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Saturday, April 23, 2011

IN THE GARDEN OF EARTHLY DELIGHTS






Today, people around the world will celebrate Earth Day. Founded in 1970 in the United States by environmental activist Senator Gaylord Nelson in response to the Santa Barbara oil spill disaster in 1969, it went global in 1990. Today, grassroots events in nations around the planet are coordinated by the Earth Day Network. The hope is that by expanding the network of people working to save the planet, we can reach a critical moment when a tectonic paradigm shift will occur and human consciousness will be changed forever, with each of us understanding our role in preserving our legacy to our children.

It is important to realize the significance of the network model for grassroots social change. This is the only means by which we will be able to save the human civilization from the consequences of living in completion rather than taking a note from nature and establishing a cooperative world community. Powerful corporate forces have resisted the establishment of an Earth-friendly globalized community based on locally based green economies. These eco-terrorists are themselves a network dedicated to stopping the rise of any resistance to their plan to control the Earth in a corporate-run New World Order. Against such enemies organizations are vulnerable to attack and will inevitably be overcome without a grassroots movement of activists behind them.


Earth Day is dedicated to educating ourselves about how we are dependent on the environment and the ways in which we are threatening human existence by our failure to exercise good stewardship over it. Common themes at earth day events are organic gardening, self-sustaining food supplies, recycling, alternative energy and working to preserve and protect resources, most notably clean water.
 In recent years the idea of a steady state economy has become more widely recognized as central to responsible environmental policy and a sustainable future for all of us.

The population bomb has continued ticking decades after it became apparent that the Doomsday Clock had entered the 11th hour. A world economy driven by corporate Empire has thoroughly infected the human collective consciousness with the idea that prosperity depends on endless growth. Given the finite resources of the planet, this model is not based in reality but in the fantasies of wealth and power of the corporate elite, the self-styled Masters of the Universe.

This moment has been anticipated by science fiction writers for decades, most recently in the movie Avatar. This popular movie showed the clear choices before us. We can allow the humanity-denying alien life forms that are corporations to subjugate others to feed the voracious appetites of citizens of Earth who currently have access to those resources or we can recognize our collective power and fighting back. It is our job to use educational efforts such as Earth Day to call on our fellow citizens of the industrialized world to join the struggle of the Peoples of emerging nations. All of us have a stake in the outcome of the worldwide battle for control of the resources upon which we all depend.


Social change is dependent on political change. Grassroots social organizing is critical for advancing the evolution of thinking that will give rise to the change in the human collective consciousness necessary for us to save the planet. This in itself is not enough. We must translate this change in consciousness to a change in the political leadership in Washington, Beijing, New Dehli and Moscow. Of these the key is to end corporate control of the government in the United States.

Always a powerful threat to democracy, corporate interests seized control of the US government when a smiling Reagan assured us that government is the problem and not the solution to the problems facing each of us. His paean to corporate rule was misguided and dangerous. The people of the United States, reeling over a world oil crisis calculated for political advantage  more than profit, willingly rejected the long tradition of rule by the People and ceded control of the government to the self-serving corporate agents who had engineered the crisis.

Thirty years after Reagan’s election the Supreme Court ruled that corporations not only have the rights of citizens but that as “persons” they have the right to buy the loyalty of members of Congress. In providing unlimited, untraceable funds to their Puppets to pay for the hideously expensive propaganda campaigns that determine the collective beliefs of otherwise apathetic voters, they have created a system of corporate welfare that is bankrupting the US and destroying life spiritual and physical of the People of the Earth. The result is pandemic disease, starvation, endless war and an unfolding environmental disaster.


There is a way to save the planet. It is for environmentalists, anti-war activists and health care activists and social justice advocates of all causes to join in reaching out to suffering Americans to convince them that they can and must end corporate control of their government to save themselves and all of us from Hell on Earth. The means to so this is by building a movement to demand a Constitutional amendment to abolish corporate personhood. Every major change in the Constitution that has led to steps in the direction of a more perfect representative democracy has depended on the people of the United States in joining together in the cause of justice for all.


Today, the United States is the only world superpower with the ability to determine whether the world will become a democratic one or one suffering the yoke of slavery in a fascist New World Order. The last world war was a devastating one in which the Peoples of the various nations were pitted against each other in mortal combat.


Today we must wage the war to end all wars. This must be a peaceful, democratic revolution because violence would lead to the death of freedom by giving the corporate masters the excuse they would need to impose permanent world police state. Without the freedom to determine the collective destiny of the People of the Earth against the will of
 international corporate terrorists, the battle to save the Earth will fail. If we let that occur, we cannot be forgiven for what we have done to our children and all future generations.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

SLEEPWALKING IN THE IMPERIAL DARK

This blog is re-posted with the permission of the author. The original can be found at: http://www.tomdispatch.com/


Subscribing to Tomgram was one of the smartest  things that I ever did. I hope that you will agree and subscribe as well.


For what it's worth, I think that the fall of the Anglo-American Empire will end very well, just not for the international corporate terrorists who think they can enslave us in their fascist New World Order.

