Posts Tagged ‘ war

Salman Rushdie and the “Innocence of Muslims”

Salman Rushdie has some harsh words for President Obama and other western leaders:

I think if we wish to live in any kind of a moral universe, we must hold the perpetrators of violence responsible for the violence they perpetrate. It’s very simple. The criminal is responsible for the crime.

Oh no, wait. He’s talking about the US armed militants that turned on their masters and killed 4 Americans . . . in a country where the United States indiscriminately bombed 1,000 civilians (very conservatively) out of existence in the previous year.

I hesitate to tell someone who grew up Muslim about the recent history of the Muslim world, but anybody who says:

. . . in the last half-century, these cultures seem to have slid backwards into medievalism and repression is one of the – I think it’s one of the great self-inflicted wounds. And out of that comes the rise of this new, much harsher Islam . . . the readiness to believe that it’s OK to kill people if you declare yourself offended by something. This is the mindset of the fanatic, the mindset of the tyrant. And it’s a real shame that it seems to have spread so widely across the Muslim world,

needs, perhaps a quick refresher.

The “slide backwards into medievalism” wasn’t a “self-inflicted wound.” The people of the muslim world were dragged into the torture chambers of medievalism by colonial secret police; were herded into medievalism by western armed and supported dictators; and were finally bombed into medievalism by 30 years of relentless aggression from western militaries and their proxies.

Yes, Islam is awful and stupid and can be a rallying point for hostilities that are boiling over. The same is true for any Abrahamic religion. The idea that some 13 minute Youtube clip is really actually driving the entire Muslim world in a batshit firebombing rage is remarkably stupid. I’m sure Salman Rushdie is not remarkably stupid. He sort of sounds like it in this interview though.

Which brings me to point #2:
The idea that some 13 minute Youtube clip is really actually driving the entire Muslim world in a batshit firebombing rage is remarkably stupid.

And yet, that’s the story–at least the headline–nearly universally across all media. Man those people are crazy! They’re going nuts over an offensive Youtube clip? Another round of bombing is too good for them!

I *have* actually heard a couple of reports that at least hint at the fact that perhaps, just maybe, daily drone attacks, constant military occupation and the propping up of a whole chain of awful governments against the will of the population have *something* to do with the recent violence. Literally, like 2–maybe 3–in a solid week of coverage.

Pepe Escobar of Asia Times makes a convincing case that the Libya attck was “blowback” from the killing of Abu Yahya al-Libi, an ally of the United States in the fight against Gaddafi who was then assassinated. The death was announced on 9/11:

An immediate effect of al-Zawahiri’s video was that an angry armed mob, led by Islamist outfit Ansar al Sharia, set fire to the US consulate in Benghazi. The US ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens, was killed. It didn’t matter that Stevens happened to be a hero of the “NATO rebels” who had “liberated” Libya – notoriously sprinkled with Salafi-jihadis of the al-Libi kind.

This isn’t conclusive, of course, but it’s infinitely more likely than a crowd of would-be peaceful muslims driven into a lunatic rage by a Youtube clip.

Which brings me to point #3:
Does anyone thinks it’s strange that this movie trailer isn’t actually associated with a movie? I checked the Googles, Amazon, even Ebay. There is no movie “Innocence of the Muslims.” I’m not trying to spin a conspiracy yarn . . . not yet anyway . . . but this is just a true statement. The movie does not exist. The clip on Youtube can’t really be a trailer for a movie, then can it? Where did this story even come from?

Segueless jump to point #4:
Guess what, almost no muslims are protesting at all. Even given the occupation, the appropriation of their resources, the secret police, the constant surveillance, the desecration of everything . . . sacred, etc., there are a few hundred up to a couple thousand people engaged in protest at each of these events.

In one of those rare instances in which something on the Internet gets lost, I can’t find a site I saw yesterday that had the size of the protests vs. the populations of each country. Suffice it to say that the burner/rioters represent tens-of-thousandths of percents of the population (i.e 00.0001%)

Take a look at the #MuslimRage Twitter hashtag. It’s adorable. Here are 13 pictures of Muslim rage. Take a look. Just like you, amazingly enough, almost everybody else in the fucking world just wants to live their lives and be left alone by the lunatic %00.0001 percent of busy bodies and psychopaths that ruin it for everyone.

To conclude:
This story in which cultures are clashing and a mad and unfathomable “other” is just waiting to destroy you and your happiness is bullshit. It’s just a story–completely fabricated by people who will take your money, at gunpoint if necessary, to kill and enslave innocent human beings, just like you and your family, all around the world.

It’s just a story to blind you like Salman Rushdie is blind–who can look at a history of the last 50 years and not see that the murderers who need to be held accountable are the leaders of the western powers?

