Arrogance, Ignorance, and Cowardice

[A version of this essay was delivered to the “Struggle for Global Justice” film festival organized by the student group Azaad at the University of Texas at Austin on September 11, 2008.]

Given the disastrous decisions made by U.S. officials in the seven long years since September 11, 2001, it would be easy tonight simply to catalog those many mistakes and condemn the bipartisan depravity of the Republican and Democratic politicians who — starting almost immediately after the towers fell — manipulated people’s anger and fear to build support for illegal and immoral wars of aggression in Afghanistan and Iraq.

It would be especially easy for those of us in the anti-war/anti-empire movement to feel self-righteous and say, “We told you so.” By the end of the day on 9/11, many of us saw where the nation was heading and tried, in vain, to argue for a saner strategy. For example:

It need not be said, but I will say it: The acts of terrorism that killed civilians in New York and Washington were reprehensible and indefensible; to try to defend them would be to abandon one’s humanity. … But this act was no more despicable than the massive acts of terrorism — the deliberate killing of civilians for political purposes — that the U.S. government has committed during my lifetime.

Let us not forget that a military response will kill people, and if the pattern of past U.S. actions holds, it will kill innocents. Innocent people, just like the ones in the towers in New York and the ones on the airplanes that were hijacked. To borrow from President Bush, “mother and fathers, friends and neighbors” will surely die in a massive response.

[I]f we are to be decent people, we all must demand of our government — the government that a great man of peace, Martin Luther King Jr., once described as “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world” — that the insanity stop here.

With help from friends in my political circle, I wrote those words late in the day on September 11, 2001. The full essay was posted on the web the next day and appeared in the Houston Chronicle on September 14, prompting a flood of angry responses from people who thought that the piece was outrageous and that I was a traitor. Yet analyses like this, which were so controversial at the time, seem rather unremarkable today. In a recent report, the establishment think tank Rand Corp. concluded that the United States made a fundamental error in portraying the response to 9/11 as a “war on terrorism” and that “the U.S. strategy was not successful in undermining al Qa’ida’s capabilities.” [Seth G. Jones, Martin C. Libick, How Terrorist Groups End: Lessons for Countering al Qa’ida, 2008.] Looking back at the statements and writings of the anti-war activists who spoke up right away, I think it’s fair to say that in general we were honest in our assessments of history and accurate in our projections of what was to come. We shouldn’t feel too cocky about that, however; predicting that an imperial power will act like an imperial power is no great accomplishment.

So, tonight I want to do more than review the crimes that the Bush administration committed with the cooperation of Democrats, and to go beyond self-congratulation. That would be the easy path, but the easy path is rarely the most useful. Instead, let’s focus on ourselves and our fellow citizens. Let’s try to be honest about who we are and who we have been, in the hopes we can learn lessons that will be valuable in the future.

I’ll start with the rule of thirds, assuming it can be helpful to divide any human population roughly into thirds on any particular question. Based on the past seven years, how would we describe 21st century Americans in political terms? I would suggest that 9/11 showed us that we the people of the United States are arrogant, ignorant, and cowardly. About a third of us are arrogant and proud of the United States’ aggressive posture in the world. Another third of us are ignorant and hide behind the excuse that we don’t, or can’t, know what’s really happening. And the final third — the group in which I would place myself — are cowardly, avoiding the moral consequences of what we aren’t willing to do.

That may sound harsh, but these are irrefutable claims — and I have the pop songs to prove it. Of course songs lyrics do not an argument make, but I will illustrate my points the work of popular musicians, whose story-telling reflects the society from which it comes.

Arrogance

Let’s start with Toby Keith’s “Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue (The Angry American),” which he wrote a few days after 9/11 and which appeared on his 2002 CD, Unleashed.

Keith articulates a desire to strike back that is easy to understand. This reflex to respond violently to a violent attack is part of being human; we all have the capacity for such action. But that does not mean, of course, that military responses are always morally justified. We may feel a desire to strike, but such a desire should be examined in the light of history and contemporary politics. Let’s consider one of Keith’s verses:

Oh justice will be served
And the battle will rage
This big dog will fight
When you rattle his cage
And you’ll be sorry that you messed with the U S of A
‘Cause we’ll put a boot in your ass
It’s the American way.

Was justice served when the United States rejected diplomacy and launched an illegal invasion of Afghanistan? Has the United States ever advanced the cause of justice in the Middle East and Central Asia, especially during the post-World War II period of its unparalleled dominance? Do U.S. policymakers go to war only when our cage is rattled? Or, in fact, has the United States consistently used war to extend and deepen economic dominance, especially in that post-WWII period?

Sadly, the only thing Keith gets right is the recognition that violence is the American way. From the moment Europeans landed in the Americas, they acquired land and resources through the kind of barbaric violence that is all too familiar in human history and a consistent feature of the American story. However, basic moral principles suggest that’s not something to celebrate.

Keith claims that the song has been misunderstood, that it was more patriotic than pro-war, and his claim is easy to believe — in the United States patriotism is often fused with an assumption of dominance and the inherent righteousness of U.S. violence, which is precisely the problem. But before we write off Toby Keith as part of some reactionary fringe, let’s remember that “Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue” was a popular song that advanced his career. Also consider the fact that he’s supporting Barack Obama in the current presidential race. Last month Keith, who has said “me and Michael Moore would agree on a lot of things,” offered this analysis:

There’s a big part of America that really believes that there is a war on terrorism, and that we need to finish up. So I thought it was beautiful the other day when Obama went to Afghanistan and got educated about Afghanistan and Iraq. He came back and said some really nice things.

There is nothing inconsistent in Keith’s song and these comments. The arrogance that is at the heart of his song has been expressed by Democrats and Republicans alike since 9/11. The assertion that the United States fights for justice in its wars abroad is routinely asserted across the conventional political spectrum and echoed in corporate commercial media. The fact that all of contemporary history refutes that assertion is irrelevant, because we live in a country in which ignorance can be celebrated.

Ignorance

This brings us to Alan Jackson’s “Where Were You When the World Stopped Turning,” from his 2002 CD, Drive.

Rather than critique the sentimental self-indulgence of Jackson’s song — since everything is always about America, it’s hardly surprising that in the dominant culture what’s most important is how Americans feel — let’s focus on this verse:

I’m just a singer of simple songs
I’m not a real political man
I watch CNN, but I’m not sure I can tell you the difference
in Iraq and Iran
But I know Jesus and I talk to God
And I remember this from when I was young
Faith, hope and love are some good things He gave us
And the greatest is love.

What does it say about the culture when a popular entertainer, who has ready access to as much information as he needs to understand the world, cannot distinguish between Iraq and Iran? He can’t tell the difference between the two most important regional powers in the most strategically crucial area of the world, home to the lion’s share of the planet’s petroleum, a place on which the majority of his country’s military power is focused? Through six decades in Iraq and Iran, the United States has been directly responsible for widespread death and incredible misery as a result of covert operations, direct attacks, and support for brutal dictators in each country. Yet even though he goes to the trouble of watching CNN, Jackson still is uncertain about which is which.

This is “willed ignorance,” the product of a conscious choice not to know what could be easily known and what one has a moral obligation to know. Again, Jackson is not idiosyncratic; I would suggest this stance is the norm in the United States. Rather than being embarrassed by his ignorance and taking steps to correct it, he offers it up as an indication of higher virtue, evidenced by his understanding of the centrality of love. I agree that faith, hope, and love should be central in our lives. But having faith, hope, and love doesn’t require ignorance. Knowledge is a good thing, too, something we can seek out ourselves and help each other acquire.

However, we also must recognize that knowledge won’t change the world unless we also have courage.

Cowardice

I have never been a fan of Toby Keith or Alan Jackson, and I don’t listen to much country music. I’m more of a Neil Young kind of guy. So, let me illustrate the cowardice of the American public by looking at Young’s music.

That may strike some as odd, given that Young’s 2006 Living with War CD was a direct challenge to the Bush administration and the U.S. occupation of Iraq. But the key to my criticism is the year — 2006. An anti-war record three years into the war should not be cause for uncritical accolades for a musician who claims to be a dissenter. We should be asking Neil Young, “Where were you in 2001?” The answer: He was writing and recording “Let’s Roll,” which was released on his 2002 CD, Are You Passionate?

That song is a tribute to the United Flight 93 passengers who intervened in the 9/11 hijacking of that plane and forced it down in Pennsylvania. One of those passengers, Todd Beamer, is said to have uttered the famous words, “let’s roll” as they took that action. Even if we want to interpret the song apolitically, as a simple tribute to human courage, it adds to the cultural mythology about U.S. heroism, which contributes to U.S. arrogance and does nothing to correct the ignorance crucial to engineering people’s consent for war. Beyond such a tribute, the song suggests a need for war:

No one has the answer
But one thing is true
You’ve got to turn on evil
When it’s coming after you
You’ve gotta face it down
And when it tries to hide
You’ve gotta go in after it
And never be denied
Time is runnin’ out
Let’s roll.

