China, Olympics, & Propaganda; Democracy or Economy; Destroying a 5,000-Year-Old Civilization

The Anti-Empire Report

Propaganda as an Olympic competition

The latest protests in Tibet and crackdown by Chinese authorities have brought up the usual sermonizing in the West about Chinese government oppression and illegitimate control of the Tibetans. Although I have little love for the Chinese leaders — I think they run a cruel system — some proper historical perspective is called for here.

Many Tibetans regard themselves as autonomous or independent, but the fact remains that the Beijing government has claimed Tibet as part of China for more than two centuries. The United States made its position clear in 1943:

The Government of the United States has borne in mind the fact that the Chinese Government has long claimed suzerainty over Tibet and that the Chinese constitution lists Tibet among areas constituting the territory of the Republic of China. This Government has at no time raised a question regarding either of these claims.1

After the communist revolution in 1949 US officials tended to be more equivocal about the matter.

Even as the Chinese were attacking Tibetan protestors, New York City Police were beating up and literally threatening to kill “Free Tibet” protestors in front of the United Nations. It’s all on video.2

The Washington Post recently ran a story about how the Chinese people largely support the government suppression of the Tibetan protesters. The heading was: “Beijing’s Crackdown Gets Strong Domestic Support. Ethnic Pride Stoked by Government Propaganda.” The article spoke of how Beijing officials have “educated” the public about Tibet “through propaganda”.3 That’s a rather interesting concept. Imagine the Post or any other American mainstream media saying that those Americans who support the war in Iraq do so because they’ve been educated by government propaganda. … Ditto those who support the war in Afghanistan. … Ditto those who supported the bombing of Yugoslavia. … Ditto scores of other US invasions, bombings, overthrows, and miscellaneous war crimes spanning more than half a century.

Now Germany’s foreign minister has warned China that its response to the crisis in Tibet may jeopardize the Summer Olympics in Beijing. “The German federal government is saying to the Chinese government: be transparent! We want to know exactly what is going on in Tibet.” He also warned China to avoid any violent measures in its standoff with Tibetan protesters.4 Human rights organizations have demanded that Coca-Cola, Visa, General Electric, and other international companies explain their dealings with the Chinese government as it prepares to host the Summer Games. The French Foreign Minister floated the prospect of boycotting the Games’ opening ceremony because of China’s response to the protests. And the president of the European Parliament said European countries should not rule out threatening China with a boycott if violence continued in Tibet.5

It’s nice to see the West’s conscience stirred up. They’re real good about such things, when the target is not one of their own, particularly against a communist country. In 1980, 62 nations — including the United States, Canada, West Germany, Japan, and Israel — boycotted the Olympics in Moscow because the previous year the Soviet Union had invaded Afghanistan. Four years later, the Olympics were held in Los Angeles. Not a single member of “The Free World” boycotted it, even though the previous year the United States had invaded Grenada and overthrown the government, with a lot less political justification than the Russians had for invading Afghanistan. The Grenada invasion was as much lacking in legality and morality as the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

The Soviet Union and 13 of its allies stayed away from the Los Angeles Olympics, but when the Russians announced the boycott they cited only security concerns. President Reagan had declared at the time of the invasion that Grenada was “a Soviet-Cuban colony being readied as a major military bastion to export terror and undermine democracy, but we got there just in time.”6 One would think that Moscow would have mentioned Grenada at least for the satisfaction of throwing Afghanistan and the 1980 boycott in Washington’s face. The fact that the Russians made no such mention was a measure of how unconcerned they were about the tiny island nation and its alleged future as a major Soviet military bastion. The magnitude and variety of Reagan administration lies that accompanied the invasion of Grenada may have stood as a record until the Bush administration topped it in Iraq 20 years later.7

In politics, as on the sickbed, people toss from one side to the other, thinking they will be more
comfortable. — Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

A recurring theme of Hillary Clinton’s campaign for the presidency has been that she has more of the right kind of experience needed to deal with national security and foreign policy issues than Barack Obama. The latest play on this is her advertisement telling you: It’s three a.m. and your children are safe and asleep; but there’s a phone in the White House and it’s ringing; something really bad is happening somewhere; and voters are asked who they want answering the phone. Of course they should want Hillary and her marvelous experience. (If she’s actually explained what that marvelous experience is, I missed it. Perhaps her near-death experience in Bosnia?)

Typical of Clinton’s growing corps of conservative followers, the Washington Times recently lent support to this theme. The right-wing newspaper interviewed a group of “mostly conservative retired [military] officers, industry executives and current defense officials”, who cite Mr. Obama’s lack of experience in national security.8

And so it goes. And so it has gone for many years. What is it with this experience thing for public office? It was not invented by Hillary Clinton. If I need to have my car repaired, I look for a mechanic with experience with my particular car. If I needed an operation, I’d seek out a surgeon with lots of experience performing that particular operation. But when it comes to choosing a person for political office, the sine qua non consideration is what their politics are. Who would you choose between two candidates — one who was strongly against everything you passionately supported but who had decades of holding high government positions, or one who shared your passion on every important issue but had never held any public office? Is there any doubt about which person almost everyone would go for? So why does this “experience” thing keep coming up in so many elections?

A recent national poll questioned registered voters about the candidates’ “approach to foreign policy and national security”. 43% thought that Obama would be “not tough enough” (probably a reflection of the “experience” factor), while only 3% thought he’d be “too tough”. For Clinton the figures were 37% and 9%.9 The evidence is overwhelming that decades of very tough — nay, brutal — US policies toward the Middle East has provoked extensive anti-American terrorism; the same in Latin America in earlier decades,10 yet this remains an alien concept to most American voters, who think that toughness works (even though they know it doesn’t work on Americans — witness the reaction to 9/11).

John McCain, who is proud to have dropped countless bombs on the people of Vietnam, who had never done him or his country any harm until he and his country invaded them, who now (literally) sings in public about bombing the people of Iran, and who tells us he’s prepared to remain in Iraq for 100 years, is still regarded as “not tough enough” by 16% and “too tough” by only 25%. What does it take to convince Americans that one of their leaders is a bloody psychopath? Like the two psychos he may replace. How has 225 years of our grand experiment in democracy wound up like this? And why is McCain regularly referred to as a “war hero”? He was shot down and captured and held prisoner for more than five years. What’s heroic about that? In most other kinds of work, such a record would be called a failure.

Winston Churchill said that “The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.” And if that doesn’t do it for you, try a five-minute conversation with almost any American politician. This thing called democracy continues to be used as a substitute for human liberation.

One parting thought about Obama: Is he prepared to distance himself from Rev. Martin Luther King as he has from his own minister, Rev. Jeremiah Wright? King vehemently denounced the Vietnam War and called the United States “the most violent nation in the world”. Like Wright, he was strongly condemned for his remarks. As T.S. Eliot famously observed: “Humankind can not bear very much reality.”

Do Americans live in a democracy or in an economy?

The Dow Jones industrial average of blue-chip stocks:
On March 19 it increased 420 points
On March 20 it went down 293 points
On March 21 it increased 261 points
Do the economic fundamentals change dramatically overnight? Or is our economic system as psycho as John McCain?

The US economy is teetering on the edge of recession because for a long time banks and others were selling mortgages at subprime rates to people who were bad credit risks. They sold them the mortgages anyhow because they knew they could combine these questionable mortgages into bundles and sell them to financial speculators higher up on the food chain. The higher speculators in turn sold bundles of various debt instruments to other speculators. The supposedly objective credit rating agencies told everyone that these firms and their bundles were good investments, but the credit rating agencies in fact had played a role themselves in putting some of the bundles together. This convoluted system created such complex and deliberately opaque financial vehicles — all devised to make someone a buck every time they swapped some paper — that they long ago had lost track of the papers’ true value. We had a financial system terminally choked with worthless paper “instruments”. A genuine house of cards. It fell.

We go from the dot-com bubble to the stock market bubble to the Enron bubble to the housing bubble to the credit bubble … capitalist growth increasingly being driven by speculative bubbles, which invariably burst, and with each burst many thousands lose jobs, and, currently, their homes.

Can anyone say with any kind of precision how the price of gasoline at the pump is arrived at each day? And exactly what the relationship is, if any, between that price and the price of oil on the mercantile exchanges which are regularly announced as the “official” price of a barrel of oil? And why the speculators who spend their days playing buy-and-sell games at these exchanges — while having no actual personal contact with barrels of oil — should have such a profound effect upon our daily lives? And why gasoline is priced at $3.40.9 per gallon? Or $3.24.9 per gallon? That’s 9/10 of a penny.

And while we’re at it … Why is almost everything in American society priced at amounts like $9.99, $99.99, or $999.99? Or $3.29 or $17.98?

If all economists were laid end to end, they would not reach a conclusion.
– George Bernard Shaw

Marketing is about creating emotional, even irrational bonds between your product and your target audience. There was a time when capitalism strove, much more than now, to meet the real needs of people. Now its forte is creating artificial needs with advertising and filling them, like bottled water. And how do they get away with it? Because you’ll believe anything. Even that bottled water is purer than tap water.

It is difficult to produce a television documentary that is both incisive and probing when every twelve minutes one is interrupted by twelve dancing rabbits singing about toilet paper.
– Rod Serling, famed TV writer

“Get off this estate.”
“What for?”
“Because it’s mine.”
“Where did you get it?”
“From my father.”
“Where did he get it?”
“From his father.”
“And where did he get it?”
“He fought for it.”
“Well, I’ll fight you for it.”
— Carl Sandburg

Can it be imagined that an American president would openly implore America’s young people to fight a foreign war to defend “capitalism”? The word itself has largely gone out of fashion. The approved reference now is to the market economy, free market, free enterprise, or private enterprise. This change in terminology endeavors to obscure the role of wealth in the economic and social system. Simply naming the system, after all, might imply that there are others. And avoiding the word “capitalism” sheds the adverse connotation going back to Karl Marx.

At some unrecorded moment a few years ago, the egg companies of America changed their package labels from small, medium and large to medium, large and jumbo. The eggs remained the same size.

“The Federal Trade Commission concluded that there is very little connection between what drug companies charge for a drug and the costs directly associated with it.”11

“The makers of aspirin wish you had a headache right now,” says the graffiti.

Slavery is the legal fiction that a person is property and corporate personhood is the legal fiction that property is a person.

The private-benefit corporation is an institution granted a legally protected right — some would claim obligation — to pursue a narrow private interest without regard to broader social and environmental consequences. If it were a real person, it would fit the clinical profile of a sociopath.
– David Korten

Ralph Nader once charged the Justice Department anti-trust division with going out of business without telling anyone.

Capitalism as practiced in the United States is like chemotherapy: it may kill the cancer cells of consumer shortages, but the side effects are devastating.

Many workers are paid a wage sufficient to allow them to keep on living, even if it’s not a living wage. Here’s a radical solution to poverty — pay people enough to live on.

“The paradox is that, three centuries after America’s colonial beginnings, wealth and income are more unequally distributed in the ‘New World’ than in most of the nations of Europe.”12

How many Americans realize that they have a much longer work week, much shorter vacations, much shorter unemployment coverage, much worse maternity leave and other employee benefits, and much worse medical coverage than their West European counterparts?

Expressing elementary truths about the oppression of the poor by the rich in the United States runs the risk of being accused of “advocating class warfare”; because the trick of class war is to not let the victims know the war is being waged.

What do the CEOs do all day that they should earn a thousand times more than schoolteachers, nurses, firefighters, street cleaners, and social workers? Re-read some medieval history, about feudal lords and serfs.