Don’t believe the stories. Don’t become blind to evil. Let’s leave the stone age relics of religion and rulers that the 00.0001% would have us cling to behind and forge a new path for humanity. A path that most of us have been on this whole time.

Atrocity Prevention

Not being an anarchist means being denied the tragicomic jolt upon seeing the headline: President Obama Directs New Atrocity Prevention Measures.

For me, the comedy comes first and my mind begins to generate possible (or, sadly, impossible) additions to the headline: “President Obama Directs New Atrocity Prevention Measures: Arrests George Bush, Self” or “Disbands Army” or “Surrenders to Al Qaeda.”

Let’s take a peek at the actual text. First sentence:

In the decades since the world first pledged “never again,” the U.S. response to mass atrocities and genocide has confronted several challenges.

“First, it’s hard to deny that mushroom clouds, napalm burns and drone strikes are your doing, when you’re the only country that has those weapons.”
It’s too easy. Okay, one more one more:

We know that often holding those who have carried out mass atrocities accountable is at times our best tool to prevent future atrocities.

“We know this because the one group of people that have never been held accountable keep committing most of the world’s atrocities.”

Alright, it’s not that funny, hence the tragi bit of tragicomic.

What’s actually happening, of course, is a preemptive casus belli is being generated for enemies that we, or at least I, can’t even guess at yet.

The text mentions Libya, which the US has been bombing the hell out of for months now, as a fine example of atrocity prevention. It’s insane, but to be expected from a people who beat children “for their own good,” lock people in cages who haven’t hurt anyone “to protect them from themselves” and generally run to the uniformed distributors of “legitimate” violence to solve any and all disputes with their fellow human beings.

The Bikecast Episode #54: Whence Bigotry?

The evolutionary psych story about humanity is that war, genocide, and the divisive “-isms” that keep humans in a perpetual state of conflict are inevitable expressions of an “us vs. them” tendency that is simply a part of our biological makeup.

It’s indisputable that people can adopt an identity that is essentially oppositional to another nation, race, religion or ethnic group, but how much of this tendency is nature and how much is nurture?

Only one human trait is truly immutable: adaptability. Children learn very quickly what they need to do to ensure their physical safety. In our dominance based society, a major element of required adaptation is siding with proximal agents in society vs. outsiders, real or–primarily–imagined.

In fact, examining the volume of propaganda that is directed at Americans, from the cradle to the grave it’s unsurprising the kinds bizarre and absurd expressions of xenophobia that crop up whenever the “enemies of America” (or of “real” America) come up in conversation.


Download this episode of the Bikecast

Japan

Take, for example, this stream of . . . just really weird comments that popped about on Facebook and Twitter after the last month’s earthquake/tsunami/nuclear meltdown in Japan. Citing Pearl Harbor (Pearl Harbor? Seriously?) as the counter-balance in some twisted version of karma is really, really fucked up.

Anti-japanese propaganda from the Second World War
Where did this enmity come from? There can’t be more than a dozen people alive on the planet that participated in the fighting at Pearl Harbor. Japan has been a more than cooperative American colonial forward base in East Asia for over 65 years. There are very few who derived their prejudice against the Japanese from lived experience, but a quick glance at “educational material” and popular culture should give a clue about where the animosity comes from.

The facts, which one has to dig a bit to find, paint a different picture. The popular depiction involves a ruthless and brutal empire[1] that, in an attempt to enslave the entire pacific strikes out at a peaceful merchant republic. This depiction, crafted, as always, by the victors served to put the United States on a war footing. Pearl Harbor was a story meant to ease the resistance to conscription going into the war, and to ease the collective conscience after Japanese cities were incinerated by fire bombings and, finally, annihilated in nuclear blasts.

The truth is less useful. Objectively, two empires, one small and resource starved and the other vast, expanding and reaching the height of its powers met in the western Pacific. A faction of the leadership of the United States, including large parts of the executive branch, wanted to go to war in Europe and intended to do so by drawing Germany’s Pacific ally into a conflict.

This bikecast/post isn’t intended to address this issue in depth. It requires the kind of care and attention to detail that I can’t generally muster. Luckily, the issue has been researched to death by just the kinds of minds by which one wants important issues researched to death. The evidence is overwhelming and the objections, as far as I can find, are few and feeble (and rebutted). This page of links from the Independent Institute has alot of good starting points for the interested.

In any case, the nature of the war, fought thousands of miles from California against an island nation far and away the technological and economic inferior of the United States required an enormous amount of propaganda. In retrospect, as each new generation of Americans confronts the nightmare of history’s only nuclear strikes, the tale requires an arch-enemy so lunatic that no alternative was conceivable but to vaporize hundreds of thousands of people to bring the war to an end.

