Jan 232012



By Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya, Global Research

The following is a 2011 article by Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya for the Italian journal Eurasia about the manipulation of national constitutions as a neo-colonial means of modern empire-building. The article presents an important overview of the U.S. empire-building process. The original print version was published in the Italian language and translated by Pietro Longo.

ABSTRACT: The U.S.A. has re-written the constitution of vanquished nations since the Second World War. In the last two decades, however, Washington has managed to totally restructure vanquished states economically and politically by de-centralizing them and legalizing foreign tutelage over their political structure and their national economies. From the former Yugoslavia to Afghanistan and Iraq, this process has gone hand-in-hand with war and both an immediate and extended foreign military presence. In this regard the new national constitutions of these countries have been central to the process and opened the door for the integration of these states into Washington’s empire-building project.

The geography of a nation is also fixed in its national constitution, such as the state’s definitions of its own national and internal borders. Taking this observation one step further, it has to be said that constitutions can also be utilized and redefined to meet specific geo-political objectives. This is where an important and very relevant modern geo-political issue comes into the forefront of analysis when looking at countries that have been at war with the United States of America and its allies. Looking back at the Second World War, the constitutions of Japan and Germany were re-written after their defeats either directly by Washington or under Allied supervision. The Pentagon also erected military bases in both Germany and Japan that began to alarm Soviet leaders. The reconfigured of both Germany and Japan served Washington’s geo-political interests. This is evident when studying the Japanese Constitution, which was written by the U.S. military. Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution renounces Japan’s sovereign right to declare war or to maintain a standing navy, air force, and army.[1] Japan was effectively neutralized by its new national constitution as a potential military rival or threat in East Asia and the Pacific. The last two decades have seen an even more profound interplay between new national constitutions and the geo-political and strategic objectives of Washington.

Nation-Building and Nation-Breaking: A Vital Ingredient for Empire

Roughly speaking within the last two decades the U.S.A. and its allies have been engaged in the practice of what can be called “nation-building.” National constitutions have been re-written within the dynamics of this so-called “nation-building” process in the countries that are “re-built” under the political and military supervision of Washington. This “nation-building” process is not some benign process, but part of a strategy to direct the countries that are being “re-built” to serve global empire and the process of modern-day empire building. In this regard constitutions are re-written to: (1) subordinate countries into vassals or colonial territories; (2) create a niche for these vassal states in the global imperial system of modern empire; and (3) fit Washington’s geo-political objectives of empire-building or expansion. […]

READ @ http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=28662



Source: youtube.com

VIDEO @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VYTvDNg4iic&feature=share



What we can learn from one congressman’s convoluted defense of the NDAA

By John Knefel, Salon

On the day Occupy Congress came to Washington, I tagged along with seven Bard College students who went to talk to their representative, first-term Republican Chris Gibson from the 20th Congressional District of New York.  Listening to Gibson defend his vote for the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which President Obama signed on New Year’s Eve and which allows for the indefinite detention of American citizens, I had a rare glimpse into the contemporary authoritarian mind-set in all its banality. It illustrated how the slow erosion of civil liberties manifests itself in the halls of power in Washington.

Gibson is a retired Army colonel, and it shows. From the Airborne division name plate on his desk, to the photographs of camouflaged soldiers that adorn his walls, to the “Beat Navy” button on his desk, his military background is on display. He spoke about serving in the military to defend American’s rights – rights that he claims to take very seriously. To his credit, Gibson joined 26 other House Republicans in voting against the extension of the Patriot Act in February 2011. But his written record, and his NDAA vote, indicate he is a politician more concerned with waging war than preserving liberty.

He believes “the West” faces an existential threat from al-Qaida. On Page 4 of his book ”Securing the State,” published in 2008,  he wrote:

The US is engaged in a difficult struggle against a determined enemy who publicly declares his strategic aim the establishment of a caliphate in the Middle East and the ultimate destruction of the West. […]

READ @ http://www.salon.com/2012/01/20/creeping_authoritarianism_on_capitol_hill/?source=newsletter



By Travis Waldron, Think Progress

When Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear (D) proposed his 2012-2013 budget this week, he admitted that it was “inadequate for the needs” of the state’s people. “We should be making substantial investments in our physical and intellectual infrastructure to bring transformational change to our state,” Beshear said. “This budget does not allow us to do enough of that.”

Beshear’s assessment of his own budget is, unfortunately, correct. The budget makes $286 million in cuts, including a 6.4 percent cut to a higher education system that has been plagued by funding cuts and rising tuition for years. And though it attempts to preserve K-12 education funding, it will result in less spending on Kentucky’s students and schools, the Lexington Herald-Leader reports:

Although the main funding formula for K-12 schools wouldn’t be cut, population growth means spending per student would decline. Also, education officials say the current year’s population estimate was low, resulting in a cut of more than $50 million to that funding formula.

