EU in Tatters

Recall the self-satisfied EU celebrations of recent years — the inauguration of the euro and the famous blue Euro passport, the accession of all the Eastern European and ex-Soviet statelets, the gloating as the euro steadily revalued. Fortress Europe was strong and united at last. The 21st century belonged to the new Old World.

But then a few cracks began to appear in the shiny facade. The Poles, especially, carped about just about everything — the thought of giving up their precious zloty (boy, are they sorry now), the EU farming rules, the lack of Euro-support for US wars, and the Euro-cowardice in facing down the Russian bear. They and the Czechs revealed Fortress Europe for what it was by welcoming US missile bases, provoking the Russians into threatening to make Europe once again the world’s nuclear battlefield. Kosovo managed to divide even the big boys, with Spain refusing to recognize this latest US-German plaything, and ratcheting up the tensions between Serbs, Croats — even the Slovenes. The Balkan cauldron is as hot as ever.

The world financial meltdown was the proverbial straw that has left the Euro-camel paralyzed. The collapse of the government of the Czech Prime Minister — the Euro-president himself — was a fitting symbol for the collapsing house of cards. No doubt someday there will be a musical about this Euro-Camelot, this once-and-never-land.

The comeuppance of Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek was not the result of his recent snub of US President Barack Obama (he called Obama’s stimulus spending “a way to hell” that will “undermine the stability of the global financial market”). Rather it was the modest but unflagging campaigning by the Czech Nonviolent Movement (CNM), which has been fighting the installation of the US missile base outside Prague for two years now. They mounted an ongoing series of nonviolent actions — petitions, hunger strikes, rallies, protests, electioneering — building a grassroots campaign uniting the 70 per cent of the Czech population who oppose the base, nibbling away at the right-centre majority till it finally fell.

CNM organizer Jan Tomas called for “all invading armies to withdraw from all occupied territories” (you can fill in the blanks), and for nuclear disarmament. “Now in the Czech Republic a new chapter of our struggle begins.”

Topolanek is welcoming Obama to the G20 meeting in London as the European president and hosting Obama a few days later at a US-EU summit in Prague. Obama will then go to Strasbourg for NATO celebrations. Topolanek’s undiplomatic remark actually represents the EU consensus and is surely not so far from the mark. Obama’s ad hoc measures to deal with the crisis have been praised by almost no one but the bankers, who are being treated to trillions of dollars with no assurance that this massive bill will do any good whatsoever — except of course for the bankers. One-third of his stimulus package is in the form of tax cuts and is unlikely to have any long-term effect.

Not that the Eurocrats are coming up with anything more likely to succeed. The EU is a hodge-podge of very different states with radically different governments and economies, with no parallel Europe-wide budget to allow for fast and broad stimulus measures. The US budget deficit will be 10 per cent of GDP this year and the next and the next. This is impossible for the EU, which has a 3 percent limit per country and which, unlike the US, cannot print its currency as if there was no tomorrow.

Much of the trillions that Obama is spending is in fact seeping into Europe, adding to the steady US dollar inflow over the past half century, leaving Europe awash in dollars. For Europe to notch up the euro-printing press would be foolhardy in the extreme. The EU counts on exports as a stimulus to the economy, like Asia, something the US abandoned long ago. Though the subprime craze infected Europe too, its financial woes stem primarily from the US with its unbridled consumerism and wars, and will never be solved until the US puts its own house in order, balancing its budget and its trade, something that Obama has made no hint of doing.

Adding the eastern non-economies to the EU merely compounded its problems. European institutions invested very heavily in these “emerging markets” and the financial crisis has led to a withdrawal of capital from such regions back to the center, exposing investors to large losses. It’s no coincidence that the US dollar rose over the past six months, despite the terrible shape the US economy is in, or that the European leaders are unwilling and unable to commit to major stimulus measures for the EU as a whole. What was touted even a year ago as a joyous community, a big happy family, is now a dysfunctional one, complete with sibling rivalry, spoiled brats and marital strife.