And that is the legacy that is echoed in the comments about Japan today. Jingoism generated by a ruling class to support their decisions and those of their predecessors three generations ago.

If we have to demonize the Japanese in order to distract from the reality of the war in the Pacific, how much more demonization is required to justify the enslavement of a race?

African Americans

The answer is, “quite a lot”–11 on a scale of 10 and we see the evidence for this in Western bigotry against blacks. This may be especially true in the United States where racial policy has been an political issue for three hundred years.

How does one justify the perpetual enslavement of a people? They have to be animals, unfit for a place in civilization, unable to control their impulses and desires, a danger to advanced society. If abolition is on the table, a strong and reliable political move is to drive into the public consciousness the most gruesome and horrifying stories of what will happen when the black race is freed.

If integration is on the table, the wise move is to tell these stories again. To create and fund “science” that supports racist conclusions, to integrate racism into every possible aspect of society: education, religion, community organizations, etc. The politician willing to do so and support others in doing so can have a long and prosperous career, since no one pays any heed to the wars he starts and the money he shunts to his supporters and allies.

The legacy of nationalized racial policy is what we see around us today. Racism isn’t a biological inevitability. It’s the result of an explicit policy of centuries of fear mongering for political power and financial gain.

The Entire Non-Christian World and The non-English-speaking Americas

Nowadays, our attention is turned to (at least) two new enemies who, we are told, seek to despoil our country. The muslims (or islamo-fascists) and spanish speaking central/south Americans and carribean islanders (aka mexicans or illegals).

Popular stereotypes of these people differ radically between 1900 and today. I go into some hand-waving detail in the podcast about my perception of these changes. Suffice it to say that the fanatical muslim and job-stealing mexican are inventions of the last 40 years. They were created specifically to allow monstrously inhumane treatment of human beings and vast appropriations of stolen money to the military-industrial-prison-security-congressional-complex. The amount of energy and effort being put into the new stereotypes assure us that, in 100 years, people will still be clinging blindly to these beliefs.

And why the energy and effort? Greater fear and anger associated with these groups means more power given to the police, military and surveillance state and votes for anyone who promises protection from these “threats.” Nobody can speak against this most destructive of enemy imagery and hope to be taken seriously by the corporate media much less have any chance at political office.

To sum up, the quantity and ferocity of enemy-making propaganda has to be such that virtuous choices like withdrawing western troops from the middle east, allowing free travel over the southern border (or not going to war in 1941 or not owning black persons before 1865) are unthinkable.

We’re still reeling from the propaganda of the past, and new bullshit is being constantly heaped on top of the old. The perpetrators and agitators are those that benefit from hatred–those whose actual crimes: mass theft, kidnapping and murder, necessitate the creation of unfathomably evil foes. Only by projecting their own wrongdoings onto others can the perpetrators escape from scrutiny. Not only can they commit the most horrific crimes against humanity, they can do so in the name of protection people from the harmful other.

In the podcast, I reference Lloyd DeMause who makes a similar argument with regard to enemy imagery historically directed at children. Here’s a page of his online books. I’ve read much of The Emotional Life of Nations and listened to some of the Origins of War in Child Abuse. Also, here’s a current example ad hoc ratcheting up of enemy imagery in wartime as various minorities are targeted as foreign mercenaries. Oh, and the movie I was trying to think of was Lawrence of Arabia

  1. [1] no argument there, btw

Reasoning in Midstream

“Reasoning in midstream[1]” is a common phenomenon in public discourse that typically starts right around the time that bombs start dropping or legislation starts being penned in response to a “crisis”. It is the monotonous focus on the present state of a problem–a pending genocide, a health or financial emergency, or a security threat–disregarding the history or context in which the event takes place. In addition to discouraging discussion of root causes, reasoning in midstream also allows for attention to be drawn away from parallel dangers that are still in earlier stages.

By way of an analogy, imagine a society whose diet consists of only Snickers and Coke (a-cola, that is). After forty or fifty years, the toothless, diabetic and morbidly obese nature of the elder generation forces the society to examine the ailments of the worst off and explore possible solutions. Radical dentistry, amputation of gangrenous limbs and liposuction are proposed and touted as the only way to address these epidemics which, apparently, arose from nowhere. Perhaps an underemployed nutritionist suggests a change of diet, but the idea is dismissed as ineffective against the immediate problems faced by the older population.

Of course, without a change in diet, however insufficient against some of the immediate dangers facing some of the population, the problem can’t be checked in any meaningful or sustainable way. There’s most likely not much that can be done to help those that have been eating the lethal foodstuffs for 50 years. In this example, it’s plain (for us) to see that efforts would be most profitably invested in changing the diet to avoid the same problems in those that are currently 5, 15, 25, and 35 years old.