READ @ http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2012/01/20/407580/kentucky-gov-cuts-education-funding-while-preserving-tax-breaks-for-biblically-themed-amusement-park/



By Bill Moyers,vimeo

VIDEO @ http://vimeo.com/35372114



Source: youtube

Filmed January 20, 2012. Chris Hedges, Lawrence Lessig, Virginia Rasmussen on the eve of the 2nd Anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court decision “Citizens United v. F.E.C.”. The video begins with a march from Liberty Plaza aka Zuccotti Park to the rally point at Foley Square across the street from Thurgood Marshall U.S. Courthouse at 40 Centre St. The Rude Mechanical Orchestra plays their “Smash a Bank Polka” followed by Chris Hedges giving an update to his lawsuit against Barack Obama and Leon Panetta. Virginia Rasmussen offers a historic perspective on the Citizens United decision. Laurence Lessig gives an inspirational speech on restoring democracy. Other speakers: Alexis from Occupy Wall Street, Camille Rivera, and Amy Muldoon. The video ends with the Rude Mechanical Orchestra finishing of their song.

VIDEO @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8QSzIUVlowU&amp



By Jayati Ghosh, CommonDreams.com

Ecuador must be one of the most exciting places on Earth right now, in terms of working towards a new development paradigm. It shows how much can be achieved with political will, even in uncertain economic times.

Just 10 years ago, Ecuador was more or less a basket case, a quintessential “banana republic” (it happens to be the world’s largest exporter of bananas), characterised by political instability, inequality, a poorly-performing economy, and the ever-looming impact of the US on its domestic politics.

In 2000, in response to hyperinflation and balance of payments problems, the government dollarised the economy, replacing the sucre with the US currency as legal tender. This subdued inflation, but it did nothing to address the core economic problems, and further constrained the domestic policy space.

A major turning point came with the election of the economist Rafael Correa as president. After taking over in January 2007, his government ushered in a series of changes, based on a new constitution (the country’s 20th, approved in 2008) that was itself mandated by a popular referendum. A hallmark of the changes that have occurred since then is that major policies have first been put through the referendum process. This has given the government the political ability to take on major vested interests and powerful lobbies. […]

READ @ http://www.commondreams.org/view/2012/01/21-0



By Rebecca Kemble, The Progressive

Yesterday afternoon’s announcement in front of the Government Accountability Board by the Democratic Party of Wisconsin that more than one million signatures to recall Governor Scott Walker had been gathered eclipsed a smaller, yet very significant event that took place hours earlier at the same location.

Lori Compas and her band of a couple dozen volunteers delivered three boxes full of petitions to recall Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald into the Government Accountability Board just before noon. The boxes were emblazoned with red hearts inked around the tops, and each bore one word: “We” “Love” “Wisconsin.” Compas’s announcement consisted of one sentence: “These boxes contain our hopes, our hard work, and 20,600 signatures!” That’s 3,858 more than the number required to trigger a recall election.

After the announcement, she fumbled around in one of the boxes amidst cheering, tears, and embraces of the sixty well-wishers who gathered in the snow and finally came up with what she was looking for: a trophy. The election “trigger” award was given to Sam Cooper, an organizer with We Are Wisconsin who, unsolicited, showed up to help for the final push in the beginning of January. […]

READ @ http://www.progressive.org/woman_behind_recall_of_wis_sen_scott_fitzgerald.html



The tech entrepreneur launched the Pirate party to fight online censorship. Now, it is Europe’s fastest growing political group

By Carole Cadwalladr, Guardian UK

With his polished shoes, and formal three-piece pinstriped suit, Rick Falkvinge looks like the kind of man you might meet to discuss your tax affairs, or the finer points of your investment portfolio.

Not radical politics. Or illegal file-sharing. Or revolutionary e-currencies that may destroy the global banking system. Because, although sipping a soy latte in the Stockholm cafe that he calls his office, Falkvinge has the air of a successful corporate lawyer, he’s actually the founder and chief ideologue of Europe‘s youngest, boldest, and fastest growing political movement: the Pirate party.

The Pirates are a political force that have come out of nowhere. Dreamed up by Falkvinge in 2006, they’re an offshoot of the underground computer activist scene and champion digital transparency, freedom and access for all. In three years, they gained their first seat in the European parliament (they now have two) and became the largest party in Sweden for voters under 30. Since then they’ve gained political representation in Germany and swept large parts of Europe.

What they’ve done is to use technology in new ways to harness political power. Falkvinge describes how “we’re online 24/7”, how they operate in what he calls “the swarm” – nobody is in charge, and nobody can tell anybody else what to do – and how, essentially, they are the political embodiment of online activist culture.

