Monday, January 29, 2007

Know Your Enemy

I have posted on this recently ( One World Government Jan 13) but I want to elaborate a bit more. I have researched Conspiricy World some and find it fascinating.This was triggered when I was handed a self-published pamphlet the other day, by the same guy I described, who meets with our local social justice group. It is a strange amalgamation of religious, ideological, conspiricy theory propaganda starring Ollie North,the womens movement, micro-chip implants, the Kennedy assasination and the Federal Reserve, with a few digs thrown in at Noam Chomsky for effect.

So I started looking in to the Federal reserve bank and that whole insanely arcane world of monetary policy and it is no doubt a nefarious little sphere of securities and manipulations involving a good deal of real power.Plenty to be worried about, for sure. But my acquaintance is concerned that "Kennedy knew that if the silver-backed United States Notes ( he issued 'silver certificates') were widely circulated, they would have eliminated the demand for Federal Reserve Notes. This is a very simple matter of economics. The USN was backed by silver and the FRN was not backed by anything of intrinsic value." It is then implied the motive for Kennedy's assasination lay in his challenging "the powers that exist behind U.S. and world finance"(and for trying to get us out of Vietnam). Whatever.Would capitalism be hunky-dory if only we had gold backed currency?

My research turns up people like Eustice Mullins who published Secrets of the Federal Reserve in 1952, around the time he was also a spokesperson and resident scholar for the Aryan League. His conspiricy theories centered on Jews and in 1987 he moved it up a notch and wrote The Curse of Canaan:A Demonology of History, wherein an occult conspiricy founded in ancient Babylon controls the worlds monetary system, evidenced in Talmudic and Kabbalistic literature. Whatever. Then there is Aaron Russo, Bette Midlers old producer, Libertarian, tax protester and now maker of the film America: Freedom to Fascism. He doesn't believe in the constitutionality of tax collection and likens it's enforcement to a budding police state. Also leery of the Federal Reserve Bank and money in general and One World Government. Whatever. Im no fan of the Patriot Act but these peoples zealous anti-(psuedo)communism leads them to hate the concept of community or public trust.

Being a dissenter can put you in some wierd company. People looking for "simple" answers to explain injustice and inequality seem prone to these convoluted, Machiavellian intrigues and are just as much an obstacle (perhaps more) to speaking truth to power as those who are apathetic, complacent or firmly wed to the status quo. Ironically , his manifesto rails against "dumbing down the population".He thinks he is a guardian of freedom but he has no idea what freedom is. He warns us to "Know Your Enemy" but he has no way to analyze the distinction between friend and foe.


Saturday, January 27, 2007

That Delicate and Oh So Sensitive Subject

Since Allen Dershowitz doesn't read this blog I feel pretty secure in offering up some anti-Jewish, anti-Zionist and anti-Israel criticism. I'm going to go way out on a limb and suggest all three groups, with their inter-related matrix of relationships and politics, are less-than-perfect. There, I said it.

Jews, like Christians and Muslims, Hindus and Satan worshippers, need to separate their faith from their civics and agree to meet in the public forum as equals with equal Gods (or un-Gods, whatever). Chosen People need to lose their Chosen-ness. Just show up with your intelligence( a little logic wouldn't hurt) and rationality and reasonableness for this exercise .( not to dis irrationality but it is simply unworkable for this particular format of governance, political discourse, etc) So. no Satan Lobby, no Jaweh lobby , no Allah lobby, no Christ lobby,no Krishna lobby, ok?

The problem becomes especially acute when you have religious nations , for instance a "Jewish" state, a "Christian "nation, an "Islamic" state etc. Certain critics of Jimmy Carters new book, or of Wes Clarks recent comments on Huffington Post, or of Scott Ritters recent piece, or Mearshiemers recent study have elevated this issue in the public dialogue and this is a good thing. Criticize a man's use of the word "aparthied" if you want, defend the actions of AIPAC if you can and even make your case for the "evil" empire or "axis of evil" if you want but don't label your opponents sentiments as springing from some racist or zenophobic or irreligious wellspring unless you have direct proof of their bigotry.

