Bulletin N° 820
« We are All Palestinians » :
Against the Devaluation of Human Life.
25 October 2018
Dear Colleagues and Friends of CEIMSA,
Many years ago, when living in Southern California at the start of the counter-revolutionary era of Ronald Reagan, I began research on the Japanese American internment during the Second World War, I decided to focus on the uses of social science in these camps and the early 20th-century theories that informed these “scientific research” projects. It was a period in US history –after the U.S. defeat in Vietnam – when science was being restored to the domain of cultural activities, and one of my objectives was to investigate the pre-scientific interests of social scientists who lived and worked in these so-called temporary assembly centers and long-term concentration camps, that housed more than 110,000 men, women, and children of Japanese ancestry, between 1942 and 1946. My research took me into critical readings on the limitations intrinsic in the scientific method, and on the role played by aesthetics and ethics in the working lives of scientists and their alienated subjects. My book was published, after many starts and stops, in 1999 under the title of America's Concentration Camps During World War II, Social Science and the Japanese American Internment (University Press of the South, 443 pages).
At the beginning of this research, I encountered Jerry Farber, with whom I had taught at the University of Paris in the 1970s and who was a tenured faculty member at San Diego State University. Farber was then finishing his book, A Field Guide to the Aesthetic Experience (Foreworks publishers, 270 pages of fine print) that was published in 1982. I purchased a copy of his book, at the time thinking it might orient me in my own research on the “scientific” work conducted on Americans of Japanese ancestry living in concentration camps during WW II. However, I found other books which were more helpful for my research, and I put Farber’s book aside for another day.
Recently, this day arrived, and I confronted Field Guide like a long lost friend. It was hiding on a dusty shelf in my living room, between my copy of William Burroughs’ Naked Lunch and The Dharma Bums, by Jack Kerouac. Not bad company, I thought.
I wasn’t disappointed when I rediscovered Jerry Farber’s very personal description of teaching aesthetics to undergraduate students at San Diego State University and his remarkably personal accounts of his own encounters with the arts, beginning at the age of three. The very diversity of his past experiences certainly makes Farber a one-of-a-kind university professor-cum-public intellectual, and his commitment and courage to demystify artistic production/appreciation and to place it in its proper political and economic context is invaluable.
This book is richly illustrated with experiences taken from common everyday life, which he uses to explain concepts in the field of aesthetics. The radical purpose of this research is stated in the author’s Preface: “One reason . . . for writing this book is to bring some of our aesthetic assumptions out in the open where they can be examined and reconsidered. Although I am proposing a complex and comprehensive aesthetic theory, I’ve taken some pains to make this theory available to general readers . . . . I hope that this book, by raising pivotal questions and by challenging common ideas about art, may at the very least provide the incentive for a little spring cleaning. If this book leaves some readers more sensitive, more open to the experience of art, it will have succeeded in a very important way.”(pp. 2-3)
By examining literature, painting, sculpture, film, dance, opera, and music, Farber proceeds to critique the standard commoditization of art, which involves the mystification of the artist and his work, as well as the exclusive audience/consumers. His theory prioritizes “aesthetic perception” rather than the work of art being experienced. The difference between “ordinary perception” and “aesthetic perception” is the “absence of self-concern” in the latter activity.
Between a newspaper and a good short story, the difference lies in the way we read or are led to read, not necessarily in the subject matter. With the paper, we glance around at headlines, looking for what touches our concerns, either directly or through ego-identification; we read each story just as far as is dictated by hopes, fears, libido, anger, and so on. Even what we consider ‘mere curiosity’ often turns out to be an instrument of self-concern . . . . With the newspaper, our purpose is extractive. With the short story, however, though similar content may be involved, we lose our restless desire to extract parts from the whole; the perception becomes an end in itself. Libido, aggression, and so on may be called into play but we are no longer their agent; we simply perceive them out there in the story. Occasionally, of course, we may read a newspaper story aesthetically, particularly if it is very artfully written. We lose ourselves in it, with its imagery and rhythms; we actually see it happen.(pp.19-20)
Thus, Farber observes, “aesthetic consciousness and self consciousness stand at opposite poles; as we move toward one, we abandon the other. This can be true even, say, in dancing, where the dancer may be simultaneously perceiver and object. Aesthetic satisfaction in dancing is not automatic; it comes, finally, when you pour your self into kinesthetic image, into space and time, shape and motion.”(p.15)
The self from which we escape in art is not the self that houses our individual past but the self with an individual claim on the future. . . .
