The Empire Without Clothes

Rarely do we find men who willingly engage in hard, solid thinking. There is an almost universal quest for easy answers and half-baked solutions. Nothing pains some people more than having to think.
— Martin Luther King

Give me the liberty to know, to utter, and to argue freely according to my conscience, above all other liberties.
— John Milton

Ecraser l’infame!
— Voltaire

The Romans had a saying: Mole ruit sua. It falls of its own bigness.

They knew a thing or two about Empire, over-extension abroad and decay at home.

Apparently, Americans are still learning. Hence, we’re shocked by a 9/11 event, the devastation wrought by Katrina, the collapse of a bridge over the Mississippi. We don’t understand how our health care system could have deteriorated into the “Sicko” joke of the developed world — and to be a lot less efficient and fair than systems in much poorer countries (Cuba, Venezuela, Costa Rica, for example). Within a few decades, how did we go from putting men on the moon to a nation whose cars can’t compete with Japan and Germany — nations less than half, and a little more than a quarter our size; nations we bombed to smithereens some 60 years ago?

Our school system can’t educate the next generation of doctors (we import them from India), nurses (we grab them from the Philippines), computer specialists (we outsource those jobs to India), journalists or editors. We no longer make our own clothes (China does), build our own ships (South Korea), or do our own thinking (thank you, Rupert Murdoch, Oprah and a pox of pundits!). In my lifetime, I have watched the culture gyrate from the wholesome, if naïve, 1950s’ sitcom Father Knows Best, with its strong, parental role models, to the whorish modeling behavior of insolent “celebs” like Paris Hilton, Britney Spears, Lindsy Lohan, etc. Our kids are sugared up with awful food one moment, then sedated with Ritalin the next. For the past twenty years I’ve been asking my wife, “How low can we go?” And I can’t help thinking of Shakespeare’s answer: things are not the worst so long as we can say, “This is the worst!”

It would be easy to blame all of this on some clown-politician: Ronald Reagan, George Bush (pere or file!). But we ought not elevate their like too much. They are symptoms, not causes. It’s easier to treat symptoms than eliminate causes, and the current hubbub on the Left about impeaching Bush, Cheney and Gonzalez — as nefarious as they are! — is just the sort of band-aid solution to the manifest ills of a moribund empire that is certain to perpetuate those ills and that empire.

In politics, timing is everything. Two years ago I wrote a piece entitled, “25 Reasons to Impeach George W. Bush.” It was widely disseminated on the web, even made it to Congressman Conyer’s website. Two years is a long time as the crow flies, and what was bold, dissident and informative then is old-hat and shop-worn now. You’ve got to wonder: when Bruce Fein of the hyper-conservative American Enterprise Institute and John Nichols of the Nation magazine convene on Bill Moyers’ Journal, as they did in July, to present the merits of impeaching Bush and Cheney as a great civics lesson for the American people — a way to restore trust in our government — what is going on? Have the Left and the Right finally found a way to move the social agenda forward, to repair the bridges, establish durable living standards, and secure the blessings of life, liberty and justice for all? Can the Corporate State and Democracy really co-exist? And the answer lies in the simple act of impeaching the degenerates? Hallelujah!

But … not so fast …

H.L. Mencken, the great American essayist and journalist (Yes, Virginia, there really were journalists in the Good Old Days!) used to say that for every complex, intractable, seemingly impossible problem, there was a quick, easy, convenient solution — that was wrong!

So, let’s play this out. What’s wrong with impeachment now?

Well, for one thing, it’s now, not then. If the Dems wouldn’t touch the subject with a ten foot alligator pole when they were down-and-outers two years ago, why would they want to stretch their democratic ligaments now when they are convinced that the Bush Administration is hoisting itself on its own petard and victory is just 15 months within their grasp?

Those who argue that impeachment will teach Americans a great lesson in the puissance and ultimate triumph of Jeffersonian democracy — whatever that may be!–appear to have forgotten the lesson of the last impeachment: mainly, NAFTA-loving, affable, charming, roll-in-the-Oval-Office-hay Bill was followed by snarling Cheney and his hand-puppet Bush. Just when exactly did impeachment serve the interests of this would-be Republic? Did Anrew Johnson’s? As I recall, his impeachment made it easier for the carpetbaggers to scour the fallen South, and put daggers to Lincoln’s program to “bind up the nation’s wounds.” Did the threatened impeachment of Nixon end the Vietnam War one day sooner? Wasn’t it rather a means to find a presidential scape-goat for the excesses of Empire; to bring a divided nation together so that it could elect Ronald Reagan six years later, promote the Contras in Nicaragua, death squads in El Salvador, and entrench deregulation and all its sins?