Tomgram: Engelhardt, This Can't End Well


Sleepwalking into the Imperial Dark
What It Feels Like When a Superpower Runs Off the Tracks

By Tom Engelhardt


This can’t end well.
But then, how often do empires end well, really?  They live vampirically by feeding off others until, sooner or later, they begin to feed on themselves, to suck their own blood, to hollow themselves out.  Sooner or later, they find themselves, as in our case, economically stressed and militarily extended in wars they can’t afford to win or lose.


Historians have certainly written about the dangers of overextended empires and of endless war as a way of life, but there’s something distant and abstract about the patterns of history.  It’s quite another thing to take it in when you’re part of it; when, as they used to say in the overheated 1960s, you’re in the belly of the beast.
I don’t know what it felt like to be inside the Roman Empire in the long decades, even centuries, before it collapsed, or to experience the waning years of the Spanish empire, or the twilight of the Qing dynasty, or of Imperial Britain as the sun first began to set, or even of the Soviet Empire before the troops came slinking home from Afghanistan, but at some point it must have seemed at least a little like this -- truly strange, like watching a machine losing its parts.  It must have seemed as odd and unnerving as it does now to see a formerly mighty power enter a state of semi-paralysis at home even as it staggers on blindly with its war-making abroad.


The United States is, of course, an imperial power, however much we might prefer not to utter the word.  We still have our globe-spanning array of semi-client states; our military continues to garrison much of the planet; and we are waging war abroad more continuously than at any time in memory.  Yet who doesn’t sense that the sun is now setting on us?


Not so many years ago, we were proud enough of our global strength to regularly refer to ourselves as the Earth’s “sole superpower.”  In those years, our president and his top officials dreamed of establishing a worldwide Pax Americana, while making speeches and issuing official documents proclaiming that the United States would be militarily “beyond challenge” by any and all powers for eons to come.  So little time has passed and yet who speaks like that today?  Who could?


A Country in Need of Prozac
Have you noticed, by the way, how repetitiously our president, various presidential candidates, and others now insist that we are “the greatest nation on Earth” (as they speak of the U.S. military being “the finest fighting force in the history of the world”)?  And yet, doesn’t that phrase leave ash in your mouth?  Look at this country and its frustrations today and tell me: Does anyone honestly believe that anymore?


It wasn’t a mistake that the fantasy avenger figure of Rambo became immensely popular in the wake of defeat in Vietnam or that, unlike American heroes of earlier decades, he had such a visibly, almost risibly overblown musculature.  As eye-candy, it was pure overcompensation for the obvious.  Similarly, when the United States was actually “the greatest” on this planet, no one needed to say it over and over again.


Can there be any question that something big is happening here, even if we don’t quite know what it is because, unlike the peoples of past empires, we never took pride in or even were able to think of ourselves as imperial?  And if you were indeed in denial that you lived in the belly of a great imperial power, if like most Americans you managed to ignore the fact that we were pouring our treasure into the military or setting up bases in countries that few could have found on a map, then you would naturally experience the empire going down as if through a glass darkly.


Nonetheless, the feelings that should accompany the experience of an imperial power running off the rails aren’t likely to disappear just because analysis is lacking.  Disillusionment, depression, and dismay flow ever more strongly through the American bloodstream.  Just look at any polling data on whether this country, once the quintessential land of optimists, is heading in “the right direction” or on “the wrong track,” and you’ll find that the “wrong track” numbers are staggering, and growing by the month.  On the rare occasions when Americans have been asked by pollsters whether they think the country is “in decline,” the figures have been similarly over the top.


It’s not hard to see why.  A loss of faith in the American political system is palpable.  For many Americans, it’s no longer “our government” but “the bureaucracy.”  Washington is visibly in gridlock and incapable of doing much of significance, while state governments, facing the “steepest decline in state tax receipts on record,” are, along with local governments, staggering under massive deficits and cutting back in areas -- education, policing, firefighting -- that matter to daily life.


Years ago, in the George W. Bush era, I wanted to put a new word in our domestic political vocabulary: “Republican’ts.”  It was my way of expressing the feeling that something basic to this country -- a “can do” spirit -- was seeping away.  I failed, of course, and since then that “can’t do” spirit has visibly spread far beyond the Republican Party.  Simply put, we’re a country in need of Prozac.


Facing the challenges of a world at the edge -- from Japan to the Greater Middle East, from a shaky global economic system to weather that has become anything but entertainment -- the United States looks increasingly incapable of coping.  It no longer invests in its young, or plans effectively for the future, or sets off on new paths.  It literally can’t do.  And this is not just a domestic crisis, but part of imperial decline.