The Pirates are geekdom gone mainstream and Falkvinge is the Julian Assange-style figurehead. A leading player in a fight for digital freedom that last week came to a dramatic head when the US Congress prepared to vote on the Stop Online Privacy Act (Sopa), and Wikipedia, supported by the likes of Google, led a 24-hour blackout of the internet.

The controversial legislation has, temporarily at least, been shelved, but Falkvinge is unequivocal about the gravity of the threat. The law would have given American courts the right to crack down on internet sites anywhere in the world and to monitor anybody’s private communications. It is, he claims, nothing less than an attack on fundamental human rights.

“We’re at an incredible crossroads right now. They’re demanding the right to wiretap the entire population. It’s unprecedented. This is a technology that can be used to give everybody a voice. But it can also be used to build a Big Brother society so dystopian that if someone had written a book about it in the 1950s, it would have been discarded as unrealistic.” […]

READ @ http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2012/jan/22/rick-falkvinge-swedish-radical-web-freedoms



Source: youtube.com

Learn more and take action about ACTA @ http://lqdn.fr/ACTA

VIDEO @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=citzRjwk-sQ

Dec 072011



By Adam Parris-Long, Yahoo! News

City of London Police have sparked controversy by producing a brief in which the Occupy London movement is listed under domestic terrorism/extremism threats to City businesses.

The document was given to protesters at their “Bank of Ideas” base on Sun Street – a former site of financial corporation UBS. City police have stepped up an effort to quell the movement since they occupied the building on 18 November, with the document stating: “It is likely that activists aspire to identify other locations to occupy, especially those they identify with capitalism.

“Intelligence suggests that urban explorers are holding a discussion at the Sun Street squat. This may lead to an increase in urban exploration activity at abandoned or high profile sites in the capital.” The Occupy movement is listed alongside threats posed by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia (FARC), Al Qaeda and Belarusian terrorists.

“Just the words themselves are enough to deceive the public opinion and this is what we see at the moment,” Occupy spokesman Spyro Van Leemnen told Yahoo! News. “We are clearly nothing to do with extremists or terrorists, we are a peaceful group and we do use direct action to raise our point but definitely not terrorism.

“The building has been abandoned for a good few years now and we think it is crazy for a bank to have it empty and not used when we know at the same time there are so many family homes that have been repossessed. Occupying that building and giving it back to the community is definitely not a terrorist act,” he added. […]

READ @ http://uk.news.yahoo.com/police-include-occupy-movement-on-‘terror’-list.html



By Robert Johnson, Business Insider

The U.S. military has some of the most advanced killing equipment in the world that allows it to invade almost wherever it likes at will.

We produce so much military equipment that inventories of military robots, M-16 assault rifles, helicopters, armored vehicles, and grenade launchers eventually start to pile up and it turns out a lot of these weapons are going straight to American police forces to be used against US citizens.

Benjamin Carlson at The Daily reports on a little known endeavor called the “1033 Program” that gave more than $500 million of military gear to U.S. police forces in 2011 alone.

1033 was passed by Congress in 1997 to help law-enforcement fight terrorism and drugs, but despite a 40-year low in violent crime, police are snapping up hardware like never before. While this year’s staggering take topped the charts, next year’s orders are up 400 percent over the same period.

This upswing coincides with an increasingly military-like style of law enforcement most recently seen in the Occupy Wall Street crackdowns. […]

READ @ http://www.businessinsider.com/program-1033-military-equipment-police-2011-12



It isn’t red versus blue, it’s individualists versus institutionalists. And the latter may finally be winning

By David Sirota, Salon

[…] To clarify these two broad terms, let’s review their contemporary meaning.

Individualists are those who see society’s successes and problems as coming mostly from individual behavior. Motivated by impulse and human nature’s affinity for simple good-versus-evil stories, Individualists tend to see history as a series of parables about Great Men and Bad Men, Rogues and Bureaucrats, Heroes and Villains. In other words, Individualists subscribe to Margaret Thatcher’s theory that “there is no such thing as society — there are individual men and women.”

So, for example, an economic boom period is viewed by the Individualist as a success story of individual and/or presidential intelligence, innovation and hard work, not a triumph of institutions such as good schools, solid infrastructure or properly calibrated tax and trade laws. Likewise, rich people are viewed as singular superheroes whose wealth is a consequence of personal perseverance, not beneficiaries of institutional support whose assets have been accrued through systemic privilege.

