Posts Tagged ‘Obama’

Stop Rohingya Genocide!

October 18, 2017

Courtesy Kevin Frayer/Getty Images

The Burmese military that effectively rules the Southeast Asian State of Myanmar is currently engaged in a campaign of intensifying genocide against the country’s Rohingya minority. Of the 1 million Rohingyas who were estimated to have lived in Myanmar’s northwestern Rakhine State before this newest episode of ethnic cleansing, approximately one thousand have been killed and over a half-million displaced in the past two months. These Rohingya refugees, many of whom are women and children, have fled the brutal scorched-earth tactics of the Burmese State for neighboring Bangladesh—although over 100,000 remain internally displaced in Rakhine in perilous conditions.

The Rohingyas of Burma

The dispossessed Rohingyas have confronted mass-murder, torture, and sexual assault and had their homes torched and their crops destroyed. Scores of villages have been burnt to the ground. In addition, the Burmese military has installed a series of landmines adjacent to the Naf River that divides Myanmar from Bangladesh, both to harm those fleeing and to dissuade their return. Why has this happened?

Many observers point to the ethno-religious aspects of this oppressive dynamic. Whereas the Burmese State is largely controlled by majority ethnic Bamars who are Buddhists, the Rohingya minority—considered by the State to be “Bengalis,” as from the region of Bengal that spans India and Bangladesh—are mostly Muslim, with a Hindu minority. While Islam and Buddhism are not mutually hostile to each other, such fault-lines as differing religious identities have been used in this case to prepare and ultimate rationalize the ongoing genocide. British colonialism—with its logic of racialization and bordering—prepared the groundwork for the atrocities unfolding today, as imperialists used Rohingyas during the war against Japan and even at one point promised them independence, a promise later revoked. Since its 1962 takeover in the early post-colonial period following Burmese independence from Britain in 1948, the military has promoted Buddhist nationalism as an ideal and excluded many of the country’s ethnic minorities, none more than the Rohingya. In 1974, the State identified all Rohingyas as foreigners; in 1982, it formally revoked their collective citizenship.

Military “Clearance Operations”

Over the past half-century, the State has systematically starved, enslaved, and massacred the Rohingya people. In response, between the 1970s and August 2017, an estimated 1 million Rohingyas fled Burma/Myanmar, with 168,000 refugees crossing State borders between 2012 and August 2017. In violation of international law, Rohingya refugees have been forcibly repatriated to Rakhine several times over the past 40 years. This time, however, the ethnic cleansing appears to be meant to be final.

In his report on an October 2017 meeting with the U.S. ambassador, General Min Aung Hlaing, the Burmese commander accused of ordering the ongoing atrocities, falsifies history by claiming that the Rohingyas are “not native” but rather foreigners who were introduced to the country by British imperialism. Such a self-serving account overlooks the historical presence of Muslims in Rakhine since at least the fifteenth century and conveniently erases the cosmopolitan past in which Muslims, Hindus, and Buddhists coexisted without war. Ominously, Aung Hlaing has publicly declared that the ongoing “clearance operations” are meant to resolve “unfinished business” from Burma’s independence. For her part, State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, the former political prisoner and recipient of the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize, is entirely complicit in these crimes, given her guarding of silence on the current crisis and her past rejection of the idea that the State’s military campaigns in Rakhine constitute ethnic cleansing.

The “Last Asian Frontier” to Capital

Yet however much responsibility for the Rohingya genocide rests with the Burmese military and ruling class, capitalist and imperialist elements play important roles in the oppression of the Rohingyas as well. The power of the Burmese State and military has grown hand-in-hand with the expanding extraction of its fossil-fuel resources and the accelerating opening-up of trade and investment in recent years. Having been relatively unknown to global capitalism, Burma/Myanmar is sometimes considered the “last Asian frontier” for capitalist models of plantation agriculture, deforestation, mega-mining, and the super-exploitation of labor.

Over the past two decades, the State has dispossessed millions of Buddhist peasants of their land to make way for corporate-extractivist projects, and before the current crisis erupted, the State had already awarded a million hectares in Rakhine for “corporate development” schemes. In northern Rakhine, moreover, the State has plans to establish a “special economic zone” with Chinese investors to construct oil and gas pipelines to the tune of $10 billion. When one considers that all burnt land in Burma reverts to State property, the meaning of its military’s “clearing operations” against the Rohingyas becomes clearer. The ferocity of the State’s response to the coordinated guerrilla attacks by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) on 40 Burmese police stations and a military base in Rakhine on August 25, which provoked the current wave of mass-displacement, shows that the ARSA attack is only a pretext for the State to implement its broadly genocidal designs.

Courtesy Showkat Shafi/Al Jazeera

International Complicity in Genocide

Since 1990, China, Russia, Israel, and former Yugoslavian countries have been Burma’s major arms suppliers, while the UK provides training to the Burmese military. In fact, in September 2017, the Israeli State argued before the High Court of Justice that ethics have no place in business or international relations, and that no restrictions should be placed on Israeli arms sales to Burmese security forces. Although the U.S. and the European Union currently observe an embargo on trade in weapons with the country, recent meetings between EU leaders and General Min Aung Hlain suggest that this embargo may well be lifted soon in the interests of profitability.

