Bulletin N°239


25 June 2006
Grenoble, France

Dear Colleagues and Friends of CEIMSA,
This past academic year, 2005-2006, has seen a diversity of democratic movements in so-called First- and Third-World nations. It would appear that a significant part of humanity has reached the conclusion, more or less independently, that Yes! Specialists do possess valuable information and understandings which if applied to real situations could improve the quality of life for all of us. And, No! Specialists cannot be entrusted to apply their "solutions" without popular consent. The people are, in fact, the only experts concerning their own needs, and free public debate is the most efficient method to determine what is acceptable to satisfy the needs of those involved, and what is not! As the French proverb reminds us, l'absent a toujours tort [those who are not present are always wrong] : the collective "veto power" of all parties concerned is the essence of democracy, the right to send the Specialists back to their drawing boards to come up with a better policy proposal. . . .

The liberal capitalist fallacy of not recognizing natural and social hierarchies has become increasingly visible. The contemporary communication revolution, instead of mapping ideological illusions upon a given reality --ideas like "variety is diversity," and "everyone is like an individual atom," and "everything is relative to everything else," and "there are two sides to every question," and instead of adopting "the analytic logic of 'either/or' as a instrument that can explain everything"--  is in the process of popularizing the understanding that matter-energy exists independently of its being perceived, while information does not.

[A common socialist fallacy in practicing Democratic Centralism is to emphasize centralism over democracy and to adopt the view that democracy is an obstacle to be overcome by threat of force, thereby undermining its own creation of a legitimate hierarchy of power.]

We have come a long way from the Stalinist purges in Russia, the American witch hunts and bomb shelters of the 1950s, and the phony American egalitarianism of the 1960s ("Do your own thing!"), which served to sabotage the democratic socialist challenge to the capitalist order and to perpetuate illegitimate hierarchies of political power against the well-being of both society and society's context, the natural order. Today, at the start of the 21st century, metacommunication (communication about communication) is challenging the capitalist order. More than ever before, the public is aware that they are despised by their rulers, who can barely tolerate their dissent. What tries to pass as "democracy" is the rubber stamp of approval in the absence of real debate. The wider social context includes the threat of sanctions if automatic approval is withheld. Thus caught in the paradox of an authoritarian matrix, where the only choice is "the lesser evil", we find ourselves recruited to collaborate with our own executioners, as it were, competing for opportunities which destroy our environment and ultimately ourselves. [In Elizabethan England, tradition allowed for the condemned to pay a coin to his executioner to encourage the efficiency of his services.]

Along with today's advances in metacommunication, we are witnessing a better grasp of the limits of digital representations, the practice of dividing the parts of a whole into separate, numeric units, in contrast to analog coding, where communication occurs along the lines of continuity and an infinite shading of differences. Neither of these  modes of thought can be ignored; both are necessary, and though very different, they complement one another to do that work which is essential to the survival of our species, i.e. the transfer of information over space and time. In his book, The Great Chain of Being, A Study of the History of an Idea, philosophy professor Arthur O. Lovejoy writes,
There are not many differences in mental habit more significant than that between the habit
of thinking in discrete, well-defined class concepts and that of thinking in terms of continuity,
of infinitely delicate shadings-off of everything into something else, of the overlapping of essences,
so that the whole notion of species comes to seem an artifice of thought not truly applicable
to the fluency, the, so to say, universal overlappingness of the real world. (p.57)

Pointing to the context of contemporary society, communications analyst Anthony Wilden observes evidence of a third form of communication in his book, The Rules are No Game :
analog coding, based on difference, is continuous; digital coding, based on distinction, is discrete;
and iconic coding, based on both differences and distinction, is both continuous and discrete. (p.222)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
"Iconic" communication, derived from the visual and plastic arts, combines digital and analog coding and expresses meaning by representing both digital discontinuities (the discovery of significance) and analog continuities (the discovery of feeling).

Analog and digital coding are found in all communication systems. Where the analog
communicates context  and relationship, the digital is its instrument: the two forms of coding
do not oppose or contradict each other ('either/or'), but complement each other ('both/and').
In modern society, however, where emotion and feeling, which are typically analog or iconic
states, are commonly disparaged and divorced from (digital) reason (in spite of their being its
ultimate source, i.e. the reasons for reason), and where images and thoughts not expressed or
expressible in words are commonly regarded as not worth thinking at all, digital information
and digital coding --the form taken by signification in language, by commodities in production,
by money in relations of price, and by value in relations of exchange-- have come to dominate
their context of analog and iconic communication, just as 'all-or-none' has come to dominate
'more-or-less', just as 'either/or' has come to dominate 'both/and', and just as competition has
come to dominate co-operation. (p.225)

Below, please find several sources of information which associates of CEIMSA have sent recently to us. William Blum, author of Killing Hope has again forwarded to us a copy of his own very remarkable newsletter, The Anti-Empire Report, which you are invited to read at the following Internet address:

Subject: Anti-Empire Report, June 21, 2006

And we have gathered the following 7 items of information which we submit to you as material for context analysis of contemporary American society, developing, if you wish, new theories which might bring forth new and useful tactics against the propaganda machine employed by illegitimate hierarchies wherever they may exist.

Item A., forwarded to us by Jean-Pierre Simard, is a metacommunication on the media blackout around information on the National Student Strike in Greece, which is now in its 6th week.
Item B., from Ralph Nader, is a proposition concerning "The Cruel and Unusual" in American politics.
Item C., from American Studies graduate student Frédéric Méni, are two easily accessible video presentations on the horrors of food production under the Capitalist Dictatorship.
Item D. is the inimitable Bertell Ollman arguing in favor of democracy in America on FOX NEWS, of all places, viewed by tens of millions of Americans.
Item E. is a discussion by Michael Albert on the fit between technology and democracy, at work and at play.
Item F. is once again Ralph Nader warning us against suffering from amnesia and self deception while fighting the "The Good Fight."
And finally, item G. by Greg Palest offers us an insightful analysis of Republican tactics to defend their political hegemony over the American government system.