The good news, as I stated, is that Carters book has drug this issue out into the light of day and defenders of liberty must go on the offensive against those who rush to smear or slander or impugn. Follow the money, remember that this is about power and speaking truth does have consequences which are not always pleasant.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Went Down to the Demonstration

A few protests of note: In Cochabamba, Bolivia, indigenous factions and other rebels have been clashing with the reactionary forces of the Governor, resulting in violence and at least four deaths. Tense time throughout the country with a nervous, inarticulate middle class backing away from the social reforms of Evo Morales.

In Lebanon, the Hizbholla forces have called a general strike which has paralyzed the country.Believing they deserve a dominant role in the ruling structure, they complicate what is already a near regional meltdown. This conflict is breaking down along sectarian lines and some people were killed yesterday. As Vonnegut would say "What the heck?" UPDATE: Nassrala has called off the strike. Sanoira headed to Paris to find money.

Not-so-far-away in Somalia people are protesting the occupation by Ethiopian forces and it appears they are packing up before an African Peace Keeping force is in place. Selected Islamists are being invited back to take part in a government.

The World Social Forum is going on in Kenya?Nigeria? I forget, but that is a protest of sorts, of the simultaneous meeting of the Masters of the Universe in Davos, Switzerland.
Where else? Hamas is protesting the supply of weapons and money given to Fatah by the US and Oh Yeah! On Saturday Americans will be in the streets, especially in D.C., trying to save a few lives from being needlesly sacrificed on the alter of white maleness. Like steers, all we can do is try.


Monday, January 22, 2007

Statecraft or Belligerence

How to deal with Iran? An ancient culture and proud nation with it's own ambitions and ambiguities, Persia has always sat in the great crossroad of civilizations. It also has impressive oil reserves and now it's nuclear ambition puts it in the bulls eye of an increasingly bellicose US empire. I don't pretend to have the knowledge, historical or otherwise to make an informed analysis of this complex and possibly existential issue, but I want to make some broad points. The first being, an "axis of evil" speech has no relationship to actual statecraft.

In a speech given in Tehran to the Iranian Center for Strategic Research, Joschka Fischer,the former German Foreign Minister laid out three European demands necessary to improved relations with Iran. A change in nuclear policy, the acceptance of Israels "right to exist" and normative differences in the understanding and application of human rights and womens rights.
For the European part, he asks that they be committed to "a VIABLE and democratic Palestinian state" and to creating a "structure of mutual arms control". If we look at this from the Iranian point of view, a necessary aspect of true statecraft and diplomacy, we notice an 800 pound gorilla or two in the room that nobody seems to acknowledge.

The first, of course, is Israel and it's own illegal nuclear weapons program and continued settlement building in the occupied territories. The other is the United States itself and it's openly stated goal of total world domination and rejection of all international laws, controls or non-proliferation treaties. Symbolic of this "exceptionalist" position is the US rejection of the Kyoto Protocols on global warming but the attitude exists in the collective American psyche and has been expressed by it's leaders throughout it's short, agressive history. Woodrow Wilson was succinct when he said "Our interests must march forward, altruists though we are, other nations must stand off, and do not seek to stay us."

All this talk of "defense" then means defending our interests and they seemingly exist anywhere capital hopes to penetrate. This "defense" even extends to space and China recently challenged the United States' openly declared " unilateral right to dominate space" with it's own satellite busting missle.