If this society limits itself to reasoning in midstream, however, solutions that aren’t directed at the immediate and spotlighted most critical cases are disregarded entirely. No ultimate causes of the current problem are sought and no thought to preventing future problems of a similar nature is given.

Leaping out of my flimsy analogy and into harsh reality, the most recent example of reasoning in midstream (let’s call it RIM from now on) that I’ve experienced has been around the topic of Libya.

Here, for the first time since Clinton and NATO decimated and subsequently occupied the Balkans, we have a progressive war for progressive goals lead by a progressive administration. This has caused tremendous cognitive dissonance on the left and lead to somber and thoughtful defenses of the necessity of aerial butchery. Where there is hesitation, progressives are plagued by the programmed question: “What possible alternative exists?”

What alternatives indeed? There are no good answers in the moment, because it’s the last 60+ years of malignant foreign policy in the region that have brought us to this terrible, yet easily predicted, outcome. Yet no discussion exists of the historical context of western intervention in North Africa. And so the policy is more of the same–remove the leader and arm some new “legitimate government” that will guarantee the continuity of the status quo.

Whatever happens, say proponents of RIM, don’t let’s think about the other dictators and puppet states, in Yemen, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Pakistan, Jordan, Colombia, Bahrain, Oman, Morocco, Geogria, El Salvador, Djibouti, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, etc.–I left out the countries that don’t seem to be in immediate peril of revolution–who continue to receive the very same western military aid that has allowed Gadaffi to commit this most recent democide.

The goal of the imperial state and it’s licensed, regulated, and wholly corporately owned mass media is to push aside such radical questions and return us to the case at hand–to RIM. Surely we can’t let this moment pass, this horrible thing happen, surely something must be done . . .

When “something must be done,” we immediately know that we are being asked to support a heaping helping of more of the same upon a people that have had their enemies propped up by western imperialism and their countries and wealth sold out from underneath them to western interests.

Nothing should be done. The violence must end which necessitates not adding to it. The dictators past and future should not be armed by money expropriated from the western working classes. As I discuss in The Winding Up of Violence, places like Libya, and much of the rest of the western controlled world, are like pots of water (two metaphors in one blog post! Noooo!). As long as they are exposed to heat, armaments and violence, from outside the system, they will remain in a turbulent state.

Foreign perturbance must cease, and the region will settle in to a stable state governed by the will of the people living there. This will happen at some point. The amount of harm, destruction and dislocation that will have to be endured is a function of how long it takes for the west to withdraw and cease interference, which is an economic inevitability at this point.

The sooner we cease to reason in midstream, and to see the calls for increased intervention for what they are, the sooner the people of Libya, the Middle East, and the entire world will have an opportunity to craft a peaceful existence for themselves.

Related:

  1. [1] Wes Bertrand describes the process more abstractly in the first chapter of his book Complete Liberty

The Bikecast Episode #50: Deficit, Debt, Keynes, and War

Given the displayed concern from our rulers about the state of national finances, one could easily believe that a great deal of thought is going into what cuts can be made to balance the budget and stabilize the national debt. Indeed, the daily news, foreign and domestic, invariably contains stories of agonizing cuts to social programs and all manner of complex machinations aimed to solve social problems in a “revenue neutral” manner.

A moment’s inspection will reveal, however, that this is intended entirely as theater. The very most basic and painless cut isn’t even considered–a cut that would not only balance the budget, but which would also extinguishing the rising and violent anger against the citizens of the United States. What is euphemistically referred to as “defense spending”–a more Orwellian label has never been conceived–could be eliminated at a savings of over 1 trillion dollars a year. Yet this across the spectrum boon isn’t even considered in all the hand-wringing over national finances.

Download this episode of the bikecast

Forgive the repetition in the show notes. These really are notes–i.e. I didn’t rework them like I sometimes do. I’m trying to get more podcasts out the door :)

Numbers of a certain magnitude defy human comprehension. If we believe the self-report of the government, the national debt is just above 14,000,000,000,000. The total unfunded liabilities, that is money promised in the future (social security and medicare, primarily) that exceeds “revenue”[1] is 114,000,000,000,000.

It’s instructive that these numbers rarely, if ever, enter into the political/economic debate. It’s a laughable premise that they will ever be paid back since the debt burden is something like $250,000 per person (including newborn children) or 1 million dollars per worker.

Instead, the rulers tend to talk about the deficit, which is the amount of money that will added to the debt this year. All manner of trivial cuts are proposed and complex schemes are invented to address some social ill while remaining revenue neutral. Due to the supposed desperation of our rulers to balance the budget, even social programs are threatened with crippling cuts.

