Bono’s Jet Almost Down* … Russell Brand’s Addiction, Headline News!

at-will worker societies definitely not sexy tales for Media Magicians … and  the”other fine messes, Ollie, you’ve gotten us into” don’t get copy: tales from a Laurel and Hardy take on the continuing criminal enterprise system that is Capitalism with an Eye to Total Educational Institution Destruction

John Steppling:

Today, mass culture, corporate culture, is enclosed within assumptions about entertainment, and it reflects the values of the corporate ownership class that makes it. It is repetitive, and yet predicated on ideas of novelty and originality. The role of popular culture today, though, has changed in another way. Where once popular forms of entertainment were simply a way to use up leisure time, or for distraction, today they are far more deeply intwined with morality, with behavioral attitudes (back to Adorno on style) and political opinion. But most of all they serve to instruct the individual, through the erasure of mimesis, and through repetition of its style codes, in psychological conformity. Never has a population so uniformly accepted propaganda. The last significant aspect of popular mass culture is the ways it silences radical voices. It disappears them. Either through hostile appropriation, through a hegemony of distribution, or through simple omission, which is really just the result of the first two.

Sure don’t want to raise the ire of those progressives who think Russell Brand and Bono are the best things since Gandhi and Helen Keller, but . . . . Democracy “We Never Turn Down an East Coast Schmooze” Now having an entire hour with this goofy guy, with a book (see DV books deals on the left side  of this post – see his Goofy Galoot of a smirking chimp face, selling this sort of brand-name brand new Brand book, Revolution – revolution, my ass) which  will outsell anything worth anything published this year and next or long ago, i.e. Chalmers Johnson (RIP), Robert Fisk, Eduardo Galeano.

*Bono Cheats Death — a new made-for-TV/iPad Movie!

We call it dumb-downing, and turning turds and jokesters  into pundits and philosophers. Their theses are shallow, sort of community college A-minus student level, and, oh, we just can’t get enough of them. Truly, not enough of their money-making, aristocratic bullshit, whether it’s Brad Pitt, DeCaprio/Crapio, shit, any number of remoras who are the flukes of DNA, high financing profiteering, i.e., selling media, now, TV-Dumb and Dumber how to succeed and be a cooking queen-king maven books for sale Amazon (dot) Seig Heil (com). It’s the Oprah and Ellen generation, with some Charlie “Big Wimp” Rose Thrown in, running Baby Boomers into the Poor House. Unending breaking glass and fingernails on the chalkboard kind of discordance of the rich, on TV, between the lines, all out there.  Tragically un-hip, tragically self-important, self-aggrandizing things that we put on pedestals. Oh, the cult of celebrity.

Leibowitz, err, Jon Stewart, now movie director, and the progressives will tear up at the awards ceremonies: “In a recent blog on Huffington Post, Dennis Perrin criticized Jon Stewart for apologizing the day after he agreed with a guest that President Harry Truman was a war criminal. He wrote that “Stewart did what well-regarded mainstream entertainers do when expressing an unpopular opinion. He groveled for forgiveness….When an American ‘satirist’ apologizes for stating the truth, you can really appreciate ‘free expression’ in a corporate-owned culture.” Counterpunch!

Another million, gigabyte messes you’ve gotten us into, Madison-Military-Supreme Court-Citizens United-America!

Yuk-yuk . . . Quote:

What about enforcing U.S. law? The new book by Sasha Polakow-Suransky, The Unspoken Alliance demonstrates that Israel was working with apartheid South Africa on nuclear weapons for decades, a clear violation of the Symington amendment. That law that says that the U.S. has to cut off aid and weapons sales to countries that help other countries’ nuclear enrichment (except those complying with the nuclear non-proliferation treaty). Has Obama enforced that law? Has he mentioned it? No, he’s too busy shoveling Israel money. What about the Leahy law banning U.S. aid to military units with a record of human rights abuses? Didn’t the Israeli navy just kill 9 people including one American aboard the Gaza Flotilla? Doesn’t the shooting of 9 unarmed people count as abuse?

None of this was brought up on Stewart’s interview with the President. There was not a mention of any war, the drones, torture, Israel or Guantanamo, etc. There were a few digs on health care and Larry Summer, otherwise just a bunch of boring questions about the campaign.

While President Obama has been acting like Bush III what have those horrible “Marxists” and radical leftists been doing? They’ve been leading demonstrations to stop unconstitutional acts of war, protesting torture, reminding America of treaty obligations to respect human rights, and demanding war criminals be prosecuted for crimes.

So who, dear John, is subverting our Constitution?

John Stewart, you’re a funny guy. Stick to embarrassing blowhards. Don’t become one of them.

STANLEY HELLER is the host of a rival TV program, “The Struggle”

It’s really about how we think, how we philosophize, how we organize, the we in the bottom 80 percent? These fellows and gals like Rachel Maddow, well, the DO NOT speak for us, about us (accurately), and because of us. No. This is a sub-culture of the cultural crap, on the left side of the hard right line that is America-First World Money Making Faux artistic world of the Bono- Brand kind.   Think hard how limp the ideas are coming from Brand. Christ, is this Rip Van Winkle every half year in the world? How many better people than Brand have studied the witchcraft of democracy-capitalism-voting-for-your-favorite-highly-bribed candidate? But, then, going up against these lightweights at the BBC or wherever, against the very backdrop of all money made in their media shit hole is tainted. VERY-very tainted. Drug money. Child sex slavery money. You know where I am going with this. These people making movies, making MTV, the entire entertainment business, they are the enemies of art, of us, the 80 Percent. Can you imagine, taking the extortion money and putting any of it to good use? So, Brand and Bono can wax nostalgic for their humble beginnings, but in the end, they are tainted, core to core.

It is, really the shame that these book deals go to them, but the entire empire of publishing and TV and movies and insanity is propped up by the cult of celebrity.

On that riff, I was talking to the local bicycle guy in Vancouver. Two of them. Twenty-somethings. Totally tied to working with their hands, and we talked, and lo and behold, the number of dads and sons and guys and gals coming into the store who can’t even change a tire tube. Crazy stuff, and the sales of bike tools is way down, way down.

