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Title: Can't Slay the Serpent (0:03:40)



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Ageless Emblem
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Written by Chris Floyd   
Tuesday, 05 April 2011 23:07

The tombstone of Flavinus,
from the Ala Petriana,
stationed in Britain,
shows him horsed, rearing
above a naked captive.
This is the pose he desired
to carry his name
into eternity: brandishing
the standard, proud, honored.

The captive is lion-faced,
wild and bearded,
on all fours,
clinging to a post,
tensed for the blow.
He could have come from Blake,
some lost engraving,
the carved lines charged
with living frenzy,

history’s flesh.

 

 

 
Eternal Punishment: Obama Leads Third Century of Imperial Revenge on Haiti
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Written by Chris Floyd   
Saturday, 02 April 2011 00:41

The blood and thunder (or is it thud and blunder?) of the American-led intervention in Libya has obscured one of the more revealing episodes of our times -- especially for those many millions who still cling to the idea that Barack Obama is somehow an improvement, however slight, over the ruthless, lawless, corroded souls who preceded him in the post of imperial manager.

We speak of course of the American rigging of the election in battered, helpless Haiti -- a brazen effort to disenfranchise the majority of the population and ensure the election of a vicious -- but acquiescent -- client to the presidency. This sordid episode comes complete with a personal intervention by the Nobel Peace Laureate himself to try to continue the exile and persecution of the democratically elected Haitian president overthrown by George W. Bush in a brutal coup.

Even as he was scheming with the CIA to put covert American "boots on the ground" in the Libyan civil war, Obama and his dream team have been maneuvering like mad to put one of a pair of right-wing fanatics into office in Haiti while excluding any other candidates from the running -- including those from Haiti's biggest political party. Obama also personally called South African President Jacob Zuma to ask to keep holding Bush-ousted former Haitian president Jean-Bertrand Aristide in Africa and prevent him from returning to his native land before the election.

With the sublime hypocrisy that has become the hallmark of this most mendacious militarist administration, an Obama spokesman said the Peace Laureate opposed Aristide's return due to "deep concerns that President Aristide's return to Haiti in the closing days of the election could be destabilising," adding that the defender of freedom and democracy believes "that the Haitian people deserve the chance to choose their government through peaceful, free and fair elections."

Even from Team Obama, this is pretty rich. After blocking the largest political party from running, then forcing a run-off between two former supporters of vicious coups, Obama said he didn't want Haiti's democratically elected former leader to return to the homeland he was trundled from at gunpoint by Bushist goons in order to give the Haitian people "a free, fair election."

The result has been a record-low turnout and run-off so riddled with corruption that it may be weeks before one of America's hand-picked stooges is declared the winner. Meanwhile, Aristide did return -- Zuma told Obama plainly that Astride was a free man, he had a passport from his home country, and "I cannot hold him hostage." He did not interfere with the election, he endorsed no candidate. Most of his supporter simply boycotted the election, because of its blatant illegitimacy.

So this is what Barack Obama and his partner in imperialism, the globe-trotting Hillary Clinton, have been up to on the side while they are killing children in Libya and bluntly declaring to Congress that Obama will not acknowledge any restriction on his imperial will to wage war where whenever and wherever he damn well pleases. As John Caruso notes in a blistering post:

In an episode that makes the importance of democracy subversion in Haiti eminently clear, even while the popular uprising in Egypt was peaking, our Secretary of State was dispatched to Haiti to ensure that Michel "Sweet Micky" Martelly advanced to the presidential runoff election rather than Jude Celestin (she flew there literally right after she'd finished putting out the administration's Egypt spin on the Sunday morning talk shows).  So just who is this U.S. favorite?

Seven months after his inauguration, President Aristide was overthrown by a US-backed neo-Duvalierist military putsch on 30 September 1991. "Sweet Micky" was one of the principal cheerleaders of this three-year coup, which claimed some 5,000 lives, according to Amnesty International.

In the years following Aristide's restoration to power in 1994, Martelly became obsessed with hatred for the man. In a video from not too long ago, which can be seen on YouTube, the candidate threatens a patron in a bar where he has performed. "All those shits were Aristide's faggots," he says. "I would kill Aristide to stick a dick up your ass."

You can certainly see why Clinton made the trip.  And if the Obama administration doesn't manage to get this homicidal homophobic Duvalierist into power, they'll still end up with the Secretary General of the right-wing RDNP party (and wife of a former right-wing "president" of Haiti).  Win-win!

...As I've written before, anyone who feared that our first black president might not be sympathetic to the need to smash the democratic aspirations of the first free black nation in the hemisphere can rest assured: Obama will never let race—or anything else—stop him from doing the empire's dirty work.


No, indeed. Doing the empire's dirty work is the Obama Administration's raison d'etre. Caruso helpfully points us to this incandescent post by Linh Dinh:

As firemen and cops are being fired across America, as teachers are being told they must accept austerity measures, the country is broke, after all, as public radio and television, with their supposed liberal bias, lay on the chopping block, as more homeless sprawl and tent cities spring up, as casinos, a sure sign of desperation, mushroom, the United States has entered another costly war without any fanfare or discussion whatsoever. Obama didn’t have to persuade anybody, no sending a Secretary of State to make a fool of herself in front of the United Nations’ General Assembly, no congressional vote, which, last time I checked, was supposed to be a Constitutional requirement, no media blitz. No lies even. He simply ordered more than a hundred Tomahawk missiles, so far, to rain down on Libya, with many more to come. In any case, this it not even a war, but merely a “kinetic military action,” according to an Obama aide. Such straight faced butchery of language, even as one butchers real people, shows that the United States has entered a deep psychotic state. Upon winning the Nobel Peace Prize, Obama himself declared, “I am living testimony to the moral force of non-violence.”  ...

The President of the United States is a traveling salesman for the military industrial complex. In 2010, Obama came to India to visit the Mumbai home of Gandhi, a hero of his, someone he would most like to dine with, very touching, before announcing a mega arms deal of GE fighter jet engines and Boeing military transport planes. Now, as he bombs Libya, Obama tries to sell F-18 fighter planes to Brazil. According to an aide, “President Obama underscored that the F-18 is the best plane on offer” as he made a “strong pitch” to Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff.

The President of the United States is also a spokesman for murderers and crooks. He doesn’t rule, but obeys. His main job is to deceive the masses as he serves his enablers. He can say anything at any time, and means none of it. The President of the United States is the world’s most visible actor, in short. Campaigning in 2007, Obama said, “If American workers are being denied their right to organize and collectively bargain when I’m in the White House, I’ll put on a comfortable pair of shoes myself. I’ll walk on that picket line with you as president of the United States.” Quite a performance. This year, as Wisconsin teachers fight to retain their right to collectively bargain, Obama has said absolutely nothing. One would have to be a fool to think he would join them. ...

As Obama fizzles out, as he loses legitimacy, the power brokers will come up with other figureheads and slogans for American liberals and conservatives to become passionate about. These candidates will jabber, jab and insult each other. As in professional wrestling, the battle will appear fierce. Barack, meanwhile, can look forward to a lucrative memoir and six-figure speaking fees. Even that man of malapropisms and snafus, the much despised Bush, is getting $150,000 each time he opens his mouth these days.

In any case, the latest draconian farce in Haiti is only par for a savage course that Obama and Clinton have been carrying out from the get-go, standing on the shoulders of that giant statesman, Dubya. As I noted here almost two years ago (again following in Caruso's footsteps):

Haiti has been a cursed nation throughout its existence. As I noted in a piece in 2004:

Exactly two hundred years ago, Haitian slaves overthrew their French masters -- the first successful national slave revolt in history. What Spartacus dreamed of doing, the Haitian slaves actually accomplished. It was a tremendous achievement -- and the white West has never forgiven them for it.

In order to win international recognition for their new country, Haiti was forced to pay "reparations" to the slaveowners - a crushing burden of debt they were still paying off at the end of the 19th century. The United States, which refused to recognize the country for more than 60 years, invaded Haiti in 1915, primarily to open it up to "foreign ownership of local concerns." After 19 years of occupation, the Americans backed a series of bloodthirsty dictatorships to protect these "foreign owners." And still it goes on.

It certainly does -- even under the "enlightened" foreign policy of Barack Obama. As John Caruso reports (in separate pieces in A Distant Ocean and A Tiny Revolution), Obama and his "superstar" secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, are loudly championing the latest egregious, brutal farce that Washington and the West have foisted upon the uppity natives of Haiti.

Senatorial elections held this month by the government imposed on Haiti after the U.S.-backed coup of 2004 (more on this below) produced a turnout of less than 10 percent of eligible voters: a result that mocks any notion of a popular, legitimate democracy. But this is not because the Haitians are so lazy and disinterested that they couldn't be bothered to vote. Nor that they are so satisfied with the benevolent, paternal care of their American-appointed masters that they saw no need to let silly electoral contests trouble their bucolic life.

No, the 90 percent refusal rate was in fact a massive protest action, driven chiefly by the fact that the American-backed government would not allow the most popular party -- the party of the government ousted by the 2004 coup -- to run a slate of candidates in the election. By clerkly hook and bureaucratic crook, Haiti's election overseers banned the Fanmi Lavalas slate back in February. At that moment, the April elections became a dead letter, a meaningless farce -- yet another cruel joke played on the people of Haiti.

Another April, another joke -- and a third century of imperial revenge goes on.

NOTE: For more background, especially on the 2004 coup that led to the current crisis, see "Operation Continuing Sweatshop." Below is an excerpt:

This week, the Bush administration added another violent "regime change" notch to its gunbelt, toppling the democratically elected president of Haiti and replacing him with an unelected gang of convicted killers, death squad leaders, militarists, narcoterrorists, CIA operatives, hereditary elitists and corporate predators - a bit like Team Bush itself, in other words.