We just don’t treat it as such, tending instead to deal with the foreign and domestic as essentially separate spheres, when the connections between them are so obvious.  If you doubt this, just pull into your nearest gas station and fill up the tank.  Of course, who doesn’t know that this country, once such a generator of wealth, is now living with unemployment figures not seen since the Great Depression, as well as unheard of levels of debt, that it’s hooked on foreign energy (and like most addicts has next to no capacity for planning how to get off that drug), or that it’s living through the worst period of income inequality in modern history?  And who doesn’t know that a crew of financial fabulists, corporate honchos, lobbyists, and politicians have been fattening themselves off the faltering body politic?


And if you don’t think any of this has anything to do with imperial power in decline, ask yourself why the options for our country so often seem to have shrunk to what our military is capable of, or that the only significant part of the government whose budget is still on the rise is the Pentagon.  Or why, when something is needed, this administration, like its predecessor, regularly turns to that same military.


Once upon a time, helping other nations in terrible times, for example, would have been an obvious duty of the civil part of the U.S. government.  Today, from Haiti to Japan, in such moments it’s the U.S. military that acts.  In response to the Japanese triple disaster of earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear meltdown, for instance, the Pentagon has mounted a large-scale recovery effort, involving 18,000 people, 20 U.S. Navy ships, and even fuel barges bringing fresh water for reactor-cooling efforts at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex.  The effort has been given a military code name, Operation Tomodachi (Japanese for “friend”), and is, among other things, an obvious propaganda campaign meant to promote the usefulness of America’s archipelago of bases in that country.


Similarly, when the administration needs something done in the Middle East, these days it’s as likely to send Secretary of Defense Robert Gates -- he recently paid official visits to Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and Egypt -- as Secretary of State Hilary Clinton.  And of course, as is typical, when a grim situation in Libya worsened and something “humanitarian” was called for, the Obama administration (along with NATO) threw air power at it.
Predictably, as in Afghanistan and the Pakistani borderlands, air power failed to bring about speedy success.  What’s most striking is not that Libyan ruler Muammar Gaddafi didn’t instantly fall, or that the Libyan military didn’t collapse when significant parts of its tank and artillery forces were taken out, or that the swift strikes meant to turn the tide have already stretched into more than a month of no-fly zone NATO squabbling and military stalemate (as the no-fly zone version of war against Saddam Hussein’s Iraq stretched to 12 years without ultimate success).
Imperially speaking, two things are memorable about the American military effort in Libya.  First, Washington doesn’t seem to have the conviction of what’s left of its power, as its strange military dance in (and half-out of) the air over that country indicates. Second, even in the military realm, Washington is increasingly incapable of drawing lessons from its past actions.  As a result, its arsenal of potential tactics is made up largely of those that have failed in the recent past.  Innovation is no longer part of empire.


The Uses of Fear
From time to time, the U.S. government’s “Intelligence Community“  or IC musters its collective savvy and plants its flag in the future in periodic reports that go under the generic rubric of “Global Trends.”  The last of these, Global Trends 2025, was prepared for a new administration taking office in January 2009, and it was typical.


In a field once left to utopian or dystopian thinkers, pulp-fiction writers, oddballs, visionaries, and even outright cranks, these compromise bureaucratic documents break little ground and rock no boats, nor do they predict global tsunamis.  Better to forecast what the people you brief already believe, and skip the oddballs with their strange hunches, the sorts who might actually have a knack for recognizing the shock of the future lurking in the present.


As group efforts, then, these reports tend to project the trends of the present moment relatively seamlessly and reasonably reassuringly into the future.  For example, the last time around they daringly predicted a gradual, 15-year soft landing for a modestly declining America.  ("Although the United States is likely to remain the single most powerful actor, [the country's] relative strength -- even in the military realm -- will decline and U.S. leverage will become more constrained.")


Even though it was assumedly being finished amid the global meltdown of 2008, nothing in it would have kept you up at night, sleepless and fretting.  More than 15 years into the future, our IC could imagine no wheels falling off the American juggernaut, nothing that would make you wonder if this country could someday topple off the nearest cliff.  Twists, unpleasant surprises, unhappy endings?  Not for this empire, according to its corps of intelligence analysts.


And the future being what it is, if you read that document now, you’d find none of the more stunning events that have disrupted and radically altered our world since late 2008: no Arab lands boiling with revolt, no Hosni Mubarak under arrest with his sons in jail, no mass demonstrations in Syria, no economies of peripheral European countries imploding down one by one, nor a cluster of nuclear plants in Japan melting down.  
You won’t find once subservient semi-client states thumbing their noses at Washington, not even in 2025.


You won’t, for example, find the Saudis in, say 2011, openly exploring deeper relations with Russia and China as a screw-you response to Washington’s belated decision that Egyptian autocrat Hosni Mubarak should leave office, or Pakistani demands that the CIA and American special operations forces start scaling back activities on their turf, or American officials practically pleading with an Iraqi government it once helped put in power (and now moving ever closer to Iran) to please, please, please let U.S. troops stay past an agreed-upon withdrawal deadline of December 31, 2011, or Afghan President Hamid Karzai publicly blaming the Americans for the near collapse of his country’s major bank in a cesspool of corruption (in which his own administration was, of course, deeply implicated).