. . .
What I call ‘self-concern’ examines the present in light of a personally-centered future, or rather of various possible futures. It is a monitoring, appraising process that ‘looks out for Number One.’ Ordinarily, we are in business for our selves, each of us continually protecting this precious self, pursuing goals, striving. When we notice anything, we notice it in the light of this continual striving. Ours eyes and ears - our senses - are, ordinarily, working for the self that strives.
But aesthetic perception is time out. . . .
Why do we enjoy art and seek it out? Will we finally be forced to invent some basic drive, like hunger or sex, in order to explain our satisfaction – some ‘art instinct’?
I don’t think so. Whatsoever else it may do for us, aesthetic perception always, by its very nature, offers us the pleasure of a respite. And this kind of satisfaction, as we all know, can be enormous. Carrying your own weight around, for example, requires an effort of which you’re not ordinarily aware until it stops; then, after a day on your feet, bed can be an intense pleasure. Have you ever noticed people half-standing and half-floating in swimming pool, letting their limbs go slack and weightless? Watch them, up to their necks, loosely bobbing, with absent, even blissful looks on their faces. But a far greater burden than the weight of your own body is the responsibility of your own self. And in both cases the burden is there, the effort must be made whether you are directly conscious of it or not.
. . .
[But] it is not merely the absence of self-concern; it is as we will see, the opportunity to be alive in the freedom which this absence provides. . . . Naturally, aesthetic release can vary in degree and scope from one occasion to another, from one moment to the next. When it is most nearly complete, we seem to merge with what we are perceiving: the sky, the novel, the song; all responsibility for self seems to have vanished. Of course we value this experience: it’s time out. On the other hand, it’s easy to see why we can’t simply stay with our aesthetic experiences forever; the demands of the self are much too pressing to be set aside for very long. As a matter of fact, it’s worth noting that, even during aesthetic perception, our sense of self-responsibility is never completely out of action. If we’re watching a movie and we smell smoke, sooner or later we’ll start to think about getting out of the theater. Even on these psychological holidays, there has to be someone, a skeleton staff, on duty – just in case. Furthermore, it’s not only some stimulus outside the aesthetic frame, like smoke in the theater, that can set off the alarm. If the movie itself becomes too personally threatening, we can lose our capacity to respond to it as art.(pp.15-19)
In chapter 8, which is devoted to a discussion of the perception of “Resonance” caused by the experience of art, Farber outlines his view of other responses to art. Again, focusing on perception, rather than on a specific work of art, he observes:
Reaction, resonance, and recognition appear to be three primary kinds of response to art. At any given moment a single one is likely to predominate, though either or both of the other’s may well be present to some degree (recognition for instance, can provide a basis for either reaction or resonance, and in the representational arts it is always on hand).
Our response may be mainly reactive joy and relief, for example, at a timely rescue in a play. I wouldn’t expect this kind of reactive emotion to be evoked by absolute music , but it’s very common in theater, film and fiction, and it may be present, to a lesser extent, in dance, opera, painting, sculpture, song, and so on. Or our response may be more cognitive: recognizing, figuring out, interpreting. A person can respond in this way, of course, to any form of art whatsoever. The third kind of response is a predominately resonant one. Some forms of art may be more exclusively resonant than others, but there is no form where it doesn’t play a role.