This year’s G20 inspired protests across Europe. Tens of thousands marched through Berlin, Vienna, Paris and other European cities to demand action on poverty, job losses and climate change. In London, 35,000 protesters gathered to Put People First on 28 March, bringing together more than 100 trade unions, aid agencies, religious groups and environmental organizations to call on world leaders to commit to real reforms. “Never before has such a wide coalition come together with such a clear message for world leaders,” said Brendan Barber, the general secretary of the Trade Union Congress. “The old ideas of unregulated free markets do not work and have brought the world’s economy to near-collapse, failed to fight poverty and have done far too little to move to a low-carbon economy.” The protests culminated on 1 April — Financial Fools Day — with a movement called “Storm the Banks” focusing on the Bank of England.

In Paris, demonstrators dumped a pile of sand outside the city’s stock market to mock the use of island tax havens. Whether or not the G20 leaders took note, the only real progress at the G20 was in fact a concerted attempt to address this practice, though the havens are resisting fiercely. The Swiss foreign minister called German Finance Minister Peer Steinbruck a “Nazi henchman”, and the Sunday Times revealed that Lord Myners, the minister in charge of the British government’s “assault” on tax havens, has 250,000 pound sterling in an offshore shelter in Jersey. Myners recently met Jersey officials who now say they have “nothing to fear” from any tax haven crackdown. Past attempts to take on the tax havens failed, and it is far from certain that this one will succeed.

The G20 is ignoring the urgent issue of global warming, but the demonstrators did not. Organizers of the largest group, Camp for Climate Action, compare carbon trading to the subprime boondoggle. Important decisions about climate change are being left to the market despite the fact that it is controlled by the biggest polluters teaming up with the same financiers who brought economies crashing down, argues Peter McDonell in The Ecologist.

These voices of protest are the ones showing the way out of Europe’s present chaos, not the voices mouthing the same old tired platitudes at the G20, the special US-EU Summit or the upcoming NATO celebrations. Topolanek can badmouth Obama as much as he likes. It makes no difference. He would do well to leave behind his 500 retainers and together with his Czech nemesis step outside their armed fortresses, dispense with their tear gas and tazers, and spend a night camping out with Climate Action or at least listening to the likes of Tomas and Barber.

Eric Walberg is a journalist who worked in Uzbekistan and is now writing for Al-Ahram Weekly in Cairo. He is the author of From Postmodernism to Postsecularism: Re-Emerging Islamic Civilization and Postmodern Imperialism: Geopolitics and the Great Games. Read other articles by Eric, or visit Eric's website.

27 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. Michael Kenny said on April 1st, 2009 at 10:48am #

    I told you so! A herd of rampaging elephants was heading straight for the EU and was going to trample it to dust and eat up all its Euros! Just sit back and have a good laugh! Is is, after all, April Fool’s day!

    Try googling Mr Walberg. He’s a Canadian screwball who previously worked for the President of Uzbekistan and now works for an Egyptian government newspaper. If he really was an “opponent” of US policy, don’t you think US “buddy” Mubarak would have kicked him out of Egypt by now?

    By the way, the standard EU passport is red, not blue!!!

  2. Maxwell Black said on April 1st, 2009 at 2:51pm #

    What exactly are you implying Mr. Kenny? That Walberg is some sort of secret agent? Believe or not there are plenty of dissidents living and working in countries that are in the “buddy” category with the US.

    And whats with the “I told you so!” You seem to be gloating about something, like you are happy about the outcome of nothing much coming out of the event. Why?

    I tend to be on the side of the protesters myself. Don’t you want to live in a different type of world? Do you want everything to continue to suck so freaking bad for so many people?

    I suggest the next time a revolutionary carnival comes through your town, you run outside and join them. Like someone recently wrote, “these institutions aren’t going to overthrow themselves.”

    Speaking of revolutionary carnivals, have you ever been to DC? Well you are invited! Actually everyone is. Mickey Z and Derrick Jensen April 25, 2009. I’ll be there too, I’m trying to organize the after party. It should be a hoot!

    PS: you don’t have to be a fan of either to come to the after party. You just have to have a longing for justice and human solidarity. PEACE.

  3. Jeff said on April 1st, 2009 at 4:30pm #

    The whole bloody world is in tatters.

    Let all celebrate that.

    Still makes you a “peeon”.

    Until you comprehend the “why”, you will always comprehend the “effects” as such.

    Question:

    What powers control those that will control you?

