rooted white racist paternalism in their romanticizing the indigenous as some “noble savage” living at one with nature in some Garden of Eden. Providing these people with schools, health clinics, modern conveniences we have, is somehow felt not to be in their best interests.
A serious analysis of a Third World country must begin with the role the West has played. To not point out imperialism’s historic and continuing exploitive role is simply dishonest, it is apologetics, it shows a basic lack of human feeling for the peoples of the Third World.
A function of corporate media is to conceal Western pillaging of Third World countries, to cheerlead efforts to restore neocolonial-neoliberal governments to power. However, for liberal-left media and organizations to do likewise, even if halfway, is nothing other than supporting imperialist interference.
“In that dramatic scene on Calvary’s hill three men were crucified. We must never forget that all three were crucified for the same crime — the crime of extremism. Two were extremists for immorality, and thus fell below their environment. The other, Jesus Christ, was an extremist for love, truth and goodness, and thereby rose above his environment. Perhaps …the nation and the world are in dire need of creative extremists.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.
Just as police states have arisen throughout history, there have also been individuals or groups of individuals who have risen up to challenge the injustices of their age.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer risked his life to undermine the tyranny at the heart of Nazi Germany.
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn challenged the soul-destroying gulags of the Soviet Union.
Martin Luther King Jr. called America on the carpet for its color-coded system of racial segregation and warmongering.
And then there was Jesus Christ, an itinerant preacher and revolutionary activist, who not only died challenging the police state of his day—namely, the Roman Empire—but provided a blueprint for standing up to tyranny that would be followed by those, religious and otherwise, who came after him.
A radical nonconformist who challenged authority at every turn, Jesus was a far cry from the watered-down, corporatized, simplified, gentrified, sissified vision of a meek creature holding a lamb that most modern churches peddle. In fact, he spent his adult life speaking truth to power, challenging the status quo of his day, and pushing back against the abuses of the Roman Empire.
Those living through this present age of militarized police, SWAT team raids, police shootings of unarmed citizens, roadside strip searches, and invasive surveillance might feel as if these events are unprecedented, the characteristics of a police state and its reasons for being are no different today than they were in Jesus’ lifetime: control, power and money.
Much like the American Empire today, the Roman Empire of Jesus’ day was characterized by secrecy, surveillance, a widespread police presence, a citizenry treated like suspects with little recourse against the police state, perpetual wars, a military empire, martial law, and political retribution against those who dared to challenge the power of the state.
As I point out in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, a police state extends far beyond the actions of law enforcement. In fact, a police state “is characterized by bureaucracy, secrecy, perpetual wars, a nation of suspects, militarization, surveillance, widespread police presence, and a citizenry with little recourse against police actions.”
Indeed, the police state in which Jesus lived and its striking similarities to modern-day America are beyond troubling.
Secrecy, surveillance and rule by the elite. As the chasm between the wealthy and poor grew wider in the Roman Empire, the ruling class and the wealthy class became synonymous, while the lower classes, increasingly deprived of their political freedoms, grew disinterested in the government and easily distracted by “bread and circuses.” Much like America today, with its lack of government transparency, overt domestic surveillance, and rule by the rich, the inner workings of the Roman Empire were shrouded in secrecy, while its leaders were constantly on the watch for any potential threats to its power. The resulting state-wide surveillance was primarily carried out by the military, which acted as investigators, enforcers, torturers, policemen, executioners and jailers. Today that role is fulfilled by the NSA, the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security and the increasingly militarized police forces across the country.
Widespread police presence. The Roman Empire used its military forces to maintain the “peace,” thereby establishing a police state that reached into all aspects of a citizen’s life. In this way, these military officers, used to address a broad range of routine problems and conflicts, enforced the will of the state. Today SWAT teams, comprised of local police and federal agents, are employed to carry out routine search warrants for minor crimes such as marijuana possession and credit card fraud.
Citizenry with little recourse against the police state. As the Roman Empire expanded, personal freedom and independence nearly vanished, as did any real sense of local governance and national consciousness. Similarly, in America today, citizens largely feel powerless, voiceless and unrepresented in the face of a power-hungry federal government. As states and localities are brought under direct control by federal agencies and regulations, a sense of learned helplessness grips the nation.
Perpetual wars and a military empire. Much like America today with its practice of policing the world, war and an over-arching militarist ethos provided the framework for the Roman Empire, which extended from the Italian peninsula to all over Southern, Western, and Eastern Europe, extending into North Africa and Western Asia as well. In addition to significant foreign threats, wars were waged against inchoate, unstructured and socially inferior foes.
Martial law. Eventually, Rome established a permanent military dictatorship that left the citizens at the mercy of an unreachable and oppressive totalitarian regime. In the absence of resources to establish civic police forces, the Romans relied increasingly on the military to intervene in all matters of conflict or upheaval in provinces, from small-scale scuffles to large-scale revolts. Not unlike police forces today, with their martial law training drills on American soil, militarized weapons and “shoot first, ask questions later” mindset, the Roman soldier had “the exercise of lethal force at his fingertips” with the potential of wreaking havoc on normal citizens’ lives.
A nation of suspects. Just as the American Empire looks upon its citizens as suspects to be tracked, surveilled and controlled, the Roman Empire looked upon all potential insubordinates, from the common thief to a full-fledged insurrectionist, as threats to its power. The insurrectionist was seen as directly challenging the Emperor. A “bandit,” or revolutionist, was seen as capable of overturning the empire, was always considered guilty and deserving of the most savage penalties, including capital punishment. Bandits were usually punished publicly and cruelly as a means of deterring others from challenging the power of the state. Jesus’ execution was one such public punishment.
Acts of civil disobedience by insurrectionists. Starting with his act of civil disobedience at the Jewish temple, the site of the administrative headquarters of the Sanhedrin, the supreme Jewish council, Jesus branded himself a political revolutionary. When Jesus “with the help of his disciples, blocks the entrance to the courtyard” and forbids “anyone carrying goods for sale or trade from entering the Temple,” he committed a blatantly criminal and seditious act, an act “that undoubtedly precipitated his arrest and execution.” Because the commercial events were sponsored by the religious hierarchy, which in turn was operated by consent of the Roman government, Jesus’ attack on the money chargers and traders can be seen as an attack on Rome itself, an unmistakable declaration of political and social independence from the Roman oppression.
Military-style arrests in the dead of night. Jesus’ arrest account testifies to the fact that the Romans perceived Him as a revolutionary. Eerily similar to today’s SWAT team raids, Jesus was arrested in the middle of the night, in secret, by a large, heavily armed fleet of soldiers. Rather than merely asking for Jesus when they came to arrest him, his pursuers collaborated beforehand with Judas. Acting as a government informant, Judas concocted a kiss as a secret identification marker, hinting that a level of deception and trickery must be used to obtain this seemingly “dangerous revolutionist’s” cooperation.
Torture and capital punishment. In Jesus’ day, religious preachers, self-proclaimed prophets and nonviolent protesters were not summarily arrested and executed. Indeed, the high priests and Roman governors normally allowed a protest, particularly a small-scale one, to run its course. However, government authorities were quick to dispose of leaders and movements that appeared to threaten the Roman Empire. The charges leveled against Jesus—that he was a threat to the stability of the nation, opposed paying Roman taxes and claimed to be the rightful King—were purely political, not religious. To the Romans, any one of these charges was enough to merit death by crucifixion, which was usually reserved for slaves, non-Romans, radicals, revolutionaries and the worst criminals.