Although the Haiti coup was widely portrayed as an irresistible upsurge of popular discontent, it was of course the result of years of hard work by Bush's dedicated corrupters of democracy, as William Bowles of Information Clearinghouse reports. Bushist bagmen funded the political opposition to President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, smuggled guns to exiled Haitian warlords, and carried out a relentless strangulation of the county, cutting off long-promised financial and structural aid to one of the poorest nations on earth until food prices were soaring, unemployment spiked to 70 percent, and the broken-backed government lost control of society to armed gangs of criminals, fanatics and the merely desperate.

Meanwhile, Haiti was forced to pay $2 million a month on debts run up by the murderous U.S.-backed dictatorships that had ruled the island since the American military occupation of 1915-1934. The Haitian press, controlled by cronies of the former dictators, supplied the lazy American media with reams of stories about Aristide's "tyranny." These were swiftly followed by thunderous denunciations from the Bush Regime. Wholesale murders of government officials and Aristide partisans by Bush-backed opposition gangs were, of course, demurely ignored -- as were Aristide's own condemnations of violence by his supporters. The old reliable "madman" trope was also brought out for an airing, with constant press drumbeats about Aristide's "mental instability." (America's designated targets are always "deranged monsters," although sometimes, when they prove politically useful again, they miraculously recover their wits, like Libya's Moamar Gadafy.)


[Note 2001: Although, as we can see today, our good reformed monsters always relapse -- when it suits the imperial agenda.]

[Aristide's] real crime, of course, was not the Florida-style election follies or the reported "tyranny." ... No, Aristide did something far worse than stuffing ballots or killing people -- he tried to raise the minimum wage, to the princely sum of two dollars a day. This move outraged the American corporations -- and their local lackeys -- who have for generations used Haiti as a pool of dirt-cheap labor and sky-high profits. It was the last straw for the elitist factions, one of which is actually led by an American citizen and former Reagan-Bush appointee, manufacturing tycoon Andy Apaid.

Apaid was the point man for the rapacious Reagan-Bush "market reform" drive in Haiti. Of course, "reform," in the degraded jargon of the privateers, means exposing even the very means of survival and sustenance to the ravages of powerful corporate interests. For example, the Reagan-Bush plan forced Haiti to lift import tariffs on rice, which had long been a locally-grown staple. Then they flooded Haiti with heavily subsidized American rice, destroying the local market and throwing thousands of self-sufficient farmers out of work. With a now-captive market, the American companies jacked up their prices, spreading ruin and hunger throughout Haitian society.

The jobless farmers provided new fodder for the factories of Apaid and his cronies. Reagan and Bush chipped in by abolishing taxes for American corporations who set up Haitian sweatshops. The result was a precipitous drop in wages -- and life expectancy. Aristide's first election in 1990 threatened these cozy arrangements, so he was duly ejected by a military coup, with Bush I's not-so-tacit connivance.

Bill Clinton restored Aristide to office in 1994 -- but only after forcing him to agree to, yes, "market reforms." In fact, it was Clinton, the privateers' pal, who instigated the post-election aid embargo that Bush II used to such devastating effect. Aristide's chief failing as a leader was his attempt to live up to this bipartisan blackmail. As in every other nation that's come under the IMF whip, Haiti's already-fragile economy collapsed. Bush family retainers like Apaid then shoved the country into total chaos, making it easy prey for the warlords whom Bush operatives -- many of them old Iran-Contra hands -- supplied with arms through the Dominican Republic, the Boston Globe reports.

When Aristide called for an international force to stem the terrorist attack, Bush refused. When Aristide agreed to a deal, brokered by his fellow leaders in the Caribbean, that would have effectively ceded power to the Bush-funded opposition but at least preserved the lineaments of Haitian democracy -- Apaid and the boys turned down the offer, with the blessing of their paymasters in Washington, who suddenly claimed they had no influence over their recalcitrant hired hands. When Aristide asked for American protection as the rebel gang closed in on the capital, Bush refused.

Instead, Aristide was told by armed American gunmen that if he didn't resign, he would be left to die at the hands of the rebels. Then he was bundled onto a waiting plane and dumped in the middle of Africa. Within hours, the Bush-backed terrorists were marching openly through Port-au-Prince, executing Aristide's supporters.

Guess they won't be asking for two dollars a day now, eh? Mission accomplished!

This policy is what the Nobel Peace Laureate -- the first African-American president in history -- is now perpetuating in the only nation to liberate itself from slavery. But of course, the most important thing is not the dispossessed in Haiti, nor the innocent people in Libya, Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia and Pakistan being killed, day after day, by the Laureate's bombs, bullets and assassins. No, the main thing is -- he's not John McCain! And we must put aside these trifles, these heaps of corpses, and rally around the prez to "defend our gains and regroup for a progressive counter-offensive in 2012!" The best is yet to come!

 
An Urgent Call: Act Now to Save a Valuable Voice
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Written by Chris Floyd   
Wednesday, 30 March 2011 15:38

Arthur Silber, one of the most incisive and eloquent analysts writing today, is, in his own words, "sick, broke and scared." Silber is wracked by chronic and worsening health problems, which he is having to endure in dire poverty. Voluntary contributions to his website are his only source of income; but of course, when he is sick, as he often is, he can't post new material, and therefore donations drop off.

He is in a particularly bad spiral at the moment, with mounting medical bills and an all-too-real prospect of homelessness. This is what often happens to fearless truth-tellers in our God-led land of Hope and Plenty, with liberty and justice for all, etc. We cannot change this grim reality overnight -- but we can take immediate action to help one of our most valuable voices.

I know times are hard all over (except for the gilded few), but if you have anything at all to spare, please head over to Silber's website, and drop something in the PayPal coinbox. Thanks.

 
A Hundred Years of Rain: Air War Comes Full Circle in Libya
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Written by Chris Floyd   
Monday, 21 March 2011 14:54

Ian Patterson notes that the air war unleashed on Libya by the Western powers last week coincides very neatly with the 100th anniversary of the first military air strike -- which was launched by a Western power against ... Libya. From The London Review of Books:

The world’s first aerial bombing mission took place 100 years ago, over Libya. It was an attack on Turkish positions in Tripoli. On 1 November 1911, Lieutenant Cavotti of the Italian Air Fleet dropped four two-kilogramme bombs, by hand, over the side of his aeroplane. In the days that followed, several more attacks took place on nearby Arab bases. Some of them, inaugurating a pattern all too familiar in the century since then, fell on a field hospital, at Ain Zara, provoking heated argument in the international press about the ethics of dropping bombs from the air, and what is now known as ‘collateral damage’. (In those days it was called ‘frightfulness’.) The Italians, however, were much cheered by the ‘wonderful moral effect’ of bombing, its capacity to demoralise and panic those on the receiving end.

A hundred years on, as missiles rain down on Gaddafi’s defences and sleeping Libyan soldiers are blasted and burned, we hear claims of a similar kind: the might of the western onslaught will dissipate all support for Gaddafi’s regime and usher in a new golden age for everyone. Just as Shock and Awe were meant to in Iraq. Or bombing and defoliation were meant to in in Vietnam. Or as the London Blitz was meant to break Britain’s spirit. Yet all the evidence suggests that dropping high explosive on places where people live increases their opposition, their solidarity and their resolve. Happy Anniversary.

Note: For more on how the little acorn of atrocity planted by Lt. Cavotti has grown into the monstrous forest that shadows the world today, see this informative piece by Tom Englehardt.

 
Ancient Poison Bears New Fruit: Western Frenzy Grows in Libya
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Written by Chris Floyd   
Monday, 21 March 2011 00:36

The American war against Libya grew in intensity on Sunday, raining death in all directions -- including on civilian vehicles and Libyan forces in full retreat. Behind the full-scale barrage launched by the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, the armed opposition led by recent henchmen of Moamar Gadafy pressed forward in a military offensive. Libyan soldiers were gunned down as they fled -- a reprise of the "turkey shoot" American forces conducted on retreating Iraqis back in the first glorious Gulf War.

(But weren't they supposed to retreat? Wasn't that the purpose of the UN directive? Oh, it's so confusing!)

Here's what happened today, following yesterday's hell-storm of 110 Tomahawk missiles:

American warplanes became more involved on Sunday, with B-2 stealth bombers, F-16 and F-15 fighter jets and Harrier attack jets flown by the Marine Corps striking at Libyan ground forces, air defenses and airfields, while Navy electronic warplanes, EA-18G Growlers, jammed Libyan radar and communications ...

Rebel forces ... began to regroup in the east as allied warplanes destroyed dozens of government armored vehicles near the rebel capital, Benghazi, leaving a field of burned wreckage along the coastal road to the city. By nightfall, the rebels had pressed almost 40 miles back west...

For miles leading south, the roadsides were littered with burned trucks and burned civilian cars. In some places battle tanks had simply been abandoned, intact, as their crews fled. ... To the south, though, many had been hit as they headed away from the city in a headlong dash for escape on the long road leading to a distant Tripoli.

In other words, the "no-fly zone" supposedly imposed to stop the fighting in Libya and secure the safety of its civilians morphed very quickly into what it was always intended to be: a military intervention on behalf of one side of a civil war, leading to more war -- and to many, many more civilian casualties.

Let us put it as plainly as possible: Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton and Nicolas Sarkozy and the ludicrous upper-class twit called David Cameron do not give one good goddamn about the "security and freedom" of the Libyan people. They simply do not. They care about one thing only: imposing the domination of their monied, militarized elites.

Or as Alexis de Tocqueville put it following his tour of the society that Europeans had imposed -- with great savagery and deceit -- in America:

"The European is to other races of men what man in general is to animate nature. When he cannot bend them to his use or make them serve his self-interests, he destroys them and makes them vanish little by little before him."