Moreover, recently at the United Nations, the Trump Regime cynically used accusations of war crimes against the Rohingyas as leverage against the State’s allies, China and Russia. While it is clear that Trump has no actual interest in the Rohingyas as human beings, it bears noting that the Obama administration helped legitimize Suu Kyi and the military junta she serves by suspending sanctions against Burma following her party’s electoral victory in 2015. Of course, overcoming the “barrier” that such sanctions had represented to the expansion of capital serves U.S. imperialist interests as well.

In closing, we condemn the State Terror that has targeted Rohingyas for four decades, leading to the current genocidal catastrophe, and we express our solidarity with those displaced both internally in Burma/Myanmar and as refugees in Bangladesh. We denounce all imperialist and capitalist support for the Burmese junta, whether provided by the U.S., Israel, Russia, or China. We take inspiration from the mutual aid provided by Bangladeshis to the Rohingya refugees, even as that country confronts mass-inundation and disappearance due to rising sea levels that result from capital-induced climate change. We look forward to the potential unification of peasantry and working class across ethnic lines against the Burmese State, and we demand justice.

Never again! Stop Rohingya genocide!

For more information:

Message to the world from Nasima Khatun, a Rohingya (Al Jazeera, 17 Sept. 2017)

Message to the world from Noor Kajol, a Rohingya (Al Jazeera, 15 Sept. 2017)

Message to the world from Begum Jaan, a Rohingya (Al Jazeera, 12 Sept. 2017)

UN: Rohingya in Bangladesh need ‘massive’ assistance (Al Jazeera, 24 Sept. 2017)

Al Jazeera releases virtual reality project on Rohingya (Al Jazeera, 28 Sept. 2017)

‘No pictures, no words can explain Rohingya plight’ (Al Jazeera, 16 Oct. 2017)

“Indymedia on Air” Interview on COP21

December 17, 2015

Peter Kennard, “Five Minutes to Midnight”

This is an audio recording of my joint conversation with Lisa Lubow, an organizer with Building Blocks against Climate Change, and host Chris Burnett on the “Indymedia on Air” program (KPFK 90.7 Los Angeles) that took place on Monday, 7 December 2015.  The half-hour show was dedicated to discussion of COP21 in Paris, the climate and environmental crises as a whole, and the possibilities for direct action and popular resistance against ecological destruction.

New Prologue to Imperiled Life: 2015 Update

May 5, 2015
@Santi Mazatl (Justseeds)

@Santi Mazatl (Justseeds)

This is the translation of the new prologue written for the Spanish translation of Imperiled Life: Revolution against Climate Catastrophe (IAS/AK Press, 2012), entitled Clima, Ecocidio y Revolución

Published originally on the Institute for Anarchist Studies (IAS) website, 5 May 2015

“The revolution is for the sake of life, not death.”1
– Herbert Marcuse, The Aesthetic Dimension

I am very glad that this translation is being published in Spanish. It is important that critical writings be shared. Given that Imperiled Life came out nearly three years ago, I see it as necessary here to provide a brief update of some of the most important events that have taken place in these years, particularly with regard to environmental questions—as well as to reflect on the present status of anti-systemic social movements and to make some recommendations for eco-anarchist strategy and praxis.

It is clear that the magnitude of climate change has not diminished, let alone stopped, in the past three years. Instead, it has accelerated at an alarming rate. Both NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have confirmed that 2014 was the hottest year for planet Earth since official records began at the end of the eighteenth century.2 In terms of average global temperatures, the months of May, June, and August 2014 broke all the previous records.3 In point of fact, the climatologist Don Wuebbles says that last year could have been the hottest year of the last five millennia, while a study published in Science in March 2013 shows us that average global temperatures are at present higher than 90% of those experienced during the entirety of the Holocene geological er. The Holocene began 12,000 years ago, when temperatures stabilized so as to allow for the development of agriculture and the misnomer “civilization.”4 Welcome, then, to the Anthropocene.

Given such an insane context, it should come as little surprise to consider that during the very warm winter of 2014, an entirely unprecedented amount of melting was experienced in Alaska—the result of a temperature spike of between 15 and 20°C (27-36°F) higher than the averages observed for this time of the year at the end of the twentieth century. Similarly, it should be noted that, at the beginning of 2013, the Australian Meteorological Institute saw it necessary to add a new color to its heat-index so as to depict the new temperature extremes raging at that time in the interior of the continent, which reached 54°C (129°F).5 What is more, the Amazon region is currently suffering its worst drought in the past century, the fatal result of global warming in combination with the mass-deforestation of the tropical rainforest.6 At the end of 2013, the Philippines was confronted with the strongest typhoon observed in history, leading to the death of 1,200 people.7 Beyond this, the latest biological data show a decline of a full half of terrestrial animal populations since 1970, and further that 41% of amphibians, 26% of mammals, 13% of birds, and one-fourth of marine species are at immediate risk of extinction.8 As Elizabeth Kolbert details in her eponymous 2014 work, we find ourselves fully immersed within the Sixth Mass Extinction.9