Jesus was presented to Pontius Pilate “as a disturber of the political peace,” a leader of a rebellion, a political threat, and most gravely—a claimant to kingship, a “king of the revolutionary type.” After Jesus is formally condemned by Pilate, he is sentenced to death by crucifixion, “the Roman means of executing criminals convicted of high treason.” The purpose of crucifixion was not so much to kill the criminal, as it was an immensely public statement intended to visually warn all those who would challenge the power of the Roman Empire. Hence, it was reserved solely for the most extreme political crimes: treason, rebellion, sedition, and banditry. After being ruthlessly whipped and mocked, Jesus was nailed to a cross.
As Professor Mark Lewis Taylor observed:
The cross within Roman politics and culture was a marker of shame, of being a criminal. If you were put to the cross, you were marked as shameful, as criminal, but especially as subversive. And there were thousands of people put to the cross. The cross was actually positioned at many crossroads, and, as New Testament scholar Paula Fredricksen has reminded us, it served as kind of a public service announcement that said, “Act like this person did, and this is how you will end up.”
Jesus—the revolutionary, the political dissident, and the nonviolent activist—lived and died in a police state. Any reflection on Jesus’ life and death within a police state must take into account several factors: Jesus spoke out strongly against such things as empires, controlling people, state violence and power politics. Jesus challenged the political and religious belief systems of his day. And worldly powers feared Jesus, not because he challenged them for control of thrones or government but because he undercut their claims of supremacy, and he dared to speak truth to power in a time when doing so could—and often did—cost a person his life.
Unfortunately, the radical Jesus, the political dissident who took aim at injustice and oppression, has been largely forgotten today, replaced by a congenial, smiling Jesus trotted out for religious holidays but otherwise rendered mute when it comes to matters of war, power and politics.
Yet for those who truly study the life and teachings of Jesus, the resounding theme is one of outright resistance to war, materialism and empire.
What a marked contrast to the advice being given to Americans by church leaders to “submit to your leaders and those in authority”—which in the American police state translates to complying, conforming, submitting, obeying orders, deferring to authority and generally doing whatever a government official tells you to do.
Telling Americans to march in lockstep and blindly obey the government—or put their faith in politics and vote for a political savior—flies in the face of everything for which Jesus lived and died.
Ultimately, this is the contradiction that must be resolved if the radical Jesus—the one who stood up to the Roman Empire and was crucified as a warning to others not to challenge the powers-that-be—is to be an example for our modern age.
We must decide whether we will follow the path of least resistance—willing to turn a blind eye to what Martin Luther King Jr. referred to as the “evils of segregation and the crippling effects of discrimination, to the moral degeneracy of religious bigotry and the corroding effects of narrow sectarianism, to economic conditions that deprive men of work and food, and to the insanities of militarism and the self-defeating effects of physical violence”—or whether we will be transformed nonconformists “dedicated to justice, peace, and brotherhood.”
As King explained in a powerful sermon delivered in 1954:
This command not to conform comes … [from] Jesus Christ, the world’s most dedicated nonconformist, whose ethical nonconformity still challenges the conscience of mankind.
We need to recapture the gospel glow of the early Christians, who were nonconformists in the truest sense of the word and refused to shape their witness according to the mundane patterns of the world. Willingly they sacrificed fame, fortune, and life itself in behalf of a cause they knew to be right. Quantitatively small, they were qualitatively giants. Their powerful gospel put an end to such barbaric evils as infanticide and bloody gladiatorial contests. Finally, they captured the Roman Empire for Jesus Christ… The hope of a secure and livable world lies with disciplined nonconformists, who are dedicated to justice, peace, and brotherhood. The trailblazers in human, academic, scientific, and religious freedom have always been nonconformists. In any cause that concerns the progress of mankind, put your faith in the nonconformist!
…Honesty impels me to admit that transformed nonconformity, which is always costly and never altogether comfortable, may mean walking through the valley of the shadow of suffering, losing a job, or having a six-year-old daughter ask, “Daddy, why do you have to go to jail so much?” But we are gravely mistaken to think that Christianity protects us from the pain and agony of mortal existence. Christianity has always insisted that the cross we bear precedes the crown we wear. To be a Christian, one must take up his cross, with all of its difficulties and agonizing and tragedy-packed content, and carry it until that very cross leaves its marks upon us and redeems us to that more excellent way that comes only through suffering.
In these days of worldwide confusion, there is a dire need for men and women who will courageously do battle for truth. We must make a choice. Will we continue to march to the drumbeat of conformity and respectability, or will we, listening to the beat of a more distant drum, move to its echoing sounds? Will we march only to the music of time, or will we, risking criticism and abuse, march to the soul saving music of eternity?
The existent, the body, disappears. We live within a spectacle of empty clothes and unworn masks….Nobodies and no Necessity – for Necessity is the condition of the existent. It is what makes reality real.
— John Berger, “Steps Toward a Small Theory of the Visible”.
The real body. To be real, it must be bodily; and to be a body is to be eaten. The humiliation in incarnation; to become bread. To be eaten: to be consumed by sorrow, sickness, and death.
— Norman O. Brown, Love’s Body, 1966, Re-issued by University of California Press, September 1990.
If Marx were functioning today he would have been hard put to avoid saying that imaginary sex is the opiate of the people.
— John Ralston Saul, Voltaire’s Bastards, Simon & Schuster, July 2013.
Why are so many Americans indifferent to the savage slaughter of millions of people around the world carried out by their own government under a long string of presidents? Why were they stone-cold silent during eight years of Obama’s many wars and drone killings of which he boasted? Why are they silent in the face of the Trump administration’s continuation and expansion of those wars and its push for a nuclear war with Russia? Why this incestuous turning in and away from the bloody havoc their government keeps inflicting on the world?
And why all this denial while focusing on the pornographic media spectacles of Stormy Daniels (the porn queen turned “Adult Film Actress”), Monica Lewinsky, and a host of others paraded before the cameras to distract and entertain a population of spectators?
I, like many people, wonder why. What follows is an attempt at an answer, with the focus of my thinking being primarily on middle to upper class Americans, for the poor and working classes have a hard enough time making ends meet and keeping alive themselves, since they are the victims of a domestic war waged by the same heartless ruling class that kills so many overseas.
For when people lose touch with the physicality of life and embrace spectral images, mediated reality, and abstractions as real, they have stepped into a totally nihilistic world. A disembodied world. When this is joined to a narcissistic self-preoccupation with one’s own well-being and comfort, indifference to the suffering of others becomes the norm. This is the world of unreality populated today by so many Americans, who have grown progressively indifferent to the slaughter by their own government of people throughout the world – heaps of millions of dead bodies, blood, and body-parts everywhere. In “Song in the Blood” the French poet Jacques Prévert says:
There are great puddles of blood on the world
where’s it going all this spilled blood….
murder’s blood…war’s blood
and the blood of men tortured in prison….
Where’s it going all this spilled blood
the earth that turns and turns and turns
with its great streams of blood.
