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Russell Means speaks on the formation of the Republic of Lakota:

http://awr.dissentradio.com/08_12_10_means.mp3

Advocating for a rejection of the existing imperial power structures of the federal government of the United States, Means, whose heritage is the Lakota Indian nation, likens the needs of people interested in individual and collective freedom and liberty today to the revolutionary strategies and interests of the anti-colonialist revolutionaries who declared independence from England and sought to build a free and democratic society from the former colonies.  There is a noticeable difference with the Republic of Lakota, however; with the treaties made between the United States and the “Sioux” (the colonizers’ name for the people of Lakota, Dakota, and Nakota heritage) as well as to the Constitution of the United States, particularly Article VI, the Republic of Lakota needs not declare its independence but only assert its sovereignty. 

In his interview with anti-war radio, Means lays bare the ongoing imperial ambitions of a federal government that he claims has perfected its strategies for dispossession, alienation, and colonization of sovereign nations through policies originally implemented against Indian nations.  He alludes to the important distinction between representative, or electoral, government and true democracy by emphasizing the importance of consensus-building.  He also asserts that economic independence must be composed of self-sufficient individuals forming true market economies localized and rooted in interdependent neighborhoods and regions. 

It’s been a little while since I’ve written poetry. This poem arrived this morning. I’m fond of it.

Love Is Here

We will not die quietly
unless it is to sustain the Earth.
We will not be murdered.
The problems I have
with the powers-that-be
have to do with arrogance
and excessive use of force.
The problems I have
with the powers-that-be
have to do with destroying ecosystems
and draining the Earth.
Life is not here to be destroyed,
to be consumed in campaigns
of self-congratulation.
Life is not here so that the privileged
may lay bloated on their boats,
consuming jelly rolls and cake
and drinking liquor and oil.
Life is here so that
you and I may live
among beauty and fecundity,
gently feeding each other
and the plants and animals.
Life is here because
Love is not idle, because
Love overflows the multiverses,
blossoming incredibly
even among cracked concrete,
even among hunger and pavement,
yes, even more so,
among the impoverished many.

Oscar Grant. My friend T wrote this open letter about the heinous state murder of Oscar Grant on New Year’s Day in San Fransisco. He and I both ask that you join us in writing letters of protest about this horrible state crime, and share them widely.

Thanks.

T’s letter is followed by mine:

J’ACCUSSE. I Accuse.

An Open Letter to the World Regarding the Worldwide Police Killings of Unarmed People:

During moments when writing this letter, I cried, then wiped my eyes and I pulled my self together to try to sound civilized… civilized.. about the police officers shooting and killing Oscar Grant, a completely unarmed, handcuffed Black man who was down on the ground while other police officers held him down…and the entire atrocity was captured in a video tape that I just saw. It is now here: http://aworldbeyondcapitalism.org/onlinevideo.htm or http://www.peacecommunities.org/onlinevideo.htm.

After much thought, I then realized what I would do. So first, I did a little research. For those unaware, J’accuse (“I accuse”) was one of the most famous open letters in history written about the Dreyfus Affair. It involved the conviction for treason in November 1894 of Captain Alfred Dreyfus, a young French artillery officer of Jewish background who was wrongly sentenced to life imprisonment on Devil’s island. Two years later, in 1896, the real criminal was identified: French Army Major Esterhazy. The Open Letter was published in a newspaper on January 13, 1898 by the influential writer Émile Zola. Most of the work of exposing the errors in Dreyfus’s conviction was done by Dreyfus’s brother Mathieu, a Jewish journalist and anarchist Bernard Lazare and two others who included a French army officer and the Vice president of the French Senate. It is worth noting the writers community, anarchist community, members of the military and members of the Senate all worked together to find justice in the Dreyfus Affair.

The letter was addressed to the President of France and accused the government of antisemitism. The ramifications of the open letter prompted legislation such as a 1905 law separating church and state. I am not an influential writer like Émile Zola. I am a disabled, financially disadvantaged, African-American feminist living on the West coast who happily writes with lots of typos and a blatant disregard for the grammatical rules of the Colonized English language.

In Portland, Oregon, three unarmed African-Americans were killed by Police within 25 months; Hammick in 2002, Kendra James in 2003 and James Perez shortly afterwards. James Philip Chasse, Jr. was not African-American, yet another unarmed person who was literally beaten (not shot) to death and killed by Portland Police officers in September 2006. Long ago, I researched every aspect of the Amadou Bailo Diallo killing, in which an unarmed Black man was killed in a barrage of 41 bullets fired by Police. But I told myself it couldn’t get worse. After all, the police said it looked like Diallo drew a gun, but it turned out he pulled out his wallet to show them the Photo ID because they requested to see it even as their guns were drawn. Whenever police harass me with racial profiling and ask me for ID, I move slowly, carefully and remember Diallo.
< http://www.dsame.com/remember.pdf >

In November 2006 Sean Bell, an unarmed New Yorker was killed just hours before his wedding. Its not just an American issue of social class. In December 2008, two Greek policemen had a verbal argument with a small group of teenagers near the center of Athens. They had a verbal argument. During the argument, one of the cops shot 15-year-old Alexandros Grigoropoulos (Greek: Αλέξανδρος Γρηγορόπουλος). The victim later died.