It says a lot about this new mouse-joy stick-swipe generation. Everything on iPad, Smart (sic) Phone, scanned, radio frequency ID-ed, sanitized, extra ply Charmin toilet paper. Dehumanized, stripped of several million years of roots, evolutionary, the kind that made us great — pastoral tribes, knowing how to make fie, make tools, what to eat, how to raise animals read stars, anything but the Breaking Bad NPR-loving, pop culture bred world of guys and gals who can’t change a bike tire.

Can’t foment a revolution. Can’t go block to block and beat the IT-Surveillance fascists. But instead, we listen to some puke on Everybody Wants to be a Star-Millionaire-Pretty Boy-Buff Girl.

Playgrounds built for the all-PC/fear exfoliated world, Jewish doctor approved, Jewish psychologist studied . . . and the entire world of rules, rules, rules, set up so the 80 Percent can’t rebel, can’t stand up and scream: “I’m not going to take this anymore . . . and I am going to lob x, y and z at the system.”  So, listening to Russell Brand,  with his V-is-for-Vendetta mask on, or even attempting to read his community college-level book, Revolution, is another chink in the armor ripped to shreds by MTV, Dumb and Dumber, crap-thinking actors who get on TV and on news shows and get to make the world into their own faux seriousness.

Imagine, an hour with this guy, with Amy “I am Chomsky’s Love Child” Goodman democracy nyet now .

Can you imagine this world of kids watching cooking shows, wanting to be the next Iron Chef, yet . . . not a scintilla of care or knowledge about what is in our foods, the cost of disposable income capitalism, Synthetic Growing, Toxic Husbandry?

Brand and Goodman and the entire retinue have zero idea why we are co-opted by someone else’s vaunted, special, publicized, rich life, like that of Russell Brand’s. We read his superficial take on the world, and, ahh, another cool publishing scam, love-love-love the scruffy guy, oh so cutting edge, oh-oh so out of the main.

Our schools are gutted and getting gutted. Faculty running like lemmings, part-timers teaching all the liberal arts and other courses, fearing Deans and Provosts and Department Chairs and their own at-will status. Never-ever rocking the boat, and when they do, ahh, the ax!

 Henry Giroux: 

The vocabulary of neoliberalism posits a false notion of freedom, which it wraps in the mantle of individualism and choice, and in doing so reduces all problems to private issues, suggesting that whatever problems bear down on people, the only way to understand them is through the restrictive lens of individual responsibility, character and self-resilience. In this instance, the discourse of character and personal responsibility becomes a smoke screen to prevent people from connecting private troubles with larger social and systemic considerations.

“What shocks me about neoliberalism in all of its forms is how utterly unapologetic it is about the misery it produces.”

This tactic is really pathological and points to an utter disdain for communal relationships, an utter disdain for unions, for public servants and the common good. In this instance, neoliberalism views anything to do with supporting the public good as something to be attacked, whether we are talking about public transit or public schools, because these things, in their eyes, should be privatized. The only value public goods may have are as assets from which people can make money by selling them to private interests. They’re not seen as institutions that somehow contribute to a formative culture that’s essential for any viable democracy.

Question: And having mentioned public education just now, a big issue in Greece, as well as in many other countries today, is the increasing privatization of education, and certainly this is something that has been promoted heavily during the crisis in many of these countries. How have neoliberalism and casino capitalism impacted the quality of education and also access to education?

Henry GIroux: That’s a terrific question. Regarding the quality, it’s dumbed-down education to the point where it literally behaves in a way that’s hard to fathom or understand. Education has become a site of policies that devalue learning, collapse education into training, or they are viewed as potential sites for neoliberal modes of governance and in some cases to be privatized. The radical and critical imagination is under assault in most neoliberal societies because it poses a threat as does the idea that the mission of education should have something to do with creating critically thoughtful, engaged young people who have a sense of their own agency and integrity and possibility to really believe they can make a difference in the world. Neoliberals believe that the curriculum should be organized around testing, creating passive students, and enforcing a pedagogy of repression. Most importantly, the attack on communal relationships is also an attack on democratic values and the public spaces that nourish them. These spaces are dangerous because they harbor the possibility of speaking the unspeakable, uttering critical thoughts, producing dissent, and creating critically engaged citizens.

“What is at stake here is the notion that thinking is dangerous.”

What is at stake here is the notion that thinking is dangerous. It’s a policy that suggests that education is not about creating critically informed young people. It’s really about training for the workplace. It tends to promote a kind of political and ideological conformity; it’s a depoliticizing process – and it’s also oppressive, because it removes from education any sense of vision that suggests that education is really about constructing a future that doesn’t repeat the worst dimensions of the present, that can see beyond the horizons of the alleged practical and possible. I think in that sense, this emphasis on rote memorization, this emphasis on testing, this emphasis on discipline…many of these schools are being turned into military academies, many high schools, particularly in Chicago.

I think that what neoliberal reforms do is ignore all those basic problems that matter through which schools have to be understood in order to be reformed in the interest of creating critically engaged citizens. This suggests that any attempt at reforming schools has to be connected to the wider struggles over racism, inequality, poverty, militarization and the rise of the punishing state. Kids can’t learn if they’re hungry. Kids can’t learn if they find themselves in schools where there are no resources. Kids can’t learn in classes that have 40 students in them. You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to figure this out. And I think that what you really need to figure out is that the right-wing knows this. This is not just a kind of willful ignorance. Schools are not being defunded because the state and federal governments don’t have the money. They are being defunded because the right-wing wants them to fail. The funds are available, but they are being redirected into the military-industrial complex, into policies that lower taxes for the rich, and into the exorbitant salaries of the financial elite. This is a very systemic policy to make sure that if education is going to matter, it’s going to matter for the elite. It’s not going to matter for everybody else, in the sense of offering the best possible resources and capabilities that it can offer.

Question: So would you go as far as saying that education, and particularly higher education today, actually reinforce neoliberal doctrine inside the classroom?

