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Saturday, December 06, 2014

The Path Of Truth Is The Path Of The Brave

I've been in some discussion about non-violence given the various forms of protest we've seen since the Darren Wilson Exoneration Jury.  I naturally agree that rioting is counterproductive in general, but I both empathize (in the sense I posted about yesterday), and to a certain degree sympathize, with people engaging in such rebellion.

It's particularly important to recognize that people need the "space" to practice NV, and that's not necessarily available to the dispossessed.  By that I mean people need the opportunity to move up Maslow's hierarchy (or however you want to describe it, knowing that model might not be perfect) beyond meeting bare survival needs, be exposed to NV action and strategy, develop connections to others for coordinating NV efforts, etc.

So yeah, NV methods might be the "best" to achieve justice in Ferguson and elsewhere (both from a moral and practical perspective), but that's easy for me to say from my privileged position.  I was raised in the Quaker tradition more or less, spent decades learning about NV movements and how to apply NV tactics in a variety of circumstances, and of course benefit from the current power structures rather than being oppressed by them, so don't really know what it's like to suffer from repeated injustices.

With that as backdrop, I ran into some resistance to what I've expressed here (admittedly a little more thought out than when I'm quickly typing on Facebook).  I don't just mean the usual "that shit'll never work" canard, but also my allowing for even violent (or at least destructive) responses to oppression.

I'll not get into the exchanges' weeds, but merely (re)state my thesis: violence is a natural, human response to negative exogenous developments so engaging in NV can be rather hard, which is why it's a tool of the strong and really has to be learned and practiced.  Yes, even Gandhi and King couldn't get everybody to adopt their philosophy, despite all the charisma they brought to bear--both also understood the reasons for violence by the oppressed, and sought to not only educate but foster the conditions where more people could join them.

I don't have much of a narrative beyond that, but wanted to share some excerpted writings that have long formed the basis for my ideas on NV.

One thing that still surprises me that people are surprised by is that even Gandhi himself didn't expect everybody to follow his path of satyagraha.  One reason he undertook satyagrahic fasts was to interrupt default violent processes and shame people a little so they'd reflect and perhaps do a better job going the NV route, but he also hated the idea of passivity, impotence and cowardice.

For example, he wrote in The Gita and Satyagraha:

I have been repeating over and over again that he who cannot protect himself or his nearest and dearest or their honour by non-violently facing death, may and ought to do so by violently dealing with the oppressor. He who can do neither of the two is a burden. 

I don't mean to suggest that he advocated violence per se.  Rather, he decried inaction, and while he practiced NV and wanted others to as well, the Mahatma saw acceptance of evil to be worse than violent resistance to evil.  This was an extremely common theme in his writings.

It seems clear to me that Gandhi understood how non-obvious his form of NV was.  He noted this in Young India (November 5, 1919):

The way of satyagraha is distinct from the beaten track and it is not always easy to discover it. Few have ventured along that path and the footprints on it are few and far between and indistinct, and hence the people's dread of it. And still we clearly find people taking that course, be it ever so slowly.

Ever so slowly, as Dr King still had to observe in Why We Can't Wait (1963):

Man was born into barbarism when killing his fellow man was a normal condition of existence. He became endowed with a conscience. And he has now reached the day when violence toward another human being must become as abhorrent as eating another’s flesh.

And when accepting the Nobel (1964)

[N]onviolence is the answer to the crucial political and moral question of our time - the need for man to overcome oppression and violence without resorting to violence and oppression. Civilization and violence are antithetical concepts. Negroes of the United States, following the people of India, have demonstrated that nonviolence is not sterile passivity, but a powerful moral force which makes for social transformation. 

Sooner or later all the people of the world will have to discover a way to live together in peace, and thereby transform this pending cosmic elegy into a creative psalm of brotherhood. If this is to be achieved, man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. 

I see all of this as acceptance of the immutable fact that humanity's conscience and society have to evolve as much as all other aspects of our existence.  Not unlike MLK (and Thurman) built upon the learning and practice of Gandhi--the former not even admitting the value of violence over impotence as the latter did, yet still understanding why the downtrodden might rise up in less constructive ways.

