Subject: ON MISTAKEN IDENTITIES IN THE HEAT OF BATTLE.
16 May 2012
Dear Colleagues and Friends of CEIMSA,
“Please pardon me, I mistook you for someone I respected” --this might well be today’s greetings by the “99 Percent.”
Many years ago, The Times Literary Supplement published a review of Anthony Wilden’s book, System and Structure, Essays in Communication and Exchange (1972), in which it was pointed out that our idea of Knowledge will never be the same.
Anthony Wilden’s basic quarrel is with the reified exchange of dead informational units in a university system caught in its own unacknowledged alienation. ‘The unit of knowledge in the university is in general completely meaningless and essentially worthless. Knowledge is a ‘commodity produced by the ‘knowledge industry’ and the system only continues to work because there is an uninterrupted flow of ‘alienated symbolic exchange’. . . . Academics who make it a matter of conscience to oppose the system from within are in the most desperate plight of all: theirs is the ‘realm of the Imaginary order of things, and these academics are caught in a ‘mirror-like opposition’ which is the ‘correlative of identity’.
What then is Professor Wilden’s answer to this predicament? ‘Descent must transcend the status of negative identification. In a word, ALL DISSENT MUST BE OF A HIGHER LOGICAL TYPE THAN THAT TO WHICH IT IS OPPOSED.’
Right at the beginning Professor Wilden writes: ‘No form of EXPLOITATIVE VIOLENCE . . .against persons or against nature can ever be justified in a truly human value system. And the use of the wrong model of knowledge --digital computation (the domain of SIGNIFICATION), as opposed to analog computation (which is ‘pregnant with MEANING')-- when analyzing the modern discourse of science is a form of such violence against the human subject.
The fundamental principle of our civilization is exploitation. . . . Moreover, the internalization of the ‘ethic of disposability’ by the ‘experts’, by the subjects-who-are-supposed-to-know, has resulted in a situation in which probably the most dangerous place to go for help in time of trouble is the office of a doctor, a clergyman, or a psychotherapist.
We can escape the double-bind by adopting the correct model of knowledge (analog) when we listen to the subjective discourse of the subject in today’s fragmented world. Thus Jacques Lacan figures largely in the book. But even of his model we must remain chary.
As one who ‘knows’, Lacan is above all devoted to the destruction of the status of the ‘subject-who-is-supposed-to-know.’ But we cannot destroy the master by simply taking his place; we have to make him IRRELEVANT –and that means to reduce his mastery to insignificance by transcending the oppositional relationship in which we find ourselves in a negative identification with him.
Thus we return to the central contention of System and Structure, that adequate dissent must be ‘of a higher logical type than that to which it is opposed’.
NOTE: For an alternative view to this “operational” concept of Knowledge (i.e. successful political action), see James Drake’s critical article on Roman Jacobson and Post-Modernism, in TLS, (Sept. 1998) and re-published by CEIMSA at http://dimension.ucsd.edu/ceimsa-in-exile/RumDel/rumdel-06.html.
Two riddles from The One Hundredth Monkey:
Q: If the average weight of the brain of the Palestinian child is diminishing due to malnutrition, what do you think is happening to your brain?
A: The left hemisphere of the human brain, the center of reason, analysis, and problem-solving functions, atrophies with disuse.
Q: What people rob the cultural styles of others before annihilating them?
A: This is a cardinal characteristic of imperialist behavior, as history has shown time and time again in Asia, in Africa, and in the Americas.
Political action can only be local action; technically, there exists no “global politics” and yet local societies do overlap, with individuals playing different roles, often contradictory. In his book, Society and Knowledge (1957), V. Gordon Childe, British professor of prehistoric European archaeology, discussed these different conceptions of reality, representing different epistemologies that produce different perceptions:
each society has its own world of knowledge and is responsible for its own conceptual reconstruction or reality. The conceptual reproduction of the external world in the head of a white Australian scientist differs in almost every respect from that in the head of an Arunta clansman. The two differ not only in content but also in structure, for they are built in accordance with different categories. Almost equal discrepancies would divide the world of knowledge of a critical European from that of an Indian Brahman. Who shall decide which ‘knowledge’ is the more true?(p.105)
The ultimate test for knowledge is operational, as opposed to strictly logical. Looking for the ‘superior truth” requires action. The ultimate question is, Does it work? Two-hundred years ago Sir Walter Scott observed the futility of trying to impose truth on others in Stuart England. In his novel, Old Morality (1816) he wrote:
To compel men to dance and be merry by authority, has rarely succeeded even on board of slave-ships; where it was formerly sometimes attempted by way of inducing the wretched captives to agitate their limbs and restore the circulation, during the few minutes they were permitted to enjoy the fresh air upon deck. The rigour of the strict Calvinists increased, in proportion to the wishes of the government that it should be relaxed. . . . . (pp. 70-71.)
Childe continues, on the important role of authentic action in gaining knowledge :
To hope for perfect knowledge would mean . . . in fact assuming that the whole pattern of reality is already here and now complete and perfect and therefore knowable if not yet known. The pattern is therefore ‘outside’ or ‘above’ time and transcends its expression in elements comprehensible in perception. To assume that would be to assert a metaphysical proposition. And so would to deny it. Now, a metaphysical proposition is a proposition claiming truth, but by its very nature exempt from any operational test, the sole test of truth here admitted. Such propositions transcend the bounds of experience and therefore can form no part of the system that we have termed knowledge. They express beliefs only.(p.120)
Transcendence cannot be proved or disproved by the decisive test of practice; it should transcend experience. In denying it I assert a metaphysical proposition. Henceforth I shall state what I believe, not what I clam to know, and shall enunciate beliefs that may not be truths. I believe then that the pattern of Reality –I do know that it is patterned—is at least four-dimensional. Reality is an activity, a process that is neither repeating itself over and over again nor yet is approximating to a predetermined goal or the realization of a preconceived plan. It is on the contrary genuinely creative, consistently bringing forth what has never been produced before, genuine novelties.(p.123)
The reader may complain that he does not understand and can see no logical necessity in my arguments, and remains skeptical about ‘creation’ that is at once ‘free’ and ‘determined.’ I can only ask such to try an experiment. Here I have started a ‘limerick’:
There once was a peer named de Vere
Who said to his lady, ‘My dear,
At a very low price
Now complete it. You are free to do so as you will, subject only to certain limitations determined by the metrical pattern imposed by convention on all limericks, by the grammatical structure of the English language, and by the logical consistency that even nonsense verses should display. Prosody demands that the next line shall contain five or six syllables, three accented, and end in ‘-ice,’ the last line four accented syllables and terminate in ‘-eer.’ Grammar requires a principle verb with a noun or pronoun as a subject fairly soon. Finally to make sense the principal verb must be something like ‘buy’ or ‘sell.’ The metrical pattern is fully known in advance; so in effect is the grammatical structure. The logical consequences are still wide open though ‘price’ points to one or other of two kinds of behavior (buying or selling) and ‘low’ accords better with the former. (etc., etc. . . . )
I am not the least perturbed if my description of Reality as a creative activity of process makes perfect knowledge and absolute truth unattainable. The function of knowledge is practical, to guide action. The success of the human species, the sole known society of knowers, in half a million years suffices to demonstrate that sufficient knowledge is attainable. In fact society can not only perceive bits of Reality, but can also apprehend outlines of Reality’s pattern, and using them as categories can often anticipate successfully the further development of that pattern. The metaphysical error due to the inevitable discrepancy between Reality as known and reproduced ‘in heads’ and Reality a moment later as the object of action is not fatal. Society can know enough to act and not only act successfully but actually to progress.(pp.125-126)
If Reality is nothing more than a pattern, and our knowledge of this Reality is a more or less matching pattern inside our head, as Childe understands it to be, then the question is what is the relationship between these two patterns, and what role does this relationship play in the constructiion of future societies?
In the 10 items below CEIMSA readers will discover attempts to create new categories to better match the private perceptions experienced by individuals in order that more accurate social concepts can be established which can only facilitate communication and effective action. The old guardians of the status quo have indeed become irrelevant; they can only destroy but never create. The future is ours in the public space. The (essentially local) Occupy movements around the world have successfully collapsed time and space, thereby revealing a perceived truth, that SOLIDARITY is political power, and it always has been, for better or for worse . . . .
