Posts Tagged ‘freedom’
Sproul Plaza, Tuesday Night, 15 November 2011. These are Americans, not Democrats, Republicans, Tea Partiers, Liberals, etc. Our leaders, the Republicans and Democrats, have sold us out. If the Republic is to be saved, it’s up to the American people. This is what the Occupy movement is all about.
That’s what I wrote last night, it’s now Wednesday morning. A commenter below suggested that as a member of the 99%, they would like a say in who represents them. Exactly, said commenter should be in the front lines of the Occupy movement, because that’s what it’s all about. The two mainstream parties stopped representing the 99% decades ago, and have spent the past 30 years enabling the largest upwards transfer of wealth in history. Anyone who thinks that the Republicans or the Democrats are going to fix the mess they have made is living in a dream world. And the Tea Party is part and parcel of the Republican Party.
Speaking of the Tea Party, where the hell are they anyhow? Across the land Americans are assembling in peaceful protest, a constitutionally protected activity, exercising a right that our founding fathers fought and died for … and are being attacked by riot clad police. I thought the Tea Party was all about exercising our Constitutional rights? I don’t hear any of them condemning the police actions or supporting people’s right to peacefully assemble? Silence is consent.
The media in particular, both left and right, is unseemly in their support of the status quo. The Drudge Report in particular is wallowing in filth in its effort to demonize the OWS movement. I suspect Fox News is no better, but I only watch it when forced to. Even here in “liberal” Oakland, the first thing the reporter on TV did last night was try and ask members of the OWS if they were going to pay for all the expense their movement had caused? This of course is completely the wrong question, the question is why the hell are cities across the country treating peaceful protesters as rioters, and confronting them with expensive ranks of cops?
And yes, there have been some cases of vandalism and such. Such acts are rare, and do not even begin to represent the average OWS supporter. And back on point, if you treat people as rioters and confront them with riot police, a few of them are going to over react and throw things. This doesn’t justify treating the protests as riots, in fact the opposite, it shows that treating the protests as riots is going to cause some of the problems it is purporting to prevent.
I don’t know how this is going to all turn out. This is the first real populist movement in decades, not since the sixties has there been a grass roots movement to force real change on the establishment. And sadly despite a few limited gains, the establishment has retrenched and is more powerful then ever. And tens of millions of Americans have been propagandized into supporting a system that has stolen everything from them and left them with debts their grandchildren will be paying off. Not to mention a bizarre system of perpetual war, where corporations are people, and all freedoms are to be sacrificed in the name of “security.”
The Occupy Movement is first crack in the dam in the USA, and it has the powers that be running scared. Maybe it will inspire real change in Washington and Wall Street. Maybe it will result in the USA making the final transformation into a dystopian police state where freedom is just a memory. Maybe something else will happen that no one saw coming, that’s always a safe bet. Whatever happens, it’s going to be a hell of a ride.
Doug Stych 16 November 2011
(Image published with permission of the photographer, all rights reserved.)
Happy Fourth of July American readers. The founders hated and feared organized religion and its toxic effects on politics, they were dead set against standing armies for the same reason, and they were adamantly against the USA getting involved in foreign alliances and wars. I celebrate their sacrifice in our name, and cast shame on those who invoke their memory to support what they gave their lives to prevent.
(Image: Surrender of Lord Cornwallis.)
Well, the uprising continues in Egypt. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, it’s very possible we are entering a watershed period in world history where all sorts of things are going to unravel in the next few years. There’s so much going on that it’s hard to even focus on what’s important. Still, that’s never stopped me from blogging before. I’m also a little out of sorts because I have some friends in Egypt. One of them is a doctor and if I know him at all, he’s out in the streets at no thought to his own safety providing first aid to the wounded. Historical events unfolding kinda take on another dimension when people one knows are in the thick of them.