It seems that the hapless Arab League -- whose call for a no-fly zone in Libya gave the perfect cover for the new Western war -- have belatedly recognized the truth of de Tocqueville's insight. They are now decrying the berserker frenzy of the Western forces; it was not what they had in mind at all:


The Arab League chief said on Sunday that Arabs did not want military strikes by Western powers that hit civilians when the League called for a no-fly zone over Libya.

In comments carried by Egypt's official state news agency, Secretary-General Amr Moussa also said he was calling for an emergency Arab League meeting to discuss the situation in the Arab world and particularly Libya.

"What is happening in Libya differs from the aim of imposing a no-fly zone, and what we want is the protection of civilians and not the bombardment of more civilians," he said.

Support for Gadafy himself was virtually non-existent in the Arab world -- but unlike the spoon-fed, misinformed, incurious TV-gawkers back in the United States, the people of the region recognized full well the true nature and intentions of the onslaught:

The overthrow of Mubarak in Egypt and Tunisia's Zine al Abidine bin Ali -- as well as mass protests against leaders in Yemen and Bahrain -- have restored a dormant Arab pride which was crushed by decades of autocracy and foreign intervention.

But many people in the Arab world, while anxious to see the end of Gadhafi's rule, felt that the resort to Western military action has tarnished Libya's revolution.

"Who will accept that foreign countries attack an Arab country? This is something shameful," said Yemeni rights activist Bashir Othman.

Support for military action was also muted by deep-seated suspicions that the West is more concerned with securing access to Arab oil supplies than supporting Arab aspirations.

"They are hitting Libya because of the oil, not to protect the Libyans," said Ali al-Jassem, 53, in the village of Sitra in Bahrain, where protests by the Shi'ite Muslim majority against the Sunni ruling Al-Khalifa family have triggered military reinforcement by neighboring Gulf Arab forces.

A spokesman for Bahrain's largest Shi'ite opposition party Wefaq questioned why the West was intervening against Gadhafi while it allowed oil-producing allies to support a crackdown on protesters in Bahrain in which 11 people have been killed.

"We think what is happening in Bahrain is no different to what was happening in Libya," Ibrahim Mattar said. "Bahrain is very small so the deaths are significant for a country where Bahrainis are only 600,000."

Yet on the same day the Peace Laureate was drawing his first blood in Libya with his Zeus-like hurtling of a hundred and ten thunderbolts, his Secretary of State was publicly supporting the Saudi incursion into Bahrain, which enabled the murderous crackdown there. At the same time, American officials admitted that they did, in fact, know of the Saudi incursion in advance -- despite their heartsworn denials just a few days ago.

Again: Obama, Clinton, Sarkozy and Cameron do not give a damn about the killing of unarmed protestors in Bahrain -- any more than they give a damn about the killing of protestors, armed or unarmed, in Libya. It suits their current purposes to wage war in Libya, and so they wage war in Libya. It suits their current purposes to stand with one of the most oppressive and extremist regimes on earth to suppress, with deadly force, the yearning for democracy in Bahrain; so that's what they do.

The Peace Laureate and the bipartisan war-lovers in the American political and media elite tell us over and over that the assault on Libya is a "humanitarian intervention" aimed solely at "protecting the Libyan people." Yet at the same time, the ever-bellicose but often brutally frank Clinton states plainly, in public: "a final result of any negotiations would have to be the decision by Colonel Gadhafi to leave.”

How much plainer can it be? It is not a humanitarian intervention; it is a military operation to impose regime change -- which is, needless to say, patently illegal under the international laws which the US and the UN say they are upholding. But who cares about that?

The fact that anyone takes anything these compulsive, demonstrable liars say at face value, even for a micro-second, is one of the great mysteries of our age. Yet how many oceans of newsprint, how many blizzards of pixels have already been spent in earnest disquisitions on the serious import of their statements!

2.
Then again, there is nothing novel about this muderous absurdity, as Arthur Silber reminds us in his latest incendiary work of outrage and insight:

There isn't any "news" in these latest events. Another day, another set of war crimes. Where's the news in that? That's what the United States does now, as it has regularly and systematically for over a century. Wait, that's not right: as it has since before it even became the United States. But hell, you don't want to think about any of that too deeply or too long. If you did, how could you continue with your lamentations about the "death" of the once-noble United States and its "true" values? What are the "true" values of a nation founded and developed in very significant part on not one, but two, genocides that lasted for centuries?

Silber has much more to say; read it all -- and the links as well. (And give him any financial support you can while you are there; he continues to be one of the brightest, deepest lights we have, even as he battles excruciating -- and expensive -- health problems.)

You can also find more insight into the deep roots of our current predicament in a remarkable book by Paul VanDevelder: Savages and Scoundrels: The Untold Story of America's Road to Empire through Indian Territory.  While the book is filled with little-known historical detail about the vast legacy of deceit and destruction in the forging of the American Empire, VanDevelder also looks deeper into history for the antecedents of the bloody actions we see across the world today. For example, he points out that "laws" used by our interventionists to justify their profitable carnage are secularized versions of the arbitrarily declared papal laws and edicts which lay behind --- what else? -- the Crusades.

VanDevelder outlines the thinking of the instigator of the Crusades, Pope Innocent III, who sought ways to "legitimize" the seizure of "the property and estate of pagans, savages and infidels" -- the land-grabbing and looting which were the essence of the Crusades. He found it in the amorphous idea of "natural law" -- whose precepts were, of course, determined by the divinely directed Church.

In his encyclical Quod super his, Innocent "had given his successors the tools with which to secure and enforce the papacy's authority over all secular powers, [Christian or pagan]. ... The pope was empowered by a universal right, one recognized in natural law, to enforce the union of Christian civilization with that of the infidel races..."

"Consequently," VanDevelder writes, "the pope not only had jurisdiction over the wandering infidels, he was also duty-bound to intervene in situations where those infidels were found to be in violation of natural and divine laws." And of course, failure to surrender to Christianity -- and its militarized elites -- was an egregious violation of "natural and divine law," punishable by death, decimation and destruction.

Building on this, Church doctine later declared that the pope had a duty to "deny that infidels had any valid legal right to own property and rule over their own lands." They could only do so on sufferance from the power that held "universal jurisdiction" over world affairs. Pope Eugenius IV "decreed that the pope could intervene in the internal affairs of foreign lands as the guardian of the wayward souls who lived there."

Reformation powers like Elizabthean England secularized these notions to justify their own conquests. As VanDevelder notes, both crown advocates and Protestant clergymen advanced the notion that "'the just quest by the sword' of savage pagans in foreign lands was the solemn duty of civilized people. ... Where the English were concerned, justifying the conquest of foreign lands was a simple matter of replacing hieratic authority with the secular crown. Lord Coke bundled all these arguments into one by telling King James I that his foremost responsibility as king was to subjugate the savages to civilized laws of natural justice and equity."

After the Revolution, the American elites adopted these by-now ancient -- and arbitrary -- principles of domination. They took on the mantle of "universal jurisdiction" -- i.e., the right to determine "the right way of life for mankind," as Innocent III had put it -- along with the solemn duty to impose civilization, by force if necessary, on all the wayward savages who lack it -- or even worse, refuse it. The end result, of course, was a relentless record of deceit (every single treaty signed with sovereign Indian nations in the course of the 18th and 19th centuries was broken), rapine and ethnic cleansing.

Today this militarized "universal jurisdiction" which sprang from the ambitions of the Crusader Pope has passed, nominally, to the United Nations (although as we have seen in recent years, our American elites still consider themselves to be the true possessors of this "right," and will eagerly use it unilaterally whenever the UN proves recalcitrant). Substitute "the will of the international community" for "Christianity" and so on, and you need hardly change a word from the historical documents reaching back centuries.

But from the horrendous atrocities of the First Crusade to the computerized carnage being wrought in Libya today, the noble rhetoric of freedom, enlightenment, protection and liberation has masked base self-interest, murderous racism, bottomless corruption, outrageous deceit and wanton destruction. As Silber notes, what we are seeing today is nothing new; it is just another deep, dirty, self-inflicted wound to the human spirit.

 
First Blood: American Missiles Rain Down on Libya
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Written by Chris Floyd   
Saturday, 19 March 2011 23:51

When the UN intervention into Libya was first announced, we immediately heard how the United States would not be in the forefront of the military action; the lead would be taken by other nations, with US acting largely as a supplier and facilitator for the "broad-based coalition" arrayed against Libya (including some real live Ay-rabs! as the interventionists enthusiastically noted.) But it took less than two days to give the lie to this claim.

On Saturday, just after the French -- who have extensive oil interest in Libya -- jumped the gun on the UN coalition and started attacking Libyan ground forces, the United States joined in with a missile attack on Libyan cities. Not a few missiles; not 10 or 30 or 50 missiles -- but a full barrage of 110 Tomahawk missiles, slamming into Tripoli and Misurata.

This was always in the cards, from the earliest mooting of a "no-fly zone."  This PR concept conjures up the idea of knightly pilots chasing the aircraft of the evil ones from the sky -- a jousting between combatants high in the heavens, far removed from the people below. But "no-fly zones" are always accompanied, of necessity, by attacks to "degrade" the "command-and-control centers" of the designated enemy of the day. (Almost always a heinous dictator swimming in arms and money given to him by the West before he did something to displease his patrons and business partners.) This means attacks on ground installations and headquarters -- which, as in the United States, are often located in the midst of civilian areas, and, as in the United States, filled with civilian workers. It also means, invariably, attacks on regular miltary forces of the designated enemy who are helping sustain the miscreant's operations. A "no-fly zone" always means a full-scale military attack with everything except ground troops, with an inevitable harvest of civilian deaths. Hell, you can even conduct a whole war with this mechanism, as the United States and its allies did against Serbia.