Francis McCollum Feeley
Professor of American Studies/
Director of Research
Université Stendhal
Grenoble, France

from Jean-Pierre Simard :
Date: 21 June 2006
Subject: université : ce qui se passe en Grèce

Pour info devant el blackout de nos grands médias

par Raoul Marc JENNAR

Rien ne s'écrit, rien ne se dit, rien ne se montre sur ce qui se passe en Grèce depuis cinq semaines. Les journaux, les stations de radio, les chaînes de télévision nous privent du droit à une  information majeure : depuis cinq semaines, 354 départements  académiques sont occupés; des milliers d'étudiants manifestent  régulièrement ; la manière dont la police a réprimé la  manifestation du 8 juin rappelle à bien des égards les heures  noires de la dictature des colonels (une personne dans le coma).  Dans un pays de l'Union européenne ! Et nous n'en savons rien. Le gouvernement grec, suivant en cela les décisions dérégulatrices prises par nos gouvernements pour être ensuite imposées par l'OMC  et par l'Union européenne, va modifier la Constitution rédigée  après la chute de la dictature pour permettre la privatisation de l'enseignement
>> universitaire. Il prépare en outre une loi qui va  permettre la création d'établissements universitaires privés, qui  va imposer les critères de gestion des firmes privées aux facultés  d'État, qui va supprimer «l'asile universitaire » soumettant  jusqu'ici l'intervention de la police sur les campus à l'accord du  Conseil d'administration de l'université, qui va réduire  drastiquement la possibilité de repasser les examens.

C'est à cela que des dizaines de milliers d'étudiants grecs s'opposent. Dans l'indifférence totale des journalistes et correspondants de presse des autres pays européens.
Le black-out des médias propagandistes de la pensée unique néolibérale vise un but : empêcher qu'on sache dans toute l'Union européenne que la résistance au néolibéralisme existe partout,  qu'elle n'est pas une exception française et que le rejet de  l'Europe telle qu'elle se construit depuis cinquante ans grâce à  l'alliance de la
démocratie-chrétienne et de la social-démocratie  va grandissant.

En Europe, on impose la liberté de circulation des biens, des services et des capitaux, mais on brime la liberté de circulation  desinformations. Il s'impose d'urgence de manifester notre solidarité avec les étudiants grecs. Il s'impose de dénoncer l'information sélective et orientée des médias privés et publics, tous à la solde des  banquiers et des marchands.

Combien de temps encore allons-nous supporter ce coup d'État permanent qu'est la construction d'une Europe néolibérale destructrice de nos acquis démocratiques et sociaux ?

Raoul Marc JENNAR
chercheur altermondialiste

from Ralph Nader
Date: 23 June 2006
Subject: "Cruel and Unusual"

Dear Friend,

I have a hobby -- it's handing out books. All kinds of books to all kinds of people.

In fact, if it was up to me I'd rather have "bookshakes" than "handshakes" on the campaign trail.

Handing out books respects the intelligence of the voters. It is the opposite of sloganeering and silly 30 second campaign ads on television.

Now comes Mark Crispin Miller -- professor of media studies at New York University -- with his recent book Cruel and Unusual. It is a devastating, documented critique of George W. Bush and his outlaw regime.

I offered copies to the Democratic National Committee. Just for a few dimes. The cost of freight. To test them. They said no.

I offered them to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee on the same terms. Not interested.

Cruel and Unusual
Cruel and Unusual is a hardback book retailing for $24.95. It covers Bush/Cheney's New World Order.

Individual Democrats who have read its 343 pages have reached a deeper understanding of just where this extremist, dictatorial President is heading. And why the Democrats in Congress have not blocked him? Or why the Democrats did not landslide him and the Republican Congress in 2004?

The book jacket says:
"As Mark Crispin Miller argues here with great clarity and effect, we are in fact living in a state that would appall the Founding Fathers: a state that is neither Democratic nor Republican, and no more 'conservative' than it is liberal."

The jacket continues:
"He exposes the Bush Republicans' unprecedented lawlessness, their bullying religiosity, their reckless militarism, their apocalyptic views of the economy and the planet, their emotional dependence on sheer hatefulness, and, above all, their long campaign against American democracy."

How would you like to hand out Cruel and Unusual? A box containing 24 copies of this hardback slam against the Bush Corporation? To your relatives, friends, co-workers, neighbors and local library?

For $100 to help us further reduce our campaign expenses, I'll send you a box containing 24 copies of Mark Crispin Miller's Cruel and Unusual.

Twenty four books leading to twenty four conversations and twenty four thank yous and twenty four readers who pass the book on to twenty four more readers ready for political activation. Or twenty three, if you want to keep a copy for yourself.

Reading this book is motivating. It improves one's judgment, sharpens one's arguments, elevates one's belief that people can make the difference. It moves people to recover their country from the rogue corporate politicians who have seized power.

Twenty four new books for a $100 contribution!

Please tell us your experiences when you "bookshake" your gift to members of your circle.
Click Here Now to Receive This Special Offer

Onward to bright horizons. Thank you for your support.


Ralph Nader

P.S. Please let your friends and family know about this offer by forwarding this letter to your e-mail address book.

from Frédéric Méni :
Date: 17 Jun 2006
Subject: Meatrix

Hello Professor Feeley,

Here are two links with nice animations denouncing factory farming:

International: http://www.themeatrix.com/intl/index.html


from Bertell Ollman :
Date: 23 June 2006
Subject: The International Endowment for Democracy (IED) on FOX NEWS's Hannity and Colmes

Hi Francis-
     Much to say about what has been happening to the IED, and a report is being prepared. Meanwhile, I thought you would enjoy my 5 minute "Happening" on FOX's "Hannity and Colmes" on Teusday night. Click below for their website and look for "Revenge" and my photo. It gets hotter at the end, so don't give up.
     The internet address is - <http://www.foxnews.com/hannityandcolmes/index.html>

President of IED

PS. Please visit http://www.democracynow.org/

from Michael Albert :
Date: 23 June 2006
Subject: Participatory Economics

Parecon and Science/Technology

by Michael Albert

Defining Science
Like every label for a complex personal and social practice the word science is fuzzy at its edges making it hard to pin down what is and what isn’t science. Nonetheless, for our broad purposes, we can assert that science refers to an accumulated body of information about the components of the cosmos and to testable claims or theories about how those components interact, as well as to the processes by which we add to our information, claims, and theories, and/or the processes by which we reject them as false or determine that they are possibly or even likely true.

My personal knowledge that the grass that I can see from window is green is not science, nor is my knowledge that my back was hurting an hour ago, or that my pet parrot Zeke is on my shoulder or will likely frolic in a bath only once or at most twice a week. Experience per se is not science, nor are perceptions, even of regularities, though both can be valid and important.

It isn’t by way of science that we know what love is or that we are experiencing pain or pleasure. It isn’t science that tells a Little Leaguer how to get under a fly ball to catch it. We don’t know how to talk nor what to say in most situations due to practicing nor even benefiting from the practice of science, and this is likely true as well even for knowing how to add or multiply numbers, as compared to knowing how to calculate the size of molecules.

Most of life, in fact, including even most information discovery and communication occurs without doing science, without being ratified by science, and without denying, defying, crucifying, or deifying science.

