Saturday, 31 December 2016
America self-criminalizes, as its hegemonic ambitions further expand. The spectrum shift is not mere bipartisan circularity, as may have once been the case, but something more significant: epochal political-structural change, perhaps, in near-historical time (say two-three decades), irreversible. I mean a decisively RIGHTWARD turn, however gradual-seeming the process. The US, notwithstanding science and technology, is a textbook case of systemic atavism, a reversion to type, the type being advanced—i.e., mature—capitalism requiring its increased militarization if it is to continue to expand and show a profit. Absent the New Deal, America stands in world-historical terms in the 1930s, analogous to a late stage of Weimar Germany and Imperial Japan (its formative growth). In all three cases, 2017 America, 1933 Germany, 1931 Japan, society is on the threshold of fascism.
Paths to fascism may differ, yet one cannot hide its capitalistic inner core, ever-raised to more concentrated-consolidated proportions: monopolism, cartel-organization of business, zaibatsu. It is as though capitalism were fated to summon socialism on the global scene, leaving however a sufficient imprint on socialism as to deny its fullest humane potential, while it, capitalism, in need of constant renewal, took the next step, preparation, through business development and social-cultural regimentation, of full-scale fascism. We’re there, the preparation stage, gazing blind-eyed into the abyss; where once—centuries ago, republican doctrine, mid-19th to mid-20th centuries, labor struggles—freedom was in the air, now nihilism and emptiness fill the vacuum created by essentially a permanent war doctrine, a deregulatory spirit of enterprise, cynicism over democratic values and social change.
Why capitalism? Its expansion? Its militarization? Its transmogrification from Adam Smith to Barack Obama and Donald Trump, and the country bearing witness to their election, values, record? Even under Smith and his times, moral obligation was a known factor in societal relations; no longer, when a president, and this I believe symbolizes the Obama administration, a country silently and/or indifferently looking on, engages in targeted assassination, the vaporization of humans, thousands of miles away, and his successor, Trump, is already laying down the gauntlet for world (starting with regional) conflagration and a climate at home intolerant of dissent. I submit, capitalism cannot have it any other way, if everything from surplus value, avoidance of a declining rate of profit, its modern shaking down, in America, from an industrial to a financial base (calling for more outsourcing, more intervention in the affected countries), all of which is systemically-historically re-created on a daily basis, defines so well the present course. Too, the commodification of the human being, as added insurance of—although also integral to—capitalist stability and growth, must not be overlooked.
We focus on Trump, as though eight years of Obama did not create the foundations for the latter, and before that, even in the most immediate terms (not raising the whole pattern of American capitalist development), Truman, Kennedy, Reagan, the Bushes (perhaps those also not mentioned—and definitely going back further to T. Roosevelt and Wilson) prepared the way. The period in-between, referred to above, is not the usual transition or interregnum to which we are familiar, but a deeper, more profound, more overarching historical phenomenon, the potential eclipse of democracy as we know it (even when practiced so inconsistently and falsely). At least remnants are present, as is the memory, both of which are under pressure and becoming redefined to fit America’s posture in a New Cold War (the last never really having ended), a silently enveloping repression in which all of the safeguards associated with the New Deal are being undone, eliminated.
Military capitalism is transmuted into American Exceptionalism. The two form a loving couple, much as do the interpenetration of business and government. State and Capitalism, promoting one another, are becoming near-interchangeable, except that now the State is more avowedly than ever a Class-State in America, reducing government’s function to that of serving as the political protector and economic stimulus of first resort as well as supplying the military muscle for geopolitical global dominance, imperialism, market penetration, the traditional nuts-and-bolts of keeping capitalism going and growing, the ledger and bayonet another consanguinity of structure and purpose. We have much to look forward to, a glance in the rearview mirror helpful to our understanding and realization of continuity, so that a simplistic demonization of Trump, and consequent elevation of Obama and all that came before, does not cloud our vision of coming catastrophe.