If you were an Iranian how might you interpret the Administrations insistence that Venezuela is not "democratic" while it cuts deals with Saudi Princes and Pakistani military dictators? If you heard it condemn Syria's "interference in others affairs" as it supports an Ethiopian invasion, the occupation of Palestine and in fact conducts it's very own occupation right next door, what might you think? Iranians are not like Americans, they have a history and they remember it. Colonization, US support for Turkish genocide of Armenians and it's treatment of Kurds, CIA involvement installing the Shah, US backing of Sadaam in his war against Iran, US backing of Taliban forces in Afghanistan and on and on, they could be forgiven for assuming the US has declared it's own "jihad" on the Middle East. It makes it hard for the European to encourage moderates or to cut deals.


Sunday, January 21, 2007

Social Democrat Suck-Up

In trying to analyze the current political alignments in Mexico, journalist Angel Jaramillo latches onto a simplistic and in my view reactionary narrative. The reason Lopez Obrador lost, he contends in his essay; In The Mexican Labyrinth (Dissent Winter 2007), is because he represents a "populist and authoritarian left" which the modern Mexican youth rejects. By identifying with Evo Morales and Hugo Chavez ,who are "authoritarian, antiliberal and in the end anti-democratic" instead of Michelle Bachelet who is "committed in principle to a successful liberal-democratic order" he lost the young people.

This " liberal-democratic model"that Jarmarillo finds so "successful" is actually neo-liberal capitalism, characterized as "risky but unavoidable", the classic social-democrat quisling reformism. "In Mexico the end of the myth of revolution and the opening up of the country to the world-with NAFTA a key symbol- require a rejection of what many people mostly from the left love dearly." This is the rapist telling the victim to "open up".You know you want it. He needs to go work in a maquiladore and live in the slums of Jaurez for awhile.

The author credits himself as being among "A new generation of journalists, intellectuals, professors , politicians" whose "efforts...can be seen as a slow-motion,protrated, peaceful democratic revolution." He should try telling that to the people gunned down and jailed in Oaxaca.

The rest of this issue of Dissent is a protracted apologia for Zionism and attack on anyone who thinks elements of Islam or the Arab world might be reacting to imperialism rather than re-forming the Caliphate. Well, not the whole thing, but enough of it Im letting my subscription lapse.


Saturday, January 20, 2007

Me and Andrew

Andrew Bacevich, historian, scholar, was on the Charlie Rose show last night bravely questioning that most dominant of narratives, that US withdrawal in Iraq results in a failed state, regional chaos, ethnic cleansing etc etc.. This is the Bush/ McCain/ Lieberman line which intentionally blurs War onTerror fearmongering rhetoric with actual analysis of geo-politics. Israels Greatest Friend actually qouted Fred Kagan of the American Enterprise Institute in an interview yesterday on NPR. I had a problem with Bacevich's sanitized version of post WWII social forces when he was here in Missoula recently, (he failed to mention the working class Left) but he knows his war history. He learned not just from Vietnam but also from the French experience in Algiers.

In President Bush's interview with Jim Leher he mentioned the sacifices most Americans have made for this war. " I mean, they sacrifice PEACE OF MIND when they see terrible images of violence on TV every night."


Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Welfare Kings

The recent cold weather has decimated California's citrus and avacado crop so Governator Arnold is asking for Federal emergency funds. The planets fiercest right-wing ideologues want their financial woes "socialized", the Orange County ( The Most Republican County in America!) free -marketeers want the tax payers to defray the pain of being slapped up side the head by the "invisible hand of the market."

We think of California as some liberal bastion but forget that places like Orange County and the Imperial Valley brought us hateful creatures like Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan. The agricultural central valleys, whose wealth derives from grand governmental water projects, are home to the most virulent anti-government, racist,closed minded rednecks you would ever hope to meet. They have made billions sucking on the public tit, exploiting Mexican laborers and refusing to contribute to investment in state infrastructure, especially schools "After all" they say, "we are ignorant bastards and look at how rich we got!".