I'll have more to say about that in a while, following up on King's language of the unheard.  For now digest the offerings above, and consider that if you're judging rioters in the way I've seen people do ("I respected King, not that" or "it doesn't win my sympathy") then you are not being a part of the solution.

ntodd

December 6, 2014 in Conscience, Pax Americana | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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Thursday, December 04, 2014

Setting The Movement Back

Something from a while back:

 [Robert E Lee] wrote in response to a message to Congress from President Pierce:

Although the abolitionist must know this, must know that he has neither the right nor the power of operating, except by moral means; that to benefit the slave he must not excite angry feelings in the master; that, although he may not approve the mode by which Providence accomplishes its purpose, the results will be the same; and that the reason he gives for interference in matters he has no concern with, holds good for every kind of interference with our neighbor,—still, I fear he will persevere in his evil course. . . . Is it not strange that the descendants of those Pilgrim Fathers who crossed the Atlantic to preserve their own freedom have always proved the most intolerant of the spiritual liberty of others?

I'm sure most of the General's sentiment comes from the same disdain for "outside agitators" as was common through the ante bellum, Reconstruction, Jim Crow and modern eras.  But it inherently must at least be based in part on a disdain for people who criticize and/or disrupt the status quo.

Yes, it's certainly true that some abolitionists were extreme, and some extremely violent--Harpers Ferry comes to mind--which did "excite feelings" in the South and put Northern gradualists in uncomfortable positions.  That said, the problem is solely with the people resisting change and justice, not the people who refuse to wait for God or the President to finally do the right thing.

It's a mystery why this comes to mind...

ntodd

December 4, 2014 in Pax Americana | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

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Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Speaking Of Excessive Force

Oh yeah, since I had fun with John Quincy Adams, I'll note he spoke on July 4, 1821:

[America] goes not abroad, in search of monsters to destroy.

She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all.  She is the champion and vindicator only of her own.  She will commend the general cause by the countenance of her voice, and the benignant sympathy of her example.

She well knows that by once enlisting under other banners than her own, were they even the banners of foreign independence, she would involve herself beyond the power of extrication, in all the wars of interest and intrigue, of individual avarice, envy, and ambition, which assume the colors and usurp the standard of freedom.

Fast forward a couple years, when Britain and the US were concerned about a resurgence of European monarchial/colonial power in the Americas.  George Canning proposed a bilateral announcement warning everybody off.  President Monroe wasn't sure how to respond, so he sought advice.

JQA recorded in his journal in November, 1823:

13th. Morning occupied in making a draft of minutes for the message of the President upon subjects under the direction of the Department of State. I took to the President's my draft of minutes and copies of the instructions to R. Rush dispatched last summer. I read and left my draft with him.

I find him yet altogether unsettled in his own mind as to the answer to be given to Mr. Canning's proposals, and alarmed, far beyond anything that I could have conceived possible, with the fear that the Holy Alliance are about to restore immediately all South America to Spain. Calhoun stimulates the panic, and the news that Cadiz has surrendered to the French has so affected the President that he appeared entirely to despair of the cause of South America. He will recover from this in a few days; but I never saw more indecision in him...

15th....[President Monroe] asked for the correspondence relating to the intercourse with the British American Colonies, with a view to the particular notice which he intends to take of it in the message; which I thought should have been only in general terms. He also showed me two letters which he had received—one from Mr. Jefferson, 23d October, and one from Mr. Madison of 30th October, giving their opinions on the proposals of Mr. Canning. The President had sent them the two dispatches from R. Rush of 23d and 28th August, enclosing the correspondence between Canning and him, and requested their opinions on the proposals.