The crisis is not confined to social class. Bobby Tolan was a reserve outfielder during his time with the Cardinals, with whom he won the World Series in 1967… and batted second behind Pete Rose in the Reds lineup. Bobby Tolan has a son names Robert (Robbie) Tolan who plays professional baseball in the Washington Nationals. On December 31, 2008, Robbie was shot by a Bellaire, Texas policeman. Robbie was unarmed and driving his own vehicle. The bullet lodged in Robbie’s liver; perhaps ending his professional baseball career. According to Tolan’s uncle, “Her son was on his back at the time, and he raised up and asked, ‘What are you doing to my mom?’ and the officer shot him — while he was on the ground.” Tolan’s uncle, Eddie Tolan, was a sprinter who won two Gold Medals in the 1932 Summer Olympics.

I am writing openly because I (representing no organization) encourage an international non-violent writing movement beginning immediately called “J’ACCUSSE. I accuse.” You can participate in this event from anywhere and all that you do is tell someone how you feel about any unarmed person being shot by police anywhere. You can circulate my letter, which is copyleft, or shorten it, or you can write your own open letter… even if the entire open letter is only four words:”J’ACCUSSE. I Accuse”. Write your thoughts in a letter and share it with at least one person. It has made a difference to me just writing this open letter and opening my heart and sharing this with you now even as tears pour down my face. I haven’t cried this hard in over 10 years and typically admitting to crying would feel like a weakness but today it feels like a strength.

I was born in Philadelphia and I know there is crime but the police have tasers, pepper-spray, rubber bullets, dogs, riot gear, batons and other kinds of unethical weapons and some are against the Geneva Convention so why must they carry guns? Even if you had to write “J’ACCUSSE (I accuse)” with handwriting in crayon and post it in one place it will make a difference because you will let yourself and others know that you will not remain silent about police killing unarmed people anywhere worldwide and you will let people know that the system of armed police in our communities must end.

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” Martin Luther King (1929 – 1968 )

It is time to start working on a new way of life for people worldwide.

J’ACCUSSE. I Accuse.

I love you all,

Love for the people,
-T. Love

I Accuse!

I was so heartbroken when I saw the video of Oscar Grant’s murder. It is truly horrifying to watch. Slowly, slowly the scene unfolds. Agonizingly, as dozens of voices cry out on board that train, all those people watching this brutality and oppression operating as official state business on the platform in front of them, this act of terror unfolds like a piece of hell unleashed. The shouts of protest, so helpless, anguished, and unbelieving, and then the horrible, tragic, anti-climactic denouement, that sick, weak, too powerful and too quick pop.

When I have nightmares, they are never that horrible.

A young man, a father of a young four year-old child, murdered in plain sight of a crowd of people. The incident is caught on countless videos, the crime is clear. There is no question that this is a murder. To call it manslaughter is to play semantics with this young man’s life, now gone, senselessly. No one in that group was resisting. Oscar Grant was handcuffed, face down. There is no need for even a taser, and that is their excuse: that the officer thought he was tasering Mr. Grant. How is that possible? How does a trained police officer not realize that he has drawn his pistol rather than his taser?

Regardless of this thin, pathetic, cowardly excuse for this inexcusable, cowardly, racist murder, the horror of the act remains. And remains. And remains. For Oscar Grant’s family, for his child, for his friends, I cannot imagine the rage, the agony, the suffering. And for Oscar Grant himself, what a frightening, lonely, impossibly tragic way to die.

I sat stunned on the couch for a long time after first watching that video. I stared at nothing, felt no pleasure for anything. It was as if all the joys and positive qualities of my life were suddenly nullified by this heinous act. A man is murdered by the state, executed in plain sight of hundreds of people, in a land that so hypocritically prides itself on being a beacon of equality, democracy, hope, and opportunity. Hope fails in that moment. Joy withers. There is only that horrible ache, that heartbreak, that disbelief. When the apparatus that is supposed to uphold law and order is able to commit murder in front of a crowd of citizens, who are paralyzed by their powerlessness to act, to claim their rights as human beings and citizens, who are unable to stop the madness unfolding before them because the system is so bloated on its own abusive power that they all fear it will strike them all down without remorse, and call it justice–well, words cannot describe how broken that system is.

I accuse, you’re damn right. Let us stand up, join hands, and try to do something with our voices, our minds, our bodies, and our spirits to fight the injustice and the fascism that grips the United States and, by proxy, the globalized world.

Love for the People,
Charles Dickey

I was amazed–well, maybe not amazed, but certainly baffled–during the presidential campaign when the whole Reverend Wright controversy drew such scrutiny. I thought perhaps some scrutiny was due, but for actually the inverse reason of what actually drew the reactionary attitudes to their regular volume of jeering stupidity in what passes for public media. In his sermon, Jeremiah Wright analyzed the heavy, dim-witted, and short-sighted militaristic response of the U.S. to the blatantly uninvestigated catastrophe of 9/11. In his sermon, he also digs deeper into the history of America, exhuming for his audience the reality and legacy of racism in the United States.

http://essence.typepad.com/news/2008/03/the-full-story.html

This country was built on genocide and slavery. This is a painful fact, but this is history. History defines, shapes, and informs our lives.