Henry Giroux: I don’t think there’s any question about this. You can pick up the paper every day and read the idiocy that comes out of the mouths of these administrators, whether you’re talking about Texas or Arizona or Florida. The university is being corporatized in a way that we’ve never seen before. And we know what that means; we know what the conditions are that are producing this. What is particularly disturbing is how alleged reforms such as the Common Core standards, which decontextualize teaching and learning by claiming that the larger conditions that place all kinds of constraints on pubic schools, teaching, and how students learn do not matter. This is a very privatizing and commerce driven form of education that depoliticizes as it decontextualizes the most important aspects of schooling and pedagogy. How can we talk about learning without talking about the machinery of inequality that drives how schools are financed, the right-wing policies that are implementing the fundamentalist modes of learning such as creationism, or the deskilling of teachers by suggesting that their only role is to teach to the test? This is truly a pedagogy of repression and ironically is being championed not just conservatives, the billionaires club, but also some progressives.

Ahh, the feminized, sanitized, pop-culture-ready progressives, and their iPod, Apple Money, Subaru-loving lives of slow food, kayak adventures and self-improvement mud baths and elephant dung pep pills.

It does get to the root causes — poverty, culture of consumer education, busy-work dead-end PK12 schooling, in many cases. The policing of young boys and kids of color. And, the casualization of labor, including the PK12 (it’s going iPad and Distant (un)Learning ) and in the higher education circles, where I cut my teeth since 1983 as a faculty member in Tex-Ass. Here, Colorado Adjunct Faculty Bill of Rights. Ya think we are going to get time, air time, the radicals in the bunch, on how screwed over America is because of the careerism of the Military-Pharma-Legal-Prison-Poison-Energy-Financial-IT-Ag industrial complex.

Colorado Community College Faculty Bill of Rights

The American Association of University Professors (AAUP) has set the standards for the profession of teaching in institutions of higher education since 1915. The mission of the American Association of University Professors is to advance academic freedom and shared governance; to define fundamental professional values and standards for higher education; to promote the economic security of faculty, academic professionals, graduate students, post‐doctoral fellows, and all those engaged in teaching and research in higher education; to help the higher education community organize to make our goals a reality; and to ensure higher education’s contribution to the common good.

In consultation with numerous instructors and faculty in the Colorado Community College System (CCCS), the Colorado Conference of the AAUP has noted two major areas in which professional standards and values are not being upheld: the two-tiered faculty, in which one tier is compensated in pay and benefits far more than the other tier for approximately the same work; and a faculty government that is not transparent and does not represent the majority of those who teach for the CCCS. These deficiencies impose working conditions on the majority of the faculty that inhibit them from delivering the highest quality instruction to Colorado’s community college students. The Colorado Conference of the AAUP, therefore, recommends the following practices with regard to the faculty of the Colorado Community College System

Faculty

1. Consider everyone with teaching responsibilities a member of the faculty, with all the rights and responsibilities of faculty.

Salary and Benefits

2. Have only one salary schedule for all faculty. Determine placement on the schedule according to the faculty member’s education, experience, and professional credentials.

3. Pay teaching and non-teaching duties at the same rate. Non-teaching duties include service, administrative, scholarly, or research obligations.

4. Administer benefits proportionally, according to each faculty member’s percentage of a full-time workload, to all members of the faculty, in accordance with state and federal laws.

Class Assignments

5. When class assignments are available, permit each faculty member to teach up to a full-time workload per semester.

6. Allow the faculty to decide the procedures for assigning classes.

7. Require no faculty member to work more than a full-time workload per semester in teaching and/or non-teaching duties per semester.

8. Allow the faculty to determine what constitutes a full-time workload.

Job Security

9. Establish in policy that a faculty member may be dismissed or his or her contract not renewed for cause or reduction in workforce

10. Notify any faculty member in writing as to the reason or reasons for dismissal.

11. Allow each faculty member, after he or she has completed the equivalent of three years’ full-time work in teaching and/or non-teaching duties, access to a grievance process in the event of dismissal, non-reappointment, reduced workload, or retaliation.

12. Allow grievances to be decided by an objective faculty committee.

Faculty Government

13. Establish a faculty government at each college, composed of elected faculty members from each department or program, whose responsibility will be to represent the faculty’s interests.

14. Allow the faculty government to determine how its committees will be staffed and how committee work will be assigned.

15. Allow department and program committees to make decisions in hiring, class assignments, and salary increases based solely on the candidate’s or faculty member’s qualifications.

16. Acknowledge that the faculty’s decisions in personnel and curriculum supersede those of the administration, as these are the areas in which the faculty has the superior expertise.

17. Allow the faculty of each department/program to adopt (by a majority vote) a set of bylaws that will define how the department/program will be governed internally, including the procedures for selecting a chair.

18. Require department and program chairs to be responsible for representing the faculty’s interests to the administration. If the majority of the department/program faculty feels that the chair is not representing their interests, allow them to select a new chair.

Professional Development

19. Establish a procedure for equitable distribution of professional development opportunities and funds to all faculty members.

Transparency

20. Publish policies, salary schedules and costs of benefits so that they are readily accessible by the public.

21. Require that committee business be conducted in a business-like way. Publish the memberships of committees, committee meeting minutes, and committee decisions so that they are readily accessible by the faculty, excepting the proceedings and decisions with regard to personnel that legally must be kept confidential.

Academic Freedom

22. Allow faculty members the freedom to teach the truth as they see it, without administrative, public, or political pressure, within the parameters of the best practices and principles of their respective disciplines.

23. Allow faculty members the freedom to comment on matters of unit or institutional policy without fear of retaliation.

I’m for it, but . . . . A BIG but! No top-down unions running my show, and getting the faculty who continue to teach the consumer capitalism story as Numero Uno, oh, they gotta go, or get retrained. I understand my 30 years of precarious work as academic, journalist, writer, and artist, but the bottom line is the neoliberal story is about Sacrifice Zones — where a good chunk of the 80 percent will be sacrificed — no schooling worth shit, no health care worth shit, no communities worth shit, no public investment worth shit, no nothing worth shit. Let us die. Old, worn out . . . or young and born of color or in zip codes or national origins, worth shit.  lThe compliant generation, killing civil rights from the books, from the hearts, from the thinking patterns, from history — AGNOTOLOGY. Raw Story.