Item A., from Council for the National Interest Foundation, is as call to resist the Israel Lobby, which is demanding a 30% increase in US subsidies from Congress this year to prepare for war.
Item B., sent to us by Reader Supported News, in a story of Nazi collaboration in France by a famous American artist.
Item C., is the Democracy Now! interview with Javier Sicilia , one of Mexico’s best-known poets, on the US Drug War in Latin America.
Item D., from Reader Supported News, is an article on the London uprising.
Item E., from Reader Supported News, is an article by Noam Chomsky on the US war in Latin America.
Item F., from UCSD Professor Fred Lonidier, is information on the “Great Labor Art Exchange.”
Item G. is an article by Alexander Cockburn on “When Half a Million Americans Died and Nobody Noticed”.
Item H., from New York University Professor Mark Crispin, is a video coverage of his conference on US highway culture.
Item I. is an article by Alexander Cockburn on European Politics and the haunting ghost of the Weimar Republic.
Item J. is an essay by Professor Douglas Dowd on: Obama and after Obama . . . .
And finally, we offer CEIMSA readers an OCCUPY STUDENT DEBT video from San Frencisco, California which illustrates the attempt at artistic transcendence, from Opposition to Alternative :
baby you called,
I can't hear a thing
I have got no service
Since they cut off my phone
Wha-wha-what did you say,
huh, you're breaking up on me
Sorry I cannot hear you
I'm busy marching
Sorry I cannot hear you I'm busy marching
can't afford to pay anymore
I got my head and my heart in the class war
can't afford to pay anymore
I got my head and my heart in the class war
Just a second
It's gonna be crazy up in here.
And I cannot text you with some tear gas on my face.
You've taken all the money and then sent riot police
And now you wont stop calling me
I'm busy marching
can't afford to pay anymore
I got my head and my heart in the class war
can't afford to pay anymore
I got my head and my heart in the class war
EH EH EH EHE EH EH EH E
STOP TELEPHONING ME
can't afford to pay anymore
I got my head and my heart in the class war
can't afford to pay anymore
I got my head and my heart in the class war
Francis McCollum Feeley
Professor of American Studies
Director of Research
Université Stendhal Grenoble 3
from Council for the National Interest Foundation :
Date: 11 May 2012
Subject: Confront the Israel Lobby.
I’ll make this message as brief and as blunt as I can.
The Israel Lobby is pushing Congress for an extra billion dollars in military aid to Israel—that’s above and beyond the $3+ billion it already receives. At a time of high unemployment figures, record-breaking government spending deficits, and world-wide financial instability, can U.S. taxpayers afford this? More to the point: American political, economic, and diplomatic standing in the all-imporatant Middle East is at an all time low—further tipping the balance toward Tel Aviv is a dangerous move.
That’s the subject of our Executive Director’s important new article on the internet: “The Israel Lobby Never Sleeps.” Phil Giraldi writes:
Israel and its partisan hacks in Congress are utterly shameless. At a time when the country is screaming for some measure of restraint in government spending, Israel is the one budget line that only sees increases.
In another hard-hitting article, Phil gives an excellent overview of how the Palestinian-Israel issue plays out in the U.S., noting that grassroots efforts—the core of CNI’s agenda—are showing some small signs of fruit. Yes, the Lobby is as powerful as ever, perhaps even more so, but as Phil observes there have been breakthroughs. He uses this as one example...
On April 22, 60 Minutes, the most watched television news and commentary program in the United States, aired a segment on Israeli persecution of Christians. The program was a real shock for the many fundamentalist Christians who have viewed Israel through rose-tinted glasses. Many evangelicals have promoted the myth that Israel is actually a protector of Christians, which it most emphatically is not.
It’s so important to remember—especially when it appears that the centers of power from Hollywood to Capitol Hill are invincible—that, thanks to your involvement, our message is being heard...
• According to a 2011 poll conducted by the Israel Project, a group that portrays Israel in a positive light, when asked if Washington should continue foreign aid to Tel Aviv to be used for buying U.S. military equipment, 40% of respondents said that the America should reduce aid to Israel.
• A survey conducted last May by CNN revealed 65% of Americans favor neutrality in the Middle East.
• In March, an in-depth Brookings Institute study showed that only one in four Americans favor Israel conducting a military strike against Iran’s nuclear program, 70% favor the U.S. pursuing negotiations with Iran, and just one in seven Americans thinks the United States should encourage Israel to strike Iran’s program.
This is indeed encouraging news. Our fellow citizens are starting to understand what we have to say. That’s why your financial investments in the Council for the National Interest are critical: your support underwrites our ability to present alternative viewpoints on the Middle East ... a message America desperately needs to hear. Your continuing help, $50, $100, $1000, or even $35, is very much appreciated— and necessary. Why?
The Israel Lobby is now working overtime in spite of signs that public opinion may be shifting. As Phil Giraldi says in “The Israel Lobby Never Sleeps,”
There has been no media reporting on H.R.4133—United States-Israel Enhanced Security Cooperation Act of 2012 introduced into the House of Representatives on March 5th, ‘To express the sense of Congress regarding the United States-Israel strategic relationship, to direct the President to submit to Congress reports on United States actions to enhance this relationship and to assist in the defense of Israel, and for other purposes.’
If you and I don’t express outrage and expose this expensive and militarily dangerous move by the Israel Lobby... who will?
Both articles, “The Israel Lobby Never Sleeps” and “A Tipping Point for Israel” should be distributed to your friends and allies, as well as the media, and Congress.
And don’t pass up this opportunity to help CNI create and circulate such information. A tax deductible gift of $50, $100, $250, or $500 is vital to our work. Our agenda depends on your generosity.
Please let me hear from you soon. And, as always, my appreciation for your loyal support.
P.S. Anything you do to help CNI counts: gifts of $20 or just e-mailing links to these articles are all crucial in this fight.
P.P.S. On Thursday, May 16th I will be speaking at The University of California, Riverside; please join me if you live in the area -- and bring neighbors or colleagues new to the issue!
Council for the National Interest Foundation
1350 Beverly Rd., Suite 115-100 · McLean, VA 22101
· 202.863.2951 ·
From Reader Supported News :
Date: 6 May 2012
Subject: Gertrude Stein and Vichy.
It would be easy to chalk up Stein's endorsement of Petain to her gratitude toward Fay. But her enthusiasm for Petain, who was responsible for the death and deportation of nearly eighty thousand French Jews, was nothing new."
Gertrude Stein and Vichy: the Overlooked History
by Emily Greenhouse
from : Democracy Now! :
Date: 11 May 2012
Subject: US Drug War on Latin America.
One of Mexico’s best-known poets, Javier Sicilia, laid down his pen last year after his 24-year-old son was murdered by drug traffickers in Cuernavaca, Mexico. In his son’s memory, Sicilia created the Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity to urge an end to the drug violence — violence that has left an estimated 60,000 dead, 10,000 disappeared, and more than 160,000 Mexicans displaced from their homes over the past six years. Sicilia is now in the United States to launch a month-long peace caravan to "bring to the American people’s conscience their shared responsibility for the thousands of dead, missing and displaced in the drug war.
Stop the Drug War: Mexican Poet Javier Sicilia Condemns U.S. Role in Widening Drug Violence
Mexican Poet Javier Sicilia Leads U.S. Peace Caravan to Expose Drug War’s Human Toll
From Reader Supported News :
Date: 12 May 2012
Subject: The London Uprising.
Tens of thousands of off-duty police officers gathered in central London on Thursday to march against job cuts and changes to their pension deals.
Tens of Thousands of Police March on Central London
by Esther Addley
from Reader Supported News :
Date: 12 May 2012
Subject: War in Latin America.
Latin Americans are the immediate victims, suffering appalling levels of violence and corruption, with addiction spreading through the transit routes.
The US War on Latin America.
by Noam Chomsky
from Fred Lonidier :
Date: 12 May 2012
Subject: The Great Labor Arts Exchange.