Mr. Jefferson thinks them more important than anything that has happened since our Revolution. He is for acceding to the proposals, with a view to pledging Great Britain against the Holy Allies; though he thinks the island of Cuba would be a valuable and important acquisition to our Union. Mr. Madison's opinions are less decisively pronounced, and he thinks, as I do, that this movement on the part of Great Britain is impelled more by her interest than by a principle of general liberty.
...
The subject of Mr. Canning's proposals was resumed, and I soon found the source of the President's despondency with regard to South American affairs. Calhoun is perfectly moon-struck by the surrender of Cadiz, and says the Holy Allies, with ten thousand men, will restore all Mexico and all South America to the Spanish dominion. I did not deny that they might make a temporary impression for three, four, or five years, but I no more believe that the Holy Allies will restore the Spanish dominion upon the American continent than that the Chimborazo will sink beneath the ocean.

But, I added, if the South Americans were really in a state to be so easily subdued, it would be but a more forcible motive for us to beware of involving ourselves in their fate. I set this down as one of Calhoun's extravaganzas. He is for plunging into a war to prevent that which, if his opinion of it is correct, we are utterly unable to prevent. He is for embarking our lives and fortunes in a ship which he declares the very rats have abandoned.
...
21st....I took with me the draft of my dispatch to R. Rush in answer to Canning's proposals, with the President's projected amendments and my proposal of amendment upon amendment. We had a very long discussion upon one phrase, which seemed to me to require none at all. The sentiment expressed was, that although we should throw no impediment in the way of an arrangement between Spain and her ex-Colonies by amicable negotiation, we should claim to be treated by the South Americans upon the footing of equal favor with the most favored nation.

The President had proposed a modifying amendment, which seemed to admit that we should not object to an arrangement by which special favors, or even a restoration of authority, might be conceded to Spain. To this I strenuously objected, as did Mr. Calhoun...The President did not insist upon any of his amendments which were not admitted by general consent, and the final paper, though considerably varied from my original draft, will be conformable to my own views...

My purpose would be in a moderate and conciliatory manner, but with a firm and determined spirit, to...assert [principles] upon which our own Government is founded, and, while disclaiming all intention of attempting to propagate them by force, and all interference with the political affairs of Europe, to declare our expectation and hope that the European powers will equally abstain from the attempt to spread their principles in theAmerican hemisphere, or to subjugate by force any part of these continents to their will.

The President approved of this idea; and then taking up the sketches that he had prepared for his message, read them to us. Its introduction was in a tone of deep solemnity and of high alarm, intimating that this country is menaced by imminent and formidable dangers, such as would probably soon call for their most vigorous energies and the closest union. It then proceeded to speak of the foreign affairs, chiefly according to the sketch I had given him some days since, but with occasional variations.

After hashing out the US stance, Adams sent instructions to Ambassador Richard Rush in London on the 30th:

As a member of the European community Great Britain lias relations with all the other Powers of Europe, which the United States have not, and with which it is their unaltered determination, not to interfere. But American Affairs, whether of the Northern or of the Southern Continent can henceforth not be excluded from the interference of the United States. All questions of policy relating to them have a bearing so direct upon the Rights and Interests of the United States themselves, that they cannot be left at the disposal of European Powers animated and directed exclusively by European principles and interests.

Aware of the deep importance of united ends and councils, with those of Great Britain in this emergency, we see no possible basis on which that harmonious concert of measures can be founded, other than the general principle of South-American Independence. So long as Great Britain withholds the recognition of that, we may, as we certainly do concur with her in the aversion to the transfer to any other power of any of the colonies in this Hemisphere, heretofore, or yet belonging to Spain; but the principles of that aversion, so far as they are common to both parties, resting only upon a casual coincidence of interests, in a National point of view selfish on both sides, would be liable to dissolution by every change of phase in the aspects of European Politics.

And so President Monroe unilaterally declared on December 2:

The citizens of the United States cherish sentiments the most friendly in favor of the liberty and happiness of their fellow-men on that side of the Atlantic. In the wars of the European powers in matters relating to themselves we have never taken any part, nor does it comport with our policy to do so. It is only when our rights are invaded or seriously menaced that we resent injuries or make preparation for our defense.