At the same time, problems are portrayed by the Individualist as the result of personal transgressions, but not systemic forces: Crime is the scourge of individuals like Willie Horton, not a result of institutional forces like poverty or desperation; the education crisis is the result of individual bad teachers or parents, not systemic economic inequality or misguided school funding formulas; prejudice is the plague of individual bigots, not institutional racism; housing market meltdowns happen because of irresponsible home buyers, not because of predatory financial institutions or the banking system; and recessions occur because of “welfare queens,” “parasites,” “takers” or other assorted layabouts — but not larger forces like globalization or crony capitalism.

Institutionalists, by contrast, see it the other way around. They tend to see institutions – whether governmental agencies, corporations, popular cultures or specific policies and incentives – as the most prominent forces in society. To them, it’s “The Man,” more than the particular men.

Rooted more in data and empiricism than in gut feeling and apocrypha, this camp sees the most famous historical achievements like, say, the New Deal and civil rights movement not as merely the personal victory of people like Franklin D. Roosevelt and Martin Luther King Jr., but as the result of decades of mass organizing for systemic change.

Similarly, the big problems in society aren’t seen as a reflection of individual shortcomings, but as a product of systemic dysfunction. In this Institutionalist view, Congress’ recent refusal to reduce the national debt isn’t merely the crime of individual lawmakers serving on the so-called supercommittee, but also the fault of a democratic system that’s rigged to fail. Likewise, abuses of state power — whether torture at Abu Ghraib prison or brutality from municipal police forces — are less the sin of the individual grunts than the product of a culture of violence. And nationwide unemployment doesn’t stem from a lack of “personal responsibility” among workers, but from an economy that is producing only one job opening for every seven job applicants — that is, an economy in systemic crisis.

READ @ http://www.salon.com/2011/12/05/the_real_divide_in_america/



By Tyler Durden, ZeroHedge

While the general media may be ignoring the latest peculiar twist on the “Occupy” theme, or in this case the “occupyourhomes.org“, Bank of America is taking it quote seriously. As a reminder, “Tuesday, December 6th is the National Day of Action to stop and reverse foreclosures. The Occupy Homes movement is holding actions around the country in support of homeowners and people fighting to have a home. Find an event near you and join in our day of action tomorrow!. There are actions happening in over 20 cities nationwide.

Events are taking place in Brooklyn, Buffalo and Rochester New York; Los Angeles, Oakland, San Francisco, San Diego, San Jose, Petaluma, Sacramento, Paradise and Contra Costa California; Lake Worth, Florida; Atlanta, Fayetteville, and DeKalb Georgia; Chicago, Illinois; Bloomington, Indiana; Minneapolis, Minnesota; Cleveland, Ohio; Denver, Colorado; Detroit and Southgate Michigan; St. Louis, Missouri; Portland, Oregon; and Seattle, Washington.”

And if you have not heard about today’s protest on the conventional media that is understandable:

as BAC says internally, this event “could impact our industry.

Here are the specific warnings to BAC “field services” agents:

i) Your safety is our primary concern, so do not engage with the protesters;

ii) While in neighborhoods, please take notice of vacant BAC Field Services managed homes and ensure they are secured;

iii) Remind all parties of the bank’s media policy and report any media incidents.

Aside from the superficial implications, what is more important is that the big banks are showing precisely what the weakest links in the system are, and what makes them the most nervous: it is not protesters living in tents in a major metropolitan city: it is protesters disrupting the lifeblood of the broken banking system – the home selling/repossession pathway. Expect many more such protests now that Bank of America has tipped its hand.

READ @ http://www.zerohedge.com/news/bank-america-sends-internal-email-exposing-where-occupy-movement-hurting-it-most



By Katy Reckdahl, The Times-Picayune

U.S. District Judge Jay Zainey minutes ago granted a temporary restraining order to the Occupy NOLA movement, which had sought protection from the court under the First Amendment in a complaint filed yesterday. The ruling clears the way for the protesters to move back into Duncan Plaza, the park across the street from City Hall where they had been encamped for roughly two months.

Zainey’s ruling came about 12 hours after New Orleans police cleared the plaza of about 150 protesters at the direction of Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s administration. The protesters, like similar groups around the country, claim a variety of causes, but the movement generally is a protest against economic inequity in America.

Bill Quigley, a lawyer for the Occupy protesters, said he believes it is the first case to date in which a judge has allowed an Occupy protest to take up residence again after an eviction by the city.

Davida Finger, another Occupy lawyer, said that the decision proved that “no one is above the law, even the city of New Orleans.”

Members of the Occupy movement said they plan to hold a general assembly at 7 p.m. this evening in Duncan Plaza. […]

READ @ http://www.nola.com/crime/index.ssf/2011/12/post_290.html



By John Barimo, PhD Veterans for Peace

[…] Those independent studies without linkage to either the DOJ or IACP demonstrate that there is significant uncertainty surrounding OC exposure and its related effects on human health.   Those studies also suggest that OC could be considered a lethal chemical weapon depending upon the physical condition of the victim.   Additionally, we must also consider the impact of OC projectiles when directly striking a victim.   Iraq War Veteran Scott Olsen suffered a fractured skull and temporary loss of speech after being stuck by such a projectile in October of 2011 at Occupy Oakland.  