In any case, the game is now afoot. Barack Obama has drawn his first blood from Libya, which now becomes the sixth (at least) Muslim nation in which he has launched deadly military actions, joining Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. (Of course, the Administration has bragged that it is carrying out secret wars and covert operations in more than 70 countries, with several other Muslim nations certainly among that number.) The West and its reliable dictators in the Arab world are now fully committed to one side in the Libyan civil war, and are actively seeking to bring to power an armed opposition group led by a man who was a chief agent of Gadafy's repression. (As As'ad AbuKhalil has noted, Gadafy's erstwhile strongmen have "hijacked" the Libyan revolution.) Meanwhile, the autocratic allies of Barack Obama and the other interventionist powers continue to kill and repress unarmed civilians in Yemen and Bahrain without the slightest negative consequence, beyond a few hackneyed harrumphs served up briefly for public consumption by their string-pullers back in Washington.

But this too is another invariable by-product of armed intervention: murderous hypocrisy.

Meanwhile, Abdel al-Bari Atwan (editor-in-chief of Al-Quds Al-Arabi, the pan-Arab newspaper based in London) asks some pertinent questions about the intervention in a Guardian piece aptly titled, "Relief will fade as we see the real impact of intervention in Libya":

First, what motives lie behind this intervention? While the UN was voting to impose a no-fly zone in Libya, at least 40 civilians were killed in a US drone attack in Waziristan in Pakistan. And as I write, al-Jazeera is broadcasting scenes of carnage from Sanaa, Yemen, where at least 40 protesters have been shot dead. But there will be no UN no-fly zone to protect Pakistani civilians from US attacks, or to protect Yemenis. One cannot help but question the selective involvement of the west in the so-called "Arab spring" series of uprisings. ...

Gaddafi knows how to play the Arab street, too. At the moment he has little, if any, public support; his influence is limited to his family and tribe. But he may use this intervention to present himself as the victim of post-colonialist interference in pursuit of oil. He is likely to pose the question that is echoing around the Arab world – why wasn't there a no-fly zone over Gaza when the Israelis were bombarding it in 2008/9? ...

Finally, there is the worry that the Arab spring will be derailed by events in Libya. If uprising plus violent suppression equals western intervention, the long-suffering Arab subjects of the region's remaining autocrats might be coerced into sticking with the status quo.

The last point may be the crux of the matter. Western leaders have obviously been casting about for  some way to put the brakes on the Arab Awakening before it sweeps away any more of their reliable client-dictators. Libya presents the perfect opportunity for them to muddy the waters, and try to turn the whole movement into the usual murky, bloody quagmire of global power politics. In any case, it is hard to believe that a burning, yearning solicitude for the people of Libya is what is actually motivating our noble interventionists -- who haven't shown the slight crumb of concern for the Libyan populace until now.

NOTE: To decry the course of action being taken by the interventionists in Libya is not to "support" Gadafy. (Unlike his present attackers, who have supported him most sumptuously for years.) This should go without saying, but of course it can't; this witless denunciation is invariably trotted out against anyone who does not immediately jump on the bloodsoaked bandwagon whenever our leaders start killing people. (You can only oppose this mass production of foreign corpses after it's over -- and even then, you can only describe it as a mistake, or an example of good intentions gone awry through incompetence or happenstance.) But as I noted in the comments here recently:

To oppose an outside military invention is not the same thing as "supporting" whomever the intervention is aimed against. It is simply to look at the historical record and see what the fruits of these interventions actually are. They are, invariably, a widening of the conflict, a vast increase in civilian suffering (even in interventions ostensibly launched specifically to prevent civilian suffering), years of widening, rippling instability, pervasive corruption by war profiteers, and a further militarizing of world society. It is exacerbating an evil by contributing an equal or even greater evil to the mix.

This is especially true in this case, as at present, the Libyan opposition is being led by a breakaway faction of Gadafy's own thuggish regime. The leader of the opposition was, until just a few weeks ago, an integral part of Gadafy's use of "brutality against his people." If he and his clique are the ones who take power after an intervention, we will have merely exchanged one faction of Gadafy's regime for another. But I doubt if this would bother our humanitarian interventionists; they have been making profitable deals with Gadafy for years. They can go on making profitable deals with one of his former henchmen just as well.

 
Further Thoughts on Politics and Despair
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Written by Chris Floyd   
Saturday, 19 March 2011 17:42

I don't want to make a habit of using blog posts to respond to comments, but a reply to a recent piece in which I did just that seemed to me to call for a more substantial response than a comment thread can easily contain. So, begging your indulgence once again, here is the exchange: first the commenter's message, and then my answer.

From "Pjerome58:
As much as I admire, and regularly read, Chris Floyd's blog, this response to Pinquot was disturbing in itself.  Politics is more than a toxin to be flushed and "waste managed."  Although I can agree that "politics" in the sense of parliamentary shenanigans is mere shadow boxing, a ruse to make us think that our votes somehow affect the way a nation or state or city is governed, "politics" in the broader sense affects us all the time.  It is nice to contemplate astronomy and musical chords and the origins of cognition, but at the end (and beginning) of the day, everyone eats/works/lives in a world where wars are fought, people are imprisoned, children are deprived of food, women are not safe in their own homes, and on and on.  Particularly for Americans, there is an undeniable responsibility to try to counter the violence and militarism that is stampeding across the globe, to somehow take on the banksters robbing many of us blind, and to pierce the mythology of two-party "politics" in this country.

So what are we to do?  Mr. Floyd seems to be telling us to compartmentalize "politics," that cesspool of human behavior, and get on with life.  That's fine, but now that we know (via Mr. Floyd and many other commentators and some reporters, and through our daily experiences), do we ignore the dark side of life?  I work on behalf of incarcerated people, providing legal assistance and often relieving some of their daily suffering.  It is grueling, often demoralizing, but ultimately more satisfying for me than learning to play the piano or taking up watercolors.  In my spare hours, I often carry a sign in support of Bradley Manning or to end wars fought in my name, try to organize to combat FBI surveillance on my friends, and take up other "political" causes.   And here I can identify with Pinquot's plight in the sense that I often like to think I am making a difference in the bigger world, that my work is changing things, that my political work is important, but then I read about horrors going on in places I have never been and will never likely visit (Somalia, Pakistan, Iraq, Japan) and despair.  What's the use?  Why bother?  Sometimes, despair is overwhelming, although I have not yet considered heroin.

So Mr, Floyd, what to do?  Yes, there is much more to life than struggle, but I cannot turn away from it.  I won't turn away from it.  I read a novel every now and then, listen to music daily, try to exercise regularly and all that, but still, there is despair.  I would like a better answer than to simply "treat" the "waste product" that you call politics.

My reply:
First of all, your main objection or concern about my post seems to come down a matter of semantics. I described "politics" in terms of toxic waste; you read that, and said, "Hey, I consider my activist work a form of politics -- and I don't think it's a toxin." It's just a matter of how one defines the term "politics." In my post, I set out -- very early on, and very clearly -- what I meant by "politics." Here is what I said: "Politics -- the machinations of the stunted, damaged souls and third-rate minds who hanker for power."

Ironically, this is very close to your statement: "I can agree that "politics" in the sense of parliamentary shenanigans is mere shadow boxing, a ruse to make us think that our votes somehow affect the way a nation or state or city is governed." Right then, we are in perfect agreement. So what exactly is the problem? I defined "politics" -- a large, amorphous term -- in a specific way for the purposes of the blog post, and set out clearly what I meant by it. I'm surprised that anyone could construe this usage as some kind of devaluation or undermining of activism. 

In any case, here is how you yourself describe the political world, the 'world of power,' as I called it: "a world where wars are fought, people are imprisoned, children are deprived of food, women are not safe in their own homes .... [where] violence and militarism [are] stampeding across the globe ... banksters robbing many of us blind ...."

What is all that, then, if it is not toxic? And yes, we all have to deal with it, every day, in a myriad of ways, short-term and long-term -- and that 'dealing with it' is precisely the "waste management" I was talking about. We have to devise ways to deal with the sewage and trash our bodies and our behaviors produce as we live our daily lives; it is just the same with politics, as we deal with the toxins produced by those who pursue and wield power.

If you like, we can extend the metaphor and say that "politics" -- in the sense of those strange people who crave domination over others seeking office, and the policies and practices they carry out in power -- constitutes the rawest kind of sewage, the highly toxic, sick-making material that taints and degrades anyone who plunges into it and stays there, churning around in partisan fervor, etc. And the efforts that others make to alleviate or mitigate or, yes, even remove the sewage produced by power-seekers are what constitute the "waste management" of this toxic by-product. You might not find the term "waste management" noble enough, and that's a fair point. I think it's a pretty honorable profession myself, but again, this is just semantics. Call it anything you like, come up with some other metaphor. But the realities -- the toxic nature of domination over others and the necessity to deal with it -- remain the same.

You say that I call on people to "compartmentalize politics" and "get on with life." Then you seem to imply that I advocate "ignoring the dark side of life." But when I say clearly that "waste management" is an unavoidable part of life,  how is that "ignoring" the "dark side"? (And how do you square this criticism -- that I advocate ignoring the dark side of life -- with my observation that a sense of the tragic element in life is part of a deeper understanding of reality -- an understanding that "politics" lacks?)

As for "compartmentalizing" aspects of one's life -- so what? Everyone 'compartmentalizes' all manner of things, all day long, if only for moments at a time. That's just an ordinary function of consciousness. But of course our awareness of all the aspects of life permeates our consciousness as a whole; the "dark side" doesn't disappear when we concentrate on something else -- but neither do, say, the beauty and wonder and numinous qualities to be found in life, which I sketched briefly in the post in this way:

...Beyond the thunder and spectacle of this ape-roaring world is another state of reality, emerging from the murk of our baser functions. There is power here, too, but not the heavy, blood-sodden bulk of dominance. Instead, it's a power of radiance, of awareness, connection, breaking through in snaps of heightened perception, moments of encounter and illumination that lift us from the slime.