While Young was writing that song, the anti-war movement was trying to counter the country’s hyper-patriotism, warning where it would lead — to more U.S. aggression in the service of empire, in both Afghanistan and Iraq, to death and destruction, to the policies that Young eventually would oppose in Living with War. When the movement could have used an eloquent musical voice, Young was on the other side.

My goal is not to single out Neil Young, but to ask us all to reflect on how easy it was for so many to fall in line with that hyper-patriotism after 9/11, and how easy it might again be in the future. The task of responsible citizens in the empire is not to critique illegal and immoral wars when they go sour, but to resist those wars of aggression from the start. With that in mind, Young’s 2006 lyrics from Living with War ring just a bit hollow:

I join the multitudes
I raise my hand in peace
I never bow to the laws of the thought police
I take a holy vow
To never kill again
To never kill again

Courage requires taking risks. Most of the liberals who now are vocal in their opposition to the war did not take risks right after 9/11; most ducked and covered, claiming that America was too emotionally vulnerable for politics at that moment, as the politicians kept right on pushing their politics of empire, driving an arrogant and ignorant public to war.

My Cowardice

Again, while it’s always easy to catalog the flaws of others, it’s far more useful for all of us to attempt honest self-reflection, including those of us who opposed both wars from the start.

While I have worked hard over the years to learn about the Middle East and Central Asia, I recognize that it has been relatively easy given the resources and privileges available to me as a professor, and I also am aware of how much I still don’t know about those regions and about other parts of the world. I struggle for humility and try to learn more, though there’s ample room for criticism of me on those counts. But the virtue in which I feel most deficient these days is courage.

I have no problem defending the decision I made to speak out immediately after 9/11 and to contribute to anti-war organizing; at the time I thought those were the right things to do, and none of the criticism of those decisions — from conservatives or liberals — has ever offered a coherent moral or intellectual case against those actions. I am haunted not by what I did but by what I didn’t’ do, by my own cowardice. Why did those of us who opposed U.S. policy not take more risks and push harder? It’s fine to be right in one’s analysis; it’s better to be right and effective. And, in retrospect, the only thing that might have been effective in impeding the mad rush to war was for those dissenting from that madness to take real risks, to put our bodies in the path of the war machine. Mario Savio, one of the leaders of the Berkeley Free Speech Movement, articulated this so passionately on the University of California campus in December 1964:

There is a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can’t take part; you can’t even passively take part, and you’ve got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you’ve got to make it stop. And you’ve got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it, that unless you’re free, the machine will be prevented from working at all.

Activists in the anti-war movement are sometimes accused of being cowards, of being afraid to fight. That is a slur designed to derail the anti-war movement’s honest critique of (1) the violence of the powerful, (2) the propaganda the powerful use to persuade ordinary people to support the violence, and (3) the economic motives of the elites whose wealth and privilege depends on that violence. But those of us in the anti-war movement should ask ourselves: Have we built a political culture that provides the support we need to act with courage? Do we have the real courage necessary to undermine the U.S. empire? While people suffer and die around the world as a direct result of U.S. military and economic policies, what are we doing to stop the machine? Are we willing to put our bodies upon the gears, the wheels, the levers? If forced to choose between our relative affluence and real sacrifices that conscience might demand, how do we choose?

This is not a question on which I have standing to pontificate. The answer is simple: I have not done enough. We haven’t done enough, because the machine is still grinding away, still grinding down people at home and around the world. Perhaps if anti-war activists had upped the ante and we had put our bodies in the way of the machine, the world would look very different tonight. Or perhaps all that would have happened was that we’d be in jail or dead because the machine would have rolled right along and rolled over us. There’s no way to know.

But I do know this: In the months after 9/11, when the political stakes seemed so high, I never really seriously considered putting my body on the gears and I never heard others in my political circles seriously discuss such options. We had not built movements and a political culture in which that question was on the table for most of us. When I think about that today — not that I didn’t do something more drastic, but that I never really considered it — I feel ashamed. That recognition doesn’t lead me to want to rush out and risk my life to prove something, but rather reminds me that I should rethink the strategies with which I’ve grown comfortable.

Facing Difficult Realities

This rethinking requires facing some difficult realities, which lead me to these recommendations:

* Drop the arrogance and face a painful truth: The troops in Afghanistan and Iraq are not fighting for our freedom or for justice. Whatever the individuals who serve in the military believe or do — and I realize that many believe they are defending us, and I know that many regularly act in compassionate and humane ways in the field — the U.S. military is not a defensive force or a humanitarian institution. It is an offensive force that destroys vulnerable people in other societies to entrench the power of a small U.S. elite and deliver the short-term material benefits that come to middle- and working-class people in the empire.

* Reject the ignorance and face a disturbing truth: The institutions that claim to help us understand the world (schools, universities, and the corporate commercial media) are key components of a propaganda system that encourages ignorance on these vital matters. Whatever the individuals in these institutions believe or do — and I realize that many believe they are part of a noble tradition, and I know many do challenge the conventional wisdom — these institutions are not fundamentally educational in nature. They are ideological factories that the elite use to undermine critical thinking about how power operates.

* Find the courage to resist and face some obvious truths: The crises we face in this country and the world — economic, political, cultural, ecological — will not be fixed by electing a new president, nor will the culture be turned around by traditional progressive political strategies. I will vote, and I will continue organizing. But I do not believe that the oppressive systems that structure our world can be dismantled through those methods. We need to think creatively, and we need to come to terms with the likelihood that until those in power believe that those of us who want to challenge power are willing to take serious risks, the machine will continue grinding.

These problems we face are not the result of an idiosyncratic moment in history or of one particularly thuggish group of politicians in power at that moment. We are dealing with the predictable consequences of a world shaped by patriarchy, white supremacy, nationalism, and capitalism — systems of coercion and control that are at odds with goals of justice and sustainability. That’s not easy to face, but it can help us break out of the insular self-indulgence that is so tempting when one lives in the most affluent society in the history of the world.

So, the crucial question isn’t, “Where were you when the world stopped turning?” The world didn’t stop turning. The violence of 9/11 should be understood as another ugly episode in a relentlessly violent period of human history. Let’s never forget that around the world people suffer 9/11-level violence on a regular basis. If that violence continues — the visible violence of war, the quiet violence of economic inequality, and the deeper violence of humans against the living world — it’s not clear there will be a world left, at least not a world we would want to leave to our children.

So, let’s ask another question: “Where are you as the world keeps turning?” As the violence continues, as the machine grinds on, where are we? What are we learning? What are we saying? What are we doing? What risks are we taking?

This is a time to realize that the dominant political institutions offer nothing beyond a tweaking of the same failed systems; in the middle of this presidential campaign, none of the major p lay ers are acknowledging the fundamental problems, let alone proposing meaningful changes in policy to acknowledge the problems. It’s also time to realize that old approaches to progressive political organizing don’t seem to be working; large scripted street demonstrations may have some benefits, for example, but they aren’t significantly advancing the goals we claim to want to achieve.

Where do we go from here? I have no well-developed plan to present tonight. My gut feeling tells me that while we prepare to vote in this election and continue traditional organizing in the short term, we have to think about a long-term strategy focusing much more on local, small-scale endeavors that will foster solidarity during the empire’s decline and could provide a soft landing when the empire is over. It doesn’t mean giving up our obligations to the larger world; the 500 years of imperialism that helped create this affluent society impose a clear moral obligation on us to work for global justice. But we also have to recognize that the world in which we live is going to change dramatically in the coming decades, and we need to build new institutions and networks that can help us cope with those changes.

Some may find it depressing to focus on how often we have failed and the consequences of those failures. But that analysis also reminds us that we are moving into a potentially creative period. Letting go of the things with which we have become familiar is difficult, but it also opens up possibilities for something new, and that can be exciting. To have the courage to act on what we can know, with humility, is the only way to imagine bringing the imperial phase of U.S. history to a humane close and creating the conditions that could make justice and sustainability possible.

Let’s return to the meaning of this day, September 11, which for so many evokes deep sadness and painful memories. Facing these harsh political realities and asking these questions does not dishonor those who died that day or trivialize the pain of their loved ones. It simply asks us to expand our moral circle, to recognize a common humanity and a common fate. To do that, we have to put aside our arrogance, correct our ignorance, and find our courage. That is hard, but that is the only way to imagine stopping the machine.

Robert Jensen is a professor of journalism at the University of Texas at Austin and and board member of the Third Coast Activist Resource Center in Austin. His latest book is We Are All Apocalyptic Now: On the Responsibilities of Teaching, Preaching, Reporting, Writing, and Speaking Out (Monkey Wrench Books). Jensen is also co-producer of the documentary film Abe Osheroff: One Foot in the Grave, the Other Still Dancing (Media Education Foundation, 2009), which chronicles the life and philosophy of the longtime radical activist. An extended interview Jensen conducted with Osheroff is online. He can be reached at: rjensen@austin.utexas.edu. Twitter: @jensenrobertw. Read other articles by Robert, or visit Robert's website.