To the bodiless bloodless insouciant ones, however, the blood of “others” is invisible. It is our lives that matter. What is being done to these “others” is of little consequence because it is experienced as an abstraction – unreal – as if it weren’t happening, even as it is. And in a twist of fate straight from Greek tragedy, those who embrace this delusion are in denial of the very real possibility that they too will be “disappeared” by a nuclear war being provoked in their names. Having turned their backs on nature and the corporeal reality of all living beings, having denied the passion play that is life on earth for all people, having denied that there are limits to American hubris and the West’s clearly insane and nihilistic push for nuclear war with Russia, they will pleasure themselves “until the atom too bursts into flames,” as Albert Camus warned, “and history ends in the triumph of reason and the death agony of the species.”
In an incisive article, “It is Us,” John Steppling recently asked a series of Tolstoyan questions about the ruling class (and by extension most Americans): “What does the ruling class want?” he asked. How much money do these people need? Is it power they are after with their mad quest to gobble up the world and slaughter as they go? Power for what? For more money? Why are they provoking a nuclear war with Russia? Are they simply crazy? Don’t they know they too will die? And what about all those affluent liberals and conservatives, the narcissistic bourgeoisie, the average person, are they all suicidal?
I believe they think in their delusional way that the coachman will pass them by. They are living in the unreality that has overtaken so much of the Western world. They believe they will pass. No failure for them. They won’t die. They will “pass on.” They are different, special, they live in a fantasy of bodiless abstractions, even as they work on their bodies to go on and on, exercise and diet, pill after pill, supplements, dreams of running marathons at 98, body parts replaced as they do yoga poses to dreamy ethereal music in the safe surround of a warless environment where bombs and missiles are for the others in bloody bodies over there far away. The pornography of war out of sight and thought; the screening of pornographic titillation in everyone’s face.
It is generally assumed that the United States is a materialist society where the voluptuous life of bodily existence is affirmed and celebrated. Big breasts and bigger butts, skinny jeans and streaming sex scandals. To the contrary, I think this is not true. American society has joined its Puritan tradition to instrumental reasoning and its go-go-get-it-done practicality to create a culture where the human body has become, like everything and everyone else, a thing to be manipulated – an instrument to be masturbated, a thing to be pampered, paraded, and presented in a society of looking-glass selves. Selfies in flight from others and human encounters where care and communion of consciousness lead one to love the world as one’s body and to feel compassion for others far away in other lands who are being slaughtered by our guns and bombs. And to say No, not in my name, not over my dead body. To burst the bubble of the self. W.H. Auden, in his poem “Are You There?” put it this way:
Whatever view we hold, it must be shown
Why every lover has a wish to make
Some other kind of otherness his own:
Perhaps, in fact, we never are alone.
Yet Americans pursue loneliness as if their mirror images were the world. Or the things they so avidly buy reflect who they are: interior decorating for the soul. Souls divorced from their instrumental bodies. With packaged and commodified consciousnesses, so many “interact with products” these days, as they pursue constantly retreating phantoms; the social narcissism of images falling in love with their own images and reaching out to embrace their shadows.
This is as far from eroticism as one can get, if one grasps the true meaning of Eros, the god of love, life, joy, and becoming, whose growth was stunted until his mother Aphrodite was oracularly told that “Love cannot grow without Passion.” And passion is a reaching out for others, not for oneself, or one’s phantom image. The brilliant psychologist Rollo May summed up our situation by saying that when “eros has lost passion,” it has become “insipid, childish, and banal.” And when the cult of technique and technology becomes a social addiction, feeling, passion, and individual identity is blotted out and, “mirabile dictu, we discover that the myth [of Eros] proclaims exactly what we have seen happening in our own day, eros, then, even loses interest in sex.” Except on screens.
Once the human body becomes an object of narcissistic preoccupation – its maintenance, presentation, coddling, etc. – it has become an instrument to be used, as do other people. The body remains but the human disappears, and the remaining “instrumental” body is “disembodied.” Once the human body is reduced to a machine and human intercourse in its multiple meanings is accepted as a “mediated reality” through so-called smart devices, we know that the era of humanoids has arrived, as Howard Beale so famously announced in the film Network over forty years ago. Smart phones for dumb people; always in touch but never touching.
To be human is to be embodied, incarnated, to love and suffer passionately, body and soul. Sexual passion and tenderness in the service of life, not death. Eros, not Thanatos. Passion for a suffering world and victims everywhere. I think one important reason why so many Americans have turned their backs as their government crucifies the rest of the world is because they have lost their bodies not their minds, and in exchanging shadows on the wall for flesh and blood they have abandoned the world and embraced the unreality of things that a capitalist, consumer society proffers in lieu of life. And as so many great thinkers (Coleridge, Swift, Brown, et al) have pointed out, to try to rise above the body is ironically to equate the body with excrement. Norman O. Brown writes, “Thus the morbid attempt to get away from the body can only result in a morbid fascination in the death of the body.” From this flows the narcissistic focus on self-preservation and the spending of one’s life energies on the acquiring of dead things rather than the carefree letting go of one’s love and care into the whole world that is crying out for redemption from an orgy of violence.
Of course, the paradox of the disappearance of the living body into spectral images and things is the departure of the soul as well, the embodied soul. And a soulless country is a place where reality no longer exists and one can, for example, view Michelangelo’s Pietà and think, “What an amazing sculpture, how did he do it?” but fail to feel heartache and rage that so many mothers across this planet are now weeping and cradling the crushed and crucified bodies of their children, victims of American weapons of war. Our weapons. Our wars.
When will we dead awaken?
You ever wonder what a Martian might think if he happened to land near an emergency room? He’d see an ambulance whizzing in and everybody running out to meet it, tearing the doors open, grabbing up the stretcher, scurrying along with it. ‘Why,’ he’d say, ‘what a helpful planet, what kind and helpful creatures.’ He’d never guess we’re not always that way; that we had to, oh, put aside our natural selves to do it. ‘What a helpful race of beings,’ a Martian would say. Don’t you think so?
― Anne Tyler, The Accidental Tourist, April 2002
Respite. Oregon Coast. Tidepools, grey whales, seals and sea lions, puffins and eagles, riotous rookeries and crashing tides, Milky Way and bioluminescence.
One large emotional palette from which to paint new images, and to recharge batteries, reset some clocks, and reflect.
Yet, how can a thoughtful person go minutes or hours or days with a blank mind, or into some levitating meditative state without all those deaths by a thousand cuts eating at the conscience?
Death by a thousand laws, by a thousand penalties, by a thousand codes/regulations/permits; death by a thousand fines/levies/fees; death by a thousand firings/sackings/diminishments of our collective humanity. Death by a thousand tons of toxins in our community’s air, water, soil, education system, legal framework, urban planning. Death by a thousand seconds of celebrity culture, insane fake news, mauling media, lecherous lawyers, junkyard scientists, medical malpractitioners. Death by a thousand broken treaties, broken laws for the One Percent, broken promises, broken bureaucracies.
How can you not wake up, look in the mirror, and be angry? Really angry at the state of the world, at the state of inequities, at the state of billionaires capturing our souls by the gigabytes to the 1,000th power, billionaires foreclosing on our jobs, our schools, our communities, our safety, health, sanity?
John Trudell said a lot about that, waking up angry every single day . . . decrying what whites like to think are the great civilizers of the world (themselves) – what whites think western civilization is:
The great lie is that it is civilization. It’s not civilized. It has been literally the most blood thirsty brutalizing system ever imposed upon this planet. That is not civilization. That’s the great lie, is that it represents civilization.