Image of scissors cutting passage out of a book, Shutterstock.com

According to the Denver Post, students and teachers are protesting the removal of all mentions of civil disobedience from texts and classroom materials intended for the teaching of AP U.S. history.

Tuesday’s protests were an extension of a Monday walkout, in which 250 students at Evergreen High School in Golden walked out of morning classes to protest at Jefferson County School District headquarters.
“I want honesty in my classroom. Teachers want honesty in the classroom,” said a letter that students presented to school Superintendent Dan McMinimee on Monday.

On Tuesday, CBS Denver said, “Approximately 500 students walked out at Arvada West High School and 400 at Arvada High School. Approximately 300 students walked out at Golden High School and about 200 students went to the school offices in connection with the protest.”

Teachers staged their own protest last week, calling in sick and thereby shutting down two area high schools in protest of changes proposed for the history curriculum.

Tensions have run high in Jefferson County schools since three conservative candidates were elected to the school board. These new board members have suggested an extensive rewrite of the way history is taught to the area’s students to a model they believe is more patriotic.

The right-leaning board-members said they believe history teachers should teach nationalism, respect for authority and reverence for free markets. They should avoid teaching any historical events or acts that promote “civil disorder, social strife or disregard of the law.”

So, Russell Brand MY Ass. Dumb and dumber. End of the story. Thanks publishing world for the expended energy to publish his take on R-E-V-O-L-U-T-I-O-N. Get on with some real voices — Keller, Galeano, Chalmers Johnson, Glen Ford, Bruce Dixon . . . .

Helen Keller

So long as I confine my activities to social service and the blind, they compliment me extravagantly, calling me ‘arch priestess of the sightless,’ ‘wonder woman,’ and a ‘modern miracle.’ But when it comes to a discussion of poverty, and I maintain that it is the result of wrong economics—that the industrial system under which we live is at the root of much of the physical deafness and blindness in the world—that is a different matter! It is laudable to give aid to the handicapped. Superficial charities make smooth the way of the prosperous; but to advocate that all human beings should have leisure and comfort, the decencies and refinements of life, is a Utopian dream, and one who seriously contemplates its realization indeed must be deaf, dumb, and blind.”  —Helen Keller (letter to Senator Robert La Follette, 1924)

In her twenties, Keller joined the Socialist Party and campaigned for Eugene Debs. She soon flew past the Socialists’ conservative electoralism, however, and joined the Industrial Workers of the World, then in its heyday and sinking deep roots among the working class. The IWW “points out that the trade unions as presently organized are an obstacle to unity among the masses, and that this lack of solidarity plays into the hands of their economic masters,” Keller wrote after becoming a member. “They insist that there can be no peace until the workers organize as a class, take possession of the resources of the earth and the machinery of production and distribution and abolish the wage system.”

As a Wobbly, Keller walked picket lines, organized support for strikes and, after learning to speak, addressed rallies and forums around the country about the need for a revolutionary transformation of society. On one occasion, she insisted on marching with the unemployed in Sacramento despite threats of state violence. “They have endured countless wrongs and injuries until they are driven to rebellion,” she said, rebuking the  IWW’s critics. “They know that the laws are for the strong, that they protect the class that owns everything. They know that in a contest with the workers, employers do not respect the laws, but quite shamelessly break them.”

The well-heeled who had flocked to her side to bask in the radiance of her fame were positively scandalized, but Keller was just getting warmed up. When she joined the vibrant women’s movement of the 1910’s that shook the country to its core, Keller allied herself with the radical wing of the movement. She became an impassioned advocate of, among many other causes, easily accessible birth control. Echoing not the Suffragettes so much as Emma Goldman, she dared to suggest there might be more to female sexuality than reproduction. We can imagine some of her  benefactors getting into the wind as a result (the men anyway) and more leaving her side when she came out against World War 1 and in support of the Russian Revolution.  Global Researcher

Eduardo Galeano

“The church says: The body is a sin.
Science says: The body is a machine.
Advertising says: The body is a business.
The body says: I am a fiesta.”

Eduardo Galeano, from Walking Words

An entire generation of Latin American and Iberian writers is growing old: García Márquez, Saramago, Carlos Fuentes, Mario Vargas Llosa, Carlos Monsivaís, Manuel Vásquez Montalbán, among others. Will the next generation of Latin American writers share their political commitments? Will they care about the Cuban Revolution the way García Márquez has cared about the Cuban Revolution?

EG — As a prophet I am a disaster. If I prophesize something, it tends to turn out the opposite way. If I were a professional prophet, I would be a beggar in front of a church, pleading: “Please give me a dollar.” I don’t know what will happen with the next generation. At the moment, there is a process of massive depoliticization. That is the truth. The political consciousness of the people — not of the writers — is much lower than it was. But history moves in cycles; things change. Reality is not destiny, it’s a challenge. I don’t know what will happen with the young people.

As for writers, they must be honest individuals who don’t use literature as a commercial tool, but rather as a way of expressing the words that must be said. That, for me, is fundamental. The words that deserve to be said are the ones that are born of the need to say them. That’s all I ask of people who write; the rest is less important. Lots of left-wing writers with the best intentions tell me nothing deep about humankind. Lots of political writing is atrocious, frightful. Many political writers don’t seem to understand that everything is possible as a subject: a fly buzzing in the air, a lighter, a window, the sound of footsteps. The most important thing is a point of view: Where are you placed? From which point of view are your eyes seeing? From which point of view will you tell us what you are feeling, or what you think? In some ways, Upside Down is a political book; in other ways, it’s not. But one must be careful when discussing these matters. It’s easy to disqualify a writer or an artist, by saying, “Oh, but he’s political.” It’s like saying it’s shit.