Donate to LHF
Register for the Great Labor Arts Exchange
early bird registration ends May 13
"Occupy Now!" Photo Contest
Add your event here
Colleen Kattau in concert in New York City
Collen is a fracking activist and songwriter from Central New York. Her songs aim to increase awareness about threats to environmental health and habitat and to inspire the consideration of conservation and alternatives to reliance on fossil fuels. The songs on her most recent CD address pressing environmental issues of hydro-fracturing, mountaintop removal, pipeline construction, mega-mining, and industrial tree farming in the Americas. They do not just critique, instead they offer hope and inspiration for a better way to meet our energy needs.
May 19 People's Voice Café show 8pm
with Some Guys (Jamie Yaman, sax, vocals, flute/ Mike Brandt, bass, Barry K., cello w/ special guest artist)
Community Church of New York Unitarian Universalist,
40 East 35th St. NY, NY (between Madison & Park) http://www.peoplesvoicecafe.org/
June 1 Singing Clear Benefit CD release 8pm
Good Coffeehouse Music Parlor
53 Prospect Park West, Brooklyn, NY 11215
with Bev Grant, Aro Veno, Sarah Underhill and Dave Lippman
Collen will be part of a set for the Singing Clear project at the Clearwater folk festival on June 17. There's an amazing line-up of performers, including Cirque du Sewer, the world's only rat circus!!
Wool & Grant in concert
Two veteran singer/songwriters with a mutual passion for songs, stories, harmonies and guitars. Bev Grant and Ina May Wool create a musical alchemy of fire and feistiness, wisdom and wit, rocking clear-eyed political songs along with a window on to their travels - on the road and around the heart
May 11 Two Moon Art House & Cafe, Brooklyn
May 12 Barrington Coffee House and Cafe, Barrington, NJ
May 19 Midtown Scholar Bookstore, Harrisburg
May 20 Friendship House Concert, Pittsburgh
June 1 The Good Coffee House Music Parlor, Brooklyn
Visit Wool & Grant for tour details. Watch their video of Get The Frack Outta Here
NYC Labor Chorus Spring Concert :: May 12
more than 20 years of rating the power of song in peoples' struggles
Saturday, May 12th, 2012 at 8:00 PM
The Peoples' Voice Café / The Community Church of New York
40 East 35th Street, Manhattan (between Park Ave. & Madison Ave.)
Community Church is fully accessible
Doors open at 7:30 $15-18 at the door, pay what you can
Benefit Concert for Jon Fromer :: May 19
A series of fundraising concerts are coming up to help Jon. We really invite you to turn out and turn up the support for Jon at these performances. Hope you can make one or more. They're all going to be good.
Saturday, May 19th 8 pm
A benefit for Jon's medical expenses
Angelico Hall at Dominican College
50 Acacia Ave., San Rafael
More information about Jon can be found at Labor Heritage Foundation.
Teamster Women Facebook Group Conference :: May 25 & 26
The Teamster Women Facebook Group sponsored by the Berger Marks Foundation will be hosting a special union and working women's 2 day conference in Washington D.C. on May 25-26, 2012.
This conference will provide working women with information, educational workshops, and mentoring opportunities. We hope to inspire women to confidently step into leadership roles at work, in their unions, and in their lives.
For more information about the conference https://sites.google.com/site/wewerenotborntofollow2012/
Any questions please contact email@example.com
Mail your contributions to:
Teamster Women Facebook Group c/o Verena Riese
21106 Deep Furrow Court
Ashburn, VA 20147
Renew America Expo :: June 9
Lynn Marie Smith (the Motown Diva) is working on the entertainment for this event and would really like to give them a treat. If you're not familiar with Lynn Marie, watch a video of her leading a crowd in song.
How: If you are interested in participating contact LHF firstname.lastname@example.org or Lynn Marie Smith. This is time sensitive so a rapid response is requested.
Who: Labor and progressive artists and performers
WHAT: The Michigan State AFL-CIO Union Label services and Trade Council is hosting the Renew America Expo.
When: June 9, 2012 from 10:00 am until 6:00 pm
Where: UFCW Local 857 Headquarters
876 Horace Brown Drive
Madison Heights, Michigan
There will be vendors, education, raffles, give away's and Five (5) $1,000.00 Grand Prizes to be raffled off. More information, including a vendor registration form can be found at Michigan Union Label.
What Else: The performance's will be scheduled throughout the day.
There are many opportunities for the artists to make money, gain exposure and support this worthy cause. Unfortunately there is no financial budget to pay the performers for their tremendous talents.
1. There will be 10 radio commercials spots that will be recorded by professionals and aired during prime listening times and on a variety of stations.
2. There will be an on air interview with radio personality Tony Tripliano a well-known radio jock and friend to labor.
3. Mass Advertisement throughout the state by way of the State AFL-CIO's Facebook and Twitter Resources
4. There will be printed advertisement that will list some of the featured and highlighted guest
What For: This is a charity event so the union artist would have to have a waiver signed by their union so that we are not guilty of disrespecting our own members. This is a wonderful opportunity to be a part of an event that will educate and inform the public at large, as well as organized labor about the importance of buying American Made products and exactly what products are made in the good ol' USA.
Artists Unite: It is up to us to help ourselves and rebuild confidence in the products that we make by doing our part and participating in this endeavor. Naturally the artist are free to sell their merchandise.
The Michigan State AFL-CIO Union Label Services and Trade Council is hosting the Renew America Expo. There will be vendors, education, raffles, give away's and $5,000.00 in Grand Prizes to be raffled off. The event is free and open to the public.
We promote products and services produced in America by union members; including those identified by a union label. We educate union members, their families and their communities of the social and economic benefits gained through the trade union movement
June 9, 2012
10:00 AM - 6:00 PM
UFCW Local 857 Headquarters
876 Horace Brown Drive
Madison Heights, Michigan
More information, including a vendor registration form can be found at Michigan Union Label.
Woody Guthrie Centennial Birthday Bash
Saturday :: July 14
Round robin songfest celebrating Woody Guthrie's 100th birthday. Featured artists include Hillel Arnold, Don Friedman, Beth Kotkin, Joel Landy, Anne Price, Steve Suffet, and Gina Tlamsa. $10 admission + one drink minimum purchase. Visit the Birthday Bash web site or Facebook page for more information.
The Bowery Poetry Club
New York, NY 10012-2802
Don't forget about these news items ...
TPP = Corporate Power Tool of the 1%
The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is being negotiated in secret and the stakes for the 99% couldn't be higher. Go to www.TPP2012.com and click on TAKE ACTION today. Share Public Citizen Global Trade Watch's song parody to the tune of Jackson 5Åås ABC with friends and family and encourage them to take action too!
Additional information on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, including a music video, can be found on the Labor Heritage site.
Labor Comics Project
Paul Buhle is in the beginning stages of launching a labor comics project. If you're interested in helping let us know and we'll put you in touch with Paul.
May Day: A Graphic History of Protest
It's never too late to celebrate May Day!
A new graphic novel celebrating our holiday is hot off the presses. May Day: A Graphic History of Protest traces the development of International Workers' Day, May 1st, against the ever-changing economic and political backdrop in Canada and across North America. Recognizing the importance of work and the historical struggles of workers to improve their lives, with a particular focus on the struggles of May 1st, the comic includes the reader as part of this history, and the story concludes that "We are all part of this historical struggle; it's our history and our future."
It's available for purchase from the Union Communcation Services at their on-line store.
Buy one for your local ... buy one for yourself ... buy one for your children
Call for Singers & Instrumentalists
For the 2012 Tribute to Veterans and the Military on the Commemoration of the Bicentennial of the War of 1812. The performance will occur on June 13th at Turner Auditorium, Johns Hopkins University.
Contact Elizabeth Nunan at 202-797-0700 or email@example.com for additional details
New George Mann CD "Patience in These Times" Released
I woke up this morning feeling blessed.
No, keep reading, this is not one of those scams or requests to send money because I am stranded in a foreign city without wallet, ID, etc.