With the movements in this hemisphere we are of necessity more immediately connected, and by causes which must be obvious to all enlightened and impartial observers. The political system of the allied powers is essentially different in this respect from that of America. This difference proceeds from that which exists in their respective Governments; and to the defense of our own, which has been achieved by the loss of so much blood and treasure, and matured by the wisdom of their most enlightened citizens, and under which we have enjoyed unexampled felicity, this whole nation is devoted.

We owe it, therefore, to candor and to the amicable relations existing between the United States and those powers to declare that we should consider any attempt on their part to extend their system to any portion of this hemisphere as dangerous to our peace and safety. With the existing colonies or dependencies of any European power we have not interfered and shall not interfere.

But with the Governments who have declared their independence and maintain it, and whose independence we have, on great consideration and on just principles, acknowledged, we could not view any interposition for the purpose of oppressing them, or controlling in any other manner their destiny, by any European power in any other light than as the manifestation of an unfriendly disposition toward the United States.

And there you have it.  Monroe's Doctrine has been expanded and tweaked a number of times over the intervening years.  

F'rinstance, Teddy Roosevelt had something to say about it on December 6, 1904:

It is not true that the United States feels any land hunger or entertains any projects as regards the other nations of the Western Hemisphere save such as are for their welfare. All that this country desires is to see the neighboring countries stable, orderly, and prosperous.

Any country whose people conduct themselves well can count upon our hearty friendship. If a nation shows that it knows how to act with reasonable efficiency and decency in social and political matters, if it keeps order and pays its obligations, it need fear no interference from the United States.

Chronic wrongdoing, or an impotence which results in a general loosening of the ties of civilized society, may in America, as elsewhere, ultimately require intervention by some civilized nation, and in the Western Hemisphere the adherence of the United States to the Monroe Doctrine may force the United States, however reluctantly, in flagrant cases of such wrongdoing or impotence, to the exercise of an international police power...

While they thus obey the primary laws of civilized society they may rest assured that they will be treated by us in a spirit of cordial and helpful sympathy. We would interfere with them only in the last resort, and then only if it became evident that their inability or unwillingness to do justice at home and abroad had violated the rights of the United States or had invited foreign aggression to the detriment of the entire body of American nations. It is a mere truism to say that every nation, whether in America or anywhere else, which desires to maintain its freedom, its independence, must ultimately realize that the right of such independence can not be separated from the responsibility of making good use of it.

In asserting the Monroe Doctrine, in taking such steps as we have taken in regard to Cuba, Venezuela, and Panama, and in endeavoring to circumscribe the theater of war in the Far East, and to secure the open door in China, we have acted in our own interest as well as in the interest of humanity at large.
...
We continue steadily to insist on the application of the Monroe Doctrine to the Western Hemisphere. Unless our attitude in these and all similar matters is to be a mere boastful sham we can not afford to abandon our naval programme. Our voice is now potent for peace, and is so potent because we are not afraid of war. But our protestations upon behalf of peace would neither receive nor deserve the slightest attention if we were impotent to make them good.

It appears Roosevelt's Corollary was fundamentally spurred by the Venezuela Crisis of 1902 (which he'd brag about for years), although he'd been formulating his philosophy and policy stance for quite some time:

The Roosevelt Corollary was a departure from previous hemispheric policy in that it proceeded from a global vision of U.S. security... 

Roosevelt's thinking on the Monroe Doctrine and the U.S. status and duty in the hemisphere went back a long way and fed on his reading and research as a young historian. Following the Venezuela Crisis of 1895. during which he enthusiastically supported Olney's vigorous reassertion of the 1823 warning, with its defiant reminder of U.S. invulnerability in the Americas, he penned in the March 1896 issue of The Bachelor or Arts an article that set forth his own interpretation of the celebrated pronouncement.

According to Roosevelt, the doctrine existed even before its actual formulation, as evidenced by American opposition to Napoleon's purchase of Louisiana from Spain in 1802. No territorial transfer, grant, or aggrandizement was to be permitted in favor of any European power.