    Answer:

    Stop Look Listen,

  4. mcoyote said on April 1st, 2009 at 5:36pm #

    Debt is a big scam and permeates every aspect of our lives and keeps us all trapped.

    We are awash in fear mongering to the point that we are all half-crazed.

    The government is owned lock stock and barrel by corporations.

    All of the politicians are a bunch of blood sucking vampires.

    We are enslaved. We really, actually are. Walking and driving around and shopping blah blah is all window dressing. We are in prison. It is a big prison. “Seal the borders” for security? Hah. We are being sealed in.

    We are in crazy land here, and ANYTHING we do to break out of that is worthwhile – almost nothing is happening to break out of it now – and we have absolutely nothing to lose.

    People here are miserable – they are in pain and suffering.

    We are intentionally being kept sick, demoralized, and fearful.

    We can’t see the trouble we are in, because we have nothing to compare to.

    The national political discussion is a joke.

    The Democratic party politicians should all be tarred and feathered and run out of town.

    America is a society gone completely mad. We live in a big prison. It is pathetic. Fear keeps us locked in. We are so saturated with fear, that it would not be off the mark to say that fear is the only thing happening here, and that anything else is ruthlessly suppressed and punished. And we are all trustees. Anyone refusing the role of trustee is isolated and viewed and treated as a pariah. That is not to say that we cannot overcome this – not in the least. We have to fight, though, every hour of every day and break the spell.

    Demoralization coupled with fear – all of the thinking and speaking around us everyday is just laced with those two.

    Let’s smash it up. Let’s never rest until we do. Nothing else is anything but a waste of time.

  5. Brian Koontz said on April 1st, 2009 at 9:11pm #

    Protestors have no teeth. No guns, no violence, all they have is chants, slogans, and signs. They walk here, stand there, walk back.

    Protesting has become comfortable. It’s become orderly. It’s become peaceful. It’s become useless.

    The public doesn’t listen to protestors, because those who want to know what’s going on already do. The media doesn’ t listen to protestors. The government certainly doesn’t listen. Protestors aren’t the right constituency. The elite listens to money, and protestors aren’t giving them any. The only people listening to protestors are other protestors.

    The reason can only be that the protestors don’t want revolution – they may not even want change. Or rather, they don’t want to RISK their wealth and their non-jailed and healthy status for revolution or change. What they want is to seem to want revolution, and seem to want change. So they make signs and chant.

    Consider empires of the past – has there *ever* been a serious revolutionary movement while the empire was viable? Has a revolutionary movement (from within the empire) ever been *responsible* for the downfall of an empire?

    What is a protest supposed to actually do? Is it a show of strength? What strength? The strength of some chanters and sign-wavers who are scheduled to take the 5:00 bus back to their hometown, wake up the next morning to work for some of the very corporations they are protesting against, or ones linked to them, or ones a mere one-step further down the line?

    There’s nothing wrong with protesting. It’s a way to meet people. It can be a part of *building* a movement that may at some point be effective. It’s a great way for powerless people to huff and puff and shout and feel like they are accomplishing something. But *misunderstanding* protesting is tragic, as it can prevent those few well-meaning people from taking *real* action to improve the world.

    Obama is to democracy as toothless protestors are to revolution.

    The “Mickey Z and Derrick Jensen April 25, 2009.” get together is sure to be the feel-good event of the year. It’s the new drug for the hipsters who are burned out on all the others America provides.

  6. Maxwell Black said on April 2nd, 2009 at 1:45am #

    Hey Brian, Thanks for the insulting comment!

    “The only people listening to protesters are other protesters.” Not true, you heard us and responded. Thanks!

    “The reason can only be that the protesters don’t want revolution – they may not even want change. Or rather, they don’t want to RISK their wealth and their non-jailed and healthy status for revolution or change. What they want is to seem to want revolution, and seem to want change. So they make signs and chant.”

    This one is complex. Which way do you want it?

    Why do you assume wealth? Or a fear of risk? Have you resisted the fear of risk lately?

    Are you currently jailed or unhealthy? Are you struggling for revolution yourself?

    How do you know we don’t want change? Or revolution? If “we” don’t want revolution what exactly would inspire us to “seem to want revolution?”

    And what’s wrong (in your mind) with making signs?