The fact that economic stability is not really an important issue to the rulers is made clear by their careful avoidance of the one single budget item that would, by itself, balance the budget and greatly increase the prospects of peace in the world[2].

The US military is currently protecting Western Europe from soviet invasion. Pacific nations are protected from a reemergent imperial Japan. The entire globe is under constant surveillance and is within ½ hour of a nuclear strike, should the situation warrant. 150+ nations are occupied by thousands of US bases (no other country has more than a couple, other than in support of the US occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan).

In the podcast, I hit on a couple non-budgetary advantages of eliminating military spending, like, uh, you know, not killing countless innocent human beings.

I also touch on some of the reasons that defense spending is untouchable. There’s a great writeup over at Common Dreams. According to that article, a show is being made about making military cuts, but as the author says, “Americans should not confuse that talk with reality.”

It’s also worth noting that the economic premise that government should go into debt to help the economy during troubled times and repay the debt when the economy is healthy (Keynesianism, albeit simplified) is hopelessly out-of-scope in our current situation. Every possible stimulus–0% interest rates, money creation, massive debt accumulation–must currently be applied non-stop simply to avoid collapse of the dominant financial institutions. There will be no corresponding surplus ever again–the debt will never be repaid.

If you don't come to democracy, democracy will come to you.

  1. [1] in this case, money stolen
  2. [2] or at least remove the agent of greatest destruction.

The Bikecast Episode #44: Armistice Veterans Day and Moral Honesty

On Veteran’s Day[1], as on most other days, I find myself pulled by a fierce need to condemn the role of “soldier.” This concept, soldier, is used to create an inverse morality where killing is noble and those who kill are heroes. Surely nothing could be less heroic than taking money in order to kill, without question, whomever one is directed to kill.

On Veteran’s Day, as on most other days, I find myself pulled by a fierce need to condemn the role of “soldier.” This concept, soldier, is used to create an inverse morality where killing is noble and those who kill are heroes. Surely nothing could be less heroic than taking money in order to kill, without question, whomever one is directed to kill.
At the same time, it strikes me as unjust to lay blame at the feet of the human being who has assumed the role of soldier. Most soldiers were 18-year-olds who were sold on the honor and virtue of service to one’s country; their friends, relatives, peers, church and community leaders spoke in solemn tones about the noble sacrifices that the armed forces of the united states have made throughout its history. They’ve heard during 12 years of state schooling about how the u.s. military has repeatedly and continuously protected the freedom of the citizenry while spreading liberty and democracy around the globe. How is it fair to hold someone to account for their actions when they’ve been told all their life that the evil they’re signing up to do is good?


Download this episode of the bikecast
It is for this reason above all others that I believe it necessary to be unrelenting in the moral condemnation of soldiering. Mercenaries and hitmen[2] are paid commensurate with the social stigma attached to killing for money. Nobody honors assassins–there is no day to thank (expressly) paid killers. Nobody becomes a hitman with the expectation that one’s church community will be proud.

To a healthy person, the moral context attached to joining a military is identical to that of becoming muscle for a crime family. Everyone who is considering a career in the military should have the objective nature of the job presented honestly to them. Anything less is moral fraud of the most harmful kind.

The vast majority of the victims of the current slate of wars are, of course, those killed, kidnapped, robbed and displaced by the u.s. military. The greatest moral condemnation, by far, belongs to the political class and their corporate counterparts. In between are the humans sent to do the killing and the dying. Their lives as full humans will likely end with their first kill or their first interrogation. Thereafter, they’re doomed to a shadow existence, unless they brave the road nearly untraveled and examine and atone for their actions.

It will be a great kindness to a large number of potential recruits to accurately and honestly describe moral import the choice that lies ahead. When somebody chooses not to join the military, everything good in the world wins and evil is slowed, however minutely, in its mindless destruction of humanity. The greatest good is likely to the soldier-not-to-be him/herself. We’ll be on the right path when we thank and honor those that choose not to join the military.

Recommended reading:
Punk Johnny Cash on being thanked.
Arthur Silber: On Veteran’s Day, Fuck that Shit
Kelly Patterson on the 2738 Soldiers that died on the final day of the war so that it would end at 11:11 on 11/11/1918

  1. [1] previously known as Armistice Day, until the “War to End All Wars” turned out to be the bloodiest century the world has ever seen
  2. [2] and hitwomen http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hUBAx8jbYNs&feature=related

The Bikecast Episode #15: Rand Paul, Racism and Moral Priorities

I’ll keep the background notes short for this one. If you didn’t see Rand Paul make an ass of himself on the Rachel Maddow show (I didn’t either), here are the clips: Part 1, Part 2 . I still haven’t watched them, but I read about the aftermath in ye olde blog-o-sphere the next day. I have a pretty good idea what happened: a right-wing candidate opened himself to a charge of racism and the left, having psychologically suppressed the conscious recognition that “their” party is in complete control of the most racist institution on the planet, exploded in a cathartic release on said politician.