And yet, most of knowing and thinking and especially most of predicting or explaining is much like science even if it is not science per se.

What distinguishes what we do every day from what we call science is more a difference of degree than a difference of kind.

Perceiving is perceiving. Claiming is claiming. Respecting evidence is respecting evidence. What distinguishes scientists doing these things in labs and libraries from Mr. Jones doing these things to choose the day’s outfit and stroll into town is science’s personal and collective discipline.

Science doesn’t add new claims about the properties of realities’ components or their interactions onto its piles of information and its theories, nor assert the truth or falsity of any part of that pile, without diverse people and even groups of people reproducing supporting evidence and verifying logical claims under very exacting conditions of careful collection, categorization, and calculation, nor does it do so without reasons to believe that what is added has significant implications vis a vis the pile’s overall character, history, and development.

Random noise doesn’t matter, even if verified. As Einstein writes, “a theory is more impressive the greater the simplicity of its premises, the more different kinds of things it relates, and the more extended is its applicability.” What is most happily added to science’s knowledge pile is checkable evidence or testable claims that verify or refute previously in doubt parts of the pile or that add new non-redundant terrain to the pile in turn giving hope of providing new vistas for further exploration.

If we look in the sky and say, hey, the moon circles the earth it is an observation, yes, but it is not yet science. If we detail the motions of the moon and provide strong evidence for our claims about its circling the earth that are reproducible and testable by others, we are getting close to serious science and arguably contributing data to science, supposing that the data is not already present. If we pose a theory about what is happening with the moon, as Newton did, and we then test our theory’s predictions to see if they are ever falsified or especially if they predict new real outcomes that are surprising to us, then we are very likely doing science.

Webster's Dictionary defines science as "the observation, identification, description, experimental investigation, and theoretical explanation of natural phenomena."

The Oxford English Dictionary defines science as "a branch of study which is concerned with a body of demonstrated truths or observed facts, systematically classified and more or less colligated by being brought under general laws, and which includes trustworthy methods for the discovery of new truths within its own domain."

72 Noble Lauriates agreed on the following definition: “"Science is devoted to formulating and testing naturalistic explanations for natural phenomena. It is a process for systematically collecting and recording data about the physical world, then categorizing and studying the collected data in an effort to infer the principles of nature that best explain the observed phenomena."

And Richard Feynman one of the foremost physicists of the twentieth century pithily sums up the whole picture: “During the Middle Ages there were all kinds of crazy ideas, such as that a piece of rhinoceros horn would increase potency. Then a method was discovered for separating the ideas - which was to try one to see if it worked, and if it didn't work, to eliminate it. This method became organized, of course, into science."

Science Motives
To get on with our own agenda for this chapter, we can say with confidence, then, that what type of economy a society has can impact science by affecting:

·        what information is collected and what claims about it are explored

·        what are the means and procedures utilized in the collection and exploration, and

·        who is in position to participate in these processes or, for that matter, even to know about and be enlightened by science’s accomplishments.

Science has at least two individual motivations and at least two social ones.

First there is pure curiosity, the human predilection to ask questions and seek their answers.

Why is the sky blue? What happens if you run at the speed of light next to a burst of light? What is time and why does it seem to go only one way? What is the smallest piece of matter and tiniest conveyor of force? How do pieces of matter and conveyors of force operate? What is the universe, its shape, its development? What is life, a species, an organism? How do species form, persist, get replaced? Why is there sex? Where did people come from? How do people get born, learn to dance, romance, try to be a success? What is a language and how do people know them and use them? What is consciousness? When people socialize, what is an economy, how does it work, and what is a polity, culture, family, and how do they work?

Inquiring minds passionately want to know these things even if there are no material by-products to enjoy, rather like some clever feet passionately want to dance even if no one is watching or some nimble hands passionately want to draw even if no one will put the result on the wall.

As a second personal motive of science we have personal and collective self interest. Knowledge of the components of reality and their interconnections sufficient to predict outcomes and even to intervene to impact what happens can not only assuage our curiosity, it can increase the longevity of our lives and also their scope, range, and quality.

What is the cause and cure for polio or cancer? How do birds fly? How does gravity work, friction, flight? Curiosity opens the door and peeks sometimes into the unknown with gigantic desire and energy, to be sure, but we also run through and indeed drive whole huge caravans through the doors of science in part because the insights we accumulate benefit us.

A parallel social motive of science is also benefit, but now the benefit is not from the implications of the knowledge itself, but is instead from remuneration offered for our scientific labors or achievements. There are or can be material rewards for gathering information and for proposing or testing hypotheses about reality. Pursuit of these rewards is another motive for doing science.

Likewise, and also social, the benefits to be had beyond the pure satisfaction of fulfilling one’s curiosity are not confined to material payment. There is also the social bestowal of stature and fame or whatever other accolades a society causes us to value, and doing science is often at least in part driven by pursuit of the social prizes, notoriety, stature and admiration that accompany discovery.

Science and Economics
An economy can plausibly increase, diminish, or just push people’s curiosity in one direction or another. It can impact as well the ways that scientific knowledge can directly benefit people and of course the remuneration and other material rewards bestowed on people for doing science, as well as the social non-material rewards they can garner.

We can see all of this in history, of course. Thus for a long time science as we mean it did not even exist. There was mysticism and belief, sometimes approximating truth and sometimes not, but there wasn’t an accumulation of evidence tested against experience and guided by logic.

Later, societies and economies propelled science and oriented it in various ways. At present, of course, tremendous pressures from society most broadly and from capitalist economy more specifically both propel and also limit the types of questions science pursues, the tools science utilizes, the people who ever have a chance to participate in science, and the people who benefit from or even know of science’s results.

In the capitalist U.S. science has of course become ubiquitous influentially revealing the inner secrets of materials, space, time, bodies, and even to a very limited extent, as yet, minds. But science has also become, in various degrees and respects, an agent of capital. Where Steven J. Gould writes "Science is a pluralistic enterprise with a rich panoply of methods appropriate for different kinds of problems... Direct vision isn't the only, or even the usual, method of inference.” Distortion arises when the different methods and problems are biased by motives other than those of science itself.

One kind of problem arises, for example, from the fact (unearthed by British journalist George Monbiot) that “34% percent of the lead authors of articles in scientific journals are compromised by their sources of funding, only 16% of scientific journals have a policy on conflicts of interest, and only 0.5% of the papers published have authors who disclose such conflicts.”

In pharmaceuticals things are arguably worst in that we find that “87% of the scientists writing clinical guidelines have financial ties to drug companies.” In other words, as we all know, much science is directly and overtly biased by corporate money.

