Hold It All

Category: The War-making State

Countering Chaos

Alexander Cockburn, A Colossal Wreck: A Road Trip through Political Scandal, Corruption, and American Culture
Verso, 2013

Daisy Cockburn: When I was a teenager my father used to suggest I read the dictionary when I had a spare minute, or if I was feeling a bit down. His own father Claud had recommended a dip into Marx if darkness descended. The point being made was a reminder not to collapse, to find meaning, counter chaos with spirited punches—get to the root of things and then improvise, blow your trumpet from there. 571

These words by Alex Cockburn’s daughter are at the end of the magnificent volume of his writings from 1995 to 2012. Rereading him in the time of descending darkness during COVID-19, I return to the following passages to find meaning and counter chaos for purposes of necessary improvising….

Boyd had that rare talent: relentless intellectual focus on the task at hand. To hear him dissect tactics employed at the battle of Leuctra, when the Thebans beat the Spartans in 371 BC, was as overwhelming as to hear him discuss the relevance of Gödel, Heisenberg and the Second Law of thermodynamics to human behavior. Beyond all that, Boyd was an honest, modest, populist who never lost his humanity amid a life devoted to the consideration of war. 80

Like Greece, the strength of the Occupy Wall Street movement lies in the simplicity and truth of its basic message: the few are rich, the many are poor. In terms of its pretensions the capitalist system has failed. Nearly six million manufacturing jobs in the United States have disappeared since 2000, and more than 40,000 factories have closed. African-Americans have endured what has been described as the greatest loss of collective assets in their history. Hispanics have seen their net worth drop by two-thirds. Millions of whites have been pitchforked into penury and desperation. 515 Read the rest of this entry »

Conscience Thunders

for Matt Miller

 

Taylor Branch, At Canaan’s Edge: America in the King Years, 1965-1968
Simon and Schuster, 2006

The following are passages from this third volume of a gripping, recent history of the US.

America’s Founders centered political responsibility in the citizens themselves, but, nearly two centuries later, no one expected a largely invisible and dependent racial minority to ignite protests of steadfast courage—boycotts, sit-ins, Freedom Rides, jail marches—dramatized by stunning forbearance and equilibrium into the jaws of hatred. xi

Marchers stand here on the brink of violent suppression in their first attempt to cross Selma’s Edmund Pettus Bridge, after which thousands of ordinary Americans will answer King’s overnight call for a nonviolent pilgrimage to Selma. Three of them will be murdered, but the quest to march beyond Pettus Bridge will release waves of political energy from the nucleus of human freedom. The movement will transform national politics to win the vote. Selma will engage the world’s conscience, strain the embattled civil rights coalition, and embroil King in negotiations with all three branches of the United States government. It will revive the visionary pragmatism of the American Revolution. xiii

MLK: “Well, I’m gonna put out a call for help.” 57

MLK: “I say to you this afternoon that I would rather die on the highways of Alabama than make a butchery of my conscience…. If you can’t accept blows without retaliating, don’t get in the line.” 74-75

Mother Pollard: “My feets is tired, but my soul is rested.” 107
Read the rest of this entry »

A Meditation on History by Vasily Grossman

Can we call someone a great man if he has not brought into people’s lives a single atom of good, a single atom of freedom and intelligence?

Can we call someone a great man if he has left behind him only ashes, ruins and congealed blood, only poverty and the stench of racism, only the graves of the countless children and old people he has killed?

Can we call someone a great man because his unusual intelligence, able to detect and co-opt every dark and reactionary force, proved as virulent and destructive as the bacteria of bubonic plague?

The twentieth century is a critical and dangerous time for humanity. It is time for intelligent people to renounce, once and for all, the thoughtless and sentimental habit of admiring a criminal if the scope of his criminality is vast enough, of admiring an arsonist if he sets fire not to a village hut but to capital cities, of tolerating a demagogue if he deceives not just an uneducated lad from a village but entire nations, of pardoning a murderer because he has killed not one individual but millions. Read the rest of this entry »

Bullet the Blue Sky

But most men, it seems to me, do not care for Nature and would sell their share in all her beauty, as long as they may live, for a stated sum—many for a glass of rum. Thank God, men cannot as yet fly, and lay waste the sky as well as the earth! We are safe on that side for the present.
–Henry David Thoreau

Act Two by Andrew Wimmer

My friend Andrew Wimmer emailed the following to some of us, and gave me permission to share here…
In May 2016, Adam Gopnik wrote in The New Yorker:

“There is a simple formula for descriptions of Donald Trump: add together a qualification, a hyphen, and the word ‘fascist.’ …his personality and his program belong exclusively to the same dark strain of modern politics: an incoherent program of national revenge led by a strongman; a contempt for parliamentary government and procedures; an insistence that the existing, democratically elected government…is in league with evil outsiders and has been secretly trying to undermine the nation; a hysterical militarism designed to no particular end than the sheer spectacle of strength; an equally hysterical sense of beleaguerment and victimization; and a supposed suspicion of big capitalism entirely reconciled to the worship of wealth and ‘success.’… The idea that it can be bounded in by honest conservatives in a Cabinet or restrained by normal constitutional limits is, to put it mildly, unsupported by history.” (Adam Gopnik, “Going There With Donald Trump,” The New Yorker, May 11, 2016) Read the rest of this entry »

Put Your Body Where Your Mouth Is

In a time when it is the fashion to propose amendments to the Constitution, I would like to propose an amendment requiring (1) that when war breaks out the president and all consenting members of his administration as well as all consenting legislators, whatever their ages, should immediately be enrolled as privates in combat units; and (2) that for the duration of any war all executives and shareholders of corporations contributing to the war effort should be restricted to the same annual income as the workers in their factories–no sacrifice being too great in a time of national peril.

–Wendell Berry, “Letter to Daniel Kemmis,” in The Way of Ignorance and Other Essays (2005), p. 148.

The Goal Is Justice, the Method Is Transparency

For those who would like to know a little more about  the issues surrounding Julian Assange and Wikileaks, please take two minutes to read and ponder the following passages from Tariq Ali and Margaret Kunstler’s new book, In Defense of Julian Assange (OR Books, 2019).

Providing information to the citizens of this world has become a dangerous act, but it cannot be stopped, as every authoritarian regime understands. The courageous people who provide this information must be protected.  —Tariq Ali and Margaret Kunstler, xxvii 

I posed the question of what the most positive trajectory for the future would look like. Self-knowledge, diversity, and networks of self-determination.  A highly educated global population—I do not mean formal education, but highly educated in their understanding of how human civilization works at the political, industrial, scientific and psychological levels—as a result of the free exchange of communication, also stimulating vibrant new cultures and the maximal diversification of individual thought, increased regional self-determination, and the self-determination of interest groups that are able to network quickly and exchange value rapidly over geographic boundaries. —Julian Assange,  212

[Julian] Assange’s agenda is infinitely more noble and infinitely more reviled by the servants of power: to upset the status quo that demands war, corruption, and oppression in order to exist.—Caitlin Johnstone, 195 

As founder and editor of WikiLeaks, [Assange’s] crime has been to make sense of dark times. WikiLeaks has an impeccable record of accuracy and authenticity which no newspaper, no TV channel, no radio station, no BBC, no New York Times, no Washington Post, no Guardian can equal. Indeed, it shames them. That explains why he is being punished.—John Pilger  151 Read the rest of this entry »

For So They Treated the Prophets…

Here’s Noam Chomsky–True prophets like Amos — “dissident intellectuals,” in modern terminology — offered both elevated moral lessons, which the people in power weren’t fond of, and geopolitical analyses that usually turned out to be pretty accurate, which the people in power were even less fond of. Naturally, the true prophets were despised, imprisoned, driven into the desert. The public also hated the true prophets — they didn’t want to hear the truth either. Not because they were bad people, but for all the usual reasons — short-term interest, manipulation, dependence on power.

Julian Assange has been despised, imprisoned, driven into extreme isolation; according to Nils Melzer, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment: ‘we all came to the conclusion that he showed all the symptoms that are typical for a person that has been exposed to psychological torture over an extended period of time.’

One of the reasons he and Wikileaks are so hated by the devotees of the war-making state is the release of such material as this on Collateral Murder.

 

 

Share the Wealth with Andrew Wimmer and Mark Chmiel: Making Use of Wikileaks

According to Geoffroy de Lagasnerie, “[Wikileaks] functions almost like a group of historians of the present. Its institutional mission is to reveal the secret activities of political leaders and, in the process, show the public how states actually function and what they actually do.”

In this Share the Wealth, we will examine one example of what the U.S. government wanted to remain secret but which Wikileaks made available. In so doing, we will consider the nature of civic responsibility and its costs.

Join us
Sunday 24 November
Potluck begins at 6:00
Andrew and I begin sharing at 6:45
At the home of Andrew 4400 Arco Avenue
Forest Park Southeast
Point your GPS to 1077 S. Newstead, 63110
Park on Newstead
House is on SW corner of Newstead and Arco
Enter front door at 4400 Arco

If Obama Apologized for 1 Civilian Drone Victim Every Day, It Would Take Him 3 Years

Thanks to Liz Burkemper, for passing this along.