Download this episode of the bikecast

It’s a challenging task to be progressive in the united states today–I guess it always has been. The racist war on drugs and a racist war on terror haved destroyed millions of lives based on the accidental attributes of birth. That the drug war is racist almost goes without saying, but it’s said so well here that it bears repeating:

Except, obviously these policies are designed to cause immense suffering, to be hugely and disproportiately punitive, and to be monstrously racially unjust so as to maintain a persistent, racially segregated, socially inferior underclass. You think it’s a coincidence that the creation of the DEA and the passage of the Rockefeller drug regime and its imitators came right on the heels of the Civil Rights era, you fatuous stooge?

As to war, black and latino americans are intentionally mandated to attend the worst schools on the planet. Military recruiters feed on the broken results of a racist school system and the victims are sent off to fight other non-whites 10,000 miles away from home.

The left cannot acknowledge these blindingly obvious truths. The people they spent unfathomable time and energy pushing into power could stop both these and a whole host of other evils with a few pen strokes. They won’t because they don’t oppose racism, they oppose not being in power–i.e. the benefactor of wealth and privilege that benefits from racism. 

Asking their elected officials to actually combat racist policies would quickly lead to the realization that their elected officials don’t give a shit about righting racial injustice. Since this course cannot be pursued, the problems must be ignored at all costs. As a result, the political left must project the actual instantiated evil perpetuated by a democrat controlled executive and legislative branch onto whatever acceptable target makes itself available.

Besides being a target of projection for the evil progressives detect in their political heroes, the attack on Rand Paul serves a second purpose. Three truths cannot be brought under rational examination if the state is to maintain its control:

State capitalism is an inefficient, unjust, and anti-human way for an economy to be structured.
War is everywhere and always evil.
Violence, and therefore government cannot sustainably resolve social problems.

Anybody speaking these truths must be ridiculed to the greatest degree possible. Supporting #1 will bring charges of communism or stalinism. Supporters of #2 will be shouted down as naive accommodationists (what about the Nazis?) or racists (what about the the Civil War?) and those supporting #3 will be called, among other things, racists. In many cases, of course, they are! That doesn’t affect the truth value of the statement.

Rand Paul may not have supported the Civil Rights Act had he been in the legislature in 1964–maybe because he’s a racist. Barack Obama is actually enforcing racist laws, presiding over one million plus non-white prisoners and murdering thousands of non-white humans because on their race. Which of these two deserves to be the focus of our scorn, moral outrage, and condemnation?

Rand Paul may be a tool, but he’s not a war criminal (at least not yet).

Good further reading:
The IOZ trifecta:
http://whoisioz.blogspot.com/2010/05/dumber-and-dumbest.html
http://whoisioz.blogspot.com/2010/05/proud-we-are-of-all-of-them.html
http://whoisioz.blogspot.com/2010/05/you-fit-into-me-like-hook-into-eye-fish.html

This article is OK http://aaeblog.com/2010/05/19/electoral-race/
but this comment is especially worth reading: http://aaeblog.com/2010/05/19/electoral-race/comment-page-1/#comment-356394

The Bikecast Episode #11: Fundamental State Failures; Defense

I think my silence truncation function is clipping short some words. I notice it because I’m constantly listening to myself talk and I detect the difference. I hope it’s not too distracting. Let me know


Download this episode of the bikecast
In this podcast, I talk about the second oft cited function of the state, collective defense. This one is too easy. Seriously, in the information age, nobody outside of the willfully ignorant (hereafter referred to as fucking morons) can hold the position that the united states is doing anything besides compelling millions of people to do anything they can to harm Americans. The tools of compulsion, in this case, are the slaughter, imprisonment, torture, rape, and dispossession of countrymen, families, and co-religionists.

Anybody performing the most cursory examination of the facts understands that the “War on Terr’r” is a sad, sick crime against humanity. The sometimes mildly shocking news is that it has always been such. The citizens of the united states have never been threatened by a foreign power, yet it has been in almost constant conflict and frequently even a declared conflagration. I’ve spent 5 minutes to gather some resources in case you have a favorite war that you think the US gov’t. really had to fight.

Vietnam

Most potential reader/listeners probably hold the opinion that this was an unjust, ill-founded war. Indeed it was a war-of-choice, as all wars fought by the US have been. Here’s a recent article on the gulf of Tonkin incident.