Many white people in America still are not willing to look at history. The American history that is taught and institutionalized in public schools is an embellished, gold-plated, shiny sit-com soap opera, a condensed Reader’s Digest version of candy-coated myths shored up out of selected historical facts and fables. And this is what children learn from a young age: happy Indians shared their harvest with struggling colonists (no mention here of puritan slaughter of Indians); slavery was ended by Abraham Lincoln (no mention here of Lincoln’s political motive of preserving the Union); The Underground Railroad becomes some kind of actual subterranean route to freedom (no mention here of the fact that Harriet Tubman carried a gun); Lewis and Clark are models of cultural fusion and pioneers (scant mention here of the decimating, genocidal consequences for the indigenous peoples, animals, and land of the opening of the West to homesteaders and development and railroads); students are taught about the heroics of John Brown and have to scavenge to find information about Nat Turner.

White privilege indeed. Whitewash. Brainwash. It’s a white wasteland: suburbia and all its trappings. And this is what children, no matter the color of their skin, are taught to aspire towards: material gain, security, a stable career that sedates the soul and bloats the body. The curiosity of the creative mind is stifled by freshly-printed textbooks and mechanical routines. Welcome to the Machine.

What does white privilege serve? It doesn’t even serve white people–not really. It’s a state of blindness and intellectual death that serves only the machinations of the status quo. If people were actually to begin to educate themselves on the history of the United States, and if we began to have public discussions about what the United States of America represents–which is the colonial expansion of a haunted people disconnected from their own humanity–the whole system might begin to break down into self-reflective parts that simply do not serve the commodity-producing aims of the machine.

Ack!

It’s enough to make a person move. Some people will continue to choose not to look at these roots, deluding themselves with falsities and comfort; others are more willing to look closely at the roots. Those that look at the roots of our dystopian society may begin to pull them out, or think about the best ways to do that. These are the radicals. The roots they pull out of the ground are invasive and not healthy for the Earth community and ecosystems. As we pull out these roots, we also begin to free up space to plant more nurturing roots. This is the joy of our work: tilling the ground and charging it with the nutrients that our souls hunger for, tending the tender shoots, nurturing them, protecting them against the rampant proliferation of the invasive species by pulling those imbalances and injustices out by the roots. This is long-term work. This is also work that demands teams and work that demands decentralization. Many actions must be taken in many different places, and only the people who call those places home will be able to act appropriately to care for their homes, their ecosystems, their cultures.

This is why the very idea of American culture as we have come to know and practice it is toxic: it’s too large. It’s too large to be authentic for the local realities of our communities and lives. This same toxicity, obviously, pours out of the idea and practice of globalization, which may be better understood as economic imperialism and neo-colonialism.

Reverend Wright is a preacher who was preaching sense and justice to a particular set of people, his local congregation specifically. We may generalize and suggest that he was preaching to African Americans in particular. If we’re serious about social justice, I think we have to understand that Reverend Wright’s sermon, which has come to the attention now of the national American psyche and the media-sedated public, is a piece of spoken literature that can be appreciated in the context of American history–but not the history that has been institutionalized and officially sanctioned. We must approach Reverend Wright and Malcolm X , as well as Ward Churchill and Paula Gunn Allen, as well as Inga Muscio and Gore Vidal, as well as many others, as wise perspective-shifting friends who are attempting to help us free ourselves of the constrictions of our own mis-education, which we received as captive children–much as the many children of the many tribes of our nation’s first peoples received their education as captive children in schools that were completely out of context and synchronicity with their culture and heritage. In many ways, our ignorance of our culture–whether our skin is white, black, red, green, yellow, or striped–is deeper and more disturbing than the ignorance of uneducated black slaves and mis-educated tribal peoples. We are a motley bunch of mutts, us Americans. Each of us has a tangled heritage of immigrant-laced history to discover and understand and put into context. We are all dislocated peoples, and we are all disenfranchised by an imperial system that does not serve us.

One of the things I like about living in Washington State is that for every election, the Secretary of State creates and sends to all voters a Voter’s Pamphlet with information about each of the candidates, along with the candidates’ statements. Yesterday, I got the one for the November 4th General Election. As I flipped through it, I was a bit surprised and glad to see a spread of eight presidential and vice presidential candidates represented. You can view the information for each of these tickets online here. Navigate the menu on the lower left-hand side of the screen: click “Federal” and then “United States” and you will be able to click on and view information about and statements from each of the candidates.

When it comes down to it, of course, only two of the candidates are ‘electable.’ Putting aside that notion and the media circus of campaigns and debates, take a few minutes and peruse the eight candidates, then vote here for the one that resonates the most with you. Which one represents you and your values best? Perhaps it’s the Constitution Party, with their desire to create national self-reliance and pay close attention to the Constiution of the United States. Or maybe the values and plans outlined briefly by the candidates of the Socialism & Liberation Party make sense to you. Maybe Ralph Nader, maybe Cynthia McKinney, maybe Bob Barr get your approval and support. Or maybe you’ll stick with one of the major two candidates.