Although he accepted the status quo, he looked forward "to the day when not a single European power [would] hold a foot of American soil.” His defense of the Monroe Doctrine then was unmistakably nationalistic; it was "not a question of law at all" but "a question of policy." It was also subtly imperialistic, as the corollary would later show; Roosevelt claimed rather disingenuously that it was "distinctly in the interest of civilization that the present states of the two Americas should develop along their own lines," while implicitly postulating U.S. superiority and trusteeship over “Spanish America." The future president's vision was essentially strategic.

In 1896 he advocated the instant annexation of Hawaii, the construction of an isth- mian waterway, and the revival of the Monroe Doctrine, backed by a “first-class fighting navy" without which it would stand as "an empty boast."
...
Shortly after his accession to the presidency, in view of the upcoming International Conference of the American States to be held in Mexico City, Roosevelt instructed Secretary of State john Hay to remind the "sister republics" that their stability and pros- perity were vital for the United States, to offer them generous commercial cooperation, and to invite them to iointly champion the Monroe Doctrine so as to better defend their sovereign rights and territorial integrity against possible encroachments by a European power. As vice president he had similarly urged its recognition as "a great international Pan-American policy, vital to the interests of all of us."

Now...in light of all our intervention in Europe since we put on our Superpower Pants, I found an interesting article about the Doctrine by Rear-Admiral Colby Chester (the only naval officer to have served in the Civil War, Spanish-American War, and WWI) from July, 1914, not long after Archduke Ferdinand has been assassinated:

In defending the continental policy of "America for the Americans" the United States will have ample cause for keeping up an efficient navy, and to protect the seven thousand miles of coast line, including "the greater Panama Canal zone," she will need every ship that our non-military people will authorize to be constructed. It has been well said that the Monroe Doctrine is as strong as the navy of the United States, and in view of the fact that our country- men insist on maintaining but a small navy as compared with those that might be brought against it in combination, our people should avoid creating enemies, who might be tempted, in order to protect their own interests, to form an alliance with more power than we could bring to bear against them. 
...
Let the United States...in the words of the Hon. John Barrett, director of the Pan-American Union, "take advantage of the opening of the Panama Canal, to signalize formally, as it were, the beginning of a new Pan-American era in which the Monroe Doctrine, which represents the dictum of one government in the family of nations, shall evolve into a greater Pan-American doctrine, which shall represent the mutual interest and protection of all." 

It is better to make friends than to build guns.

Indeed.  But a few years later Yanks with their guns turned the tide in France and--demobilization notwithstanding--we had fundamentally reversed the European side of Monroe's equation.

So, is it dead as SecState John Kerry declared last year?  Dunno.  I'm inclined to think the American Doctrine has always been to be: do whatever the fuck we can get away with (which was less early on, more as we got bigger guns).

ntodd

December 2, 2014 in Pax Americana | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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Monday, December 01, 2014

Inconvenience

Been seeing the usual complaints about traffic shutdowns and whatnot by Ferguson protesters.  

"Get a job!"  

"Must be nice not to have to be somewhere on time."

"This is not the way to get my sympathy."

Yeah, well, they got your attention, which apparently they didn't have before since you're all wrapped up in your own special snowflake world.  Imagine the inconvenience of being a black citizen of Ferguson.  Every day.  Or imagine the inconvenience of being, you know, shot to death.

If you're bitching, you clearly benefit from the status quo.  If getting your attention doesn't make you realize that and start doing something about it, you're part of the problem.  Wake the fuck up.

ntodd

December 1, 2014 in Pax Americana | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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Changing The Dynamic

A general strike would be great:

Activists are calling for students to walk out of school and employees to walk off the job nationwide at 1 p.m. ET Monday to protest police violence.

Good on the Rams, fuck Police Officers Association:

Several St. Louis Rams players sent a silent but strong messagebefore they took the field Sunday against the Oakland Raiders.

The players raised their palms in the air, repeating the "hands up, don't shoot" gesture that protesters in Ferguson have been using for months.

But the move infuriated the St. Louis Police Officers Association, which issued a statement saying it was "profoundly disappointed" with the group of Rams "who chose to ignore the mountains of evidence released from the St. Louis County Grand Jury this week."