Here’s another problem: The Bush-Cheney-Gonzalez cabal, with the approval of our supine Congress and paleolithic Supreme Court, have fine-tuned and oiled all the machinery for a Police State and Martial Law. Let’s play out this horror: Another 911 event in the midst of impeachment proceedings. Hannity and O’Reilley stridently proclaim that “so-called” Progressives have diverted the attention of the Executive branch from fighting the all-important War on Terror. Martial Law is declared, the 2008 elections cancelled. Many of us are doubtful about the role of this Administration in the cloudy events of 911. Can we be sanguine about its role and response to another such event — or a worse one?

Governments under siege are no better defenders of the commonweal than a misinformed public. And our public has been grossly misinformed for a long time about the very nature of the Empire in which they live and work, pray, play and die. While our corporate roosters outsource jobs; while they plunder the treasury to fight wars abroad; while they line the pockets of lobbyists and politicians, they foster sentimental nationalism among the mainstream-media-addicted masses. Laughing all the way to their banks and their hedge funds, they jet-set about our shrinking globe, frolicking among their class on the best beaches in the world, eating the best food in the world, and shitting their gold-colored shit for the rest of us to eat.

To propose impeachment now, and to proceed with it, is not to educate the public about their democratic powers, but to egregiously mislead it into thinking the ballyhooed Republic actually works — and is on their side! Such a proposal and undertaking now is a siren song to the naïve; a refusal to do the hard, solid thinking Martin Luther King espoused.

It presupposes that there is a Republic which is responsive to the needs and demands of the people; that that Republic may be salvaged; that it is merely overladen with the filth of neglect. We have simply to get back to the sterling, perdurable tablets upon which the Republic has been founded — the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence — and all will be well.

And while we are engaged in this futile exercise, shall we re-deploy the troops from Iraq to Kuwait; shall we streamline our forces so they are better able to pounce next time? Will we send $30 billion to Israel over the next ten years, or spend $ 65 billion to re-build our nation’s bridges? In order to fund universal health care, shall we cut our Defense budget or cut Social Security? Will we ask the big questions? Do we even know what to ask?

We are less and less likely to know what to ask, thanks to the consolidation of media empires that took place in the 90s, and continues apace with Aussie billionaire Rupert Murdoch’s recent purchase of Dow Jones and the Wall Street Journal. Can we really expect a corporate-government alliance that sanctions the concentration of so much wealth, power and influence into the hands of one or a few individuals to be acting in our interests? So Milton cried for “the liberty to know, to utter, and to argue freely” according to his conscience “above all other liberties.”

We are trained not to call things what they are. If we have a psychopathic president and vice-president, the petit bourgeoisie think it boorish to disrespect their offices by saying so. If our economic system has created a new aristocracy, increasingly served by a new peasantry, let’s call it Globalization and The New World Order. The aggregation of corporate, government and media power, which Mussolini himself called Corporatism and Fascism — let’s just shake our heads sadly and call it “inevitable,” or the way things are or always have been. Let us go to pedophiliac priests to confess our sins and listen to their pronouncements of salvation in heaven. Let us abide by the words of Protestant preachers who tell us we, too, can become filthy rich if we obey the word of God (and our keepers!) and do not rock the Ship of State. Let us make obeisance to Israel — not because of the wisdom of Solomon, but because the land-grabbing nation-state keeps the Muslim world divided, and buys our arms.

I am old enough to remember “the Vietnam Syndrome”: the idea that our “defeat” in Vietnam weakened the country’s morale — and our moral fiber. But that was just Bernays-type P.R. nonsense. We weren’t “defeated” in Vietnam. We wound up killing about 3 million Vietnamese and our bombing of Cambodia helped to unleash Pol Pot and the “killing fields” that buried four million. In the third of a century since our withdrawal from Vietnam we have learned disgustingly little about the machinations of the Empire. Dutifully we vote every 2-4 years supposing that this time, doing the same thing, will bring a different result.

So, what to do?