Thirty years ago, when you wrote Open Veins of Latin America, your goal was not to describe the beauty of a butterfly, but to document U.S. imperialism in Latin America.

EG — Yes. That was it. At that time, thirty years ago, I was grappling with questions and looking for answers. When underdeveloped countries are called “developing” countries, it’s a way of saying they are like children — growing, developing. And it’s a lie. They are underdeveloped because more powerful countries are growing at their expense. Third World underdevelopment is a consequence of First World development, and not a stage toward it. That was the main argument of Open Veins. The history of wealth and the history of poverty are closely intertwined. The book tried to show how this came about through five centuries. U.S. imperialism was part of the story, but not all of it. It was written as a political pamphlet, and I saw it as something that might last two or three years. It turned out to be a book that endured. In a certain way, it was a propaganda book. Yes, it was. But later I tried to write different things, so as not to repeat myself. Upside Down is written in an entirely different language from Open Veins, but I am still loyal to the ideas in that book. I’m proud of the book. It’s a book I love. When it comes to Open Veins I am unrepentant.

Open Veins is now considered a classic in Latin America. How many copies have been sold?

EG —I don’t care about that.

Writers tend to care about the sales of their books.

It’s enough that I earn a living as a writer. It’s honest work. I don’t do it to get rich. There are certain things I need to say. But I don’t care about how many books I sell, or where they are on the bestseller lists. I don’t give a damn .

These days in the U.S. we don’t hear very much about Subcomandante Marcos, the charismatic leader of the Zapatista rebels in Chiapas, Mexico. But Marcos is a celebrity in Europe and Latin America. In fact, some critics who have followed his communiqués in the Mexico City newspaper La Jornada since 1994 consider him to be among the finest writers in the region, and in Mexico it’s widely known that his major literary influences are William Shakespeare, Federico García Lorca, Julio Cortázar and … Eduardo Galeano.

EG — I don’t know if I have had any influence on him. I think he embodies the collective hopes of the movement he represents, a movement born from the protest of the indigenous peoples of Chiapas. Thanks in large part to him, what began as a local movement mushroomed into something national and then international in scope. The Zapatistas changed the rules of the game. Mexico is not a democracy because the Mexican economy is not democratic; that is clear. But, politically, Mexico has made major advances in the direction of democracy. To a considerable extent, those advances are the result of pressure from the Zapatistas. They have harnessed and directed the energies of civil society. And they have had a tremendous impact internationally — thanks, in large part, to thelanguage of Marcos. In my view, it’s a splendid language, a language that contains indignation, poetry, and, above all, a sense of humor. We need humor as much as we need food or water. That’s his greatest merit as a writer.

Who are the American writers and intellectuals you admire, and why?

EG —I don’t want to answer that question, because there are so many. The ones who influenced me at the beginning were Mark Twain, Ambrose Bierce, Carson McCullers, William Faulkner, and J. D. Salinger. I was very struck by the humor in Twain and Bierce.

In the preface to his first book, Notes of a Native Son, James Baldwin declared, “I want to be an honest man and a good writer.” What kind of man — and what kind of writer — do you want to be?

EG — I want to be an honest man and a good writer, as James Baldwin was. I greatly admired him. He once told a story that I used in the third volume of Memory of Fire. He was very young, and he was walking down the street with a friend, a painter. They stop at a red light. “Look,” says the friend. Baldwin sees nothing, except a dirty pool of water. The friend insisted: “Look at it, really.” So Baldwin takes a good look and sees a spot of oil spreading in the puddle. In the spot of oil, he sees a rainbow, and the street moving, and people moving in the street; and he sees madmen and magicians and the whole world moving. The universe was there in that little pool. On that day, Baldwin said, he learned to see. For me, that’s an important lesson. I am always trying to look at the universe through the little puddles in the streets.   The Atlantic

 

Chalmers Johnson

What should we do? The following is a start on what, in a better world, we might modestly think about doing. But let me concede at the outset that none of this is going to happen. The people in Washington who run our government believe that they can now get all the things they wanted before the trade towers came down: more money for the military, ballistic missile defenses, more freedom for the intelligence services and removal of the last modest restrictions (no assassinations, less domestic snooping, fewer lists given to “friendly” foreign police of people we want executed) that the Vietnam era placed on our leaders. An inevitable consequence of big “blowback” events like this one is that, the causes having been largely kept from American eyes.(if not Islamic or Latin-American ones), people cannot make the necessary connections for an explanation. Popular support for Washington is thus, at least for a while, staggeringly high.

Nonetheless, what we should do is to make a serious analytical effort to determine what overseas military commitments make sense and where we should pull in our horns. Although we intend to continue supporting Israel, our new policy should be to urge the dismantling of West Bank Israeli settlements as fast as possible. In Saudi Arabia, we should withdraw our troops, since they do nothing for our oil security, which we can maintain by other means. Beyond the Middle East, in Okinawa, where we have thirty-eight US military bases in the midst of 1.3 million civilians, we should start by bringing home the Third Marine Division and demobilizing it. It is understrength, has no armor and is not up to the standards of the domestically based First and Second Marine Divisions. It has no deterrent value but is, without question, an unwanted burden we force the people of this unlucky island to bear.

A particular obscenity crying out for elimination is the US Army’s School of the Americas, founded in Panama in 1946 and moved to Fort Benning, Georgia, in 1984 after Panamanian President Jorge Illueca called it “the biggest base for destabilization in Latin America” and evicted it. Its curriculum includes counterinsurgency, military intelligence, interrogation techniques, sniper fire, infantry and commando tactics, psychological warfare and jungle operations. Although a few members of Congress have long tried to shut it down, the Pentagon and the White House have always found ways to keep it in the budget. In May 2000 the Clinton Administration sought to provide new camouflage for the school by renaming it the “Defense Institute for Hemispheric Security Cooperation” and transferring authority over it from the Army Department to the Defense Department.