There is virtually no limit to the hypocricy these people espouse and they are totally oblivious to it. Tour the grand mansions and palatial estates of Orange County and then ask yourself how in the world working class people anywhere could think these elites have their interests at heart? "What About Kansas?" on steroids. In their jewel encrusted mega-churches they piously pray for more subsides and lower taxes so they can send their beautiful children to USC and UCLA in new Porches. They pray for foreign wars and off-shore drilling to keep their Hummers humming.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Musical Reflections

As I'm approaching our local grocery store I see a young man just outside the door zipping his cello up into its case and preparing to leave. I go through the automatic door and see a grinning store employee shaking his head and saying something to another customer. I didn't think much of it and went about my shopping but as I'm leaving the parking lot I look over and here is the musician intently fiddling away, the strains of some beautiful aria coming through his little amp. The store manager must have made him move out to the highway.This is a parking lot in Hamilton, Montana, and it is 18 degrees out. I have never seen anyone busking in Hamilton Montana in thirty years and I have never heard classical music played here. I stopped and listened for awhile and he was quite good. I threw a couple of bucks in the open case.

I was over at the Eagles Bar the day before, watching the playoffs and drinking Moose Drool (local brew), and there was an accordian jam going on in the dance hall in the back. The place was packed with old farmers and their wives in their felt hats and shiny boots. It sounded like someone running over a dozen pianos with a D7 Cat.

The great saxophonist Michael Brecker died of luekemia yesterday at the age of 59. He was one of the most soulful masters of the jazz genre and played with all the contemporary greats. If there was a God it would have been John Negroponte instead.

Sunday, January 14, 2007


The force of the Bush/Mc Cain/ neocon argument for a necessary "victory" in Iraq rests slightly on the percieved US national interest, slightly on the issue of future credibility and to a large degree on the emotional impact of a hypothetical "unimaginable bloodbath" if US forces were to withdraw. This has been effective in scaring democrats and others into their vague, non-committal stances but what is the factual basis of this "mass slaughter" argument?

Historical precedent has been used and abused by some victory-at-all-costs proponents. Some claim the US public is responsible for mass slaughter in SouthEast Asia following the withdrawal of our forces from Vietnam. This line of reasoning suggests public pressure snatched US military defeat from "the jaws of victory" and that deaths in Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam following withdrawal were directly attributable to that action. Both of these themes are pushed by the right-wing, which refuses to accept the fact that US foreign policy "experts" tragically mis-analyzed the social conditions of South East Asia. They are also both totally false.

Framed thus, it then becomes incumbent on proponents of withdrawal to "prove" that the action will NOT cause genocidal anarchy. And yet no such "proof" exists that it will, nor is it ever demanded. And if stability were to break out following a US withdrawal, that would be PROOF not only of the criminal nature of the current occupation but of the incredible intellectual poverty of the whole US foreign policy apparatus. The scare tactics used by "surgers" include "total regional war", creating a "base for alQaeda" and allowing the terrorists to "follow us home". Following their logic, any domestic act of terror, any terror cell discovered in the Middle East and any conflict in the region automatically was caused by US withdrawal. Yet any of those things happening while the US occupies Iraq only proves the need to escalate. The conundrum of illogical logic. I say the withdrawal and the transition to Shiite rule can be managed, although I can't prove it. Iran and the Muslim Caliphate can be contained. So can the US.

Labels: , ,

Saturday, January 13, 2007

One World Government

One aquaintance of mine is convinced that I am worried about the wrong enemy. While I struggle against an ideological foe, a structural and systemic set of power relations embedded in institutional forms and sustained through a hegemonic appropriation of culture and media, law and academia, he sees a small, powerful, elite that is beyond ideology entirely. His conspiratorial group has consolidated forms of control to the point of actually blowing up the World Trade Center without being uncovered so as to create conflict which furthers their agenda. In this world view, communism and capitalism collapse into the same Grand System of domination wielded by this cynical group to perpetuate the consolidation of their already considerable wealth and power. His argument is that communism (as practiced in the soviet bloc) and advanced capitalism ( state/monopoly version) are both just totalitarianism disguised rhetorically.