You want people to stop protesting like this?  Help change the system instead of bitching about dissent.

Anyway, I'm not sure this is going to end any time soon.  The powers that be and everybody comfortable with the status quo ought to take notice...

ntodd

December 1, 2014 in Pax Americana | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Well how do you do Private William McBride?


Do you mind if I sit here down by your graveside?

I know this is Veteran's--not Memorial--Day in the US, but it marks the Armistice ending the horrible war that began 100 years ago.  And I can't think of veterans without thinking of the waste that is all war.

This song also reminds me of a particular anti-recruitment action from a few years, or a few lifetimes, ago.  No more lost generations...

ntodd

November 11, 2014 in Pax Americana | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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Sunday, November 02, 2014

Maximum Overload

Loomis writes about the Wobblies in 1909:

Conditions in northeastern Washington were as bad as the rest of the nation. This was farming and logging country and both industries relied on itinerant labor. Working and living conditions were terrible and pay was poor. What really made workers angry was the employment agency scam. Companies and farmers would contract out with employment agencies, forcing workers to use them for a job. Workers paid for this service. If a job wasn’t there when they arrived, no money back! Return to Spokane and try again. Same if the job just lasted a couple of days. This was rank exploitation of the poor.

These conditions made Spokane an early IWW organizing hotspot. By mid 1909, the city and surrounding region had up to 1500 dues-paying members and a nice headquarters. It expanded its presence through street speaking. This is the literal meaning of “get on your soapbox” in action here. In angry speeches denouncing the exploitation workers faced, Wobbly speakers attempted to convince the workers passing through Spokane from job to job to fight back. As 1909 went on, the Spokane police began cracking down against this. In March, the city council passed an ordinance banning public speaking to all “revolutionists.”
...
As arrests grew, the IWW moved toward a larger action. When local Wobbly leader Jim Thompson was arrested for speaking without a permit on October 25, the IWW demanded his release and threatened to send speakers from around the country to city and flood the jails. Spokane called the IWW on its bluff and the IWW began its first major free speech fight on November 2. Spokane police began arresting everyone who tried to speak. Soon 400 people were in jail, overwhelming the prison system. As the members cycled out of jail, often after a 30-day sentence, they got themselves rearrested.

Overloading of systems is a nice little tactic, used in a variety of contexts including the Salt Satyagraha.  Yet Loomis also notes the failure to follow up on IWW victory, illustrating my usual point that you can't just employ one method without others in a larger strategic arc.

ntodd

November 2, 2014 in Pax Americana | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Bellum Americana

Ah yes, American Exceptionalism seizes the moral high ground:

Keith Ablow, a doctor and Fox News analyst, thinks that the United States should aggressively export its system of government to every single country on earth. What could go wrong?

In a comically unhinged column posted to Fox News' website on Tuesday, Ablow calls for an "American jihad" in which the U.S. would aggressively move to America-ify the entire world, which totally makes sense because "the Constitution is a sacred document that better defines and preserves the liberty and autonomy of human beings than the charter of any other nation on earth."

How would this ambitious plan work? Well, Ablow explains, "we would tie American aid to incremental changes not just in the attitudes, but in the fundamental structures, of countries. These changes would move those countries, slowly but inexorably, toward reflecting our Constitution in their own charters." The plan would also involve doubling the budget for the CIA and Special Forces, presumably to counter any foolhardy resistance to American domination. There's more, but you get the idea.

It's like the Marshall Plan with just a touch of Mein Kampf and total cray...

ntodd

October 29, 2014 in Pax Americana | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Katy Perry's Ex-Husband Is Willing To Die Unconditionally

TBogg's basset hounds are better activists:

[I]f you want to start a revolution — and good luck with that if you think it will be grow from podcasting your complaints about how unfair the world is  — you need to start somewhere, and that is at the local level and then upward.  Conservatives knew that when they started packing school boards years ago, developing candidates who blossomed at right about the same time that the Tea Party suddenly appeared. They’ve worked themselves through the state legislatures and one need only take a look at some of the GOP candidates who might be elected on a national level in a few weeks to see how government can be made to work for you or against you or, as is current case: not at all.