World War II

The war that saved communism and allowed Stalin to continue his reign of terror until his death in 1953. Roosevelt bent over backwards to engage the united states in this war moving the Pacific fleet 2500 miles from the coast it was supposedly protecting, cutting off oil from Japan, moving fleets of bombers to the Phillipines and running destroyers in and out of Japanese waters. Robert Stinnett is a must read.
Here’s a shorter summary.

Spanish-American War

The first war that struck me as imperialistic during my youthful statist idealism. This one is a slam dunk, all started on the pretext of a boat exploding near a Spanish colony.

Mexican American War

I included this one because it seems to be from an actual government website: “The Mexican-American War (1846-48) was fought primarily to enable the united states to expand at the expense of Mexico.” I guess they’ve given up arguing for this one

Others

These links cover multiple wars. These two (<-- two links there) both relate to a book called "A Century of War" and includes revisionist histories of the Civil War, and World Wars I and II.

This shockingly colored page covers the same terrain, but includes the cold war.

Wouldn’t You?

Yes, it turns out most of our “implacable” foes were surrounded, embargoed, and starved, by the military of the united states before they twitched enough that the president could do his somber duty and bomb, burn and invade them. In modern times, we don’t even have to worry about sad little naval fleets showing up and dropping bombs on a colony 2000 miles distant. Now it’s all suicide bombers and martyrs, but still from the countries occupied by the military of the united states. The war on terror (and it’s undeclared predecessors) is the cause of terrorism.

IOZ, one of my all-time favorite reads, wonders why it is, when somebody tries to blow somebody or something up in the united states, he’s assigned a storyline in which he simply cannot cope with ordinary life. Never is it suggested that it is, perhaps, entirely normal to be horrified by the atrocities committed by the murderous empire of the united states and to imagine that violence can be used to fight violence.

Chris Floyd, another must subscribe, goes further, imagining what it would be like to return home and find your home destroyed and your loved ones murdered. Who could resist the offer to provide the means to retaliate?

The Cost

The cost of this wholesale slaughter of foreign peasantry is incalculable, which is pretty impressive since one purpose of currency is to render economic calculation possible. Nevertheless, the Byzantine movement of money in and out of budgets, coffers, trusts, and accounts, the financing through debt, internal borrowing, and a whole shit-ton of currency creation has made it impossible to discover the cost of this most counter-productive of government services.

For those of you keeping score, on the two most basic and straight-forward of government services, the united states is 0-2.

Government Failure?

The right wing, and previously the left wing, go on and on about how badly government has failed. Nothing could be further from the truth. Government has been an overwhelming success. Trillions of dollars have been stripped from voluntary production for peaceful consumption and shoveled to the politically connected financial aristocracy. Trillions more has been printed up for the same purposes, radically devaluing the few dollars that the poorest workers among us receive.

The military industrial complex gets to provide for the occupation of 100+ countries, 2 endless hot wars, countless bush wars, clandestine operations, and protection of shipping lanes. Military deployments provide employment for the lowest socio-economic classes. Along with section 8 concentration centers, low-cost access to toxic food, and a booming police and prison system, this keeps the masses of the powerless and oppressed from outright revolt.

Pharmaceutical companies get to have tens of thousands of competitors jailed for distributing alternative, low cost medication (yes, I mean weed). Teams of government lawyers and diplomats travel the world shutting down generic competitors for patent infringement saving “big pharma” huge amounts of money at the cost of an equally huge amount of human suffering and death. The ways in which government pillages the 99% of regular citizens–not to mention fer’ners–and enriches the 1% ruling class are boundless.

So why all the nay-sayers claiming that government isn’t doing it’s job? If you talk to them, you’ll quickly discover the crux of the issue: they think that the unassailable and frequently unleashed hurricane of state violence is somehow helping or protecting them. An uninformed observer might wonder how something so precisely opposite of the truth could roll so easily from the tongues of otherwise intelligent people. One answer, of course, is 12+ years of state “education” that, for most working families, is pretty difficult to avoid. Secondarily, the products of this near-universal public education produce the media and cultural artifacts that we are immersed in.

An Experiment

As an experiment, adopt the mindset that the purpose of government is to redistribute wealth from the poor, productive classes to a very small group of extremely wealthy people. Imagine that government is designed to shield existing corporations from competition, to grant monopoly privileges, and to prevent new products and services from entering the marketplace. Put yourself in the position of a politically connected oligarch. Would you prefer to cooperate peacefully with foreign merchants, buying raw materials at the price they offer? Or would you collaborate to send the national army to occupy the land and take the resources at a fraction of the price?