I’ll cast my vote first for Cynthia McKinney. I admire her courage and personal integrity, her dedication to civil and human rights, and her opposition as a member of congress to all of the reactionary bullshit

that consumed this country after 9/11. Gloria La Riva and her running mate Eugene Puryear also interest me.

Unfortunately, I will not be voting for McKinney in the actual election. I will cast my vote in the polarized two-party system, because that, when it comes down to it, is what we have to work with in the United States at the present time. I look forward to the day when elections, and daily life, present us with more choices and diversity.

Financial implosion?  Crooked-ass federal government continues to play a game of monopoly with imaginary money that banks continue to assure us is ‘real’?  What should we do?  Vote?


Plant a tree.  Plant a bunch of trees.  We’re going to need some forests, folks.  With people like Sarah Palin now openly admitting to the reality of global warming, isn’t it about time that some action is taken?  And we must do more than “reduce, reuse, and recycle.”  We must do all three of those things, and we must actively work to regenerate our diverse ecosystems.

No one asked me, but I would say that a sensible use of over $700 billion, a sensible use for the billions of dollars that are daily pouring into our military and war efforts, would be to revitalize domestic service programs like AmeriCorps as well as create new programs modeled after the Works Progress Administration of the New Deal era. 

America and the world are in the midst of a transition from a paradigm of consumption and so-called progress to one of attempting to achieve homeostasis.  The greenhouse effect is being exacerbated by our continued depletion and increased burning of fossil fuels; beyond that, we may have very well have entered into an unprecedented era of geothermal feedback: recently, scientists in the Arctic observed bubbles of methane–which had been previously trapped under glacial ice and permafrost, now melting–burgeoning out of the ocean.  Methane causes global warming twenty times more intensely than carbon dioxide.  With the continued worldwide reliance on fossil fuels for transportation and economic activity, this geological compounding of the problem of global warming seems like a very, very bad phenomenon, at least for life as we are accustomed to it.

In his book The Long Emergency, James Howard Kunstler states: “Of the earth’s estimated 10 million species, 300,000 have vanished in the past fifty years. Each year, 3,000 to 30,000 species become extinct… .” He projects, “Within one hundred years, between one-third and two-thirds of all birds, animals, plants, and other species will be lost.” In case you are disinclined to care, let me take this opportunity to remind the cynical and hard-hearted that we humans are mammals, are animals. We are one species in the estimated 10 million. Within the next hundred years, humans could be extinct.

It is time for us to wake up to reality. Not only is the environmental crisis severe, but even as we continue to trace the patterns of the dying industrial economy with the driving of our daily lives, the entire economic structure we have become accustomed to and taken for granted is crumbling. Keener eyes than Paulson’s and our politicians have seen this coming. As of now, both the legislative and executive branches of the federal government of the United States of America are denying the severity of the economic collapse. And they are denying their denial as they incredibly continue this cycle of financial waste, bloating the pockets of the elite and super-rich with what will ultimately become valueless paper and minerals, while feeding calming sound bytes and junk bonds to the populace.

In his book Entropy, first published in 1980 and then re-issued in an updated second edition in 1989, Jeremy Rifkin described the transition from our current industrialized, high-energy consumption society towards a society of low-energy consumption, using renewable resources, intermediate technology, and human work and energy.  Some sensible recommendations were made, yet in 2008, nearly a full 20 years after the revised edition of this book became available to the public and those in power, our situation is much the same—no, it’s not; it is of course worse.  There is a litany of social and environmental problems.  Volumes of reports and books have been written describing them and offering alternatives, attempting workable solutions.  Hardly anything is being done.  Perhaps more of us reduce, reuse, and recycle now than we did in 1980 or 1988 or whenever, but we need much more active solutions.

The analysis has been made, the studies have been done, the books have been written, the speeches and pleas made.  It is now time for us to act.  The rugged individualism and cowboy mentality of frontier America is, at this point, suicidal.  We must immediately begin to organize at every level of society to mitigate the damage we have done and are doing to our home, the Earth.  It is time that we actively address the inherent connection between economics and ecology.  Both words obviously share the same root, eco-; they are not incompatible, although we have been treating them as separate and opposed at least since Descartes and Francis Bacon.  I don’t need to make the connection for you.  Everyone has access to a dictionary and should be able to process the connection between economics and ecology, between economics and ecosystem; but let me go ahead and make it clear: economics, in its original definition before being corrupted and perverted by the notion that the world is inexhaustible and that everything in nature can be exploited and pushed around as or by machines, means the care of one’s home.  It cannot be denied that, no matter where we live, the Earth is our ultimate home.  Without the functioning ecosystems of the Earth, without clean air, drinkable water, and abundant food, we will die.  We could become extinct.

If we don’t go the way of the dodo, the passenger pigeon, the great auk, etcetera ad nauseam, there may be much fewer left of us in one hundred years, even given our best efforts at mitigation and remediation of our environmental crisis.  The global population of humans has bloomed in the industrial age.  Like other species, this bloom will likely be followed by a die-off; in any case we must actively curb and diminish our population.  Now I am not making a case for war, euthanasia, or any kind of murder.  What I would like to suggest is that we stop having as many children, and taking good care of and educating and nurturing the ones that we have already, no matter who their biological parents are.  And we should stop bickering about abortions; abortions have been practiced by cultures throughout all times and places on Earth, and there is nothing wrong with them, in my opinion.  Better to abort a fetus than to bear an unsupportable, possibly unwanted, child into a dying world.  If a couple wants or needs to have an abortion, that is their right, and they are in many ways doing us all a favor; they are doing the planet and future generations of all species a favor, as ironic as that may be.