It is also important to consider the philosophical issues associated with state administered violence to maintain security and order.   Politicians often engage in familiar rhetoric that demonizes nation states for behaviors which are deemed unacceptable and criminal.   For example, in February of 2001, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton declared:

“We are against violence and we would call to account the Iranian government that is once again using its security forces and resorting to violence to prevent the free expression of ideas from their own people.”

And similarly President Barack Obama stated in August of 2011 that:

“True justice will not come from reprisals and violence. It will come from reconciliation and a Libya that allows its citizens to determine their own destiny.”  

Often enough, the US government neutralizes an enemy regime over alleged crimes that are simultaneously overlooked by an allied regime as exemplified by the double standard of Libya and Bahrain with regards to human rights abuses.   Furthermore,   government practices in the US do not appear bound to the same standards imposed on other nations with regards to the use of violence against nonviolent demonstrators.

Technically speaking, OC stimulates nociceptors in exposed mucous membranes to produce intense pain.   These nociceptors are sensory receptors in the nervous system which send nerve impulses to the brain which are experienced with extreme discomfort (4).   Given this physiological description, how can civil authorities even remotely claim that the point blank application of OC is benign or nonviolent?   How can the US Government continue to claim the moral high ground given such double standards with regards to the violent suppression of its citizens?   The ethical and philosophical issues associated with the routine use of chemical weapons by police on nonviolent protestors are significant and there is considerable uncertainty associated with human health risks.   Therefore, US lawmakers and policymakers should take moral responsibility and ban the use of Oleoresin Capsicum as an initial step in de-escalating the use violence against its citizens who desire to freely express their ideas in public places. […]

READ @ http://www.opednews.com/populum/printer_friendly.php?content=a&id=142380



By Jessica Vanegeren

The public will have three opportunities to learn about the updated policy that now governs protests and other activities occurring in the Capitol and other government buildings.

State Department of Administration and Capitol Police will be leading informational compliance sessions in the Capitol basement next week, from 9-11 a.m. Tuesday; 4-6 p.m. Thursday; and 9-11 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 10.

Although the new rules took effect immediately when announced Thursday, the state has indicated there will be an educational period through Dec. 16 to help familiarize groups with them.

Members of the public seeking to hold a rally inside the Capitol must apply for a permit if four or more persons are expected to attend; an outside event drawing more than 100 people also requires a permit. Officials encourage requests for permits be made at least one month in advance and Capitol Police say they will generally respond within 10 days.

Among the other rules: Individuals or organizations that obtain a permit for an event or protest can be held financially responsible for any property damage that occurs as a result of an event.

Individuals or organizations that organize, sponsor, promote or participate in an event may be held liable for law enforcement expenses arising out of the event, including a $50 per hour fee if the deployment of the Capitol Police is required.

The new policy drew criticism from the Democratic Party of Wisconsin.

“Scott Walker’s attempt to quash lawful dissent not only offends Wisconsin’s norms and traditions, it offends Wisconsin’s Constitution,” said party officials in a statement Friday, adding, “The more that Walker seeks to silence the voices of those opposed to his radical agenda, all the more guarantee that the people, in the form of the great recall movement, will be heard.”

READ @ http://host.madison.com/ct/news/local/govt-and-politics/capitol-report/capitol-report-information-sessions-scheduled-on-new-capitol-access-rules/article_dd0392e4-1d2a-11e1-8be7-0019bb2963f4.html?mode=story



By Arun Gupta, Guardian UK

[…] In this exclusive interview for the Guardian, Roy offers her thoughts on Occupy Wall Street, the role of the imagination, reclaiming language, and what is next for a movement that has reshaped America’s political discourse and seized the world’s attention.

AG: Why did you want to visit Occupy Wall Street and what are your impressions of it?

AR: How could I not want to visit? Given what I’ve been doing for so many years, it seems to me, intellectually and theoretically, quite predictable this was going to happen here at some point. But still I cannot deny myself the surprise and delight that it has happened. And I wanted to, obviously, see for myself the extent and size and texture and nature of it. So the first time I went there, because all those tents were up, it seemed more like a squat than a protest to me, but it began to reveal itself in a while. Some people were holding the ground and it was the hub for other people to organise, to think through things. As I said when I spoke at the People’s University, it seems to me to be introducing a new political language into the United States, a language that would be considered blasphemous only a while ago.