Increasingly more scientists are communicating to us openly about the profound gravity of the environmental crisis. During the forum on “Environment and Alternatives” that took place at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) in June 2014, several experts from this institution concluded in unison that the ongoing destruction of the biosphere puts at risk the very existence of humanity, whereas two independent studies published in Science and Anthropocene Review in January 2015 warned that the present rate of environmental degradation imperils complex life on the planet.10  In this sense, the British economist Nicholas Stern, the famous author of the 2006 Stern Report, declared at the start of 2013 that he should have been more direct about the risks that humanity and nature run due to climate catastrophe.11 For its own part, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) shows in its July 2014 report on the supposed “mitigation” of the climate crisis that the rate of emissions of carbon dioxide has burgeoned in recent decades: while said emissions expanded by 1.3% annually from 1970 to 2000, they increased by 2.2% each year during the first decade of the new millennium, leading to a disturbing annual increase of 3% in the most recent data, for 2010 and 2011.12 What is more, in early 2015, after having evaluated the twin threats of nuclear war and environmental crisis as it does every year, the association of atomic scientists which has run the “Doomsday Clock” since 1947 reported that it believed humanity to have only three minutes left before midnight: that is to say, before annihilation. This new symbolic revision of the time indicates that, in the analysis of these scientists, the present moment is the gravest moment since 1983, when there existed a serious risk that Ronald Reagan would initiate a nuclear attack against the Soviet Union.13

t should thus be very clear that capital and authority have no solution for the climate or environmental crises, nor for the multidimensional crisis that is comprised of the political, economic, social, and cultural spheres, beyond the ecological. The Conference of Parties (COP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has since 2012 demonstrated its clear nature: to dawdle and babble on aimlessly amidst such an absolutely severe situation. In 2012 itself, the member-nations met in Doha for COP18, being for this reason the guests of the emir of Qatar. It is emblematic of the farcical nature of the COP that the Qatari emir, together with Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and the USA, has supported Islamist rebels in Syria that later would form the very basis of the Wahhabi forces of Islamic State (ISIS), and that thousands of migrant workers have lost their lives in recent years in this Gulf kingdom, where gargantuan buildings are constructed, as is evident in the case of the Qatar Foundation Stadium, which is to house the 2022 World Cup.14 As was seen in the experience of this COP in Doha, as well as during COP17 in Durban, South Africa (2011), all the recent UN conferences have left us with utter unreason: in Qatar, the member-nations effectively allowed the Kyoto Protocol to expire, while in terms of COP19 in Warsaw, Poland, nearly 30% of the world’s governments failed to even send ministerial representations.15 The most recent conference in Lima, Peru—COP20—appears to have been little more than preparation for the next meeting, to be held in Paris at the end of this year, where it is to be imagined that international conflicts will surge between the European Union and many Southern countries against the United States, which under the Obama administration has systematically ignored international law in favor of neoliberal deregulation and the false alternative of a “voluntary” climatic regime on the global level.16 In parallel terms, true authoritarianism was seen emanating from the “Citizens’ Revolution” of Rafael Correa during COP20, when several members of the Climate Caravan through Latin America were arrested for having expressed their opposition to the State’s plan to open the Yasuní National Park to oil drilling by Chinese capital.17 With regard to the bilateral accord signed between China and the U.S. at the end of 2014, it is clear that this agreement certainly would not limit the average-global temperature increase to 2°C higher than the average global temperatures which prevailed during preindustrial human history—with this being the level that is said to the “upper limit” before the triggering of a truly global suicide, though even this assessment might be overly optimistic—even if such minimal changes were observed in reality.18  Given the present trajectory of economic expansion that is foreseen for both the People’s Republic of China and the U.S., the chance that such demands would be observed is rather slim.

In light of the gravity of the present situation, we must not resign ourselves to the facts at hand—for, if there is no global social revolution in the near term, there would seem to be no future for the life of humanity and the rest of nature. There exist several historical and contemporary examples of how to mobilize so as to promote and carry out profound changes in society. I agree with Peter Stanchev in holding the neo-Zapatista movement in Chiapas and the anarchistic experiment of the Kurds in Rojava to be stars that illuminate our path toward the possible anti-capitalist, feminist, and ecological future.19  In reflecting on the proposals set forth by the Mexican anarchists Ricardo Flores Magón and Práxedis G. Guerrero a century ago, it is elemental to affirm the place of direct action as a means of achieving social equality and climate justice.20 I would like to call special attention to the proposal made by the Environmental Union Caucus of the International Workers of the World (IWW EUC) for an ecological general strike, which shares many commonalities with the concept of climate Satyagraha that has been advanced by Ecosocialist Horizons.21 In both cases, the idea is that the masses of associated people express their “truth-force” by intervening and interrupting the functioning of the global machine of production and death while they also develop an inclusive, participatory, and liberatory counter-power—a global confederation of humanity instituting ecological self-management.

The question for the moment, then, is how to contribute to the flowering of this global people’s uprising toward happiness, liberation, and Eros, in the words of George Katsiaficas.22 I will leave the final word for the slogan thought up by B. R. Ambedkar, the twentieth-century Dalit social critic: “Educate! Agitate! Organize!”