I’ve heard several people lately say that America is coming apart at the seams.  If it is, we need to recognize that for what it is: a breaking down of old social orders that are no longer functioning.  Democracy, after all, is not about voting; nor is freedom about consuming an ever-expanding array of goods.  Democracy rests on our ability to communicate and compromise with each other.  It depends on our willingness to work together to create solutions to our problems.  It calls on ordinary people, not politicians, to take responsibility for our individual and collective lives, and beyond that, the life of our ecosystems, our planet.

Seven or eight years ago I loathed seeing the bumper sticker or hearing the term, “Freedom isn’t free.” This seemed so stupid, so paradoxical to me.  “If freedom isn’t free,” I thought, “What the hell is it?”  I knew what was trying to be communicated is that a certain vigilance and sustained effort is needed to preserve freedom; however, in the moment and the context of this popular slogan, I could not get on board, and the phrase itself filled me with the urge to deride and spit.  The slogan does, however, hold a certain truth, especially when it is not embedded in an aggressive war effort and a denial of responsibility for what happens to us.  If freedom indeed is not free and requires a certain energy expenditure, a certain vigilance, it is time for us to reassess what our responsibilities as citizens of a so-called democracy are.  I would argue that our responsibilities do not include backing corrupt governments, and more famous minds than mine have proclaimed this thought.  You know who I am talking about, those statuesque and revered great white fathers of the United States.  I am also talking about Tecumseh and Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr.  I want to invoke Gandhi as well as the Black Panthers; Thich Nhat Hanh as well as Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dhorn.

No less than the survival of the Earth is at stake, and in the survival of the planet rests our own survival as a people.  Beyond our mere physical survival, our spirits are tied to the Earth; we are born out of and into this planet just as a seed grows into a tree, then bears fruit.  It’s my perception that we haven’t been giving much good fruit lately, and that there is much that is rotting right now.  Let’s become fertile and fecund.  Let’s recycle the rot and reuse the crumbling pieces of this outdated machinery to create more satisfying human environments.  Let’s reduce our numbers and our consumption, and regenerate our cultures to ones that once again walk in beauty and in balance in and on our home, the Earth.

 

 

The economic collapse is inevitable, yes. It is a crisis of global and historic proportions, yes. Let us not forget, however, that every crisis is an opportunity. That is, if we allow ourselves to perceive the opportunity in the danger, and then act.

Forgive me if I do not wax sympathetic here about the plight of Americans. Look, I don’t want a global financial meltdown, but what do you expect to get when you have an economy that is run on virtually nothing that comes from your own damn country, and insist that you be the center of economic attention?  What can you expect your economy to do when you outsource jobs to cut financial corners and import cheaply-made goods marketed by cheap big-box corporate stores with no accountability? What do you really expect is going to happen to a country run on entitlement; run with an arrogant attitude that, to paraphrase Roseanne Barr in Michael Moore’s new free movie Slacker Uprising, constantly repeats, “the world is my bitch and if she don’t give me what I want, I will bust a cap in her ass?” Some of these questions have moral implications, and I’d argue that morality is embedded in good economic sense–“right livelihood” and all that. But even from a purely economic standpoint, this crisis has been waiting to happen for some time, exacerbated by an irresponsible and just plain greedy cultural ethos of rugged individualism against the world.

I could rail on like this for a little longer, but that’s not what I want to do right now. This is a time for Americans and our elected representatives to ACT in a way that corrects the culture of greed and irresponsibility and brings a genuinely renewed sense of economics into the sphere of public life.

I strongly believe in local communities and their economies. The current pyramid scheme of wealth and power squelches communities and small-scale economies in favor of massively concentrated wealth for the elite and the privileged few. Whether anyone believes this is as it should be or not has suddenly become irrelevant because the system is not working. President Bush said it himself last night, “The market is not functioning properly.” Well, that’s obvious.

Or maybe it is functioning properly, but it’s just reached its limit. At any rate, the crisis is a clear indication that now would be a good time to think about alternative ways to structure economies–plural economies, with a focus on local and regional levels, not on corporate CEOs and their global fantasies.

People are talking about this, proposing alternative visions and plans for an economics that doesn’t continue to follow the same failed patterns of robbing from the poor to prop up the economic wet dreams of the conscienceless elite. Dennis Kucinich has criticized the proposed bailouts: “Our first trillion dollar compression bandage will hardly stem the hemorrhaging of an unsustainable Ponzi scheme built on debt ‘de-leverages.'” He’s got more to say, and it should surprise none that I think people should read this stuff:

kucinich.us – Protecting the public interest in any economic “bailout”
kucinich.us – Kucinich’s Main Street Recovery Plan

Others have come forward with their own ideas, and as long as Congress doesn’t bend over for Paulson, Bernanke, CheneyBush, and Company, I feel we’ll have a right proper slow-paced discussion of what to do and how to proceed. I like the ideas proposed by Chuck Collins and Dedrick Muhammed:

Funding the Bailout: Basic Principles

  • Wall Street and speculators should pay now for the mess they created.
  • Instead of borrowing from the super-wealthy beneficiaries of the casino economy, we should tax them.
  • Any bailout should stimulate the real economy with investments in Main Street, not just Wall Street.