AG: Do you think that the Occupy movement should be defined by occupying one particular space or by occupying spaces?

AR: I don’t think the whole protest is only about occupying physical territory, but about reigniting a new political imagination. I don’t think the state will allow people to occupy a particular space unless it feels that allowing that will end up in a kind of complacency, and the effectiveness and urgency of the protest will be lost. The fact that in New York and other places where people are being beaten and evicted suggests nervousness and confusion in the ruling establishment. I think the movement will, or at least should, become a protean movement of ideas, as well as action, where the element of surprise remains with the protesters. We need to preserve the element of an intellectual ambush and a physical manifestation that takes the government and the police by surprise. It has to keep re-imagining itself, because holding territory may not be something the movement will be allowed to do in a state as powerful and violent as the United States.

AG: At the same, occupying public spaces did capture the public imagination. Why do you think that is?

AR: I think you had a whole subcutaneous discontent that these movements suddenly began to epitomise. The Occupy movement found places where people who were feeling that anger could come and share it – and that is, as we all know, extremely important in any political movement. The Occupy sites became a way you could gauge the levels of anger and discontent.

AG: You mentioned that they are under attack. Dozens of occupations have been shut down, evicted, at least temporarily, in the last week. What do you see as the next phase for this movement?

AR: I don’t know whether I’m qualified to answer that, because I’m not somebody who spends a lot of time here in the United States, but I suspect that it will keep reassembling in different ways and the anger created by the repression will, in fact, expand the movement. But eventually, the greater danger to the movement is that it may dovetail into the presidential election campaign that’s coming up. I’ve seen that happen before in the antiwar movement here, and I see it happening all the time in India. Eventually, all the energy goes into trying to campaign for the “better guy”, in this case Barack Obama, who’s actually expanding wars all over the world. Election campaigns seem to siphon away political anger and even basic political intelligence into this great vaudeville, after which we all end up in exactly the same place.

AG: Your essays, such as “The Greater Common Good” and “Walking with the Comrades”, concern corporations, the military and state violently occupying other people’s lands in India. How do those occupations and resistances relate to the Occupy Wall Street movement?

AR: I hope that that the people in the Occupy movement are politically aware enough to know that their being excluded from the obscene amassing of wealth of US corporations is part of the same system of the exclusion and war that is being waged by these corporations in places like India, Africa and the Middle East. Ever since the Great Depression, we know that one of the key ways in which the US economy has stimulated growth is by manufacturing weapons and exporting war to other countries. So, whether this movement is a movement for justice for the excluded in the United States, or whether it is a movement against an international system of global finance that is manufacturing levels of hunger and poverty on an unimaginable scale, remains to be seen.

AG: You’ve written about the need for a different imagination than that of capitalism. Can you talk about that?

AR: We often confuse or loosely use the ideas of crony capitalism or neoliberalism to actually avoid using the word “capitalism”, but once you’ve actually seen, let’s say, what’s happening in India and the United States – that this model of US economics packaged in a carton that says “democracy” is being forced on countries all over the world, militarily if necessary, has in the United States itself resulted in 400 of the richest people owning wealth equivalent [to that] of half of the population. Thousands are losing their jobs and homes, while corporations are being bailed out with billions of dollars.

In India, 100 of the richest people own assets worth 25% of the gross domestic product. There’s something terribly wrong. No individual and no corporation should be allowed to amass that kind of unlimited wealth, including bestselling writers like myself, who are showered with royalties. Money need not be our only reward. Corporations that are turning over these huge profits can own everything: the media, the universities, the mines, the weapons industry, insurance hospitals, drug companies, non-governmental organisations. They can buy judges, journalists, politicians, publishing houses, television stations, bookshops and even activists. This kind of monopoly, this cross-ownership of businesses, has to stop.

The whole privatisation of health and education, of natural resources and essential infrastructure – all of this is so twisted and so antithetical to anything that would place the interests of human beings or the environment at the center of what ought to be a government concern – should stop. The amassing of unfettered wealth of individuals and corporations should stop. The inheritance of rich people’s wealth by their children should stop. The expropriators should have their wealth expropriated and redistributed.

AG: What would the different imagination look like?

AR: The home minister of India has said that he wants 70% of the Indian population in the cities, which means moving something like 500 million people off their land. That cannot be done without India turning into a military state. But in the forests of central India and in many, many rural areas, a huge battle is being waged. Millions of people are being driven off their lands by mining companies, by dams, by infrastructure companies, and a huge battle is being waged. These are not people who have been co-opted into consumer culture, into the western notions of civilisation and progress. They are fighting for their lands and their livelihoods, refusing to be looted so that someone somewhere far away may “progress” at their cost.