I have finished the first "wave" of work regarding the release of "Patience in These Times," my new CD, and I am off to Oregon for a week of concerts and rest. This new CD, 13 songs that I have poured my life, money and abilities into, is now available and I am writing to tell you about it and to help explain why I am asking for orders and donations toward it. For the first time in my roughly 15 years of making music "seriously," I am truly working poor (and in debt!). But as I told you, I feel blessedŠ
The spring is coming, the people are waking up, and there is much music to be made.
I am "blessed" to be able to live this life and share the songs, stories and history of people who built this country, and fought for a better world. And I am fortunate to have new songs and a new CD of music to share-fortunate in that the inspiration keeps coming, even as I approach the half-century mark!
Call for Interns
DC's Own Entertainment Group seeks interns to assist with the upcoming production, A Mood for Ms. Eunice, to be featured in the 2012 DC Black Theater Festival.
Students majoring in Theater, Film, Writing, Communications, Marketing/PR or other arts related fields should apply for the following positions:
-Assistant to the Director
-Street Team Coordinator
-Social Media Coordinator
Please send your resume to firstname.lastname@example.org with "Eunice Intern" in the subject, and tell us about yourself and artistic interests in the body of the email.
*Team meetings are held Saturday's at 1pm, beginning Saturday, May 19th.
Interpreted through the music of late jazz legend, Nina Simone, DC's Own Entertainment Group presents A Mood for Ms. Eunice, written and directed by Rahima Rice-Marsh. Born Eunice Kathleen Waymon, Nina Simone's music and metaphorical lyrics have captivated audiences for decades. Learning that Simone was diagnosed as bipolar in her later years, Rice-Marsh took on a greater understanding of Simone's music to possibly be the reflections of her many moods, and decided to write a story around some of Simone's most touching songs. A Mood for Ms. Eunice tells the story of an anxious Scheduler, named Drew Holloway, who is working for D.C.'s hot new Mayor, Graham Court. Drew is given the challenging task of handling the schedule of the Mayor's wife, Amanda Court, and finds she is rapidly falling in love with D.C.'s commanding and gorgeous First Lady. A tumultuous affair ensues, damaging Drew's heart and employment, and the image of D.C.'s top political family. DC's Own Entertainment Group won Best One-Act Drama in the 2010 DC Black Theater Festival's One-Act Battle, to much praise and acclaim, with Rice-Marsh's first play The Airport Piece. This unique entertainment company, on the fringe of DC's independent art scene will once again dazzle audiences with their slice-of-life tales from the Black LGBTQ community.
from Reader Supported News :
Date: 13 May 2012
Subject: When Half a Million Americans Died and Nobody Noticed.
When Half a Million Americans Died and Nobody Noticed
by Alexander Cockburn,
from Mark Crispin Miller :
Date: 13 May 2012
Subject: Killer on the Road: The Untold Story of Drive-By America.
Killer on the Road: The Untold Story of Drive-By America
from Alexander Cockburn :
Date: 13 May 2012
Subject: European Politics.
by Alexander Cockburn
from Douglas Dowd :
Date: 14 May 2012
Subject: Obama and after Obama.
Toward A Much Better USA
by Doug Dowd
As most who receive this will know, In 2011 I wrote half a dozen articles about how difficult economic and social life has been and is now worsening for all too many in the USA , and how and why it is likely to worsen more if we don’t get to work politically to insure that the GOP doesn’t win the elections. In Obama’s first campaign I did some work for him, but like most who will read this I have been upset with his conservatism and his militarism. Nonetheless, I will support him in this year’s election: considering the much worse alternative. As I and others do so, however, we can and must insist that he join us in working clearly on the side of the people and against big business and our wars. That may seem an impossible task, but it also seemed so when Roosevelt in his first years also bowed to Wall St. Our anger and threats made him become the liberal “FDR” he was when he died. /1/
What follows will be concerned with what we must also do after the 2012 election, no matter who wins. We must continue our support and participation in our local “Occupies,” but it is vital that we also work to create a permanent national political movement; must develop and participate in always stronger political struggles and support only those in government who work for social decency at home and peace abroad. First, however, it may be useful to say look briefly at the national antiwar movement created of the mid-1960s (which was allowed to fade away as the 1970s began):
A small group of 25-30 representing diverse reformist organizations met to discuss the creation of a movement to end the war in Vietnam. We were men and women, liberals, socialists, and communists, priests and atheists, young and old. We met over several days with predictable differences, but when our discussions ended we had created the Mobe” (Mobilization to End the War in Vietnam): In the following decade the Mobe came to represent more than 200 political groups: that’s two hundred groups. We had many differences in our aims, but we were all against wars. Our good consequences were many; here a few of them: 1) Almost all of the 200 increased their own memberships and strengths. 2) The Mobe worked always more effectively against the war with numberless demonstrations in D.C. and elsewhere, with hundreds of thousands of participants). 3) A few of us were invited to go to North Vietnam. While there we met with its leader, who said that the USA could not win without using atomic bombs and that our movement was making that virtually impossible. Our movement continued, atomic bombs weren’t used, and a few years later our big shots in Saigon were being picked up from the tops of roofs.
Now, on to the leading elements of what’s wrong with the current U.S. economy and our militarism. Then I will turn to what we can and must do to democratize U.S. politics and end its wars.
Our lopsided economy and our endless wars. Except for a few years in the 1930s and for a short while after World War II, the U.S. economy has been ruled over easily and entirely by those who have owned and controlled agriculture, trade, industry, and finance. As the 19th century went on, agriculture gave way to industry, and since the 1970s industry has given way to Wall Street, which now dominates both the economy and our politics. Along the way, the U.S. economy has undergone at least two related developments which – along with politics -- must be reversed: 1) an ever increasing emphasis and involvement in aggressive international operations and 2) the domination of finance by speculation, making Wall Street and the USA into an brutal gambling casino in which “We the People” at home as well as abroad are the losers.
Beginning in the last half of the 19th century and increasingly from the 1920s into the 1960s, the USA become the global center of economic strength; then, as the 1970s took hold, we began our trip toward becoming history’s largest importer and borrower: transformed from being owed by all to owing six trillion to some.. Along the way almost all of us in the USA lurched into bottomless debt. Put together, those developments -- and the bought and paid for politics accompanying them -- guaranteed that the USA would ultimately sink into a bottomless crisis both at home and abroad. We are now only in the first stages of that crisis, but it is all too likely to outdo that of the 1930s. In recent years some of the world economy has recklessly gained from U.S. behavior, but it will soon find that they will never get back what is owed them: that the source of their high profits was taking the globe to disaster.
Here a brief summary of the socio-economic dangers on their way and what we must do politically to prevent them from continuing toward social suicide. Then we will discuss how and why the “Occupy” movement must become broader and deeper: “nationalized” and why we must make continuous efforts to move toward democratization of the economy if we are not to have an authoritarian society. True democratization in the USA may sound impossible, but such an achievement has been well on its way in parts of Europe; most clearly in Denmark and Finland (both of which had been in the fascist grip before World War II). As matters now stand, the USA is lurching toward an always uglier society at home, and endless war abroad, with an already weak economy at home, and the same on its way abroad. Just how seriously weak the U.S. economy is well-suggested by Stiglitz: “It has now been almost five years since the bursting of the housing bubble and four years since the onset of the recession. There are 6.6 million fewer jobs in the USA since than there were four years ago. Some 23 million Americans who wish to work full-time cannot get a job. Almost half of those who are unemployed have been so long-term. Wages are falling – the real income of a typical American household income is now below the level it was in 1997.” /2/
Although the USA has the highest per capita income not only today but in history, but a tiny set of the “capita” gets VERY high incomes an profits while at least half of the rest of those who work for wages don’t get enough to live a decent life. Income distribution in the USA between the two world wars was at least that bad for the overwhelming majority, but that began to change under the political pressures of increasingly organized and democratized unions and their and others political participation. Now it is our responsibility to transform our anger and our needs into politics and action. The last time we did that was after World War II: but only for a while. As we relaxed, big business and the war lovers rose up.
Since the 1970s big business has succeeded in making an already heavy concentration and misuse of power to become always more so while, at the same time, U.S. militarism transformed what had begun as the 19th century ended to become even more insanely occupied with one war after another; now with one more – Iran – around the corner. If we had won – or do win – those wars, what is that we and the thousands of wounded and dead on both sides have “won”?
The oil companies and their likes know what they have won We must stop those literally murderous doings.
If we allow ongoing policies to continue, we will be on our way toward a repetition of the 1930s: or worse. Now I turn to an examination of the key elements of the whys and wherefores of what must be changed- Then I will propose what we can and must do for a safer and better society, in the following order: 1. Jobs. 2. Health care. 3. Education. 4. Housing. 5. Needs of the aged. 6. The environment. If and only if we now work politically to resolve these problems can the job or any of our other social crimes be decently resolved.
The “key elements”: Income and wealth; jobs, and taxes. Those four realms are in continuous interaction: for better a few, for worse for all the rest. Since the 1970s, U.S. income and wealth inequalities have broken already disgraceful records. In those same years, the powerful, facing little or no political opposition in Congress or in the voting process, have been easily able to increase their political power in all realms, including the reduction of their income taxes and, thus increasing the tax burden of the rest of us. Along the way the powerful have brought about a harmful re-structuring and mis-structuring of the economy, favoring finance over production; not least in having more of production to much cheaper labor in the poor countries. The result has been always higher levels of long-term unemployment at home.
The associated social harm for the majority has made the USA into a
playground for the rich and powerful. As they enjoy their riches, they are carrying us toward economic disaster at home as, at the same time, their political power bows to – or facilitates -- our continuous wars abroad. Unless we can reverse those processes we will increase our difficulties at home and continue on the way to the last world war. Those dreadful probabilities will be reversed if and only if we do the difficult work of creating a substantial political movement which can achieve a sane, decent, and antiwar society. Now we turn to what that “substantial political movement” should mean, beginning with the painful realm of the unemployed. /3/
What we can and must do. I begin with jobs, a problem most essential to be dealt with immediately, but which has been at best a “second thought.” (After that, I turn to our needs and proposals regarding health care, education, etc.
1. Jobs. A strong program for achieving sustained full employment cannot be created without our sustained political efforts for achieving a restructuring of today’s income, wealth, and taxes. Only then can there be higher average wages, lower net profits, and the democratized tax structures required for needed programs.
First and foremost is the need to end unemployment. It was not until the depression of the 1930s that the U.S. government even began to measure, let alone deal with, the jobless. It was not until the mid-1930s, when the number of those unable to find jobs was skyrocketing toward 29% of the labor force and political protest was deepening that the Labor Dept. even began to take account. Even so, unemployment never got blow – an understated -- 12% until World War II: which gave “jobs” to the 19 million in uniforms and military “employment,” and production jobs for all others.
However, it is important to note that the official rate as measured in the past and still -- the rate which you read in the news -- counts less than half of those who need and seek jobs but are unable to get them. Thus, the “official rate” of the unemployed as I write in January, 2012 is 8-9%. But, literally, “Footnote” U-6” of the Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed a rate twice that: 16-17%. The effectively secret measure takes account also of 1) those who have despaired and given up looking; 2) those who have been looking for months but haven’t looked precisely in the days used for the official report; 3) part-time workers who had been and need still to be full-time; 4) diverse others seeking but not measured or the young who give up without trying. Had you known where to look for the “U-6”rate, in January 2012 you would have found that ugly truth; but it isn’t easy. Those who control “the daily news” are also among the rich and powerful, and they don’t want to upset us with ugly truths.
What are the pressures we should make on Congress and the White House? To that we now turn. Much of what is proposed would end unemployment, but it would also meet the needs and improve the lives of the vast majority. Here we note the most obvious unmet needs; many reading this will see other needs and/or otherwise desirable programs. We must demand and get what is badly needed if we are to be able to improve the majority’s lives in our society. Such projects can best or only be done properly when governmentally financed and controlled. Some representative examples:
Projects requiring numberless workers to do the building, the hauling, and manufacture of the many means involved:: tractors, steam engines, tools, lumber, iron and steel, transportation, etc. etc. etc. But would not such projects cost too much? Indeed the costs of wages and materials would cost a lot, But such projects --home building, schools and teachers, etc. etc. are for meeting human needs and possibilities. Those who make complaints are silent or cheer when our many military “projects” are viewed; e.g., the three trillion already spent for the unforgivable war in Iraq, or the trillions for wars we have been taxed for since World War II: for weaponry, the planes, ships, the food, clothing, and shelter and so on of the GIs. If we have spent – are spending – sky high amounts for wars which are difficult or impossible to justify, surely the wellbeing of our people and our society are at least – or much more -- important? ///Arrest that man!!!///
As I write in February 2012), teachers, industrial workers, et al. are being laid off, and/or having their wages cut: “The number of people working part time because they could not find full-time work was 8.2 million in January, 2012. However, including those who have stopped looking for work altogether, the broader measure of unemployment was 15.1%” (New York Times, 2/4, 2012)
While campaigning in New Hampshire that same day, Romney attacked Obama by stating “Over 16 million Americans are out of work or have just quick looking,” as though he gives a damn. At the same time, his gambling pals on Wall Street were dancing happily, getting richer, and working us toward another “crash.” It is relevant to point out here that the financial recklessness which produced the ongoing crackup was made illegal in the years following 1929. However, even more recklessness was given birth in the 1990s, when Clinton (Dem.) was in the White House: advised by the very same Wall Street hotshots Obama appointed when he moved into the White House: Robert Rubin, Timothy Geithner and, Lawrence Summers. Whether Obama made those appointments and took their advice out of stupidity or fear or whatever – is not known. What is known is that what brought about the Wall Street gambling and troubles of the 1990s and the crash of 2007 have been allowed to have another life as this is written. News Flash: “The average Goldman Sachs employee was paid $292,397.00 in the first 9 months of 2011, down about 21% from 2010…That includes the salaries of those on the lower scales of the support staff. Also, each Goldman partner is still expecting to take home at least $3 million this year.” “Pay Cuts on Wall Street? It’s Complex.” (New York Times, Jan. 11, 2012).
It’s time for those well-dressed thieves to be taxed down to decency. Now I turn to other realms which require our immediate political attention, anger, and transformation.
2. Health care. Countless thousands who thought they had jobs with medical coverage now know that they have neither jobs nor health care. Even before today’s recession(s) there were all too many millions whose jobs did not give them access to health care. All of the foregoing are badly off, and all are in the USA. We claim to provide the best heath care in the world. Maybe so, but only the very well off get it. It’s too bad the millions with inadequate care aren’t living in Finland or most of Western Europe where for total health care all you need is the doctor’s address. What follows will be focused on health care but much of the same contrasts between the UK and Western Europe are also found in employment assistance, education, housing, and the care of the old and the weak. Now I turn to what our heath care system should become, beginning with a relevant story:
In 1939 and 1940, while I was going to junior college, I was working the night shift as “cleanup assistant” in surgery in the San Francisco City Hospital. Most of those night efforts were on emergencies. Surgery was on the second floor, just above the arrival point for ambulances. When they had a person in emergency and needing surgery they would sound out with a signal and I would rush down. On such an occasion one night there was a bloodied middle-aged man screaming in a foreign language as his pockets were being searched by the attendants. After he finally understood the question they always asked – “How much money do you have? --he said he had $35 in the bank. They put him back in the ambulance, and took him off to a private hospital. Two days later, when I went upstairs to get a patient for surgery, there he was in a bed: broke. San Francisco’s honor had been saved, and I took one more step toward becoming a critic of capitalism.
Of all the major capitalist societies, the U.S. health care system stands out in its clinging to a private health care system. To be sure, as noted earlier, there are some in the USA whose health care is financed by those working in local, state governments or the USA or those whose unions have seen to it that in addition to their wages their company-finances health care. Almost all advanced industrial nations cover everyone; The USA has 50 million with the lowest incomes and, often, the worst needs -- completely uninsured.
What should be provided by the U.S. government is what is already being done in the other capitalist nations- I will take for example where I have lived for many years: Italy. It has a decent national health care system, but the other leading European nations, plus Canada and Japan, provide national health care which is considerably stronger. (I am an official “resident,” not a citizen of Italy, but I have the same health care rights as citizens.)
In Italy the costs of your health care – doctors, hospitals, medicines, etc. – are paid by the government. It has been altered somewhat in recent years under the government dominated by the quasi-fascist Berlusconi, but the system remains marvelous compared with the USA. Almost everyone chooses a “family doctor,” who id visited for exams and to be sent to others (including hospitals) when appropriate. Prescriptions are free. Some of the doctors who are paid by the government also have private practices for those – the well off – who for one reason or another choose to have “their own” doctors. The reasons for that are several, good or not: e.g. for speed, for pride, for “something.” My first experience with the need for medical help goes back to the 1960s and continues up to the present. I have been hospitalized, have undergone surgery, etc. etc. etc., and have always been taken care of well. As noted above, Italy does not come close to being Number One in Europe, but it makes the USA look like a backward nation.
3. Education. The years 1945-1970 were economically the most buoyant and the most democratic in U.S. history. They were also the years which broke the U.S. record for widespread higher education for men and women, for they were the years in which literally millions of young people were able to undertake higher education. How come? Because they were the years in which almost 20 million U.S. veterans of World War II were supported by the U.S. government’s “GI Bill.” I was one of those millions, from freshman to Ph.D. at U.C. Berkeley. Moreover, the many millions of increased university students meant that thousands – including me --were easily able to get teaching jobs, and book publishers were able to sell additional millions of books, and….so on. . That’s only the most obvious of the positive effects of the GI Bill for those who were thus able to get a higher education. At least as important was the meaning to the society as a whole because of the substantial increase of doctors, engineers, scientists, et al. That was yesterday; today the USA and its people have at even more reason to see to it that such governmental financing of university education is repeated and made permanent for everyone capable and desirous of going beyond high school. Why?
“Desirous” is not enough these days: necessity is the proper word, both for individuals and the society as whole. It should be clear by now that the USA’s long period of Number One is now ending, and that we have to do something about it before it comes to mean desperate lives for almost all. Meaning what? Thomas Friedman put it well in as 2012 was beginning: “One thing w know for sure: With each advance of globalization the best jobs will require workers to have more and better education to make themselves above average Here are the latest unemployment rates from the U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics for U.S. people over 25 years old: in brief, the lower the education, the higher the unemployment:
Those with less than a high school degree: 13.8%; those with high school, but no college: 8.7% ; those with some college or associated degree: 7.7%: those with bachelor’s degree or higher: 4.1%. (New York Times, 2/26 2012)
“We the People” need another – and never ending “Education Bill,” It should be normal and ongoing, both to allow the young to meet their needs and possibilities and to help the U.S. meet its needs and possibilities. The first should need no explanation, either to the young or their parents, but the “needs” of the nation, if less obvious. are just as important. Question: Why should the USA, the most powerful and advanced of all nations have to be concerned with its educational system? Answer: Our economic power is now in an absolute and relative set of declines with more on their way.
Item: China is now second – and rising -- in the world economy. If present tendencies continue the USA will no longer be Number One. Being “One” in itself is of no importance except for “pride,” but our continuing weakness threatens to sink us into serious troubles of several dimensions. For some that would be a matter of pride; for the rest of us it will be a matter of jobs. It deserves a look here and a much longer look from the experts in matters connecting our universities with those elements of engineering and production which could and must shift our educational system in the necessary directions: away from the heavy industries in which we can no longer compete and toward “lighter” realms for which science is essential. I am no expert in such matters; I leave further discussion of that up to those who are, and add merely that “time is running out.”
4. Housing. For many years, I have taught every other semester in Italy. I have been struck favorably by their decent, subsidized, and inexpensive public housing. They are by no means the champ in Europe, but they make the USA seem cruelly inadequate. We must work to achieve public housing for the millions who need it. A rich society such as ours should not have millions of its people badly-housed; it is not only cruel but also stupid, for in doing so we are also overlooking how stimulating to the economy it would be in jobs and other realms of production.
OK, but wouldn’t that raise our taxes? The taxes of those best off, but it is time overdue for that rise to be placed on the silver and golden shoulders of those at the top of the income structure: especially the top 15%, and the others with the most comfortable with high incomes; the taxes of those in the bottom half need not and should not ever reduce their net income below what is essential for a decent living. Also, housing projects could be financed by reducing our military expenditures.
It is important to understand that a substantial increase in public housing construction – and other programs noted in this essay -- would also mean a substantial increase in that percentage of the USA whose incomes will be decent.
As this is written in 2012, half or more of our people have incomes which cannot provide a decent and safe life, while a tenth take in so much – many of them for doing “so little” – which should make them eligible for a substantial rise in their income taxes. It is up to us to bring that about by our political efforts..
5. The Aged. Of all the socio-economic realms discussed in this work, those in the aged are most severely damaged and neglected in the USA. Jobs? Many aged who are unemployed could not or would not be able or want to work; but a minority could be and would be eager and able to: in doing so they would improve both their own and society’s health. The kinds of jobs are many and a meaningful percentage of the aged are at work in them: in stores, hospitals, classrooms, restaurants…; that is, in almost all realms. (I was able to teach in universities in both the USA and Europe until I resigned in my 93rd year. As you can see, for better or for worse I am still working.
Health and housing for the aged? Important though the matter of jobs for the old may be, at least as vital is the need for society to see to it that their health, safety, and wellbeing be insured by society. In the UK, most of Europe, and parts of Asia, that need is met; in the USA, the richest nation of all, it is not. A disgraceful percentage of our aged are lacking in needed health care, diet, housing, and/or activities which would strengthen them physically and mentally. I write as one for whom all of those needs are met, as part of a generally most fortunate life, but I also know much of what the needs of the old are. The USA has many positive but at least as many negative qualities, the latter disgracefully so. It is time overdue that those whose health, housing, and other needs are not being met, be met. That’s another political job we must resolve.
6. The Environment. As discussed in the “Wall Street” essay, the world, led by the USA, has functioned economically in such a fashion as to be self-destructive. It is worth quoting once more what was seen already in 1923 by Veblen:
“The American Plan” of resource exploitation was one of accumulation by encroachment on both the environment and the indigenous population, converting all public worth to private gain on a plan of legalized seizure, every public need a means of private gain, as staple resources were over-
exploited by speeding up output and underbidding the price, leading to a rapid exhaustion with waste of the natural supply. And he goes on to note that, for example, “the lumber companies have destroyed appreciably more timber than was utilized. /4/
Note the date: early 20th century. Already as that century was ending, the destruction of natural resources had increased quantitatively and qualitatively, but we are outdoing that in the 21st century. As World War I was cooling down, there began in the USA the never-ending race led by what has now become 500 gigantic companies. It was they who began and still increase and combine consumerism, massive advertising and borrowing, with reduced production costs, restricted outputs, and endless product variations. /6/ The birth pangs of those ugly developments had been identified by Veblen in his Theory of the Leisure Class /1899)
The ongoing poisoning and destruction of the world’s air, water, and land is more likely to expand and deepen at accelerating rates so long as we continue our ways and means of production and consumption. We in the USA and our counterparts around the globe have allowed ourselves to take part in what will bring an end to life on the earth. Given the ongoing political and persuasive powers of business advertising and mind drugging, the odds are all too strong that they will continue to get what they want. Unless….
Conclusion. What will follow that “unless…in the USA.” depends upon what is happening now and what’s next (a) economically and politically, then /b) for wars, AND what is or is not done about it by us.
been dominated by capitalism; directly or indirectly. Along the way, discussions of the political economy were separated by academics and the press into two realms: “economics” and “politics.” Although some of what falls under the heading of “politics” is not economic, virtually all of what is critical to the economy is tightly linked to politics: working conditions, taxes, international relations, endangered resources, etc. The less conscious the public is of that linkage, the better off are the powerful, especially when, as now, the link is tightening, both at home and abroad.
Next we will examine 1) the dangers of the ongoing U.S. political economy both at home and abroad; 2) the strong probability that in the absence of substantial reforms, U.S. workers will continue to suffer prolonged unemployment and indecently low incomes.
two of the most worrisome will be treated here: the ongoing recession/ depression, and the domestic and international consequences of our corrupted politics.
The recession became obvious in 2007. Since then and up to the present it has been seen as more of a hiccough than a serious disease: a grim similarity with the “Crash of 1929” whose year-after-year-slogan was “Prosperity is just around the corner.” Not until the mid-1930s was it recognized that the “Crash” was the first step toward the worst depression in history. It was not until after World War II that the economy of the USA became strong at home and vitally connected with other nations. Up to the 1970s, those connections were mostly as seller and lender; since then, USA has become history’s champion buyer and borrower. We now owe six trillion dollars to foreign lenders: almost half of which to China and India. Given our already weak national and international economic situations it is difficult to see how that debt will ever be repaid. What will mean to those we owe in Asia and Europe cannot be known as this is written, but however those debts are – or are not – resolved the result will be a different world. If that world is not to be disastrous for us, we must work soon and hard politically to build a nation whose politics are aimed at meeting the needs and possibilities of the majority (and, as will be noted below, Mother Nature) and, in doing so, push those who now rule into where they belong: the background.
Then there are the rising troubles in Europe itself: as this is written Europe has begun its own struggle to hold back a broad and serious recession, to which up to now it has responded in ways all too reminiscent of the USA in 1929; that is, inadequately. Here some excerpts from the global edition of the New York Times (Jan. 30, 2012):
Headline: “E.U. leaders set to admit austerity is insufficient. Summit talks’ statement will focus on growth but quick action is not likely.”
“Bowing to mounting evidence that austerity alone risks stoking recession and plunging fragile economies into a downward spiral, a draft of the European Union summit meeting calls for growth-friendly consolidation and job-friendly growth….while avoiding mention of the one thing that could change the climate: a fiscal stimulus from Germany, the euro currency zone’s undisputed powerhouse.” /Plus this/ Even countries with relatively strong public finances, such as Germany are tightening fiscal policy and withdrawing demand from their economies at a time of pronounced private sector weakness. The director of the Europe/ German research program (Joachim Fritz-Vannahme) states that ‘The recognition is coming that austerity won’t work, but how to get beyond austerity is completely unclear. There is no master plan under discussion in this country.’” /Although there are most likely a few that are kept secret in the USA./
Here a warning from Paul Krugman, in the International Herald Tribune
(Jan. 3, 2012), in his article “Economic amnesia and the austerity debacle.”:
Changes in real G.D.P. in the UK since the ongoing recession began are worse than they were in “the Great Depression,” when, after 4 years the UK had regained its previous peak. Now, four years since the “Great Recession” the UK is nowhere close to regaining its lost ground….. .. In the USA the federal government has avoided all-out austerity, but state and local governments, which must run on more or less balanced budgets, have slashed spending and employment as federal aid runs out, and this has been a major drag on the overall economy.
It will continue to be so, unless and until today’s recession/depression is dealt with in terms of people’s needs rather than what business wants. That will not be achieved unless and until there is a strong push from the bottom up: by us. Now.
rate in the USA as 2012 began was 8-9%, but, to repeat, the “official” rate, whether by design or indifference, recognizes less than half of those who need, have had, and want full time jobs, but who do not have them and/or who have given up looking. Why so much unemployment? The quick, even official, answer is “the USA is in a moderate recession; be patient; after all, recessions come and go, are to be expected now and then.” Indeed they have come and gone, but this one goes on and on; indeed is now spreading in the UK and Europe and is being felt in Asia. . It is more likely to continue until it lurches into depression than fade away. Everyday officials tell us we’re OK, despite governmental data showing we are not. How misleading that is has been summed up in an excellent and detailed analysis by Roberts: /6/
1. In January 27, 2012 the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis announced that
In the last quarter of 2011 the economy had grown at the rate of 2.8% in real terms.. However, almost all of that gain was due to “involuntary “inventory build-up”: that is, is goods produced but not sold. So, the real growth rate as eight-tenths of one percent: ignoring inflation. When the methodology that measures a constant standard of living is used to deflate “nominal GDP”, the result is a shrinking U.S. economy, and it becomes clear that the U.S. economy has had no recovery and has been in a deep recession for 4 years. 2. Real average weekly earnngs have never recovered their 1973 peak. Real median household income has not recovered it 2001 peak and is below the 1969 level. 3. Consumer confidence shows no recovery and is far below the level of a decade ago. 4. Housing starts have remained flat since 2009. 5. Retail sales are below the index level of 2000. 5. Industrial production remains below the index level of January 2000. 6. The U.S. economy cannot recover, because the U.S. economy depends on consumer expenditures for more than 70% of its activity. 7. The off-shoring of middle class has stopped the rise of in middle class income and caused a drop in consumer spending power. 8. The Federal Reserve under Greenspan compensated for the absence of U.S. consumer income growth with a policy of easy credit and a policy of driving up home prices with low interest rates, allowing people to refinance their homes and spend the inflated equity in their homes. 9. The increase in consumer and dis-savings drove the economy in the place of the missing growth in consumer incomes. 10. Today, consumers are too indebted to borrow and banks are too insolvent to lend. 11. Therefore, there is no possibility of further debt expansion as a substitute for real income growth; an off-shored economy is a dead and exhausted economy. 12. The consequences of a dead economy when the government is wasting trillions of dollars in wars of naked aggression, and in bailouts of fraudulent financial institutions is a government budget that can only be financed by printing money. 13. The consequence of printing money when jobs have been moved offshore is an inflationary depression. This catastrophe could begin to unfold this year or in 2013. If Europe’s problems worsen, flight into dollars could delay sharp rises in U.S. inflation until 2014.
14. The emperor has no clothes and sooner or later this will be cognized.
When the Labor Department’s jobs report of January 2012 came out its “seasonally adjusted official numbers” showing that over 200,000 jobs had been created, the news was filled with the idea that unemployment was on its way out; that the recession was under control and “what’s to worry?” Answer: a lot. I have earlier noted the difference between such public statements and the Department’s own “U-6” unemployment rate, which shows that in June of 2009 there were 25.4 million jobless; in January there were still 23.4 million out of work, with only 67,200 jobs created a month over two and a half years: a monthly rate only barely half of what is needed to absorb the growing labor force. /7/
Meanwhile, what is happening to the rest of the world in the economic realm is also worrisome for the USA, if in diverse ways. The Europeans are more likely than not to be on the edge of serious troubles with its recessions: spreading from Ireland to Greece, to Portugal, to Spain, to Italy, to ????. What trouble will happen next, and where, cannot be known, but trouble is more likely than not. What all of this will mean to the euro and what would follow if nothing is done or nothing is not is already being discussed.
Then there is the record-breaking foreign indebtedness of the USA, whether in our total debt of six trillion or “only” the three trillion we owe to China and India. In any case, as the U.S. economy is increasingly dominated by its debts, the world economy is on its way to a new range of uncertainties: the list of important trading leaders is presently headed by China and India, but now it being added to by South America, led by Brazil. What those changes will mean for better and/or for worse is presently a matter of pure speculation, but surely there will be substantial changes and disorder in the realm of political economy; not least in that of the USA. . We must work hard and well to see that those changes meet the needs and possibilities of the majority’s jobs, health, education, and what will now be discussed; war and peace,
(b)Ongoing and likely wars. “Ongoing” refers of course to Afghanistan but also to Iraq. But have we not begun our exit from Iraq? Indeed we have, but just as we had no acceptable reason for making that war years ago, we need not have an acceptable reason to return. The real reason initially had nothing to do with the protection of the USA, but a great deal with the protection of the interests of U.S. oil companies. (See Stiglitz, 2008) That is all too likely to happen again. U.S. troops are now moving out of Iraq, but they can be ordered back swiftly at the drop of a few oily hats.
Afghanistan? A reminder: the USA first became involved militarily there in the 1970s, when it armed the then infant Taliban forces to take on the USSR as it was poking its way there. The Taliban did it and in the process left its “infancy” behind. Then, in the 1990s it was deemed by thee USA that the Taliban had become a threat to our -- irrationally deemed -- interests. So we began a war which has spread and deepened. There was no sane reason for us warring there, and there is none for us to continue: except pride. The military doesn’t want to have Afghanistan become our second Vietnam. What about the already wounded and dead and their families? Don’t ask. The USA should get out of Afghanistan soonest, but it also must not allow Israel to get us into the very probable war they wish to have with Iran; to which I now turn. /8/
Israel and Iran? If there is a war between them, much of its origin will be found in Israel’s fear that Iran will soon have atomic weaponry and use it against them. Iran does not yet have such weaponry, and states that it is not seeking to make them. That may or may not be so. However, what we – and Iran --do know is that that although Israel publicly sates that it does not have the bomb, it is widely and accurately known that they do. That is, the Iranians have some reason to arm themselves accordingly to hold Israel back. Instead -- of course – Israel has made it clear that is determined to bomb Iran’s suspected works and, when Iran fights back to have the USA come in with its bombs and, if necessary, its troops. Evidently that is understood in D.C. and efforts are being made to prevent that catastrophe; efforts which, however, Israel has openly scorned. (See below.)
Why there might be such a war is all too strong an example of the insanities of our world today, not least because in recent decades the politics of both countries have been taken over by extreme nationalists who have all too often expressed their hatred for each other and, openly or not, their desire to wipe out the other. If and when a war begins between them, it will have been started by Israel’s bombing of what they deem to be the growing nuclear capacities of Iran. That is terrible enough in itself, for several reasons: (1.The death and wounded Iranians from the bombing. (2. The response(s) of Iran against Israel will be an outright war between them, and the wounded and deaths of the peoples in both societies, mostly or entirely upon “civilians.” (3. It is widely understood that Israel cannot win a “normal” air and land war and that it will expect and depend upon the USA for support on the ground and in the air. (4) Will we? Yes and no. An article in the International Herald Tribune, January 28, 2012 provides two worrisome answers, from Moshe Ya’alon, Israel’s Vice Prime Minister, and Minister of Strategic Affairs, and then from Matthew Kroenig. “Special adviser” to the Pentagon.
First, Ya’alon, and Israel’s increasingly tough position regarding Iran:
“We have had some arguments with the U.S. administration over the past two years, but on the Iranian issue we have managed to close the gaps to a certain extent. But the min arguments are ahead of us. This is clear.”
Next, the worrisome statement of Matthew Koenig, in late January 2012:
“The United States has asked Israel not to attack Iran and to provide Washington with notice if it intends to strike. Israel responded negatively to both requests. It refused to guarantee notice or to provide notice if it does. My hunch is that Israel would choose to give warning of an hour or two, enough to maintain good relations between the countries but not quite enough to allow Washington to prevent the attack. Nobody wants to go in the direction of a military strike, but unfortunately this is the most likely scenario…. After speaking with many senior Israeli leaders and chiefs of the military and intelligence, I have come to believe that Israel will indeed strike Iran in 2012. Perhaps in the small and ever-diminishing window that is left the United States will choose to intervene after all, but from the Israeli perspective – that only the Israelis can ultimately defend themselves -- there is not much hope for that.”
To be clear, what there is “not much hope for” is the avoidance of a war
between Israel and Iran. Is there no way to keep the USA from going along with Israel, with the USA joining soon after? Even though it could well be step toward more wars in the larger region? “No” is the most probable answer. That means that those who are against the endless wars of the USA must do everything we can do politically to keep that from happening. That job is especially vital now, given what the rich have achieved in Congress: about a year ago, the GOP dominated Congress (aided by some also “bribed” Democrats) opened wide the door for “unlimited political contributions to political committees.” We don’t have the money to go against that; we must use our heads and hearts and get an honest Congress.
The odds against our making the USA into a decent society are high, but we must do what we can. Nor should we forget that similar odds were high in the USA also in the mid-1930s, but we won as long as we fought. If we allow big business and the war lovers to go on and on, we will at the same time have allowed the USA, already disgracefully militaristic, to take always more steps toward rightwing totalitarianism: a USA with deeper exploitation, more misery, and more war, right up to the last one: ever. In the oncoming election we must see to it that Obama stays in the White House, not because he has been a good president, but that we can make him better. If he loses we will lose even more, considering that the winner would be a dangerous disaster, for the winner will be either Romney or Gingrich, either one would mean ever deeper socio-economic troubles at home and worse wars abroad. Obama has been bad enough; they would be dangerously worse. We must get to sustained hard work now to prevent that horror show, for things are so precarious now that unless we keep the GOP out of the presidency and lower its strength in Congress) we may never have a chance to what we can and should do after the election: go to work to create “a third party.” Right on?
1. As you read through this you may wonder who is this guy whose trying to tell us what has to be done about what’s going on? For all it’s worth --which may be little or nothing -- here goes. I am in my 90s, have been teaching and writing economics and economic history since 1949, and since the mid-1930s I have been engaged in reform politics, whether in the deep South in the early 1960s or anti-war, or elections, etc. My teaching began in UC Berkeley, went from there to Cornell in New York, and back to Berkeley. In 1965 I first taught in Italy (a main focus of my European history) and since the early 1980s I have been teaching there half of every year up through 2011, when I resigned before I would be carried out. In my politics I have always been left of center but have done what I could to work on the issues with others on a broad range of struggles, regardless of their political identities, whether the issue was racism in the South, unemployment and against big business in the USA, and/or our wars. I sought to join the anti-fascists in Spain in the 1930s and was turned down as being too “innocent.” I was a pilot in World War II, serving more than three years in New Guinea and the Philippines, and was in a hospital there when the war ended. I have not been radical enough for some of those with whom I have worked, and too radical for others: but we have worked together anyway. I have been a strong critic of capitalism since the 1930s, and democratic socialism is my ideal. However, I do not believe we can move seriously in that direction in the USA unless and until we have had worked together in mass movements with people who have the will and the energy to move from raw capitalism to an increasingly democratically controlled capitalism.
2 Joseph E. Stiglitz, “”The Book of Jobs,” Vanity Fair, January, 2012. In recent years, Stiglitz – Nobel prize winner, and once V.P. of the World Bank -- has been one of the few mainstream critics of our political economy. Much of what follows is derived from this article.
3.In what follows I take it for granted that those reading this have read six earlier – free -- articles analyzing the malfunctioning of the U.S. economy. Over a hundred have been e-mailed those articles. If you have not seen them, inform me I will send them to you. An excellent critical film of the financial sector may be found in “Inside Job” which won a “Premier Oscar,” 2010.
3. Joseph. E. Stiglitz, The Three Trillion Dollar War (2008)
4.. Thorstein Veblen, Absentee Ownership (1923); Theory of the leisure Class (1899
5- See Robert Reich, Supercaptalism: The Battle fior Democracy in an Age of Big Business (2007)
6.. What follows is taken from a recent article and the fine new book of Paul Craig Roberts. The article was “The Emperor Has No Clothes,” in counterpunch (Feb. 1, 2012), and the book is How the Economy was Lost (2011). Roberts was once an editor of the Wall Street Journal and also high up in the U.S. Treasury. His views since then have changed substantially.
7. The data are provided by Jack Rasmus. See his forthcoming book Obama’s Economy:Recovery for the Few (Pluto Press)
8. What follows is likely to seem by some as the anti-Semitism of that Jew-hating Douglas Fitzgerald Dowd. However: Dowd’s first political acts were to join a Jewish political group in San Francisco in the 1930s; a group which worked against ongoing racist and religious prejudice in San Francisco. My mother – whose Jewish parents had fled their persecution in Russia – was pleased to see me work with those trying to put an end to the racial and religious prejudices and mistreatment of Jews and Catholics, Chinese, Japanese, Negroes, Japanese, and Italians in our “fair city.”. The family name of my mother’s parents had originally been “Brodsky,” but soon after they arrived in the States they changed it to something safer: “Seid.” Nor is it entirely irrelevant that my Irish Caatholic father’s family changed their name from “O’Dowd” to “Dowd.” The USA has called itself “The Home of the Free,” but all too many have found it to be a home for prejudices which all too many practice, and from which all too many suffer: still. The critical discussion of Israel which follows utilizes the works of Amos Oz, a university professor in Israel.