The school has trained more than 60,000 military and police officers from Latin American and Caribbean countries. Among SOA’s most illustrious graduates are the dictators Manuel Noriega (now serving a forty-year sentence in an American jail for drug trafficking) and Omar Torrijos of Panama; Guillermo Rodrigues of Ecuador; Juan Velasco Alvarado of Peru; Leopoldo Galtieri former head of Argentina’s junta; and Hugo Banzer Suarez of Bolivia. More recently, Peru’s Vladimiro Montesinos, SOA class of 1965, surfaced as a CIA asset and former President Alberto Fujimori’s closest adviser.

More difficult than these fairly simple reforms would be to bring our rampant militarism under control. From George Washington’s “farewell address” to Dwight Eisenhower’s invention of the phrase “military-industrial complex,” American leaders have warned about the dangers of a bloated, permanent, expensive military establishment that has lost its relationship to the country because service in it is no longer an obligation of citizenship. Our military operates the biggest arms sales operation on earth; it rapes girls, women and schoolchildren in Okinawa; it cuts ski-lift cables in Italy, killing twenty vacationers, and dismisses what its insubordinate pilots have done as a “training accident”; it allows its nuclear attack submarines to be used for joy rides for wealthy civilian supporters and then covers up the negligence that caused the sinking of a Japanese high school training ship; it propagandizes the nation with Hollywood films glorifying military service (Pearl Harbor); and it manipulates the political process to get more carrier task forces, antimissile missiles, nuclear weapons, stealth bombers and other expensive gadgets for which we have no conceivable use. Two of the most influential federal institutions are not in Washington but on the south side of the Potomac River-the Defense Department and the Central Intelligence Agency. Given their influence today, one must conclude that the government outlined in the Constitution of 1787 no longer bears much relationship to the government that actually rules from Washington. Until that is corrected, we should probably stop talking about “democracy” and “human rights.”

Once we have done the analysis, brought home most of our “forward deployed” troops, refurbished our diplomatic capabilities, reassured the world that we are not unilateralists who walk away from treaty commitments and reintroduced into government the kinds of idealistic policies we once pioneered (e.g., Marshall Plan), then we might assess what we can do against “terrorism.” We could reduce our transportation and information vulnerabilities by building into our systems more of what engineers call redundancy: different ways of doing the same things- airlines and railroads, wireless and optical fiber communications, automatic computer backup programs, land routes around bridges. It is absurd that our railroads do not even begin to compare with those in Western Europe or Japan, and their inadequacies have made us overly dependent on aviation in travel between US cities. It may well be that some public utilities should be nationalized, just as safety aboard airliners should become a federal function. Flight decks need to be made genuinely inaccessible from the passenger compartments, as they are on EL Al. In what might seem a radical change, we could even hire intelligence analysts at the CIA who can read the languages of the countries they are assigned to and have actually visited the places they write about (neither of these conditions is even slightly usual at the present time).

If we do these things, the crisis will recede. If we play into the hands of the terrorists, we will see more collateral damage among our own citizens. Ten years ago, the other so-called superpower, the former Soviet Union, disappeared almost overnight because of internal contradictions, imperial overstretch and an inability to reform. We have always been richer, so it might well take longer for similar contradictions to afflict our society. But it is nowhere written that the United States, in its guise as an empire dominating the world, must go on forever.  Third World Traveler and The Nation)

It’s the cultural beltway, or conveyor belt, over and over and over. How can the number of You Tube “hits” mean a goddamned thing in the real world, as we have to hear on Amy “I am the brooding child of Chomsky” Goodman – 10 million hits means what? This is the height of cultural class and political philosophy, Russell Brand? How many real fighters out there – fired teachers, fired workers, struggling people, leaders in communities, writers of little fame, etc. – but it’s the Brand-Bono-Stewart-Leibowitz Show.

Believe you me, wouldn’t that have been a breaking news story, Bono’s private plane door coming off. Believe it, now, in US of Assholes, we get in Portland, Oregon, local yokels piping in about Bono’s plane having a malfunction.

Portland – Zionist councilman and dopey mayor trying to ram down businesses and homeowners a street tax, based on Byzantine numskull stuff, you know, calculating how much traffic a coffee stand generates, or how much a 8-person family drives, daily, taxing them monthly because government is broken, locally, statewide, because we have allowed regressive and felonious tax systems to create billions in tax loopholes and offshore shelters and outsourcing scams and just plain graft, from Nike to Boeing to Intel, on down, to run our state into the ground.

We have no affordable homes our housing in Portland, and we have gridlock on the freeways that are arterials for the reason the Yuppie Class and IT class and Zionist legal-financial class to have their fun multi-million dollar pads right in the heart of New Urbanism downtown. We are the 80 percenters, not the Russell Brand and Bono types.

No housing, gridlock, no jobs, service economy, gentrification, ghettoization, police brutality, economic homicide, yet, we have stories on the local TV about Bono’s supersonic jet door, on the local pro-NBA team, while interspersing all that important non-news with the poverty class stories – you know, shootings, DUIs, domestic violence, etc.

White duds announcing the news, showing the underclass as those cutouts on TV, Breaking Bad USA. But is this it, Democracy Now, one hour with this guy who could synthesize his basic theme in 5 minutes of spiel.

AMY GOODMAN: Today, we’re broadcasting from London, and we’re joined by Russell Brand. Up until last year, Russell Brand was best known for being one of the most popular comedians here in Britain. His résumé includes hosting the reality TV show Big Brother’s Big Mouth, a stint as a BBC radio host and starring roles in the films St. Trinian’s, Forgetting Sarah Marshall and Get Him to the Greek. He also hosted the MTV Movie Awards.

But in recent years, Russell Brand has emerged as one of the most prominent voices of the British left. He has taken part in anti-austerity protests, spoken at Occupy Wall Street and marched with the hacker collective Anonymous. A recovering addict himself, Russell Brand has also become a leading critic of Britain’s drug laws.

Last year, he guest-edited the New Statesman, a political and current affairs magazine here in Britain. The issue included cover art by Shepard Fairey and articles by Noam Chomsky, Naomi Klein, among many others. He then appeared on BBC Newsnight in an interview with the well-known BBC host Jeremy Paxman. The video became a YouTube sensation.