38 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. bozhidar bob balkas said on September 11th, 2008 at 6:57am #

    one cannot obtain a full elucidation of what is happening now on intranational and international levels unless one studies what had been happening on same leves for at least 10M.
    in addition, two new factors came to play a role on the two levels.
    one is global warming that may make some regions uninhabitable and that planet is getting poorer.
    as far as i know nothing has changed regarding the aim or strategy; only tactics and weaponry have changed and will change.
    bush is worse than polk, genghis khan, suleiman the great, caeser only beacause he has weaponry that the others did not have.
    fear of losing one’s wealth has been with us forever. this factor is, to me,always and actor in all wars.
    thus the control of domestics solely via disinformation/miseducation when possible and aliens via bombs, missiles, threats, blockades, sieges, sanctions, and wars.
    world plutos lead by amers plutos do not want to share ‘their’ wealth with serfs. no my friends, only slavery or much of it has evanesced but serfdom/obedience to ruling clas hasn’t.
    and the rich nations,i educee from wellk-known fatcs, will not share earths wealth or what will be left over in decades or centuries with poor nations. thank u

  2. Donald Hawkins said on September 11th, 2008 at 7:09am #

    . We are already starting to see in a big way something that has been told for a few thousand years. “You must unlearn what you have learned.” “Once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny, consume you it will…” and today we see that loud and clear. These so called elite’s are destroying themselves and if they think I am going down that path with them they are sadly mistaken. Of course in the past we humans always got a second chance and this time that second chance is about the whole ball game and going to be very tuff to do. It can be done as the truth is on our side. I know that truth thing has been said and said but is true. I don’t know how many of these so called elite’s know it yet but the good the bad and the ugly are getting very easy to see. Go to James Hansen’s web site and read his last post it was the best I always’ say that and he always writes one better his last post you will see it. There is still time and just maybe the darkside will destroy itself in time or at least render itself useless it’s easy to see.

  3. Socialism: Next Stage in Political Systems. Socialism will come to USA wether capitalists like it or not !! said on September 11th, 2008 at 9:43am #

    CINDY MCCAIN STOLE SOME MEDICINE, SOME PAINKILLER MEDS.

    You’re U.S. Senator John McCain, and you’ve got a big problem. Your wife, Cindy, was addicted to prescription painkillers. She stole pills from a medical-aid charity she heads and she used the names of unsuspecting employees to get prescriptions.

    The public is about to find out about it. Until now, you’ve managed to keep it all quiet. When Tom Gosinski, a man your wife fired, sued for wrongful termination and threatened to expose the whole sordid story, you didn’t hesitate to call in the big guns.

    .

  4. bozhidar bob balkas said on September 11th, 2008 at 9:53am #

    donald,
    like pavlov dog, people- world over salivate when the head honcho speaks.
    it makes no diff whether bush lies or tells truth, the conditioned people salivate with anger, lust, revenge, righteousness and off we go just like a bomb when activated.
    it’s a panhuman event. and anyone who’s been in US will see that amers are not an oner.
    they are just like everybody else. as hitler had said, Das deutsche volk will nie ermueden, nie verzeigen, nie verzweifeln.
    germans ate that up with gusto.
    amers ate up the words (mostly) lies with relish. thank u

  5. Arch Stanton said on September 11th, 2008 at 11:46am #

    “The acts of terrorism that killed civilians in New York and Washington were reprehensible and indefensible …”

    Just out of curiosity, who (except for minor league whackjobs) attempted to defend said attack?

    “… the establishment think tank Rand Corp. concluded that the United States made a fundamental error in portraying the response to 9/11 as a “war on terrorism” …”

    Jeepers. Hitler made a “fundamental error” invading Poland. That’s one on “us” I guess.

    “I would suggest that 9/11 showed us that we the people of the United States are arrogant, ignorant, and cowardly.”

    Don’t forget stupid. Quite spectacularly stupid actually.
    Exhibit A: The McBush/Shotgun Mom “surge” in the polls. Anyone even considering voting for those two fruitcakes is not only stupid but probably clinically insane as well. Case closed.

    “Do U.S. policymakers go to war only when our cage is rattled?”

    Only against “enemies” who aren’t quite capable of adequately fighting back, i.e. Iraq and Afghanistan. Those who can, i.e. Russia, get a severe tongue lashing and a tanker full of hypocritical horseshit.

    “… in the United States patriotism is often fused with an assumption of dominance and the inherent righteousness of U.S. violence …”

    That isn’t exactly a US phenomenon. That pretty much characterizes the west since the Roman Empire. It’s a conceit of nations that has made the past 30 centuries one long string of bloodbaths after another. No end is in sight, by the way.

    “If that violence continues — the visible violence of war, the quiet violence of economic inequality, and the deeper violence of humans against the living world — it’s not clear there will be a world left, at least not a world we would want to leave to our children.”

    You mean as opposed to what we have now? In “our” current circumstance it may appear that the very act of having children is a form of child abuse.

    “Where do we go from here?”

    Space. Humanity needs to begin colonizing space. We can do a lot more damage that way.

    So as long as we’re quoting pop tunes, here’ my contribution:

    Everybody wants to rule the world
    Must be something we get from birth
    One truth is we never learn
    Satellites will make space burn

    Charlie don’t surf and we think he should
    Charlie don’t surf and you know that it ain’t no good
    Charlie don’t surf for his hamburger Momma
    Charlie’s gonna be a napalm star

  6. Donald Hawkins said on September 11th, 2008 at 12:23pm #

    Bob I do see your point but how about this. A flying saucer, silver lands on the White House lawn and is immediately cover with a force field. In about three hours a few hundred cameras are pointed at the saucer and also every known weapon humans have. An hour after that the head honcho from far far away comes out of the ship and begins to speak. People of Earth. We have been watching you for about a thousand years now and let me say as life forms go in the Universe you humans are not to bright. On a scale between 1 and 10, 10 being the smartest you humans are a 2 yes there are worst but not by much. We are here to give you all a second chance so to speak. We have already done a few things. All those nuclear weapons you have well all you will find now is lead. All those weapons pointed at our ship and this will happen all over your Planet in two minutes those weapons will start to get very hot and then melt kind of like your ice caps. Here’s the big one we are leaving this machine here on Earth covered with a force field and what it does is if any of you humans from this day forward tell a lie your nose will get hot and the next lie a little hotter and after 5 lies it will glow red for all to see. Before we go I am going to give all of you human’s a gift. The head honcho then takes out a gold and red thing that looks like something on the inside of a super computer. He then say’s people of Earth if you can figure out how this works it will help you with your energy needs and stop cutting down tress and your leaders well they don’t have anymore weapons I’ll let you figure that one out I hope. Good luck people of Earth and stop eating so much it’s not good for you.

  7. Teresa said on September 11th, 2008 at 2:02pm #

    I like this analysis, and find some sense of the overwhelming feeling all those seeking social justice probably feel at one time or another. It’s not a few bad men, but the system, “a world shaped by patriarchy, white supremacy, nationalism, and capitalism”.

    I don’t think social justice or peace is something any guru and his/her movement can bring to our culture, because anyone with the power to influence followers is part of a system that breathes hierarchy, celebrity, and the means to create “insiders” and “outsiders”, thereby becoming part of the problem but under a different name.

    As Rene Girard and those who follow his anthropology of religion so clearly show, creating a morally-superior group — no matter what the issue — creates the conditions for escalating violence. The humble beginnings of doing the morally better thing are what lead, afterall, to things like murder and geneocide, where “patriots” or “saints” sacrifice themselves to stop “enemies” and “evil” men in order to save the thing of value to the movement. Think of the insanity of pro-lifers who murdered doctors in the 1990’s.

    Perfect justice will not come through groups but individuals, each person choosing the self-interest of peace over plenty. That can happen only as we evolve, because very few people would agree that peace is more valuable to them than, say, food and comfort and the security of having more in reserve.

    I don’t think it’s merely a matter of culture that the Romans laughed at men torn apart by lions and that medieval French theater-goers delighted at cats that were burned alive. I think human nature has evolved (in a small way, at least) from what it was 2000 years ago. We’re more aware of our own responsibility in making victims and we’re more compassionate for those victims. Perhaps 2000 years from now, our descendents will see our phrase “collateral damage” as a barbaric euphemism and they will know, as we do not, that an enemy is defined not by some Other and what he does but by ourselves and how we define ourselves.

    And by enemy, I mean not just the Islamic Jihadists as seen by neocons , but also the neocons as seen by the peace movement.

  8. DanE said on September 11th, 2008 at 4:55pm #

    Well Bozhidar my Balkas & call me Bob: BB you’re making a lot more sense to me now than earlier. Doubt if I’ve gotten any smarter so maybe you’re writing better? Or maybe I’ve just been crazy all along:) Anyway I retract earlier insulting remarks, my bad:(

    Max Shields is also making sense to me now, sort of, up to a point, which pt. is made better by Jensen IMHO, but think I can see now what Max was working toward.

    And even Michael Kenny is sounding good to me now! Him I thought the 2nd coming of Adolph Schickelgreuber! Wow: anyday I expect Evie to post sthg I’ll hafta fwd to my Sects in the City list! Jaime will turn out to be the GenSec of the whole 3rd World revolution!

    So Ronpaul, Nader, Cynthia & them got together a Press Conf, but Bob Barr passed on it. Wonder why? Wonder if he’d participate in a non-Doowopoly Debate? Might get more coverage than just a Pr Conf sans even a Dog & a Pony? Give it some Stunt value?

    Well, keep at it, BB: pretty soon you’ll have your own stuff under your own byline. Esp. if you tailor your style to Editorial Requirements:) which is Mox Nix to me, but that’s how the game is played.

    EZ,
    dan e

  9. John Hatch said on September 11th, 2008 at 6:27pm #

    “The acts of terrorism that killed civilians in New York and Washington were reprehensible and indefensible …”

    Yes they were. Even more so since they were not conceived and planned out of some cave in Afghanistan or Pakistan. More likely PNAC and VP boardrooms. America needs to come to terms with that.

  10. Donald Hawkins said on September 11th, 2008 at 7:51pm #

    An important point to note is the rate of these natural processes. The typical imbalance
    between tectonic sources and sinks of atmospheric CO2 is about one ten-thousandths of a ppm of
    atmospheric CO2 per year. In one million years this would be a CO2 change of 100 ppm, which
    would cause large climate change. This natural rate of change should be compared with the
    present human-made increase of atmospheric CO2, which is about 2 ppm per year.
    So, yes, it is clear that natural climate changes are huge over long time scales,
    encompassing even an ice free planet. But now the human-made rate of change of atmospheric
    CO2 is ten thousand times larger than the natural rate that drove the huge climate changes.
    Humans are now in charge of atmospheric CO2 amount and global climate, for better or worse. James Hansen

    Let me say what James Hansen just said again. But now the human-made rate of change of atmospheric
    CO2 is ten thousand times larger than the natural rate that drove the huge climate changes.
    Humans are now in charge of atmospheric CO2 amount and global climate, for better or worse.

    There is still time if we start now. Go to James Hansen’s web site and read his last post dated Sept 10, 2008. There are many people who don’t want you to read this because that don’t think you can handle the truth, what.

  11. Brian Koontz said on September 12th, 2008 at 1:18am #

    “Why did those of us who opposed U.S. policy not take more risks and push harder?”

    Because they don’t really oppose U.S. policy.

    The vast majority of the American people support imperalism. They may not support it in theory, but they support it in practice. They take pleasure in their cars, and computers, and designer clothes, and televisions, and IPods, all the stuff that imperialism buys for them. All Americans know, most deep down and a few consciously, that it’s the exploitation of the world that enables them (and not the world, by and large) to have those things.

    9/11 was not so much an attack on America as a direct threat to the American “way of life”. Most Americans didn’t fear for their lives that day, they feared an end of treasures for themselves.

    Think about the people who commit terrorist acts against America. They are by and large religious, and they attack a country whose only god can be considered Mammon. While often not poor the anger they channel is that of the poor and oppressed, living in a global system dominated by America and therefore their poverty being CAUSED BY America.

    So when America attacked “the other” following 9/11, it defined “the other” primarily in class terms. The War on Terror is a war against the global poor, against a large majority of the world’s people, and an overwhelming majority of the “third world’s” people.

    Take a look at Americans, and then take a look at the educated Americans who “oppose U.S. policy”, and then take a look at the “educational system” that produces educated Americans. The educational system is class-based – it takes considerable wealth to progress through it. Americans overwhelming agree with the assertion of Henry Louis Gates, Jr., who said (paraphrased): “I’m not giving up any of MY money (read, imperial benefits)”. So you have a bourgeois educated class clinging to their imperial benefits who supposedly “oppose U.S. policy”.

    To be fair, these deluded people DO oppose U.S. policy. They want “kinder, gentler” imperialism. They want diplomacy first, blood second. They want to talk, then bomb, instead of the other way around. They want Barack Obama (although even he is bomb then talk in many cases).

    They aren’t even lying when they say they are “anti-war”. Translated into reality, what they are saying is they want the “third world” to be exploited without needing to be killed. But of course if their imperial benefits are threatened – well, hey, “I’m not giving up any of MY money”.

    In any kind of X-ray survey where we could look into the hearts of Americans to discover how many of them *really* are against imperialism – the number may be about 0.1 percent (a generous estimate). And that 1-in-1 thousand are not the “poor people” of America, for whom a loss of imperial benefits might be catastrophic. It’s the people who truly believe in the equality of the world’s people and are outraged at the global condition and are willing to make large material sacrifices to see the creation of a new world. I don’t know a single American who is willing to make a large material sacrifice, with “feeding the family” being the typical reason given.

    America will not have a serious anti-war movement or anti-imperialist movement so long as Americans benefit from war and imperialism. The only thing that can change America, strangely enough, is more of the kind of policies the Bush regime implemented, which turns America into a third-world country. After all, it’s the third world that TRULY opposes imperialism – first-worlders (by and large) are just being pretentious and self-righteous when they claim to.

    Being a bully is a funny thing. You punch someone, take their money, and you enjoy “MY money”. Of course you’re going to do it again, maybe even try to expand your operations. You’re going to keep doing it until you’re stopped.

    The problem of imperialism is not so much greed, or the elite, or materialism – the problem is that imperialism has not yet been stopped. There’s no need to complain about the greed of the bully – the bully must be stopped.

    What people who truly oppose imperialism do is work to end imperialism. If you’re serious about having people around you (physically) who want to end imperialism you need to move to a third world country. You’re either with the victims or you’re with the complicit victimizers.

    And you know what, it sucks to be a victim. So most people who are “against imperialism” will remain in America and keep “opposing U.S. policy”. I wonder what the billions of people who are victimized by transnational capital think about that “opposition”.

    Many people would be willing to be a victim, as long as they get the glory of success against the Evil Empire. But here’s the thing – no success is assured – and none is necessarily even expected. So not only would they then be constantly victimized, living in a slum, with a feces river swimming by them, but their entire life might be a complete waste, *even if* they kill the Evil Empire, because by then the Chinese Empire might rise to take it’s place, or the Russian Empire.

    In the face of these vast travesties, in the face of this terrible horror which rivals the horrors of nuclear holocaust, people can hardly be blamed for remaining right here in “safe America” and “feed their families”. Yet they CAN be blamed. Yet they can’t. Yet they can. Yet they can’t.

    And here we are.

  12. bozhidar bob balkas said on September 12th, 2008 at 9:18am #

    Dan e,
    i accept your apology.
    some of my views haven’t changed.especially regarding zionism. nor US longstanding policy for expansion by any means whatsoever; includes use of chemical and atomic weapons.
    nearly all christians have been zionists. and still are. ans still want to destroy all socialism, palestine, iraq.
    i think we differ on exactly how much ashkenazic volk influences euro-amer policies.
    thank u

  13. Maxwell Black said on September 12th, 2008 at 10:58am #

    Hey Brian Koontz, I enjoyed your comment, the last paragraph in particular. I checked out your blog and didn’t see any contact info. If you happen to check back here, could you email me at rejection08@gmail? I’m currently looking for co-conspirators.

  14. Deadbeat said on September 12th, 2008 at 1:04pm #

    Brian Koontz writes…
    }}“Why did those of us who opposed U.S. policy not take more risks and push harder?”
    Because they don’t really oppose U.S. policy.

    I would agree to some extent. I would say that the Left ignores or at worst diverts and obscures fundamental aspects that emerge from U.S. policies.

    For example let’s take Jensen article, I think Arch Stanton does a very good job raising certain question about the Jensen’s stance. I like to take another approach and raise yet another question …

    Prior to 9-11 the most recent large scale act of terrorism on U.S. soil was was the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995. Immediately after the Oklahoma City bombing the media rushed a number of so-called anti-terrorist experts like Steve Emerson and his ilk on the tube. Emerson spewed all the familiar cliches of how these “Middle Easterners” committed this crime.

    I seem recall stories about people of color who were mistaken as “Middle Eastern” being attacked and harassed because the American citizens were made to believe that “their people” committed this crime.

    The problem however was that this act of terror was committed by three American white males. Which essentially made fools of Emerson and a pliant media.

    I think it is imprudent to analyze 9-11 in isolation. Brian Koontz attempts this by looking at United States Imperialism being the root cause and makes a very cogent argument.

    However his analysis is isolated from the context of the Oklahoma City bombing. When that context is brought in to the discussion about 9-11 it raises a set of different questions:

    Why is the American people so conditioned and indoctrinated to hate Arabs and Muslim people?

    What motivated McVeigh to want to commit such an act? Are there any parallels between his motivation and the 9-11 attackers?

    Was McVeigh action a response to “Imperialism” as Brian Koontz suggests or something else?

    Placing the Oklahoma City bombing in a memory hole is clearly what the ruling class wants. It would appear that unfortunately Jensen takes the bait rather than provide a deeper analysis and fails to raise tough questions.

    The conditions for the government’s response to terrorism was ripe in 1995 when McVeigh blew up the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. As shown by the Emerson folly. However, it did lead to Clinton signing of the Anti-Terrorism bill in 1996.

    Unfortunately because the Left has never really turned it sighted to confront anti-Muslim and anti-Arab racism is a major reason why the American people has been able to absorb this hatred. Because to counteract this awful conditioning means to directly confront Zionism as it is constructed in the U.S. This appears to be a challenge extremely foreign to the Left.

  15. bozhidar bob balkas said on September 12th, 2008 at 4:18pm #

    deadbeat,
    the left in vancouver does confront zionism. as a member of StopWar.ca., i can tell u that palestine, afghanistan, and iraq is on our agenda.
    the three wars going on against plstn, afgha’n, and iq are vigourously protested every year.
    it seems to me that the Left in US u oft speak of, is just a bit left of franco; while the center may be just a bit left of hitler.
    or am i mistaken about your use of the word “Left”?
    of course, mcveigh belongs to a special category. how about him being Hell and not left,center, right, or ultraright?

  16. Brian Koontz said on September 12th, 2008 at 10:00pm #

    In reply to Deadbeat, who wrote:

    “Was McVeigh action a response to “Imperialism” as Brian Koontz suggests or something else?”

    I read Gore Vidal’s book on McVeigh, and he thought that McVeigh acted as he did out of a hatred for injustice. The primary event he thought led to McVeigh was the Waco killings, which means that McVeigh was *not* an anti-imperialist – rather that he was a nationalist who opposed the effect the American state was having on it’s own citizens. He took down a federal building because he was opposed to the federal government, for domestic, rather than foreign policy reasons. McVeigh was anti-totalitarian, pro-republic, who longed for the “good old days” of America where whites were free and not held in check by a totalitarian burgeoning surveillance state. Those “good old days” included a vast imperial system, for which I have seen no evidence that McVeigh minded at all.

    “Why is the American people so conditioned and indoctrinated to hate Arabs and Muslim people?”

    Prior to 1991 (the Gulf War) I recall virtually no state propaganda against Arabs or Muslims, even with Israel’s substantial relationship with the US state (Muslims in Afghanistan were the US state’s allies in the 1980s). Much of that changed with the onset of the Gulf War and the campaign to demonize Saddam Hussein. With the Cold War over, there was no longer a reason to treat the Middle East softly, and Iraq became the first Middle Eastern victim of the “New World Order”.

    What fueled anti-Arab sentiment in the US was the World Trade Center bombing in 1993, which led to the report of “Arab terrorism” during the McVeigh bombing. But even so, up until 2001 there was only minor propaganda issued against Arabs and Muslims.

    9/11 changed the entire propaganda model for Washington, as well as altered real foreign policy.

  17. Socialism: Next Stage in Political Systems. Socialism will come to USA wether capitalists like it or not !! said on September 13th, 2008 at 7:03am #

    OK FOLKS, I KNOW THE CAUSE OF WHY MOST AMERICANS LOVE THE REPUBLICAN PARTY OF MCCAIN-PALIN TICKET, INSTEAD OF SUPPORTING MASSIVELY FOR RALPH NADER, CYNTHIA MCKINNEY OR ANY OTHER ALTERNATIVE POLITICAL PARTIES.

    Here is an article i wrote on the psychological, sociological causes of why most americans support Republic-Rat capitalists:

    THE CAUSE OF WHY MANY US-VOTERS SUPPORT MCCAIN IS ‘INFERIORITY COMPLEX’

    http://socialism-only-solution-for-usa.blogspot.com/2008/04/cause-of-why-many-us-voters-support.html

    i suspect that the cause of why many americans support John Mccain and the Capitalist Republican Party of big business and yuppies is because even though most supporters of elitist capitalism are not rich they behave like if they were rich. This is caused by inferiority complex.

    when u are poor and u have inferiority complex, you behave like a rich person, by trying to cover your own reality, and you try to support rich people, politically and psychologically. and i think this is what happens to many american folks out there who hang around bourgeois malls, department stores, buy expensive cars, clothes etc.

    in the thinking that this way some day they will get to be like Bill Gates and part of an oligarchic circle, with nice houses, house cleaning maids, chofeurs and a pretty comfortable lifestyle.

    I mean after all, who wouldn’t want to be rich, and live comfortable like Enrique Iglesias, Jennifer Lopez and Brad Pitt.

    But the truth is that in this Corporate Plutocratic Capitalist Neoliberal System, only about 25% of American Population (300 millions) Will get to enjoy the honey of capitalism. The great majority, 75% will live depressing lives. And this number of 25% is shrinking.

    In Bush’s neocons NWO (Global New World Order Government System) that they want to impose, only about 10% OF WORLD POPULATION will enjoy the sweet honey of capitalism, and 90% of world-people will enjoy pain, suffering, boredom, depression and zoloft.

    .

  18. cg said on September 13th, 2008 at 9:48am #

    “The primary event he thought led to McVeigh was the Waco killings, which means that McVeigh was *not* an anti-imperialist – rather that he was a nationalist who opposed the effect the American state was having on it’s own citizens.”

    So the events at Waco, Texas, affected McVeigh more than his “decorated service” in Gulf war I?
    Seems a little odd that killing people personally has less of an effect on the psyche than witnessing killing from a distance, so to speak.

  19. Max Shields said on September 13th, 2008 at 4:44pm #

    I have not read Mr. Jensen’s piece, have found him to be one of the more fascinating posters on DV. I will more thoroughly review what he has written here, and if so inspired, post my own remarks.

    But Deadbeat, I must, once again reconnect you to your own wayward thinking. First, you seem to be connecting Mcveigh with 9-11. While I agree about the false assumptions made at the time of Okalahoma, you are building a bridge to nowhere.

    For what it’s worth, McVeigh came on the heels of the first “attack” on the Trade Center – if you’ll recall. This is not an apology for Emerson who may have known more…but let’s not speculate on that…

    The main issue I have with your analysis, is not simply the disconnects between your sentences and your circular discussion about “leftists” “obscuring” this that and the other thing which is at once tiring and amusing.

    No, what is particularly annoying is your attempt to make history a joke. You seem hell bent on obfiscating the very words “empire” and “imperialism” as if these are fictions devised by the “left” who use them to obscure the role of racism and zionism. You have your dog and tail confused, Deadbeat. And that is more than a little annoying.

    Do you really think racism and zionism exist without imperialism? Imperialism is the means by which the powerful keep their power and grow it. What is racism? What is zionism? Why would such isms exist if not to “keep the powerful powerful and grow their power”?

    Barrack Obama is a tool of that imperialism. He has the spinelessness of a Democrat, but he is the last ditch effort by the powerful elite to see if they can live long enough without losing it all. Obama is the flip-side of racism. He says to the nation – I am your answer to poverty. Like it or not Obama is a tool of white supremacy elite imperial power.

    I think the poor, and as Fanon called them – the wretched of the earth must make their way through global solidarity. Stop looking for the empire to change its stripes. Obama is a white man/woman’s attempt at purifying the lap of luxury the American imperial empire has given them…us.

    The empire is DONE. If Obama becomes president he will be the faux cause. He is just what the doctor calls for when empires are collapsing. He is the symbol of the oppressed and colonized without any of the fight…a spineless, defanged genuflector – to Zionism, Imperialism and to the white power structure.

  20. Deadbeat said on September 13th, 2008 at 4:59pm #

    I want to thank Brian for responding to the questions I posed but I have to disagree with his response. To the first question:

    [1]“Was McVeigh action a response to “Imperialism” as Brian Koontz suggests or something else?”

    The primary event [Gore Vidal] thought led to McVeigh was the Waco killings, which means that McVeigh was *not* an anti-imperialist – rather that he was a nationalist who opposed the effect the American state was having on it’s own citizens.

    I found a link to McVeigh’s own words about his motivations. So rather than [mis?]quote Videl it’s better to get it directly from the source:

    The administration has said that Iraq has no right to stockpile chemical or biological weapons (“weapons of mass destruction”) — mainly because they have used them in the past.

    Well, if that’s the standard by which these matters are decided, then the U.S. is the nation that set the precedent. The U.S. has stockpiled these same weapons (and more) for over 40 years. The U.S. claims that this was done for deterrent purposes during the “Cold War” with the Soviet Union. Why, then is it invalid for Iraq to claim the same reason (deterrence) — with respect to Iraq’s (real) war with, and the continued threat of, its neighbor Iran?

    The administration claims that Iraq has used these weapons in the past. We’ve all seen the pictures that show a Kurdish woman and child frozen in death from the use of chemical weapons. But, have you ever seen these pictures juxtaposed next to pictures from Hiroshima or Nagasaki?

    I suggest that one study the histories of World War I, World War II and other “regional conflicts” that the U.S. has been involved in to familiarize themselves with the use of “weapons of mass destruction.”

    Remember Dresden? How about Hanoi? Tripoli? Baghdad? What about the big ones — Hiroshima and Nagasaki? (At these two locations, the U.S. killed at least 150,000 non-combatants — mostly women and children — in the blink of an eye. Thousands more took hours, days, weeks, or months to die.)

    Clearly McVeigh begins his essay not about Waco but about the history of violence conducted by the United States government.

    [2]“Why is the American people so conditioned and indoctrinated to hate Arabs and Muslim people?”

    Prior to 1991 (the Gulf War) I recall virtually no state propaganda against Arabs or Muslims, even with Israel’s substantial relationship with the US state (Muslims in Afghanistan were the US state’s allies in the 1980s).

    Brian, you must be a very young man. I seem to recall being conditioned to associate the word “terrorism” to the Palestinian resistance and any kind of Arab aspirations. I also recall the firing of Andrew Young by Jimmy Carter when he clandestinely met with the PLO. That was 1978.

    Unfortunately anti-Arab and anti-Muslim racism has been part of the American culture for at least the past 41 years.

    Brian concludes…
    9/11 changed the entire propaganda model for Washington, as well as altered real foreign policy.

    Brian, The Project of New American Century was developed in 1998. Then there was the Iraqi Accountibilty Act which was signed by Clinton with the direct goal of “Regime Change”. The sanctions that is attributed to the death of 500,000 Iraqi children were also implemented during the Clinton years. The Oklahoma City bombing in 1995 led to harassment of Arab and Muslim citizens because the media promoted the idea that the bombing was perpetrated by “Middle Easterners” because of the parade of “anti-terrorism” expert like Steven Emerson who is an ardent Zionist.

    Brian, unfortunately your response illustrates the blind spot on the Left and the long term failure of the Left to confront Zionism in the USA. The Left, especially Noam Chomsky, has confused many activists by trying to explain away Zionism as “Imperialism”.

    This failure is what helped to condition and indoctrinate Americans to embrace the War on Iraq and accept anti-Arab and anti-Muslim rhetoric. Had the Left inoculated Americans by taking a firm and principled stance against ALL FORMS OF RACISM, then it would be much more difficult for the ruling class to take this country to War in the Middle East. IMO that is the LESSON of 9-11 and Oklahoma City.

    The Left and especially radicals should think outside of the terms set by the ruling class. Unfortunately Robert Jensen doesn’t.

  21. Deadbeat said on September 13th, 2008 at 5:31pm #

    Max writes…

    But Deadbeat, I must, once again reconnect you to your own wayward thinking. First, you seem to be connecting Mcveigh with 9-11. While I agree about the false assumptions made at the time of Okalahoma, you are building a bridge to nowhere.

    …and…

    Do you really think racism and zionism exist without imperialism? Imperialism is the means by which the powerful keep their power and grow it. What is racism? What is zionism? Why would such isms exist if not to “keep the powerful powerful and grow their power”?

    Max we’ve been through this exercise before. You know my position and you seek to constantly distort it with your diversionary and Chomskyesque rhetoric.

    What Chomsky and YOU have adeptly done is to misrepresent the term “Imperialism” to OBSCURE a virulent form of racism as practiced within the USA.

    Racism exist to divide and conquer and to support the ruling class. When you deliberately attempt to obscure the issue because of your own agenda you are actually assisting the ruling class and not engaged in its defeat. It is a REACTIONARY stance not a radical one.

    The issue of McVeigh and 9-11 that I point to is that the American people has been CONDITIONED to accept anti-Muslim and anti-Arab racism. Since many on the LEFT like you Max rather than CONFRONT this problem you prefer to obscure it by mislabeling it “imperialism”.

    In fact Max you define and then redefine the term. Now “imperialism” means to you the contest of power. Prior, your definition of “imperialism” is the conquest of resources and LAND. Thus again Max you prove yourself to be sowing confusion rather than clarity which is why confronting RACISM and ZIONISM with clarity can more directly inoculate the American people from one of the most devastating tactics employed by the ruling class.

    The empire is DONE. If Obama becomes president he will be the faux cause. He is just what the doctor calls for when empires are collapsing. He is the symbol of the oppressed and colonized without any of the fight…a spineless, defanged genuflector – to Zionism, Imperialism and to the white power structure.

    No Max, Obama is not a “faux” cause. Obama’s CAMPAIGN represents CHANGE and the success of the civil right’s movement. It also represent discontent among the mass as well. Unfortunately Max, you and many members of the Left prefer to isolate yourself and wallow either in doctrine or diversion. I can’t seem to figure out which one.

    I’ll repost the article by Malik Miah so you can read what a clearminded leftist (Socialist) has to say:

    Nothing could be further from the truth. Rather, the Obama ascendancy reflects some fundamental changes in society that must be recognized by those of us seeking a working class government and state. The societal changes are based on the victory of the civil rights revolution of the 1960s. …

    Electing the first African American president, like electing the first Black mayors 40 years ago, is relative progress but not a solution to underlying class and social issues.

    That’s why the campaigns of progressive third parties are important electorally. But for me the stance of attacking Obama as a Democrat, quoting Malcolm X’s “The Ballot or the Bullet” speech, and going all out for a small socialist group’s campaign on ideological grounds, or for the Green Party campaign of Cynthia McKinney or the “independent” candidacy of Ralph Nader, is not the most effective way to influence those who will become disillusioned.

  22. Max Shields said on September 13th, 2008 at 6:29pm #

    Deadbeat, ‘virulent form of racism as practiced within the USA.”

    Racism was not invented in the USA; you do know that right? And it’s no more “virulent” in the USA than else where where it has been employed.

    And then, Deadbeat says: “In fact Max you define and then redefine the term. Now “imperialism” means to you the contest of power. Prior, your definition of “imperialism” is the conquest of resources and LAND.”

    Power and the conquest of land are one and the same. This is not a re-definition. Land/natural resources are the basis of all wealth and power. Think about it. Imperialism is the conquest of those sources for securing power and wealth. Racism is a means to those ends – NOT AND END.

    And furthermore, Deadbeat: “Obama’s CAMPAIGN represents CHANGE and the success of the civil right’s movement. It also represent discontent among the mass as well. ”

    At long last the admission – Deadbeat is an unabashed, Obamamaniac – and honest to goodness, believer in the BIG FRAUD!

    Say no more your cover is blown!!

    To your Miah quote, I add from Michael Novick’s Obama, Imperialism and the Paradox of Plenty Amid Poverty:

    “The oppressed, colonized and exploited inside the US must take responsibility for our own survival and future, in the first place by making common cause with the oppressed, exploited and colonized around the world, and by learning from them. We need to apply the methods of horizontal organizing, of environmentally-sound food production, of factory and land takeovers that are developing in Latin America, Africa and Asia. We need to recognize that those who rule this society – those who benefit from the paradox of plenty amid poverty – are our enemies. White supremacy, neo-colonialism and other forms of privilege within the empire will only bind us to a sinking ship and take us down with it. It is time to make a break with illusion, and end our identification with the Empire and the oppressor. We need to begin to strategize now, not how to ensure Obama’s election, but how to deal with the Empire if Obama indeed becomes Emperor.”

  23. Deadbeat said on September 14th, 2008 at 11:44am #

    Max the demagogue in a fit of glee writes…

    At long last the admission – Deadbeat is an unabashed, Obamamaniac – and honest to goodness, believer in the BIG FRAUD!

    The problem Max is that your agenda demagogic by using leftist rhetoric to obfuscate Zionism. You have no desire to fight racism and therefore there is little hope to building solidarity with people who are seriously fighting that ongoing ruling class tactic. In fact Max you’ll betray any such attempt. This engagement only reveals your duplicity.

    For example, Max since it seems you cannot read and your goal is only hellbent on distortion, the Miah quote speaks to Obama’s CAMPAIGN while Novak is focused on Obama. Miah is analyzing the current among the masses while Novak is focused on the individual at the head of the Democratic Party ticket.

    Therefore you are unfairly misusing Novak’s comment about Obama the individual to rebut Miah analysis about the current discontent of the masses and the achievement of the masses via the civil right movements.

    Essentially Max you cannot describe yourself as a leftist since you belittle these achieve and what the Obama campaign means to the masses and its historical context. Failing to analyze this means a failure to connect with the masses.

    However your agenda is not to connect with the masses but to DISRUPT the masses. Otherwise you would be against Zionism in ALL ASPECTS rather than using the hallowed out term “Imperialism” to obfuscate it. That is demagogy and dishonesty.

    I think you need to read Ron Jacobs and Dr. James Petras articles today.

  24. Max Shields said on September 14th, 2008 at 2:13pm #

    Deadbeat I am neither an apologists for zionism – how it is used and plays in the Middle East is something I vehmently disagree with; nor have I described myself as a “leftist”. The latter is something you’ve moved all over the chess board and so has essentially no meaning whatsoever in any “discussion” with you.

    I can say this Obama is a pawn of the power elite. You don’t bargain with pawns, you show them for what they are and then figure out how to work around them. He represents a ruling class that is the enemy of the poor working class. He is part of the war machine that as I write this is killing children, babies and civilians in spots thousands of miles away.

    There is nothing in his is rhetoric that disavows his bond to this power elite and the imperialism that it breeds.

  25. Deadbeat said on September 14th, 2008 at 11:25pm #

    Max says…
    There is nothing in [Obama’s] rhetoric that disavows his bond to this power elite and the imperialism that it breeds.

    Look Max, you still don’t get it. What is happening before your eyes is the meaning of the Obama CAMPAIGN.

    I’d advice you READ what the late Peter Camejo said of Obama and his campaign. He believed that Obama will defeat John McCain and he UNDERSTANDS the meaning of the tendency that is building among the masses. I guess he must be an “Obamamanic” because he predicts an Obama victory.

    The reason I want to see Obama win is because the Obama CAMPAIGN creates an OPPORTUNITY for the Left. You and others on the Left are so BLINDED by doctrine that you spend all your time consumed by Obama’s relationship to the power elites rather than Obama campaign’s relationship to the MASSES.

    You JUST don’t get it Max but when you belittle Obama’s supporters as “maniacs” or some other colorful phrase it alienates his supporters from the Left and most importantly it alienates African Americans from the Left. What you are implying Max is that the Civil Rights movement was a wasted effort.

    Wiser folks like Camejo and even Ron Jacobs in his excellent article today implies a recognition that Obama is a symbolic embodiment of change as comprehended by the MASSES.

    Obama is not the change you want Max (if that is really what you want). However Obama is the change that the masses at its current level of conscientiousness is rallying behind. Yet the Obama campaign provides an opportunity for the Left to engage people many of whom are becoming active for the first time. Many of whom want to be engaged; many of whom crave dialogue.

    This is happening all around you. In the workplace, at the checkout counter, at the bowling alleys, almost everywhere. But unfortunately Max you’d rather be disengaged because you are stuck in doctrine and can only see Obama as a “ruling class hack”.

    You so are disconnect from the young people who support Obama and African Americans who rallied around Obama when he faced racist attacks from both Clinton, McCain, and the media, and the general discontent that is growing among the masses.

    At best Max you want to be perched on your high and mighty mountain with your high and mighty rhetoric only to MOCK the masses for rallying around Obama.

    How many times do I have to say that HE WILL eventually DISAPPOINT his supporters, especially because of his obvious appeasements to Zionism, militarism, and imperialism. Thus the Left MUST be in position to take advantage of that opening. That is the essence of the Miah article and the essence of the wisdom of the late Peter Camejo who BTW fully supports Nader’s 2008 run but unlike you Max, he can clearly articulate how to the Left should respond to the Obama campaign without alienating those who support Obama. Camejo wants the Left to be in position. This is why Camejo gave so much of himself to the Green Party.

    The last major opportunity for the Left was the anti-war movement of 2003 and Nader’s run in 2004. Unfortunately the Left squandered that opportunity primarily due to its lack of commitments and lack of adherence to principles. Since the Left assisted in creating the void now being filled by Obama, the Left ironically through the Obama campaign has fortunately been given another opportunity.

    Let’s see Max whether or not the Left fucks it up again going in your sectarian direction or alters its tactics. If the articles on DV are any indication I’m not very optimistic. I really don’t see the Left being at the level of conscientiousness needed to reach out to the masses.

  26. Max Shields said on September 15th, 2008 at 5:58am #

    Deadbeat, if you really insist on using others as your guide to understanding I recommend – Joshua Frank’s article on Counterpunch: http://www.counterpunch.org/frank09132008.html

    I’ll give you this, there are “leftists” who are missing the boat, and I think your posts are illustrative of that type of “leftist”.

    America massarcred the left long ago. It now lingers as a memory and from time to time appears as a apparition in the Green Party or a congressperson here and there; but as a movement it is dead.

    Where I agree with Petras is his pointing to the South. I think there are excellent models of economic democracy in Venezuela, Argentina, Chile, Bolivia, etc. From that vantage point, Obama and his campaign is NADA.

    DB, you say the Obama “Campaign” creates an opportunity for the “left”. This is an incredible leap of faith. For one second have you ever thought that an Obama “win” would do just the opposite. Think about it. There has been no effective pressure on Obama, as there was none for B. Clinton, to be anything more than the DLC’s boy. The advisors will run the executive policies. Look at who they are. The Obama brand will muffle the Dem faux progressives as they battle right-wing Republican attacks that are made of out of whole cloth. Energies will be mis-spent and Obama will have American troops in god knows what country. The Repubs might even find “cause” to impeach him before it’s all said and done.

    What I can’t understand Deadbeat is how a person like you who follows these things, and has for a long time, cannot see deja vu all over again with the Dems, their Candidate, and the Campaign.

    Again, take a look at the Frank article (hope he publishes it here). He pretty well nails it. I’d also suggest you read the Michael Novick article. http://academic.udayton.edu/race/2008ElectionandRacism/Obama/Obama93.htm

    What is called for, DB, is not a transitional POTUS. I submit that that is at best a delusion and will actually hinder real change. We need to be prepared for economic collapse and what will rise from the ashes. Look around DB, time has runout on the empire. It can still do damage in the world whether under an Obama or McCain regime. It looks like it will not go down quietly ala UK, but is an unsustainable, overextended empire.

  27. cg said on September 15th, 2008 at 11:09am #

    I think we already know what and who will rise from the ashes.
    The usurious banksters who manufactures the “crash.” Then, like the bloodsucking vampire carpetbaggers they are, they will proceed to buy up the place for pennies on the dollar/euro/yen/ruble.
    Isn’t that what they attempted to do in Russia?
    Didn’t Putin thwart them, send them running for Israel, Britain, US?
    Isn’t this why Russia is once again the “enemy?”
    The bloodsuckers have always had their tentacles twitching for Russia, the mother lode.
    The more things change..

  28. Brian Koontz said on September 15th, 2008 at 5:36pm #

    cg wrote:

    “So the events at Waco, Texas, affected McVeigh more than his “decorated service” in Gulf war I?
    Seems a little odd that killing people personally has less of an effect on the psyche than witnessing killing from a distance, so to speak.”

    The choice to kill people personally implies a certain (nationalist) identity. Obviously McVeigh didn’t join the US imperial military to pursue an anti-imperialist agenda.

    While one can argue that “he was ignorant before joining the military, and knowledgeable afterward” this contrasts with Vidal’s report that says that McVeigh “always” was deeply against injustice. Apparently he didn’t see joining the US military as a form of increasing injustice in the world.

    Deadbeat:

    The piece you linked to clearly shows that McVeigh was upset that American politicians don’t live up to their high-minded rhetoric (of believing in truth, justice, and human rights). He may be more upset at that than at the production of corpses – he himself had no problem producing corpses.

    Deadbeat wrote:

    “Brian, you must be a very young man. I seem to recall being conditioned to associate the word “terrorism” to the Palestinian resistance and any kind of Arab aspirations. I also recall the firing of Andrew Young by Jimmy Carter when he clandestinely met with the PLO. That was 1978.

    Unfortunately anti-Arab and anti-Muslim racism has been part of the American culture for at least the past 41 years.”

    The Palestinian issue was and is mainly a Zionist issue, not an Anti-Arab or even Anti-Palestinian issue. If Green Martians, Pink Rodents, Eskimos, or Arabs were on land the Zionists wanted, they would have tried to take the land. The only thing the Zionists cared about was that the land was not in the hands of Jews and that the land was not held by a military force too powerful for them to handle. Since both of those requirements were met, they took the land.

    This is why it was only with the project to destroy Iraq (begun with the Iraq/Iran War and accelerated throughout the 1990s) that anti-Arab, as distinct from pro-Zionist, sentiment grew among the American elite and was thus reflected in their propaganda.

    This is primarily about ambition and global politics. Before the fall of the Soviet Union the Cold War was the primary concern for the West. Hence there was no widespread anti-Arab sentiment because the West didn’t want Arabs en mass to flock to the Soviet banner.