Pagan activist Starhawk has also written an excellent essay on the economic collapse and presented a vision for government aid now as a short-term solution to empowering local communities and economies. It should be up on her website within the next few days.

Rather than feel cynical and disempowered, as some are apt to do in a time of widely vanishing investments, why not step up and agitate for changes that will benefit not only Americans, not only the global economy, but the entire actual living Earth? This could be a historic opportunity for a reconceptualization of economic life, or we can stay the course, painfully grinding our way to an economic bottom that is far, far, far down from where we are floating in the haze of a corrupted American Dream.

Choices.

 

 

After Money that Never Really Existed Anyway Disappears in a Puff of Steam, Investors Cry, “WTF?!”

 

Oh, the financial markets are ruined!

Could it be that the Wall Street brokers, the day traders, the speculators who have been shuttling and shuffling pretend money across the continents and back millions of times throughout the nanoseconds of the days, just had an “Oh, shit!” moment?  After all, what was the substance of those bits of ‘earnings’ they were playing an infinite game of higher returns with?  We know it wasn’t gold, that hallowed substance for which Europeans plundered and raped the New World and its indigenous peoples.  Gold hasn’t backed money in America since at the latest the 1970s.  If that so-called money had been based on something as concrete as oil, perhaps we could have an easier time understanding the current disintegration of the U.S. economy.  Oil, after all, at least according to the Debbie Downers among our thinkers, such as M. King Hubbert, E.F. Schumacher, and Richard Heinberg, is a finite resource which we are probably beginning to run out of.  So if barrels of oil were the measure of the dollar, we might have a clearer idea of why there seems to be so suddenly less viable money; i.e. less oil = less money.

But with good reason, it’s more complicated than that.  I’ve even heard some say our money is based on capital, which strikes me as a dumb assertion, since it breaks down to a silly equation where money = money.  While it’s clearly true, that equation in its raw form doesn’t get us any closer to understanding why the financial shit just hit the Big Fan.  To grasp the complicated dynamics of the modern economy, we must first understand that not all money is created equal.

Some people who decided to make it their job to make more money from money seem to have made a collective decision that their money is worth more than regular money.  What’s more shocking is that these people were backed in this assertion by other people, who indeed affirmed that their money was a special kind of money.  This, as I understand it, is the reason those people could make transactions, equations, and statements that are hinged on the following elementary math problem: $1 + speculation = $30.1  Never mind that this is not the math that state-supported education usually teaches the general populace in school–this is math for special people!

 What is Speculation?

Now there’s a funny question, and probably one on which some very clever financiers could make some money.  From my perspective, it appears as if a mass of speculators have been pursuing the American Dream in one of its most raw forms: disregarding natural, political, and social boundaries, these American Pioneers of the Brave New Economy busied themselves by making split-second financial transactions in a convoluted, computerized, zig-zag of speculative chain lightning which could ring the globe fifty or one hundred times in a few hours.

 On a concrete level, it might play out something like this, but with the speculator not really intimately involved with, or even aware of, the ground work; he’s a detached funder, if you will:

 One hundred square miles of rainforest are felled, turning a profit for our financier.  He takes those assets and adds them to a pool of money supporting the forced removal of indigenous Alaskans from their traditional lands so that a pipeline and several oil rigs may be built.  As the native people settle uncomfortably into their allotted trailers crowded on a strip of land far to the north, the pipeline goes online and our financier profits from the extracted non-renewable resource.  Ka-ching!  Many people fill up their gas tanks.  The financier celebrates with a large dinner, some friends, cigars, and a rented woman, then reinvests a large sum of his money the next day in Boeing, a corporation who has been profiting nicely for a while now in its business of making smart bombs which are used to eradicate people in countries which have been dubbed villainous and in need of “freedom” by the United States government.  As freedom from their lives, or perhaps from a few limbs or family members, is delivered to these people from the sky, our financier casually moves his money along a profit chain felling ancient stands of trees; dragging massive nets to dredge the ocean of all varieties of life for consumption and waste; mining ores to be made into many machines; squashing peasant rebellions; inventing new and better pesticides; and funding advertising for a plethora of products; etc. until somebody, somewhere, registers surprise.  Perhaps that surprise is something along the line of:

“It’s no longer economically feasible for us to pull this here oil out from the ground, chiefs!  It’s going to, like, take more oil to get this oil out here than the oil that we’ll get when we get it all out!  Know what I mean?” 

Eyes popping and feeling light-headed, venture capitalists swoon.

There’s a blip, and burp, a gurgle.  The oil stream chokes up in Alaska as elsewhere.  A hurricane hits.  That hurts.  Newly homeless people sell shares.  The market seizes up, free fall.  It’s dizzy at the top and down we go.  Bailouts and band-aids and plastic wrap are applied to stop the bleeding.  “Do anything!!” scream the speculators, clutching their securities, which are washing away in the rain.  Turns out that investment in corn starch packing peanuts isn’t paying off anymore.