While international capital leaps borders, Daimler Benz buys Chrysler, dumps Chrysler, and piece-workers in China send shiploads to Wal-mart, the international peace movement is stymied and fragmented, and wage slaves around the world feel the walls of their prison cells closing in.

It is almost 200 years since the London Peace Society was organized to convince people that “war is inconsistent with the principles of Chistianity, and the true interests of mankind; and to point out the means best calculated to maintain permanent and univedrsal peace.” On July 4th, 1845, Senator Charles Sumner of Massachusetts, in his speech entitled “The True Grandeur of Nations” declared war contrary to religion and humanity, and, under the conditions of modern civilization, likely to disappear. The first positive reaction to the depredations of the Industrial Revolution was Luddite-like resistance — smash the machines; the second, culminating in the Revolutions of 1848, was to utilize the new power of machines to move towards the ancient vision of universal peace. The third reaction, beginning in the twentieth century, has been a great dulling and numbing of our psychic connections; a retreat from the rich complexity of transnationalism to the safe simplicities of statism. Here, the work of Freud and Jung, and particularly Freud’s nephew, Bernays, established the psychic limits of our species, moulded working and middle classes into enclosed, patriotic, monitored and stimulated heartbeats, massaged by sentimentalism, willing to kill and die for the State and the God of the State.

Will Globalization and the IT Revolution bring a fourth reaction?

After 5,000 years of living in communities, will Homo sapiens manage to integrate local communities into a worldwide community in which the principle of fairness is inextricable from the principle of freedom? We have the technical means, but do we have the will and vision?

Can the anti-war movement in America join forces with anti-war movements in Europe, Asia and around the world? Can we organize planetary boycotts of industries that pollute our children’s air and water, and of corporations that poison our bodies and minds? Are Americans big enough, wise enough, to internationalize their problems or must we turn everything over to our overseers — our politicians and the lobbyists and media barons they serve and service? Can we remand war criminals like Bush and Cheney, Kissinger and the like to the International Court in the Hague and other international judiciary bodies, or must we resort once again to the tired formulations of impeachments, pardons and the same ugly crimes reappearing, somewhat reconstituted, somewhere down the road?

There are crises in the heart and infrastructure of this nation that go far beyond the soft and hard power of our body politic. After a quarter of a millennium, our sacrosanct Constitution is frayed badly at the edges: its electoral college that awarded Bush the presidency; its life-time appointment of Supreme Court justices that rigor-mortises Justice itself; the absurdity of a representational system that provides a senator from Wyoming some 70 times the proportionate power of a senator from California; the equal absurdity of a lame-duck presidential system that almost assures that a successful first term will be followed by a bad second; the lack of people’s referenda to easily remove indictable offenders like Bush, Cheney, et. al. Not to mention, the lack of anything like an Economic Bill of Rights!

Ecraser l’infame!” Voltaire cried in his mid-60s. Crush the infamous thing! But first, like Voltaire, understand it, explain it. See the great currents of human history, controlled and out of control, buffeting our simian and god-reaching species. Expose the scoundrels and turn them out, and praise the honest man and woman and uphold their decency. Those we have trusted to lead us have deceived us long enough, let us wander too long in a wilderness of tears, thorns and betrayals. The task is formidable, gargantuan: to educate, to explicate, to elucidate. To keep mining history until we reach the golden veins of truth; to flush the murky waters till the clear wellsprings shine in the radiant sun. To re-connect ourselves to the great movements of world history: the peace and social reform movements in Europe and America in the 19th century; the anti-colonial revolutions of the 19th and 20th centuries against European and American Empire. We must rise up now with knowledge and compassion and take the reins to ride the maelstrom; to save ourselves and our home planet, our tomorrows, and what and whom we love.

Poet-playwright-journalist-fictionist-editor-professor, Dr. Gary Corseri has published work in Dissident Voice, The New York Times, Village Voice, CommonDreams and hundreds of other publications and websites worldwide. His dramas have been produced on PBS-Atlanta, and he has performed his work at the Carter Presidential Library. Gary can be reached at Read other articles by Gary.

16 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. Brett Paatsch said on August 8th, 2007 at 9:07am #

    Mr Corseri you write fairly well but you are howling at the moon. Its all just “words, words, words”.

    I went with interest to you question “what to do?” and there is nothing specific suggested. You say that it is past time for impeachment and that Bush, Cheney and Kissinger should be sent to the Hague. It seems as though for you the laws of the United States can just be ignored.