    Corporations do almost nothing but make signs and symbols. I’d love to see the same level of outrage against the fact that we see a corporate message every few seconds Brian.

    You are making massive assumptions about people you don’t even know much less looked into. Have you considered looking into a mirror? Or joining?

    Are you willing to personally do more than “chant” or protest? Probably not. So why don’t you stop insulting those that take the time to at least try?

    Brian, we have actually talked and I’m disappointed that you are taking such stances.

    What do you want? I see comments like this constantly. So we should “up the ante?” You want us to “kick some ass.” Right?

    But the second someone does, people condemn us as fucking “eco-terrorists” or whatever. We can’t win with this nonsense.

    So which is it? Are we doing too much or too little? It’s constantly shifting.

    Seriously dude, what do you want to see that will please you? Us with flowers or AK’s? Either way it seems like you will piss and moan and try nothing yourself.

    “The “Mickey Z and Derrick Jensen April 25, 2009.” get together is sure to be the feel-good event of the year. It’s the new drug for the hipsters who are burned out on all the others America provides.”

    Why would you be so insulting?!

    It was simply an invitation to try something most of us have never tried before: adventure!

    And you’re invited jackass!
    Seriously, you are invited Brian Koonzt!

  7. Don Hawkins said on April 2nd, 2009 at 5:13am #

    WASHINGTON (CNN) – The Senate overwhelmingly voted Wednesday not to use a fast-track budget procedure to pass President Obama’s “cap and trade” plan to combat global warming.
    The vote was a victory for Republicans, who vehemently oppose using the special rules to pass any of Obama’s policy initiatives because the method doesn’t allow for filibusters. But it does not mean the rules – known as budget “reconciliation” – won’t be used to pass the president’s sweeping health care plan, as several senior Democrats have suggested in recent days is likely to happen.
    Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell praised the Senate for having “slammed the door on using the fast-track process to jam through a new national energy tax” that Republicans say will cost families $3000 a year in higher energy costs.
    The 26 Democrats who voted against using the special rules are mostly fiscal conservatives or are from states whose economies rely on energy production and might be negatively impacted by the expensive global warming policy.
    All Republicans voted for the amendment that GOP Sen. Mike Johanns of Nebraska offered to the 2010 budget bill.

    You people can call each other names but remember as I write this stuff doesn’t look good. We can’t get there from here. Things do have away of changing but one little problem we are out of time. It looks like El Nino will start in months and the Sun that medium sized Star that right now is cool will not stay that way and it’s going to get hot in here and that is just in the next few years think long term like five years instead of fighting with each other put those boots on and think of this as kind of a war. 100 months well 98 now as a little window of opportunity no pressure.

  8. Don Hawkins said on April 2nd, 2009 at 5:26am #

    I forgot something it happens.

    I will send out something (“Worshiping the Temple of Doom”) on cap-and-trade soon. It is incredible how governments resist the obvious (maybe not so incredible when lobbying budgets are examined, along with Washington’s revolving doors). This is not rocket science. If we want to move toward energy independence and solve the climate problem, we need to stop subsidizing fossil fuels with the public’s money and instead place a price on carbon emissions. James Hansen

    “Worshiping the Temple of Doom” has a real ring to it. Now some people think worshiping the temple of doom is a good idea well I don’t happen to be one of them. I have a feeling this will be one of James’s best. Who is James Hansen one smart tuff person and let me add he needs all the help he can get. 100 months and after that all bet’s are off but will still need those boots.

  9. bozh said on April 2nd, 2009 at 7:28am #

    US, among many other countries, is not governed from streets; especially streets filled with 10T, 20T, or 100T people.
    however, if US streets wld be filled with 50mn protestors, US gov’t might at least prick its ears.
    so, protests, no matter how small, are important for me. they may lead to ever larger protests and to ever greater dissemination of facts.
    i am a member of StopWar.ca.
    i have held banners; distributed leaflets about coming US invasion in ’03, merely to have an opportunity to say, Not in my name.
    i did not expect to even help delay let alone prevent the invasion.
    and especially in view that ‘our’ police, fbi, cia, and army is theirs.
    and all power comes from lethal weapons handled by their people. thnx

  10. Max Shields said on April 2nd, 2009 at 1:23pm #

    On real change, Jared Diamond remarked that to get real change, the pain of collapse will need to hit the elite. In other words, as long as the “one percent” escapes the pain on the street, real change will not happen. I don’t think he was advocating revolution, but rather a collapse that would not simply hit the “street”.