Only two-plus years after Global Trends 2025 appeared, it doesn’t take the combined powers of the IC to know that American decline looks an awful lot more precipitous and bumpier than imagined.  But let’s not just blame our intelligence functionaries for not divining the future we’re already in.  After all, they, too, were in the goldfish bowl, and when you’re there, it’s always hard to describe the nearest cats.


Nor should we be surprised that, like so many other Americans, they too were in denial.


After all, our leaders spent years organizing their version of the world around a “Global War on Terror,” when (despite the 9/11 attacks) terror was hardly America’s most obvious challenge.  It proved largely a “war” against phantoms and fantasies, or against modest-sized ragtag bands of enemies -- even though it resulted in perfectly real conflicts, absolutely genuine new bases abroad, significant numbers of civilian dead, and the expansion of a secret army of operatives inside the U.S. military into a force of 13,000 or more operating in 75 countries.


The spasms of fear that coursed through our society in the near-decade after September 11, 2001, and the enemy, “Islamic terrorism,” to which those spasms were attached are likely to look far different to us in retrospect.  Yes, many factors -- including the terrifyingly apocalyptic look of 9/11 in New York City -- contributed to what happened.  There was fear’s usefulness in prosecuting wars in the Greater Middle East that President Bush and his top officials found appealing.  There was the way it ensured soaring budgets for the Pentagon and the national security state.  There was the way it helped the politicians, lobbyists, and corporations hooked into a developing homeland-security complex.  There was the handy-dandy way it glued eyeballs to a one-event-fits-all-sizes version of the world that made the media happy, and there was the way it justified ever increasing powers for our national security managers and ever lessening liberties for Americans.
But think of all that as only the icing on the cake.  Looking back, those terror fears coursing through the body politic will undoubtedly seem like Rambo’s muscles: a deflection from the country’s deepest fears.  They were, in that sense, consoling.  They allowed us to go on with our lives, to visit Disney World, as George W. Bush urged in the wake of 9/11 in order to prove our all-American steadfastness.


Above all, even as our imperial wars in the oil heartlands of the planet went desperately wrong, they allowed us not to think about empire or, until the economy melted down in 2008, decline.  They allowed us to focus our fears on “them,” not us.  They ensured that, like the other great imperial power of the Cold War era, when things began to spiral out of control we would indeed sleepwalk right into the imperial darkness.
Now that we’re so obviously there, the confusion is greater than ever.  Theoretically, none of this should necessarily be considered bad news, not if you don’t love empires and what they do.  A post-imperial U.S. could, of course, be open to all sorts of possibilities for change that might be exciting indeed.


Right now, though, it doesn’t feel that way, does it?  It makes me wonder: Could this be how it’s always felt inside a great imperial power on the downhill slide?  Could this be what it’s like to watch, paralyzed, as a country on autopilot begins to come apart at the seams while still proclaiming itself “the greatest nation on Earth”?


I don’t know.  But I do know one thing: this can’t end well.


Tom Engelhardt, co-founder of the American Empire Project, runs the Nation Institute's TomDispatch.com.  His latest book is The American Way of War: How Bush’s Wars Became Obama’s (Haymarket Books).


Copyright 2011 Tom Engelhardt

Monday, April 18, 2011

¡VIVA LA REVOLUCIÓN! SOLDIERS FOR PEACE IN HONDURAS




This essay is based on the keynote speech at the first annual spring brunch benefit for the Portland Central American Solidarity Committee, where we had the distinct pleasure of hearing Gerardo Torres explain why he expects Hondurans to establish a democracy in the wake of the US-backed military coup in 2009.


The democratic movement in Honduras provides an example of how the principles of effective nonviolent   asymmetrical "warfare" can be applied in a nation facing a much more dire threat to democracy than in the United States. Most of the U.S. public has yet to recognize that they face the same enemy that the Honduran resistance is challenging: international corporate terrorists intent on imposing their will on a People who had long considered their nation to be a democracy. Those who would build a united front against corporate rule in the United States would do well to study this example of a democracy being created where fascism is the current political reality.

As in the United States today, prior to the corporate coup there was a widespread recognition that there was much difference between the Honduras' National Party and the “Liberal” Party. Even so, few challenged the notion that theirs was a democracy, since they still had the power to vote between the choices that were offered them. The fact that the result was largely the same no matter which party was in power caused many to give up on the political process, but there were some who knew that if the People could be roused from their lethargy they might yet enjoy the blessings of freedom, equality and justice that only a democratic society can provide.

For those that missed the reports that appeared briefly in the U.S. corporate media, the Honduran military kidnapped democratically elected President Manuel Zelaya in June of 2009 and seized control of the government. The Supreme Court in Honduras gave the coup a veneer of legitimacy by having declared the President in violation of the constitution by what it claimed was an attempt to amend it to allow Presidential re-election. It ruled that his making arrangements for a national poll on the question of a constitutional convention violated this provision of the existing constitution, which declared that such an attempt is grounds for immediate removal. The fact that he was responding to calls for change from determined citizens who had not given up on the political process was not a consideration to these champions of constitutional “democracy.”