JEREMY PAXMAN: Is it true you don’t even vote?

RUSSELL BRAND: Yeah, no, I don’t vote.

JEREMY PAXMAN: Well, how do you have any authority to talk about politics then?

RUSSELL BRAND: Well, I don’t get my authority from this pre-existing paradigm which is quite narrow and only serves a few people. I look elsewhere for alternatives that might be of service to humanity. Alternative means alternative political systems.

JEREMY PAXMAN: They being?

RUSSELL BRAND: Well, I’ve not invented it yet, Jeremy. I had to do a magazine last week. I’ve had a lot on my plate. But I say—but here’s the thing that you shouldn’t do: shouldn’t destroy the planet, shouldn’t create massive economic disparity, shouldn’t ignore the needs of the people. The burden of proof is on the people with the power, not people who like doing a magazine for a novelty.

JEREMY PAXMAN: How do you imagine that people get power?

RUSSELL BRAND: Well, I imagine there are sort of hierarchical systems that have been preserved through generations—

JEREMY PAXMAN: They get power by being voted in. That’s how they get it.

RUSSELL BRAND: Well, you say that, Jeremy, but like—

JEREMY PAXMAN: You can’t even be asked to vote.

RUSSELL BRAND: It’s quite narrow—quite a narrow prescriptive parameter that changes within the—

JEREMY PAXMAN: In a democracy, that’s how it works.

RUSSELL BRAND: Well, I don’t think it’s working very well, Jeremy, given that the planet is being destroyed, given that there is economic disparity of a huge degree. What you’re saying, there’s no alternative. There’s no alternative, just this system.

JEREMY PAXMAN: No, I’m not saying that. I’m saying—

RUSSELL BRAND: Brilliant.

JEREMY PAXMAN: —if you can’t be asked to vote, why should we be asked to listen to your political point of view?

RUSSELL BRAND: You don’t have to listen to my political point of view. But it’s not that I’m not voting out of apathy. I’m not voting out of absolute indifference and weariness and exhaustion from the lies, treachery, deceit of the political class that has been going on for generations now and which has now reached fever pitch, where we have a disenfranchised, disillusioned, despondent underclass that are not being represented by that political system. So, voting for it is tacit complicity with that system, and that’s not something I’m offering up.

JEREMY PAXMAN: Why don’t you change it then?

RUSSELL BRAND: I’m trying to.

JEREMY PAXMAN: Well, why don’t you start by voting?

RUSSELL BRAND: I don’t think it works. People have voted already, and that’s what’s created the current paradigm.

JEREMY PAXMAN: Well, when did you last vote?

RUSSELL BRAND: Never.

JEREMY PAXMAN: You’ve never, ever voted?

RUSSELL BRAND: No. Do you think that’s really bad?

JEREMY PAXMAN: So, you’ve struck an attitude, what? Before the age of 18?

RUSSELL BRAND: Well, I was busy being a drug addict at that point, because I come from the kind of social conditions that are exacerbated by an indifferent system that really just administrates for large corporations and ignores the population that it was voted in to serve.

JEREMY PAXMAN: But you’re veiling the—you’re blaming the political class for the fact that you had a drug problem?

RUSSELL BRAND: No, no, no. I’m saying I was part of a social and economic class that is underserved by the current political system, and drug addiction is one of the problems it creates. When you have huge underserved, impoverished populations, people get drug problems and also don’t feel like they want to engage with the current political system, because they see that it doesn’t work for them. They see that it makes no difference. They see that they’re not served. I say that the apathy—

JEREMY PAXMAN: But of course it doesn’t work for them if they don’t bother to vote.

RUSSELL BRAND: Jeremy, my darling, I’m not saying that—the apathy doesn’t come from us, the people. The apathy comes from the politicians. They are apathetic to our needs. They’re only interested in servicing the needs of corporations. Look at where—ain’t the Tories going to court, taking the EU to court? It’s because they’re trying to curtail bank bonuses. Is that what’s happening at the moment in our country?

AMY GOODMAN: That was Russell Brand being interviewed on BBC Newsnight by host Jeremy Paxman last year. Since it was posted online, more than 10 million people have watched the video. Well, Russell Brand has come out with a new book expanding on his critique of the political system. It’s called Revolution. When we come back from break, he’ll be sitting right here in front of Big Ben. Stay with us.

Watch Part 1 and Part 2, Left Forum, Radical Black Perspective Panel

Here, now, though, Glen Ford, interviewed about racism and Obama and Trayvon Martin. What we are going to do about it?

Robles: Do you see any hope for the future here and what do we need to do to or is there anything we can do to set things right?

Ford: Only if black folks organize, only if they build a mass movement.

What we have seen in the last several decades of really political passivity in black America, is that the more passive we become, the less organized we are, the more aggressive the racist forces are.

So we see a multiplication of these racist laws, like Stand-Your-Ground. We see that even as crime has diminished something like 50% over the last 18 years,it hasn’t made a dent in the prison population.

So obviously the dynamic for police activity and the incarceration of black folks has nothing to do with crime either, it has to do with the hostility of the white population and their armed representatives, including armed civilians like George Zimmerman.

Robles: Do you think part of that has to do with what their fathers and grandfathers and great-grandfathers did to black people?

Ford: We have conversations about that. I tend to think that most people in the United States having such a poor understanding of history don’t really feel a guilt about slavery, because they don’t even know when slavery was and who fought in the civil war.
I believe that they have so imbibed race hatred that it is part of the national personality. That is the white American personality. And being a mass psychosis, it reinforces itself. It doesn’t need any historical reference or association.

Robles: And they have to maintain that mass psychosis to keep the system going the way it is going, otherwise, I mean, any same person would see that there’s something inherently wrong here.

Ford: The same mentality that makes it alright to kill Trayvon Martin makes it alright to bomb countries into the Stone Age. It is the same political personality and worldview.

Robles: We can’t let the death of Trayvon Martin just be forgotten. I mean, what can people do? Is this going to galvanize people into actually starting some movement or doing something?

