(July 19, 2004)
Regarding Phil Rockstroh's Election 2004: A Plebiscite In Bedlam
To the Editor:
How have I survived without Phil? Caught up in an orgy of catch-up. Protect him and never let him go!
Shelton, Washington, USA - July 7, 2004
Regarding Richard Macintosh's Rubicon 9/11 and Milo Clark's Patterns Which Do Not Connect (Feb. 2004)
To the Editor:
Thanks so very much for your wonderful publication.
Just finished reading "Rubicon 9/11" by Richard Macintosh. The similarities between the current crew and the Nazis are certainly spooky and, not to criticize a well done piece, perhaps extend beyond those mentioned. I've not read all of the Origins of Totalitarianism, though at the time the stories of the OSP were making the rounds, I was reading Arendt's analysis of the National Socialists' organizational structure. At first it was difficult to comprehend exactly how the circles worked -- the core, the buffers, fellow travelers, the outside world, etc. -- and the shadow departments the party created. An article on a group of counter-culture Goths finally helped, as did learning more of the OSP. Organization is everything, indeed. At about the same time, I was also reading Bertram Gross's Friendly Fascism. He goes into another strand of authoritarianism, which seems to describe more perfectly the Democrats than their Republican brothers-in-collusion. More on that later.
Been meaning to send a note to Milo Clark for some time now, on a piece he wrote on the Patriot Act and its precursor of two centuries -- the Alien & Sedition Acts. I'm curious if he is familiar with the Alien Act of 1637? I only became familiar with it through Eunice Minette Schuster's Native American Anarchism (she compared that act and the Puritans' treatment of Anne Hutchinson with those used to imprison and deport anarchists in the early part of the 20th century). Haven't had the time or energy of late to do more research and was hoping to come across someone who knew more about it.
At any rate, back to Friendly Fascism and another aspect of the Patriot Act. In Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11," one of his interviewees says this legislative piece of nastiness had been sitting on the shelf for some time (10 years, maybe). It seems a very big mistake for the Anyone But Bush underlings to gloss over this tidbit, and understandable why their leaders do. It seems to be one of Milo Clark's patterns which connect, especially in the context of transnational capitalist class theory.
St. Louis, Missouri, USA - July 6, 2004
John Steppling's Review of Swans' July 5 Edition
To the Editor:
This issue focused largely on the coming US election and the debate about "anyone but Bush" tactical voting. The essential argument seems to revolve around damage control (vote Kerry) or principled resistance (vote for Nader, Kucinich, Cobb, Mickey Mouse). Since I wrote an opinion I don't feel I can get too much into an analysis again except to ask a few questions and question a few facts. First, Joel Wendland maintains, in Regime Change Starts With Bush, this current administration is "qualitatively more brutal"...meaning especially against the poor and marginalized, both domestically and internationally. He also maintains that the working class "knows" Bush is the most dangerous regime in history. I should point out that we would really have to define brutal, as in how this administration differs, etc....something much in dispute, especially here at SWANS. The implication, and obvious reality, however, is that this means a Kerry (like Clinton) administration wouldn't be quite so brutal, not quite so dangerous. Less brutality, not NO brutality. How does this make one feel? A vote for less brutal treatment of the poor? Not to mention it was Bill Clinton (and Mad Maddie Albright) who loved those sanctions against Iraq that actually cost more lives than either the Gulf War or its sequel. Is there a difference between Republicans and Democrats? Sure, a small difference. One might point to the current President's Nuclear Weapon's Council and its desire for increased spending on mini nukes -- but this is part of a general obsession with countries like Iran and the Iranian nuclear development program. One wonders how much this is connected to unmonitered nuclear power in Israel, and if we can agree it is, then one should also know just how rabidly pro-Israel (and pro Likud) John Kerry is. Wendland also points to the naked opportunism Bush and Co. showed with regard to 9/11. Again, the Democrats didn't seem much different. Just harken back to all those dems who voted for war and for the Patriot Act (Kerry and Edwards included) and the especially craven jingoism of Hillary Clinton during the aftermath of the Twin Towers attack. John Edwards can be quoted here: "We reject the left's perennial complaint that America spends too much on the military -- this is no time to cut the Pentagon's budget." No, sorry, the differences are small and the similarities large. Empire is Empire.
Let me quote Gramsci: "The State has always been the protagonist of history. In its organs the power of the propertied class is centralized. Within the state, the propertied class forges its own discipline and unity, over and above the disputes and clashes of competition, in order to keep intact its privileged position..."
On to Phil Rockstroh's very fine piece, even if I disagree with the conclusion. His list of Empire's follies and destruction is both funny and sad. However, it made me think about the importance everyone is putting on Bush and Kerry as opposed to better trying to analyze the sources of funding for their campaigns and how this might reveal who really runs the country. Or maybe I should say, examining the way the State actually operates, how our authority structure functions, and exactly why we accept a choice like the one on offer. Again, Bush may well be stark raving mad...clinically insane.....quite possible (Nixon certainly was). How much does this matter? Is it more about Cheney or Wolfowitz or Bolton? Or is it maybe more the guys at the World Bank and the IMF? Complicated stuff this, and I continue to caution the reductive when thinking of Bush as the ultimate evil. Let's also mention Kerry's new running mate John Edwards, personal wealth estimated at over sixty million dollars. Edwards is a charter member of the DLC (along with Lieberman) and co-sponsored the bill in 2002 that gave sweeping rights to Bush to go to war. Edwards was also endlessly going on about Saddam's WMD threat. Furthermore, he is a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee; and has argued repeatedly for MORE stringent Homeland Security measures...that's right, more not less. He and Kerry signed the big Clinton crime bill a while back too, which led to the spurt in prison construction (and jobs for more cops....great, real progress!) This is a very pro-war ticket, folks.
Phillip Greenspan's article makes the excellent point, in several different ways, that the society of the spectacle (Debord) is really, and truly, upon us. Greenspan cogently outlines the sobering realities of political theatre as the U.S. practices it today (has it ever been different?). Funny he should mention Venezuela however, and its working class revolt that ousted the corrupt oligarchy. Funny because Kerry wants to get rid of Chávez and restore a business friendly regime in Venezuela (which I am sure Greenspan knows). It will be the kinder face of regime change. It's important to point out that Venezuela and the coming referendum on Chávez is of great importance in terms of the future of US oil domination and in terms of Latin America in general. Kerry would like Chávez gone, which means in effect re-privatizing the oil industry and an end to all the programs for the poor that include housing, education, and agrarian reforms. One of the Empire's delegates to this debacle is former Democratic President Jimmy Carter (discussed in a great article by James Petras recently). The anti-Chávez forces are all former oligarchy henchmen, the ruling class business barons, and all have been operating with clear CIA support to get this referendum on the table. Democrats and Republicans alike have supported regime change in Venezuela (and Cuba for that matter). To imagine some fantasy progressive positions by Democrats in foreign policy is simply wrong.
Well, I won't say more, I've had my say really. I do think however that those of us not voting for Kerry tend to admit a sympathy with the impulse to rid ourselves of , if nothing more, the image of a leering Dick Cheney or a smug Shrub. The opposite tends to be the case with the ABBers. Why is this? Guilt maybe? Knowing you are somehow, no matter how otherwise idealistic, voting for a man who will continue to bomb the poor and helpless? A vote for Nader (or whoever) is a vote for Bush they say. Doesn't this seem to diminish the sincere choices some of us are making? I'm not voting for Bush, that's an empirical fact. Period.
Milo Clark contributes a good piece on Leo Strauss and his influence among the neo-con cabal. Strauss is quite popular these days here in Poland at the American Studies Program at Jagallonia University -- a creepy and disturbing fact. Clark's is a handy guide to some of the more pronounced delusions of this current foreign policy think tank schooled brand of domination. The men from the Heritage Foundation, JINSA, and The American Enterprise Institute, are all hard core neo-cons. People like Doug Feith, Peter Rodman, Elliot Abrahms and David Wurmser all found work in the Bush machine. The influence of Strauss is certainly there, although the real link is probably Israel. The fiercely pro-Israeli positions of the neo-cons is only partly connected to anything Straussian, and I think it's important to see Strauss and his influence in terms that include the unquestioned backing of the criminal Sharon government. Clark ends his piece with a bit of Straussian logic, take power and keep it. In this regard Strauss is not very different from almost any other American politician I can think of. The State is in existence, as Marx pointed out rather often, because of class conflicts that can't be resolved. The welfare state and mass culture (and media and marketing) have all modified classical Marxist thought; but one thing hasn't changed and that is that the ruling class (or elites) run things for other elites and for continued profit. Follow the money!
Jan Baughman's cartoon is the visual teaching aid many of us might well need. Sometimes a cartoon can be the more savage weapon...and this is a good example.
The steamrolling Imperialist machine is crushing everyone and everything, and the psychic dissonance is more pronounced and the hysteria of those who see the disasters ahead is growing more acute...myself certainly included. The naked greed and pathology that seems everywhere is hard to take day after day, and a sense of purpose, regardless of how you feel about the Bush/Kerry debate, seems the thing to remember most assiduously. Those who retain even a modicum of sanity, or think they do (ha!) need to keep their eye on the enemy. And the enemy is what we are all trying to clearly identify. Dissolving the fog of propaganda is onerous work, but much needed just now. Resistance is important...it's just deciding which is the real resistance.
Krakow, Poland - July 9, 2004
(Steppling is a LA playwright (Rockefeller fellow, NEA recipient, and PEN-West winner) and screenwriter (most recent was Animal Factory directed by Steve Buscemi). He is currently living in Poland where he teaches at the National Film School in Lodz.)
Regarding Bush, Kerry, and John Steppling's Kerry And Electoral Illusions
To the Editor:
Oh, my. Mr. Steppling surely does get himself in a school-girlish rage. Of course neither candidate knows hunger, suffering, strife, anger or any of the other plagues we suffer from down here in the nethers. His answer is to sit on the sidelines and tsk-tsk his way to righteousness. He cannot get his hands dirty because "their" hands are so much dirtier... Mr. S., the train will not stop, go over the cliff, blow up or be ignored. It's the only train that will carry your people, my people, our people. So get off your duff, lose the arrogance and get to work for someone, anyone because your idle pen is making you ridiculous.
Temple City, California, USA - July 5, 2004
Regarding Gilles d'Aymery's Plaisirs d'Amour: Jesuzzy Lib-Labs Meet Dick Cheney
To the Editor:
To quote NBA basketball player Nick Van Exell, "F-em (all)," or to get a little lower on the rant scale into trailer trash, I would say "these motherfucking pukes are stinking up the world with the fucking shit they pull. They should be doing hard time in fucking Stark gettin' punked out instead of fucking us all in the ass with their shriveled up penis brained actions." Hopefully they will be hoisted on their own petards as I don't think I can take much more of this frivolity.
Yours in nonsense in the midst of insanity
Bend, Oregon, USA - July 10, 2004
And what was "this," if we may ask...
To the Editor:
I found this on my old messages -- irrespective let us just agree to disagree -- obviously the skewed media irritates me just as the converse would get you to respond with erudite opposition. Nothing ever changes in these exchanges of opposing views. Wishing you a healthy and satisfying future.
Dayton, Ohio, USA - July 8, 2004
On a few comments by John Steppling in his review of Swans' June 21 Edition, regarding Bill Eger's Reviving Political Parties: The Last Chance For Democracy
To the Editor:
John Steppling is correct that my short essay of June 21 did not include a listing of corruption nor mention of other political party failures. How could it, given the allotted length of copy? There are failures in every human institution but it has never been my interest to dwell on them. [Note: "Newsletter, 'American Federation of Labor Weekly News Letter - Labor's 1912 Political Programme,' American Federation of Labor. Progressive Party's platform seeks outlawing of child labor." From: http://www.georgemeany.org/archives/child.html with many similar references.]
There is a lack of clarity, however. My words needed to put forcefully that, without political parties, there is no private voice or organization whatsoever limiting politics or government with discipline that parties once enjoyed. When the parties were killed by incumbent politicians, no replacement was offered. They killed the only mechanism our nation had to demand attention for the need of streetlights, the stupidity of pre-emptive war and everything else government does. Perhaps there is some way that escapes me to grab your friendly US senator by the collar but, for the most part, parties are now an event primarily for television coverage and that senator doesn't care what you think.
It is most heartening that the Kerry campaign is using the Democratic platform as the method of realigning sense with need on the issue of fighting terrorism. [The New York Times, The Democrats: Democratic Platform Focuses on National Security by David E Rosenbaum and David E. Sanger, July 4, 2004] When that platform passes it will be the first truly significant policy matter that requires Democrats at every level to work with that single policy in play. That is what has been missing and I'm willing to take a soupçon of back-room deals if we can get it back.
Thank you for your comment.
Hawaii, USA - July 5, 2004
Regarding Jeff Lindemyer's Depleted Uranium or Depleted Conscience? (Dec. 2001)
To the Editor:
I just read Jeff Lindemyer's article on the dangers of Depleted Uranium (DU). I am interested in finding out whether workers who manufactured shells, armor and other items containing DU have suffered any ill effects from DU exposure. At a recent meeting of peace activists here in Madison, someone mentioned that these items were manufactured in Ohio and that few safety and health precautions were taken. Various articles on the Web mention Paducah, KY. What other manufacturing sites in the U.S. are you aware of?
Thanks for any information you can give me.
Madison, Wisconsin, USA - July 13, 2004
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