    Under the US Constitution the US President retains the Presidential pardon power except in cases of impeachment.

    It was the Bush administration that “unsigned” the International Criminal Court treaty and with the support of Congress passed what Phillipe Sands in his book _Lawless World: America and the making and breaking of global rules_ refers to as “the Hague Invasion Act”.

    It would be against current US law for US citizens to turn other US citizens over to the Hague. No solutions of the sort that you yearn for can come from the widespread breaking of more laws. Law is the only alternative to war. We must get the laws right and uphold them or all we can do is change the names of the villains.

    Impeachment is imperative because impeachment is the Constitutionally prescribed remedy to “high crimes and misdemeanors” and anything else leaves both the President and a historical precedent in place that other political scoundrels will not fail to take advantage of.

    Certain principles are absolutely bedrock for civilization to be able to work. Amongst these are that the rule of law must apply to all including Presidents and that promises, solemn promises such as the oaths that all elected representatives take to support and defend the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic be upheld.

    It is really ultimately that simple. No representatives in any system of government will represent their constituents if they are allowed to break their oaths of office which is the very first and most personal promise they can make. And laws must be upheld lest people lose confidence in them and revert to jungle law.

    Humanity has already created the intellectual frameworks in such constructions as the US Constitution and the UN Charter as it needs to acheive most of what is desirable but humanity in general and Americans in particular have not yet learned the very simplest of things. Oaths taken must be kept and laws must apply to all.

    Impeachment is the necessary and practical step. The US Constitution says at article 6 that “all treaties made” (such as the UN Charter) “shall be” part of “the supreme law of the land”. Bush broke the “supreme law” of the land when he invaded Iraq. Thousands of Americans and tens or hundreds of thousands of Iraqis died as a consequence. It stands to reason if anything ever does that that sort of death toll arising from an illegal act must constitute a high crime.

  2. Daoud Ali Chavez said on August 8th, 2007 at 11:00am #

    I agree. Let’s target the disease, not the symptoms. To do the latter is ultimately counterproductive.

    Thank you. Very powerful, inspiring article.

  3. Ron Horn said on August 8th, 2007 at 1:44pm #

    I hope this article can generate what I believe to be an extremely important discussion about what must be done to get us out of the predicament that we, the American people, are now in as well described by Corseri and many others. But like Paatsch, I think that the article does nothing to advance the solution. I agree with Paatsch that the first steps must be to pursue impeachment, but like Corseri I do not believe that if that were to succeed that we would have solved the problem. The next step would have to be a constitutional convention to amend the Constitution to take away the power of corporations. Now I am not very hopeful that either or both steps would succeed, but we must not rule them out. In any case the final solution must be the political education of the American people. Right now it is probably at the level of a 7th grade civics class. But by initiating completely legal steps to change things, we might accomplish several very positive developments: we would have to organize grass roots organizations to accomplish these objectives (Congress will never do this without a lot of pressure from below), organizing would also involve educating people on the issues, once the ball got rolling the opposition would gradually expose its contempt for legal processes which would further the political consciousness of the people, and so on and so forth. I simply do not see any other alternative out of our dilemma.

  4. Mario Dufour said on August 8th, 2007 at 2:37pm #

    Mr. Corseri,
    I would like you to accept my humble congratulation for that piece you wrote. I am a canadian cinematographer, very concern about the rise of fascism in the western world, and about to develop a documentary on that topic. Thanks to you, for enlightning my thinking during this incubation period.
    Best regards.

    Mario Dufour

  5. Mark Azman said on August 8th, 2007 at 4:29pm #

    I agree with Mr. Paatsch, now is the time. What is our alternative to the current situation; ignore these crimes and lies and do nothing because it is easier. We need a leader in this cause, not more words. Allowing the current administration in Washington to lie, steal from, and profit from the American people is crazy. This is almost a prime-time soap opera.