India has millions of internally displaced people. And now, they are putting their bodies on the line and fighting back. They are being killed and imprisoned in their thousands. Theirs is a battle of the imagination, a battle for the redefinition of the meaning of civilisation, of the meaning of happiness, of the meaning of fulfillment. And this battle demands that the world see that, at some stage, as the water tables are dropping and the minerals that remain in the mountains are being taken out, we are going to confront a crisis from which we cannot return. The people who created the crisis in the first place will not be the ones that come up with a solution.

That is why we must pay close attention to those with another imagination: an imagination outside of capitalism, as well as communism. We will soon have to admit that those people, like the millions of indigenous people fighting to prevent the takeover of their lands and the destruction of their environment – the people who still know the secrets of sustainable living – are not relics of the past, but the guides to our future.

AG: In the United States, as I’m sure you’re aware, political discourse is obsessed with the middle class, but the Occupy movement has made the poor and homeless visible for the first time in decades in the public discourse. Could you comment on that?

AR: It’s so much a reversal of what you see in India. In India, the poverty is so vast that the state cannot control it. It can beat people, but it can’t prevent the poor from flooding the roads, the cities, the parks and railway station platforms. Whereas, here, the poor have been invisibilised, because obviously this model of success that has been held out to the world must not show the poor, it must not show the condition of black people. It can only the successful ones, basketball players, musicians, Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell. But I think the time will come when the movement will have to somehow formulate something more than just anger.

AG: As a writer, what do you make of the term “occupation”, which has now somehow been reclaimed as a positive term when it’s always been one of the most heinous terms in political language?

AR: As a writer, I’ve often said that, among the other things that we need to reclaim, other than the obscene wealth of billionaires, is language. Language has been deployed to mean the exact opposite of what it really means when they talk about democracy or freedom. So I think that turning the word “occupation” on its head would be a good thing, though I would say that it needs a little more work. We ought to say, “Occupy Wall Street, not Iraq,” “Occupy Wall Street, not Afghanistan,” “Occupy Wall Street, not Palestine.” The two need to be put together. Otherwise people might not read the signs.

AG: As a novelist, you write a lot in terms of motivations and how characters interpret reality. Around the country, many occupiers we’ve talked to seem unable to reconcile their desires about Obama with what Obama really represents. When I talk to them about Obama’s record, they say, “Oh, his hands are tied; the Republicans are to blame, it’s not his fault.” Why do you think people react like this, even at the occupations?

AR: Even in India, we have the same problem. We have a right wing that is so vicious and so openly wicked, which is the Baratiya Janata party (BJP), and then we have the Congress party, which does almost worse things, but does it by night. And people feel that the only choices they have are to vote for this or for that. And my point is that, whoever you vote for, it doesn’t have to consume all the oxygen in the political debate. It’s just an artificial theatre, which in a way is designed to subsume the anger and to make you feel that this is all that you’re supposed to think about and talk about, when, in fact, you’re trapped between two kinds of washing powder that are owned by the same company.

Democracy no longer means what it was meant to. It has been taken back into the workshop. Each of its institutions has been hollowed out, and it has been returned to us as a vehicle for the free market, of the corporations. For the corporations, by the corporations. Even if we do vote, we should just spend less time and intellectual energy on our choices and keep our eye on the ball.

AG: So it’s also a failure of the imagination?

AR: It’s walking into a pretty elaborate trap. But it happens everywhere, and it will continue to happen. Even I know that if I go back to India, and tomorrow the BJP comes to power, personally I’ll be in a lot more trouble than with the Congress [party] in power. But systemically, in terms of what is being done, there’s no difference, because they collaborate completely, all the time. So I’m not going to waste even three minutes of my time, if I have to speak, asking people to vote for this one or for that one.

AG: One question that a lot of people have asked me: when is your next novel coming out?

AR: I have no answer to that question … I really don’t know. Novels are such mysterious and amorphous and tender things. And here we are with our crash helmets on, with concertina wire all around us.

AG: So this inspires you, as a novelist, the movement?

AR: Well, it comforts me, let’s just say. I feel in so many ways rewarded for having done what I did, along with hundreds of other people, even the times when it seemed futile.

• Michelle Fawcett contributed to this article. She and Arun Gupta are covering the Occupy movement nationwide for Salon, Alternet and other outlets. Their work is available at occupyusatoday.com

READ @ http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/nov/30/arundhati-roy-interview



By Think Progress

99 Percenters, including an unemployed resident who is relying on getting Medicare benefits that the congressman has been trying to cut with his support for the Ryan plan, had been encamped in Rep. Joe Walsh’s (R-IL) office since noon, hoping to talk to him about how to grow jobs and battle inequality. Yet despite repeated insistence that he would meet with them around 3 PM, Walsh decided to flee from the protesters around 3:20 instead, avoiding meeting with them altogether. Although his staff insisted that he had to make votes, they were fully aware of this when they suggested he would meet with them at 3. Walsh took off without saying a word. Former Campus Progress staff writer Micah Uetricht captured video of Walsh fleeing (which ThinkProgress also witnessed).