An objective observer might say that a Supreme Court dictating the removal of a democratically elected president on such a subjective interpretation is similar to the US Supreme Court selecting a president in a disputed election based on a dubious interpretation of the law. It is a legitimate question to ask why the judicial branch should have such power in either case. The fact that any Supreme Court makes decisions that rightly belong to the People or their elected representatives would seem to be a good argument for constitutional revision.

Honduras' constitution was clearly written to favor the entrenched interests of its working class. The advantages it systematically conveys to the already wealthy and powerful have resulted in a system of gross social inequality and wealth disparity that is shocking even by American standards. When Zelaya responded to popular requests to address wealth inequality by establishing a minimum wage of $9.60 per day, the oligarchs were outraged. It was said that this was one of the “socialistic” changes he made that helped them decide that his removal was necessary in order to preserve the “Honduran way of life.”

The resistance movement that had started by workers intent on ensuring that they shared fairly in the fruits of their labors was considered no threat to the power of the oligarchy. It is likely that no one was more surprised than the early members of the resistance when they found an ally in a President who had come from the ranks of the privileged.

It is hard to say what influenced Zelaya to betray his class and take up the cause of common campesinos and campesinas. So few average Hondurans still cared about politics to be a threat to his power or to that of the plutocracy that put him in his position. He could have chosen to take the easy way and satisfy the powerful interests of those who controlled the government. Perhaps it was the dignity of the members of the resistance who respectfully approached him that appealed to his sense of justice.

Zelaya was removed from office in what the Obama administration declared to be an “unacceptable” manner just three days before it recognized the golpista (coup) government. His kidnapping aroused a formerly docile people who either ignored the two-party duopoly or played the game of trying to pick the lesser of two evils. It seemed that over-reaching by fascists in Honduras awakened them to the fact that their government was not a democracy but a plaything of the rich corporatists who considered the power to rule to be their divine right. Suddenly, the People realized that their fate was in their own hands.

Within days, the local committees of the resistance grew to include outraged citizens in every district of the nation. Protests erupted across the country. Violent response from the government did not kill the determination of the suddenly aroused people who were determined to nonviolently take control of their government and their common destiny regardless of the price in blood. For every one of the hundreds murdered by the golpista mercenaries 10 more joined the resistance, which is an essential element of fighting asymmetrical warfare.

There continue to be protests across the country where the resistance outnumbers the government thugs from 10:1 to 1000:1 in the larger gatherings. Committees have grown more sophisticated and formed a list of demands that must be met before they will participate in what the world knows now are sham elections. The unions are holding fast and helping establish the international connections needed to form a unified world front against fascism and war. This is the network that Soldiers For Peace International has always intended to become a part of.
 

Honduras is already changed forever by the very act of resistance. The People have found a common cause more important than differences in political and even religious outlook. Now, gay rights activists march hand in hand with evangelical Christians and feminists are side by side with men who grew up thinking that women were to be used and not heard. Students have put down their pencils and joined the resistance by the thousands.
 

All have suffered enough to realize that their commonalities are much more important than their differences and that only by working together can they hope to defeat the traitors who have sold the government to international corporate terrorists for a few pieces of silver.

Secretary of State Clinton has announced that Honduras is “open for business” under the now enforceable CAFTA agreement that directs corporate wealth to the privileged in exchange for the wealth of the common people. Dollars will be funneled from the pockets of the workers to the same transnational corporations that privatized water in Ecuador, trained and armed Somoza’s Contra thugs, hired right wing death squads to kill union leaders in Columbia and have toppled uncooperative government since Pizarro arrived on the continent.

It seems that the US government is owned and operated by international corporate terrorists who conduct the business of the shadow government through the CIA and its allied “intelligence” agencies. Therefore, if these so-called leaders are not themselves fascists they are fascist collaborators, willingly or otherwise.

It is up to the people of the United States to once more put aside ideological differences and work together to Take Back America from the corporate plutocrats who have seized the government in their quest to impose a fascist New World Order on all of us. 


Viva Ortega and all the campasinas and campasinos who shed their blood in the cause of freedom for Nicaragua . The blood of these martyrs has not been shed in vain. They have inspired those who are risking their lives  in nonviolent resistance to fight for a future for themselves and their children.

It is not too late for the people of the United States to join the leaders of the world front against fascism and war. All it takes is to believe that victory is possible and to work together with the anarchical network that is Soldiers For Peace International.

We are all in the same struggle. La lucha es la misma and we are all one Raza of humanity. A People united can never be defeated.










Saturday, April 9, 2011

WE ARE ALL EGYPTIANS NOW



This essay is based on the keynote address of Sharif Kouddous of Democracy Now at the 2011 annual Peace Works convention of the Rachel Corrie Foundation. The event was appropriately titled Solidarity in Action.