“I’m melting!  I’m melting!”

Big business’s bully ally, corrupted corporate government, rushes in.  Whispers.  Hushed meetings behind police barricades.  Renegade camera flashes, tear gas. 

“Tell them we’re helping,” squeaks one of the weasely, shiny kingpins of corporate capitalism.  “Yes, yes.”  The rubbing of hands, the scheming of shifty, yet dull, eyes.  “Yes, yes.  Yes, master.”  The village idiot, representative of the will of the people, lurching forward like Igor, steps up to the podium.  “We’re helping… you,” he drivels, the syllables coming out in long, stitched drones.  Then he marches off.

Dog Fight at the Economic Corral

On Wall Street, a dog has been frantically chasing its tail.  The investors egg it on.  “Get the tail, boy!  Get the tail!  The good stuff is in the tail!”  They place bets on the tail, some on the dog, but the majority on the tail.  The leverage from tail to head is something like 30 to 1. 

How long did they think it could last?

The dog bites its own backside, which bleeds.  The head howls.  The investors panic, stare around wild-eyed.  “Oh.  That wasn’t supposed to happen,” they say.  They shake their heads.  Some approach the dog, but it is a canine possessed, violently attacking itself with its body.

Someone gets a bright idea: “Our money’s in there somewhere!”  The crowd echoes, “The good stuff!”  They hold a dying dog up to the cameras and spotlights.

Big brothers come onto the scene, the village idiot lurching behind.  “Let’s have a look at that injured dog,” they say professionally, grimly.  One of them attempts some humor, “It sure is a dog-eat-dog world, huh?  Hehe.”  They take the dog to a table and begin butchering it, pass around the salvageable parts.

A small sigh escapes the brokers and speculators, the investors and traders.  People are dissatisfied with their portions. 

“Hey, I had more than this slab of liver.  Where’s the rest?”

“Where’s our money?”
“Where’s our money?!”

“It’s gotta be around here somewhere,” muses the council of government elders.

“We’re on it,” claims the village idiot resolutely.

The crowd looks around, murmuring.

Perhaps there is another dog nearby.

 

1.  See “Only a Roosevelt-Scale Counterrevolution Can Prevent Great Depression II” by Robert Kuttner, The American Prospect http://www.alternet.org/workplace/99241/ for a proper analysis of the economic meltdown.

In a Week of Police Brutality and Mass Arrests, While the Poor People March for Their Lives, the Spotlight Shines on Sarah Palin

 

 

The list of offences against people and democracy and media in St. Paul during the week of the Republican National Convention is staggering.  These have been reported extensively by independent and grass-roots media, but here is a brief and hopefully representative sampling:

 

Amy Goodman and two Democracy Now! producers were arrested for covering the protests on Monday, September 1st.  The two producers were bloodied by police, and are now facing felony charges.  On Thursday, Sharif Abdel Kouddous of Democracy Now! was arrested a second time, along with Rick Rowley of Big Noise Films.

 

The rented home of five youths, who were hosting 23 of their friends, was raided by some 25 police in riot gear, who refused all requests to show a warrant until after the people had been made to lie face-down for 45 minutes.  Computers and other personal items were seized, and intimidating statements about “the Executioner” and “the Terminator” were made by police.

 

An estimated 800 people were arrested as of Thursday.  The police used tear gas, nightsticks, flash grenades, and other weapons against protesters.  Video footage is widely available on the internet.

 

But the big story this week has not been the repressive and brutal antics of police against dissidents and journalists in St. Paul.  No, rather it has been the ascent of Sarah Palin from relative isolation and obscurity in Alaska to her position as the Vice Presidential nominee of Senator John McCain.

 

A Personal Digression Necessary to the Development of This Essay

 

It’s been an odd week for me.  I work quietly, a bookseller bookworm on the fringes of a university town.  I like quiet, I like nature, and I like freedom.  Because of the first two things I like, I did not consider traveling to St. Paul to protest.  But reading the reports coming in through the internet, my electronic window to a speeded-up, unnatural, and sometimes overwhelming world, I’ve at times wished I was there—you know, because of my fondness for that third thing I listed: freedom.

 

The candidates and delegates at the Republican National Convention do not stand for freedom.  The police being willfully employed to threaten, intimidate, harass, beat, and arrest people who are not walking the Republican Party line in St. Paul are not the defenders of freedom.  To call them freedom’s executioners would be melodramatic, but perhaps more appropriate. 

 

Fear and the Need for Order

 

At the heart, if we may call it that, of the official gathering of candidates, delegates, party affiliates, and law enforcement in St. Paul is a severe illness, a bad malady that has been festering not so much in the individuals themselves, but in the spirit of a people separated from nature, from community, a people so frightened of the Other—even within their own country and even within the security and riches of their party’s convention!—that they take the kind of draconian measures we have seen this week in order to prevent any disruption of the play they are enacting, any obstacles set in front of the lumbering political machine that they are trying to commandeer and salvage.

 

One wonders what these people have to be so afraid of.  The obvious and official answer, as we all know, because it has been used to bludgeon our senses and sense of identity endlessly over the past seven years, is terrorism.  And indeed domestic terrorism in the fabricated threat that has been produced as the official reason for the squelching of people’s freedom—freedom to move, to be, to speak, to dissent—over the past week at the RNC in St. Paul.

 

The terrorism charges stem from police infiltration of the Republican National Convention Welcoming Committee.  Using the infiltrators as informants, police created a pretext of a suspicion of domestic terrorism, and also the charge “conspiracy to riot”, to raid homes, places of assembly, as well as to justify the very aggressive street actions of riot squads armed with submachine guns, tasers, and chemical weapons.  It should be noted that information provided by informants should be considered highly suspect, given the precedent of COINTELPRO and other covert actions where infiltrating agents have been known to actively promote violent ideas for action–or as the quote form wikipedia has it, “increase factionalism, cause disruption and win defections”–which are then used in charges against individuals involved with the organization.  For this reason, information about how the Welcoming Committee planned to kidnap delegates, or use Molotov cocktails, caltrops, bricks, etcetera, as reported to the public by the Pioneer Press, should be critically assessed and not taken for fact or at face value.

 

What is Really Happening in the Hearts of People and On the Streets

 

The RNC Welcoming Committee describes itself on its website as an anarchist/anti-authoritarian organizing body.  Unfortunately, for many people the label “anarchist” immediately brings to mind violence: homemade bombs, property destruction, people wearing black kerchiefs to conceal their faces, showing nothing but their anti-social, shifty eyes, and the like.  And certainly it cannot be denied that anarchists have a history in America that includes violence.  Two things should be noted, however.

 

First, anarchism is a broad, general term that can be used to describe any number of idiosyncratic ideologies.  As a general term, anarchy can be understood to mean, “absence of government,” and recognized as coming from the Greek anarchos, which is defined as “having no ruler.”  Simply put, the broadest generalization that can be made about anarchists is that they believe that a society can function without government.  Some anarchists may subscribe to violent tactics and want to overthrow existing power structures, or more likely wish to engage in physical destruction of those power structures or their symbols; many others may be dedicated pacifists.

 

The second point to make in terms of the perception of anarchists as violent is that anarchists by no means have a monopoly on violence.  Indeed, the entire American culture is violent: one simply needs to look at the current wars being fought by the American government, or look even at the excessive police action in St. Paul.  For those inclined to look deeper, a strong argument can be made for the roots of aggressive violence in this country stretching far back in time, back to English witch-hunts, Spanish conquistadors, to Puritans and frontier cowboys fighting Indians, and—why not?—to the Revolutionary War.  If anarchists are violent, they are pathetically so, often like an angry child lashing out at a parent: a bomb here, some property damage there, all embedded quite snugly in the greater imperial and yes, racist violence of the Euro-American legacy.

 

Sherri Honkala, a speaker at the Poor People’s March for Our Lives, which is an entirely different movement than the RNC Welcoming Committee, responded to criticisms and fears that were expressed to her that the “anarchists” would cause trouble for her movement:

 

“It wasn’t the anarchists four years ago or eight years ago,” she said, using a megaphone to address a large crowd, a crowd which was hemmed in by police in riot gear and with submachine guns and other instruments of violence.  “It was the police department.”  She continued, “I don’t give a damn if you’re an anarchist, democrat, or republican, or whatever your political ideas are.  All I know is that I’m going to march today with people who have a similar vision of a different kind of world for us to live in.”

 

Also standing and marching with the Poor People’s March was a prominent member of the Mississippi Band of the Anishinabe Nation, Nee-Gon-Nway-Wee-Dung (Thunder Before the Storm, also known as Clyde Bellecourt), who founded the American Indian Movement in 1968.  He spoke the following to the camera crews of Big Noise Films: “I’m here to stand up to this George Armstrong Custer Bush frontier mentality and John Wayne, John Wayne McCain frontier mentality that exists in America today.”

 

While indy journalists were filming from inside the protests—some of them being arrested for doing so—Fox News was embedded with the Minneapolis Police.

 

One protestor marched along in the crowd, shooing the police away with his hands and the following words: “Take your guns and go home!  Bye!  Take your armor and go home!  Bye!  Bye!”  The protesters, chanting “Peaceful protest!  Peaceful protest!” pushed the line of police back with only the movement of so many bodies.

 

The march ended with Sherri Honkala speaking through a megaphone and through a chain-link fence, through lines of police, delivering the following speech to the walls of the Xcel Center, where the RNC was assembled:

 

“People are dying here in Minnesota and across the country.  They don’t have access to health care.  They join wars.  They go overseas and poor people kill other poor people just so they can have a job!  I just want to practice my first amendment rights to speak out and I can’t do that behind a cage!  I’m not going to hurt anybody, I just want to talk to somebody.  I’m just going to deliver the citizen’s arrest through the fence.  Please don’t kill me for that!  It’s a piece of paper and an American flag.  The whole world is watching.”

 

After her speech, she shoved an American flag and a citizen’s arrest for the people inside the Xcel Center, a piece of paper charging them with crimes against humanity, under the fence.  The police then ordered the assembly to disperse.  After the order, they opened fire with tear gas and flash grenades.  They infiltrated the now chaotic crowd of protestors with tasers and shields and batons, and made arrests.

 

Inside the Xcel center, the convention went on.

 

 

 

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