  6. Ahmed R.Ibrahim said on August 9th, 2007 at 6:37am #

    Thank you for a well thought thus thought provoking article. Commentaries also show a deep sense of crisis engulfing and redirecting the best energies towards destruction. The rot is everywhere.Something has to be done.
    I like this crisis. We Humans need a cathartic crisis every so often as we often tend to slip into forgetful comfort over even hard acquired progress. We have such a waking crisis developed by political, economical and social criminals on the loose. Neo-carpetbaggers are scurrying all over a World they have been let to believe to be their property to wantonly exploit to their narrow ends. Once economical success creates these new business kinglet’s and a new already rotting aristocracy, old blueprints reappear from Middle Age models rejuvenated. The renewed “Tiers Etat” is being relentlessly pushed downwards into submission. Education dumbed down or elitised.
    Only when deviation becomes unsustainable do reaction set in and equilibria collapse. Both Impeachment and submission to International Law and then Constitutional revision to accommodate actual conditions prevalent or positively developing in the World should be implemented by now. We badly need a reassessment of human planetary reality for the next century and beyond. And filing for posterity what should ever be deemed self-destructive behavior unallowed hence.

  7. Antonio Bernal said on August 9th, 2007 at 7:43am #

    Thanks for a great article. The problem is what to do about it.
    1.- Grass roots organizing, which our grandchildren might one day see come to fruition.
    2.- Violent overthrow, with the attendant danger of fascism-from-the-left.
    3.- Voting in elections, in a system that is sewed up airtight by corporations for their benefit.
    4.- Economic collapse, with the Third World Hordes taking over.

    I am reminded of the devastation of Germany, Berlin reduced to rubble by the allied bombing. I like Germany and the Germans very much, but one cant help but think; “they asked for it”. I just read a comment about that US citizen that was deported to Mexico—COMMENT: What a loser! That just about sums up Americans. Two hundred years of slavery, Jim Crow, Colonialism, Imperialism, wars, devastation of economies, genocidal policies of starvation, and all one can come up with is, “what a loser”. Do Americans need, like the German Nazis, the carpet bombing of US cities to wake up to what they are doing? Such a tragedy. Such a waste. My frustration is that many people KNOW whats wrong, but everyone seems paralyzed. Violence could be avoided, but not if no one moves to prevent it. And I see no one moving. Maybe the US culture/economy will just go on backsliding until it just peters out with a whimper. Thats what the Roman empire did, until Constantine one day announced he was a Christian. No matter how you look at it, there are dark days ahead.

  8. Max Shields said on August 9th, 2007 at 9:41am #

    Mr. Corseri, you have written a superb article on root cause problem identificaton. (I’m always impressed by the insights of Martin Luther King, Jr.).

    The question is how will the necessary transformation happen? Can it happen, as we see in places like Bolivia and Venezuela, through a democratic process, or is revolution a means to the necessary ends. I would look to the Bolivian Revolution model. This is not an overnight solution; and the US imperialistic machine needs to be stopped before millions more are killed by its asymmetrical morality and justice – US/Good, All others as defined by US).

    The root cause requires a cultural transformation. The more viscerally pleasing “carpet bombing” would more than likely bring with them the unintended consequences of war. The results are predictably full blow totalitarian fascism.

    The Constitution is still servicable provided a transformation is underway. It is frayed, it is like all frameworks over time, dated and in need of major – perhaps total replacement. But that will only happen when there is a majore cultural shift. When people are engaged and stop handing democracy over to elected officials. If that doesn’t happen, than we’re just replacing the bad with perhaps worse (a slight nod to your Shakespear quote).

    But where I would strongly differ with Mr. Corseri is on the need to bring Bush/Cheney/Rice/Rumsfeld/Gonzalez to trial for war crimes. It’s true, where does one begin/end with regards to the criminal policies of this nation? Bush is a symptom; but where were the alarms over the last 50-60 years when like atrocities were committed? There is a relativism at work – and I don’t mean with the level of criminality; but rather with those of us sensitized to the depth of what is before us. The depth of the hideousness is raw and can no longer be denied. We shake our fists, rant and rave, one war ends, then alls well….until the next one.

    But here we are faced with a moment of truth, as the empire collapses. It is not Bush who is beyond the “pale” as much as it is our sensibility to digest the horror of what we’ve been and are.

    And so this will require a cultural transformation, economic and political changes will be on its heels.