Think about it: going into tourist space has more curves and dangerous cliffs to negotiate than being in the mix 24/7. The mix, man: fighting for homeless, fighting for the drug addicted, fighting for students, fighting for our people’s health, fighting for clean air, water, soil, money. With each overfed, overpaid/-paying, overly obnoxious and arrogant tourist, with every 30-foot RV with Lexus SUV in-tow, with every Indian Pale Ale microbrewery pitcher consumed and mountain of fried clams gobbled up, well, reflection isn’t just looking at Ursula Minor and Major as the tide goes out and the Dungeness crabs come in.
Reflection is seeing the human species as a cancer. Self-centered, violent, believing there is a dung heap for the rest of the scum and a golden city for the vaunted, valued, human. More specifically, here’s sentiments from Susan Sontag, not to be taken lightly:
If America is the culmination of Western white civilization, as everyone from the Left to the Right declares, then there must be something terribly wrong with Western white civilization. This is a painful truth; few of us want to go that far. … The truth is that Mozart, Pascal, Boolean algebra, Shakespeare, parliamentary government, baroque churches, Newton, the emancipation of women, Kant, Marx, Balanchine ballets, et al., don’t redeem what this particular civilization has wrought upon the world. The white race is the cancer of human history; it is the white race and it alone—its ideologies and inventions—which eradicates autonomous civilizations wherever it spreads, which has upset the ecological balance of the planet, which now threatens the very existence of life itself.
Scheme of things, the scale of the glass half full or glass half empty. The hierarchy of needs, and the implosion of those who have and those who do not. Peter Principle of the most incompetent, the most ethically challenged, the most philistine, the most ignorant, the most self-aggrandizing, the most murderous and sociopathic, rising to the top – in governments, parliaments, boardrooms, corporations, militaries, schools, hospitals . . . et al.
A Pacific Coast that was once sane and peopled by Salish Tribes, now one with pink-skinned folks like Gremlins scurrying about to stake out more retail space, more consumer opportunities, more territory yanked from anything left in a fractured “natural world.” Five days of being on the coast, and it was all white people looking for saltwater taffy and goofy expensive humpback whale blown glass monstrosities. Unending kitschy stuff while the Anglo Saxon/Caucasian minds funnel through moving lips to purge out strings of commentary that are insipid, childish, all bundled up in the “where are we going to eat breakfast next and then find a nice seaside table to sip that Pinot while we stay comforted in our great white world?” Not an African-American, Black, Indian, Native American in sight.
The smartest things in the air out here along the Oregon Coast are the corvids and thousands upon thousands of sea birds, falcons, bald eagles and osprey. It certainly isn’t the thoughts, words and actions of humanity here, from Newport south all the way to Golden Beach. We are talking about unending caravans of motor homes with full-sized SUVs in tow, the other traffic feeding a crisscross onto summer home beaches, some of them two-month-stay homes, and a lot of real estate for sale, properties moving from one hand to the next and a world of tourists devoid of color. It’s five days, and no Mexican-American families, no African-American families. It’s as if the US of A is that alt right David Duke land of the white Christian.
Disconcerting, being out here for a respite for myself and my significant other. Tough jobs both of us manage back in Portland, and the getting away from the woods and rivers where we live and work, to the Oregon Coast is a deserving break. But, again, bizarre, really, the lack of diversity as if the USA, with 335 million citizens, is not about to largely (percentage wise) transform into a country of non-white-Germanic-Anglo people.
State of the mind of white Americans tied to their whiteness, their Crypto Christian/Crypto Zionist earth razing and financialization schemes to corner everything we do, see, hope for, dream of, create, think of, believe in, live for, die for, hold dear, propagate as a market, it’s a sickness sent out to all corners of the world through the London School of Economics-Oxford-Yale-Stanford-Yeshiva type of recruiting as slick and effective as any School of the Americas or West Point!
Trump is Obama is Clinton is Bush is Andrew Jackson is Nixon is Roosevelt is Washington. Whiteness is the key to civilization, even with our one outwardly mixed-race CEO. He excels as a man of white civilizers holding the key to final subjugation. Obama, who is like a Stepford Son!
But let’s pause on the sheer demographics and exponentiality of the globe’s racial make-up coming onto the 8 or 9 billion mark:
One demographer, who didn’t want to be named for fear of being called racist, said: ‘It’s a matter of pure arithmetic that, if nothing else happens, non-Europeans will become a majority and whites a minority in the UK. That would probably be the first time an indigenous population has voluntarily become a minority in its historic homeland.’
Lee Jasper, race relations adviser to the Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, predicted a similar future, telling The Observer : ‘Where America goes, Europe follows 30 years later. There is a potential for whites to become a minority in some European countries.’
In Europe, with its 40,000-year-old indigenous white population, the rise of a non-white majority may not be greeted with such equanimity.
In the United Kingdom, the number of people from ethnic minorities has risen from a few tens of thousands in 1950 to more than 3 million now.
In Italy, the birth rate is so low that, without immigration, the population is predicted to decline by 16 million by 2050.
The United States government predicts that non-hispanic whites will become a minority in the country by 2055.
The United Nations predicts that 98 per cent of world population growth until 2025 will be in developing nations.
The population of Europe is expected to drop from 25 per cent of the world total in 1900 to 7 per cent in the next 50 years.
— Anthony Browne, The Last Days of a White World, Guardian, September 3, 2000.
No matter how quickly the demographics shift in the US of A, correcting and redressing the past biggest injustices of Native American genocide by the white economists, bankers, clerics, militaries, serfs into this country will never happen. First Nations aboriginal peoples used to have this land to themselves. But now, less than one percent of the population they teeter on complete historical banishment, as the largest growth groups are among Latinos (largely derived from Spain), and Asians, (largely from China and the Philippines).
This state of the world a la Oregon Coast is a state of people not able to get under the skin of how messed up the country is, has been and is continually going. No large conversations about those things, even the ones who adore and lust after Trump, they just move along in a world of retail relationships, one where the food is talked about while eating it, where the weather is detailed beyond absurdity, and where no serious talk about our collective and individual pain ever unfolds.
Whites are lobotomized by debt, depression, deceit, emasculation, Hollywood, F-U Book, the Billionaire Mile High Club of Data Dealers, overeating/under-nutrition, delusions, and dreams of a UFO End Times or New Times.
I attempt to gauge how illiterate folks are along the coast, looking at stuff in museums, people trying to understand the scheme of 70 percent of the globe’s surface (oceans) on all life, and their attempts at trying to understand the clouds above and the winds below.
The corporations-TV-jefes have done a very good job, alongside the schools, media, ignorant politicians, and celebrities, AND scientists, of denuding the western mind of anything real or pressing, anything resembling a solution to the unfolding ills of climate warming, oceans rising, resources dwindling, bodies toxifying, communities eroding.
This vast Pacific Coast is, of course, under the gun as acidification of the waters around Oregon is ramping up due to all sorts of upwellings, smokestack-tailpipe spewings. Species are collapsing. More people are moving into the tsunami belt here, and more woods/forests are being clear cut. More cars, more CO2 pushed out of internal combustion machines and burning of other fossil fuels all the way up the Industrial Age chain our factory technology 12,000 miles away from Depoe Bay. This is a big thing, ocean acidification, and the Oregon Coast is sort of the testing ground for the rest of the world tied to this double-headed monster – climate changing (warming) and ocean acidification.
The Surfrider Foundation is working hard on this project to understand how Oregon’s coast will be affected by lower PH levels. Take a look at this amazing web site and organization, a coalescing of forces that very few tourists and locals alike know even little about. Here, the news not fit to broadcast or turn into a Netflix drama (sic):
Canary in the Coal Mine
Whiskey Creek Hatchery became the ‘Canary in the Coalmine’ for Oregon’s shellfish industry in 2007 when their oyster larvae experienced a massive die off. Scientists determined that the lower pH of the seawater they were pumping in from Netarts Bay was preventing the larvae from growing their shells.
On a map of Oregon, find the coastal town of Newport. Draw a straight line directly west, perfectly perpendicular to the coast, out into the mighty Pacific 200 nautical miles from the blinking beacon of the Yaquina Head lighthouse. You’ve just sketched the Newport Hydrographic Line. Nearly everything we know about the function of Oregon’s coastal ocean ecosystem has been learned from samples collected at these stations between 1961 and … well, last week.
The technology used along the Newport Line has evolved with the times. Since 2006, autonomous underwater gliders (the first two were named “Bob” and “Jane” after Bob Smith and Jane Huyer) have been patrolling it 24/7. At this very moment, two gliders resembling small yellow missiles are swimming their lonely way, diving and surfacing in an undulating path, collecting data on temperature, salinity, water clarity, ocean currents and more.
These remarkable instruments transmit about 10 percent of their data as they “fly,” communicating via satellite when they surface. When a battery gets low, the glider surfaces and calls home. Scientists retrieve it from a boat, switch the battery out for a fully charged replacement, download the full data set and release it. The gliders can be monitored and even controlled via a smart phone app.
Initially, studies along the Newport Line focused on physics — currents, temperatures and winds — in order to understand and characterize the most important oceanographic phenomenon in the region: wind-driven coastal upwelling. This process underlies nearly everything else that happens in Oregon’s ocean, from the flourishing fisheries to the presence of gray whales to the low-oxygen conditions and ocean acidification that have been in the news in recent years.
In a nutshell, summer winds blowing from the north push surface water to the west and drive the conveyor belt of deep, cold, nutrient-rich waters into the coastal zone, fueling the Northwest’s food webs.
Sometimes called “climate change’s evil twin,” a phrase coined by Oregon State’s Jane Lubchenco, ocean acidification is an insidious and unseen effect of rising carbon dioxide (CO2) levels in the atmosphere. The oceans have always absorbed CO2 from the atmosphere, but as levels of the greenhouse gas have climbed, primarily the result of fossil fuel burning, the oceans have taken in ever-higher amounts, leading to shifts in ocean chemistry.
Organisms from oysters to corals are considered sensitive. Over the past 200 years, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, average ocean-wide pH has dropped from 8.2 to 8.1. That may not sound like much, but on the pH scale, it amounts to a nearly 30 percent increase in acidity. Other researchers have found that highly acidified water can cause calcium shells made or used by many marine creatures to be harder to build or to dissolve. The net effects may be felt up and down the food chain. Animals in the intertidal and near-shore zones, including economically important species such as oysters and crabs, may be at risk.
‘The ocean may look the same, but the water is changing, especially on the Oregon coast,’ says Chan. Here’s why the Oregon coast is particularly vulnerable to acidification and thus an important place to study ocean chemistry.
A Deep-Ocean Conveyor Belt
The summer sun can warm your face, and the air can feel hot, but if you’ve ever been swimming along the Oregon coast, you know how cold the water can get. It gets especially chilly when north winds blow and push warmer surface water to the west. In its place, currents from deep in the ocean rise along our beaches and bays to replace it. This water — delivered by a process that scientists call upwelling — isn’t just colder; it also carries more nutrients that can fuel ocean life.
On the downside, it has less oxygen and tends to be acidified. Like the proverbial slow boat to China, it can take decades for deep ocean currents to travel to the West Coast. When it last touched the atmosphere at the start of its journey, CO2 levels were lower than they are today. In the future, the water upwelling along our coast will carry the memory of the annual increases in CO2.
Okay, so I cut and paste a lot here, but again, what are those crab cake bakes and flounder fries really about here along Oregon’s coastal water, which mostly originates in the North Pacific off Japan? Answer: Two cold, deep-water currents, one of which takes a decade to reach Oregon, while the second current brings those waters to the Oregon coast in about 50 years as it follows amazingly serpentine routes around the globe.
Now, here’s the physics and chemistry we don’t talk about when eating our dill-infused, olive tampenade-drenched salmon — cold water holds higher concentrations of CO2 than warmer water, so these circuitous currents start off with increased CO2 levels. Then while making their slow flow toward the U.S. West Coast, the biological activity by organisms living in that water layer — zooplankton, phytoplankton and other microorganisms — constantly generates CO2 until, by the time the ocean conveyor belt of water rises to the surface off the Oregon coast, its CO2 level has increased greatly. Then, as the water is exposed to our atmosphere after decades in the depths of the mother ocean, even more of the greenhouse gas gets absorbed. This is something most Americans can’t-won’t-don’t grasp – chemical changes caused by engines of biomechanics of currents, air, and pollution.
Okay-okay, not all tourists get into this level of science and deeper looks at how messed up the world is because of the Corporate Line and Power (One Percent) and the Collective Delusion of their Compliant Consumers (us). But truly, how can people in 2018 NOT go through the thought process of considering each and every bite we take, each mile we drive, each foot of earth we walk onto, each inch of clothing we buy, every trinket and every product we consume as part of the big picture?
That little oyster stand in Newport has its intended and unintended consequences already built in, all that embedded energy to get to the oysters (metal in the ships harvested in mines/smelted/galvanized; then fossil fuel dug up and piped in to propel those ships to sea); to harvest the bivalves, then to haul them back, and next to process, package and ship them out, and, finally, to attract people from all parts of the West Coast to consume them.
Yes, our own trip to get there and each nibble we make with the squeeze of a lemon, well, the footprint of Homo Sapiens-Consumo-Retailpithecus is dramatic. We are talking about those shellfish, now vulnerable to ocean acidification, all that fossil fuel to propel humans to the parking lot and propel foreign made utensils and plates and equipment to the little archetypal oyster shack, in Oregon, well, consequences are being laid out as I write this on the Cloud.
In a world where everything is a retail transaction, where no thought of how the stuff we stuff into our mouths got from farm to fork is expended, it’s no surprise we are cooked intellectually and as communities of me-myself-and-I cancers. Then, more onion peel pulled back: who are these owners of these small businesses in these small towns on the Oregon Coast? Do they care about the world, or their little zone, little hamlets or beach towns? Do they care about the rampant poverty, the growth of shaky families aging in place, in the death spiral of education and decent ways to be, to be human, in small style, while living in a world of entertaining ourselves to death and make-believe idealism and ideals tied to the rich and the famous or notorious?
Do they care Portland is filled with houseless people, homeless veterans, youth living on couches under an average of $80K in college debt, people like me working our tails off for the underpay the non-profit world of social services spreads like disease across the land? And that’s not just Portland, but Every Town USA. Do they care about fence line communities in Houston or the lead in water in Flint or the lack of electricity in Puerto Rico six months after a hurricane?
Do they care about words having universal meaning, or the poetry in being versus consuming, or the truths of human kind, or the lessons in evolving history, or the potentiality of real revolution, or the bigger power of changing him-or-her-self into a giver, no longer a taker, or being part of the smaller and bigger solution, while still grappling with their privilege, and then finally seeing the future of seven generations out being more important now than ever before?
Respite. Observation. A poem. Sanity:
Contemplating Nine Crows Jumping Mid-Air for Our Trail Mix near Yachats, Oregon
on the eve of partner’s 48th birthday
something about cobalt
tips, wings the black of eclipse
birds smarter than
parking lot humanity
tricksters, crowing along faded lines
jumping, leaping, barely flapping
corvid line of avian
harmonizing with wind
people looking into ocean sky
we asked crows into our lives
two of us tired of heavy
hearts, our own species
cancers, riotous Homo
sapiens, like the cracks
of coast cliffs
beaches we surmount
hoping gulls congregate
we never know when
light from animal brother
inches into our hearts
never know when whimsy follows
us into memory, love
how coal black birds
possess mental might
through tricks, we can’t stop
thinking birds, smarter
than human race, the Oregon
Pacific in the background
creek emptying into swells
we find harbor momentarily
comics like Charlie Chaplin
waddling, marching, the grip
of their sky, somehow
transformed into our world too
Neocon Max Boot now says it’s better for the Syrian people if Assad stays in power. But we still can’t get the American Left to come to its senses about Syria.
Louis Proyect says in Counterpunch that the suffering coming out of East Ghouta is “on a massive scale reminiscent of Leningrad in 1941.”
According to Wiki, a million and a half people died during the Leningrad siege. According to the authoritative-sounding Syrian Observatory for Human Rights — one anti-Assad guy in a Coventry flat, relying mostly on reports from anti-Assad fighters — 1,000 people have been killed in East Ghouta, horrible to be sure but not Leningrad. In Leningrad, people were reduced to cannibalism. There was cannibalism in Syria in 2013: a commander for a portion of the Left’s beloved Free Syrian Army cut the lungs out of a Syrian Army soldier and ate them on camera. A “moderate” rebel eminently worthy of CIA dollars — and spicy recipes.
While bringing up Lou-dicrous comparisons to 1941 Leningrad, Proyect fails to mention the US-destroyed Raqqa and Mosul from which dead bodies are still being found and dragged out of the rubble. Rest assured that the Great Satan will not rebuild those cities as Assad is doing with Palmyra and Aleppo. To the colonized mind of the American Left, the crimes of America’s enemies are always worse and more worth talking about than the crimes of America itself. US airstrikes were responsible for most of the 40,000 dead civilians in Mosul and over 3,000 in Raqqa.
By the way, two thirds of the casualties in Syria have been Syrian soldiers and anti-government fighters. The anti-Assad Left and the mockingbird media would have us believe that all 345,000 Syrian deaths have been civilians who Assad and Putin deliberately, personally and exclusively killed. The pressitutes tell us how unpopular the Alawite Assad is while the entire world sees a Sunni majority army fighting to the death for him and the rest of Syria by killing off Wahhabist Sunni fanatics. Huh? (Syria has never been a “civil war” or a “sectarian conflict” — it’s been a pre-planned destruction led by the US, piggy-backing on legitimate grievances of the Syrian working class.)
Interestingly, the anti-Assad Left never tells us the names of the armed opposition groups that it supports. Why? Is it because they are al-Qaeda offshoots? Is it because they are so tiny and few in number that they are inconsequential and/or the Syrian working class majority don’t support them? Is it because they collaborated with the most regressive fundamentalist groups and/or got wiped out by them? The anti-Assad Left seems to live in an ivory tower that got destroyed somewhere around 2012 — they never say what should be done now.
Then Proyect makes a false equivalency between Israel bombing Gaza in response to Hamas’ largely ineffectual rockets and the Syrian government bombing terrorists in East Ghouta who have been shelling Damascus for years with howitzers, mortars and GRAD rockets, killing and wounding thousands of civilians. Gazans are occupied and have legitimate rights under international law to resist, including violently.
Proyect quotes Counterpunch’s Jeffrey St. Clair that aerial bombing of cities is a war crime. I couldn’t agree more and I’ll raise you an aerial bombing of jungles also. And I think shooting a barrage of GRAD rockets into downtown Damascus is a war crime too. (What parts of war aren’t a crime?) So, where does that put us? It puts “us” safely and snugly in the belly of the beast. It puts the Syrian working class majority wanting its government to protect them from a minority of al-Qaeda metastases, funded and armed by the most reactionary regimes on earth, trying to win violently what they can’t win intellectually, socially or politically. The Left just won’t cut its intellectual (“moderate” rebels) or political (Russia-gate) losses. And isn’t it interesting how so much of what the Left does is in harmony with what the Pentagon, the CIA and the empire wants.
And since Proyect brought up Gaza and the Palestinians… It was the Palestinian Liwaa al-Quds force who stormed the al-Shaaher roundabout in Aleppo on September 24, 2016 which liberated the Handaraat Camp which turned around the battle for Aleppo which turned around the fight for Syria which is turning the American empire upside down with indispensable help from Russia and Iran. On that memorable September day eastern Aleppo residents were cheering on Liwwa al-Quds, Hezbollah and the Syrian Arab Army as they hunted down and killed the members of the CIA-funded Nour al-Din al-Zenki who beheaded the 12-year-old Palestinian boy on film. The Syrian working class doesn’t actually like the 31 flavors of takfiri terrorists that some western leftists find so sweet.
In fact, during the December 2016 liberation of Aleppo, Syrians who lived for years under the rule of the fanatics were outraged that the Syrian army put the terrorists on buses to Idlib instead of killing them outright. A day later it was discovered that, just before they surrendered, the terrorists had summarily executed over 100 hostages and prisoners in basement prisons, including many Syrian soldiers.
Then Proyect attempts to make a case for the fanatics in East Ghouta by contrasting their poverty-stricken area with wealthier Damascus. A splendid insight. Now, how about you leading the charge of South Central against Beverly Hills? Oh, that’s right — the impotent defeated American Left has been on the run for 40 years and can only mind the business of the Assads, Saddams, Gadaffis and the ayatollahs — all Israeli enemies and sitting atop large energy resources — while “our” own government remains the chief engine of destruction in the world. Blessedly, the brown working classes of the world don’t give a flying fuck about what white western leftists think because they know they aren’t going to get any help from us. We’re irrelevant. Ask a Yemeni, ask a Honduran, ask a Congolese.
Christmas and New Years have been celebrated for the last two years in Aleppo and some semblance of normalcy is returning. Right now, in liberated areas of East Ghouta, people are welcoming the return of the Syrian Arab Army and telling the media how they’ve been used as human shields. In non-liberated areas, civilians are demonstrating against the terrorists and negotiating with them to leave. As with Aleppo in 2016, people in East Ghouta have been telling the SAA the locations of terrorist commanders, ammo dumps, jails and headquarters. Also, as with Aleppo, terrorists are sniping and shelling humanitarian corridors so civilians have difficulty leaving. There are also now civilians rallying in Raqqa for the occupying American monster to GTFO.
The future of the world is being fought for in Syria — that’s why the propaganda of the mockingbird media has been unrelenting in its lies, hypocrisy, hysteria and demonization for seven years. Tel Aviv and Riyadh are going crazy and they are making sure Mordor-on-the-Potomac goes crazy with them. Putin is killing off America’s regime-changing terrorist mercenary army although, characteristically, he’s been too slow and cautious and Daesh has now set up shop in Afghanistan to harass, delay and destroy China’s Belt and Road Initiative. Assad and Putin are bringing a horrible end to the carnage in Syria as opposed to the Saudi, Israeli and US-preferred endless horror.
One last thing. People have not been paying proper attention to the written transcript of several lines toward the end of Putin’s March 1st address to the Russian Federal Assembly: “I should note that our military doctrine says Russia reserves the right to use nuclear weapons solely in response to a nuclear attack, or an attack with other weapons of mass destruction against the country or its allies, or an act of aggression against us with the use of conventional weapons that threaten the very existence of the state. This all is very clear and specific. As such, I see it is my duty to announce the following. Any use of nuclear weapons against Russia or its allies, weapons of short, medium or any range at all, will be considered as a nuclear attack on this country. Retaliation will be immediate, with all the attendant consequences.” (My emphasis.)
An attack with other weapons of mass destruction against Russia or its “allies.” Who does Russia consider allies? China, Iran, Syria, North Korea, Venezuela? Turkey? The Donbass? Did Putin just tell the criminal neocon filth who rule America to never attack Iran and North Korea — or ever attack the Syrian government again? No sane person in the world should test that out. Perhaps the previously mentioned neocon Max Boot is one of the first to “listen.”
The last time no one paid careful attention to Putin was his September 28, 2015 address to the United Nations where he condemned the US use of terrorists to further its regime change operations throughout the world, saying “We can no longer tolerate the current state of affairs in the world.” Two days later Russia began bombing hundreds of ISIS oil tankers in Syria that US satellite surveillance had been contentedly watching grow for years. Wake up, Americans. “Retaliation will be immediate, with all the attendant consequences.” The three horses’ asses of the apocalypse — Trump, Satanyahoo and Saudi Clown Prince Mohammad bin Salman — are leading the world to disaster.
For every immigrant, speaking about his or her home country can be somewhat emotional and personal. For us immigrants, the experiences of leaving former identities framed in memories of the land, people, smells, tastes, smiles, laughter, tears and other feelings wrapped in the native tongues and rebuilding our own personhoods in foreign words, foreign-scapes, foreign frameworks held together with the values, beliefs and norms of others gives us a special opportunity to see our world dimensionally. Some of us recognize the mechanisms carefully hidden by the very machination of the social structure. The revelation, at the same time, reveals our essential beings hidden in our former-selves.
When I came to the states as a 18 year old young man, I found out that I was a little Asian man. I met enough people in the small town in West Virginia who didn’t bother to hide their feelings when they recognized me as “other”. Although, I must say that there were also plenty of people who expressed generosity and friendliness to me. In addition, after all, I was one of the privileged Asians–a Japanese.
Japan was nuked twice after the humiliating defeat over the imperial struggle for the Asian hegemony (China and associated interests, etc.) Uncle Sam showed off who the top dog was by incinerating two cities worth of people in Japan. The country was at the brink of extinction. But, Japan, after all, was the most prominent capitalist force in Asia. I think the US made a calculated decision to co-opt the Japanese imperial momentum as its Asian proxy in the most effective way–this, by the way, mirrors what happened to Germany and its Nazi elements as well. After the war, the new US backed Japanese regime was given a partnership role in the hegemonic rule of the Pacific nations by the US.
The one and only viable political party in Japan, the Liberal Democratic Party, got CIA support along with the Imperial Japanese war criminal leaders guiding its trajectory. This was–for the US, as well as for the Japanese corporate power–certainly a better option than Japan having a communist revolution of some sort. The US backed Japanese regime totally went along with the US occupational force, and it did extensive work in demonizing the Japanese imperial trajectory of the past (it must have been easy considering the horrendous things they had done to the neighboring countries) while replacing the momentum with the US made “democracy”, “freedom”, “justice” and so on, which of course operate within the framework of corporatism, colonialism and militarism. The process came with demonization of socialist elements, infiltration of socialist elements, and neutralization of socialist elements. As a result, Japan became a formidable capitalist force backed by the US military might against China and Soviet Union (Russia).
This explains the odd subservience exhibited by the Japanese here and there. My British friend in Japan, for example, was deeply puzzled by people in Hiroshima welcoming Obama’s visit. However, for the Japanese, Obama is a leader of the “free world”. The fact that he was there to whitewash his engagement in expansion of the US nuclear arsenal, global warmongering and so on and so forth was not a problem to most Japanese people. This tendency can be prominent even among those who vehemently oppose the Japanese right-wing establishment that shamelessly glorifies the imperial Japanese past.
Just as president Obama’s kill list and violent colonialism against Libya, Syria and so on didn’t register as criminal to many people in the US. In fact the situation sort of parallels Democratic Party members vehemently demonizing the current Republican president for following colonial, corporate and military initiatives begun by the previous Democratic Party administration.
But in any case, for many who see the enormity of the military might possessed by the US, the monstrosity is a necessary evil against the “bad guys” in the world theater. For many who do oppose the war machine, so called US allies are seen as independent countries with their own self-determination, fully capable of making decisions. Therefore, some of us end up wondering why people in Japan or Germany faithfully go along with the US imperial policies even if that might be contrary to their own interests: Like, going along with sanctions against Russia when they might be losing a productive economic relationship with Russia, or provoking Russia or North Korea even if their own counties might be targets of nuclear attacks. Meanwhile, going along with imperial policies is getting more and more debatable: the imperial hegemony seems to be imploding as it desperately attempts to grow, while China enjoys its spectacular economic success in pursuing a Marxist trajectory in its own way.
There is an interesting anecdote revealing the true nature of the imperial relationship between Japan and the US. When three of the Fukushima nuclear plants caused China syndrome in March 2011, Naoto Kan, the Prime Minister at the time, warned other Japanese officials that the US might occupy Japan.
The remark allowed some to label him as a clueless moron. However, some of us saw in the remark the real position of Japan within the imperial hierarchy shaped by money and violence in which a “sovereign” country exercises its “free will” at imperial economic and military gun point.
The steep imperial hierarchy that imposes the US military bases in Okinawa (for example), which has been dumping agent orange, depleted uranium, and toxic materials while turning pristine rainforest into a jungle warfare training ground, a military aircraft airport, and a shooting range while also creating the grave threat of nuclear war against South Korea, Japan, Europe and so on, extends right onto the US soil as well. The very population that allowed the empire to grow so much endures mass incarceration, police violence, massive unemployment, a blatant lack of social safety nets, poverty, a health crisis, an education crisis, and so on. But the imperial-mind trick somehow renders their powerlessness less visible than the powerlessness of the Japanese people or the German people perhaps.
An extraordinary case that illustrates my point deals with the USS Reagan aircraft carrier, which was heavily irradiated by radiation plume from the Fukushima disaster. The sailors suffering from radiation diseases have been abandoned by the US government as well as the Japanese government. Within the imperial hierarchy, common men and women are powerless and disposable regardless of their nationalities.
If the current build up of the US economic/military pressure against pacific countries continues, and if Japan keeps serving its role with re-militerization, the relationship between the US and Japan can more prominently exhibit a neo-colonial relationship. In this scenario, Japan would play an armed guard dog of the empire against China, Russia, and so on, while giving an impression that the violence that emerges should be blamed solely on the evil Japanese regime that would surely come to the fore. This gives the US an opportunity to act as the good cop who engages in whatever is necessary to bring about a “peace”–a “peace” under the western capitalist hegemony. Japan can be Asia’s Israel. And Asia can be the Middle East 2.0.