    No more Soviet threat meant the West could focus on anti-Arab propaganda as a means of destabilizing the entire Arab population and associated regions. And, again, I refer you to the Gulf War as the first major campaign to demonize Arabs, a campaign which took on vast new dimensions following 9/11.

    On a side note, terrorizing Arabs (especially middle-eastern ones) is the primary motivation behind Western torture of “terrorists”. The Left has utterly failed in analyzing torture – focusing on the limp “it doesn’t work” objection. Few if any on the left have mentioned that torture itself is an act of perpetual war – it goes hand-in-hand with imperial activities in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere.

    Racism in it’s classic definition (hatred of a particular race) does not exist. Emotions, including hatred, derive from social relations. So if you have a certain group of people who desire to steal, they look around them, find another group of people who they think they can steal from, they try out theft and see how it goes. If it’s successful (they achieve less pain from the theft than pleasure from the plundered booty) they undertake more and more theft, and develop “hatred” for the group they are stealing from. The group they are stealing from is based on convenience *only*. Whites don’t steal from blacks because they are racist, they steal from blacks because they CAN.

    Israelis don’t steal from Palestinians because they are anti-Palestinian or anti-Muslim, they steal from them because they *can*, and because they want the particular land that the Palestinians previously inhabited.

    European immigrants to America didn’t steal from the indigeous population because they hated them, they stole from them because the indigenous population had things they wanted (mostly, land).

    War is not about hatred, it’s about theft. The hatred is the internal emotional REACTION that occurs between groups locked in a material struggle, a struggle that ALWAYS begins prior to the development of the hatred.

    The only way to prevent war is to stop it, by force. Greater force to prevent theft must be present to counter the force that causes theft. Force doesn’t necessarily mean “force of arms” – it can easily be institutional force, like creating and maintaining systems of justice and it’s economic/political counterpart – socialism.

    Iraqis are “hajjis” now to the American military, and those same soldiers will refer to them as merely “Iraqis” once the *material struggle* has concluded, just like the Japanese were “Japs” during World War II and afterward were “Japanese” and any number of other examples show.

    Theories of White Supremacy only developed *after* the successful theft by whites of non-whites. White Supremacy is derived from an emotional reaction caused by the desire to continue stealing – it’s a kind of justification for that stealing.

  29. Max Shields said on September 15th, 2008 at 6:13pm #

    Brian says: “War is not about hatred, it’s about theft. The hatred is the internal emotional REACTION that occurs between groups locked in a material struggle, a struggle that ALWAYS begins prior to the development of the hatred.”

    YES!!!!

  30. Deadbeat said on September 16th, 2008 at 7:16pm #

    Max quoting Brian Koontz are wrong about WAR.

    What is war…

    War is about the policy of how the ruling class can manipulate and motivate the WORKING CLASS to kill each other in the interest of the rulers.

  31. Max Shields said on September 17th, 2008 at 4:20am #

    “War is about the policy of how the ruling class can manipulate and motivate the WORKING CLASS to kill each other in the interest of the rulers.”

    Deadbeat tis is why your posts lack depth of understanding. From this point all of your thinking pours and it just doesn’t square with much of anything except a very thin, superficial view of what’s going on and has for centuries.

    Why does a ruling class simply want people to kill one another? (Your usual claim of zionism seems to have foresaken you.)

  32. Shabnam said on September 17th, 2008 at 5:35am #

    War is to maximize profit and therefore your POWER over others. How does one maximize profit? It is by waging wars. War is not only through use of force. It can be a ‘cold war’. To wage a campaign of lies and deception to fool you in buying their war so they can remove that obstacle which denies them reaching their goal? “The only way to prevent war is to stop it,” by power of your knowledge and UNITY that you bring among yourself against the war, not to be fooled and manipulated into war of others for power.
    Thus, ‘to steal’ is not the only tool to maximize your ‘power’, only ONE OF THE TOOLS. Otherwise all thieves are WAR MONGER which is not true. We know, majority of ‘thieves’ are poor and ‘peaceful’ people and have no power over others. They are not POWERFUL TO RULE over you. War is to maximize your POWER OVER OTHERS to own you, to rule you. To be rich and influential to manipulate others is associated with those who are after POWER TO RULE OVER YOU AND HAVE THE MEANS TO MAINTAIN THAT POWER. Therefore, Zionism is MOT limited to Palestine. Rather, Palestine is one of the STEPS they have to take in reaching their ultimate goal, which is TO RULE OVER THE WORLD through ‘WORLD GOVERNMENT.’

  33. Max Shields said on September 17th, 2008 at 8:41am #

    Shabnam
    “Therefore, Zionism is MOT limited to Palestine. Rather, Palestine is one of the STEPS they have to take in reaching their ultimate goal, which is TO RULE OVER THE WORLD through ‘WORLD GOVERNMENT.’”

    If i were a Palestinian (or really anyone in the ME) I might see this equation you postulate.

    But, while, I agree with much of what you’ve posted, I would only ask: do you think the kind of land and resource grabbing, and power/dominance began with Zionism?

    Not to confuse the issue, I think zionism IS a preditory form of imperialism, but it is not the only manifestation of it. An elite group can want to do all the things you mentioned and never subscribe to Zionism per se.

    That’s my point.

  34. Deadbeat said on September 17th, 2008 at 9:55am #

    Shields with his every best Chomsyesque obfuscatory fallacy says …
    But, while, I agree with much of what you’ve posted, I would only ask: do you think the kind of land and resource grabbing, and power/dominance began with Zionism?

    What you are doing Max is the typical bait and switch. You are conflating the way Zionism is manifested in 2008 with all of history. While the overarching goals of rulers is power accumulation the underlying objectives can be different in various epochs.

    What the Left has done, especially Noam Chomsky, has been to manipulate history to obscure Zionism. Jeffery Blankfort has been exposing this aspect of Chomskyesque-speak for the past 30 years.

    Another way the Left tries to obscure the discussion is by trying to absorb Zionism into the grander and more ambiguous term “imperialism”. Max has consistently presented at least three different definition of the term. The intent of his usage of the term is to obscure. Obscurity doesn’t build solidarity because it goal is to create confusion and distrust.

    Shabnam is correct. The Chomskyesque-speak on the Left is to create a column of “gatekeepers” whose intent is to disrupt the Left and to prevent and retard solidarity. This is why the Left weaken the anti-war movement, disrupted Ralph Nader’s run 4 years ago and dramatically weakened the Green Party and stunted all the great work by Peter Camejo.

    This is why the problem is NOT the Democrats but so-called “Leftist” like Max Shields who job it is to infiltrate the left with confusion, disruption, distortion, and obfuscation that sows distrust and retard solidarity.

  35. Shabnam said on September 17th, 2008 at 12:56pm #

    Max:
    Thank you for your post. You write:
    “Do you think the kind of land and resource grabbing, and power/dominance began with Zionism?”

    The answer to your question is No. However, the main element, desire to rule over others has been with us from the dawn of the history, but each episode has its own PECULARITIES which differentiates one from the others. At one stage of development we may call it ‘colonialism’, another stage of development we define it as ‘imperialism’, ‘fascism’ or now ‘Zionism.’ There is one element that is common in all ‘ism’ listed above, and that is desire to have control over others because they believe in their supremacy of their message, whether is
    ‘exceptionalism, or ‘choseness’, or ‘civilizing mission’ which is associate with these ideologies. Racism is present in all these ideologies with different intensity. Zionism is with us for a long time but did not have the ‘right’ environment to manifest itself fully. It did not start with HOLOCAUST, it existed before that. Some of the elements of Zionism are seen in other ideologies that has lost credibility.

    Deatbeat:

    Thank you for your efforts to stimulate healthy discussion on an important tool of division among people, Zionism, at this site to gain knowledge and vision to able us in removing our veil of ignorance and prejudice against each other to help our communities.

    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=7757684583209015812&hl=en

  36. Shabnam said on September 17th, 2008 at 12:57pm #

    Sorry, I should have written Deadbeat.

  37. Max Shields said on September 17th, 2008 at 2:13pm #

    “The answer to your question is No. However, the main element, desire to rule over others has been with us from the dawn of the history, but each episode has its own PECULARITIES which differentiates one from the others. ”

    I agree. You are discerning is not the case with some others. I completely concur that Zionism owns the title of a racist/imperial ideology. There is no disagreement whatsoever.

    Where I disagree with some here is the extropolation of the PECULIARITIES you note to every expanse of American imperialism was started centuries ago and persists to this day.

  38. Max Shields said on September 17th, 2008 at 4:31pm #

    db, “What you are doing Max is the typical bait and switch. You are conflating the way Zionism is manifested in 2008 with all of history. While the overarching goals of rulers is power accumulation the underlying objectives can be different in various epochs.”

    No, it’s called reasoning and critical thinking. In your case it’s dogmatism or nothing!