Sunday, October 31, 2010

David Michael Green: Yes, Of Course They're Brownshirts. What The Hell Did You Expect?

Yes, Of Course They're Brownshirts. What The Hell Did You Expect?
By David Michael Green article link
October 30, 2010 | OpEdNews

You know, I hate like hell using the tired old Nazi analogy.

For one thing, everybody does it, and everybody does it all the time. It hasn't exactly earned an A for originality in about a half century now.

For another thing, not only does everybody do it, but now complete idiots who couldn't pour piss out of a boot if the instructions were written on the heel are doing it too, and of course they're too dumb to even use the term properly. You can't foam at the mouth about what a freaking socialist Barack Obama is and then call him a Nazi at the same time. Unless, of course, you happen not to mind looking like a moron. Which, of course, all too many Americans don't anymore. But here's a hint to all y'all in the ganglion-cyst-where-there's-supposed-to-be-an-actual-brain crowd: Nazis hate socialists. Indeed, they murder them, along with Jews and Gypsies and homosexuals. Get it?

And then there's a third reason to avoid the Nazi analogy, namely that because everyone else is doing it, the term has now been diluted to the point of lacking all impact or meaning anymore. If everyone's a Nazi, no one is.

All good reasons not to use the term.

But, that said, there are also three good reasons to do just that.

One is that people sometimes do act like Nazis. In fact, a lot of them. Especially lately.

The second is that if you wait too long to point that out, it won't much matter anymore.

And the third is that if you wait too long to point that out, you won't be able to anyhow. Indeed, you probably won't even be. Period.

And so, with appropriate reluctance, I feel compelled to note that the wheels are coming of the wagon in America right now, and it does indeed smell all too much like a Germany-in-the-1930s kinda moment.

American politics have been driven to a fever pitch, even though no one is talking about the real problems the country faces. The radical right has induced those problems with their kleptocratic policies. They have then demonized as un-American anyone who would dare offer even the most tepid (non-)solutions to those problems. They have captured control of the legislative and executive branches of government by means of purchasing politicians wholesale. Those politicians have, in turn, appointed justices to the federal bench, such that the regressives own that institution, as well. The Supreme Court has recently handed down decisions that set aflame even the tattered legal shreds once remaining between corporate money and government power. They are doing the same at the state level. The Court even ruled that judges receiving campaign contributions from litigants appearing before their bench did not need to recuse themselves from the case. In America today it's bought legislation, bought (non-)regulation, bought (non-)justice.

Now the latest trend from our good friends on the right is to go after the 17th Amendment, that heinous bit of federal tyranny that forces the public to choose their own senators through the ballot box, rather than having (bought) state legislatures do it.

Meanwhile, the plutocratic string-pullers have marshaled massive sums of money for purposes of organizing angry white seniors into an army of Know Nothings, about to send as scary a crop of folks to Washington as have been found since... Well, you know when.

Like Joe Miller in Alaska, for instance, who wants to kill the minimum wage, and who rails against the oppressive tyranny of federal socialism, even though he and his family have taken every kind of subsidy and payment Washington has to offer. Perhaps that's part of why he started refusing to take questions about his personal background last week. Although that probably also had something to do with him not wanting to discuss the fact that he had used public office in the past to help steal elections.

Or there's Rand Paul in Kentucky, who doesn't seem to mind the prospect of hotels and restaurants posting "Whites Only" signs in their windows, and would thus be okay with repealing the Civil Rights Act.
Or maybe you prefer Wisconsin Senate candidate Ron Johnson who once testified against strengthening pedophilia laws because of the potential costs to business.

Then there's Ken Buck (and four other GOP Senate candidates), who want to make abortion illegal, even in cases of rape or incest. Buck also wants to make birth control and fertility treatment illegal.

Or Jim DeMint, already in the Senate from South Carolina, who argues that unmarried sexually active women should not be allowed to teach in public schools.

Or the guy in Michigan, a sitting Congressman, who is already calling for the impeachment of Barack Obama.

Or the California candidate who wants to eliminate all public schools. Woo-hoo! No more homework!

Or Sharon Angle, who has suggested that we solve our health care crisis by just returning to the good old days of the barter system, so that patients could presumably then bring in a chicken and exchange it for an angiogram. She has also called for "Second Amendment solutions" "to protect people against a tyrannical government". In case you're somehow unsure, what that means is that if Barack Obama and Harry Reid cannot be removed from office by the ballot box, she thinks someone should pick up a gun and shoot them for the despotic crime of creating a national health care system.

Then there's Rich Iott, a congressional candidate who likes to dress up with his kids as Nazi SS officers. (Or is he actually a Nazi SS officer who sometimes dresses up as a normal person? Hard to tell with this lot, I'm afraid.)

But surely the best is Republican Senate nominee Christine O'Donnell of Delaware, who once "dabbled in witchcraft", does not appear to have had any profession in decades other than running for office, told no less than three major lies about three different educational institutions she claims to have attended, and said that "evolution is a myth" because she doesn't see monkeys evolving right before her eyes. She does have one redeeming virtue, though. She has been a long-time advocate against masturbation, which I think we can all agree is an American epidemic today, threatening our nation to its core. (You know who you are, people.)

As hysterical as this gang would be if it weren't for the fact that they're about to become the government of the world's only superpower, it's actually not funny at all.

Because even this insanity is not enough for them. This week the stompings began in earnest.

Miller had a reporter handcuffed and "arrested" by his private security goon squad at a public rally for the crime of asking questions about the candidate's secret election-stealing past.

Meanwhile, a young female MoveOn activist at a Rand Paul rally, who was doing nothing other than carrying a sign and trying to speak to the candidate, was thrown to the ground and had her head stomped by one of his staff. This pot-bellied oaf, who seemed in the video to get off on kicking women around later actually demanded that she apologize to him. For what, I'm not sure. Getting blood on the sole of his shoes perhaps?

And just last week, the courts dismissed the appeal of several individuals who had been on the way to a public George Bush event several years ago, without intent to speak, but never got there. They were arrested as soon as they got out of their car because it had the wrong bumper sticker on it. Somehow, the Republican appointees to the appeals court could find no constitutional provision which the police's behavior might have violated. Presumably, their copy of the Bill of Rights begins (and likely ends too) with the Second Amendment. And a distorted version of that amendment, to boot.

Like decent Germans of the 1930s let alone progressive ones no doubt did, I have spent the better part of the last decade repeatedly wondering where the bottom of the barrel of stupidity, laziness, greed and criminality can be found amongst the tribe called the the American public. Each time I think, "This is it it can't possibly get worse", I am rudely reminded again of my foolishness. It's a legitimate question to ask why I continue to be so naive, but there's actually a very good answer. It's not naivete at all. It's just that I grew up in the foreign country known as mid-twentieth century America. For all its faults and it had plenty it was never like this. It's therefore not naive to think it could be that way again.

And it wasn't naive to think, two years ago, that perhaps we were headed back toward some form of basic decency, definitely a repudiation of the evils of regressivism, and maybe even a new progressive era.

Now we have instead the worst imaginable scenario. We have a society in which near-dead regressivism has been revived, only in a more virulent form. And we have a society in which progressivism, which never even remotely took the stage, has been reviled for its supposed failings.

Each election cycle just brings uglier politics and greater transgressions, rapidly approaching the fail-safe point, beyond which any democracy is unsustainable. Now comes the tea party movement, the nastiest thing to happen to America since... well, the Bush administration.

This is the crossroads. This is the moment of truth, folks. This is the test. The destructive dogs of regressivism are baying outside our door. Many of them are inside already. They will not rest until they have looted the public of every last shekel to be had, and until they have ground into submission every last avenue for the little guy to seek even a modicum of justice.

To do that, it will also be required that all pretense of democracy and civil liberty will have to be destroyed as well. It may additionally be required that wars will have to be launched, in order to simultaneously divert public attention, crush domestic opposition, steal from the weak, and stimulate the moribund economy that the kleptocracy's policies have already created.

The right hasn't got the slightest plan for solving the country's problems. That's because they haven't got the slightest interest in doing so. That is not their function, and has not remotely been their function for thirty years now. They are here to rape the maiden called America and steal from her everything of value. Once they have done so, they will leave her body in the gutter, damaged, defiled and degraded. Erik Prince has shown the path for others to follow. His mercenary company, Blackwater Worldwide, which has grown unbelievably rich helping the Bush and Obama administrations fight two wars while avoiding a draft, is for sale and its former top managers are facing criminal charges. The appropriately-named Prince himself has left the United States and moved to Abu Dhabi. Noted a friend of his, "He needs a break from America". Yeah. Just like a chronic thief needs a break from courtrooms.

But governing in the absence of actual solutions to satisfy an angry electorate will fast prove problematic for the GOP, just as it did for them in 2008. This will be the most dangerous moment for the country, the historical linchpin juncture. The public will still be clamoring for solutions, and will be ready once again to turn out the Republicans for lacking same, just as it did two years ago, and just as it's doing now to the pathetic Democrats. This cannot be tolerated by the oligarchs, of course, and a decision will have to be made whether they are bold enough to double down and burn the Reichstag, eliminating the pesky albatross of elections once and for all. Bold enough? The folks who brought you Election 2000? The Iraq War? Legalized looting by Wall Street? A filibuster-crazed Senate?

This scenario is all possible, of course, because of the complete and utter failure in every sense of the word of the Democrats these last two years. That assessment assumes, though, that Democrats were somehow more sincere about wanting to serve the public than are Republicans. With a few rare exceptions, I don't harbor that illusion about any of them. However, I will confess that I expected them to at least seek to protect themselves and therefore do enough to get reelected. Not only have they not, they have succeeded in achieving what seemed like a miraculously improbable possibility only just a year or two ago. They have revived an opposition party that was utterly loathed and lying on death's door.

Skillful political maneuvering, combined with moderately contemporary communications strategy and even the slightest accidental wisp of intestinal fortitude would have been enough to push that party over the cliff and end its ugly reign for a couple of generations, if not forever. And, yes, that could even have been done without necessarily solving the problem of the recession right away. Just ask Franklin Roosevelt, who won four terms as president without really fixing the Great Depression. Ask FDR, that is, if he hasn't picked up his corpse and moved to Canada by now, out of sheer disgust for his country of birth and, especially, the party his efforts invigorated for half a century.

But instead of Roosevelt, we have this other guy. This Neville Chamberlain dude. I regret to say that I think history will show the crimes of Barack Obama to be of incalculable damage.

Most astonishingly, they persist even still. I've given up expecting the guy to ever grow a pair of balls. But how about just some basic sentient consciousness? You would think that after the last two years, and with the humiliating drubbing he's going to take on Tuesday, that he would at least awake enough to realize what is happening here. But no. This week I saw video clips of Obama, Joe Biden and Harry Reid three walking corpses if ever there were such talking about how hopeful they are that Republicans will grow more cooperative following this election. Say what?!?! Are these guys insane?!?! Are they on drugs?!?!

Even if they couldn't possibly figure it out for themselves, it just so happened that this very same week, Mitch McConnell and John Boehner and Mike Pence were all out there explicitly saying "There will be no compromise by Republicans in the next Congress". But it will be, of course, far worse than that. The right will be hounding Mr. Hapless Happy Face mercilessly for the next two years, investigating every bogus claim they can fabricate, and probably also running another impeachment scam. Which is likely to turn out very differently this time. Back in the 1990s, I used to say that Bill Clinton was very lucky to be impeached at a time when the economy was fat. You might have noticed that it is somewhat less so today...

George W. Bush was indisputably the worst president in American history, but now Obama is remarkably giving him a run for it. Bush poisoned the body politic, but Obama is standing by and watching it die. Obama's crimes are of incalculable historical damage for the same reason that most scholars of the presidency (used to) judge James Buchanan to have been the worst president ever. Both fiddled while the republic burned.

In Obama's case, the indictment is worse, however. First because, like Bush, he is owned by the oligarchy and serves their interests far above anyone else's. Let's please start calling this what it is: This is a case of treason, pure and simple. Second, because, unlike Clinton perhaps, he had every reason to foresee the viciousness of the last two years coming from a thousand miles away, and yet he acted like the Republican Party of Atwater and Rove and Gingrich and Limbaugh and Beck was something that could be reasoned with, something with which to negotiate. And third, because he campaigned on the premise of the audacity of hope, but instead delivered the duplicity of despair. He would be far less culpable had he not raised people's expectations so dramatically. "Yes we can!" Can what? Govern as George W. Bush's third term?

History will be very unkind to Obama, but whatever. He's virtually irrelevant at this point. He's a dead man walking, and has been right from the beginning. It all started going south even before he took office with the appointment to his cabinet of Wall Street bandits from the Robert Rubin cabal, along with other sundry regressives. But I knew it was over when at the moment of his inaugural address he skipped the opportunity to articulate a broad, bold and honest vision of the national trajectory, and treated the record crowds who came to bear the freezing cold weather in order to be a part of history to a standard issue patchwork of platitudes instead.

Mitch McConnell said this week that his primary goal for the coming two years was to turn Barack Obama into a one-term president. Hmm. I would have thought the GOP had higher aspirations, since the Capitulation King has already taken care of that himself. If that wasn't already abundantly clear, the New York Times published some astonishing poll data the other day, documenting the extent of his party's hemorrhaging support under Obama's helm. In 2008, women (women!) voted Democratic by a 13 percent margin, and now they have swung to 4 percent in favor of Republicans. College graduates went from 2 percent Democratic to 20 percent Republican today. Catholics voted 10 percent Democratic in 2008 and are now polling 24 percent Republican. That's a 34 percent swing in less than two years! People with an income under $50,000 voted 22 percent Democratic in 2008 but are now actually polling at 2 percent Republican! Just what magnitude of idiocy does it require to drive the working class and poor into voting Republican during a massive recession? And independents, who went for Democrats in 2008 by an 8 point margin are now going for Republicans by 20 points nearly a 30 percent swing in this key constituency. The repudiation of this failed presidency is now reaching epic proportions.

That's fine with me. Obama amply deserves the lashing and humiliation he's going to receive Tuesday, and then again two years later. The White House is no place for the cowardly. In normal times that would be an embarrassment. In a moment of national crisis, it's a sin. But when the republic itself is being threatened, and when the very ideas of democracy and freedom are in jeopardy, timidity is treason.

And that is precisely where we are now. People are growing desperate. Each time someone comes along and offers them some relief but doesn't deliver, they become yet more willing still to let the most outrageous actors take control of the government. Anyone who promises solutions is acceptable, including people who during normal times would have been considered darkly dangerous, just plain laughable, or both.

I'm sorry. I really don't want to ring that ubiquitous Nazism-threat bell yet again.

But wasn't that precisely how it went down in 1933?

David Michael Green is a professor of political science at Hofstra University in New York. He is delighted to receive readers' reactions to his articles (, but regrets that time constraints do not always allow him to respond. His website

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Sunday, October 24, 2010

Vishnu Bhagwat: Globalization and Militarization

Globalization and Militarization: The Root Causes of the Worldwide War against Humanity
by Admiral Vishnu Bhagwat article link
October 23, 2010 | Global Research

The following text was first presented to the International Physicians for prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) Conference, Delhi, March 10, 2008

“There will be no peace. At any given moment for the rest of our lives ; there will be multiple conflicts in mutating forms around the globe…violent conflicts will dominate the headlines……” A ‘perpetual war for perpetual peace’ …’ Wolfowitz and Perle in the preamble of the draft of the ‘Project for the New American Century’ in the heady days in 1992,when the Soviet Union had been subverted at its very top. The ‘ New World Order’ demands the control and seizure of oil and mineral resources and markets of every country by military force or through proxy governments and comprador elites, camouflaged as ‘ Globalisation’; preceded by subversion of targeted countries. Hence the new colonial project is unprecedented on a historical scale within countries and societies,and overseas.

The leader of one of the earliest movements to understand this militarized ‘New World Order’, Subcomandante Marcos the leader of the Zaptista movement in Mexico, declared in relation to NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement that neoliberal globalisation was a “ world war waged by financial power (oligarchies) against humanity” and the expression of the worldwide crisis of capitalism and not its success.

On 19 October 2001, US Vice President Cheney, stated that the “New war may never end. At least not in our life time. The way I think of it, it’s a new normalcy”.

The NSSD of 1 March 2005 says “America is a Nation at war’. In September 2005 Cheney again asserted that the War (on terror) could go on for several decades, just as periodical assertions come regarding the war and occupation for decades in Iraq and Afghanistan, the planning for the ‘long war’, the new Middle-East to be balkanized into state-lets, just as the USSR was, South Asia to fall in line or be divided into financial principalities to serve the ‘metropolitan core or center’ and so on for Globalisation or global finance capital, to integrate all markets (nation states may continue to exist as enfeebled entities to preserve local law and order of their populace and to transfer their budgetary surpluses to the ‘core’. The Washington Consensus is about this. It had claimed to lead global freedom, prosperity and economic growth through ‘deregulation, liberalization and privatization’). “ Is there an alternative to plundering the earth ? Is there an alternative to making war ? Is there an alternative to destroying the planet ?’ (Wehrlof)

In the meanwhile, militarisation of Space, weaponisation of the sea-bed, unfettered use of low radiation nuclear warfare with Depleted Uranium, not just killing and infecting with cancer and leukaemia but poisoning the air, water, flora, fauna and every speck of dust for ever, readiness to use chemical, germ and gene warfare agents, destruction of water and sanitary systems, in Iraq, in Afghanistan, in Gaza are being demonstrated before our eyes. The soldier in uniform now constitutes only a very small proportion of the casualties which are overwhelmingly civilian--- women, children, men-- schools, hospitals, homes and work places. In percentage terms collateral damage, as people are termed, is ninety percent of the casualties.

Statistics do not always convey the sufferings of humanity. However, if the first world war caused about 17 million maimed and dead, the second great war around 50 million dead, followed by millions murdered in Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia, Congo, Angola, Rwanda, and now in Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine, Lebanon, the continuing civil war raging in Congo (5 million), the mass murders in Indonesia, Chile, Argentina, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Honduras and the myriad civil wars ignited by the corporations in different corners of the world, are still taking their toll.

Incidentally, when Madeline Albright then US Secretary of State was asked her response to the sanctions on Iraq, in the wake of the 1991 Gulf war, which had caused the loss of half a million children’s lives and "was it worth it", she blandly replied “I think so”. This sums up the ruthless psychology and policy dictating this period of contemporary history, its economic policy with militarization as its adjunct.

Briefly, Globalisation is a multi-pronged drive for capture and control of resources, by finance capital and the dominant Transnational Corporations leading to wars for resources, not of territory which is incidental, to the extent that control of territory is necessary to enslave a society for its resources. How does it proceed apace ? What are the driving forces ? How is it organized ? Who are the key players ? Why has it taken such an all pervasive, brutal form ?

How has it evoled historically? Why is it unending? What political and economic ideologies dominate it? Where is it leading humanity and the world to?

Neoliberal globalisation is a type of totalitarian neo-mercantilism in which all resources, markets, all money and financial institutions, all profits, all means of production, all investment opportunities and all power belongs to the corporations. In the new world order, democracy appears outdated for it hinders business (Hardt /Negri / Chomsky and Werlhof). The notion of people as a sovereign body has practically been abolished and real democracy is largely non-existent, except the manipulated form, suitably greased by corporate funding without the substance of democratic policy making, with people at its core.

This system is supported by the corporate media, its monopoly ownership and alliance with what has been aptly described as the ‘War Corporations’ and the latter’s incestuous relationships with the power elites and the ruling establishments to permit them unbridled profiteering and predatory operations. International law, the UN Charter, the Geneva and Hague conventions, the rule of law have all been cast aside. In addition the military is virtually placed at the disposal of the financial elites' corporate boardrooms to maximize destruction in the quickest time period with no thought of the loss of civilian life, property and infrastructure, camouflaged in certain cases by so called ‘ humanitarian intervention’ under the auspices of the United Nations .

To give only one example, NBC, America's network TV, is an arm of General Electric, the manufacturer of F-16, B-2, Apache, Abrams tank, A-10 aircraft engines and so on. Murdoch, the media baron’s empire is always in the forefront to beat the war drums through the Corporate media an adjunct of war and the inciting of sectarian strife.

The age of colonization is replete with the horrors of loot, genocide, man made famines, plunder, pillage, deceit, fraud and the intimate partnership between the trading companies and the colonial armies. In more recent times in the last century, oil became the reason for the great colonial enterprises of the European, Anglo-US, German and Japanese wars of aggression and the precursor of Oil politics in the New World Order (with the smoke screen to make the world safe for freedom and democracy).

Contemporary wars have devastated whole societies where one sees not democracies but corpses of the victims of some of the most technologically advanced weapons known to mankind. These weapons increase the scale and magnitude of this process of "collective killing".

As recently as the second World War, while soldiers were the cannon fodder for the Allies and the Axis powers, their big banks, corporations were in covert partnerships. In Germany, Italy and Spain, Ford, GM. Standard Oil, Dupont, Union Carbide, Dow Chemicals, Westinghouse, GE, IBM, the Bank of New York and the famous Bank of International Settlements had close financial and business dealings with Germany's Thyssen, Krupps, IG Farben conglomerates along with German banks who in fact bank-rolled the Nazi Party. That is why as the allied forces marched into Germany in 1945 they were told to bypass several industries and businesses which had links to Anglo-US interests.

German Fortune 500 companies, Krupps and IG Farben amongst others were charged in 1948 following the main Nuremburg Trials with “ the preparation, initiation and waging wars of aggression and invasions of other countries “ and “the plunder of public and private property …conspiracies to commit crimes against peace, war crimes and crimes against humanity, including the use of slave labour”. Due to the influence of powerful political interests, as US interest in Europe became one of countering Soviet influence and protecting the common political and economic systems of the allies and the Axis, (except the USSR), the Directors and executives were given minor sentences for the lesser charges of pillage and use of slave labour, rendering incomplete the task of the Nuremberg and Tokyo trials. (see Niloufer Bhagwat, Privatizing War)

In Africa, Angola and Congo in the 1960s and 70s are prime examples of "civil wars" and genocide fostered by the oil and mining MNCs. Hungry, unclothed men, women and children have been living and sleeping in the wet and cold, atop mounds and jungles below which lie diamonds, precious stones and strategic raw materials which make for the arsenals that kill mankind across the globe.

Can there be co-existence between humanity and this culture of military seizure?

Neo-liberal globalisation is tantamount to subordination of policy and decision making to corporate rule. “Freedom of the economy means the freedom of the corporations”.

There is the underlying insistence that all nations must abide by the diktats of the world "free markets" which means the diktat of the major financial, oil, weapons corporations, and there is the threat of military action should any country be judged to have deviated from the path.

It is the corporations –not the ‘market’, that determines today’s rules of trade, prices and legal regulations.

The recent shift from consumer goods to armaments is a particularly troubling development (Chossudovsky 2003) with new forms of “enclosures” emerging with privatization of public industries and “commons” what was free and accessible to mankind as a whole, like water, rain forests, regions of bio-diversity or geographical interest like pipeline routes, oceans etc. are now a part of the new enclosures of privatization with the threat of military control of the heritage of mankind as a whole.

It is the corporations that dictate policy and as far as they are concerned there is no place for democratic convention: ’res public turns into a res privata.’ The ones who get in their way or challenge their “rights” are vilified and to an increasing degree defined as ‘terrorists’.

The US President has declared the possibility of “pre-emptive nuclear strikes” should the US so decide. Current US Doctrine for nuclear weapons 2007, authorizes Theatre Commanders their use on “targets that can withstand non –nuclear attacks (tunnels, underground strikes etc). Also in retaliation for military, biological, chemical weapons …or IN THE EVENT OF SURPRISING MILITARY DEVELOPMENTS (against US forces) of an unspecified nature. Mini-nukes (up to six times the size of the Hiroshima atom bomb) are described as conventional ordnance.

Neoliberalism and war are two sides of the same coin. War is not only good for the economy but is indeed its driving force: ” Continuation of the economy by other means. “War and economy have become almost indistinguishable (Werlhof 2005)”…The Gulf wars and the conflicts in Africa starting with Congo, Angola, Chad, Rwanda and the threats to Sudan, Somalia and Iran are obvious examples. Militarism once again appears as the “executor of capital accumulation.”(Luxemburg 1970)--- potentially everywhere and enduringly.

A few examples of what globalisation in its different manifestations has led to in the erstwhile USSR, Yugoslavia and now Iraq.

In the Soviet Union, the General Secretary of the CPSU sold out, despite an overwhelming Referendum vote in favour of the Union, a letter signed by Marshal SF Akhromeyev, Chief of the General Staff and 200 Generals and Admirals, all deputies of the Duma, the Soviet Parliament, opposing the move by Gorbachev and comparing his act to worse than the Nazi invasion which failed to annihilate the Soviet Union. In a putsch backed by the West and its propaganda machine, unprecedented in history, the USSR politically capitulated and Yeltsin began to dismantle institutions, plants, factories to the oligarchs who simply usurped state property, sold it for a song and laundered a trillion dollars to US Banks, advised by the likes of Jeffrey Sachs, Strobe Talbot ; and the rest is history. A people and a nation brought to their knees by their own sold out leadership.

Yugoslavia was balkanized thereafter by several well planned, neo-liberal devices and measures. Alienation of the federal constituents by stopping federal grants, recognition of Croatia by Germany, privatisation of industry leading to 50 % unemployment, privatization of the Central Bank and the nomination of a non-citizen as its Governor, insistence of first charge on revenues to the World Bank –IMF, lifting of controls of food prices and other essentials causing raging profiteering and inflation ….breaking up the once happy, peaceful and generally prosperous Yugoslavia that fascist forces could not overcome in the Great War. The story for the rest of Eastern Europe and the Balkans is similar. Their reconstruction is now solely in the hands of Western corporations.

By now, despite the best attempts by the corporate media, the lies used as pretexts for the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq, are common knowledge. The propaganda to demonise Iran lies in shambles after the 2007 US National Intelligence Estimate was made public by the Intelligence community, even though analysts still insist that Iran has a nuclear weapons program which could serve as a pretext for military intervention, should the financial meltdown of certain power centers require the take over of another country’s resources and national budget as happened in Iraq.

All reasons advanced in the UNSC and in the International community by the US at every level have been demonstrated to be manufactured, as confirmed by the leaked Downing Street Memorandum, the Niger Uranium hoax, the aluminium tubes, the non-existence of WMD mobile storages and so on.

The oil majors through their representatives in the highest levels of Government in Washington DC desire to control the oil spigots, in order not only to control and dominate the major oil consumers –Japan, China, India, Europe, a very sensitive geo-political region, but also to usurp petro-dollars (Iraq had switched to euros in October 2002), of the OPEC countries in return for useless arms imports and security protection for the rather unpopular regimes.

Zionist influence on US foreign policy through Big Business, Banks, Investment firms, financial oligarchies and the media, in Wall street and in the City –London, is documented in detail. The reality is that the practice of the ‘Revolving Door’ between the executives in the corporations and banks on the Wall Street, the White House, the Pentagon, Treasury, FED, the State department make it so much easier to ensure planning, coordination and continuity of policies as deliberated upon by the Bilderberg Group, the Trilateral Commission, the CFR, the conglomerates and generally endorsed at Davos in the WEF, by definition an alliance of Big Business and political establishments.

It is not the Pentagon but the Wall Street boardrooms which select targeted entities. President Eisenhower called it the Military-Industrial Complex. One can add the energy-oil majors to this.

It is on record that the nuclear weapons targeting plan was jointly prepared by the business executives and the military at the Offut air base in Nebraska in 2002. Halliburton and its subsidiary KBR has won hundreds of billions of single vendor contracts in Iraq and siphoned off non-metered Iraqi oil. Some little noises may be made by the GAO, that’s all ! The “reconstruction” plan for targeted countries is usually made prior to the ‘destruction’ plan in the Board Rooms ! The Central Bank of Baghdad (Iraq) is run by Morgan Stanley as a natural sequence to the great usurpation of Iraqi assets in totality, starting with the Oil Ministry and oil reserves and fields, by Bremmer’s 100 orders unprecedented in history, in open defiance of the Hague conventions, all for ‘globalisation’, the code word for the 21st century colonial project.

Lockheed Martin, Halliburton, Bechtel, Aegis, BKSH associates, Bearing Pony, Custer Battles, Loral satellite, Qualcom, CACI and Titan and others are the beneficiaries in the Iraq war and occupation just as they have been its orchestrators with CNN, Fox, NBC (GE), Murdoch, BBC in the first place. Their stock prices have tripled, in every phase of the war. Even the Iraqi Media network is run by a former Director of the Voice of America.

Architecture & Characteristics of Globalisation

1. Implementation of the Neo-liberal Agenda is through shock therapy, structural adjustment programs, Washington Consensus. Speculative finance capital which lies at the heart of the current phase of ‘Financialisation’ of capitalism requires seemingly endless infusion of cash which necessitates more exploitation and thus more inequality. Violence is often considered a solution to all problems to control society even as economic policies impact a wider groups of citizens.

2. Subversion of key personnel in the institutions of the state.

3. Sanctions or threat of sanctions where necessary, to weaken the country targeted when a military attack is intended some months or years hence.

4. Deregulating the economy and dismantling the public sector as part of the Reforms or ‘Deform’ package.

5. Influence, control and takeover of financial institutions and later Banks, Insurance and Real estate (FIRE).

6. Takeover of the Media via the FDI route.

7. The Myth of Free Trade.

8. Control of food, seeds, land, contract farming, Futures Exchanges, pharmaceuticals via new Patents Act, IPR, robbery of genetic and bio-diversity assets.

9. Extension of pro-corporate and commercial contract laws under the pretext of modernising laws and the legal framework.

10. Steady destruction of the Environment and ecology.

11. Unsustainable consumption, provoking internal conflict and external competition or leading to wars.

12. Resort to state terrorism while crying wolf by contrived individual acts of terrorism, using a spectrum of instruments, from special forces to bombardment of civilian habitats, torture, rendition, using the ‘war on terror’ propaganda as a cover for military intervention to invade, occupy and foreign control of national resources. Corporate commitment to weapons in a war economy is total where 85% of the production is funded by the military as JK Galbraith says in his book ‘The Economy of Innocent Fraud: Truth of our Times’.

13. Enforcing WTO rules, also referred to as the ‘Economic Constitution’ of the world, whose objective is to gradually annihilate the legitimate and democratically endorsed State’s and people’s rights and prerogatives. Davos Project 2020 shapes the road map for the ‘global future’ staffed as it is by executives nominated by the proliferating Transnationals whose ideology is influenced by the ‘end of history’ credo. IMF, WB and WTO constitute a “separate supranational state”. The rules of these institutions are applied asymmetrically---least of all where such rules interfere with global finance capital and most of all where they further the exploitation of the already impoverished. Aimed at military control of the planet, through a multi-dimensional and permanent war of the North against the South.

14. Contemporary ethos of establishing hegemony is characterized by Military Keynesianism --ie the "long war" and occupation of Afghanistan, Iraq and the looming wars in the Middle–East to boost annual aggregate military expenditure to over $ 1 trillion in the US, expansion of global military bases to over 700 and increase in production of hugely expensive armaments and munitions, their relentless exports while paying ‘lip service ‘ to developmental aid at G-8 and other UN convened conferences, and in practice disregarding ‘peace and security’ the founding purpose of the UN Charter.

15. “The more fundamental concern is the need to protect the West’s pre-emptive claim to the financial surpluses of the Arab and oil world. This is essential for underwriting their political stability which today is irretrievable and in distinct decline.” (Sukumar Muralidharan in EPW, March 1991).

16. “Globalisation is privatization of the world” as William Blum writes The Pre-emptive ‘First strike option’ is complementary to the idea and is being discussed at the NATO* summit in Bucharest in April (2008).

The Commander of the space shuttle that circled the earth in 2005, called and said ‘the centre of Africa was burning “. She meant the Congo, in which the great rain forest of the continent was located. It needed to disappear for corporations to gain free access to the Congo’s natural resources that are the reason for the wars that plague the region today. After all one needs diamonds, precious and strategic raw materials for the exotic weapons of today and tomorrow. Brazil has followed the same policy with respect to the great Amazon river basin.

Henry CK Liu, a New York based Investment banker who writes prolifically for the Asia Times notes “ For the trade deficit developing economies, neo-liberal global trade makes old fashion 19th Century Imperialism look benign ...”(and its predatory wars, fraud and loot look like a teddy bear’s picnic) Economic power when sufficiently vast, as in the contemporary globalised system generating unprecedented and accelerating inequalities, becomes by its very nature political power. The political power of Big Business has diminished democracy and led to the establishment of rule by an oligarchy.

Militarisation of the State and society is a natural consequence of rule by an oligarchy, focused on ‘market fundamentalism’ whose affects are all too visible across the globe and even within the ‘core’ or the metropolitan center.

Thomas Friedman of the New York Times one of the propagandists of this anti-humanity policies has summed it up graphically with nothing left to the imagination , “ The hidden hand of the market will never work without the hidden fist …. McDonald’s cannot flourish without McDonnell Douglas (Manufacturers of F-15s).

Globalisation Politics in Action

The nihilism of neoliberal globalisation is evident. The whole ‘ Real’ world is sought to be transformed into money and speculative transactions with mounds of paper money created, destructive to human welfare and development (Werlhof). The material limits of such politics becomes clearer by the day: global, ecological, economic, monetary, social and political collapse (Diamond 2005). How else can we understand the fact that in times when civilization has reached its alleged zenith, a human being starves (to death) every second (Ziegler)? The original riches of ‘mother earth’ is now giving way to a barren wasteland.

Since the 1980s, it is mainly the Structural Adjustment Programs (SAPs) of the World Bank, the IMF that act as the enforcers of neoliberalism. When the WTO was founded in 1995 in place of GATT, several agreements which operationalise it followed: The Multilateral Agreement on Investments, the General Agreement on Trade in Services(GATS), the agreement on Trade-Related aspects on Intellectual Property Rights (leading to India giving up on its Patent Rights Act), and the Agreement on Agriculture, which has now been supplemented by the Agreement on Non-Agricultural Market Access(NAMA). All these agreements facilitate corporate rule, and total liberation of all corporate activities. Never before, not even in colonial times, have those in power been so completely been “freed” from all responsibility for their actions (no wonder that the MAI negotiations were kept secret for years, though the EU Trade Unions knew since they were part of the TUAC and took part in the OECD conferences in Paris). Negotiations of the GATS have also been kept secret since the late 1990s. That sensitive areas like education, health or water services are excluded is a lie. Even the elements –air, water, earth, fire(energy) are increasingly turned into commodities. Financial Services, Insurance and Real Estate (FIRE) are the tools for opening up the womb. The genes of plants, animals, even human-beings are sometimes pirated and made one’s own legal “property”(Thaler 2004). Vandana Shiva calls this process “trading in our lives” and in Korea “WTO kills farmers” is a popular slogan.

The transnational agribusiness corporations now even discuss a general prohibition of “traditional” farming methods. Iraqi farmers have been forced to burn their seeds and use “terminator seeds “ instead –this in Mesopotamia, the “cradle of agriculture”….or “Wheat becomes a Weapon”(Krieg1980). In India too the Iraq model is being repeated, only with a slower rate of strangulation to death of our farmers. A new infertility enters the world instead of a new creation ….consequence is an artificially created death –a death with no life to follow. No one seems to know how to prevent this (Werlhof 2006)….Amongst the most ludicrous examples is the idea to distribute contraceptive GM corn developed by the Swiss company Syngenta, in regions that suffer from so called overpopulation”(Reiter 2005). Fed on it German cows died of different forms of circulatory collapse. The AoA in dumping subsidized GM food into markets of the South is threatening the survival of three billion small farmers, half the world’s population !

Today the rights of corporations are better protected by the court systems in all countries …we may even say that “human rights ‘ only apply to corporations. Neoliberal globalisation is a conscious betrayal of the interests of 99% of the people on this planet. In both its intention and effect, a true “weapon of mass destruction”—even when no immediate wars are fought (Werlhof 2006). How many lives are sacrificed to this globalisation ? Some estimate that the numbers already go into hundreds of millions (Widerspruch 2004).

In the EU’s first draft Constitution Treaty, rejected by the referendum, there was the engagement in armament and military operations (Oberansmayer 2004). The draft of the EU constitution promised to be part of an effort to secure peace and refers to acts of war as –“humanitarian intervention”, alternatively as “acts of defense”, like the NATO* war against Yugoslavia and Afghanistan and now in Africa (wherever there is oil or strategic raw materials), alongside the US Africa Military command.. Once again neoliberal globalisation and militarism appear as Siamese twins ….All this against the backdrop of deployable nuclear weapons in Europe (Galtung 1993, Oberansmayer 2004). The EU is aware of the impending problems of shortage of water and energy in Southern Europe. At the European Security conference (Munich) 2005 it already discussed scenarios of poor people’s revolts.

Harold Pinter, in his Nobel Prize acceptance speech vividly articulated as only a writer can - “ It means you infect the heart of the country, that you establish a malignant growth and watch the gangrene blow….When the populace has been subdued or beaten to death …the Military and the great Corporations sit comfortably in power –you go before the cameras and say Democracy has prevailed.”

Will the Tide Turn?

The series of people’s movements, whether against the WTO trade talks at Seattle, Cancun, Hong Kong, GM foods, privatization of public sector enterprises, SEZs, Water privatization (Vandana Shiva says “ Denying people their human right to water is not development.It is genocide”), unemployment, forest rights and displacement from mineral rich regions, against the War in Iraq and the indigenous people -- largely spontaneous, has been termed as the emergence of the ‘second super power’.

The current revolt emerging against neo-liberalism throughout the periphery, led by the Iraqi, Palestinian, Afghan and Lebanese national resistance will be met by increased interventions from the imperial center of the System – an evil and destructive system which maims, oppresses and dishonors those who live under it and which threatens and executes devastation and death to millions around the globe, shaming the age of enlightenment, in the name of freedom and democracy. However the choice, not to resist is no choice and peoples resistance have won throughout history.

“What is really needed of course is nothing less than a different civilization. A different economy alone, or a different society or culture will not suffice…We need a civilization that is the exact opposite … We would still be left with the damage that the earth has suffered ….and all this happened within what comes to a nanosecond of the earth’s history” (Werlhof).

To conclude military power no matter how strong, can never conquer the people’s desire to be free and their love of peace, as post world war II history has shown in our times, though it has imposed so much suffering and will continue to do for some more time.

When neoliberal Globalisation is on a self destruct mode and its financial system heading for an abyss what holds back its demise ? The answer is the ‘Ruling’ elites of many nations, amongst them the petro-dollar oligarchies in collusion with military alliances, who have and continue to betray their people’s interests. Since it is arraigned against entire humanity it has to be defeated by a united humanity with diverse strategies.

It is necessary to remember in times such as these, when the words “freedom and democracy” are voiced by those who have enslaved even their own societies, the wise words of Mahatma Gandhi - “Liberty and democracy become unholy when their hands are dyed Red with innocent blood.”


* NATO—Started with a membership of 15, now has an additional 26 members and also 23 “partnership countries” -- ‘Partnership for Peace.’ It has affiliates like the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative, the Mediterranean Dialogue and the GCC, all facilitating intervention, outside the UNSC, to protect human lives.

With acknowledgements to Prof Claudia von Werlhof ‘s paper on ‘The Consequences of Globalization and Neoliberal Policies. What are the Alternatives ?’ November 21, 2005, Prof Michel Chossudovsky’s books –Globalization of Poverty & America’s War of Terror, published by Global Research.

Admiral Vishnu Bhagwat is former Chief of the Naval Staff, India. He can be reached Vishnu Bhagwat is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

Global Research Articles by Vishnu Bhagwat
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Saturday, October 23, 2010

Pepe Escobar: Islamaphobia Rapidly Spreads Through Europe

The European extreme right is more turbocharged than ever, peddling Islamic hatred from France to Denmark, from Italy to Sweden.

Islamaphobia Rapidly Spreads Through Europe
By Pepe Escobar article link
October 22, 2010 | Asia Times | AlterNet

Last Saturday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel stunned the world by declaring, in front of young members of her party, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), that multiculturalism - or multikulti, as it is known in Germany - was dead.

The day before, I was in the Lufthansa lounge at Frankfurt airport having a parallel discussion with a group of German businessmen; they had practically handed me down a news alert on what Merkel would soon make public. Not accidentally, the best seller at all airport kiosks was the Islamophobia pamphlet published by a former Bundesbank higher-up, Thilo Sarrazin, who paints Muslim immigrants at best as lazy, welfare cheats and fornicating sub-intelligent beings. Sarrazin sees Muslims as an existential threat to Germany on a par to hardcore Zionists seeing Iran as an existential threat to Israel.

By that time, after three weeks roving from northern Italy to southern Sweden via Copenhagen, I had no doubts; I was deep inside Islamophobistan - that Europe-wide arc where Islamophobia is being gleefully practiced as an electoral business of fear.

Arbeit macht frei

Among other things, Merkel also said that immigration was prejudicial to the German economy - an assertion which in itself is ridiculous; to fight its severe labor shortages over the past decades the country has successively resorted to gastarbeiter (guestworkers) from Italy, Spain, Greece, Turkey and the former Yugoslavia. But most of all it's those ominous, resurrection shades of a dominatrix German culture which may have sent a chill through many a European spine. What's more ominous, in fact, is that Merkel's words mirror an European-wide response to immigration.

Multikulti was the concept found in the 1980s to accommodate a wave of migrants Germany never wanted to really gobble up - not with all the trouble of assimilating their culture, their languages and their religion. The heart of the multikulti bargain was that an immigrant was allowed to be attached to his native culture, but he had to pledge loyalty to the German state.

The problem is that the ploy basically led to permanent alienation of large swathes of immigrants. And a further problem is that the European definition of a nation is through nationality.

So why is this ballistic "return of the repressed", the ever-so-touchy question of national identity in Germany, exploding now? First of all, because of those masses of Muslim workers, mostly Turkish. In Germany it seems to have coalesced an explosive amalgam of Turkey and Islam - which includes everything from jihadi terror to Turkey's application to join the European Union (EU).

All major polls agree that a majority of Germans is not exactly fond of 4 million resident Muslims (5% of the overall population). 35% believe the nation is "swamped by foreigners" and 10% want the return of a Fuhrer with an "iron hand". In Germany there are scores of neo-Nazi groups with minimal public impact; on the other hand the neo-Nazi National Democratic Party (NDP) has already reached 5% of the votes in Thuringia.

Then there's the deep crisis of the EU itself. If the German government attacks multikulti, it is at the same time affirming the primacy of German national identity. And that identity is certainly not subordinated to the notion of an overarching European identity. Mein Gott; in a nutshell the EU dream is in deep, deep trouble.

If Germany cannot import qualified workers - Merkel said the country needs at least 400,000 high-tech specialists - it may certainly export everything from its production lines to information technology support. But what if these much-needed new high-tech workers came from Russia? And Russia started to receive even more German investment? Now that is a completely different approach to the EU. And as the whole of Europe is now immersed in a severe cultural clash - real or imagined - within the EU borders, no wonder the proclaimed death of multikulti, beyond Merkel's electoral aims, is bound to have immense geopolitical and geoeconomic repercussions.

The new Inquisition

Austrian-American psychiatrist Wilhelm Reich, in his Mass Psychology of Fascism, stressed that racial theory is not a creation of fascism. On the contrary; fascism is a creation of racial hatred and its politically organized expression.

The New (anti-Islam) Inquisition did not hit Europe immediately after 9/11; it has reached critical mass only today. The popular political sport in Europe today is not to watch Real Madrid and AC Milan playing in the Champions Football League; it is to watch populists invoking Islam - depicted as an "ideology that opposes everything that matters to us" - to crystallize all manner of phobias and fears of European citizens.

Fear of Islamization, fear of the burqa - no distraction could be as convenient for people to forget the dire, unending economic crisis that has produced catastrophic unemployment rates all across Europe. This may be part of a deep cultural and psychological crisis within Europe, with not a shred of a real political alternative; but few progressive minds are alert to the fact that this turbo-charging of racism and xenophobia is also a consequence of the overall crisis of neo-liberalism.

Mad against foreigners? Mad against politicians? That's soooo last century. The new groove is mad against Islam. It does not matter that immigration to Europe has been in decline for years; still "they" have to become like "us". An aging, fearful, reactionary Europe is terrified that The Other, issued from younger or more dynamic regions of the world, is catching up.

Asia - not Europe - is the future. A melancholic weekend in a tourist/trash-infested Venice turned into a replica of its Las Vegas mirror provided me the graphic illustration; I did feel like Dirk Bogarde in Death in Venice - and so must feel countless Europeans.

Anyone left?

As much as Sweden invented modern social democracy and the best performing welfare state of the latter part of the 20th century, it was hardly surprising that the extreme right, the Sverigedemokraterna (SD, as in Swedish Democrats) first entered parliament last September 19, with 5.7% of the votes.

The SD, considered by many as "racist and neo-Nazi", is led by Jimmie Akesson, 31, the new young darling of the European extreme right alongside his elder Dutch counterpart Geert Wilders. Akesson stresses that Islam/Muslim immigration is the biggest foreign threat to Sweden since Adolf Hitler. (Wilders for his part was recently invited to Berlin by former CDU member Rene Stadtkewitz, who founded a new party, Die Freiheit ("Freedom"), named after Wilders' own Freedom Party; and he was also recently invited to New York to speak against the proposed Islamic Center in Manhattan near Ground Zero).

This video shows how the SD went no holds barred to get their votes (as it was explained to me, the video was banned, and later one private TV station would air it, but only with the video completely blurred out). No one needs to speak Swedish to understand an elderly lady being overrun to get state benefits by a horde of burqa-clad women.

There's hardly a way to evade a direct link between the historically very low score of the Swedish social democrats and the also historic rise of the extreme right. For American, Asian, Middle Eastern observers this may sound utterly suicidal; how could the Swedes possibly reject an old-school welfare state that assures to everyone the Holy Trinity of health, education and a good pension?

So if the ultra-civil Swedes were not rejecting their model, what was it? Maybe the answer is in a book first published in Italy in 2008 by Italian linguist and essayist Raffaele Simone, whose subtitle literally translates as "Why the West is not leaning to the Left".

In the extremely well-argued book, Simone proves that the European Left is intellectually dead; it simply has not understood the drive of hardcore capitalism (which he defines as "arch-capitalism", or "the political and economic manifestation of the New Right"); it has not understood the correlated primacy of individualism and consumerism; and it has refused to discuss the phenomenon of mass immigration.

From France to Denmark, from Italy to Sweden, it's easy to see how savvy populists skillfully deploy those European values of free speech, feminism and secularism - oversimplifying issues to the point that their take seems logical - as ammunition against mosques, minarets, headscarves and, of course, "sub-intelligent beings".

And then there are local realities. The majority of those voting SD were protesting against overwhelmingly Muslim immigrants, a great deal of them jobless, who come to Sweden, get fat government benefits and remain idle. Sweden is nowhere as tough on immigration as Denmark, Norway or Holland.

In Malmo, a mere 20-minute train ride via the stunning Oresund bridge from Copenhagen, about 80,000 (60,000 of them Muslims) of the overall population of 300,000 are immigrants. There are certified losers in Malmo's carefully calibrated transition from old industrial city to a post-mod consumer haven; the old, the poor, and most of all, immigrants. So Sweden seems to have posed the European-wide question of the necessity for the European welfare state to concentrate less on health care and pensions and more on "including" immigrants. But is this really the real question?

Shoot the minaret

Talk about an European summer of hate - from minarets banned in Switzerland to burqas banned in Belgium.

The populist extreme right has been part of coalition governments in Italy and Switzerland for many years now. And they are represented in the parliaments of Austria, Denmark, Norway and Finland. The National Front in France had 9% of the vote in last spring's French regional elections.

But now everywhere it feels like a Lamborghini let loose. Geert Wilders' Freedom party in Holland has turbo-charged Islamophobia to the point of almost paralyzing Dutch governance. The elegant, eloquent, peroxide-blonde populist Wilders wants to ban the Koran - which he has compared to Hitler's Mein Kampf - and impose a "headscarf tax" (how come no government thought about this in the Middle East or in Pakistan?)

French President Nicolas Sarkozy - now facing his own, self-provoked May '68 remix in the streets over his pension reform - tried to seduce (once again) the National Front by expelling planeloads of Romanian gypsies.

Austrian extreme right stalwart Heinz-Christian Strache, running for mayor of Vienna less than two weeks ago, took no less than 27% of the vote. And Barbara Rosenkranz, who insists anti-Nazi laws should be abolished, came second in Austria's presidential race.

The Islamophobic, anti-immigrant Northern League of Umberto Bossi in Italy is part of the government in Rome and not accidentally the country's fastest-growing party, now controlling the ultra-wealthy provinces of Veneto and Piemonte. During the latest election campaign, La Lega supporters handed out bars of soap to be used "after touching an immigrant".

In Spain, the movement Preventive Reconquista is gaining ground - a perhaps George W Bush-inspired preventive war against the 1 million Muslim immigrants and their allegedly "evil" plans to re-attach Spain to Islam. A "headscarf controversy" already erupted in Madrid last April. Local town councils have been prohibiting the burqa and niqab - French-style (although a national ban was only narrowly defeated in the Spanish Congress last July).

It comes as no surprise that the extreme right is more turbocharged than ever in scores of European post-industrial cities which used to be center-left; that's certainly the case of Wilders in Rotterdam, Le Pen in Marseille, Strache in Vienna and Akesson in Malmo. Simone's assessment is being proven right.

And what makes these populists even more dangerous is their cross-pollination. Austria's Freedom Party copied a game from the Swiss People's Party in which players shoot at minarets popping up in their The Sound of Music-like landscape (with the added Austrian bonus of shooting at the muezzins as well).

The SD learned a lot from Wilders as well as the Danish People's Party and its chairwoman, Pia Kjaersgaard. They are all copying Wilders' trademark tactic of pitting immigrants against old pensioners - Islamophobia mixed with the widespread fear of the welfare state being plundered by foreigners.

In France, the revamped National Front - targeting Islamophobia - may be even more dangerous, now led by non-dogmatic, "intellectual", business suit-wearing Marine Le Pen, the daughter of Jean Marie, the party's founder; Marine wants to conquer the political center, to the point where Sarkozy simply won't be able to win anything without her.

This cross-pollination might even lead to an European-wide alliance, also including the US and Canada; an Atlanticist Islamophobistan. In fact that's Wilders' dream; the outfit is actually called International Freedom Alliance and was launched last July - to "defend freedom" and "stop Islam".

Marine Le Pen is not so hot about it - her preferential agenda is to conquer power in France. The US is also a dodgy proposition - after all Muslims make up only 1% of the US population, leading to the surrealist American phenomenon of Islamophobia without Muslims. Anyway it's troubling that virtually 50% of Americans say they have a negative impression of Islam. Allah needs a good PR firm, fast.

Fear sells

So what to do? We are smack in the middle of the second globalization. The first globalization took place between 1890 and 1914. It's a back to the future scenario mixed with a return of the living dead; then as now the acceleration of capital transfer, migrations and transportation is generating regression - misguided nationalism, xenophobia, racism, and a New Inquisition.

At a recent meeting of writers and journalists organized by the magazine Internazionale in Ferrara, in Emilia - one of Italy's and Europe's wealthiest provinces - arguably the most crucial debate was titled "Islam; a specter hovers around Europe". The key speakers were Tariq Ramadan, professor of Islamic Studies at Oxford and a real academic rock star in Europe, and Olivier Roy, professor at the European University Institute in Florence and one of Europe's top authorities on Islam and jihad. It's fair to say both have provided a road map for sensible citizens to follow through.

Asked about the reasons for the widespread fear of the Muslim immigrant, Ramadan noted that this "perception harks back to the construction of the European project". These immigrants were supposed to have come to Europe just to work. "But now we have immigrants of second, third and fourth generation, they leave their ghetto, they are more visible, they feel at ease to express themselves, and their voices are heard." That causes a tremendous conflict with their overall perception.

Ramadan insists "European Muslims have it very clear in their minds the European concept of freedom of expression." And he is adamant; "Integration is a thing of the past; we are already integrated" (but try convincing Angela Merkel about it, or the citizens of Malmo for that matter).

Ramadan's key point is that Europeans - and Americans as well - should "make a clear distinction about the instrumentalization of these fears by movements and parties, derived from ignorance and fear itself. We should go beyond the theme of integration and stress common values. There is a consensus now in Europe that immigrants from second and third generation are more visible, in the cultural, political and sporting spheres. It's passivity facing instrumentalization that could become a tremendous risk for all European citizens."

Roy attacks the impasse from a different perspective. For him, "now there's a sort of fake consensus. Our consensus on Islam is related to the fact that we Europeans don't agree on what we are. Now in most European parliaments the left and right vote together to forbid the burqa, the construction of mosques ... Left and right seem to be in agreement against Islam, but for different motives. There's a disconnect between a religious marker and everyday life. What is religion? And what is culture? We should say religion is religion, and citizenship is citizenship. That's how it works in Europe. City of Man and City of God. Muslims in Europe have adopted and are adopting the European model of separation between Church and State."

Roy defines "two aspects about the fear of Islamization; immigration and Islamization. For most of public opinion, they are synonyms, but that's not true. In France, for the second and third generations, there is everything, Muslims who pray all the time, some that pray sometimes, those who have no practice but say they're Muslims, Europeans converting to Islam, Muslims converting to Catholicism ... Everything depends on the political culture of the country. Freedom of religion in Europe is not a consequence of human rights. It was defined as a compromise after centuries of religious wars. But this compromise - in each European country - is now in crisis. For two reasons. One, the nation-State is in crisis. Because of globalization, European integration, national compromises overrun by supra-national laws. And now the freedom of religious practice is an individual right. That's something entirely new in European political culture."

Not sure that would be enough to convince Wilders and Akesson. They are not for inclusion; they're for exclusion - and more than ever they know the electoral business of fear sells. The New Inquisition will go on no matter what (and it will go out of control if one of those ghostly al-Qaedas, from Iraq, from the Maghreb, from the Horn of Africa, from wherever, crashes a jet on the Eiffel Tower). With that bleak prospect in mind, I left Islamophobistan the best way I could - boarding a flight to a non-hate, non-fearful, certainly hopeful, boundless dynamic and religious war-free part of the world: South America.

Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007) and Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge. His new book, just out, is Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).

© 2010 Asia Times All rights reserved.

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Monday, October 18, 2010

Peter Laarman: Does the Historical Jesus Matter?

Does the Historical Jesus Matter?
Testing good theology’s ‘cash value.’
by Peter Laarman article link
October 14, 2010 | Religion Dispatches

What experiences will be different from those which would obtain if the belief were false? What, in short, is the truth's cash value in experiential terms?
—William James

This coming weekend will be marked by a 25th anniversary gathering and celebration for the important scholarly enterprise known as the Jesus Seminar. A good time to ask what difference it makes when the Jesus of history turns out to be considerably more interesting than the myth-encrusted Christ created by the church over the centuries. Or does it make any difference at all?

John Dominic Crossan, a leading figure in the new Jesus studies, will chair the anniversary gathering. I was privileged to spend some time with Dom Crossan this past weekend as he keynoted a conference for 300 clergy and lay leaders in Pasadena that was intended to fuse good theology to practical activism (Full disclosure: my agency helped to organize this conference in partnership with the D. L. Dykes, Jr. Foundation, All Saints Episcopal Church, and The Progressive Christian magazine.) Crossan was joined on the platform by a younger radical theologian who specializes in economics and power: Joerg Rieger, author of the well-received Christ and Empire (Augsburg Fortress, 2007).

Back when I was a theological pup attending the mildly neo-orthodox Yale Divinity School, I was taught that it’s actually a better move to place your bets on the Christ of Faith than on the Jesus of History, about whom nothing conclusive can ever be known. Dom Crossan and his Jesus Seminar colleagues have been systematically challenging the “nothing can be known” assertion, along with its peculiar corollary: “Whatever can be known matters less than historic church teaching and church practice.”

For example, they think it matters a great deal to be able to bracket the weirdly anachronistic and formulaic statements attributed to Jesus of Nazareth that were never spoken by the Galilean upstart but that were put into his mouth by early church types. They think it matters hugely to look at archeological evidence for what the early Jesus movement believed and how it functioned. They also think it matters hugely to separate out the authentic writings of the ultra-radical “First Paul” from the shrill screeds of the post-Pauline scolds who managed to shoehorn a good bit of Empire-friendly schlock into the New Testament canon.

But back to the difference their good theology makes. (Crossan himself uses the term “accurate theology” to describe the research-based work he has been doing for decades.) For myself, I do feel my head beginning to clear just a bit when I learn that what the Bible’s God abhors most is not poverty as such but the inequality created and reinforced by unjust power and greed. I nod that same head in sober and sad agreement when I hear someone like Joerg Rieger point out how so many millions on this Earth still suffer from the effects of malign theological economics: from the lash of free-market rules and precepts that mirror top-down and gravely mistaken theological concepts.

And as someone who has always found the fulminating figure of John the Baptist to be rather attractive, I find myself both humbled and strengthened to learn that Cousin John was stuck in an old and unhelpful paradigm. John thought that enacting a ritual purification in the Jordan would trigger redemptive divine intervention on behalf of the poor, whereas Jesus insists on a “collaborative eschatology”: Yes, God is eager to bring deliverance, but God is also still waiting for us to pitch in. Or as Desmond Tutu likes to put it, “Without us, God won’t; but without God, we can’t.”

I grew up thinking of Jesus as intimidating and distant and not very likeable. But Crossan and Borg and their lot can make you start to like JC again. After this past weekend, for example, I finally get the Palm Sunday joke: Jesus rides into Jerusalem on a donkey because a pompous Roman emperor would have ridden in on a charger. And it becomes a matter of some charm that Jesus never asks anyone for blind faith. In answer to the question put to him by John from prison (“Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?”), Jesus responds to the courier: “Go and tell John what you see and hear: The blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are healed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them.” (Mt. 11:5: Crossan observes that in the context of grinding oppression, the most miraculous item in this list is that the poor are learning that God has good news for them.)

And then there is the radical nonviolence. Jesus is certainly among the great axial age figures who invites us to explore and apply the immense power of nonviolent direct action. Crossan teaches that failing to put equal emphasis on both terms in “nonviolent revolutionary” completely misses what Jesus was about. He drives the point home in his exposition of the trial before Pilate and the contrast between Jesus and Barabbas, a violent man whose band of marauders needed wiping out in order for Empire to feel secure.

Crossan had people chuckling over images from Western art (Titian, especially) showing Jesus bounding out of the tomb with a buff West Hollywood gym body. Crossan maintains that a heroic solo victory over death and defeat is not what Jesus achieves at the end—and is certainly not how he would want to be remembered. The earliest images of anastasis (resurrection) preserved in Eastern Church shrines show Jesus taking Adam by the hand and leading him and others into a different future; the resurrection is rendered as a collective exodus from the grip of imperial death, not an individual triumph over the grave.

All very well, you say, but I still haven’t answered the question about whether any of this makes a difference. Apart from the frisson experienced by smug types like me who imagined that we already knew almost everything worth knowing about Jesus, where is the “cash value”?

Here’s my answer: With the concurrence and the active participation of the visiting theologians, the final conference session was transformed into an in-depth consideration of how California’s much-deplored governmental dysfunction actually mirrors and expresses the main contours of empire and inequality as global phenomena.

For a full third of the conference time we moved from top-down to bottom-up theology, beginning with small-group conversations over boxed lunches in the open air. Although the shift gave some participants a slight case of the bends, the result was fascinating. A good many cynical and despairing people who had all but given up on Golden State politics started talking like competent change agents and started asking about where and how they can get trained to do the work.

Could it be that Crossan’s “collaborative eschatology” concept isn’t a second-best proposition after all (compared to the prospect of a powerful messianic deliverer showing up to kick some oppressor butt)? Could it even be that God’s choice of those who are weak and despised in this world to shame the strong (I Cor. 1:27) is no mere throwaway piece of Pauline poetry but an actual revolutionary formula?

And while I don’t much like feeling bad about myself, I am quite willing to consult the mirror and to see that we who imagine ourselves to be progressive Christians might well reflect on our own degree of infection with Empire God ideas, as against the “God’s reign is within you!” idea that Jesus preached and demonstrated. Self-awareness and serious repentance don’t need to be disempowering; quite the opposite.

If you wish, you can say that I’m just excessively enchanted by Dom Crossan’s ready wit and his lovely Irish brogue. But for the first time in a long time I am once again feeling some confidence in the theological enterprise. Maybe good theology does matter in a hurting world. Who woulda thunk it?

Peter Laarman is executive director of Progressive Christians Uniting, a network of activist individuals and congregations headquartered in Los Angeles. He served as the senior minister of New York’s Judson Memorial Church from 1994 to 2004. Ordained in the United Church of Christ, Peter spent 15 years as a labor movement strategist and communications specialist prior to training for the ministry.

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Saturday, October 16, 2010

David Michael Green: Suicide by Regressivism

Suicide by Regressivism
by David Michael Green article link
May 2, 2010 | CommonDreams

Sometimes bad things happen to countries, and people suffer.

Other times, people suffer because countries are stupid and bring bad things upon themselves.

No country in the history of the world has ever been as rich and powerful as the United States. Regrettably, few have demonstrated the level of stupidity we have and brought so much grief upon our own heads (not to mention treating so many other people in the world to an even worse fate).

To watch the Wall Street hearings in Congress this week is to witness this folly in full flower. To ask, “What two greater sets of organized criminals are there in America than Wall Street bankers and the United States Congress?” is actually to make the fundamental mistake of being too charitable. The question assumes that they are indeed distinguishable entities, when in fact this is arguably nonsense.

That distinction is actually quite critical, for our public sector has in many ways more or less ceased to exist in this country. And that in turn is critical for what it signifies, in addition to the very tangible effects felt every day.

What’s at stake in the significance of a robust public sector, with supreme political authority, is nothing less than democracy at its most profound level. We tend to think of democracy primarily in terms of elections. Those of us who scratch the surface a little deeper might invoke associations to the concept of responsible government, and the notion of clearly assignable credit for policy successes and failures, along with the idea of legitimate voter choice which follows from that.

But foundational to both those important concepts is the assigned role for the government being chosen through this electoral process. It doesn’t much matter if you have free and fair elections, with lots of distinct party choices to pick from, if the government you are electing is substantially limited in its capacities. You might as well get all excited about the Queen of England. You can do that if you want, but the reality is that she doesn’t have any real political power anymore, so why bother?

Likewise, the stature of American government has much deteriorated in many key respects from where it stood a generation ago. Regressives have been so good at winning the ideological warfare of the last thirty years, whether on fronts overt or subtle, and this is just another example of the latter. By weakening the government, by undermining its status in the public mind, and by making it subservient to other actors on the political stage, incalculable damage has been done to American society. Just exactly as was intended.

One of the great regressive triumphs of our time has been to turn people against their own government. It’s an astonishing victory – especially in a democracy where those same people have chosen that very government – and it comes against the long odds cast by the shadow of rationality.

But it has been a necessary ingredient for a plutocracy which has sought to achieve – and has achieved – the fundamental goal of radically redistributing wealth in America. The major impediments to such predation include government’s presumptive power to tax, to regulate, to provide services, and to set the fundamental rules for the structural mechanics of economic life in a society. All of these had to be challenged to insure that a wealthy overclass could become fantastically more wealthy, and the easiest way to do that was to corrode the status and power of government itself. To choose a metaphor which is not entirely metaphorical, it’s a lot harder to steal from you if you think you deserve to own what you have. If, on the other hand, you can be sold a diet of some lovely self-loathing, you’re likely to be a lot more inclined to acquiesce in your own fleecing.

Teaching people to hate their own government is one way to divest them of it, and it has been crucial. At least as important, however, has been the process of wresting the beast right out of the hands of any remaining semblance of public control. So, first the Republican Party was completely coopted, then – courtesy of Bill Clinton and Barack Obama especially – the Democrats as well. Now both parties take enormous sums from Wall Street and any other corporate actor who realizes what a great return on investment is provided on the minimal pay-to-play entry fee of buying off a few members of Congress, through the medium of former members of Congress now cashing in as lobbyists. If this goes on much longer it will make the robber baron era of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century look as garish as Gandhi by comparison.

While taxes on the wealthy have been dramatically cut in the United States these last decades (with, of course, debt rising in equally fantastic proportion) the very notion of the legitimacy of taxation has been called into question to a ludicrous extent. It’s as easy as it is immature to bitch about taxes, in the same way that a certain five year-old might decide that he should have all the cookies on the communal plate, and his playmates none. Some folks on the right may have some legitimate policy disputes about being forced through taxation to pay for programs they don’t like (though I suspect nearly all of them are just looking to have more cookies). But, hey, guess what? Most everyone can readily find lots of stuff in the federal budget they’d rather not fund. As for me, I am appalled that something like one-half of the federal dollars skimmed off of my paycheck go to fund a massively bloated military-industrial-complex, for a country with no real enemy, in a process that represents little more than corporate welfare at its absolute worst. But I don’t complain about the concept of taxes. It is, as Oliver Wendell Holmes pointed out, the price we pay for civilization. Sadly, in America, we pay comparatively little in taxes. If you do the math on that, per Holmes’ formulation, you quickly realize that we have purchased for ourselves a Walmart civilization, and not just figuratively, either.

Deregulatory fervor is another concept which fairly boggles the mind. Does it seem to you that Wall Street has been prevented by the government from being the best it can be lately? Were those poor hard-working bankers unable to earn an honest day’s salary, even after we dismantled the regulatory framework we built after the 1930s, the last time this same nightmare went down? Do you think that American industry should be freer to pollute our waters, strip-mine our mountains, or build even bigger shit pools surrounding industrial-scale meat factories? Aren’t zoning restrictions just an outrage, too? Why shouldn’t that sulfur-processing plant be located right in your neighborhood? Why should the next generations get to enjoy the same temperate planet we all have grown up with, when that would mean profits for an already wealthy tiny minority might be slightly diminished? What’s so bad about the Sahara, anyhow?

Then there’s spending. Of all the developed countries in the world, the United States has always been the most absolutely miserly in taking care of its populace. Americans would be entirely amazed to learn what goes on in places like Germany or Sweden, how socially and personally beneficial such welfare state programs are, and how much security and, yes, freedom, comes from such initiatives. They might even realize what a raw deal they’ve given themselves, in exchange for the right to buy a bigger TV on their high-interest credit cards. But, of course, the only times in half a century that we’ve moved in the direction of enlarging the American welfare state – Bush’s prescription drug bill and Obama’s health care debacle – it’s really been a lot more about enlarging corporate profits. Coupled with the Clinton/Gingrich meat cleaver approach to already minimal welfare assistance, it’s a very sad record indeed. But, then, it’s only lives that are at stake here.

While taxes and regulation and spending are the obvious manifestations of this public-versus-private dynamic, there is another more profound one as well, which has to do with the very structuring of society. We seem to have forgotten, all too often, that the former is meant to sanction the latter, and not the other way around. Corporations are, at least in theory, chartered by the state, for purposes of serving some sort of public good, and not otherwise. In practice, however, corporations have come to view the state as their sometime nemesis and oft-time resource collector. Regressives, however, in their supposed zeal for ‘freedom’, never stop reminding us of the need to leave the private sector unfettered to do what it wants. Funny, they don’t seem so obsessed with freedom from state power when it comes to murder or robbery, or even abortion or gay marriage. What could be the rationale for letting corporate actors murder – and in some cases there is no other word for it – as a result of actions taken in a society free from government control? And, worst of all, for the lowest of reasons imaginable?: To generate big profits for little people.

At the root of all this is a society that has lost touch with the very meaning of the public sector. At the end of the day, and despite all the deviations of real-world practice, government is the forum in which the aspirations and interests of the people, as a people, are expressed. And that is why, despite the need to protect some substantial quantities of individual and even corporate freedoms, government must ultimately trump the power of private actors. We don’t allow individuals the right to take the lives of others whenever they feel like it on the basis of their claims to freedom. Why do we contemplate extending these and analogous rights to corporate actors? Yes, of course, everyone should have maximal possible freedoms, but only after the needs of society and other individuals have been placed first.

At its core, the regressive project these last thirty years has sought to undermine that principle, rhetorically, legislatively and conceptually. Ronald Reagan was the embodiment of this initiative, and nothing spelled it out more clearly than his line that “Government is not the solution, government is the problem”. What he was really saying was, “Greedy wealthy folks are not getting enough yet, so the rest of you need to have less and live shorter, shittier lives to rectify that unacceptable imbalance”.

And so, precisely, it has been. The Great Recession of our time is only the most obvious manifestation of a thirty year process of wealth transfer from bottom to top. Even as the global economy crumbles and America groans under the burden of record-high unemployment rates, all remains quite lovely, thank you very much, for the nice folks in America’s economic stratosphere. Record high bonuses on Wall Street and a rising Dow. Meanwhile, the distribution of wealth in this country is now as it was in Herbert Hoover’s day, a scenario of which any banana republic could be proud.

And the notion of what to do about it is more farcical than ever. The only serious political energy in the country belongs to the tea party morons, and their media cheerleaders on Fox and, well, seemingly everywhere. And they are calling – wait for it now – for less government as a solution to the country’s problems. It boggles the mind. Could an ideology ever have been more obviously shown to be catastrophic in its effects? And yet here we are arguing in public about doubling down on those policy ideas, while the two major political parties both pretend to be limiting the worst practices of the most predatory actors, as they simultaneously accept bags of money from the very same folks at the very same time.

I’m sorry, but this is embarrassing. I know enough about history that I don’t entirely mind if my country has a bad century or two, or falls from the lofty heights of its great power status. Falling is what you’re supposed to do when you’re a great power and you’ve already done the whole rise thing. It’s called gravity, and it’s pretty inevitable.

But do we have to do it to ourselves?

And does it have to be the product of such rampant stupidity?

David Michael Green is a professor of political science at Hofstra University in New York. He is delighted to receive readers' reactions to his articles (, but regrets that time constraints do not always allow him to respond. More of his work can be found at his website,

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