It should be clear how all of this applies to our experience of an aesthetic image which is actually before us at a given moment. But with arts that unfold in time – arts like film, dance, music, and literature – how do we take account of and respond to larger segments in time, including the entire work as a whole? Here again we can see the same three primary ways of responding.(p.105)
His discussion in Chapter 12 on “Art and Society,” develops his theory of “disinterestedness,” as aesthetic perception that begins with the perceiver and “disinterested contemplation” instead of in the work. He writes that,
Even though we recognize that certain individual art works, because of their particular subject matter and political perspective, may constitute a criticism of society, it’s hard to see how there could be any such critical element in the very nature of art itself. Once again: perception in the absence of self-concern would seem to imply acceptance, not criticism. I accept my back yard when I see it aesthetically; for me to view it critically is to view it in the light of self-concern.
Still, there is a possibility, I think, that art – all art – may provide, not social criticism necessarily, but a possible basis for such criticism. We need to remember that art involves more than merely perception in the absence of self-concern. When I perceive aesthetically, I perceive my own response out there in the image. When art is working there is no antagonism between what is in here and what is out there; the art work not only evokes my own subjective response but accepts it as well. Now, a work of art may be detached from the network of practical relationships, but that it exists in the objective world is clear. The painting, the poem, the song are clearly out there. So that, when I perceive my own subjectivity, my own experiential quality in the work, that very work constitutes a validation of this subjectivity in the objective world. The art work demonstrates that our subjectivity exists beyond the individual self. The art work is, on the experiential level, an ally in the world out there.
Now consider, by way of contrast, the kind of relationship which can exist between individual subjectivity and social institutions (not which necessarily must exist but which can exist). To the extent that institutions are base solely upon objective existence of individuals, an antagonism can develop between the institution and the individual as subject.
In this society particularly, as our institutions grow more and more powerful and all-embracing, the individual becomes more and more rationalized in objective institutional terms. The individual as IBM card is the reigning cliché of our time – and the very truth. Increasingly, what we are can be punched onto a computer card for the use of schools, banks, legislators, marketing departments, social scientists, TV producers, law enforcement agencies. The card is all they know of us and all they need to know. More and more, what we actually experience as process – fluid, whole, unfathomably deep – is redefined into hard-edged categories, sorted out into shallow compartments. And, most importantly of all, this redefinition is not merely external to us; we tend to accept it and to see ourselves according to its terms. Every aspect of subjectivity can be, in the real-estate sense of the word, “developed,” parceled out for institutional definition and exploitation. Even social misery and rebelliousness are defined, exploited, recycled by institutions – the ideal goal being a closed system that consumes its own waste products. Misery feeds the therapeutic intuitions and the “self-help” industry, and is also channeled by advertising into consumption. Rebelliousness is merchandised. And sexuality is defined, processed and packaged until, as they say in the pork business, nothing is left but the squeal.(pp.182-183)
Chapter 13, begins with a quote by Georg Lukás, followed by Adolfo Sánchez Vásquez. Both social critics assert that corporate capitalist society has a negative influence on the aesthetic powers of subjectivity and consequently on the ethical judgments of communities. Farber develops these criticisms in light of his own aesthetic experiences.
“The most decisive feature of capitalist society, then, is that economic life ceased to be a means to social life: it placed itself at the center, became an end in itself, the goal of all social activity. The first and most important result was that the life of society was transformed into a grand exchange relationship; society itself became a huge market. In the individual life experiences this condition expresses itself in the commodity form which clothes every product of the capitalist epoch as well as all the energies of the producers and creators. Everything ceases to be valuable for itself or by virtue of its inner (e.g. artistic, ethical) value; a thing has value only as a ware bought and sold on the market.”