Ford: Oh yes, I believe so. I think that more and more people, and especially young people – I was in demonstrations on Sunday in New York, about 5,000. And for the first time in a very-very long time most of the people who were marching were young people. And they were in defiant mood. And if a leadership develops and it will come from these young people themselves, that wants to confront the society and fight for black humanity by any means necessary, I think we will see a resurgence of something that looks like the movement that we had in the 60s.

These are different times, it will employ somewhat different language, but I believe that folks are understanding that a mass movement is the only answer, that petitions and electing black officials and even a black president won’t do anything to dent the endemic racism of American society.

Robles: Right. In many places the actual ruling white population…. I mean it’s like apartheid South Africa, I think in California under 40% or 30%. Can you give us some numbers?

Ford: New York City has been a majority non-white city for a long time. Chicago – the same way. California, as you know, is rapidly, if it’s not already become a majority non-white state. Texas is on the way. However, it’s more complicated than that.
You know, we have a South Africa that supposedly was liberated from white rule in 1994, but white folks still control the land and the money, even though they are only something like one out of every 6 people. I don’t see the attainment of a non-white majority, sometime in the 20-40s in the United States, as automatically ending white domination. There’ll be lots of Latinos who will identify white at that point.

Robles: Then it makes the racism that much more egregious and ridiculous. You can’t have one group ruling so totally over another group. That’s what I’m saying.

Ford: If the group that rules actually is insane enough to believe that these other people are out to get them, the closer they become to a minority, the more vicious they may become in defense of their privileges. I think we may be seeing that.

Robles: Things are going to get worse, you think, in America?

Ford: Certainly. We know that economically they are going to get worse. That means that white people who already think that they are the most discriminated against group in the country, will become even more insecure, they still control all the tools of political power and can be expected to become more repressive in their wielding of those tools.

Robles: Ok.

Ford: I think that one of the things that we’re observing – and it’s happening very quickly and I think the Trayvon Martin situation, the verdict. has speeded this process up, is that black folks seem to be far less enthralled of this black president than even a year ago.

It’s clear that even in the face of this not just a tragedy, not just a crime, but this gross insult to the dignity of black people, that this man is of no use to us, is absolutely useless, and yet he’s the president.

And certainly it follows that the mere election of more black faces to high places is not going to solve such fundamental problems, as endemic racism in this country, that it requires a social movement that confronts racism in all of its aspects, in all of the places in which it operates – and that means everywhere in the country, in order to delegitimize the kind of worldview that gives a pass and even a commendation to a George Zimmerman.

Robles: Glen, I really appreciate you speaking with me.

Ford: Thank you!

Read more: Voice of Russia.

Or, Bruce Dixon, why not him on the Democracy “We Never Turn Down an East Coast Schmooze” Now.

You will hear Democrats discussing this election complain about the ingenious array of schemes to make registering and casting a ballot more difficult for students, the elderly, the black, the brown, naturalized citizens and the poor. Such schemes probably cost their party several million votes. But those legal schemes to restrict the vote, to make it harder to register took the best part of 20 years to develop and deploy in dozens of states and many hundreds of counties and cities across the land.

On the issue of voting rights, Democrats, especially our black misleadership class, held the political and moral high ground from the seventies through the 90s and beyond. They’ve got plenty of lawyers and legal scholars and they’ve known perfectly well for decades that if the right to vote is NOT in the US Constitution any mayor, any county commissioner or state level elected official can pass laws or invent rules to block it. But no matter.

The black political class became careerist zombies themselves, deeply concerned with turning out a big black vote every election, but not interested at all in building the necessary mass movement it would take to amend the Constitution, protecting that vote in perpetuity. It wasn’t like the present black political class ever really believed that the vote was an instrument for deep social change anyway. If they had believed that, they would have tried to lock it down with a constitutional amendment. Instead they viewed the black vote as the means to an end — their own careers, and nothing more. So that’s all they got, and that’s all we have. Thus in their own way, the black political class too has joined the zombie consensus.

“under the rules of this capitalist system, the people are pretty much locked out, silenced, made irrelevant…”

For the last two years of Obama’s term in office, the zombie consensus will discourage him even further from addressing or rolling back mass incarceration, black unemployment, or the decline in black family wealth, the last two of which have not recovered from their drastic plunges in the last year of the Bush-Cheney regime and the first two years of his own. Obama may even try to “grand bargain” away a social security again as he did in his first two years, and claim he is “resolving” gridlock. The minimum wage might be raised, but not by much and over several years, especially for restaurant workers, who still get less than $3 per hour. Obama won’t use his executive power to end mass deportations will likely continue, or illegal surveillance or drone wars, or the vicious prosecution of reporters and leakers. Obama will not use his power over the Federal Elections Commission and the Internal Revenue Service to end or inhibit the open hijacking of electoral processes by large, often anonymous donors. A president is a powerful actor, and could have major impacts on any or all of these matters and more with a few speeches, firings, hirings and the strokes of some pens. But somebody or something has eaten his brain too.

The American people don’t particularly endorse any of this, and have never endorsed the closing and privatization of public education, a project upon which elected Republicans and Democrats pretty much agree. It’s the zombie consensus once again.
Ordinary people clearly don’t like it. The zombie president may be unpopular, but the zombie Congress is even less so. But under the rules of this capitalist system, the people are pretty much locked out, silenced, made irrelevant.

It’s time for some new rules.

Paul Haeder's new bio is about suspending all those credentials, all those titles, all those in-the-trench experiences he's acquired and worked hard on in his 64 years (2021): Novelist, essayist, journalist, social worker, college and K12 educator, environmental warrior. Terms and avocations more meaningless as cancel culture rises and rises from left and right insanity. Paul's book, Reimagining Sanity: Voices Beyond the Echo Chamber (2016), looks at 10 years (now going on 16 years) of his writing at Dissident Voice. Read his musings at LA Progressive. Read his short story collection, Wide Open Eyes: Surfacing from Vietnam now out, published by Cirque Journal. Read other articles by Paul, or visit Paul's website.