There are places where we agree and places where I think his argument is so irrational that it obliviates any chance at reconciliation. Yes there is a power elite, C.Wright Mills and others have explained this concept pretty well, but to suggest they are both coordinated enough and viscious enough to plot a 9/11 fakeroo is to miss the essential effectiveness which they already enjoy. Whether it is an Opus Dei ,the United Nations, Protocols of Zion, Masonic Knights Templar or the wild goings on at the Bohemian Grove, it is one thing to recognize the beneficiaries of global hegemony and the solid grip on power they maintain and quite another to provide an analysis which enables you to combat this unjust system.

Those who isolate a small group of "perpetrators" are suggesting that if we simply "eliminated" these "enemies of the people" we would return to some equitable societal condition. This is the fuedal, kill-the-king model of revolution and not one I would recommend for todays world. By suggesting the enemy is those who desire "one world government" we are also isolating anyone who suggests an "internationalist" perspective is desirable for examining crisis and designing solutions. Is it better somehow to have multiple governments if they are all corrupt? Is it just the number of world governments that we need to worry about? If it is just the consolidation we focus on, are we not missing the point of hegemony altogether?

Labels: ,

Friday, January 12, 2007

Montana Slaves to Fashion

Yesterday took a lot of clothes. My wife and I started early, dressed up for the funeral of the young grandson of a dear friend who lost a tragic battle with luekemia. It was an open casket sort of ceremony which I have absolutely no use for and I sat glancing uneasily at the poor child, the flowers and pictures and incredibly ornate casket. I don't like looking at dead people and promise not to put my family through that.

Then it is off with the fancy duds and into our longjohns, parkas and gloves for a stop-the-surge march in below zero weather. Had close to a hundred die hard dissenters working a busy intersection in Missoula Montana. Some hecklers tried to explain how our freedom to undermine our country was being fought for by the soldiers in Iraq but the logic frankly escapes me. Another woman freaked out, jumped out of her car and demanded we stop parading our "flag-draped coffin" around. She said her son was in the Army and could not be allowed to see it. She was super agitated and her demand provided a bit of an ethical dilemna. I favored respecting her intense feelings of distress and obvious fear by losing the prop but a great case could be made that a greater good would be our attempt at protecting her and her son by the dramatic use of this symbol of every mothers fear.

Following that frostbitten foray we stripped down to our most casual play clothes for some food , drink and entertainment, in this case some great reggae provided by the Wailers. The clouds of pungent ,sweet smoke reminded me that the rasta cult is an ageless phenomena, young and old alike singing out the great Marley hits word for word and rocking to the joyful back beat. Every soul in the venerable Wilma Theatre was on their feet for the encore and the band seemed energized despite the fact they are doomed to playing the exact same iconic anthems night after night to white people throughout middle America.

In 1908 the basement of the Wilma housed the IWW headquarters from which a valient free-speech battle was fought. The local businesses had passed a city ordinance banning these socialists and labor organizers from speaking on the street corners as they organized loggers,miners and other workers. Elizibeth Gurley Flynn, her husband Jack Jones, St.John, and Frank Little ( who was to hang from a lampost in Butte eight years later) all came to the city and four of them spent 15 days in jail before the city relented.

Three Changes of Clothes

Labels: ,

Monday, January 08, 2007

Hail Mary, Last Bite

There have been a number of little alegorical turns of phrase to describe the desperation of this moment in regard to the" dire" situation in Iraq. Retired vice general Jack Keane called it "the last bite of the apple" which is a new one for me. He and Lindsay Graham and Joseph Lieberman have been trying to reconcile their defeat-is-not-an-option rhetoric with the logic of "benchmarks" and goals and surges and such. I mean, if you are absolutely committed to win at any cost, nobody really will feel much obligation to reach any benchmark,right?. What will you do if I don't reach it? Pretty much defeats the purpose of making a threat.