  9. Ahmed R.Ibrahim said on August 9th, 2007 at 1:41pm #

    May I suggest some way forward? Like considering any deviated means as instruments misused. IT is developing even if some institutional recuperation is taking place. Educational, gathering, motivating Referenda, even if bereft of political clout at start,could be held and encouraged as some kind of political virtual game. Teams formed through interest building discussions. Banking software adapted to control real participation as opposed to provocation participation. A data base of population spread expectation levels and reaction, involvement and building dedication to real modern means democracy. A popular held trend research tool. The thing here being a readjustment of existing tools to better use for a wider shared knowledge base and organizational purpose.
    In time, such self-control and education as to the shared real views of the population might help in structuring response, credibility and tactics. Start a game, educate, participate, find sponsors (controlled for credibility), get tools honed through running the game, publicize, get media to report. Become a self-valued entity, build clout and strive.

  10. Susan Guest said on August 9th, 2007 at 3:58pm #

    Gary, your beautifully written article clearly illuminates the entrenched problems in America that enable this criminal administration to continue – our horrible education system, factory farmed and nutritionally void food, gobbled pharmaceuticals for dubious illnesses, media brainwashing, etc. You also address what to do; I respectfully now ask, how? How are we going to re-educate three generations of Americans who suffer varyingly from delusions such as ‘we are the strongest, best, democracy on earth,’ to ‘my country right or wrong’ to ‘ we’re fighting them there so we don’t have to fight them here’ to ‘my government is purtectin me’ to ‘it’s OK to torture, to spy on ‘murkins, to seize my assets if I disagree with your Iraq policy…’ the list of outright lies Americans chant to themselves and each other goes on and on and on.

    We urgently need to become world citizens for the good of the planet and for the good of humanity, as you suggest. The world needs to know that there are American citizens vehemently opposed to what this criminal cabal we are allowing to represent us is inflicting on the world, and fast. Plus, we need help from without, since we are not getting it from within…

    Another 9/11 with martial law and rounding us up for ‘our own protection?’ Economic collapse from both within (subprime market and its ripple effects, 3% inflation laughingly ignoring food and fuel up 30% and hundreds of percent respectively, over a handful of years) and without (China threatening to collapse the dollar?) A completely unprotected and collapsing infrastructure…so my next question is, when? Do we wait till everyone is educated and convinced of the criminality of this government? Or do we know that by then, it will be too late?

    And then, who? We desperately need to organize. I keep trying to walk away in despair, to not think, to not read, because the lies that come from (nearly) every single selected misrepresentative and appointee and member of the media make me feel insane, and somehow filled with revulsion of living among people who believe them year after year after year, but I can’t.

    I just returned from the UK where I was constantly asked, ‘why are you (the Murkin people) letting this happen?’ Indeed.

    So. How? When? And Who? And … What?

  11. Susan Guest said on August 9th, 2007 at 4:55pm #

    Would Mr. Paatsch please elaborate on the rule of law that is invoked, and by whom, when Congressmembers decline to uphold their oaths of office, and sanction a criminal president, and permit the passage of laws in violation of the Constitution and Bill of Rights, and continue to fund an illegal war, and decline to provide the most basic assistance to vast swaths of its citizens?

    Voting did not work last November. There is no recall provision for members of Congress. I am a product of the US educational system and have no knowledge of the rule of law that is available to American citizens when their elected representatives decline to do their jobs, and permit crimes to be committed by the highest officeholders in the land; I await enlightment on this issue.

  12. Gary Corseri said on August 9th, 2007 at 7:20pm #

    I’d like to thank all of those who took the time to comment upon my article, to share their views with the acute readers of Dissident Voice.

    A writer sends his/her work out into the empyrean and can’t be sure how the work sounds to other ears, how it unfolds in another’s consciousness. Serious feedback allows one to re-consider one’s views, hone one’s arguments, revise and revive. Much thanks, then, for all the insightful comments.

    I’d like to focus my response on points raised by Max Shields and Susan Guest because they address similar issues about urgency and process. What kind of change; even, What kind of Revolution?

    Obviously, I don’t have satisfactory answers; certainly, not nearly complete answers. The fact that so many are becoming more aware of the dire situation of our planet is encouraging. The fact that we may have already passed the “tipping point” for being effective in averting catastrophe is not.

    The question is how–yes! I think a multi-faceted approach to deep-seated, intricate, entangled processes and problems will work best. I’ve been reading about Chaos Theory, and I think the “missing element” of chaos will play a big part in the transformation so many of us seek and yearn for. In a separate letter to me, Max Shields takes up this theme: “The self-organizing aspect of complexity/chaos theory is something we can, in fact, I would argue, must tap into. I am very taken by the works of Frances Moore Lappe and her notion of living democracy. This notion is what I’d refer to as a means of achieving what David Korten refers to as the Great Turning.”