So if you’re waiting for a political messiah to rise up and save the world, take a number and go wait with the End Timers over there on the bench.

And if you think that Russell Brand is that messiah, then you’ve got an even longer wait. He’s just Tiger Beat Che Guevara living in a digital world.

Indeed, that's been central to my point for quite some time.  But nobody listens to me because I wasn't married to the chick with fireworks bursting from her boobs, so I'm just going to sit over here and wait for somebody to start the revolution...

ntodd

October 22, 2014 in Pax Americana | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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Saturday, October 11, 2014

This Is Why I'm Already And Always Against The Next War

WaPo:

The U.S.-led air war in Syria has gotten off to a rocky start, with even the Syrian rebel groups closest to the United States turning against it, U.S. ally Turkey refusing to contribute and the plight of a beleaguered Kurdish town exposing the limitations of the strategy.

U.S. officials caution that the strikes are just the beginning of a broader strategy that could take years to carry out. But the anger that the attacks have stirred risks undermining the effort, analysts and rebels say.

The main beneficiary of the strikes so far appears to be President Bashar al-Assad, whose forces have taken advantage of the shift in the military balance to step up attacks against the moderate rebels designated by President Obama as partners of the United States in the war against extremists.

Truly a shock that campaigns piss off a lot of people, including the folks we're ostensibly trying to help, whilst not achieving our goals.  But when you've got the most awesome, expensive collection of hammers in the entire world...

ntodd

October 11, 2014 in Pax Americana | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

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Sunday, September 21, 2014

Back In My Day

Hippie chicks at the Climate March are way more subtle than back in my day.

ntodd

September 21, 2014 in Pax Americana | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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Saturday, August 23, 2014

Justice Tagging


In BTV this evening.

ntodd

August 23, 2014 in Pax Americana | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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Agitation

Anthony on some of those outside agitators:

A rule of thumb about these kinds of groups that come in and try to hijack high profile local protests is that any of them that advocate or encourage violence are not in it for the benefit of the people who live there.  Those people will leave, the people who live there will be the ones who have to live with the aftermath of their exciting and titillating violence.  This is especially true when there is some intellectual program thought up in some other place, like San Francisco or by a bunch of white intellectuals who never have to live with the results of the violence they call for, when that violence has to stop, as it always does, the Revolution it was supposed to incite delayed for future opportunities. 

Especially stupid are the anarchists who would have all civil authority end, leaving communities to be governed by those who always rise up whenever the police leave, gangsters and gangsters who war with each other as they terrorize, rob and exploit the people who have no choice but to live there.  And I will repeat that, we know what would happen under anarchism because it happens in any section of a city or country where there is a vacuum of civil authority and police presence, the gangs take over.   The problem in Ferguson was that the police were a white occupation army in a black community, the answer to that is to have an effective police force which is part of the community.

Media types rely too much on the 'outside agitators' trope, but that's not to say there aren't opportunistic groups and individuals who are like revolutionary moths to the flame of unrest.  It's a pretty clear line the difference between supporting people in their struggle for justice and making it all about you and your precious agenda.

ntodd

August 23, 2014 in Pax Americana | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

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Friday, August 22, 2014

What Kind Of Country Are We?

Pierce:

The body they left in the street. For four hours. Ferguson, Missouri was a place where they left a body in the street. For four hours. And the rage rose, and the backlash built, and the cameras arrived, and so did the cops, and the thing became something beyond what it was in the first place. And, in a very real way, in the streets of Ferguson, the body was still in the street. What kind of place leaves the body of a boy in the street? What kind of country does that?

But Michael Brown and the protesters are the problem.

ntodd

August 22, 2014 in Pax Americana | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

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Friday, August 15, 2014

Not Bowing Before The Altar Of Retaliation

RMJ notes that somebody finally does the right thing:

So this morning the hero of Ferguson is Capt. Ronald Johnson of the Missouri Highway Patrol, because he didn't take to the streets in a an MRAP or deploy another SWAT team or send everyone out heavily armored and armed in riot gear that made them look like Darth Vader wannabes.