At this historical-structural juncture, it is hard to see how America can escape the fate of fascism; if we are, as I think, in-between, not only is there, anyway, a thin line separating advanced capitalism from fascism (borne out earlier by Germany and Japan), but more to the point, there is insufficient will to draw back, to weigh democracy and fascism and determine to return to and reawaken the former. America is hoisted on its own petard (the explosive the case contains is an amalgam, beyond capitalism and militarism, of ethnocentrism, xenophobia, contempt for human excellence in non-invidious terms—or any terms), a seemingly free agent, yet chained to its evolving identity from early on, as private/corporatist business primacy in a nominally public state. Obama gave us Pacific-First with comprehensive naval-military support. Trump may cross the line. As US political leaders and military commanders are fond of saying, “All options are on the table.” Are we as a nation too jaded to savor the words, their meaning, their implication for ultimate destruction of the planet, and short of that, an extended interlude of fascistization of the global structure—also assisted by the nuclear arsenal and its threat of usage—under, now, American rather than German or Japanese leadership? What of socialism, can it withstand the falsification of humanitarian beliefs and convictions, its peculiar properties, in such circumstances? Fascism devours all before it. America sits at the table, with knife and fork at the ready.
People early on learn the Golden Rule, essentially to treat others (regardless of differences) as you wish to be treated. This idea is found in many religions as well. For example, love and compassion, not hatred and coldness, are a key part of Jesus’ teachings as well as part of other religions.
The outcome of the recent election has served as a wakeup call for many. The campaign and its outcome demonstrated the need for people to recommit themselves to the Golden Rule. There is now a widespread realization that there are increased threats, including violence, to vulnerable populations, including minorities, gays, disabled, the elderly and lower middle class and poor groups in this country. It is great to see the turnout of so many people promising to protect those under threat.
It’s not just individual and group acts of discrimination that are of concern. Many have long worked to assist vulnerable groups that have been under attack by biased economic policies and by systemic racism for decades (centuries) prior to the Nov. 8th election.
People are also working to help those under threat from policies designed to benefit those at the top of the income ladder. Those under this threat include the homeless, the jobless, the hungry, those mentally challenged, people facing foreclosures, prisoners, people without health insurance, minorities, etc. Groups are working to protect the public good, for example, to protect and expand Social Security and Medicare, to campaign for a living wage, to have publicly funded childcare, to defend prisoner rights, and to have a clean and safe environment.
From colonial time, and especially in hard economic times, the rich and powerful used the idea of divide and conquer to keep the great majority of the people from coming together to challenge the power of the few. Unfortunately this approach is still effective. Hatred against and fear of minorities (including immigrants) is stoked by scapegoating them for the recurring economic hardships and for crimes. Until we come together and understand how we are being manipulated to protect the interests of the 1%, we won’t succeed in making the economic system meet the needs of the people.
In addition, we, the U.S. public have allowed and often encouraged our government to use extreme violence against people who were different from us, especially when we coveted their lands and/or resources. We tended to view the other as inferior, even less than human, and therefore we seemed to think that we could violate the Golden Rule as well as international and human rights laws.
The genocide against Native American tribes is a horrific example of our violation of the Golden Rule. Our government and our population acted shamefully against Native Americans, violating most treaties negotiated with them and massacring or starving many tribes. Unfortunately, the treatment of the Sioux water protectors at Standing Rock demonstrates that we have made little progress in following the Golden Rule towards these fellow humans.
Two further unspeakable violations of the Golden Rule occurred: 1) against the Philippines at the turn of the 20th century; and 2) in WWII against Germany and Japan who were themselves also guilty of ghastly crimes.
Regarding the U.S. public, according to J. Robert Oppenheimer, before the approval of the use of the atomic bomb, Secretary of War Henry Stimson expressed dismay at the “appalling” lack of conscience and compassion ushered in by the war. Stimson stated that he was disturbed by the “complacency, the indifference, and the silence with which we greeted the mass bombings in Europe, and, above all, Japan.”
The fire bombings of several German cities as well as Tokyo and the use of nuclear weapons against Hiroshima and Nagasaki showed almost total disregard for civilian lives. In its method of fighting the war, the U.S. had joined Germany, Japan and Britain in committing atrocious war crimes.
More recently, the U.S committed horrendous crimes in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia as well as in the Middle East, starting in Iraq. The illegal and immoral attacks on Iraq have played a major role in creating the disaster spreading throughout the Middle East. The U.S. public has generally shown a lack of compassion for the victims of these crimes.
If the message of ‘peace on earth’ is to have any meaning, all people must realize that the ‘others’ are fellow human beings whose lives have the same value as ours.
Pacifica’s radio station in Berkeley, KPFA 94.1 fm, has been airing a pitch to listeners which contains the line: “There’s a lot of fake news, propaganda and misinformation emanating from phony media outlets.” The reader of this pitch is the station’s General Manager, Quincy McCoy, who goes on to assure listeners that KPFA is a news source that can be trusted. This pitch is played several times daily as part of a post-fund drive effort to remind listeners to please fulfil their pledges.
That line about “fake news” and “phony media outlets” is truly a strange thing to hear from KPFA. The “fake news” meme comes from the corporate media which has even offered a list of hundreds of offending websites. On Thanksgiving Day the Washington Post came out with a front page article titled: “Russian propaganda effort helped spread ‘fake news’ during election, experts say.”
The Post’s “experts” were primarily the “PropOrNot” team, who identified and named two hundred websites that, according to PropOrNot, “reliably echo Russian propaganda.” The targeted sites included not only left-wing, but also right-wing and libertarian websites. Writers and editors of these sites are often guests on the various KPFA shows; many are persons who speak at KPFA sponsored speaking events. These websites are, like KPFA, part of the alternative media which offers information that we don’t get from the corporate media.
So who are the “expert” investigators of the PropOrNot team, and what are their qualifications? Nobody seems to know anything about them, other than that they’re an anonymous group with a name that’s quite a tongue twister and a website that apparently cannot be traced to anybody. In effect, it’s a website that makes unsubstantiated claims.
Nevertheless, for a few days PropOrNot was echoed by the NYT, CNN, NPR and many other mainstream media outlets. Fortunately, it was soon discredited by investigative journalists writing for the websites it attacked. Among the most devastating take-downs of PropOrNot was one by Glenn Greenwald on the Intercept website.
Nor was The New Yorker much impressed with PropOrNot. The magazine dismissed it saying, “its methodology is a mess.”
So PropOrNot was exposed as a hoax, a glaring example of a real fake news website. However, it was a hoax that served the interests of the establishment, and many mainstream news outlets have continued the campaign against alleged “fake news.” Congress has taken up the issue and written a provision into the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act, which will create a “Global Engagement Center” to “recognize, understand, expose, and counter … propaganda and disinformation”.
On December 23rd, President Obama signed it into law, a Christmas present for the next president — a MINISTRY OF TRUTH for Donald Trump to play with.
And now, as the New Year approaches, KPFA’s station manager is still making that same pitch to KPFA listeners, echoing the establishment’s campaign. The full recording reads:
“Fear, anxiety, and confusion grips a lot of folks in today’s dark post-election world. There’s a lot of fake news, propaganda and misinformation emanating from phony media outlets. If you’re searching for truth, unfiltered news, in-depth public affairs programming, you can count on one independent radio station to do what it’s been doing for 67 years, staying vigilant as always, 94.1 FM, KPFA”
The manager’s message reflects the panic, the confusion, and the uncritical conformity which is rife among many liberals and progressives today. Such feelings are quite understandable. However, lashing out at alternative media outlets plays into the agenda of the neoliberal establishment and also undermines KPFA’s credibility. Some of the station’s listeners have written to the manager, reminding him that the main source of disinformation is the corporate media, the ones who have promoted that PropOrNot blacklist.
Best to stay off of that bandwagon. KPFA should be defending the First Amendment rights of all alternative media outlets.