More subtly, commercial funding and ownership impact what questions are even raised, what projects are pursued and then supported, etc. If patent prospects are good, money flows. If they are bad, even though general curiosity reasons or even human welfare reasons for a field are high, money is barricaded.

At the most gross end of things citizens may wind up “guinea pigs as in the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment between 1932 and 1972, or in experiments between 1950 and 1969 in which the government tested drugs, chemical, biological, and radioactive materials on unsuspecting U.S. citizens; or the deliberate contamination of 8000 square miles around Hanford, Washington, to assess the effects of dispersed plutonium.” (from Cornwell 2003 ).

But on a larger scale, in the U.S. the Pentagon now controls about half the annual $75 billion federal research and development budget with obvious repercussions for the militarization of priorities.

I recently sat on an airplane next to an MIT biologist whose interest was comprehending human biological functions and dysfunctions. He was not at all political or ideological, but he had no confusions about this matter at all. “What we do, what we can do, even what we can think of doing is overwhelmingly biased by the need for funding which, nowadays, means the need for corporate funding or, if government, then a government that is beholden overwhelmingly, again, to corporations or to militarism. More, the corporations have a very short time horizon. If you can’t make a very strong case for short run profits, forget about it. Find something else to pursue, unless, of course, you can convince the government your efforts will increase killing capacities.” It is the deadly combination of market competition and profit seeking plus militarist governments at work, again.

What would be different about science in a parecon? Four primary structural things, which in turn have a multitude of implications.

First, each parecon scientist would work at a balanced job complex rather than occupying a higher or lower position in a pecking order of power.

Second, each parecon scientist would be remunerated for duration, intensity, and to the extent relevant harshness of their work, not for power or output much less for property.

Third, the scientist, with other workers in his or her scientific institution – whether it might be a lab, a university, a research center, or whatever other venue – influences decisions in proportion as he or she is affected by them.

And fourth, the level of resources that scientists are allotted to engage in their pursuits is determined by the overall economic system via participatory planning, again with self management.

As a result pareconish science will no longer be a hand maiden to power and wealth on the one hand, indeed these won’t even exist to be a hand maiden too, and, on the other hand, nor will science be so exalted or so reviled as to be different in kind in respect to material well being or decision making rights than other pursuits.

A scientist who makes great discoveries within a parecon will no doubt enjoy social adulation and personal fulfillment for the achievement, but not material plenty or an accrual of greater voting rights than others. Likewise, a scientific field will not be funded on grounds of benefiting a few people as compared to advancing human insight for all.

Will there be huge expenditure on tools for advancing knowledge of the fifteenth decimal point of nuclear interaction or the fourteen billionth light year distant galaxy even before there is great expenditure on reducing the travail of mining coal or containing or reversing its ecological impacts, or providing alternative energy sources?

Will there research be undertaken on grounds of its military applications instead of on grounds of its implications for knowing our place in a complex universe?

These are questions that will arise and be answered in a new future, what parecon tells us is the broad procedure not the specific outcome people will choose, though we can certainly make intelligent guesses about the latter, too.

When the latest and greatest particle accelerator project was being debated in the U.S., a congressman asked a noted scientist who was arguing for allocating funds to the super collider what its military benefits would be. The scientist replied it would have no implications for weaponry, but it would help make our society one worth defending. The scientist’s motivations and perceptions failed to impress the Congress which voted against the project.
Do we know that in a parecon the participatory planning system would have allotted the billions required? No. We don’t know one way or the other. But we do know that the calculation would have had near nothing to do with militarism and near everything to do with making society a more desirable, wiser, and more insightful place.

So parecon in no way inhibits scientific impulses instead likely greatly enhancing them due to both having an educational system that seeks full participation and creativity from all sectors, and due to allotting to science what a free and highly informed populace agrees to. Science in the sense of creatively expanding the range and depth of our comprehension of the world depends greatly on real freedom, which is to say real control over our lives to pursue what we desire – which is what parecon provides.

Consider Albert Einstein on the topic, “It is, in fact, nothing short of a miracle that the modern methods of instruction [not to mention financing, then far less of an issue] have not yet entirely strangled the holy curiosity of inquiry; for this delicate little plant, aside from stimulation, stands mainly in need of freedom.”

Technology is similar to science, of course, in its trajectories of pursuit and logic of development. Those who work to produce it in a parecon, let’s now call it applied science, are like those who work in any other endeavors regarding influence, conditions, and income. The critical change is the determination of what technologies are worth pursuing and implementing. In capitalism this is determined by profit making possibilities and the need to maintain or even enlarge the relative advantages of elites which include capitalist and coordinator class dominance as well as hierarchies regarding race, gender, polity, etc.

As a result the direction of technological innovation reflects the needs of narrow sectors of the population, not generalized human well being and development.

In the U.S., for example, technological nightmares abound. Indeed the whole idea of high tech and low tech is revealing. It is high tech if it involves huge apparatuses and massive outlays of time and energy to generate and utilize (many profit possibilities). It is low tech if it is simple, clean, and comprehensible (fewer profit possibilities). Why isn’t it high tech if it greatly enhances human well being and development, and low tech if it tends toward having the opposite effect?

Smart bombs are the highest of high tech, in their deadly majesty. The sewage system, in contrast, is mundane, at best. Yet the former only kills and the later saves.

Pursuit of new drugs with dubious or even no serious health benefits is high tech. Working to get hospitals cleaner and bug free is low tech – relying largely on medical hygiene norms. The former is profitable for the rich and powerful in accruing more wealth. The latter is beneficial for all society in accruing longevity and quality of life, but might actually minimally diminish profits, at least short run. Capitalism pursues the former and rejects the latter.

In the U.S. the pursuit of industrial technology is overwhelmingly about profits. This has diverse implications. U.S. technology seeks innovation to lower market-determined markets costs which in any event misprice everything, not least discounting the adverse effects of production on environment and workers. Thus technologies that use less inputs that must be purchased are sought, but technologies that spew less pollution or impose less stress on workers are not a priority unless owners are forced by social movements to pursue them.

U.S. technology seeks to increase market share by convincing audiences to buy products regardless of the value of the incorporated innovation (or its social cost in byproducts) or the manipulation of the incorporated design and display features. Thus gargantuan resources and human capacities go to designing packaging and conceiving and producing advertising, often for entirely interchangeable and utterly redundant or even harmful products. Everyone knows it. It is all built in. Within our system, taking that system as a given, it is just another nauseating fact of life.

U.S. technology likewise seeks to increase coordinator class and capitalist domination of workplace norms regardless of the implications for workers below, or in fact even including imposing divisive control and fragmentation. As evidence for this all too obvious claim, consider the type of machinery introduced during the Industrial Revolution via the comments of Andrew Ure, a consultant for the factory owners, "[i]n the factories for spinning coarse yarn. . .the mule-spinners [skilled workers] have abused their powers beyond endurance, domineering in the most arrogant manner. . . over their masters. High wages. . . have, in too many cases, cherished pride and supplied funds for supporting refractory spirits in strikes. . . . During a disastrous turmoil of [this] kind. . . several capitalists. . . had recourse to the celebrated machinists. . . of Manchester. . . [to construct] a self-acting mule. . . . This invention confirms the great doctrine already propounded, that when capital enlists science in her service, the refractory hand of labour will always be taught docility." [Andrew Ure, Philosophy of Manufactures, pp. 336-368]

Or more recently, referring to modern circumstances, consider David Noble’s summary that "Capital invested in machines that would reinforce the system of domination [in the workplace], and this decision to invest, which might in the long run render the chosen technique economical, was not itself an economical decision but a political one, with cultural sanction."

The point is under the norms of capitalism there won’t be funds to research new workplace organization and design or new tools with the aim that the well being and dignity, not to mention the knowledge and power of workers should be enhanced, but exactly the opposite.

U.S. technology also seeks to ward off avenues of innovation that would diminish profit making possibilities for the already rich, even at the expense of lost public and social well being for the rest of society. Don’t even think about replacing oil as social lubricant and fuel as long as there are profits to be extracted from its use, as but one example. The economy will push against doing so and only social movements could propel serious pursuit of wind, water, geothermal and other approaches, especially ones that would decentralize control, diminish specialization benefiting elite sectors, and challenge major centers of power regarding their current agendas. 

And U.S. technology seeks to implement the will of geopolitical war makers and negotiators via provision of the tools of statecraft – smarter bombs, bigger bombs, deadlier bombs, and vehicles to deliver them, of course. So if you are a young potential innovator, the pressure on what to study, what skills to develop, and what personality to nurture, if you want to “make it,” are enormous. No one honestly doubts any of this. It is even evident throughout popular culture just how much it is all taken for granted. What people doubt, only, is that there is any alternative.

Parecon and Technology
As David Noble urged in an interview with The Chronicle of Higher Education, “No one is proposing to ignore technology altogether. It's an absurd proposition. Human beings are born naked; we cannot survive without our inventions. But beneficial use demands widespread and sustained deliberation. The first step toward the wise use of our inventions would be to create a social space where these can be soberly examined.” Additionally, this space has to not only prepare people to soberly examine options, and not only welcome them to doing so, it has to remove incentives and pressures that run counter to their applying as their norms and values ones that truly emerge from and support human well being and development. Does parecon do all that and therefore abet desirable technological development?

Imagine a coal mine, a hospital, and a book publishing house in a society with a participatory economy. Inside each there are people concerned with evaluating work and conditions and proposing possible investments to alter production relations and possibilities, not in pursuit of greater profit – a category that doesn’t exist in a parecon – but in pursuit of more efficient utilization of human and material inputs to provide means of greater fulfillment and development of those who consume workplace outputs as well as of the workers producing them.

In the coal mine there is a proposal for a new technique, made possible via new scientific or technical insights, that would ease the difficulty of work and increase its safety, or, if you want, that would reduce the pollution effects of the work.

In the hospital there is a proposal for a new machine that would increase healing effectiveness in certain cases, or again, reduce the difficulty of certain hospital tasks.

In the book publishing house there is a proposal for technological change or new equipment that would make the work of preparing books a bit easier.

And let’s add one more proposed pair of innovations, as well, first a social investment moving social energies and resources to some military experiment and implementation of a new weapons system on the one hand, or second an allocation of energies and resources to an innovative new set of machines and work arrangements to produce quality housing at low labor cost and with reduced environmental degradation.

What is the difference in how a capitalist economy and capitalist workplaces and consumers address these possibilities, as compared to how a participatory economy and pareconish workplaces and consumers address these possibilities?

In capitalism, as we have seen, various affected parties will, to the degree they even know the decisions is being made, weigh in on it. Capitalists and coordinators will be privy and will have access to the levers of say. They will consider immediate implications for themselves – largely via profit possibilities but partly, for the coordinators, via implications for their conditions and status – and they may also consider longer run implications for the overall balance of class and social forces.

Innovations bettering the situation of workers or even consumers will be ignored unless and to the extent they are also profitable for owners and to the degree the more general benefits don’t raise profitability problems. Technical innovations will be appreciated for lowering incurred costs – perhaps by dumping costs on others – and for increasing control and subordination on behalf of lasting preservation of favorable balances of power.

In the capitalist workplace, in fact, innovations that cost more and generate less gain in output per input but that provide greater control from above will often even be preferred to the reverse, innovations that yield more product per asset but empower workers. The reason is that in the latter case the gains may ultimately be distributed, due to workers’ greater bargaining power, such that the overall result for owners is a loss rather than a gain, even though the result for productivity is positive.

Or take another indicative case. Why is there such a disproportionate allocation of social resources to military expenditure and research in the U.S., as compared to spending it on health care, low income housing, roads and parks, and education? Diverse explanations are offered for this bias. Some say it is because the military expenditures provide more jobs than the social expenditures, and therefore are better for the economy. But this is clearly wrong, of course, and in fact the reverse is overwhelmingly the case. The technology laden production of bombs and planes and associated research has only a fraction of the labor needs, per dollar invested, that producing schools and hospitals has.

Others say it is because of the massive profits that accrue to aerospace and other militarily involved industries which obviously lobby hard for the government support. But this too is false. The same, or indeed equally large other industries, would make the same kind of profits from expenditures going to housing, road repair and other infrastructural work that they undertook for government contracts. It is highly interesting, indeed, that in the aftermath of obliterating the social structure of Iraq there is a tremendous flurry of interest and pursuit by U.S. and other multinationals to rebuild that country, assuming a climate of safety can be guaranteed for them, yet there is no similar flurry to rebuild the inner cities of the U.S. itself. What makes blowing up societies, or even just stockpiling to do so, or reconstructing societies other than our own – at least up to a point – more attractive as a path of major social commitment than reconstructing and/or otherwise greatly improving the social conditions of poor and working class communities throughout the U.S.?

The answer is not short run profits. They can be had in all the competing pursuits. The same companies or equally large ones could make huge profits building schools, roads, and hospitals in cities throughout the U.S., just as in Iraq.

What causes the military investment to be preferable to the social investment isn’t that it is more profitable, or that it employs more people – both of which are false – but is that its product is less problematic. Sad as it is to contemplate, the distinguishing feature is that social investment benefits most of society, particularly those who need better health care, education, transport, housing, etc., whereas military expenditure’s outputs benefit either no one or only elites via their utilization in wars.

The key to comprehension, in other words, is that while social investment betters the conditions, training, confidence, health, and comfort of most working people, it also contributes to their ability to withstand unemployment and their ability to develop and advocate their own interests. It increases their bargaining power. And their increased bargaining power in turn means workers will be able to extract higher wages and better conditions at the expense of capitalist profits – and that’s the rub.

It isn’t that owners are sadists who would rather build missiles that sit in the ground forever than build a school that educates the poor because they revel in people being denied knowledge. It is that owners want to maintain their conditions of privilege and power and realize that overly distributing knowledge or conditions of security and well being is contrary to doing so.

Parecon's Technology
How is parecon different? In a parecon proposed technological investigation, testing, and implementation are pursued when the planning process incorporates budgeting for them. This involves no elite interests but only social interests. If military expense will benefit all of society more than schools, hospitals, parks, etc., so be it. But if not, as we can reasonably predict, than priorities will dramatically shift.

But that is the obvious part. What is really instructive is to look at the other choices mentioned earlier. What is the calculus of a parecon regarding an innovation in a workplace – be it publishing house, coal mine, hospital, or what have you?

A change can have diverse benefits and costs. If it doesn’t require added inputs and expenditures but does have benefits, of course it will immediately be adopted. But suppose there are high costs in materials, resources, and human labor. Not everything can be done. Choices must be made. If we produce another toothbrush, something else, using the same energies and labors, goes unproduced. On a larger scale, if we make one innovation, or a bunch, some others will have to be put off. What is the calculus?

The claim is that in a parecon the criteria of evaluation are human fulfillment and development writ large and that people have a say proportionate to the degree they are affected. Without redescribing participatory planning in full, it may hopefully suffice to point out one very revealing aspect.

If I am in a capitalist coal mine contemplating a work altering (to make some of it less dangerous) innovation there, and you are in a capitalist book publishing house contemplating a work altering (to make some of it more pleasant) innovation there, in the same society, of course, we each want the innovation in our own workplace for our own well being. Neither one of us has any reason at all to be concerned about conditions beyond our workplace, nor do we have any means to know what is afoot outside. We battle for our investment – actually, we try to accrue profits to pay for it. We don’t give a damn about others and, indeed, if we are to gain maximally, should waste no time fruitlessly worrying about others.

Now suppose the workplaces are pareconish in a participatory economy. Things change very dramatically. The coal miners have a balance job complex and so do the publishing house workers. It isn’t just that each person in the coal mine has a job comparable to all others there, or that each person in the publishing house has one comparable to everyone else there, it is that all of us, taking into account our work inside our primary workplace but also outside it, have a socially average job complex. I, who do some coal mining and some quite pleasant and empowering work in my neighborhood (or whatever) and you, who do some publishing house work and some largely rote and tedious work in your neighborhood (or whatever) have, overall, comparably empowering and fulfilling labor.

How do we benefit from innovations in our workplaces? We will also wind up with a balanced job complex. Benefits don’t accrue only in single workplaces, in other words. They average over society. We all have an interest in investments – technological undertakings – that maximally improve the overall social average job complex. We have to be concerned with what occurs outside our workplace if we are to favor what is, in fact, most in our own interest.

In a parecon whether you look at the issue as what is best for society or what is best for self, the result is essentially the same, and the norms guiding choices among technological possibilities are, therefore, within the limits of our knowledge, in accord with people’s unfettered and self managed desires rather than reflecting overwhelmingly the preferences of a few based on their interests in elite conditions and circumstances. Parecon establishes the kind of context that both benefits and is benefited by technology in precisely the humanistic sense one would rationally prefer. 

Health as a Further Indicator
A particularly graphic example of the entwined logic of both science and technology and their interface with economics is the issue of health in society. In discussing health and the economy, on the one hand there is the issue of health levels and health care. How do we organize care giving, pharmaceuticals, associated research, etc.? Before that, even, what is the relation of economic life to the degree of health enjoyed or the degree of illness and harm suffered by the population?

On the other side of the same coin, particularly if we were going to have a whole chapter on Parecon and Health, there is the issue of receiving care. Who is eligible, to what degree, and at what personal and or social cost? What happens economically to people who are unable to work, whether temporarily or even long term or permanently? And finally, does having a worthy approach to health issues place any undo pressure on economic life that parecon is unable to abide? The logic of all this is very like the logic of our other chapters, however, so we want to stick to a few indicators that bear on not only health, but also the larger science and technology realm.

There is a sense in which the situation of capitalism is well summarized by this quote from Andrew Schmookler: “Which entrepreneur will the market reward better? The one who sells a device that will give many hours of joy over a few years before, for a pittance, it needs to be replaced? Or the one who sells an addictive substance that must literally be "consumed" to be used, and that itself consumes the life of its devotee?”

At any rate, borrowing from Yves Engler’s research, we note that “a report by Health Grades Inc., concludes that there were an astounding 575,000 preventable deaths in U.S. hospitals between 2000 and 2002, many from hospital-acquired infections.” Likewise, “an American study reported in the Chicago Tribune concluded that up to 75 per cent of deadly infections caught at hospitals could be avoided by doctors and nurses using better washing techniques.”

As Engler concludes, “Billions of dollars are spent annually on the development of new drugs and medical technologies, but little is spent on basic hospital infection control - even though this would save a greater number of lives - because there has been little economic incentive to do so. Some company makes a profit when a new MRI machine is purchased, but the bottom line that benefits from better hand-washing techniques is only measured in lives.”

In capitalism not only accounting but the actual impetus of markets favors accumulation and profit making. Not only pharmaceutical companies but even hospitals are generally seeking market share and profit. Those without monies get short shift. Those with monies, should be separated from them, if possible. Those who own, whether the pharmaceutical companies or the hospitals or medical practices, should benefit. Profit uber ales sounds like rhetorical excess but in fact it is only a little wrong. Profit always operates, always pressures, and what is gained that isn’t actually profitable is gained only by virtue of fighting hard against profit making pressures. Ironically, everyone knows this…one need only read popular novels or even watch the better TV series to see it.

Everyone knows, as well, for example, that the AMA exists largely to protect the monopoly on skills, knowledge, and particularly credentials of doctors, keeping the level of doctors down, and their bargaining power up, not least against aspiring nurses. Everyone knows – just read the industry magazines – the intense preoccupation with throughput, etc.