So, in no particular order, my thoughts about some aspects of this situation. First, some background. There’s two basic things fuelling the protests across the Middle East. One is wealth distribution; the other is western, primarily American, foreign policy in the region. Wealth is easier to understand. Basically the inequalities in the world have been growing in recent decades, both internationally and internally. The world’s poor nations have been getting poorer, and huge numbers of young people are unemployed with grim prospects n the region. I mean, this unrest was triggered by a fellow in Tunisia with a college degree killing himself because he couldn’t even get a permit to sell fruit in the street! And the people in the street know damn well their corrupt western supported governments, mostly dictatorships of some sort or another, are a huge part of the reason that poverty and unemployment are rampant. A subset of this problem is the populations in these countries have been growing quickly and are very young in general. (Nothing like unemployment and poverty to make birth rates spike, I mean, what else is there to do? This is why refugee camps usually have astronomical birthrates.) And when a huge percentage of a population is young, there’s proportionately fewer older wiser people to try and keep cooler heads prevailing. Ever see a mob of old or even middle aged people?
And then foreign policy. While the west has made noises about democracy and human rights in the region, their actions speak much louder than words. Governments that would be pilloried as torture regimes (because they are torture regimes on par with Saddam’s Iraq) are given a pass and propped up with western arms as long as they maintain “stability.” By which I mean they don’t do anything to hinder the region’s oil wealth being plundered and used to fuel development and progress in the west. “Supertankers are the treasure galleons of our time, freeway interchanges the cathedrals” is a very apt analogy. In the rest of the world the west has encouraged at least some democracy, and there are political parties even though the west manages to keep pro-western parties in power for the most part. In the Middle East, despots rule and the US looks the other way.
Another aspect of this that nicely illustrates the incredibly short sighted foreign policy of the USA is Israel. The USA literally bought Israel 30 years of peace with Egypt. Did Israel use that 30 years to settle the Palestinian issue and make peace with its other neighbours? Nope, they used it as an excuse to be completely intransigent on the peace process and put the Palestinians under ever more pressure. Not to mention invading Lebanon and creating Hezbollah and confiscating ever more Palestinian land. Basically Israel spent the three decades of breathing room that the USA so generously bought them by building walls when they should have been building bridges. It’s a pretty safe bet that whatever new governments emerge in the region, they are going to be more supportive of the Palestinian cause than the west’s bought and paid for dictators have been.
So how should the USA and Israel respond to these developments? Well, if we had any real leadership in Washington, we’d jump on the bandwagon and throw the dictators to the crowds so to speak. The results might be messy, but done right, good will towards the US could increase dramatically in the region. In the long run this would be good for US business interests in the region, and would take the wind out of the sails of Al Qaeda and the like. Hell, done right we could even force a settlement to the Palestinian question, a viable Palestinian State would be the worst thing that ever happened to Muslim extremists. Sadly, Eisenhower is long dead and Obama is a cunning domestic politician with zero aptitude for foreign policy. Biden claiming that Mubarak “isn’t a dictator” pretty much sums up our head-in-the-sand approach to the developing situation. (Head-in-the-sand is the diplomatic phrase, enough said.) The only good thing about the US response is that the right wing extremists running Israel now are probably going to react even worse than Washington.
I’m hoping I’m wrong, but I fear the over-reaction to this is going to sow the wind and reap the whirlwind. The Middle East is too big now to occupy along the lines of Iraq and Afghanistan, but the abject folly of either enterprise didn’t stop the US from trying. NATO troops occupying Egypt? Anything is possible.
(The above image is public domain under US copyright law. Despite the perversions of the concept since, the founding fathers were onto something. We’re all in this together, every human has political and individual rights. And sometimes we have to fight for them. If we stand together, we cannot lose.)