1 Herbert Marcuse, The Aesthetic Dimension (Boston: Beacon Press, 1978), 56.

2 Suzanne Goldenberg, “2014 officially the hottest year on record,” The Guardian, 16 January 2015.

3 John Vidal, “August was hottest on record worldwide, says Nasa,” The Guardian, 16 September 2014.

4 Goldenberg; Shaun A. Marcott et al., “A Reconstruction of Regional and Global Temperatures for the Past 11,300 Years,” Science, 8 March 2013. Available online: http://www.sciencemag.org/content/339/6124/1198.abstract.

5 Robert Scribbler, “Arctic Heat Wave Sets off Hottest Ever Winter-Time Temperatures, Major Melt, Disasters for Coastal and Interior Alaska,” 28 January 2014. Available online: https://robertscribbler.wordpress.com/2014/01/28/arctic-heat-wave-sets-off-hottest-ever-winter-time-temperatures-major-melt-disasters-for-coastal-and-interior-alaska. Jon Queally, “Burning ‘Deep Purple’: Australia So Hot New Color Added to Index,” Common Dreams, 8 January 2013.

6 Jonathan Watts, “Brazil’s worst drought in history prompts protests and blackouts,” The Guardian, 23 January 2015; Manuel Mogato, “Typhoon kills at least 1,200 in Philippines: Red Cross,” Reuters, 9 November 2013.

7 Jonathan Watts, “Brazil’s worst drought in history prompts protests and blackouts,” The Guardian, 23 January 2015; Manuel Mogato, “Typhoon kills at least 1,200 in Philippines: Red Cross,” Reuters, 9 November 2013.

8 Damian Carrington, “Earth has lost half its wildlife in the past 40 years, says WWF,” The Guardian, 29 September 2014; Robin McKie, “Earth faces ‘sixth extinction’ with 41% of amphibians set to go the way of the dodo,” The Guardian, 13 December 2014; Tom Bawden, “A quarter of the world’s marine species in danger of extinction,” The Independent, 30 January 2015.

9 Elizabeth Kolbert, The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History (New York: Henry Holt, 2014).

10 Emir Olivares Alonso, “El planeta ante un crisis que pone en riesgo la humanidad,” La Jornada, 4 June 2014; Oliver Milman, “Rate of environmental degradation puts life on Earth at risk, say scientists,” The Guardian, 15 January 2015.

11 Heather Stewart, “Nicholas Stern: ‘I got it wrong on climate change,’” The Guardian, 26 January 2013.

12 Suzanne Goldenberg, “UN: rate of emissions growth nearly doubled in first decade of 21st century,” The Guardian, 11 April 2014.

13 Tom Bawden, “Doomsday clock: We are closer to doom than at any time since the Cold War, say scientists,” The Independent, 22 January 2015.

14 Josh Rogin, “America’s Allies Are Funding ISIS,” The Daily Beast, 14 June 2014; Owen Gibson and Pete Pattisson, “Death toll among Qatar’s 2022 World Cup workers revealed,” The Guardian, 23 December 2014.

15 Sophie Yeo, “Warsaw climate talks: nearly 3 in 10 countries not sending ministers,” The Guardian, 13 November 2013.

16 John Vidal, “Is the Lima deal a travesty of global climate justice?” The Guardian, 15 December 2014.

17 Red Contra la Represión, “Libertad a Cristian Rosendahl Guerrero y contra las agresiones a la Caravana Climatica,” Enlace Zapatista, 14 December 2014; David Hill, “Ecuador pursued China oil deal while pledging to protect Yasuni, papers show,” The Guardian, 19 February 2014.

18 Ibid.

19 Peter Stanchev, “From Chiapas to Rojava—more than just coincidences,” Kurdish Question, 6 February 2015.

20 Claudio Lomnitz, The Return of Comrade Ricardo Flores Magón (New York: Zone Books, 2014); Práxedis G. Guerrero, Artículos literarios y de combate: pensamientos; crónicas revolucionarias, etc. Placer Armado Ediciones, 2012 (1924), 28.

21 Elliott Hughes and Steve Ongerth, “Towards an Ecological General Strike: the Earth Day to May Day Assembly and Days of Direct Action,” IWW Environmental Unionism Caucus, 30 March 2014. Available online:

http://ecology.iww.org/node/391. “Call for Climate Satyagraha!” Ecosocialist Horizons, 3 November 2014. Available online:

http://ecosocialisthorizons.com/2014/11/call-for-climate-satyagraha.

22 George Katsiaficas, “Toward a Global People’s Uprising” (2009). Available online: http://www.eroseffect.com/spanish/levantamiento_global.htm.

 

Revolutionary Feminist Kurdish Guerrilleras: Female “State” vs. Islamic State

October 1, 2014

This is a new documentary produced by 60 Minutes Australia that simultaneously explores the hardship imposed on Kurds of Western Kurdistan (Rojava) at the hands of the fascist Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) as well as the revolutionary resilience of the Kurdish self-defense forces (YPG), particularly as expressed by the female-led Women’s Protection Units (YPJ).  Though the program is nominally made by 60 Minutes, it is in actual fact less than half of that in length; additionally, its given title, “Female State,” is rather problematic, given in the first instance that the Kurds–like the Palestinians–have no State to speak of, and especially in light of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party’s (PKK) significant reorientation in recent years from a traditional Lenino-Stalinist political perspective stressing national independence to one that approximates social anarchism through autonomous means, or what the revolutionary Kurds themselves call “democratic confederalism.”

