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Posts Tagged ‘Free market

Bill Moyers: “Welcome to the Plutocracy!”

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You would think the rich might care, if not from empathy, then from reading history. Ultimately gross inequality can be fatal to civilization…. Pulitzer Prize-winning anthropologist Jared Diamond writes about how governing elites throughout history isolate and delude themselves until it is too late.

Wednesday 03 November 2010            t r u t h o u t

The first Howard Zinn Memorial Lecture was delivered by veteran journalist, Bill Moyers, Friday, October 29,  2010, at Boston University .

.              Howard Zinn (b. Aug. 24, 1922, in Brooklyn, N.Y.; d. Jan. 27, 2010, in Santa Monica, Calif.) was a professor of Political Science at Boston University from 1964 to 1988, historian, playwright, activist, and author of more than 20 books, including  A PEOPLE’S HSTORY OF THE UNITED STATES:  1492 – PRESENT (1980), revised (1995)(1998)(1999)(2003).

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I was honored when you asked me to join in celebrating Howard Zinn’s life and legacy. I was also surprised. I am a journalist, not a historian. The difference between a journalist and an historian is that the historian knows the difference. George Bernard Shaw once complained that journalists are seemingly unable to discriminate between a bicycle accident and the collapse of civilization. In fact, some epic history can start out as a minor incident. A young man named Paris ran off with a beautiful woman who was married to someone else, and the civilization of Troy began to unwind. A middle-aged black seamstress, riding in a Montgomery bus, had tired feet, and an ugly social order began to collapse. A night guard at an office complex in Washington D.C. found masking tape on a doorjamb, and the presidency of Richard Nixon began to unwind. What journalist, writing on deadline, could have imagined the walloping kick that Rosa Park’s tired feet would give to Jim Crow? What pundit could have fantasized that a third-rate burglary on a dark night could change the course of politics? The historian’s work is to help us disentangle the wreck of the Schwinn from cataclysm. Howard famously helped us see how big change can start with small acts.

We honor his memory. We honor him, for Howard championed grassroots social change and famously chronicled its story as played out over the course of our nation’s history. More, those stirring sagas have inspired and continue to inspire countless people to go out and make a difference. The last time we met, I told him that the stories in A People’s History of the United States remind me of the fellow who turned the corner just as a big fight broke out down the block. Rushing up to an onlooker he shouted, “Is this a private fight, or can anyone get in it?” For Howard, democracy was one big public fight and everyone should plunge into it. That’s the only way, he said, for everyday folks to get justice – by fighting for it.

I have in my desk at home a copy of the commencement address Howard gave at Spelman College in 2005. He was chairman of the history department there when he was fired in 1963 over his involvement in civil rights. He had not been back for 43 years, and he seemed delighted to return for commencement. He spoke poignantly of his friendship with one of his former students, Alice Walker, the daughter of tenant farmers in Georgia who made her way to Spelman and went on to become the famous writer. Howard delighted in quoting one of her first published poems that had touched his own life:

It is true
I’ve always loved
the daring ones
like the black young man
who tried to crash
all barriers
at once,
wanted to swim
at a white beach (in Alabama)
Nude.

That was Howard Zinn; he loved the daring ones, and was daring himself.

One month before his death he finished his last book, The Bomb. Once again he was wrestling with his experience as a B-17 bombardier during World War II, especially his last mission in 1945 on a raid to take out German garrisons in the French town of Royan. For the first time the Eighth Air Force used napalm, which burst into liquid fire on the ground, killing hundreds of civilians. He wrote, “I remember distinctly seeing the bombs explode in the town, flaring like matches struck in the fog. I was completely unaware of the human chaos below.” Twenty years later he returned to Royan to study the effects of the raid and concluded there had been no military necessity for the bombing; everyone knew the war was almost over (it ended three weeks later) and this attack did nothing to affect the outcome. His grief over having been a cog in a deadly machine no doubt confirmed his belief in small acts of rebellion, which mean, as Howard writes in the final words of the book, “acting on what we feel and think, here, now, for human flesh and sense, against the abstractions of duty and obedience.”

His friend and long-time colleague writes in the foreword that “Shifting historical focus from the wealthy and powerful to the ordinary person was perhaps his greatest act of rebellion and incitement.” It seems he never forget the experience of growing up in a working class neighborhood in New York. In that spirit, let’s begin with some everyday people.

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An Introspective Look at the Future of America: Systemic Fraud, Corruption and Financial Instability

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by Craig Harris            

Global Research, Jan. 2, 2010

As we close out 2009 and look forward into 2010 and beyond, this has been a year of near financial catastrophe and monumental change, none of which benefited America or ordinary Americans. Late in 2008 and throughout 2009, events have happened in the US which would have been labeled unfathomable just a few short years ago, and yet already these monumental changes are expected to be filed into the memory hole and Americans are expected to believe nothing has changed.

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The Value of Nothing (Video Preview)

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By Raj Patel          Organic Consumer’s Assn.

Oscar Wilde observed, “Nowadays people know the price of everything and the value of nothing.” Patel’s book, The Value of Nothing, shows how our faith in prices as a way of valuing the world is misplaced. He reveals the hidden ecological and social costs of a hamburger (as much as $200), and asks how we came to have markets in the first place. Both the corporate capture of government and our current financial crisis, Patel argues, are a result of our democratically bankrupt political system.

Social organizations, in America and around the globe, are finding new ways to describe the world’s worth. If we don’t want the market to price every aspect of our lives, we need to learn how such organizations have discovered democratic ways in which people, and not simply governments, can play a crucial role in deciding how we might share our world and its resources in common.

Our current crisis is not simply the result of too much of the wrong kind of economics. While we need to rethink our economic model, Patel argues that the larger failure beneath the food, climate and economic crises is a political one. If economics is about choices, Patel writes, it isn’t often said who gets to make them. The Value of Nothing offers a fresh and accessible way to think about economics and the choices we will all need to make in order to create a sustainable economy and society.

To read the first chapter, click here: http://bit.ly/1ajaxZ. For more information on both Raj Patel and The Value of Nothing, visit http://www.rajpatel.org. Video directed by Scott Hamilton Kennedy (http://www.thegardenmovie.com).

The Mystique of “Free-Market Guy” Obama

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judas goat

Obama has continued most of Bush’s anti-democratic policies and flubbed any attempts at “change.”  Evidently his primary purpose is to convince the American people that Corporate Rule is unassailable.  It’s not the first time Democrats have pursued popular policies in ways that are Designed to Fail.

By Jeff Cohen   09/24/09 Information Clearing House

“……Some activists still see Obama as a brilliant political superhero who — although maddeningly slow to fight back against his opponents — always manages to win in the end … like Muhammad Ali defeating George Foreman.

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