Watch it:

READ @ http://thinkprogress.org/special/2011/12/06/383283/joe-walsh-flees-the-99-percent/



By John Grant, This Can’t Be Happening

[…] In his book Somewhere in the Night: Film Noir and the American City, Nicholas Christopher suggests the late 40s and 50s noir films were mining and expressing the deep-seated anxiety – the “collective shudder” – of a culture on the threshold of the post-Hiroshima atomic age that had not yet fully sorted out the demons of the Great Depression.

“The war ends but there is no closure,” Christopher writes. “Forces are unleashed. Organized crime, street violence, political corruption, poverty. … GIs returning to the United States from Europe and the Pacific carry, not microbes, but lethal infirmities of the mind and spirit after four years of living day in day out with brutality and violent death, and surviving a war in which 1,700 cities and townships were destroyed and 35 million people were killed.”

No society can just turn off this kind of “black energy,” which is the fertile ground and dramatic fodder of all fictional and film noir — popular art that taps into Jung’s notion of the Shadow. Jungian Robert A. Johnson defines the Shadow as the flip side of the Ego/Persona that we present to the outside world. The Shadow is the “refused and unacceptable characteristics … that collect in the dark corners of our personality.” This Shadow, Johnson says, “often has an energy potential nearly as great as that of our ego.”

Freud talks about the “seducing influence” of war on people and culture. This is connected to his ideas on the death instinct and Thanatos. When a society finds itself overwhelmed with this kind of black energy, he suggests, it slides toward moral bankruptcy. At this juncture, “[T]here is an end of all suppression of the baser passions, and men perpetuate deeds of cruelty, fraud and treachery, and barbarity.”

Christopher again:

“Between the economic poles of opulence and squalor, and the overlapping social codes of rapacious laissez-faire capitalism and organized crime, the indelible motto of the postwar American city in the so-called boom years becomes ‘Anything Goes.’ ” And key to the noir sensibility, “Power’s inescapable twin is violence.”

This is the shadow world of films like Born To Kill, a tightly-scripted tale about a small-time sociopath trying to make it in post-WWII America. Real-life tough-guy Lawrence Tierney easily charms women with his confidence and feels perfectly justified in killing whenever someone tries to “cut him out” of something he feels belongs to him. Despite the title, how much of this predator’s struggle for money and power is nature and how much is nurture is not an issue; the point is his focus and determination to get what he wants. As the deadly dame in the picture, Claire Trevor is his match as an amoral schemer.

Director Robert Wise keeps the film on an even, amoral keel. There is none of the salaciousness found in current films about sociopaths that separates us from them; in this film, the Tierney character is one of us. Hollywood code at the time required Wise to have the character blown away at the end, but in today’s moral climate, with a little more education, some political or financial savvy and rich backers, such a character could be governor of Texas or even in the White House with killer drones at his beck and call. Or he could be at the top of the Wall Street finance game fleecing working American schmucks of their life savings.

Born To Kill was made, and presumably takes place, in 1947, the year I was born as the middle child of a man with a PhD in physiology who spent three years skippering a PT boat in the south Pacific. On his return to domestic life, he had to re-acquaint himself with his pretty young wife, my mother. The equivalent of PTSD was a dirty little secret then. During that marital re-adjustment period I was conceived and born as part of the great baby boom.

As I approach my 65th year and look around at the world my father’s much venerated generation handed down and that my generation is passing on to the next, the levels of corruption and “black energy” have never seemed greater. Jungian cultural shadows loom everywhere. And as Johnson points out, “culture is an artificial imposed structure.” One culture’s Persona may be another’s Shadow and vice-versa. “The shadow of one culture is a tinderbox of trouble for another.”

In this kind of harsh and violent shadow world, power trumps everything. Economically squeezed, those who have power desperately want to hold onto it, while those who don’t have it feel the absence of it more acutely than ever. “Anything goes” prevails on both ends of the vertical continuum — in ghetto drug gangs and in Wall Street board rooms.

The rule is: Do what you have to do but don’t get caught. And don’t give an honest answer when you can bullshit your way out or into some position of advantage. The poster boy for this may be Countrywide Bank’s CEA Angelo Mozilo who got a slap on the wrist after fleecing millions of hard working Americans. The Lawrence Tierney character from 1947’s Born To Kill would have understood Mozilo perfectly. […]

READ @ http://www.thiscantbehappening.net/node/939