It takes ten million forms, could be in anything – a rustle of leaves, the tang of salt, a bending blues note, the sweep of shadows on a tin roof, the catch in a voice, the touch of a hand, a line from Sappho or John Clare. Any particular, specific combination of ever-shifting elements, always unrepeatable in its exact effect and always momentary....

And yes, you can add political moments in that catalogue of "moments of encounter and illumination," as I say very clearly in the post, noting that "the greatest moments, the epiphanies ... do happen in politics on rare occasions, one must admit."

So in the main, I have to say that I don't quite get the drift of your message. You seem to feel that I am advocating some kind of quietism, when that is demonstrably not true. You ask me to tell you "what are we to do," when, for what it's worth, I said exactly what I thought we are to do, as plainly as I could, in the very piece you are commenting upon. Such as here:

So do we counsel fatalism, a dark, defeated surrender, a retreat into bitter, curdled quietude? Not a whit. We advocate action, positive action, unstinting action, doing the only thing that human beings can do, ever: Try this, try that, try something else again; discard those approaches that don't work, that wreak havoc, that breed death and cruelty; fight against everything that would draw us down again into our own mud; expect no quarter, no lasting comfort, no true security; offer no last word, no eternal truth, but just keep stumbling, falling, careening, backsliding, crawling toward the broken light.

How much clearer do you want me to be? Should I draw up a list of specific actions we all should take, lay down some doctrinal line that should be enforced on everyone?

But here is the most ironic thing of all: You yourself are already doing exactly what I advocate doing. You say: "I work on behalf of incarcerated people, providing legal assistance and often relieving some of their daily suffering."

You spend your life relieving the daily suffering of human beings in distress -- I honestly believe this is a very noble, even heroic thing to do. It is precisely the kind of action I have advocated and praised and encouraged over and over and over again, year after year after year, in my writing.  You do it on a direct, individual basis -- you help mitigate the suffering of a fellow human being, and in doing so, you set an example for the rest of us on how to fight against those elements of reality -- and of our own psyches -- that would "draw us down again into our own mud."

So why on God's earth are you asking me to tell you what we should do? What I have already plainly said we should do, you are doing. You are doing it in the most real, concrete way possible. You help prisoners, you advocate for Bradley Manning, you march against war, you try to combat government encroachments on liberty, and so on. This is precisely, exactly the way I believe we should "treat" the "'waste product' that [I] call politics." This is precisely what I believe we should do to defy, resist and mitigate the cruelty and brutality and machinations of power.

Where -- in the post in question or throughout all of the millions of words I've blathered out in print and blogosphere -- can you find anything, even the slightest hint, that I advocate that people should "turn away from struggle," or that such activity is worthless, pointless, or that we should set it aside and "get on with life," ignoring the "dark side" in favor of (as you put it with what seems to be a bit of unfortunate sneering) "learning to play the piano or taking up watercolors"? (If you find activism more satisfying that playing the piano, that's fine; but of course, some people find both of them satisfying. So why sneer at them?)

So again, I don't really catch your drift. You say you don't turn away from struggle, but you do "read a novel every now and then, listen to music daily, try to exercise regularly and all that"; how is that any different from what I was writing about? Again, you ask me "what to do?" Well, you are doing all that I would advocate. I don't know what more you want me to tell you.

Unless you want me to tell you how not to despair about horrors going on in other parts of the world -- or somehow convince you that the work you do alleviating human suffering "makes a difference in the bigger world," that it "changes things" and that your "political work is important." I don't know how to answer that. If you don't find relieving some of the daily suffering of prisoners to have sufficient meaning in itself, to be of sufficient importance to do in its own right, then what can I say? I do find such things to have the most utmost importance, the most profound meaning -- whether they "change things" in some ultimate sense or lead to some kind of eventual transformation of society, or not.

"What's the use?" you say you sometimes feel. "Why bother?" Well, I guess the answer to these questions can be found in another question: "Why do you do these things in the first place?" Is it not precisely because you want to alleviate the suffering of individual human beings? Then what more "importance" do you need? Is it worthless or pointless to help someone even if it doesn't change the world, or even if someone else is suffering elsewhere? Should you stop doing it -- should you not help a prisoner, should you not try to stop a war or an atrocity -- just because it won't magically change human nature, and that wars and atrocities and the suffering of prisoners will still go on? Would you refrain from saving an individual child from drowning just because, well, children are always going to drown sometimes no matter what, and even if I save this kid here, some child in Somalia is drowning, so what's the point? Of course you wouldn't say that. But this is exactly the same logic that seems to be animating your despair.

Finally, why do you think you can or should live without despair? Are you really asking me to tell you how to do that? What do you want me to say? That God or Science or the dialectic will make it all work out in the long run? Would that give you comfort? Well, I can't say that, because I don't believe it. I don't believe that a thinking, feeling person can exist in the world as it is without knowing despair. That's part of the tragic element of existence that I was talking about.

But such despair doesn't "overwhelm" me, or make me think that efforts to alleviate the suffering of individual human beings are of no use. Despair exists, and I feel it often and deeply, but it doesn't make me think that those moments of connection, awareness, encounter, radiance and beauty I spoke of above are meaningless. I am not overwhelmed by despair because I believe that reality exists in moments and only in moments, and that at any given time, a moment can be redeemed, can be suffused with profound and, if you like, ultimate meaning, in and of itself. There are many ways of redeeming the moments of existence -- and one way, certainly, is by doing precisely what you are doing in your prison work and activism.

The moment of connection, the moment of helping, the moment of awareness -- each is important in and of itself. Now, it may be that these moments can build upon one another; that one moment of helping or awareness can lead to another. They might serve as an example to others to seek out such moments for themselves. I am sure this is true on an individual level. And I'm not saying that there cannot be, over vast stretches of time, an accumulation of such moments -- and the legacies they leave -- that could lead to greater changes in human nature and society. I don't know if that's true or not, if that's how reality works or not; but precisely because I don't know, I can't discount this latter possibility out of hand.

But again, whether this is possible or not doesn't really matter to me, or leave me overwhelmed. The moments of connection, awareness, numinosity, etc. that occur within Being -- within reality as it is now, as I can comprehend it with my limited understanding  -- these moments are enough for me, they hold sufficient meaning in themselves. I don't require them to be part of some grand cosmic scheme, or some greater march toward progress.

These are the apprehensions and comprehensions of reality that I have come to over many decades of thinking about such things -- and of dealing with the tragedies and joys of life. Of course, these understandings are constantly being refined -- and challenged -- by new knowledge, new experiences, new reflections on the past, and so on. But what I wrote in the post -- and especially in the older passages quoted in that post -- set out as clearly as possible the broad outlines of my thinking on these matters. If you want an "answer" from me, that's all I've got.

If you want a "better answer" -- as well you might -- then you'll need to ask someone else .... or even figure it out for yourself.

 
Bloodbath in Yemen: No UN Action for the Peace Laureate's Pal
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Written by Chris Floyd   
Friday, 18 March 2011 13:31

(UPDATED BELOW)

(UPDATED AGAIN)

This just in: spurred on by the United States and Saudi Arabia, the UN Security Council has just authorized immediate military intervention in Yemen to stop the government's wanton slaughter of innocent civilians engaging in peaceful protest.

The vote came just hours after government security forces in Yemen opened fire on unarmed, peaceful protestors in the capital city of Sana. Tens of thousands of ordinary citizens had turned out for the demonstration, which was part of  an ongoing campaign of non-violent dissent against repression, injustice, inequality and deprivation in the nation, ruled by strongman President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton declared that "we cannot stand by and watch authoritarian governments gun down their own unarmed citizens in the street."  The Security Council authorized a wide range of military actions against Yemen, although an outright military occupation was not authorized. "These creatures who do terrible things to their own people must know they will be held accountable by the world community," said Clinton, after arriving in Bahrain for what she called "friendly talks" with King Hamad Bin Isa al-Khalifa on "securing stability in the region."

Oh wait, that didn't happen. The regime in Yemen will not face military intervention by the UN to stop its slaughter of unarmed civilians. There will be, at most, a few stern words from the Obama Administration urging "restraint on both sides" -- even as the Peace Laureate carries on his secret bombing campaigns and covert military operations in Yemen, with the eager cooperation of Saleh. "Restraint," in the degraded imperial parlance of our day, means that unarmed people should allow themselves to be mowed down by American-backed governments without making a big fuss about it. In exchange, Washington will then publicly urge its local client tyrant to "move" on "the reform process" -- even as it sells him more weapons and kills more of his people in its covert ops.

But as the world's attention was drawn to Libya, here's what the Peace Laureate's good buddy in Yemen has been up to today. From the NYT:

Security forces and government supporters opened fire on demonstrators on Friday as the largest protest so far in Yemen came under violent and sustained attack in the center of the capital, Sana. At least 10 people were killed and more than 100 injured, according to a doctor at a makeshift hospital near the protest. ...

Government supporters in plain clothes fired down on the demonstration from rooftops and windows almost immediately after the protesters rose from their noon prayers, conducted en masse in the street on Friday. ...

A man walked through the crowd with a microphone yelling, “Peaceful, peaceful! Don’t be afraid of the bullets!”

At the same time, a large number of riot police officers massed at the south end of the protest, opening fire with guns and a water cannons in an effort to keep demonstrators from moving further into the center of the capital. ...

As the violence escalated, many in central Sana took cover. “Today is the worst day; this is a new Qaddafi,” said Khalil al-Zekry, who hunkered down in his video shop along the protest route.

But you will wait in vain to see a UN Security Council intervention directed at this new Gadafy. Instead, we will no doubt soon hear from the Peace Laureate's staunch ally in secret Terror War that the slaughter on Friday was "unauthorized," carried out by "rogue elements," and that -- wait for it -- "an investigation will immediately be launched."

That's how it's done when you're in good standing with the imperial bosses back on the Potomac -- and when there is no other potential client strongman waiting in the wings, as in Libya.

UPDATE: The death count in Yemen is now 30, and will almost certainly rise higher.

UPDATE 2: Well, just as we said, Yemen's "president" -- if that's what you call someone who has ruled a country for 32 years -- has denied that government forces were involved in the mass slaughter of unarmed protestors in the capital today. [The death toll has now risen to 40.] The NY Times reports:

At a news conference in Sana, Mr. Saleh claimed that the clashes on Friday were between “citizens and demonstrators” and that “the police were not present and did not open fire.”

The Peace Laureate finally managed to comment on the killings, sternly wagging his finger at his Terror War ally, telling him that he must live up the "set of universal rights" that "the United States stands for."

It is not known if the President then went down to the war room to watch video of the latest killing of young children and other unarmed civilians by his Predators and Reapers and helicopter gunships in Afghanistan, Pakistan -- and Yemen.

Meanwhile, here's a taste of what his pal was up to in Sana today. From the Guardian:

"They shot people in the back of the head as they were running away," said Mohammed al-Jamil, an Indian doctor treating the wounded. "Whoever did this wanted these people to die."

Children were also caught up in the violence.

"My brother is twelve years old, they shot him twice, once in the arm and once in the leg," shouted a young man through a crackling microphone to a roaring crowd of thousands outside the mosque. "Saleh would rather shoot us all before stepping down."

 
A People Betrayed: West Launches New War for Oil in Libya
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Written by Chris Floyd   
Friday, 18 March 2011 01:53

And so now, another war. Led by the United States and the religious extremists in Saudi Arabia, the UN Security Council voted to intervene on behalf of one side in the Libyan civil war. Having already armed and trained Moamar Gadafy's armies and security forces, the Western war-profiteers have now decided to do the same for his opponents.

These opponents, it must be noted, are at present led by top players who only weeks ago were at the center of Gadafy's murderous, repressive regime -- which was itself, only weeks ago, considered a worthy partner by Western governments and business interests. As As'ad AbuKhalil -- a fierce critic of Gadafy for many years -- noted today, before the UN vote:

The Libyan people have been betrayed.  Their revolution against the Libyan tyrant has been hijacked by US and Saudi Arabia.  That lousy henchman for Qadhdhafi,  Mustafa Abd-Al-Jali [leader of the rebel's Libyan National Transition Council], is now a Saudi stooge who hijacked the uprising on behalf of a foreign agenda.  I mean, what do you expect from a man who until the other day held the position of Minister of Justice in Qadhdhafi's regime, for potato's sake? And don't you like it when Western media constantly refer to him as "the respected Libyan minister of Justice."  Respected by who?  By Western governments.

It should also be noted that the Saudis are even now staging a military intervention in Bahrain to help the autocratic regime there put down -- with deadly force and brutal repression -- a peaceful resistance movement seeking democracy and justice. "“We want to support the opposition who are standing against the dictator,” Hillary Clinton declared today. But she was talking about the dictator in Libya, not the dictator in Bahrain, who has willingly turned his country into a fueling station for the projection of American dominance in the Middle East.

Finally, it should be noted that the UN Resolution is not in any way restricted to establishing a "no-fly zone" to keep Gadafy from bombing Libyan cities. This has been the holy grail of our humanitarian interventionists who, despite the evidence of their own eyes over several decades, still seem to believe that military action -- the application of massive, violent force -- can be done without hurting anybody but the mean old bad guys whom we suddenly don't like anymore for whatever reason.

But this is no "light touch" intervention. The UN decree greenlights everything short of an outright land invasion of Libya. Indeed, within minutes of the resolution's passing, American officials were already talking about a "no-drive zone": direct attacks on Libyan tanks and artillery. What's more, US officials were already considering sending in "military personnel to advise and train the rebels."

AbuKhalil also points us to this article by Michael Brull of Independent Australian Jewish Voices. The piece, which also came out before the UN vote, is worth quoting at length:

When asking what should the West do, it seems to skirt over what it can and ought to do. A no-fly zone in Libya is a drastic step, with dubious popular support at best, and little evidence has been presented that it would help anyone in Libya. On the other hand, there are places where we could more easily impose a no-fly zone. For example, Hamid Karzai has been begging us to stop bombing Afghanistan for years. We could impose a no-fly zone by ending our bombardment, which would also stop us from killing more civilians.

We could also stop bombing Yemen, which WikiLeaks reveals we’d been doing, and lying about. We could end the drone attacks on Pakistan. WikiLeaks shows that president Zardari thinks “Collateral damage worries you Americans. It doesn’t worry me”. Plainly, it doesn’t worry us either. Over a thousand people have been killed, primarily civilians. Yet again, in this case, the evil isn’t so bad that the West is called upon to intervene. The reason is straightforward: intervening would mean stopping our crimes, and it is considered far more morally courageous in the West to call for an end to their crimes. ....

The point of all this: we in the West should not be wringing our hands over what to do. There is plenty of good we can do. We could withdraw support for dictatorships in the Middle East, end support for repression in Bahrain, Yemen, Saudi Arabia and elsewhere, end our occupation of Afghanistan, stop drone attacks in Pakistan, and withdraw military support from Israel, which is used to brutalise and oppress the Palestinians.

However, there are (as always) those who say what is happening in Libya is evil. We must do something. Surprisingly it has come most strongly from the Left, against the Left, in the form of Guy Rundle. He describes the request for a no-fly zone “from a legitimate revolutionary leadership”.

Who’s that? The Libyan National Transition Council. He admits its “composition of ex-Gaddafi ministers and others... But that's not important”. As’ad AbuKhalil, a columnist with the left-wing Lebanese paper Al-Akhbar, describes its leader Mustafa Abd-Al-Jalil as “a Gaddafi stooge”. He, along with other Gaddafi appointees leads “an Islamist tendency in the opposition movement which stands opposed to the more secular and radical trend represented by the professional association of the lawyers for example, and which-unlike Abdul-Al-Jalil refuses the secret messaging with the Gaddafi junta”.

What popular legitimacy does this Council have? It doesn’t matter to Rundle. Anyone who doesn’t support it doesn’t “have solidarity with the Libyans but will simply watch passively and let them be defeated, and then murdered”....

I guess we have no choice, right? After all, surely we in the West can’t just sit by and let evil happen. We have a responsibility to intervene. Anyone who cares will if necessary support an invasion of Libya, otherwise they don’t have solidarity with the Libyans but will simply watch passively and let them be defeated, and then murdered.

Just be sure to avert your gaze from Bahrain, Yemen, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Pakistan, Palestine, Afghanistan, Honduras, Haiti and any other country where we are already intervening, but on the wrong side.

Today Hillary Clinton decried the "terrible things" that Gadafy will do "to Libya and its neighbors." And why will he do this? Because he is, of course, a monster: "It's just in his nature. There are some creatures that are like that."

But this creature has now spent the past several years as a staunch ally of the West, especially in the "counterterrorism" fight. The Americans and the British have given him arms, training, equipment, expertise and other support. (Just as they did, for years, with Saddam Hussein.) He was precisely the same "creature" then as he is now. Western elites knew that Gadafy had done "terrible things to Libya and its neighbors" for years before they embraced him -- and his oil money --- with open arms. None of this bothered them before.

But now that Gadafy is doing exactly what the United States government would do if an armed faction took over whole swathes of its territory -- respond with furious, murderous force -- he has suddenly become a monster again.

Luckily for Washington, the Libyan opposition -- "the more secular and radical trend represented by the professional associations" noted by AbuKhalil -- has, as he said, been hijacked by ex-Gadafy goons and Saudi tools who will now, with the West's military intervention, avidly seek to provide the same kind of profitable "stability" in Libya that we see in such wondrous beacons of democracy and enlightenment as Bahrain.

What forces will now be loosed in Libya in the chaos, corruption, hatred, fear and corruption that invariably attends these "humanitarian interventions"? Iraq and Afghanistan give us ample warning.

 
The Peacenik's Payback: Obama Slaughters Pakistani Civilians to Revenge CIA Embarrassment
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Written by Chris Floyd   
Friday, 18 March 2011 00:29

Another day, another two dozen human beings blown to bits in a marketplace by the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate. What was the occasion for this new bonanza of carnage? It was a release of pent-up fury at Pakistan for embarrassing the Potomac Poobah by actually arresting one of his hired guns for shooting people in the back in the street in broad daylight.

For weeks, Washington wiggled around in twisted knickers as the Pakistanis put CIA goon-squader Raymond Davis through the horrible, evil process of ... er ... Western jurisprudence, which Pakistan inherited from colonial times. They arrested Davis, charged him with a crime, allowed him to procure defense counsel and then instigated a series of open court proceedings leading to a trial. This was simply unbearable, insupportable, to the Universal Defenders of Human Rights and the Rule of Law who hold such benevolent sway in the American capital.

They demanded Davis be released. They declared that this secret agent had "diplomatic immunity," which meant that he was free to gun down Pakistanis, in Pakistan, without let or hindrance or consequences. All he need do was say he felt "threatened" -- and anything he did in response to this perceived or alleged or imagined or fabricated threat was justified.

And why not? This is the same logic that governs America's bipartisan foreign policy writ large; why should it not apply to its individual Glock-packing minions prowling foreign streets in search of prey? George Bush and Dick Cheney said they felt "threatened" by Iraq -- and they set loose a hellstorm that has now left more than a million innocent people dead. And they have certainly never been subjected to the processes of Western jurisprudence for that. Thus you can see why the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Barack Obama -- who has praised George W. Bush for his great service to the country, and who called Bush's "surge" in Iraq (that ferocious orgy of ethnic cleansing and death squad berserkery) an "extraordinary accomplishment" -- would find the Pakistani's treatment of Davis so objectionable.