    There’s a lot more to understand about this, about the way processes play out in the world, and we’re not going to get any of this from mainstream media or culture. While we’re developing a higher politial consciousness, we need greater cultural awareness, too. Here the arts are essential. (I’ve written more about this online, and so have many others. We need to remove the arts from the academies where they have been petrifying and putrefying for many years. Much of the revolutionary fervor of the 60’s began in coffee houses in New York and San Francisco where Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Pete Seeger sang and Ferlinghetti and Ginsberg chanted their poems!)

    Of course, we can’t simply wait for chaos or fatalism to take over and point the way. Not if we believe we are autonomous beings, with enough spark of the divine to steer our own course, or at least give the steering impetus.

    That’s where the “cultural transformtion” comes in. And, man, that is going to be hard! How do we go from a 2nd Dark Ages to a 2nd Renaissance, a 2nd Enlightenment?

    (To see how much I agree with the need for cultural transformation, I might refer readers to my guest website at:

    But, the questions about process necessitate immediacy. I’m going to advert to my main themes in my essay: we need to educate, explicate, elucidate. Keep the dialogue going. Think out of the box. I also think it’s time for more radical actions. When we have demonstrations against the war, bang pots and pans in the streets to symbolically awaken people. I advocate the use of boycotts (as stated in my article). I’d like to see demonstrations aimed at Fox News and other media outlets which pervert the right of free speech into controlled, manipulated speech. Let’s shout from the rooftops like Howard Beale in NETWORK: “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!” Join forces with like-minded people around the world. We have the numbers; they have the megaphones. We can out-shout their megaphones!

    Of course, we need leaders. This is an Empire that has systematically killed off its best leaders over the past 45 years. Imagine what our world might look like today had the Kennedys and King not been assassinated! Or, if Shwarner, Cheney and Goodman had not been killed in Mississippi while trying to sign up voters. Malcolm X, Medgar Evers, the students at Kent State and Jackson State, and so many others who were eliminated while trying to exercise their “Constitutional rights.”

    Revolution is dangerous business and we’d better understand just how dangerous. We have two warring impulses in our human nature: no one wants to throw his or her life away on a hopeless cause, and at the same time, we strive to invest our lives with meaning and dignity. The IT Revolution, the Internet, have given the masses the kind of voice and “voting power” they have not had since Guttenberg’s moveable type, some 600 years ago. Guttenberg’s revolution led to the Protestant Reformation, the end of Roman/Papal domination of European thought, the end of Feudalism. I believe we are on the verge of another such epochal change in human affairs. The fact that we are “networking,” forming alliances, getting to know each other will make us stronger when the conditions are ripe and irresistable to take the most effective actions. Meantime, think and act out of the box. Remember that great revolutionary Thoreau who said something like this: “For a thousand who are hacking at the branches of injustice, only one is digging at the roots.” We must dig at the roots and work hard to clearly understand how deep the roots lie and how entangled they may be. Other adventurers I like to recall are Einstein: “Great spirits have always found violent opposition from mediocrities. The latter cannot understand it when a man does not submit to hereditary prejudices but honestly and courageously uses his intelligence.” And even that old Victorian, Tennyson who urged us: “To strive, to seek, to find–and not to yield.”


    Gary Corseri

  13. Max Shields said on August 10th, 2007 at 7:52am #

    To elaborate on the convergence of Lappe and Korten. Lappe has written extensively on hunger and from the basic understanding of the dynamic of food and living communities (as well as her world view) she has diagnosed the problem as “thin” democracy. This kind of democracy is evident here and there around the globe, but is most noticeble here. It is when people vote and believe they are participating in democracy. When money and power goes in one direction, and the people go in another. This disconnect is remedied by what she calls “living democracy” or participatory democracy (as others have called it). Its starts with reconnecting communities where for the most part they have collapsed. Realizing that our shared hopes and goals are achieved together and that our problems have become evermore complex and cannot be confronted from on high. Living democracy is meeting these challenges at the grass-roots. That root cause and best outcomes can only come from the people impacted. Whether its economic, education, energy, transportation, developing liveable communities, all of these and more, can only be met with an engaged citizenry. It is harnessing that creative engagement to envision and then achieve the outcomes WE, the people, want and need. It is not about someone cutting a deal for military bases to stay in a region for jobs, or bringing back to the community a one-size fits all magnet school solution. We, jointly, co-creatively build our communities.