    This notion that pushing Obama will do anything meaningful and pure fantacy.

  11. joed said on April 2nd, 2009 at 1:45pm #

    what’s the matter with you people! you have finally got what you deserve in govt and economy. you continue to blame others when it is you that have brought this on yourselves. sacrifice and hardship is the only way real change can happen. you people really deserve what you got. i have said for years that you must hit the streets and hit’em hard. i am advocating revolution but you punks haven’t got a clue. what a waste of time. and yelling at me ain’t gonna’ bring about real change kids. hahaha

  12. James UK said on April 2nd, 2009 at 11:48pm #

    Who cares?

    Leaders meet, nothing changes.
    Protesters protest, nothing changes.

    The sun comes up and everything is the same.

    Perhaps a better question is why care?

    Plod on like ordinary people always have, pay what is due and get it somewhere else, like we always have, look after each other and your own, like we always have and let the rich continue with their game, it is not our game to play. Just as one caveman accumulated more logs than another and swapped some of his excess for more food than he needed, so will it continue for all eternity, just find your place in it and be content.

  13. Brian Koontz said on April 3rd, 2009 at 5:47am #

    In reply to Maxwell Black:

    “Hey Brian, Thanks for the insulting comment!”

    The truth is never an insult. The worst it can be is inappropriate. Calling a fat person “fat” is not an insult, and the statement must be judged within context.

    ““The only people listening to protesters are other protesters.” Not true, you heard us and responded. Thanks!”

    You’re not protesting, you’re posting on a forum. Once someone starts chanting and waving a sign they are tuned out by most people.

    “Why do you assume wealth? Or a fear of risk? Have you resisted the fear of risk lately?”

    Wealth is not an assumption, it’s a geopolitical reality in Western countries, derived from a combination of imperial conquest and industrial exploitation.

    “Are you currently jailed or unhealthy? Are you struggling for revolution yourself?”

    You’re trying to change the subject to avoid discussing the feeble nature of American protests.

    “How do you know we don’t want change? Or revolution? If “we” don’t want revolution what exactly would inspire us to “seem to want revolution?””

    Your better judgment inspires you to seem to want revolution. Your conscience inspires you to *actually* want revolution, but your “better judgment”, the part of your self that desires to remain wealthy, out of jail, and breathing, keeps you from passing from seeming to want revolution to acting for revolution. By “you” I mean protesters in general.

    The most common phrase for this caution is “feeding the family”. Financial obligations for social-status maintenance ensure that caution is employed in political action.

    There is a great divergence between desire and action. Protesting is a common way to seem as if action is being taken without any effective action being taken.

    The primary purpose of protesting is to ease the conscience, to try to trick oneself into believing one is helping the world.

    “And what’s wrong (in your mind) with making signs?”

    The same thing that’s wrong with praying for rain – it’s ineffective and it’s purpose is ritualistic rather than rational.

    “Corporations do almost nothing but make signs and symbols. I’d love to see the same level of outrage against the fact that we see a corporate message every few seconds Brian.”

    There’s no point in acting outraged about something that everyone understands.

    All slaves are deeply outraged about their status, but most do not *display* their outrage for a host of reasons, the most important being to not give away their conscious status to their masters. For slaves, deceit (under many circumstances) is not a character flaw – it’s part of the process of attaining freedom.

    I was talking with a typical American slave a couple days ago, who said about lotteries, “The only way to win is not to play”. I noted that this was the same sentence used in the movie War Games, which she had not ever seen.

    It’s a myth dearly held by the left that American slaves are ignorant. The truth is more complicated. On a deep level everyone knows the truth, but on conscious levels there’s no point in “knowing the truth” unless one can act on it.

    In my talks with other American slaves I often note some political reality – for example an advertisement played on TV which offered credit to anyone “regardless of credit history”, and I said that kind of bank behavior is exactly what got us into the current credit crunch. If Americans were ignorant they would have either looked puzzled or would have resisted my words, but they nodded in agreement.