On another front, once there is disease treatment of it is of course important, even given the very considerable risks associated with entering a hospital, but treatment may be more subtle than just give the pill and reckon the success. Engler, again, notes that, “Recent American data, reported in New Scientist July 2003, shows that more than 70 per cent of hospital-acquired infections are resistant to at least one common antibiotic. Infections resistant to antibiotics significantly increase the chance of death.” From where does this resistance come? It is “in large part, attributable to our overuse of antibiotics, which is connected to drug companies' bottom lines.” To sell product there is great pressure to give the drugs even when not warranted, and/or carelessly, so antibiotics are routinely  over-prescribed. This facilitates “the growth of multi-resistant organisms.”

Even more dramatically, “half of all antibiotics sold each year are used on animals, according to New Scientist. Industrial farmers give their animals constant low doses of these drugs to treat infection but also as a growth hormone. The administration of low doses is especially problematic since it becomes a feeding ground for organisms to mutate. Data shows a strong correlation between increased use of antibiotics on animals and the emergence of resistant strains in the animal population with mirrored increases amongst people.” Profits of major food companies run up against the health of the populace…and in capitalism the former are likely to win.

This discussion of violations of health by modern social choices could proceed at almost infinite length, but let’s explore at least one more arena of experience and revealing evidence.

It turns out that as Steven Bezrucha reports, “about 55% of Japanese males smoke, compared to 26% of American men.” Nonetheless Japan has the greatest longevity for its citizens on the planet, and the U.S. comes in nearly 30th. Bezrucha asks, “How do [the Japanese] get away with winning both Gold Medals? What is loaded in Japan's smoking gun?”

One explanation would be that while smoking is certainly bad for people, other prevalent health conditions in which Japan scores better rather than worse than the U.S. are significantly worse.

Bezrucha reports that “Research has shown that status differences between the rich and the poor may be the best predictors of a population's health. The smaller the gap [in status] the higher the life expectancy. The caring and sharing in a society organized by social and economic justice precepts produces good health. A CEO in Japan makes ten times what an average worker makes, not the 531 times in the USA reported earlier this year.”

The point here is that the impact of an economic system on health occurs in numerous ways, and perhaps most importantly via the environment it establishes for us to live in, endure tension and pain in, or thrive in.

In  contrast to understanding the overarching impact of economies people “commonly equate health with health care.” But the U.S. spends “almost half of all money spent world-wide on health care to serve less than 5% of the planet's people.” Despite this, its health is not even top notch, much less proportionately better than in other countries. Partly this is due to the expenditures mostly benefiting a few rather than all citizens. Partly it is due to much of the expenditure being profit guided rather than health guided, and having limited health impact. And partly it is due to the other impacts of the economy – pollution, tension, inequality, etc. – being so harmful. The U.S., for example, is first in the world “in the Non-Voter Olympics, the Homicide Olympics, the Incarceration Olympics, the Teen Birth Olympics, the Child Abuse Death Olympics, and the Child Poverty Games,” as well as in having “the highest rates of significant mental illness,” plus, of course holding “a commanding lead in the Billionaire Olympics, with over five times the silver medalist's score.”

What all this has to do with science and technology is that it demonstrates, again, how they can be misdirected, biased, and perverted by profit and market pressures. What is different in a parecon?

All of it is different. Firms don’t operate in a market and have no incentive to sell other than to meet needs and develop potentials. Addiction is not profitable but only socially destructive.

Preventable deaths are to be prevented not ignored due to their being profitable, or even preventing them being costly. Research and technology is directed where it can do most good, not be most profitable to a few. Reduce not only deaths in hospitals due to insufficient attentiveness to hygene, or short staffedness, but deaths due to pollution, dangerous means of transport, insufficient attention to workplace health and safety, not to mention addictive consumption such as of cigarettes or alcohol, etc. There is not only no impediment to addressing real areas of benefit, not only no inclination to violate such areas, but there is every incentive to solve social ills in proportion to benefits that can thereby accrue, not to individuals hoarding property, but to all society.

We have the number of doctors that health warrants. No doctor has any incentive to try to inhibit the numbers who get medical training and are able to provide medical relief. There is no coordinator class interest to protect at the expense of society losing the productive capabilities of its populace.

Similarly there is no drive toward speed up and cost cutting producing tension destroying health in a parecon. People choose to work longer or less long accounting precisely for the quality and richness of their lives thereby afforded. And similarly the gap in income that generates so much ill health in capitalism in a parecon is not 500 times or 10 times between high ranked and low ranked employees because there are no high ranked and low ranked employees, whether in an income or power sense, but only people having balanced job complexes and exercising self managing decision making influence. Nor are there billionaires and paupers due to ownership differences…because no one owns means of production in a parecon.

In a parecon, whether we are talking about the direction or scale of basic research or about the technology of health provision, or about the social structures that make either beneficial or harmful, the guiding precepts are as with all the economy, self management by affected parties in pursuit of well being and development and in accord with equity, solidarity, and diversity.

from Ralph Nader
Date: 9 June 2006
Subject : Self-Deception

"The Good Fight"

Dear Friend,

She sat on the board of Wal-Mart for six years.

She is Rupert Murdoch’s new political buddy and beneficiary of his fund-raising draw.

She voted for Bush’s illegal, immoral, and fabricated war in Iraq.

And she supports NAFTA and GATT-WTO.

She does not challenge the bloated, corruption-ridden, redundant military budget.

She does not challenge hundreds of billions of dollars in corporate welfare - subsidies, giveaways, bailouts...

She does next to nothing against the corporate crime wave sweeping through the inner cities of New York state and around the country - the poor pay more and are defrauded more...

And if the vote were held today, Senator Hillary Clinton would be the Democratic nominee for President in 2008.

And even the most progressive of Democrats would support Clinton in her campaign for the White House.
"Justice as Fairness" & "Leadership and Self-Deception" 

The philosophers have a word for this – it’s called self-deception.

These Democrats are deceiving themselves into believing that they can support Clinton for President and live with themselves as conscientious human beings.

They cannot.

Self-deception is a major problem affecting conflicts throughout the world – in families, corporations, politicians, and in war zones.

Self deception arises when we deny our own humanity and the humanity of others.

Actions that contradict our own human standards.

And then we seek all kinds of ways to justify these contradictions...

This happened in 2004.

And it is destined to happen again in 2008.

The only way out is for the country to understand that it is in a box of collective self-deception.

And then to get out of the box.

And there is a way out.

See others as human beings.

Not as objects or subjects.

Once we do this, our humanity will not allow us to support pro-war, corporate candidates like Senators Clinton and Joseph Lieberman.

And we will begin to build a viable, strong, winning alternative to the corrupt, decaying, and deceiving two party system.

Here is one thoughtful way to see others as human beings. It comes from one of America's greatest philosophers of justice - John Rawls.

Rawls came up with a concept called the "veil of ignorance." Put on a "veil of ignorance," and imagine a just and fair society without yet knowing where you would place in it. Set the rules before you know whether you'd end up rich, poor, middle class, white, black, man, woman and so forth.

That's one way to put aside one's biases and class and see how you would design a fair and just society.

As our enduring recognition of your support, we offer you today two important books for a contribution of $100 to help us pay down our dwindling campaign expenses.
"Justice as Fairness" & "Leadership and Self-Deception" 

The first is Justice as Fairness by John Rawls published by Harvard University Press which will help clarify the basis for a just society - great talking points with your friends or opponents.

The second is an important new bestseller - Leadership and Self-Deception by the Arbinger Institute, published by Berrett Koehler.

This gem of a book lays out the problem of self-deception and how we can confront it to help resolve conflicts within families, our country and in war zones around the world.

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Together we can make the difference in the struggles ahead.

Onward to bright horizons. Thank you for your support.


Ralph Nader

from Greg Palest :
Date: 23 June 2006
Subject: Voting Rights Act Nailed To Burning Cross
The Guardian

Behind the “Delay” in Renewing Law is Scheme for Theft of ‘08 White Sheets Changed for Spreadsheets
by Greg Palast

[New York]
Don’t kid yourself. The Republican Party’s decision yesterday to “delay” the renewal of the Voting Rights Act has not a darn thing to do with objections of the Republican’s White Sheets Caucus.
Complaints by a couple of Good Ol' Boys to legislation has never stopped the GOP leadership from rolling over dissenters.
This is a strategic stall ­ meant to de-criminalize the Republican Party's new game of challenging voters of color by the hundreds of thousands.
In the 2004 Presidential race, the GOP ran a massive multi-state, multi-million-dollar operation to challenge the legitimacy of Black, Hispanic and Native-American voters.  The methods used broke the law -- the Voting Rights Act.  And while the Bush Administration's Civil Rights Division grinned and looked the other way, civil rights lawyers are circling, preparing to sue to stop the violations of the Act before the 2008 race.
Therefore, Republicans have promised to no longer break the law -- not by going legit … but by eliminating the law.
The Act was passed in 1965 after the Ku Klux Klan and other upright citizens found they could use procedural tricks -- "literacy tests," poll taxes and more -- to block citizens of color from casting ballots.
De-criminalizing the "caging" lists
Here's what happened in '04 -- and what's in store for '08.
In the 2004 election, over THREE MILLION voters were challenged at the polls.  No one had seen anything like it since the era of Jim Crow and burning crosses.  In 2004, voters were told their registrations had been purged or that their addresses were "suspect."
Denied the right to the regular voting booths, these challenged voters were given "provisional" ballots.  Over a million of these provisional ballots (1,090,729 of them) were tossed in the electoral dumpster uncounted.
Funny thing about those ballots.  About 88% were cast by minority voters.
This isn't a number dropped on me from a black helicopter.   They come from the raw data of the US Election Assistance Commission in Washington, DC.
At the heart of the GOP's mass challenge of voters were what the party's top brass called, "caging lists" -- secret files of hundreds of thousands of voters, almost every one from a Black-majority voting precinct.
When our investigations team, working for BBC TV, got our hands on these confidential files in October 2004, the Republicans told us the voters listed were their potential "donors." Really?  The sheets included pages of men from homeless shelters in Florida.
Donor lists, my ass.  Every expert told us, these were "challenge lists," meant to stop these Black voters from casting ballots.
When these "caged" voters arrived at the polls in November 2004, they found their registrations missing, their right to vote blocked or their absentee ballots rejected because their addresses were supposedly "fraudulent."
Why didn't the GOP honchos 'fess up to challenging these allegedly illegal voters?  Because targeting voters of color is AGAINST THE LAW.  The law in question is the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
The Act says you can't go after groups of voters if you choose your targets based on race.  Given that almost all the voters on the GOP hit list are Black, the illegal racial profiling is beyond even Karl Rove's ability to come up with an alibi.
The Republicans target Black folk not because they don't like the color of their skin.  They don't like the color of their vote:  Democrat.   For that reason, the GOP included on its hit list Jewish retirement homes in Florida.  Apparently, the GOP was also gunning for the Elderly of Zion.
These so-called "fraudulent" voters, in fact, were not fraudulent at all.  Page after page, as we've previously reported, are Black soldiers sent overseas.  The Bush campaign used their absence from their US homes to accuse them of voting from false addresses.
Now that the GOP has been caught breaking the Voting Rights law, they have found a way to keep using their expensively obtained "caging" lists:  let the law expire next year.  If the Voting Rights Act dies in 2007, the 2008 race will be open season on dark-skinned voters.  Only the renewal of the Voting Rights Act can prevent the planned racial wrecking of democracy.
"Pre-clearance" and the Great Blackout of 2000
Before the 2000 presidential balloting, then Jeb Bush's Secretary of State purged thousands of Black citizens' registrations on the grounds that they were "felons" not entitled to vote.  Our review of the files determined that the crimes of most on the list was nothing more than VWB -- Voting While Black.
That "felon scrub," as the state called it, had to be "pre-cleared" under the Voting Rights Act. That is, "scrubs" and other changes in procedures must first be approved by the US Justice Department.
The Florida felon scrub slipped through this "pre-clearance" provision because Katherine Harris' assistant assured the government the scrub was just a clerical matter.  Civil rights lawyers are now on the alert for such mendacity.
The Burning Cross Caucus of the Republican Party is bitching that "pre-clearance" of voting changes applies only to Southern states.  I have to agree that singling out the Old Confederacy is a bit unfair.  But the solution is not to smother the Voting Rights law but to spread its safeguards to all fifty of these United States.
White Sheets to Spread Sheets
Republicans argue that the racial voting games and the threats of the white-hooded Klansmen that kept African-Americans from the ballot box before the 1965 passage of the Voting Rights Act no longer threaten Black voters.
That's true.  When I look over the "caging lists" and the "scrub sheets," it's clear to me that the GOP has traded in white sheets for spreadsheets.

Greg Palast is the author of Armed Madhouse:  Who's Afraid of Osama Wolf?, China Floats Bush Sinks, the Scheme to Steal '08, No Child's Behind Left and other Dispatches from the Front Lines of the Class War. Order it here.

Francis McCollum Feeley
Professor of American Studies/
Director of Research
Université de Grenoble-3
Grenoble, France