It has been said many times that the Egyptian Revolution provides lessons for those of us struggling to restore democracy in the United States. Unfortunately. many of these lessons remain unrecognized and therefore unarticulated. Among these is the importance of international solidarity between and among various interest groups involved in the building of a national front against the totalitarian Mubarak regime.


Egyptian organizers are now organizing against the threat of foreign-influenced military repression. They are trying to prevent the rise of a new pseudo-democratic regime built in part on the remnants of Mubarak’s National “Democratic” Party. The problems they are facing are intimately related to the problem of restoring democracy in the United States because the corporate forces they are fighting are the same that are directing the assault on American workers. It is therefore important to understand why America must do what it can to support the Egyptian Revolution if it wants to succeed in its own.


Kouddous is a former senior producer for Democracy Now and now a foreign correspondent for that news organization. He is a native Egyptian who was fascinated by the sudden emergence of a democratic movement in his home country. He decided to become a correspondent when his brother, a man who had never been involved in politics, called him to tell him that he was committing himself to the revolution that had just broken out in Cairo’s Tahrir Square. He told us that this would have been unthinkable just weeks before the January 26 occupation of the Square that became a symbol for the hope of democracy in a region ruled by puppets of western governments. No one outside those involved in its planning anticipated that the protests in Tunisia would  ignite a fire in the Muslim world that would lead to the overthrow of Mubarak. Those caught by surprise included the CIA, which was caught flat-footed.


The events in Cairo are a perfect illustration of how Soldiers For Peace is attempting to help organize an international front against fascism and war. The uprising was prepared with the logistical and moral support of people and organizations from many nations. It was an anarchical movement in that it had no identifiable leaders. Everyone contributed their ideas and efforts as individuals and members of organizations to the larger cause of freedom.  Advance planning was broad in scope but no one was asked to commit to a specific strategy, only to the essential principle of nonviolent resistance. Tactics were developed  by individuals and groups who had took the initiative to adapt the overall strategy  to rapidly unfolding events.Thus, the Egyptian revolutionaries are true Soldiers For Peace.


What most citizens of the US  have yet to recognize is that the totalitarian regimes propped up by the Anglo-American fascist governments and their allies were put in place as part of a larger strategy to impose a fascist New World order on the backs of the workers of the world. This is the ultimate aim of the international corporate terrorists whose imperial ambitions can only be stopped by the collective power of a world united against them.  The uprising in the Muslim world has reminded us of the power of nonviolent resistance by the Peoples of a nation. As in Egypt, unions in nations where they exist must unite to form the backbone of an international front against war and fascism.  


The western press has described the Egyptian revolution as a home-grown effort. This may stir pride in the hearts of Egyptians, but it is neither entirely accurate nor helpful to the cause of Egyptian freedom fighters to promote this image. In portraying the movement as unique among the democracy movements in the Muslim world, the corporate media reassures the anxious American citizen that it is not the beginning of a movement affecting all of Islam nor a sign that a world revolution has begun. It  is the job of every American to awaken their fellow citizens to the fact that the struggle of Egyptians is the same cause in which all must engage in order to assure the rights of all workers in the world who are under assault by corporate forces we can only defeat together.  


Until the alternative media consistently makes the case that this is the task before us, average Americans will go along their business secure in the belief that "it can’t happen here."  We must awaken them to the fact that such a revolution must occur in the US if it is ever to become a force for liberty and justice for all in there and in the world. Until most Americans realize that the revolution must also be fought in their own nation, they will continue to fight among themselves in what amounts to a civil war.  This serves only the interests of  the international corporate terrorists who control the US government. If the people of the US do not unite in the common cause of freedom, those who covet only wealth and power will continue to tighten their grip on them in its quest for world domination. Fortunately, the fascists leading the assault on American workers do not seem to realize that in doing so they are sowing the seeds of their own destruction.


Americans have little in the way of the shared identity enjoyed by Egyptians, whose civilization dominated the known world millennia before the American experiment in democracy began just 236 years ago. It is this sense of shared history and destiny that has allowed these long-suffering patriots to understand that a greater Egypt can be created only by forging the new government in the fires of democratic revolution. The people of the United States must find their own common  identity by fully understanding the history of its own incomplete democratic revolution. If the people of the United States abandon the myth of American exceptionalism they become part of the Egyptian revolt against fascism and war. They must learn to view American history through the wider lens of world history. The American story since WWII is less that of its people than it is the story of the corporate powers that have seized the control of their government.


The Western press is fascinated by the use of social media to create the united front against the corrupt totalitarian rule of Mubarak. This has understandably led to the belief that it was the youth of Egypt who led the Revolution. While young Egyptians clearly played a critical role in sparking the revolution, it could not have succeeded to the point it has without unions playing a role. Kouddous argued that unions in Egypt had been carrying out a lonely struggle for the rights of workers for decades prior to the uprising in Tahrir Square.  The struggle of unions in Egypt was a necessary prerequisite to the change in the collective consciousness of Egyptians to one in which freedom seemed more than a dream. Egyptians came to understand that in union there is the strength to determine their own national destiny.  Now Americans  must join them in their struggle to ensure that they will prevail in their own.