- Georg Lukás
“Whereas objects establish relations with human beings, and thus have human significance through their use values, their exchange values appear as attributes of the objects themselves, without relationship to human beings. Objects lose their human meaning, their quality, their relationship to man. The commodity, we might say, is a human object, but in a dehumanized form; that is no longer appreciated for its use value, for its relationship to a specific human need.”
- Adolfo Sánchez Vásquez
Jerry Farbre acknowledges the alienating effect of market values of exchange which is pervasive in late capitalist society:
To understand the full extent to which art has become the kind of commodity that Lukás and Sánchez Vásquez describe, we need to be aware not merely of the role of the marketplace but also of the role that knowledge has come to play in our attitude toward works of art. Knowledge though it is not capital, strictly speaking, is analogous to capital in some ways. In personal or corporate terms, knowledge is a key resource, often directly translatable into hard cash. There is, moreover, a marked tendency for knowledge to accumulate where wealth and power are, and to be allotted on very unequal terms to the rest of society (attempts, for example, to bring the poor – especially the minority poor – into higher education are half-hearted and short-lived). If you like, knowledge itself can be seen as a commodity which is defined by its exchange value and which can be used to acquire other commodities. This brings us back to art.
Art, as commodity, can be acquired with money or with accumulated knowledge. After I started teaching, it took me a while to understand that many students enrolled in a poetry course were not after the experience of poetry so much as they wanted to acquire the poems, which would then, in one way or another, increase each student’s own personal assets. And this acquisition would take place at the moment when I, a retailer licensed by the State of California, handed over to them the “real meaning” behind the words. Occasionally in class when I cast some doubt on my ability to do that very thing, I would sense, in a student’s response, the feeling of “Ah, cunning devil! They probably save that for their graduate students.”
. . .
The dominance of exchange value over use value tends to keep people on the outside of art works. It emphasizes the value of these works as object rather than as experience. This is not a superficial misunderstanding, easily remedied by the application of aesthetic theory. It is very much part of the way of seeing that is inculcated by a capitalist society. It doesn’t universally prevent aesthetic experiences, of course, but, in overall social terms, it exerts a steady counter-aesthetic force, which will affect people in different ways depending on their own background, the art form involved, and so on.(pp.190-192)
In the Epilogue of his book, entitled “On Value Judgment,” Farber concludes by looking at individual differences in response to art.
Let’s look at some of the ways in which individuals may, quite legitimately, differ in their aesthetic emphasis. For one thing: it seems clear that we don’t all seek (or tolerate) the same levels of sensory stimulation. . . .
One person may get the most satisfaction from art that evokes the greatest breadth of experience, while another may particularly relish the kind of art that offers great evocative intensity held in a narrow range. A novel might be expected to cover a wider ranger than a lyric poem, but it isn’t the size of the work that necessarily makes the difference. . . .
One person may be drawn to more exclusive resonant art; another may particularly appreciate reactive power. One person may enjoy aesthetic experience that is more cognitive and meditative; another may want to be swept away. One person may want art that evokes what is ordinarily closest to self-concern; another may respond better to art that treads on safer ground. Many of us have areas where self-concern is not easily suspended, fears (or desires) which, when they are evoked, threaten to break through the aesthetic image. Or we may have particular obsessions which tend to seek themselves in art just as they manifest themselves in dreams.
Even assuming that we are all open to the full range of possible aesthetic satisfactions, still each of us will present an individual pattern of emphasis, an individual profile that will help to determine not only which works we prefer but which arts as well.
To what extent are values a legitimate basis for aesthetic judgment? Someone says, ‘I like stories that teach tolerance and understanding;’ Another says, ‘I don’t go to movies that condone sexual permissiveness.’ Still another condemns abstract art as ‘elitist’ and ‘escapist.’ One the one hand, I would be the first to discourage someone from establishing his personal values as a sort of ideological filter between the work of art and his inner self. This kind of filter can intercept much of what is perceived before it is able to reach those experiential depths that are the source not only of resonance but of our ability to respond emphatically as well. Someone doesn’t let himself respond resonantly to a religious painting ‘because it’s all superstitious nonsense’; he doesn’t let himself feel what it’s like to be Emma Bovary, ‘because she’s just a foolish woman.’ Only what is approved gets through, and even that is likely to have lost some of its evocative power in passage.
On the other hand, we can hardly say that a person’s values ought to have no effect on aesthetic preference. Authentic values have their own depth; they’re rooted in the way we see the world, in the way we feel, in the very structure of our experience. For this reason, even if we open up to all art as fully as we can, our response is likely to be more complete and more wholehearted to works that correspond to these deep-rooted values.(pp.230-231)
The research by Jerry Farber is based on participant/observer methods over a life time of teaching and participating in artistic productions. His book is a noble attempt to share with readers the remarkably deep level at which most of us are held in bondage, not by an external oppressor but by the system that has deprived us of contact with our own sensibilities and potentials for human development. We simply have no time or inclination to become human – we have become complicit in our stupefying servitude, concerned only with how best to serve our masters, who despise us for the shortcomings they have fostered within us, then cynically use against us . . . . The capacity for an authentic experience of art, free of capitalist values judgments, has political implications independent of content: it renders bondage unacceptable based on our personal experiences, not simply on received ideas.
The 22 + items below lend support to the idea that a sea-change is occurring in the political economy of world capitalism. The high concentration of wealth in the hands of a small percentage of the world’s population has inevitably led to regressive behavior in formerly affluent societies, not yet accustomed to being ruled by an iron fist. We can only hope that the current disorientation is a temporary condition, and that reason and political determination will prevail; that a mass-based proactive response to the injustices and inequalities (not to mention the wholesale capitalist criminality that we try, but fail, to ignore) will materialize and bring with it new social organizations of communities where self-determination is based on the real human needs of the class-conscious population and not on the exploitative interests of the ruling classes and their brain-washed lackeys.
Professor emeritus of American Studies
Director of Research
University of Paris-Nanterre
Center for the Advanced Study of American Institutions and Social Movements
The University of California-San Diego
Black Agenda Report
18 Oct 2018
Why I'll Be At the Women’s March on the Pentagon This Weekend
Bruce A. Dixon, BAR managing editor
On fake investigations: From Kavanaugh to MBS
by Hamid Dabashi
With the help of the Trump administration, the Saudi regime is trying to sell us a brand new fake investigation.
Rula Jebreal: My “Secret Interview” with Jamal Khashoggi Before
His Brutal Murder by the Saudis
Twitter storm after Khashoggi's son meets Saudi crown prince
Social media criticizes Saudi condolence photo showing a pained look as Khashoggi's son shakes prince's hand.
Canada working to resettle group of White Helmets
evacuated from Syria
Outing Amy Goodman & Glenn Greenwald :
Are ‘Democracy Now!’ & ‘The Intercept’ in bed with the ‘White Helmets’?
MIT professor accuses Bellingcat’s Higgins of enabling war criminals to walk free in Syria
On Migrants in the EU: the West is Ruled by Carelessness
According to the American political scientist Paul Craig Roberts, carelessness European governments, as well as Washington's militarism, have led to an influx of a huge number of migrants in the European countries.
Migration in Europe people of the Middle East and North Africa is the result of the hegemonic policy of the USA and Israel, which also caused the death of large numbers of civilians, he said. Roberts notes that the flow of migrants to Europe so great that European governments to shift the responsibility to each other and are constantly in conflict with each other over who and how many refugees should take. "European governments and their careless people are responsible for the problems with immigrants. Recent 14 years, Europe has supported the aggressive militarism of Washington, which has destroyed the lives of millions of innocent people. The destruction of entire countries, such as Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, and now Syria and Yemen , plus everything continued killings of Pakistani citizens with the participation of corrupt and treacherous government of Pakistan gave rise to the refugee problem, which marazmatik Europeans had set ourselves, "-
Paul Craig Roberts Speaks
Why the “Two State Solution” is Apartheid
by Craig Murray
I expect you are all familiar with the maps showing the radical shrinking of Palestinian land over 70 years due to the expansion of colonial Israeli settlement. Startling and appalling, yes, but to me they bring back strong memories of other maps, in a precisely analogous situation, which goes to the heart of why Israel is an apartheid state.