I’m not claiming this as bullet-proof evidence, but don’t many of the puzzles and mysteries of government action suddenly evaporate? Doesn’t it make sense that the apparatus that enforced slavery, exterminated the native population, subjugated women and children to male family members, bombed union picket lines, and drafted the poor into endless foreign blood-baths for the enrichment and benefit of themselves and their wealthy friends–doesn’t it make sense that they would continue to do so?

Try it out, if you can, for as long as is manageable and let me know how it feels.

See also

The Big Lie

Die Grosse Luege (The Big Lie)

… in the big lie there is always a certain force of credibility; Even though the facts . . . may be brought clearly to their minds, they will still doubt and waver and will continue to think that there may be some other explanation. For the grossly impudent lie always leaves traces behind it, even after it has been nailed down, a fact which is known to all expert liars in this world . . .

—Adolf Hitler , Mein Kampf, vol. I, ch. X[1]

The big lie may be the most successful stand-alone propaganda technique in history.  We swim everyday in a sea of such lies and yet we rarely, if ever, notice them.  Like an optical illusion, we focus our entire attention on it while it jumps and squirms and evades our ability to bring it fully before our senses.  And so we must bring reason to bear in addition to our senses to detect the big lie.  What to do with one once we’ve found it, we’ll leave for another time.

Protection from Islamo-facism

Since the big lie is as difficult to pin down in the abstract as it is to detect in reality, let’s start with an example.  I choose this example because it’s the easiest for us anti-imperialists to grasp.  The lie is that we need a large and powerful globe-spanning military to protect us from rabid, suicidal foes who want nothing more than to kill us and take our stuff.  We’re told that our freedom will end the minute we stop razing villages, imprisoning farmers and shepherds, overthrowing democratically elected foreign governments, and supplying firepower to brutal dictators.  Reality, in this case, is available to anyone with a few hours of research and some very basic critical thinking skills.  In reality, the U.S. military has spent the last 100 years, conservatively, creating an army of rabid, suicidal foes bent on revenge.  It has swelled the number of those willing to fight by starving, torturing and killing legions of mothers, sons, brothers, daughters, sisters, fathers, and friends.

As we see from the above example, the big lie is not simply not true.  It is the opposite of the truth made difficult to detect by its over-the-top audacity.  Even now, having stated what is real, my mind wanders in search of scenarios in which an Army-less America is overrun by . . . somebody from somewhere.  These are the ‘traces’ of the big lie, the result of imperfect deprogramming after dozens of years of propaganda.

Just Say “No”

Let’s look at the big lie around drug prohibition–anti-imperialists are also frequently opposed to jailing people who’ve committed no crime.  The big lie is that the war on drugs exists to decrease drug dependency, drug related crimes and the violence of the drug trade.  The staying power of the big lie is illustrated by the drug war.  Even with a prison system overflowing with non-violent drug users, hundreds of thousands of bodies littering Central and South America and billions of dollars “up in smoke,” this choice piece of propaganda persists.  Even those who would legalize marijuana can’t understand that society would not erupt into madness if “hard” drugs were legalized.  The primary effect, guaranteed by iron-clad laws of economics, would be to radically decrease the price of drugs.  The 99% markup that allows for the marketing of drugs to kids, the arming of the most violent criminals, and the need to steal and trick to get a fix would vanish.  And with it, the distinction between legal and illegal drugs–so crystal clear to the propagandized mind–would dissolve  away.

Compulsory Schooling

Here’s a hard one we might not have noticed.  We who believe that human beings are all valuable understand that denying someone an education is the surest way to limit their potential for self-fulfillment.  Literacy is key to economic freedom and human progress, and we look back with shame at the times when society attempted to deny this ability to women, slaves, and various immigrant groups.

Our genuine and honorable feelings about the value of education pave the way for a big lie: without public education, the poor would be uneducated.  Non-labor jobs would be the domain of the males of the dominant ethnic group.  Illiteracy and the resulting stratification of society would lead to massive injustice as the poor languished, the rich thrived and the middle class desperately sought some way to scrimp and save in order to educate their kids.

Of course, government schools do not educate the poor.  They do guarantee that white men dominate the non-labor workforce.  They result it the highest illiteracy rates in the history of this continent.  The rich thrive in carefully gerrymandered school districts or private schools.  The poor endure 12+ years of boring, degrading and brutal  “child” care, and the middle class scramble to locate themselves in the districts of the wealthy or budget for private school.

The very circumstances we fear above all others–those we are told to fear by “experts”–are precisely the outcomes of the government remedies we are told we must accept.  Financial chaos, lack of  healthcare, oppressed minorities, suffering of the elderly; whenever we’re told to be afraid and that only the coercive might of the state can protect us from a dismal outcome, we must attempt to escape our programming and look for the big lie.