Jack Keane says Iraq is a "human problem" and as such, need only be "broken down into components" and the worlds most powerful military can achieve victory. He said we could subdue any city in the world. He didn't mention Hiroshima, but perhaps he didn't need to. Lieberman was practically apoplectic at the thought of defeat, because the terrorists would "follow us home". Never mentioned Israel,in fact, no one mentions Israel.Funny. Lindsay wasn't real happy with the Surrender Monkeys either but was willing to send as many as necessary for as long as necessary to protect US credibility. Which is like our freedom, only not.

The plan now is for combined US and Iraqi troops to secure areas in Baghdad block by block then hold them , camped out, for as long as it takes. Then head into Anbar. This creates the "pre-condition" for those oh-so-elusive political compromises to take place. This might work in Mogadishu and Khartoum! And what a coincidence ,that nuclear sub popping up in the Straights of Hormuz , right before the Big Speech!

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Kagan Konfusion

Part of my problem with this asshole Kagan is there are TWO of them. Robert Kagan, columnist for the WaPo, author, co-founder of Project for a New American Century with William Kristol, wife was Dick Cheney's Deputy National Security Advisor, now ambassador to NATO, appointed back in the day by Elliot Abrams to push for support for Nicaraguan contras.

Then there is his brother,Fredrick Kagan, the Rock Star from the American Enterprise Institute getting all the press lately for his role in pushing the "surge".Also signed on to the PNAC. Also writes for the Weekly Standard, Foreign Policy etc. Doesn't look to me like he has seen a lot of combat. So that explains why I have been hearing so much about this Kagan bastard. Their father Donald is also a prominent neocon and signed the thing as well.. A whole family of heinous fuckers! Imagine those Thanksgiving table blessings!

So Maliki takes charge today and whoops up on a bunch of Sunni over in west Baghdad. Says he'll call for US help when and if he needs it. Ive predicted the end game is so-long-Sunni and the "surge " might just end up being a mop up and evacuation effort. Call it that and I might even support it! But if the plan is just to come up with a couple of new SuperGenerals, a few more troops and some air power to go kick butt, it begs this question: Why was this not the plan two years and 50,000 lives ago? A new McArthur just suddenly appeared? The Iraqi troops just suddenly got trained and inspired? The governments (ours and theirs) just now realized it had a problem and needed to act?

This requires such a suspension of disbelief, Im frankly unable to pull it off. The problem was and still is that the end game is not at all pretty and nothing like Bush's original fantasy.I'm also having trouble mustering the faith that the US forces can pull off the kind of humanitarian relief and evacuation effort we are soon going to need. Time to beg for help. Mr.Wizard!

Labels: ,

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Now I'm Wrong About Kagan

First I predicted Bush and his advisors would decide the best way out of Iraq would be to just side with the Shiia. Instead, it seems he will go after them, try to defang the militias. Good luck,men.ThenI said "Baker is locked in a struggle with Lindeen, Kagan, and Kristol" and I was sure Baker would prevail. Wrong again. Though Condi did lodge a surprising complaint about new settlement building in the West Bank, the Israel First crowd down there at the American Enterprise Institute seems to be calling the shots. Neocon poster boy Fredrick Kagan will end up with the most blood on his hands, which is impressive amongst a crew of world class butchers.

The AEI is butcher central, be it through bullets or neoliberal economic policy. Kagan's colleague Roger Noriega, head Venezuelan coup plotter, continues to shill for the corporate elite. His job gets harder and harder as the WTO sputters and the FTTA is declared dead on arrival. Here is economist Walden Bellow on core problems facing the globalization project:
"Rather than forge a common ,cooperative response to the global crisis of over-production, stagnation and environmental ruin, national capitalist elites have competed with each other to shift the burden of adjustment." Pigs can't be birds.