He walked in a protest march in his shirt-sleeves.

If the militarized response of the Ferguson and St. Louis County police was the Dick Cheney response to the situation in Ferguson, this is the Martin Luther King, Jr., response.  This is the response of compassion and humanity, not power and authority...

And if we learn a lesson from it, maybe that lesson is that Dick Cheney's response is not the one size that fits all; and some of the simplest lessons of Dr. King, of compassion over power, humanity over demonization, are still valuable.

Hopefully somebody--everybody--actually studies the lesson...

ntodd

August 15, 2014 in Pax Americana | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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Thursday, August 14, 2014

Speaking Of Massacres

There may be something instructive found in Boston and Kent.  Or maybe not.

ntodd

August 14, 2014 in Pax Americana | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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Sunday, June 29, 2014

Occupy Stonewall

Read the whole thing, but these two grafs New Yorker piece boil down the issues of a successful movement:

Stonewall was the product of a handful of brilliant community organizers applying basic principles of social organizing. Without them, Stonewall would have been nothing more than one of several gay-bar pushbacks in the late sixties, or another one of the non-gay street demonstrations that characterized New York in that tumultuous time. It was the dedicated strategizing of the men and women of the nascent gay movement that turned something unremarkable into the Bastille. Their achievement is a field guide to how to make a social movement, and also offers insight into why Occupy is failing.
...
[S]o the myth of Stonewall began. Strategic, discrete, well-planned, original (in its time), the Stonewall march is the pure manifestation of how social movements succeed. It was the birthday party for Stonewall, not the birth the year before, that gave rise to the triumphant gay revolution.

Spot on.

I love rallies and marches, and a little decentralized, anarchic energy is good, too.  We need more than that.

Organization wins, in all campaigns, movements and revolutions.  Not guaranteed victory, but disorganization pretty much equals guaranteed failure, in large part because there's no follow-up to any successes achieved despite the lack of organization.

ntodd

June 29, 2014 in Pax Americana | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

History Rhymes With Iraq

[T]he people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders [to go to war]. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country.

 - Predictable Hermann Goering quotation

 

The war cost $2T (as predicted by people more credible than Wolfowitz) and a few lives here and there, so this is shocking:

According to a new CBS News/New York Times poll released Monday, 75 percent of Americans saying the war in Iraq was not worth it is up 8 percentage points from 2011, and up nearly one-third (30 percent) since August 2003. Republicans, Democrats and independents all agree — by large majorities — that the war which began in March 2003 was not worth any of the human or financial costs.

Half of Americans (50 percent) in the June 20-22 poll of more than 1,000 adults don’t think the U.S. has a responsibility to do something about the current ISIS-based violence in the Middle Eastern nation, including only 42 percent of Republicans who say the U.S. has any current responsibility for action.

About 80 percent of both Democrats and independents say the U.S. war in Iraq was not worth the costs.

Nice that the American people are skeptical about this thing some of us fought against so hard.  Maybe next time they won't be so easily brought to the bidding of their leaders.  Perhaps now we can denounce the architects of this disaster as warmongers who lack patriotism and exposed us to danger...

ntodd

PS--Reminded me of a decade-old post on our shiny new quagmire.


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June 24, 2014 in Pax Americana | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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Saturday, June 14, 2014

Struggling For Any Justice Somewhere Is Struggling For Justice Everywhere

I have long advocated for fighting against bad stuff, though there's no requirement for loincloth and goats' milk.  So I wholly endorse what Loomis says here about activist snobbery.

I admonish people to get engaged.  Don't have to do what I do, or for the reasons I do it, just fucking do something.  Even frisbee revolutions have value.

ntodd


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June 14, 2014 in Conscience, Pax Americana | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

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Nuke Iraq From Orbit, It's The Only Way To Be Sure

Or we can let the hawks weave their magic again.

ntodd


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June 14, 2014 in Pax Americana | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack