Archive for June 2009
The ability of the corporate state to pacify the country by extending credit and providing cheap manufactured goods to the masses is gone. The pernicious idea that democracy lies in the choice between competing brands and the freedom to accumulate vast sums of personal wealth at the expense of others has collapsed. The conflation of freedom with the free market has been exposed as a sham. The travails of the poor are rapidly becoming the travails of the middle class, especially as unemployment insurance runs out and people get a taste of Bill Clinton’s draconian welfare reform. And class warfare, once buried under the happy illusion that we were all going to enter an age of prosperity with unfettered capitalism, is returning with a vengeance.
Our economic crisis—despite the corporate media circus around the death of Michael Jackson or Gov. Mark Sanford’s marital infidelity or the outfits of Sacha Baron Cohen’s latest incarnation, Brüno—barrels forward. And this crisis will lead to a period of profound political turmoil and change. Those who care about the plight of the working class and the poor must begin to mobilize quickly or we will lose our last opportunity to save our embattled democracy. The most important struggle will be to wrest the organs of communication from corporations that use mass media to demonize movements of social change and empower proto-fascist movements such as the Christian right.
American culture—or cultures, for we once had distinct regional cultures—was systematically destroyed in the 20th century by corporations. These corporations used mass communication, as well as an understanding of the human subconscious, to turn consumption into an inner compulsion. Old values of thrift, regional identity that had its own iconography, aesthetic expression and history, diverse immigrant traditions, self-sufficiency, a press that was decentralized to provide citizens with a voice in their communities were all destroyed to create mass, corporate culture. New desires and habits were implanted by corporate advertisers to replace the old. Individual frustrations and discontents could be solved, corporate culture assured us, through the wonders of consumerism and cultural homogenization. American culture, or cultures, was replaced with junk culture and junk politics. And now, standing on the ash heap, we survey the ruins. The very slogans of advertising and mass culture have become the idiom of common expression, robbing us of the language to make sense of the destruction. We confuse the manufactured commodity culture with American culture.
It is impossible to imagine that the US was not aware that the coup was in the works. At minimum, the US could have flexed its tremendous economic muscle before the coup and told the military coup plotters to stand down.
There is a lot of great analysis circulating on the military coup against Manuel Zelaya in Honduras. I do not see a need to re-invent the wheel. (See here here here and here). However, a few key things jump out at me. First, we know that the coup was led by Gen. Romeo Vasquez, a graduate of the US Army School of the Americas. As we know very well from history, these “graduates” maintain ties to the US military as they climb the military career ladders in their respective countries. That is a major reason why the US trains these individuals.
It seems both inevitable and deadly: people become what they hate. Nationalist Judaism is a philosophy of hate, not so unlike the Nazis before them.
Auschwitz survivor: “I can identify with Palestinian youth”
Adri Nieuwhof, The Electronic Intifada, 2 June 2009
Hajo Meyer, author of the book The End of Judaism, was born in Bielefeld, in Germany, in 1924. In 1939, he fled on his own at age 14 to the Netherlands to escape the Nazi regime, and was unable to attend school. A year later, when the Germans occupied the Netherlands he lived in hiding with a poorly forged ID. Meyer was captured by the Gestapo in March 1944 and deported to the Auschwitz concentration camp a week later. He is one of the last survivors of Auschwitz.
By Haider Rizvi Copyright © 2009 IPS-Inter Press Service
UNITED NATIONS, May 6 (IPS) – The United States is considering whether to endorse a major U.N. General Assembly resolution calling for the recognition of the rights of the world’s 370 million indigenous peoples over their lands and resources.
“The position on [this issue] is under review,” Patrick Ventrell, spokesperson for the U.S. mission to the U.N., told IPS about the Barack Obama administration’s stance on the non-binding U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
Approved by a vast majority of the U.N. member states in September 2007, the General Assembly resolution on the declaration was rejected by the George W. Bush administration over indigenous leaders’ argument that no economic or political power has the right to exploit their resources without seeking their “informed consent.”
Thanks to Information Clearinghouse, I have now discovered Fred Reed. It may be an age thing (we were born the same year) or that we were both Navy brats, or just that he’s written a damn good column on AIPAC. See for yourself:
… I loathe America’s militarism, the carnage it wreaks in its wars against Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Pakistan, and earlier in Southeast Asia. Why am I supposed to approve of identical behavior by Israel? Am I to have one morality for Israel and another for my own country and the rest of the world? Am I to believe that gratuitously bombing Baghdad and Hanoi is wrong, but gratuitously wrecking Beirut is right?
or try this one:
……OK, a brief excursion into cosmic truth. First, socialism. Hard-line conservatives with little grasp of economics refer to anything they don’t like—Hillary, national health care, regulation of anything if it might cost them money—as “socialist.” It’s a utility pejorative, devoid of meaning, as “racist” and “elitist” are for political south-paws. Socialism is of course a system in which the government owns the means of production. Check your dictionary.
Ah! But in America, the means of production own the government. Inverted socialism it is.
Yes, and the textbook definition of Fascism. Glad to meet you, Fred!
The way they bandy around the word “democracy” you’d think they were using Orwell’s double-think dictionary:
The people of America are obsessed with the outbreak of passion for personal freedom and justice in Iran. It doesn’t matter that they can’t find Iran on a map, never heard of Farsi and couldn’t tell a Persian from a persimmon………
Our culture has become addicted to the thrill of mass focus on (fill in the blank): and probably the more life threatening to someone, somewhere- the greater kick the Twittering thumbs will get out of it. Any minute now the spotlight will shift to an American Idol loser or a gotta-have techno gadget, but in the meantime all the speculation, rumor and bathos available are fixated on Iran.
As Dennis Kucinich eloquently says here, about the only thing made in America any more is WAR.
Of course we can add the negatives: unemployment, homelessness, insecurity and unresponsive government. If you’re feeling sold out by a neo-liberal cabal intent on serfdom for all in a Global Fiefdom, this may help explain how it all happened:
Hint: repressive policies are not changed by virtuality or Tweets. They are changed by real people standing up and taking it to the streets. We have much we can re-learn from Iran right now, and very little to teach them.
The cowardly Democrats who checked their spines at the door to Congress when they voted Tuesday try to defend their flip-flop on war funding. Frankly, it is embarrassing.
By Jeremy Scahill
June 18, 2009 “RebelReports” — Over the past few days, we reported on how the White House and Democratic Congressional Leadership waged a dirty campaign to scare up votes to support another $106 billion in funds for their wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Now, several of the so-called anti-war Democrats who left their principles at the House coat check on their way in to vote Tuesday are trying to explain away their hypocritical votes.