When I was a child and a young man, I lived in a free country. Now the government sticks its hands in my pants and searches my crotch if I want to fly a plane. And already happening, TSA searches in train and bus stations as well. It’s also illegal in three states now to photograph a cop that is arresting you in a public place, yeah, you can’t witness your own arrest apparently. Then there’s the so called “Free Speech Zones,” more police per capita than any other country, and the world’s largest prison system. What’s wrong with this picture? I don’t fully understand, but it’s becoming clearer all the time that this is not a good thing.
Until fairly recently I was of the opinion that I didn’t need to worry too much about fascism in America. Lately I’m thinking I may have been too optimistic, and that we have gone so far down a slippery slope that there is no turning back. I think a combination of factors since the 1960s have eroded our freedoms in a myriad of ways that people have grown used to. Like the proverbial frogs in a cooking pot, this danger has come on us so slowly that most of us aren’t aware that the water is starting to boil.
I think this started in the sixties and the early seventies. Decades of the Cold War had conditioned people to think of a huge and intrusive US government as “normal.” Then there was the sixties, when “Law and Order” and the “War on Drugs” started to enter the national consciousness. About the same time our once proud and independent press started to be acquired hyper-global-mega-corporations, a process that was complete sometime by the early nineties. The “War on Drugs” is important for it conditioned people to believe in a government that had the power to regulate everything, including what chemical citizens want to have in their bloodstreams. And Roe vs Wade also contributed, in that it created an entire and tireless political movement devoted to government regulation of what citizens do with their own bodies. (I’m not a fan of abortion, I think every child should be a wanted child, but abortion prohibition is a terrible way to bring that about and does far more harm than good.)
And then of course the past decade has conditioned people to believe in perpetual war. And be perpetually afraid of enemies lurking everywhere. Despite the fact that terrorism in the USA is and always has been a very modest threat, there are ever increasing and intrusive efforts to “protect us” from it. Not to mention that now the government is starting to exert far more control over the Internet, the last bastion of free speech for those who have realized that what the main stream media, from Fox to CNN, is feeding us pure Kool-Aid.
The last thing that factors into this mess is the fact that in the past few decades we have simultaneously allowed our infrastructure to decay, moved our manufacturing to other countries, and turned our schools into little more than day centres for an increasingly ignorant and powerless and futureless population. The only thing that the USA has really invested in in the past few decades is more military, more “security,” more government, more police, and more prisons. And absolutely none of these create wealth in any way. Military spending is some of the m0st wasteful spending imaginable, as a tiny number of people build incredibly expensive gadgets that perform no useful function and have to be replaced by even newer and more expensive gadgets. … forever! And then, just to make sure it’s wasted, we ship these gadgets to the other side of the planet at fabulous expense to be blown up. Yeah, that’s makiing America richer and stronger.
I don’t know what’s going to happen here, but I fear that sooner rather than later something is going to snap. I mean, if there were another 9/11 today, not only do I think we would have a police state overnight, many many Americans are so hooked on their Kool-Aid that they would support it. Legions of Fox News viewers would that’s for sure. And the liberals and progressives seem to be going down without a fight as the country has drifted (or been driven) to the right the past few decades. People used to give a shit about the workers and freedom in America, now “union” and “strike” are dirty words.
And I wonder if the Wikileaks will be the match that sets the house on fire. My biggest hope at this time is that the government will launch massive Internet censorship. Most Americans don’t seem to notice when their freedoms are stripped away one by one, but if they can’t log onto their favourite web site, many of them go ballistic. It’s a slender reed to grasp, but it is one of several, and the situation isn’t hopeless. It’s not a police state yet, but it’s time to start waking up America.
(The image above is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. It’s not being used for profit and is central to illustrating the post. I don’t know who created it, but clicking on it leads to the site I got it from. And yes, I know the juxtaposition of a swastika on the American flag is offensive to some, but fascism in America would be far more offensive, and I want to exercise my freedom of speech while I still have it. And no, I don’t think we have a Hitler on the horizon, but a Hitler isn’t required for a police state. There’s plenty of police states on Earth now that don’t have Hitlers.)