The Kurds of Rojava–located in northeastern Syria, if we prefer to speak of geographical in statist terms–have suffered immensely in recent months at the hands of the Islamic State, which seeks to ethnically cleanse the region of the generally secular, anti-authoritarian local population and so gain direct access to the border with Turkey, thus facilitating the further flow of arms and cash that critics suspect has been abetted by the Islamist AKP government in Ankara.  The present reality is that approximately 200,000 Kurds have fled Rojava for Turkey in the past few weeks, with the Kurdish canton of Kobanê radically threatened by Islamic State forces, equipped with tanks, artillery, and other heavy weapons they expropriated from the Iraqi Army which they defeated in Mosul in June, to say nothing of the arms they have stolen from other elements of the anti-Assad opposition or–indeed–received as gifts from Obama’s reactionary Gulf monarch allies.

As Sardar Saadi notes in ROAR Mag, the revolutionary Kurds associated with the YPG/YPJ in many ways echo the inspirational model of anti-authoritarian self-determination provided to the world by the EZLN from Chiapas, Mexico.  This 60 Minutes documentary is a self-explanatory testament to the militant courage exhibited by the feminist guerrilleras of the YPJ.  

Truly, are not the guerrilleras of Kobanê a clear manifestation of the anti-systemic Weltgeist (“World Mind”) today?

Frontline_Kobane

Map of ISIS advance toward Kobanê and Turkish border, September 2014

guerrilleras kurdas

Kurdish guerrilleras coordinate strategy

Photos from Mass Rally in New York for Gaza and National March on the White House in D.C.

August 3, 2014

These are photos from two events made in solidarity with the people of Occupied Palestine this weekend: the Mass Rally to Stand Up with Gaza Against Israeli Crimes in New York City and the National March on the White House in Washington, D.C.  The former event, held on Friday 1 August, began at Columbus Circle in Manhattan, where Palestine-solidarity protestors outnumbered their Zionist counterparts by several dozen orders of magnitude, and proceeded to march through midtown Manhattan, including Times Square, to end at FOX News in protest of this corporation’s eminently pro-Israeli media coverage of the present pogrom and the conflict in general. On Saturday, 2 August, some 25,000 people of conscience mobilized in D.C. in front of the White House in repudiation of the Obama administration’s morally depraved unconditional support for the Zionist regime, which in fact has been extended recently to providing Netanyahu’s murderous government with a mass-resupply of ammunition, even while Obama and Kerry claim to favor an immediate ceasefire and express concern for civilian casualties in Gaza.  The D.C. action began across from the White House itself in Lafayette Park and then proceeded to occupy the streets surrounding it; in a parallel to the Friday New York mobilization, protestors made a stop at the Washington Post office to express their disgust with its Zionist sympathies.  Over 1800 Palestinians have been killed by Israel since 7 July, and 9000 injured.  An estimated 500,000 have been forcibly displaced in the Gaza Strip.

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Recommended Readings for May Day 2014

May 1, 2014

capitalismo

As in 2013, I would on the occasion of International Workers’ Day 2014 like to provide a number of links to particularly illuminating and challenging online articles that have been published of late.  The topics covered by the important investigations done by the writers of these pieces range from climate change to militarism, pollution, migration and migrant labor, non-human animals, astronomy, empire, resistance, and cooptation.  What is more, a few specific pieces dealing with the ongoing conflicts in Ukraine and Venezuela are included.

Best regards for this May 1st.

In solidarity

 

Sarah Boseley, WHO calls for urgent action to preserve power of antibiotics and make new ones.  Guardian, 30 April 2014.

Jessica Aldred, Human litter found in Europe’s deepest ocean depths.  Guardian, 30 April 2014.

Seamus Milne, It’s not Russia that’s pushed Ukraine to the brink of war.  Guardian, 30 April 2014.

John Vidal, Yasuni campaigners claim oil drilling petition results are being manipulated.  Guardian, 30 April 2014.

Tom Peters, Wall Street Journal outlines US military options against China.  World Socialist Web Site, 30 April 2014.

Julian Borger, Risk of nuclear accidents is rising, says report on near-misses.  Guardian, 29 April 2014.

Suzanne Goldenberg, Almost half of Americans live with unhealthy levels of air pollution.  Guardian, 29 April 2014.

Jeremy Brecher, The Working-Class Mini-Revolts of the Twenty-First Century.  Counterpunch, 28 April 2014.

Associated Press, Philippines agrees to 10-year pact allowing US military presence.  Guardian, 27 April 2014.

Patrick Martin, US sends Apache attack helicopters to Egyptian junta.  World Socialist Web Site, 25 April 2014.

Andre Vltchek, Unite Against Imperialism!  Counterpunch, 25 April 2014.

Benjamin Dangl, The Politics of Pachamama.  Counterpunch, 25 April 2014.

Carlos Zorrilla, The Struggle Over Sumak Kawsay in Ecuador.  Upside Down World, 22 April 2014.

Out of the Woods, Après moi le déluge! Fossil fuel abolitionism and the carbon bubble, part II.  Libcom, 21 April 2014.

Pablo Dávalos (trans. Danica Jorden), Latin America-Economic Socialism in the 21st Century: Neoliberalism “Pure and Simple.”  Upside Down World, 15 April 2014.

Elliot Sperberg, Climate Change as Crime Against Humanity.  Counterpunch, 15 April 2014.

Nina Lakhani, Surge in deaths of environmental activists over past decade, report finds.  Guardian, 15 April 2014.

Suzanne Goldenberg, UN: rate of emissions growth nearly doubled in first decade of 21st century.  Guardian, 11 April 2014.

Lizzy Davies, Italian intellectuals up in arms over hotel named after Antonio Gramsci.  Guardian, 10 April 2014.

Dan Roberts, White House defends soaring number of deportations for minor crimes.  Guardian, 7 April 2014.

Eric Holthaus, Why This Year’s El Niño Could Grow Into a Monster.  Mother Jones, 7 April 2014.

Noam Chomsky, The Prospects for Survival.  Truthout, 1 April 2014.

Naufrago, Opinión: Beware of the Anarchist Police.  Periódico El Libertario, 29 March 2014 (en Castellano).

Cory Morningstar, McKibben: Red, White, Blue and Gold(man Sachs).  Counterpunch, 28 March 2014.

Free From Harm Staff Writers, Eating Animals: Addressing Our Most Common Justifications.  Free From Harm, 27 March 2014.

Ian Sample, Dwarf planet discovery hints at hidden Super Earth in solar system.  Guardian, 26 March 2014.

Steve Early, Lettuce Picking and Left-Wing Organizing.  Counterpunch, 25 March 2014.

Jeffrey St. Clair, Camus in the Time of Drones.  Counterpunch, 21 March 2014.

Jon Hochschartner, The Vegetarian Communard.  Counterpunch, 19 March 2014.

Eric Zuesse, One Quarter of US Greenhouse Gases Come From Just 43 Companies.  Truthout (Buzzflash), 15 March 2014.

Suren Moodliar, No Middle Road on Venezuela.  Counterpunch, 14 March 2014.

Cory Morningstar, 350.org’s Friends on Wall Street.  Counterpunch, 14 March 2014.

Mark Karlin, Developed Nations Give Up on Stopping Climate Change, Turn to Mitigating Impact, Largely Abandoning Third World.  Truthout, 12 March 2014.

Douglas Valentine, Glenn Greenwald and the Myth of Income Inequality.  Counterpunch, 3 March 2014.

Alyce Santoro, Liberty, Equality, Geography: An Interview with John P. Clark on the Revolutionary Eco-Anarchism of Elisee Reclus.  Truthout, 4 March 2014.

Northwest Public Radio, How Farmworkers Experience A Warming Climate.  Oregon Public Broadcast, 27 September 2013.

Counterpunch report: “Evil is as Evil Does” by Norman Pollock

July 3, 2013

This is a repost of “Evil is as Evil Does,” first published on Counterpunch on 1 July.  It is written by Norman Pollock, author of the forthcoming book Eichmann on the Potomoc (Counterpunch/AK Press, 2013).

Evil is not banal, pace Arendt; it is in this case (the US in the early 21st century) the systemization in government policy of an advanced capitalist society and political economy at the tipping point of structural-ideological senescence, now seemingly treading water because of economic dislocations more long- than short-term in nature, but actually poised—somewhat in desperation—to advance its militarized global expansion in an effort to maintain its unilateral position of world leadership in an international framework of multipolar centers of power, and therefore, objectively, destined ultimately to fail, a trajectory of decline eliciting a political-military response already in the present of an American-style FASCISM, the familiar concentration of wealth consolidated within and protected by an hierarchical societal formation institutionally directed to market fundamentalism and a compliant working class.  In this setting, an America on the brink of totalitarianism, for good and sufficient reason, centuries’-long intervention, a steadily widening internal class-diifferentiation of wealth and power, xenophobia, and, since World War II, an unreasoning anticommunism having  the result, intended or otherwise, of fear and abject conformity, thus muting if not silencing substantive dissent on national priorities, critical thought of ideological valuing of consumerism and capital accumulation, and informed discussion of alternative modes of social-economic development, President Obama is the near-perfect embodiment of a leader prepared to capitalize on historical trends of counterrevolution in America’s foreign policy and informal methods and mechanisms of social control domestically as uniquely representative of ruling-groups’ interests to carry forward a public policy entailing the financialization and militarization (the two nicely conjoined) of American capitalism.  By this token, Obama is hardly a cog in Arendt’s imagined bureaucratic machinery, implying inertness and perhaps a rote cruelness, but an Eichmann of a different complexion, knowingly and actively performing the role of facilitator and/or enabler of the hegemonic paradigm so long taken for granted and inscribed in America’s ideological consciousness, yet—hence the desperation—no longer easily in reach.

