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Heretics and Lovers, Kings and Thieves: Before the Fire and Steel

“It was a summer of love, we didn’t know it was our last stand.” History — never repeating, but rhyming and chiming in cycles of ragged harmony. So rosin up the bow, let’s go down to Languedoc…. Languedoc (Before the Fire and Steel) by Chris Floyd From The Perfect Heresy, by Stephen O Shea: “Languedoc, the great arc of land stretching from the Pyrenees to Provence and including such cities as Toulouse, Albi, Carcossone, Narbonne, Beziers, and Montpellier … Even its name reflects the chimerical. Languedoc is a contraction of langue d’oc, that is the language of yes — or

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Life Support: Sustaining a Vital Voice of Hope

Arthur Silber is in dire straits again. Another bout of bad health has laid him low, bills are coming due, and now a computer breakdown threatens to silence him completely. At the moment, he is working with an antiquated back-up, not likely to last long. If it goes, then his voice will be lost to us — and he will lose his lifeline to the world. If you are able to help at all, or know someone who can, I urge you to go to his website here, and get more information. Silber has long been one of the most

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Cloud-Dwellers: Class War Victors Get Higher on the Hog

On Monday, the New York Times featured, on the front page of its website, a long piece of giddy gush about the latest trend in luxury hoteling: super-suites for the super-rich, costing up to $28,000 a night. For more than 1,100 words, the Times gives us an uncritical (indeed, adoring) panorama of the new high-swankery expected by our owners as they perambulate around the global plantation. There’s the $25,000-per-night room in the New York Palace, a three-story “penthouse Versailles,” the Times, all atremble with excitement, tells us, which comes complete with a million dollars’ worth of designer jewellery on display

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Love is Violence: The Bedrock of the American Way

As soon as you’re awake, you’re trained to takeWhat looks like the easy way out — Bob Dylan, “Political World“ Once more, as so often, I want to point you to a powerful and important article by Arthur Silber, which will tell you a great deal about where we are as a culture and as individuals — and how we got here. I’m not going to excerpt it, because I’d like you to read the whole piece as it is, take it straight, no chaser, without my own spin on it. It will be well worth your time. And while

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Shooting and Crying: The Unlearned Lessons of American Atrocity

1.The Marlboro Men are back. A few years ago, we saw them blazoned across our screens and newspapers: rugged, tough, battle-grimed warriors, slogging through hell to conquer evil and bring light to a land lost in darkness. Last week, the New York Times brought them out again. But this time around, our clean-limbed, God-blessed fighters for a noble cause weren’t conquering — they were suffering. They felt sad, let down, even betrayed. Why? Because what had been the high point, the shining pinnacle, “the most iconic moment” of their righteous campaign was now tainted. Their conquest hadn’t held; the old

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The One Percent Solution: Oligarchs to the Rescue!

* Below is my most recent column for CounterPunch Magazine. Last month, 500 famous authors signed a petition protesting the encroachments of the all-pervasive, techno-surveillance culture that is covering the earth with hidden eyes and ears, like a metastasized Stasi run amok. We’re talking heavy literary lumber here: Nobel Prize-winners, critic list-toppers, best-sellers – big names calling on the UN to create “an international bill of digital rights.” The authors state the indisputable truth: the “fundamental human right” of personal privacy “has been rendered null and void through abuse of technological developments by states and corporations.” They rightly declare that

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Bait and Switch: The Heavy Price of Social Progress

At CounterPunch, Jason Hirthler identifies one of the most important dynamics in the modern political world: “For every social advance, an economic price paid.” Hirthler examines the real-life aftermath of the social breakthroughs and advances represented by the social justice campaigns of Martin Luther King, the ending of apartheid under the aegis of Nelson Mandela, and racial symbolism in the election of the first black American president, Barack Obama. In every case, Hirthler notes, genuine social achievements were followed by a brutal and ruthless expansion and entrenchment of ‘neoliberal’ economics — that is, the aggrandisement of elite power and privilege.

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A Voice Torn from the Noise of Time

Via an old Moscow Times comrade, John Freedman, an incredible piece of history torn from “the noise of time”: Nadezhda Mandelshtam, talking (in English) of her life with the martyred poet, Osip Mandelshtam. It was Nadezhda who was responsible for preserving much of Mandelshtam’s work from the ravages of Stalinist amnesia. It’s a voice from “a life and fate much greater than [our] own,” alive with an abiding humanity that feels, at times, like a thing vanishing from our earth. (But perhaps it’s always vanishing, this voice; perhaps it’s a cracked whisper passed down from generation to generation.) In any

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Yuletide Ravings From the Original Empire Burlesquer

Yes, it’s that special time of year again, when you gather friends around, put on your weird wig hat, and watch hopped-up nutballs throw themselves through the front window. And don’t forget those reindeer – Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Carter, Reagan, Bush and Clinton ….. *By the way, all proceeds from the Dylan Christmas album, this year as every year, go to charities feeding the hungry.

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