1.20.2014 Leave a comment
A political blog written from a left populist perspective
1.11.2014 Leave a comment
Barry Lando, at one time an investigative producer for 60 Minutes, made a succinct yet indirect case for identifying America’s efforts in Iraq as a genocide. About the United States’ post-9.11 war Lando wrote the following: “The military onslaught and the American rule that immediately followed, destroyed not just the people and infrastructure of Iraq, but the very fiber of the nation.”
Why genocide? When one couples the invasion and occupation with American long-term support for Saddam Hussein, with George H.W. Bush‘s inciting a rebellion in Iraq which he later would not support, with America’s attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure during and after the Gulf War, with the murderous sanctions regime of the 1990s, the United States has directly or indirectly killed or displaced millions of Iraqis. It has also provoked the peoples of Iraq to take up arms and use them in the struggle for power and advantage in their country. The United States destroyed a nation. This, indeed, is a genocide.
10.2.2013 Leave a comment
Norman Pollack’s recent description of the impasse rings true:
The “shutdown issue,” presently mired in the political-ideological battle between the Far Right and the Less-Far Right (House Republicans and Administration Democrats), has little to do with the social welfare of the American people, and instead reveals discernible differences only on the degrees of sophistication informing the programs of each in their determined assistance to corporate capitalism. Republicans in this tableau (a staged presentation going back decades in the roles assumed by each side) are the visceral fascists, striking out at government without realizing how much it helps, assists, and protects business and banking, while Democrats actively, yet with becoming liberal rhetoric to hide from themselves their delusions and treachery, take help, assistance, and protection to a higher level of systemic interpenetration between business and government by means of a regulatory framework written by the affected interests.
Pollack considers the shutdown to be an opportunity:
Shutdown, ideally, equals wake-up, an exposure of widespread impoverishment on one hand, widespread waste, corruption of democratic institutions, and military aggression pure-and-simple on the other. If nothing more, scaring the folks at Morgan Chase and Goldman Sachs until the legislative conflict is papered over, is worth the candle, considering that nothing will be done for the poor in any case.
But it should prove to be an opportunity missed by those who need to act to bring Superpower to heel:
Sequestration will ensure the lifeblood of the current American polity and economy, militarism attached to the continuing program of global hegemony, so that neither Republicans nor Democrats find urgency in resolving the present stalemate—and in fact, holding the bottom one-fourth of the people hostage to the utter good will of the political system and the consolidated wealth standing behind it, as the source for a solution, is a good lesson in proper obedience, deportment, citizenship. Dangle just enough social- welfare anticipated goodies before the people to ensure quiescence while simultaneously magnifying ideological differences that hardly exist, and one has the perfect formula keeping the masses distracted from the main show—not shutdowns or debt ceilings, but a foreign policy of global capitalist expansion geared to US-defined financial, monetary, and trade advantages, coupled with necessary regime change for their realization, all wrapped in a framework of massive surveillance at home and the quickening paces for demanding patriotism and conformity.
Today, political accountability originates in the streets. Democracy also. Both originate in the streets because America’s electoral mechanism, its judicial practices and its Congress have proved themselves incapable of protecting the citizenry from the government and, of course, the world from America’s empire. But public action of this kind is now risky and even mortally dangerous. Nevertheless the appearance of anti-system social movements and public protest motivated by a system-critical political culture appear to be necessary conditions for the country if it is to move beyond the current situation.
9.22.2013 Leave a comment
Rob Urie has provided us with a concisely written essay which identifies the predicaments generated by the capitalist democracies in the West as well as by the global empire governed by power elites located in Washington, DC and Wall Street. Reading Urie’s essay is worth the effort.
9.21.2013 Leave a comment
Originally posted on LBO News from Doug Henwood:
These are comments I delivered at a panel on The Making of Global Capitalism, by Leo Panitch and Sam Gindin, at the Rethinking Marxism conference, held at the University of Massachusetts–Amherst, on September 20, 2013. I interviewed them about the book here.
I want to start by saying that I greatly admire this book, and pretty much everything these two guys have done over the years. Unusually for the genre, I meant every word of the blurb I supplied for it. A while back, I was on a panel with Radikha Desai, on which she argued that the U.S. empire was not really much of a success compared to its British predecessor, which made me wonder what planet she’d been living on. (Given the stars of this panel, it can’t be her residence in Canada that led to this strange conclusion.) The thing has been incredibly successful on its own terms, and Leo and Sam are excellent at pointing out some of the mechanisms of its success, like the skillful incorporation of the second tier powers like Western Europe and Japan (I could say Canada as well, but it’s something of a special case). They have a high standard of living, and can even ride a moral high horse now and then while the U.S. military does the dirty work of imperial policing. Of course, life in the third and fourth tiers of the empire is another story—one of debt and profit extraction and the occasional CIA-sponsored coup.
And the ability of the U.S. planning elite to transcend immediate national interests to promote the health of the global system has been extremely impressive. Just to pick one example of something I found profoundly clarifying, I never really understood U.S. strategy around Middle Eastern oil. Noam Chomsky likes to quote a 1940s planning document on what a strategic prize control of that oil is, but once the producing countries nationalized that oil in the 1970s, it didn’t seem like the U.S. derived any great economic or strategic advantage from its influence and power in the region. After all, we produce far more hydrocarbons domestically than most of the second tier countries, and our immediate neighbors produce plenty as well. Leo and Sam offer a much more satisfying explanation: the U.S. interest is in the free flow of oil for the health of the global system.
9.9.2013 Leave a comment
Andrew Levine characterized Congressional Democrats thusly:
In Gulliver’s Travels (1726), Jonathan Swift has his hero say of the inhabitants of Brobdingnag: “I cannot but conclude that the Bulk of your Natives, to be the most pernicious Race of little odious Vermin that Nature ever suffered to crawl upon the Surface of the Earth.”
Gulliver might have used those words, just as appropriately, to describe House and Senate Democrats as they mobilize to support Barack Obama’s looming Syrian War.
8.31.2013 Leave a comment
As the United States lunges into another reckless, foolish war, we may wish to notice that:
Regardless of the trigger mechanism, the [Obama] administration seems intent on pushing through Donald Rumsfeld’s old madcap blueprint for the Middle East, which involved toppling the governments of seven consecutive countries on the way to unchallenged dominion over Arab and Persian fossil fuels. Their eyes are on the prize. The rest is detail. It seems to make little difference to the Americans what becomes of Syria, only that Assad is overthrown, and the warlord that plants his flag atop the wreckage is hostile to Tehran and is willing to viciously put down any foolhardy bids for self-determination that might emerge from the populace. After all, the U.S. has left a trash bin of fallen monuments and blown infrastructures in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya. If the entire Arab world is a flaming midden whose only functional entities are oil derricks, what cause for concern is that to our imperial chieftains? Let the Islamists slaughter each other on the peripheries of the bonfire while we vacuum every ounce of natural gas and petroleum from the core of the earth. (One conjures visions of Daniel Day-Lewis in There Will Be Blood, mocking his young evangelical rival and shouting, “I drink your milkshake!”)
Jason Hirthler, author of the above, continued by pointing out that America’s “Liberals stare blankly from the sidelines while their ‘lesser evil’ does another expert impression of the ‘greater evil’.” How much blood must their standard bearer shed before they break with him and the party duopoly which runs Uncle Sam’s empire? I would guess a lot of blood as long as they can put affordable gasoline in their cars.