Of course, there are times when this group does manage to cooperate, in order to make money from sweat, like when they come together to oppose China's new Draft Labor Contract Law. Designed to grant Chinese workers more rights, US and European corporations have formed a cartel to threaten the Chinese government not to implement it. This despite the Thom Friedmanesque rhetoric about "free markets and democracy". How do they sleep at night?

And before the moment passes, I just got to call bullshit on all this "calm and healing our nation" Jerry Ford bilge. Stephen Zunes over at Foreign Policy in Focus gives a slightly less sentimental perspective. 1975, Ford pushes Spain to renege on it's promise to grant independence to Western Sahara, Morrocco invades and remains to this day,imposing a brutal military occupation. That same year, Ford and Kissinger give Indonesian dictator Suharto the green light to invade East Timore where 20,000 eventually die. Soon thereafter ,he vetoes the first UN Security Council resolution calling for Israeli withdrawal from the occupied territories and the establishment of a Palestinian state. On top of these wonderful accomplishments ,Ford managed to provide economic and military aid to dozens of dictators including Pinochet, Marcos, the Shah of Iran,Mobutu in Zaire and the aparthied regime in South Africa. Nixon should have been stripped and paraded around the country in the back of a donkey cart. Then we might have seen some "healing".

Labels: , ,

Street Fighting Man?

I spent all of yesterday cruising the left/liberal blogs seeing what response there might be to the anticipated call for increased troops in Iraq. Apparently the Decider has decided on a new strategery, an "acceleration and surge". I found lots of complaining out there, lots of whining and chatting and cheering for Kieth Olbermanns Commentary on "Sacrifice" but no other calls to action besides the one I was making. C'mon People.

They'll line up for days for a Black Friday stampede after Play Stations and 50 inch plasma TVs but when it comes time to confront the Hegemon of Greed and Death you hear alot of "Im to tired, it won't do any good, Im to busy, let Congress worry about it". And I perfectly understand, the tentacles have effectively squeezed the fight out of the exhausted masses, but Wednesday night (assuming a speech on Tues.) there will be Cajistas, Women in Pinkers, Free Schoolers and a host of other fed up citizens of Missoula Montana who have cut off the tentacles, carrying flag draped coffins and tiki torches, saying we are mad as hell and we arent going to take it anymore. Please, join us. Start something in your town. Time to take to the streets.


Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Another World Better Be Possible

There are a couple of great examples of capitalism at work in the January National Geographic, although there is of course never any questioning of forms of political economy, as such ,in either. In Farming the Amazon we read about the "dilemna" of profitable destruction of the rain forest. ADM, Bunge ,Cargill, John Deere Corp. and soybean Barons like Blairo Maggi ( one of the richest men in Brazil, Governor and possible presidential candidate) are getting fabulously rich tearing up the forest. Loggers and ranchers are also getting in on the bonanza but of course there are a few environmental and social downsides. The only political remedy mentioned is a sort of liberal/social /environmentalism of dispersed ",small scale agroforestry collectives" but these kinds of ideas barely get a chuckle in the boardroom of Archer-Daniels-Midland.

Another stark reminder of who is in charge comes in the form of an article on the emirate of Dubai. Dubbed a "rare success story in a region with a history of failure and stagnation", it is a place where " diamond encrusted cell phones do a brisk business" and where "guest workers barracksaaa" stand in "squalid neighborhoods". The workers average five dollars a day, working twelve hour shifts in scorching heat. Human Rights Watch reported 900 construction related deaths in 2004, many from heat exhaustion. Glittering skyscrapers, rich, white tourists and business men, sex traffickers and megamalls with indoor ski mountains. The National Geographic writer wonders if "the Dubai model- built on freewheeling capitalism, entrenpreneurship, and religious moderation- might be blueprint for other developing nations.

Sorry, this surrealistic abortion of ostentatious oppulence and commodity fetish is built on the sweat and blood of the worlds oppressed.