But the process was the usual farce on all sides. The Pakistani system is notoriously corrupt - not quite as corrupt as the American system, of course, although the Pakistanis have not yet managed to lacquer over the murderous venality of its elites with the same degree of sophistication and 'legality' that our American lords have honed over the centuries -- and the backroom channels were busy trying to hammer out a deal with the Potomac paymasters. At last a couple of million dollars were skimmed from a slush fund somewhere and given as "blood money" to the families of Davis' targets, which allowed the court to free Davis. In an ironic twist, it was only the application of Islamic law -- the ancient practice of paying compensation for unlawful killing (which long predates Islam, of course; you can find it in the Bible as well) -- that brought about this face-saving deal for Washington.

But as soon as Davis was safely out of the country, the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate unleashed one of the most violent drone barrages against Pakistan in many months. The Peacely one sent his courageous unmanned robot missiles -- fired by courageous warriors sitting in padded seats thousands of miles away -- to attack ... what else? ... a peace conference in northwest Pakistan.

Local tribal elders were meeting to settle a dispute over a mine in the area. The meeting was attended by members of the local Pakistani Taliban -- a group now at peace with the Pakistani government. Pakistan's military chief, General Ashfaq Kayani, issued what the NY Times called "an unusual and unusually strong condemnation" of the slaughter. The Guardian provided this quote:

"It is highly regrettable that a jirga of peaceful citizens including elders of the area was carelessly and callously targeted with complete disregard to human life," said Kayani. "In complete violation of human rights, such acts of violence take us away from our objective of elimination of terrorism."

The meeting was being held in an open marketplace. The attack killed 26 people, according to the latest count; more than half of them were elders and tribesmen who had no connection to the local Taliban.

But what of that? The fact that the meeting represented local people, from various conflicting factions, coming together to try to work out their differences peacefully among themselves was probably one of the most compelling reasons to our imperial overlords for launching the attack in the first place. For in the end, what they really object to, what they really despise, and fear, is not religious extremism or terrorism or "Islamofascism" -- all of which our bipartisan American elites have supported, in various guises in various places, for decades. No, what really sticks in their craw is the idea that anybody -- in any area that our witless leaders consider "strategic" for one reason or another -- should try to work out their own destiny, on their own terms, outside of the dictation and dominion of the militarist oligarchy that rules the United States.

So the jirga itself was objectionable, and had to be slapped down; just as Pakistan as a nation had to be slapped around for tweaking the Emperor's nose over the street-shooter Raymond Davis. The result was the same as always: the blood, bones and viscera of innocent people splattered across their home streets by death-technologies wielded by the utter, craven, quaking cowards who strut in the pomps of power back in Washington.

2.
Meanwhile, across the border from the ongoing slaughter of hundreds and hundreds of innocent people in a patently illegal "secret" war inside the sovereign territory of an American ally, the "good war" in Afghanistan continues its harvest of children chewed up by the Peace Laureate.

This week, two more youngsters were shredded into clumps of lifeless flesh by the occupation forces -- in the same province where the forces of the Peace Laureate killed nine children just weeks ago. Reuters reports:

An air strike by NATO-led forces killed two children as they were watering fields in Afghanistan's eastern Kunar province late on Monday, an Afghan official and lawmaker said. ...

Abdul Marjan, district chief of Chawki in Kunar where the two brothers, aged 10 and 15, where killed on Monday, said the boys had been working on irrigation channels before they were hit. ...

Shahzada Shahid, a lawmaker from Kunar, said the pair were students who had gone out to help work their father's fields. Irrigation agreements between villagers in the area mean the family's land gets access to river water only in the evening.

These boys were killed for the crime of going to get water for their families, on their own land, in their own country.

They were killed for this "crime" 10 years after an attack in the United States that the American government itself has declared was carried out by a gang based in Pakistan, Germany and the United States, without a single Afghan among them. There is not a single shred of legal or moral justification for this decade-long frenzy of murder and war-profiteering. It is just as illegal as the drone campaign in Pakistan, just as illegal as the invasion of Iraq.

But the Peace Laureate says that we must keep on killing unarmed, defenseless, unsuspecting 10-year-old boys on their own land in their own country. This, we are told, will keep us safe. This, we are told, will keep us great. This is what the glory and grandeur of the bipartisan American imperium rests upon: the murder of children in illegal wars.

 
Across the Universe: The Power of Disillusionment and the Politics of Despair
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Written by Chris Floyd   
Tuesday, 15 March 2011 01:07

A comment appeared on the website the other day from someone who seemed driven to utter despair -- even to the consideration of suicide -- by the current state of our politics. This was disturbing enough, but I was also struck -- jarred -- by this remark: "Sharing Floyd's views and values is literally disabling."

I thought this warranted a more substantial reply than a quick riposte in a comment thread. So below is the original message from the reader, followed by my  response. (The post in question, by the way, was "Of Arms and the Man: War-Profiteers and Progressives Make Common Cause for Obama.")

From "Pinquot": Is there anything we can do? By which I mean, is there anything I can do?

I try to be noisy about this stuff. I incessantly remind my "progressive" friends what the leader most of them still embrace is doing -- and (if they're still listening) how this is merely the latest manifestation of the fact that our entire civilization is intractably toxic and unconscionable, past and present. I've lost friends. I've insulted my own family. The ones I keep have mostly learned to tune me out or shrug helplessly -- and indeed, what more can they do? I don't even have the heart to mouth off about this to my own mother (an Obama supporter) anymore -- God help me, I do so want her to be happy.

My best friend opined that what's so obnoxious about me is that everything I say is completely intellectually and philosophically valid -- it's just practically incompatible with any degree of social functionality. I do not disagree.

Of course, I realize doing nothing (assuming the "nothing" is going to involve continuing to live) necessarily amounts to complicity in abuse, oppression and exploitation on a thousand levels. I can't walk through the grocery store without seeing the systems of corruption and violence at work in my surroundings, and my own inescapable place within them; it is almost too ugly to bear. Sharing Floyd's views and values is literally disabling.

So, what? What then? Suicide? (The only legitimate question, as I think Descartes put it.) Heavy drinking? That's pretty much the only personal alternative I have come up with, but I hate the taste and threaten to graduate to heroin any day now (Mom rolls her eyes.) Are capitulation and self-destruction really the only options? What is there for us?

And here is my reply:

You have to remember that politics is a toxin. It will make you sick, taint your mind, poison your soul, blight your life if you let it. One has to deal with politics  as a form of waste management, just as you need to have some kind of sewage system in your home or community to prevent disease.

Politics -- the machinations of the stunted, damaged souls and third-rate minds who hanker for power -- is just a small part of life. It entirely lacks the tragic element; nothing tragic or depthful about politics and power, it's just brute force, greed, ignorance and spite. So there is no deep meaning to be found in it. No tragedy; no real joy either. Even the greatest moments, the epiphanies -- and they do happen in politics on rare occasions, one must admit -- will lead very quickly back into the sewage. And that's OK, that's the way it is; sewage, waste management -- it's part of life. But it's not where meaning, joy, tragedy, the salt and savor of existence can be found. So why let the evil done by third-rate goobers drive you to despair of life itself? By hook, crook, lies and murder they've already amassed all kinds of power; why give them power over your very soul?

It's sad to hear that you've been driven to the margins of your own life, mocked or marginalized by friends and family because of your political beliefs. I must confess I've never tried to press my beliefs on anyone close to me. I don't have political arguments with them, and I never try to convince anyone of anything. If someone asks me a political question, I'll answer honestly, and calmly, in an informational way, saying, Here's a little bit of what I think about that, and here's why I think it. If I'm with someone who seems vaguely simpatico, I might let a little more passion into it. But I've never felt the urge to bring politics into personal relationships. Of course, sometimes it can forced on you, I suppose; maybe your friends and family are in your face about it all the time. In that case, it would be harder to avoid conflict. But even when I find myself in that situation, most of the time I simply think: "Well, if you don't see it, you don't see it, and I'm not going to be able to make you see it; not in an argument, anyway."

Of course, the blog is a help in this regard. Maybe you should try writing one. It can serve as a release valve -- and you can make better, more coherent and informed arguments in a blog than in a personal argument. With the blog, I don't feel I have to push my views verbally on someone; I've already set it down, thought it through a bit, it's out there for anyone to see. I can always say to someone, "Well, I wrote something about this the other day. You can read it if you like."

One of the main reasons I write the blog now is to give myself this outlet, to have a place -- a pipeline -- where I can deal with the sewage and the toxins of politics, and get them out and away from the more meaningful aspects of my existence. And as I said, it helps me to work out what I actually do think about these issues. Having to put it down into coherent words, knowing that it must make sense to other people out there, is a tremendous impetus to clarifying thought, I find. It doesn't matter if only a few people read it; certainly only a few people read this blog, even on its very best days. What matters is that you've got it out, you've got it down, it's out there, you can point people to it if they want to see it, and you don't have to let it leech into the rest of your life and relationships.

I always keep coming back to the words of Italo Calvino, which I've used here many times. I found this passage years ago, quoted in an essay by Gore Vidal.I don't know if it's any help to you in your situation, but I believe there is genuine wisdom here, especially in a despairing time:

"The inferno…is what is already here, the inferno where we live every day, that we form by being together. There are two ways to escape suffering it. The first is easy for many: accept the inferno and become such a part of it that you can no longer see it. The second is risky and demands constant vigilance and apprehension: seek and learn to recognize who and what, in the midst of the inferno, are not inferno, then make them endure, give them space."

For you see, I disagree with you, and others, who say that "doing nothing" amounts to "complicity in abuse, oppression and exploitation on a thousand levels." I don't think that's true in many respects; certainly not in every respect. There is a genuine, qualitative difference between someone who actually carries out (or commands) atrocities and crimes -- and someone who doesn't. It's ludicrous to say otherwise. Someone who puts a gun to a child's head and pulls the trigger is worse than someone who doesn't put a gun to a child's head and pull the trigger. Someone who leaps into the toxic swamp of politics in order to obtain power is worse than someone who doesn't. If more people "did nothing" in this regard, there would be far less suffering in the world. Yes, there are many other things a person can do; and yes, it is part of the tragic element of human existence that no one can completely escape levels of complicity with the evils of the systems they happen to be born into. But simply refraining from active evil can be a first step toward the light. It can also serve as an example to others.

And anyway, to "see the inferno" -- to look at reality clearly, to see what is actually being done behind all the political rhetoric and national mythology, to try to glean nuggets of genuine information from a mountain of bullshit -- that is not "doing nothing." That is the only way we can begin to see "what is not inferno," and begin to help it endure, to carve out space for it.

Are you really going to kill yourself, or nuke your brain with heroin, because you can't snap your fingers and make everyone see the world the way you see it, if you can't rag them into changing their minds -- or because you can't magically and instantly change a system that fills up grocery stores with the products of corruption and violence? This kind of feeling -- which I understand all too well -- is the result of sitting too long in the toxic swamp of politics yourself, of believing that's all there is to life.

What do you really know of the world, of reality -- of literature, history, science, thought, music, art? How deeply aware are you of the million daily interactions of your body and brain with the physical world, with nature, with other human beings? How much of the universe have you yet called into being by becoming conscious of it, by expanding your comprehension? I've been trying to do this -- oh, in a fitful, pathetic, half-assed way, of course -- for almost half a century,  and I've scarcely brought a grain, a molecule, a photon of the depth and vibrancy of Being into my comprehension. But even the small amount that I've been able to dimly discern shows how vastly, incomprehensibly more to life there is than the machinations of power-grubbers.

Perhaps one reason why they thrash about so violently and murderously and ruinously is because that somewhere deep inside they sense how petty and empty and meaningless their power-grubbing is. They are trying to build up their primitive, infantile obsession with shit -- with the toxic sludge of power and politics -- into some kind of grand design, something of world-historical importance.

But if you give yourself over to the uttermost despair -- the longing for self-obliteration -- because of their actions, because of their primitive, witless obsession with shit, then what a pointless waste you will make of your own, your only life. You will have thrown away the whole universe -- and for what? Because you have allowed your view of life to be circumscribed by the machinations of a bunch of third-rate goobers. You have let them -- these sinister, jabbering, blabbering fools -- convince you that their crimes and atrocities are all there is to life, that nothing worthwhile exists outside the narrow, blinkered inferno that they have made.

"What is there for us?" you ask. I'll tell what there is for us: the whole wide universe. And yes, it contains oceans of toxic political shit. And yes, it contains degrees of complicity, compromise, and moral failures for all of us, even the best of us, at every turn. But it contains so much more than this, so much more that we ourselves can bring into being by becoming aware of it. Each individual creates the entire universe -- creates all of the universe that he or she will ever know -- by what they bring into consciousness, both directly, with active reason, and indirectly, in the deeper, more diffuse and holistic intimations of meaning that an active, questing consciousness can begin to comprehend.

So the choice is yours, really. What would you rather do? Create the universe, accept its tragic dimension and the infinite moments of meaning it can supply -- or lie down in a ditch full of toxic shit and slurp the poison until you die? It doesn't seem like a tough call to me.

2.
Now about this business of "Floyd's views" being "literally disabling." As I said, I find this deeply disturbing. It plays into some very profound questions I have long had about the blog myself. Because the blog is, by design, set up to deal almost exclusively with the sewage of politics, I sometime wonder if it is not in danger of becoming too imbued with the very waste it is trying to manage. Is it part of the problem? Does it contribute to the idea -- the false, poisonous idea -- that politics and the machinations of power-grubbers are of supreme importance? That money, violence and power are the only things that matter? This is certainly not my intention; quite the opposite. But is this the actual message the blog conveys, regardless of my intentions? 

And by entering into the political debate -- even if your intention is not to push one faction or another but to "inoculate the world with disillusionment," as Henry Miller put it -- do you end up fighting on power's turf, speaking its language, having the argument defined in its terms? I don't know. These are questions I now grapple with on a daily basis. I generally end up believing that disillusion is a worthy goal and that waste management of this sort is a necessary task. But I also feel more strongly all the time that there must be a better way to break out of the sinister dynamic of politics, to reach people -- to alter consciousnesses -- in some more effective, profound manner, rather than simply adding another howl to the echo chamber.

In any case, if my views are "literally disabling," if utter despair is what my writing induces, then this blog has been an even greater, more egregious failure than I thought. I've always believed that disillusionment was bracing, invigorating, liberating, not a cause for suicidal despair. But at the risk of being tedious to regular readers, I'm going to repeat below a passage from the closest thing to a statement of purpose this blog has ever had.

I wrote part of it years ago, at the request of an editor at the St Petersburg Times (the one in Russia, not the Florida paper of the same name), who kept getting letters about my column asking, "Where is Floyd coming from with all his criticism of American policy?" (This was back in the high and palmy days of empire, just weeks after the "Mission Accomplished" moment in Iraq, when seldom was heard a discouraging word about the noble Defenders of Freedom in the White House -- and there I was writing about war crimes and war profiteers and torture and rendition and presidential death squads and what all. Most unseemly.)

Later, for the blog, I put this piece together with one I'd written much earlier. You can read the original St Petersburg piece here; the later combination piece can be found here. This is an excerpt from the latter:

....Is it not time to be done with lies at last? Especially the chief lie now running through the world like a plague, putrescent and vile: that we kill each other and hate each other and drive each other into desperation and fear for any other reason but that we are animals, forms of apes, driven by blind impulses to project our dominance, to strut and bellow and hoard the best goods for ourselves. Or else to lash back at the dominant beast in convulsions of humiliated rage. Or else cravenly to serve the dominant ones, to scurry about them like slaves, picking fleas from their fur, in hopes of procuring a few crumbs for ourselves.

That's the world of power – the "real world," as its flea-picking slaves and strutting dominants like to call it. It's the ape-world, driven by hormonal secretions and chemical mechanics, the endless replication of protein reactions, the unsifted agitations of nerve tissue, issuing their ignorant commands. There's no sense or reason or higher order of thought in it – except for that perversion of consciousness called justification, self-righteousness, which gussies up the breast-beating ape with fine words and grand abstractions.

...Beyond the thunder and spectacle of this ape-roaring world is another state of reality, emerging from the murk of our baser functions. There is power here, too, but not the heavy, blood-sodden bulk of dominance. Instead, it's a power of radiance, of awareness, connection, breaking through in snaps of heightened perception, moments of encounter and illumination that lift us from the slime.

It takes ten million forms, could be in anything – a rustle of leaves, the tang of salt, a bending blues note, the sweep of shadows on a tin roof, the catch in a voice, the touch of a hand, a line from Sappho or John Clare. Any particular, specific combination of ever-shifting elements, always unrepeatable in its exact effect and always momentary. Because that's all there is, that's all we have – the moments.

The moments, and their momentary power – a power without the power of resistance, defenseless, provisional, unarmed, imperfect, bold. The ape-world's cycle of war and retribution stands as the image of the world of power; what can serve as the emblem of this other reality? A kiss, perhaps: given to a lover, offered to a friend, bestowed on an enemy – or pressed to the brow of a murdered child.

Both worlds are within us, of course, like two quantum states of reality, awaiting our choice to determine which will be actuated, which will define the very nature of being – individually and in the aggregate, moment by moment. This is our constant task, for as long as the universe exists in the electrics of our brains: to redeem each moment or let it fall. Some moments will be won, many more lost; there is no final victory. There is only the task.

So do we counsel fatalism, a dark, defeated surrender, a retreat into bitter, curdled quietude? Not a whit. We advocate action, positive action, unstinting action, doing the only thing that human beings can do, ever: Try this, try that, try something else again; discard those approaches that don't work, that wreak havoc, that breed death and cruelty; fight against everything that would draw us down again into our own mud; expect no quarter, no lasting comfort, no true security; offer no last word, no eternal truth, but just keep stumbling, falling, careening, backsliding, crawling toward the broken light.

And what is this "broken light"? Nothing more than a metaphor for the patches of understanding – awareness, attention, knowledge, connection – that break through our darkness and stupidity for a moment now and then. A light always fractured, under threat, shifting, found then lost again, always lost. For we are creatures steeped in imperfection, in breakage and mutation, tossed up – very briefly – from the boiling, chaotic crucible of Being, itself a ragged work in progress toward unknown ends, or rather, toward no particular end at all. Why should there be an "answer" in such a reality?

This and this alone is the only "ideology" behind these writings, which try at all times to fight against the compelling but ignorant delusion that any single economic or political or religious system – indeed, any kind of system at all devised by the seething jumble of the human mind – can completely encompass the infinite variegations of existence. What matters is what works – what pulls us from our own darkness as far as possible, for as long as possible. Yet the truth remains that "what works" is always and forever only provisional – what works now, here, might not work there, then. What saves our soul today might make us sick tomorrow.

Thus all we can do is to keep looking, working, trying to clear a little more space for the light, to let it shine on our passions and our confusions, our anger and our hopes, informing and refining them, so that we can see each other better, for a moment – until death shutters all seeing forever.

If anyone is still reading at this point, a further elucidation of these themes can be found here: Immortal Communion: One Lowly Word and the Subversion of Power.

 
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