He started slowly, for some reason thought anti-imperialist and economically progressive, such being the power of public relations, liberal political rhetoric, racial identity (as I state elsewhere, as a veteran of civil-rights demonstrations and organizational activity, including helping to forge a civil-rights/antiwar coalition, I am not intimidated by the liberal mindset of political correctness: Obama is not fit to be in the same company as blacks I protested with, or my personal hero Paul Robeson, as well as Thurgood Marshall, W.E.B. DuBois, with whom I was privileged to shake hands, etc. etc.), and hitherto undetected perfidiousness in the 2008 campaign.  Axelrod et. al., with  the candidate’s help, put something over on us—until immediately after the Inauguration when suddenly we could start to take the measure of his appointments, notably, Geithner, at Treasury, Clinton, at State, and national-security advisers, such as Brennan, when it became apparent to those not bedazzled by appearance, Democratic-affiliation, the presumed forced-choice of Neanderthal-like reaction, that underlying continuities of policy and intent with the Bush II administration were not sundered, only deceptively glistened, a liberalization of Rightist practice and policy, as in humanitarian interventionism, same old, same old, illegal intervention, or as in health-care reform to sidetrack and obviate the need for the public option, let alone, single-payer, at the same time rewarding Big Pharma and the insurance companies.

Tragic, in the sense of “deplorable,” because the preponderance of what once had been the Left in America, and still styling itself liberal or progressive, has bought hook, line, and sinker, into this charade of social-welfare politics, peaceable international relations, and broad regulatory constraints on the business system (as well, we appreciate in hindsight, as indifference to, or unawareness of, the utter savaging of civil liberties), but also, tragic, in the more profound sense, in which (a) a protagonist has been defeated by (b) a stronger force, with (c) a sad conclusion exciting (d) pity, where (a) is the people, (b) the present government and its near-predecessors, (c) a terror-struck populace becoming habituated to social control at home and the doctrine of permanent war in foreign affairs, and (d) the eclipse of the nation’s democratic structure, form, and legitimacy, through increased reliance on CIA-JSOC paramilitary operations, armed drones for targeted assassination, stupendous military appropriations coupled with, in both budgetary and ideological terms, the shrinking and weakening of the social safety net—all, the burden of this book, under the “stewardship” of Obama, as a qualitative jump within, or intensification of, the broad historical continuum bequeathed by his predecessors.  Obama is more than a sophisticated version of the hapless Bush II, his very sophistication, aided by the aforementioned liberalization of the extant Right, making him the more dangerous, from the standpoint of war policy and planning (e.g., the Pacific-first strategy for the containment and isolation of China) and government-business relations, a process of deregulation started under Clinton and systematized more adroitly under Obama.  Even Cheney, with all his brashness, could not give more favorable treatment to the oil companies than Salazar of Interior.

This could have been written before the revelations of Edward J. Snowden, but the wide net of surveillance spread over the American people (and also foreign nationals) by the National Security Agency is of such moment as to confirm the political-structural-ideological trends toward an incipient totalitarianism no longer dismissible as ranting, conspiracy-theorization, or other forms of put-down.  The danger is real.  My life had been one of activism.  Here I’m not interested in “solutions,” which, frankly, turn out to be, “Please, Mr. President, don’t you see…,” or, write to your congressperson or senator, or contribute to a New York Times ad, or wave a placard and hope motorists will honk as they drive by.  Obama isn’t listening, nor Brennan, nor Feinstein, nor Clapper, Petraeus, Rice, Power, Rhodes.  The more one approaches on bended knee, pleading, as though to reasonable men and women, the more their appetite is whetted for going further, perhaps an unconsciously-driven sadism, perhaps not, confident that the citizenry’s naivete , apathy, ignorance, or, of course, agreement, provides open space for unrestrained conduct.  Add to a faltering political consciousness, as a decisive mass phenomenon of our time, the bred-into-us submissiveness (as Theodor Adorno, in 1950, described in The Authoritarian Personality, or, my interpretation, the institutionalization of ego-loss or individual’s depersonalization by means of the bludgeoning of sensibility to meet the needs of consumerism and a militaristic mindset), and one readily sees the almost-epistemological foundations (because economic and structural factors must also be taken into account) of popular docility toward and inability to mount, or fear of mounting, criticism about America per se, yet personified by its ruling groups, whether political, economic, military,  and increasingly, their seamless connection.

Obama, deregulation, militarism, a systemic infusion of patriotism through media coverage, sports, even for some, the celebrity culture, as well as the failure to address climate change, unemployment, poverty, mortgage foreclosure, together point to a reification of America as God’s Own Kingdom on Earth and to other nations the Holy Grail for which they are zealously ever in quest (however, not its deficiencies in public policy, such as affecting the social safety net, of which they almost unanimously oppose), or so we are asked to believe.  Reification is a maddening psychological-epistemological process, as measured by an unmediated political consciousness, not subject to screens which filter out adversarial and alternative thinking, projects, values, the product broadly speaking of cultural conditioning, selectively promoted, to satisfy ruling-groups’ needs and goals.  Reification is the materialization of patriotic abstractions, such as freedom and democracy, which themselves have been largely honored in the breach, thus rendering the individual two steps removed from the real world on which critical awareness and heightened political consciousness depend.  He/she introjects (or, if one prefers, internalizes) the very structure of power and affiliated ideas that, in turn, oppresses and/or confines the individual.  Each individual becomes the incarnation of the nation in its mature, monopoly-capitalism form, a walking about in the persona of a mighty armed fortress-state, celebrating the glories of wealth accumulation and the military triumphs of battles won (even keeping a scorecard on opponents’ losses), while fending off as “enemies” domestic and foreign those who dare question “legitimate” Authority, as sanctified primarily by legislation which owes its supposed legitimacy to the existing (and historically, successively replenished and renewed) structural-economic configuration of wealth and power.

Through political-cultural conditioning, then, we absorb the systemic forces, notably, the hierarchical class structure inculcating obedience and passivity, which nullify the very concept of class in its positive guise: the instrument of social protest to achieve goals particular to the class; simply, class self-interest as the organizational base for challenging society’s dominant groups.  This is wholly antithetical to the current practice of shielding the copartnership of government and business, a structural framework of capitalism intended to allow corporations and banks write their own regulations, then transmuted into legislation as the law of the land.  Secretiveness here in the private realm corresponds to classification of government documents in the public, for the Obama Administration a giant repackaging of the Capitalist State for the obvious task of concealment of practices that, with public exposure, would be viewed as confirmatory of a totalitarian direction.  Secrecy is antithetical to democracy, if by the latter we include government by the consent of the governed.  Unless each and every case of classification can be justified by an impartial tribunal (itself now hopeless, given the politicization of the judiciary and of the law itself), classification is a lame pretext for deterring and ultimately suppressing the investigating and publicizing of government wrongdoing and criminality.  Obama’s passion for impaling whistleblowers is by now self-evident.  Edward Snowden is his Osama bin Laden, in both cases the essential fulcrum which enables him to mount an expansion of Executive Power, relatedly, enlarge the military budget, a key to that expanded power, in which militarism (the civilian window dressing for which is counterterrorism, as a parallel and complementary state of mind) forms an integral part, and to ensure completeness of the Obama paradigm of governance thus far, reduce the guarantees of Constitutional rights and attendant civil liberties, as now, the dastardly practice of widespread surveillance of the American public, whose reach encompasses the interlocking networks of “friends and allies” so as to constitute a global menace.

Evil, as I use it here, signifies the institutionalization of class political-structural-military dominance, not, however, as an impersonal force or process, but as the consciously furthered activity of power-groups in American society, determined on the globalization-of-one, a world system of capitalism, US-inspired as to ground rules and controlled as to patterns of trade, investment, and, not least, geopolitical and geostrategic arrangements and principles.  Egocentric, but why also evil?  Let the ghost of the vaporized child in Pakistan answer, the victim of a missile fired from an armed  drone; or, the ghost of the infant in Cuba who died because of medicine denied by the American embargo for a treatable cancer; or the living ghosts in Guantanamo prison who are in a protracted hunger strike in protest against torture and unwarranted imprisonment.  We don’t require disputatious academics dancing on the head of a pin to tell us what evil is.  It is in front of our eyes, and if you need a mailing address, try 1400 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington, D.C., with instructions to mimeograph copies to be handed out to the national-security advisers on Terror Tuesdays.  Of course, said message will be instantly classified and stamped “Top Secret.”

IWW EUC, “Capital Blight: Old Wine in New Bottles; Why Obama’s ‘Bold’ Announcement on Climate Change Gives the Fossil Fuel Industry Just About Everything it Wants”

July 1, 2013

IWWEUC

This is a link to a solid review and critique of Obama’s 25 June speech on climate change at Georgetown University, hailed as a “breakthrough” in much of the main.  It is reposted from the Industrial Workers’ of the World Environmental Union Caucus, written by the anonymous x344543 (25 June).  An excerpt, which is the close:

“Today the opposition is a polyglot of anarchist, socialist, and liberal-left tendencies, and the alliances between them–if they exist at all, is quite fragile. Obama’s speech seems to be designed to do at least the following:

  • (1) Coopt dissent from more conservative elements on what passes for “the left” and the environmental movement;
  • (2) Create the illusion of opposition to fossil fuel dominated capitalist interests (which will be pilloried from the extreme right as being job killing, pie-in-the-sky, anti-business, anti-free-market communism, when in fact it’s nothing of the sort) so that Obama can claim he is taking a progressive stand;
  • (3) Providing cover for the capitalists by splintering the opposition, which –until today, at least–has grown, albeit haphazardly.

And it’s already working. My fellow workers have recently raised awareness [here and here] about the less-than-savory nature of the big environmental NGOs, and–as they would have no doubt predicted–many of them have jumped for joy at Obama’s speech and neglected to mention all of the seriously big problems in it.

This will no doubt cause tension and fractures within what was a potentially powerful and growing opposition to the fossil fuel industry, and with it–quite possibly–capitalism itself. Our job is to make sure that doesn’t happen, because if it does, we move yet one step closer to our collective doom, and we’re frighteningly close now.”