    I’ve covered various political and social issues, many which the left considers American slaves to be ignorant of, and in all cases they proved not to be ignorant. The *details* they don’t know but of the underlying reality they are as aware as you or I.

    The most common reason why slaves don’t rise up when asked to by self-proclaimed revolutionaries is that they don’t want to be punished by master for doing so.

    The truth is a nuisance when one can’t do anything to change it. The truth can easily get one killed if master believes that truth risks his well-being.

    Slaves aren’t ignorant – slaves are biding their time.

    “You are making massive assumptions about people you don’t even know much less looked into. Have you considered looking into a mirror? Or joining?”

    Joining what? What are you going to do?

    “Are you willing to personally do more than “chant” or protest? Probably not. So why don’t you stop insulting those that take the time to at least try?”

    By “try” you mean “succeed in making us feel good about ourselves and fail in improving the world”.

    I’ve trained people in morality over the past several years. That’s one way to improve the world, and many other people choose other ways that fit their own strengths. Perhaps you can compare the relative values of other ways of improving the world with the effects of an American protest.

    “Brian, we have actually talked and I’m disappointed that you are taking such stances.”

    I’m disappointed that you’re being patronizing.

    “What do you want? I see comments like this constantly. So we should “up the ante?” You want us to “kick some ass.” Right?”

    The militant spirit does not necessarily include weaponry or physical violence. Part of morality is having a militant spirit. It’s wise to be open to the use of weapons when called for.

    The militant spirit involves wisdom and personal commitment.

    “But the second someone does, people condemn us as fucking “eco-terrorists” or whatever. We can’t win with this nonsense.”

    Winning is a process. What’s important is choosing and employing the right actions to most benefit the process.

    If the public at large condemns your actions, then they probably weren’t good actions. Slaves don’t like it when master hurts them because of the actions of revolutionaries.

    “So which is it? Are we doing too much or too little? It’s constantly shifting.”

    You’re personalizing. My critique is of American protests in general, and to an extent Western protests in general.

    American protests are far from valueless – they are social gatherings and may provide organizing opportunities. But the protest itself (typically) has no political effect, and when it does have some political effect that effect is leveraged by the elite for their own benefit.

    “Seriously dude, what do you want to see that will please you? Us with flowers or AK’s? Either way it seems like you will piss and moan and try nothing yourself.”

    How about not just talk to other Western protestors, or to me (another Westerner), but talk to people who actually have the will to overthrow the system of Western imperial dominance? How about contribute to
    a global movement for democracy?

    The modern reality is the inverse of the fantasies of most Western leftists – we have little power, control, or vision, while the power, control, and vision is found outside the West. Yet many Western leftists refuse to engage with non-Westerners, believing that WE are the ones with the best will, the best ideas, the most power.

    Racism remains at the heart of the entire West, including the left, and prevents the Western left from playing an effective role on the global political scene.

    “The “Mickey Z and Derrick Jensen April 25, 2009.” get together is sure to be the feel-good event of the year. It’s the new drug for the hipsters who are burned out on all the others America provides.”

    “Why would you be so insulting?!

    It was simply an invitation to try something most of us have never tried before: adventure!

    And you’re invited jackass!
    Seriously, you are invited Brian Koonzt!”

    Will the world be saved or will it be destroyed or degraded? As we reflect on what we did in our own lives to contribute to saving the world as well as what we did to contribute to degrading it, how do we view our various entertaining adventures?

    I appreciate the invitation.

  14. Max Shields said on April 3rd, 2009 at 6:21am #

    Brian K. and Maxwell, I hate to diminish the energy of protest by sounding cynical. I think the energy is good. However, it is not effective. I think the facts bare that out.

    Revolution, at least the kind we read about – French, Russian, Cuban – requires a level of pain that makes the revolt inevitable and the pain of the revolt relatively minor, incidental. So, let’s not fool ourselves about pots and pains in the streets vs militia confrontation – head to head.

  15. Jeff said on April 3rd, 2009 at 6:46am #

    Friday, April 3, 2009

    Bloomberg Ticker

    Quote:

    G20 Fashions New World Order With Smaller Role for U.S., More Regulation

    O.K., for all the naysayers out there, how are you all going to spin this one?

    This exercise should be very interesting.