    David Korten provides the historical understanding and economic underpinnings of empire, of domination and hierarchy that has produced endless war amongst us and against the environment. The dilemma is what he sees as a possible “perfect storm”; massive national and personal debt, peak oil, and the increasing results of global warming in the form of Katrina like storms destroying large portions of the planet as we know it and our already crumbling infrastructure. The alternative comes in the form of the great turning, a rejection of empire, a re-birth of community and the connectedness within and between the human and living inhabitants. Lappe provides a practical means to begin and sustain the journey back to living communities.

    This is not fiction. It is not a grand scheme, and there is no Manifesto dogma to follow. It is based on an intuited acting out of complexity’s self-organization. It is happening. But can it be sustained? Only if we acknowledge it, nurture it, find opportunities to promote it. The human drive to emerge is very powerful. Today’s empire of domination is collapsing. The alternative to this a re-generative, self-organizing living democracy, is totalitarian fascism (an instinctive panic to supreme domination).

    Venezuela and Bolivia have intuited living democracy and sustainable communities. It is unwise to buy the MSM talk about how evil Chavez is. We need to understand those developments in Venezuela as a life force and not a political dogma. Follow closely how Venezuela has sustain Chavez, not the other way around. Learn and see how workers’ cooperatives are changing the entire living and economic circumstances in Venezuela and Bolivia. See how the health care is being transformed, in fact these nations are transforming. Understand what is meant by Bolivian revolution (peaceful transformation) and its historical legacy.

  14. Max Shields said on August 10th, 2007 at 11:07am #

    “But, the questions about process necessitate immediacy. I’m going to advert to my main themes in my essay: we need to educate, explicate, elucidate. Keep the dialogue going.”

    Living democracy is hard work. Yes, absolutely education. I tend to stress collective or community learning. And as you state, experimenting, out of the box thinking and doing. That is what a living democracy is.

    We’ve become lazy. We vote (fewer and fewer) and expect that some charismatic “leader” will do what’s needed. “Here, here’s the keys to our future, you take care of it. By the way, I want a job, and a affordable house to live in. So, hurry off and take of my needs.” That’s the predominate culture. These “leaders” don’t have a clue. They’re pumped with second guessing rhetoric. Our issues can only be solved by the people confronting them. That we know.

    Living democracy turns this on its head. Work places become part of the democratic process. Today, they are top down, executive/management based, with workers simply resources to be minimized through automation wherever possible; to reduce costs, outsourced to low income nations. And this domineering culture is reflected in our homes, and our public lives in general.

    A workers’ owned and operated workplace is completely democratic. There is no middle management. One worker, one vote. Communities, our economics then reflect this kind of deep living, energetic and creative democracy (vs the lazy version we now live in). The arts are an integral part of this, along with all decision making, our workplaces, businessnes, food suppliers, our connected hopes and vision of community are all of a piece, while acknowledging and respecting our differences and individuality that gives birth to diversity and creativity.

  15. hp said on August 10th, 2007 at 7:00pm #

    “High crimes and misdemeanors” is a joke. An absolute joke. These guys commit misdemeanors like breathing, high crimes like it’s a right.
    How many believe Bush can even spell misdemeanor?
    I’m old enough to remember thirty years ago when high crimes would be investigated by a senate committee and at least the alleged perps would twist a little, shuck and jive, stammer and protest. Now a days they just shove it in our faces like a cream pie and just what are we gonna do about it?
    A prison population of two million and how many millionaires are in jail? Ten?
    How many millionaires have been executed? Zero?
    The only solution left to the unwashed and over taxed masses is the same one there always was. “Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition.”

  16. Enzo said on September 1st, 2007 at 8:25am #

    Hate to rain on your delusional parade but Rupert is an American (says so on his passport). You can keep him, we don’t want him back!

    And a quibble at Tennyson the ‘adventurer’. As Christopher Ricks says: “rippling underneath that final line, striving to utter itself but battened down by will, is another line, almost identical and yet utterly different: ‘To strive, to seek, to yield, and not to find.”‘

    Cheers, Gary, and thanks for the thought-provoking article.