Unlike the American revolutionaries,  Egyptians chose not to fight force with force. Realizing that in the modern era this would have allowed foreign intervention that would have undermined their cause, they are following a strategy of  nonviolent resistance. In the face of attacks by mercenaries of the regime and murderous gunfire directed against them, their unity and determination became an example for all Peoples struggling against oppression and injustice. When hundreds fell, thousand poured in to stand beside the fallen. In their common struggle, women were treated as equals by men. Coptic Christians stood guard for Muslims as they prayed prostrate to the one God both worshipped. Muslims did the same for their Christian brothers and sisters when they turned their eyes away from the guns and toward the heavens where they believed that God smiled on their fight for freedom and justice.


The Egyptian revolution will not be complete until the senior officers in the Egyptian military realize that they themselves will not be truly free as long as they oblige the Anglo-American and Zionist patrons who maintain their power and privilege. They must bow before the will of the People if Egypt is to realize its destiny.  In their hands lies the power to determine whether Egypt will  become a leader in a free Muslim world and Insha'Allah, a world free forever of the threat of fascism and war. Only by allowing a Constitution that assures the rights of people of all faiths and all political beliefs can they become the true guardians of the People that they claim to be.


In the same way, the people of the United States must realize that only through Constitutional change can their government become a true democracy. The international corporate terrorists who control the US government can only be removed from power over the people of the United States when they recognize that love of freedom is the tie that binds them. Working together, those who have allowed them to be divided by senseless ideological rhetoric must find common cause in the cause of freedom. Only through a unified demand for the abolition of corporate personhood will assure that their government becomes for the first time one truly of, by and for all of the People. While any remain under the yoke of repression, none are truly free.

In order to form a more perfect union, the labor movement in the United States has to stand up as Egyptians did to demand democracy. If they use their organizing structure to lead a campaign for a constitutional amendment abolishing corporate personhood, we may yet see democracy in America. International union brotherhood can create the international bonds that will unite the Peoples of the world. If they seize the opportunity unions can be the key to creating a united front against fascism in the US and the seemingly endless threat of war.  The stage would them be set to end to the plans of the corporatocracy to enslave us all in a fascist New World Order.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

LABOR PAINS IN THE BIRTH OF A REVOLUTION





Corporate control of the US government must be opposed if the citizens of this or of any nation are to be free. Those of us who realize this will need to understand something of the history of the labor movement in the US. We must avoid the mistakes it has made since it began in reaction to the vicious abuses of the corporate Puppetmasters of the US government in that era.

Unions have always had the potential to lead the building of a united front against fascism and war. The problems that have prevented this are the same ones that fracture any political movement that does not reach out to every citizen who is being lied to and harmed by the economic elites in the United States and elsewhere.


These international corporate terrorists do not hesitate to resort to war and other forms of violence to achieve their aim of imposing a fascist New World Order.
  In their dystopian ideal world governments are mere tools in the hands of wealthy international bankers and industrialists. To them life is a game of monopoly whose goal is control the masses in a system of economic slavery that the union movement exists to oppose.
 

Eugene Debs began his political life as a progressive Democrat. Throughout his life supported nonviolent resistance to the forces of unregulated monopolistic capitalism. In the course of his work organizing unions, the violent reaction of the power elite in attempting to suppress the growing labor movement radicalized him. While never changing his mind that nonviolence was the only path to ultimate victory, he abandoned the false hope that a just social order could ever be established by negotiating with the fascists in government and industry whose only goals were increasing their own wealth and power by scratching each others' backs while the needs of the People are not addressed. Debs’ experiences could teach the modern labor organizer everything he or she needs to know.
 
He rose to prominence for his actions in the Pullman strike of 1894. George Pullman was the owner of the company that manufactured railroad sleeping cars bearing his name. His company owned the land, houses, stores and even churches in the Chicago suburb where his workers lived. After the Great Panic of 1893 he slashed wages while keeping the price of rent and goods the same and continuing to pay dividends to shareholders. When Pullman refused an offer of a mediated settlement of these grievances, Debs threw the weight of the newly formed American Railway Union behind a national strike against any railroad that refused to uncouple Pullman cars from its trains.   

The resulting reaction by the forces of 19th century fascism was as frightening as it was perhaps predictable. It also highlighted the dangers of deep division within the labor movement that should already have been apparent to organizers dedicated only to the cause of justice for workers and their families.  Instead, ideological and political differences then and now have kept unions from becoming the force that recent history has shown that they must be. Unions alone contain the potential power to protect the rights of all working Americans and ultimately, democracy in the United States and the world.

When Debs called for the support of the AFL under founder Samuel Gompers he was rebuffed. He was also left to fight without the support of other rail unions. Like the early AFL, they had yet to appreciate that their competing for support and their exclusion of unskilled and Black workers undermined the common cause for which they fought. Gompers had further eviscerated the movement in arguing forcefully against political action by organized labor in a speech before the 1890 AFL national convention. 

Even without the support of other unions, the call for a national strike was answered by 100,000 men. They courageously walked off their jobs in defiance of threats to their financial and personal security that had to be taken seriously in light of the Haymarket massacre just eight years before in neighboring Chicago. That protest had been sparked by the murder of two striking workers by goons of the Pinkerton agency who were guarding strikebreaking workers at the McCormick plant. It is important to understand the Haymarket affair to appreciate the significance of the Pullman strike.

Two days after the shootings at the Chicago plant on May 1, 1886 police were called to break up the peaceful protest held in response. A bomb was thrown that killed a policeman. Police responded with gunfire that killed or wounded an unknown number of protesters and probably inflicted most or all of the eight casualties in their own ranks, according to witnesses. It remains a mystery to this day whether it was a Pinkerton agent or an anarchist who threw the bomb that triggered the massacre. Newspapers of the day of course attributed the violence to anarchists, raising images of a Red menace and helping mute public criticism of the staged trials of eight organizers, seven of whom were sentenced to death.

The Pullman strike revealed the degree to which the rise of labor power alarmed the US government. Instead of sending in the Pinkertons, Democratic President Grover Cleveland sent in federal troops and a motley assortment of goons and criminals deputized as US marshals to break up the strike. Violence broke out in the form of a rail car being burnt and fire hoses cut. Naturally, Debs and other organizers were arrested, tried and convicted.

He emerged from prison six months later unbowed and radicalized.
 His political outlook was forever changed when he was persecuted by a man for whom he had campaigned for in two elections. Seeing that Cleveland was willing to subvert the Constitution to silence him and use the Sherman Act to selectively attack unions, he joined the Socialist Party and became its candidate for President in 1904, 1908 and 1912. In the last election he earned the largest percentage of votes of any third party candidate in history, effectively making him an enemy of the state when he later opposed WWI. He was tried under the Alien and Sedition Acts and imprisoned in 1919. Debs became severely ill and died in 1926, some two years after being pardoned by Harding.

In addition to his example of undaunted courage, Debs’ importance lies in his unwavering conviction that if unions are to become a true counterbalance to corporate power they must become a vehicle for all working people, their families and small business owners who are the backbone of any sustainable and socially justifiable economy. The union movement cannot afford to keep collaborating with a corporate-controlled Democratic Party for the pitifully small rewards it receives.

True political power rises not from submitting to vague, mostly unrealized promises of reform from neoliberals. It comes from using the power of a People united to force such change. We can clean up Congress and make it work for us if we abandon artificial Left-Right, Democrat-Republican, racial and even class distinctions to a point. Average Americans from across the spectrum of political ideology from office know our government does not work for us. If we can form a movement united in the common cause of restoring representative democracy to the United States, we can alter our form of government and abolish fascism forever.

It is time that unions quit fighting defensively for issues of narrow self interest and focus on a concerted effort to attack the corporate Puppetmasters in their most vulnerable area. If unions reach out widely to convince the general public that there is a way to throw out members of Congress who put the interests of corporations over We the People, they can become a potent force in the national movement to abolish corporate personhood.

What naysayers of Move to Amend do not seem to appreciate is that the only thing preventing our seizing this moment in history to end corporate control of the US government is their own pessimism. It is up to us in the grassroots movement for democracy to convince such cynics as Ed Schultz and even Thom Hartmann that we not only can but must work now to build this movement. To delay is to risk authoritarian measures already in place to restrict our civil liberties being strengthened to the point where violent resistance may become the only alternative to fascism.

We need only get one or a small group of members of Congress to introduce an amendment to abolish corporate personhood to assure our inevitable victory. Once the issue is on the table, unions can lead a broad-based campaign to make support for the amendment a litmus test in every subsequent Congressional election. Those of us struggling to make citizens who are so frightened, demoralized, apathetic or unaware of this dagger aimed at the heart of democracy need the support of unions. Only a few are answering the call, mostly those affiliated with Jobs For Justice around the United States.

Whether unions as a body take on this challenge will be determined by rank and file members who understand that their leaders have largely failed them in constantly capitulating to corporate Democrats.
  Those Puppets of the international corporate terrorists who control our government have betrayed unions on nearly every critical issue in recent history. From their support of free trade agreements to the failure to pass the Employee Free Choice Act to the cynical bailout of medical insurance companies by cost shifting medical care expenses to the worker, the Democratic Party has failed to deliver on the Devil’s bargain that unions have made with it.   
 
All Americans can agree that the government should be one of, by and for the People. Every citizen of the United States should be able to agree that this cannot happen by a process of electing officials dependent on corporate money for their offices. The system of corporate welfare that has resulted has created a massive debt, widespread unemployment, monopolistic practices that hurt small businesses and the shredding of the social safety net that may be the only thing keeping the United States from utter social, economic, and moral self-destruction. Thus, the problem of corporate personhood affects not only working families but every American, to the benefit of the very few.

I challenge you to ask yourself:  “What would Debs do?”

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