  16. bozh said on April 3rd, 2009 at 7:23am #

    protests in US appear less effective than elsewhere. nevertheless, i’d be loath to call them “inefective”; i.e., = zero value.
    if we cld get 50mns to protest, we’d be, i educe, more efffective.

    let us consider the fact that US ruling class is even proportionally much stronger than any other ruling class.
    it has the best weapons; largest army, spy agency, etc. thus, a protest by just 1-5 mn people across america wld not bring significant change.
    but let us not deter well-organized, peaceful, and disciplined protests.
    i love such protests, having self participated in protests and helped publicize them.

  17. Max Shields said on April 3rd, 2009 at 8:02am #

    bozh as I said, the energy is great, and only a cynic would denigrate them.

    To be effective, they cannot be what they’ve been over the past few decades – since Vietnam and the Civil Rights movement merged.

    WTO was not detered by the 1999 Seattle demonstrations and protests, though it certainly raised awareness.

    The problem, it seems, is not simply larger more powerful demonstrations or protests, but the next step. What happens when the dust settles?

    Can life go on as it has? Is a simple poke in the Obama “eye” sufficient to do what needs doing? Or is the change required much more profound? I think the latter. Indigenous change is required, not simply a pounding of the fist in air. Such fist pounding, may get a reaction, but the unintended consequences may either make matters worse, or a means of appeasement through doubling up on divide and control will continue.

    Obama is a natural appeaser. Which is why dealing with him is so tricky. His natural “enemy” is the faux opposition party. Playing one against the other has been fully exercised by the power-elite. Obama will keep the powerful happy, while placating the fist pounders (minimally, with a chuckle), and using the Dem/lib/progressives to keep the left of center divided and ruled.

    This game can last as long as the collapse is in motion and not felt by the power elite. Once the pain is deep, the jig is up. Preparing for that seems critical.

    If we see the lessons, historically, of say, the Russian Revolution, and how it played out, you’ll get an idea that a real Revolution is not only bloody, but the power plays can make what we’ve got look like child play. At the end, the results are no better.

  18. Max Shields said on April 3rd, 2009 at 8:09am #

    The USA has created bloody havoc throughout the world. It has bared its teeth (Kent State is a simple example, and many early upraisings throughout its history) domestically.

    Never underestimate the weapon of US choice – Unleashed and Unbriddled Military Might. When there are problems – USE FORCE.

    However, there is a threshold we have yet to reach. Will the great abstract “masses” revolt? If so when? Is there a plan for such a revolt?

  19. Deadbeat said on April 3rd, 2009 at 8:12am #

    Brian Koontz writes …

    The modern reality is the inverse of the fantasies of most Western leftists – we have little power, control, or vision, while the power, control, and vision is found outside the West. Yet many Western leftists refuse to engage with non-Westerners, believing that WE are the ones with the best will, the best ideas, the most power.

    Racism remains at the heart of the entire West, including the left, and prevents the Western left from playing an effective role on the global political scene.

    Exactly and the Left has been guilty of not building solidarity within its own ranks among the minorities here in the U.S. This is very evident as well with the Left’s apologia of Zionism’s influence upon U.S. Foreign policy. Racism and classism are twins that retards solidarity and IMO why the Left is so disorganized. I think Brain’s analysis is extremely astute. Debt obligations has essentially atomized workers and why the ruling class will not forgive any mortgages and consumer debt. The court system is a means to place additional enforceable financial obligations on workers. These are ways for the master to control their slaves — as Brian puts it.

    I not against protests in general however the real issue as I see it is the lack of real organization and solidarity on the Left and Brian astutely observes why that is the case.

  20. Deadbeat said on April 3rd, 2009 at 8:26am #

    However, there is a threshold we have yet to reach. Will the great abstract “masses” revolt? If so when? Is there a plan for such a revolt?

    You cannot have a revolt that lacks DEMANDS otherwise it will be merely an expression of enough is enough will at best end with some minor reforms.
    DEMANDS are something concrete and programmatic and systemic. What is really missing on the Left is building solidarity around serious demands. This will take time to develop but unfortunately I don’t see the Left even trying to build such formations especially among communities of color.

    This has to happen otherwise the ruling class has nothing to fear and will have no problems letting workers blow off steam.