The campaigns of the anti-regulationists imply that pure food and drugs will be ours as soon as we abolish the pure food and drug laws.

“American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, US Airways and Continental Airlines raised round trip fares $10 on most domestic flights to take advantage of strong demand”13 — a news item from late 2006; similar items can be found before and since. Is that not odd? Raising prices because of strong demand? Raising prices even though they’re already making more money as a result of the increased demand? So the more someone wants something, or the more they need it, the more they have to pay. Yes, it’s the good ol’ law of supply and demand. Economics 101. You have a problem with that? You should. What takes place in the world of economics is 60% power/politics/ideology, 30% psychological, 10% immutable laws. (These percentages are immutable.)

The more you care about others, the more you’re at a disadvantage competing in the capitalist system.

To say that 1% of the population owns 35% of the resources and wealth, is deceptive. If you own 35% you can control much more than that.

How could the current distribution of property and wealth have emerged from any sort of democratic process?

The myth and mystique of “choice” persuades us to endorse the privatization of almost every sphere of activity.

A study of 17,595 federal government jobs by the Office of Management and Budget concluded that civil servants could do their work better and more cheaply than private contractors nearly 90 percent of the time in job competitions.14

Communist governments take over companies. Under capitalism, the companies take over the government.

The American oligarchy has less in common with the American people than it does with the oligarchies in Japan and France.

If you lose money gambling, you can’t take a tax deduction. But you can if you lose on the glorified slot machine known as the stock market; your loss is thus subsidized by taxpayers.

If the system should cater to selfishness because it’s “natural”, why not cater to aggression which many people claim is also natural.

Do the members of a family relate to each other on the basis of self-interest and greed?

The idea that egotism is the basis of the general welfare is the principle on which competitive society has been built.
– Erich Fromm, German-American social psychologist

Capitalism is the theory that the worst people, acting from their worst motives, will somehow produce the most good.

The twentieth century has been characterized by three developments of great political importance: the growth of democracy; the growth of corporate power; and the growth of corporate propaganda as a means of protecting corporate power against democracy.
– Alex Carey, Australian social scientist

And this, dear friends, is the system the American Empire is determined to impose upon the entire known world.

The country needs to be born again, she is polluted with the lust of power, the lust of gain.
– Margaret Fuller, literary critic, New York Tribune, July 4, 1845

When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men living in society, they create for themselves, in the course of time, a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that glorifies it.
– Frederic Bastiat, The Law (1850)

An ode to five years of heartless destruction of a five thousand year civilization

“Letters My President Is Not Sending” by Naomi Shihab Nye.

Dear Rafik, Sorry about that soccer game you won’t be attending since you now have no …

Dear Fawziya, You know, I have a mom too so I can imagine what you …

Dear Shadiya, Think about your father versus democracy, I’ll bet you’d pick …

No, no, Sami, that’s not true what you said at the rally that our country hates you, we really support your move toward freedom, that’s why you no longer have a house or a family or a village.

Dear Hassan, If only you could see the bigger picture …15

“Building a new world” conference

May 22-25, Radford University, Radford, Virginia, 5-hour drive from Washington, DC.
Cindy Sheehan, Kathy Kelly, Michael Parenti, David Swanson, Gareth Porter, William Blum, Medea Benjamin, Gary Corseri, and others.
Inexpensive room and board available. Full details here.

  1. “Foreign Relations of the United States, 1943, China”, Department of State, 1957, p.630. []
  2. This Is Not China?,” Information Clearing House, 26 March 2008. []
  3. Washington Post, March 17, 2008, p.12. []
  4. Associated Press, March 21, 2008. []
  5. Washington Post, March 22 and 23, 2008. []
  6. New York Times, October 27, 1983. []
  7. William Blum, Killing Hope, chapter 45. []
  8. Washington Times, February 26, 2008. []
  9. Pew Research Center for the People and the Press (Washington), February 28, 2008. []
  10. William Blum, Rogue State, chapter one re Middle East and Latin America []
  11. Washington Post, August 3, 2005, p.D1-2, column by Steven Pearlstein. []
  12. Wallace Peterson, Silent Depression: The fate of the American Dream (1994). []
  13. Washington Post, November 4, 2006, p.D2. []
  14. Washington Post, May 26, 2004, p.A25. []
  15. Washington Post, March 22, 2008, p.1; the poet lives in San Antonio, Texas. []

William Blum is the author of: Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Interventions Since World War 2, Rogue State: A Guide to the World's Only Superpower, West-Bloc Dissident: A Cold War Memoir, Freeing the World to Death: Essays on the American Empire. He can be reached at: bblum6@aol.com. Read other articles by William, or visit William's website.

14 comments on this article so far ...

Comments RSS feed

  1. Michael Kenny said on March 30th, 2008 at 6:21am #

    I wouldn’t set too much store in the talk from various European leaders about boycotts of the Olympics. Talk is cheap and words never hurt anyone. Equally, the “European street”, the “little people”, if you will, will not accept such a boycott. They want their sport and woe betide any politician who tries to interfere with it. Moreover, the sporting federations are private bodies and I don’t see how they can be prevented from going to any country they want. Indeed, any attempt to prevent them travelling would probably be contrary to the European Convention on Human Rights. Add to that the fact that China is a major trading partner and that as the US collapses, nobody sees any reason to do what the US wants. The Chinese leaders know that very well and they are wise enough to know that the European leaders have to make various noises, but that no action will follow.

    Thus, Europe’s teams will be there and the European TV networks will broadcast the games more or less wall to wall. The whole thing will turn into yet another US defeat and further annoy Europeans.

  2. D.R. Munro said on March 30th, 2008 at 6:51am #

    That video of the protest outside of the UN is pretty disturbing.

    I wonder, their Brownshirts must have been at the cleaners that day?

    We all know how violent Buddhists are, in fact, they aren’t white . . . so I think they are terrorists.

  3. Don Hawkins said on March 30th, 2008 at 6:54am #

    There is an article two down from this one called economic cycles and political trends in the United States(part one). I guess Mr. Tremblay is going to talk in April at the Marco Island Yacht Club. I may have some stuff he can use. Mr. Tremblay I read your stuff and like the weather now day’s these constants you use could be a little outdated. In your speech at the yacht club here is a few new ideas and if you use these your next jig could be in front of the Capital, out front of the Capital on the lawn. You could start your speech at the yacht club with,” Hello people how is everybody today? Most of you sitting in this room are the chosen one’s. Now don’t be modest you know you are and for good reason. Many of you have been wise in your decisions. The business that many of you are in have sent the manufacturing of your products offshore to China and India cheap labor, brilliant. Never mind that in China most of the rivers are so polluted the water should not be put on the fields for crops and the products that come back this way have heavy metal and a few other compounds that probably shouldn’t be there. Always remember these products are for the mass’s and we all here know who they are. Never mind about that little inflation problem in China as we in this room have lot’s of dollars. Many of you probably sold mortgages to the mass’s good move as now you get money from the government, brilliant. We are at peak oil it’s Ok as we can get another 5 million a day in a few years and tar sands and more drilling like in the North because the ice is melting due to climate change caused by the burning of fossil fuels and in some circles to get that oil and gas from the North is called insanity it’s Ok we are chosen one’s remember that. Now Mr. Tremblay at this point in your speech stop talking for about a minute then in the sound system have laughter start soft laughter. Let it play for a minute or so then say, can you here that it is the laughter of the God’s. Then have a younger person in the audience stand up and yell as loud as they can, The End. Come on it would be great. Then of course go out front as the people are leaving to shake there hands as they are saying, who is that man. I am never going to another one of these again. The nerve of that man. Did he seem to be drunk.” Yes Mr. Tremblay I will be waiting for part two with great compound interest.

  4. Max Shields said on March 30th, 2008 at 8:28am #

    T.S. Eliot famously observed: “Humankind can not bear very much reality.”

    And so it goes….
    Max

  5. hp said on March 30th, 2008 at 9:22am #

    Michael Kenny,
    Spot on.

  6. Don Hawkins said on March 30th, 2008 at 1:38pm #

    Morpheus: The Matrix is everywhere. It is all around us. Even now, in this very room. You can see it when you look out your window or when you turn on your television. You can feel it when you go to work… when you go to church… when you pay your taxes. It is the world that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you from the truth.
    Neo: What truth?
    Morpheus: That you are a slave, Neo. Like everyone else you were born into bondage. Into a prison that you cannot taste or see or touch. A prison for your mind.

    Every mammal on this planet instinctively develops a natural equilibrium with the surrounding environment, but you humans do not.
    And so it goes…..

  7. Don Hawkins said on March 30th, 2008 at 2:07pm #

    Summary.
    Humanity today, collectively, must face the uncomfortable fact that industrial civilization itself
    has become the principal driver of global climate. If we stay our present course, using fossil
    fuels to feed a growing appetite for energy-intensive life styles, we will soon leave the climate of
    the Holocene, the world of human history. The eventual response to doubling pre-industrial
    atmospheric CO2 likely would be a nearly ice-free planet.
    Humanity’s task of moderating human-caused global climate change is urgent. Ocean and
    ice sheet inertias provide a buffer delaying full response by centuries, but there is a danger that
    human-made forcings could drive the climate system beyond tipping points such that change
    proceeds out of our control. The time available to reduce the human-made forcing is uncertain,
    because models of the global system and critical components such as ice sheets are inadequate.
    However, climate response time is surely less than the atmospheric lifetime of the human-caused
    perturbation of CO2. Thus remaining fossil fuel reserves should not be exploited without a plan
    for retrieval and disposal of resulting atmospheric CO2.
    Paleoclimate evidence and ongoing global changes imply that today’s CO2, about 385 ppm,
    is already too high to maintain the climate to which humanity, wildlife, and the rest of the
    biosphere are adapted. Realization that we must reduce the current CO2 amount has a bright
    side: effects that had begun to seem inevitable, including impacts of ocean acidification, loss of
    fresh water supplies, and shifting of climatic zones, may be averted by the necessity of finding an
    energy course beyond fossil fuels sooner than would otherwise have occurred.
    We suggest an initial objective of reducing atmospheric CO2 to 350 ppm, with the target to
    be adjusted as scientific understanding and empirical evidence of climate effects accumulate.
    Limited opportunities for reduction of non-CO2 human-caused forcings are important to pursue
    but do not alter the initial 350 ppm CO2 target. This target must be pursued on a timescale of
    decades, as paleoclimate and ongoing changes, and the ocean response time, suggest that it
    would be foolhardy to allow CO2 to stay in the dangerous zone for centuries.
    A practical global strategy almost surely requires a rising global price on CO2 emissions and
    phase-out of coal use except for cases where the CO2 is captured and sequestered. The carbon
    price should eliminate use of unconventional fossil fuels, unless, as is unlikely, the CO2 can be
    captured. A reward system for improved agricultural and forestry practices that sequester carbon
    could remove the current CO2 overshoot. With simultaneous policies to reduce non-CO2
    greenhouse gases, it appears still feasible to avert catastrophic climate change.
    Present policies, with continued construction of coal-fired power plants without CO2 capture,
    suggest that decision-makers do not appreciate the gravity of the situation. We must begin to
    move now toward the era beyond fossil fuels. Continued growth of greenhouse gas emissions,
    for just another decade, practically eliminates the possibility of near-term return of atmospheric
    composition beneath the tipping level for catastrophic effects.
    The most difficult task, phase-out over the next 20-25 years of coal use that does not capture
    CO2, is herculean, yet feasible when compared with the efforts that went into World War II. The
    stakes, for all life on the planet, surpass those of any previous crisis. The greatest danger is
    continued ignorance and denial, which could make tragic consequences unavoidable. James Hansen and many more

    Surpass those of any previous crisis. Suggest that decision-makers do not appreciate the gravity of the situation and why is that? Could it be that they are to busy pulling the wool over your eyes to blind you from the truth. No, decision- makers would never do that. I know Lloyd I went a little off subject.

  8. onecansay said on March 30th, 2008 at 2:28pm #

    And i am. Matters not. Americans have a two party system, yet there is always a third party involved. That is what your constitution is. A document by the third party!

  9. Giorgio said on March 30th, 2008 at 5:18pm #

    …..and the glaringly obvious solution is:

    Help the impeccable Ron Paul continue to extend his grassroots support in the next few years and become US President in 2012. Meantime let the other freaks, preferably McCain, win in 2008 and thus continue to dig their own graves in Iraq…..

  10. HR said on March 30th, 2008 at 5:37pm #

    USans have tended over the last 40 years to reject candidates having their best interests at heart. How else to explain Nixon, Regan, etc. Candidates who share the concerns of common folks, are discarded like so much trash, as shown most recently by the (second) rejection of Kucinich, and likely rejection this go ’round of McKinney and Nader. And, I would wager that most folks don’t have a clue to how much experience their mechanic really has, as they simply take their car to the dealership, or to some franchise outfit for service and repair, or just drive it until it stops running.

  11. DavidG. said on March 30th, 2008 at 5:52pm #

    Capitalism has almost destroyed Western Civilization! Why should China escape its malignant cancer!

    Sadly, most humans don’t have the intellect and/or the interest to examine what our world is really about and what needs to be done to save it.

    My blog, like Dissident Voice, seeks answers but who’s listening, who’s doing anything, who cares?

  12. Gary Corseri said on April 1st, 2008 at 11:03pm #

    There’s more truth in 1 Anti-Empire Report by William Blum than in a thousand mainstream media rags.

    Blum’s style is changing. His work is always carefully researched; but in this particular gem with many facets, he puts on a philosophic air, musing aloud and scattering new and burnished definitions like diamonds. This one, for example: “Capitalism is the theory that the worst people, acting from their worst motives, will somehow produce the most good.” And this: “Slavery is the legal fiction that a person is property and corporate personhood is the legal fiction that property is a person.” Ambrose Bierce and George Bernard Shaw would have endorsed his rapid-fire epigramatic approach. We can all applaud this new literary vigor in Blum’s pen (or keyboard hands): “The myth and mystique of “choice” persuades us to endorse the privatization of almost every sphere of activity.”

    It’s time for Blum to collect his “Reports” of the last three or four years between the covers of a new book. (Too much time has passed since the publication of ROGUE STATE and FREEING THE WORLD TO DEATH. Time to shake up the world again, Bill.) No one has chronicled our Empire’s violent decadence better than Blum, and it would be stunning to see just how much more rotten this reeking nightmare has become under George W. Cheney’s second watch!

  13. John Wilkinson said on April 4th, 2008 at 5:15pm #

    So, because a crime of aggression happened two centuries ago, all is forgotten and those people (in Tibet) can forget about their identity, right? Because China claims this as own territory, that makes it so, and the idigenous people have no say in this. Same as in Kosovo. If the US is for it, you are against it, even if it runs against your own published principles (you know, like non-aggression, self-determination, not meddling into other cultures, not imposing your will on others, against military conquests, etc.). Yes, the US is hypocritical (extremely), but so are you (all of you “progressives”), claiming to be on the side of right, but actually are on any side that sells books, articles and opinions in the “progressive” circles.

  14. georgy kats said on April 23rd, 2008 at 1:40pm #

    Gary’s comment above is right on. Bill Blum’s wit needs to be collected in a new book so the rest of us can laugh–and learn. I will quote him as often as possible: Slavery is the legal fiction that a person is property and corporate personhood is the legal fiction that property is a person.