Regardless, militarization will prolong the life of the western war economy while continuing to delegitimize its authority. The illegitimate force will need a bit more iron fist to keep the whole thing in line. The death spiral that devours the capitalist hegemony will exacerbate the hardship of the people in the west while continuing to mess with the rest of the world.
Maybe I’m letting my imagination fly too wild. But as I said, I felt the imperial arrogance of Japan within the framework of western imperialism as I went through the process of perceiving my existence within the larger framework of the global hierarchy. I do not like the dynamics at all. I want the people of Asia stop being a part of the imperial hierarchy. I want the people of Asia to work together to create environment to free their potential in living harmoniously with each other and with the environment.
Every struggle of a people is connected to struggles of others, and each struggle is unique according to their predicaments. For that reason, we must not keep our eyes off of the larger framework of global capitalism and its contradictions. We must not impose the imperial framework onto people of other countries.
I do know that it is much easier to say than to live according to such a perspective. When I see my fellow Asian people or any immigrant bending so far backward to kiss a nefarious backside of the establishment, I feel their urgent need to be accepted in the hierarchy of money and violence.
But still, I desperately feel the need to share what I learned through the eyes of an immigrant. The emotional and personal part of my story also stems from the fact that I could not adjust to the highly structured Japanese atmosphere when I was growing up. I particularly remember the regular corporal punishments I received at school. I developed an extreme aversion toward the authoritative tendency. The process of shedding my former self slowly taught me how foreign elements can be removed and destroyed within an authoritative hierarchy by imposing obedience or self-destruction. As a young man I chose self-destruction by alcoholism. This continued until I found my expression in art. My studio practice also led me to understand the bits and pieces holding together to show me the larger picture of what I went though as I moved to a different society. Without this experience, I might have followed a different path.
Anyone in the imperial hierarchy can become “other”. I believe our experience as “others” might perhaps inform the true nature of the capitalist hierarchy for those who have a hard time seeing it. After all we are but one species struggling to save ourselves from our collective predicament of the threat of extinction.
Donald Trump’s days of playing the passive/aggressive host of a reality-television game show are coming to an end. Either he fires all the apprentices who might slightly hesitate to wage a much larger world war and lets the bombs fly, or he will be replaced by one who will. Signs are that he has learned what his job entails and the world will suffer more death and destruction as a result.
Back in the days of the first Cold War – the late 1950s to early 1960s when our little world came close to extinction – my very large family appeared on many American television shows. Their names told the story of those times: “Who Do You Trust,” “To Tell the Truth,” “Charades,” “Play Your Hunch,” and “Beat the Clock,” to name a few. It was as if those silly game shows were unconsciously suggesting we probe a little deeper behind the headlines to discover what was really going on before the Doomsday Clock ran out.
Today things are far more sophisticated and sinister, with a massive and unrelenting war on truth being waged by the Western corporate media, an arm of the CIA, capitalism’s invisible army. It is a twisted game show with deadly consequences. Its method is Janus-faced. From one face, repeat over and over again bold-faced lies always lacking in evidence – e.g. Russiagate, WMD in Iraq, the Syrian government used chemical weapons, Russia is an aggressor planning to invade Eastern Europe, three World Trade Center buildings fell into their own footprints in virtual free fall speed because of fires, etc.; from the other face, play the game of suggesting to the public that they know more than they do because they watch CIA-backed shows like “Homeland,” movies like “Zero Dark Thirty,” and are being informed by all the so-called ex-CIA and intelligence commentators that populate the corporate media and explain what’s really going on. The old adage that “you never leave the CIA” has somehow imperceptibly morphed into “Yes, we can; trust us.”
Now we have the British Prime Minister Theresa May accusing Russia of poisoning in England the double-agent Sergei Skripal and threatening Russia to give a “credible” explanation why they killed this man or else, a man who sold the identities of Russian agents to the UK for cash, putting them in serious danger. Or else, she says, the UK “will conclude that this action amounts to an unlawful use of force by the Russian state against the United Kingdom.” Naturally she presented no evidence for Russian involvement, but the BBC, as is its wont, speculates on how the British may punish Russia, and the other corporate media chime in. But we are left to wonder where this is leading. Could it be Syria? Former British diplomat Craig Murray suggests it could be a false-flag setup aimed at raising Russiaphobia to hysterical proportions. But to what end?
If we look to the United Nations and the accusations and threats flying from the mouth of the US Ambassador Nikki Haley, Obama’s UN Ambassador Samantha Power’s doppelganger in war lust, we see that the picture expands. Haley threatened that the US will take unilateral action in Syria against Syrian and Russian forces if the UN didn’t adopt her resolution that would have allowed anti-government terrorists plenty of time to escape from East Ghouta. She said, echoing words we have heard numerous times:
It is not the path we prefer, but it a path we have demonstrated we will take, and we are prepared to take again….When the international community fails to act, there are a Times when states are compelled to take their own action.
In response we have the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov warning that another US strike on Syrian government forces would have serious consequences. And the Chief of the Russian General Staff Valery Gerasimov saying:
We have reliable information about militants preparing to falsify a government chemical attack against civilians. In several districts of Eastern Ghouta, a crowd was assembled with women, children, and old people, brought from other regions, who were to represent the victims of the chemical incident.
He added that “White Helmets” activists (proven to be financed by the US and UK) had already arrived at the scene with satellite video transmitters ready to film the scene and that the Russians had discovered a “laboratory for the production of chemical weapons in the village of Aftris which was liberated from terrorist.” After the planned false-flag attack, the US was going to bomb government held districts in Damascus fulfilling Haley’s threat.
And here in the US, Col. Lawrence Wilkinson, who was Secretary of State Colin Powell’s chief of staff when Powell lied at the UN in 2003 to garner support for the criminal attack on Iraq, spoke to The Israel Lobby and American Policy 2018 conference ten days ago and said, speaking of Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, that:
They’re both headed for war. Of that I’m convinced. They will use Iran’s allegedly existential (sic) to Israel presence in Syria which is becoming even more so from a military perspective every day, Hezbollah’s accumulation of some 150,000 missiles if we believe our intelligence agencies. The need to set Lebanon’s economy back yet again, that’s important. Look at what they’re deliberating right now with regard to the new very, very rich gas find in the Eastern Mediterranean with Israel claiming Section 9 and Lebanon claiming Section 9. Take that, Lebanon. We’re going to bomb you, then you’ll let us have it. And that will be their excuse.
Now Rex Tillerson is out as Secretary of State and the head of the CIA, the far more war minded Mike Pompeo slides naturally into the role. Musical chairs for the power elite. As Trump has said of Pompeo, “We are on the same wavelength.” Riding that same wavelength is Nikki Haley, a trio whose alliance bodes very poorly for Middle Eastern peace or for any rapprochement with Russia. The game turns deadlier as the Presidential Apprentice learns the rules and the empire prepares to shed more innocent blood in an unholy alliance with Israel, Saudi Arabia, and other “team players.”
But this time the game won’t be, in the words of another CIA liar, “a slam dunk.” The opponents are ready this time. The game has changed.
And in eastern Ukraine, the snow should be melting in the next 3-4 weeks.
Play your hunch.