  21. Max Shields said on April 3rd, 2009 at 8:40am #

    The comment: Is there a plan for such a revolt? I left out an important adjective: Is there a counterinsurgent plan for such a revolt?”

    I suspect there is and it has been documented, and begun during the last administration, and is on the ready.

    I think the real opportunities are urban-based.

  22. bozh said on April 3rd, 2009 at 8:51am #

    well, deadbeat be not dead, live a bit
    i am very strong socialist and i may or may not be a tad genetically racist; e.g. i’d rather make love to a wh. woman than one with the ‘tainted’ skin.
    if i am inately s’mwhat racist, it is not my fault; i.e., i’m paying for the ‘sins’ of my forebipeds.

    i did state on at least one occasion that i owe my existence to the darkest blacks; had they not adopted to scorching sun and acquired black skin to fend off cancer, i nor you wld be here, i think.

    not only that i deeply abhor meritocracy, i also reject leaving school kids behind, which is what happens when kids are graded.
    the grading and leaving kids and adults behind started millennia ago, ostensibly to imrove our lot while in reality the aim as always to divide us and rule over us.

    the grading had been instituted also because the ruling class thought of us as lazy, stupid, unmotivated, unruly; needing its ‘tender/loving care/shove’, or else the world wld come to an end.

    the same crowd ‘loves’ us to bits even now; but us being so damn ‘dumb’ and ‘ selfish’, etc., all we do is complain; want s’mthing for nothing and refuse to admit all this.
    so, what is O to do? well, he tells them this, but obliquely!

    i also dare say that many people may think/feel like i do. but if one mentions to a redneck that we shld never grade children, s/he goes ballistic. maybe even lotsof socialists believe in using this ancient strategem? tnx

  23. Deadbeat said on April 3rd, 2009 at 2:45pm #

    bozh,

    I haven’t a clue what you are trying to communicate to me. It was Brian Koontz who made the observations that I am in agreement with. Perhaps you should address your remarks to Brian and then I might understand what you are trying to say.

  24. bozh said on April 3rd, 2009 at 3:27pm #

    db,
    my post has to do with your statemnet that “racism and classism are twins that retard solidarity”.
    it seems to me that you are talking about leftist racism as well as that some leftists consider selves a class above working class.
    and i am saying i am a strong leftist and a former worker.

    as for not making serious demands, please name a serious demand that we are not demanding from the ruling class.
    stopwar.ca, opposes solving int’l disputes by warfare. i do too. now, that is the most serious demand we cld make.

    of course, much of the Left in US may be equated with a stance tad left of O, who may be tad right of franco, marcos, and tad left of hitler.
    the fact that nader got only about 660T votes proves that the Left in US is way to small at this time. tnx

  25. bozh said on April 3rd, 2009 at 3:47pm #

    db,
    i don’t know what “revolt” of the masses means to you. “building solidarity around serious demands” , being an overgeneralization, is also to me just an abstraction.

    does revolt mean 50-100 mns hitting the streets in peaceful marches demanding US not wage any more wars or end the ones now underway?
    and if that doesn’t suffice call on a general strike!

    we’ve protested in canada; unfortunately, only 1% [or fewer] of people show up at our well-organized marches. we demand and demand and demand but harper says, What, 1% of my people demand i pull our troops out of afgh’n.
    and you know the rest.
    tnx

  26. Maxwell Black said on April 5th, 2009 at 2:42am #

    Fuck! I’ve been at work. I kind of knew there would be all sorts of interesting treats waiting here.

    Brian, I actually enjoyed your responses but it’s late. Back Monday. The weekend for DC restaurant managers is exhausting.

    But there will be a response.

    However, if you peak in, what do you (and many DV comment givers mean by the “Left?”)

    There seems a hostility. Are you not on the “Left?” And if not, where do your political passions reside? Are you neutral on A Moving Train?

    I’m not judging one way or another. I’m just curious.

  27. Maxwell Black said on April 5th, 2009 at 3:05am #

    Max Shields,

    I agree. But I don’t think the idea of PAIN is a good recruiting tool. Do you?

    It’s Left revival time. And it must be sexy. And intellectual. And Spiritual. And WINable.

    Right back when my paycheck earning interval is over.