The original apartheid state of South Africa created “homelands”, known colloquially as “bantustans”, and proposed that, as the apotheosis of apartheid, these “homelands” would become independent states and house the majority black population of the country in fenced-off areas which had been too arid, rocky or commercial mineral free to attract significant white settlement over three centuries of theft. South Africa actually did recognise some of these as Independent states, while the rest were supposed to be on a course to recognition.
The maps really do bring out the startling similarity between these two attempts to formalise the dispossession of the original people. Thankfully, even though the “Homelands solution” had its supporters including Thatcher, it never achieved support beyond what was then an extreme right wing view, and none of the “independent states” ever achieved international recognition.
I worked in the FCO as the South Africa (Political) desk officer from 1984-6, and seeing off right wing Tory lobbying to adopt the Homelands policy was a major problem. It is simply symptomatic of the extraordinary right wing shift in western politics over the intervening three decades, that a “Bantustan” solution for Palestine, laughably called a “two state solution”, is now the accepted wisdom of the political and media class.
Norwegian Peace Activists Gather to Say 'No' to NATO War Games
Peace activists are holding rallies in several Norwegian cities to protest against NATO's "Trident Juncture" maneuvers. Dozens of people gathered in the center of Trondheim on Saturday to voice their concerns over the nuclear arms race and further militarization of the country.
On Saturdays the streets of Trondheim are crowded, but this time it's not only because of the shoppers and those who attended the open day at Our Lady's Church. Right next to the church, a crowd with red flags and anti-war banners is singing songs about the arms race and nuclear disarmament.
'Here Are Your Enemies'
Saudi crown prince bragged that Jared Kushner gave him CIA intelligence about other Saudis, days before 'corruption crackdown'
which led to torture and death
Trump’s Alliance with Body-Choppers, Death Squads and Child Killers: Saudi Arabia, Brazil and Israel
by Prof. James Petras
In recent weeks the White House has embraced the contemporary version of the world’s most murderous regimes. President Trump has embraced the Saudi Arabian “Prince of Death” Mohammad bin Salman who has graduated from chopping hands and heads in public plazas to dismembering bodies in overseas consulates – the case of Jamal Khashoggi.
The White House warmly greeted the electoral success of Brazilian Presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro, ardent champion of torturers, military dictators, death squads and free marketers.
President Trump grovels, grunts and glories before Israel, as his spiritual guide Benjamin Netanyahu celebrates the Sabbath with the weekly murders and maiming of hundreds of unarmed Palestinians, especially youngsters.
These are President Trump’s ‘natural allies’. They share his values and interests while each retains their particular method of disposing of the cadavers of adversaries and dissenters.
We will proceed to discuss the larger political-economic context in which the trio of monsters operate. We will analyze the benefits and advantages which lead President Trump to ignore and even praise, actions which violate America’s democratic values and sensibilities.
In conclusion, we will examine the consequences and risks which result from Trump’s embrace of the trio.
“Reminiscent of South Africa’s Grand Apartheid”: Israeli Human Rights Group Slams Israel at U.N.
Israel’s 50-Year Time Bomb
by Dan Steinbock
'Iconic' image of Palestinian protester in Gaza goes viral
Lockheed and Loaded: How the Maker of Junk Fighters Like the F-22
and F-35 Came to Have Full-Spectrum Dominance Over the Defense Industry
by Jeffrey St. Clair
Lockheed-Martin is headquartered in the Bethesda, Maryland. No, the defense titan doesn’t have a bomb-making factory in this toney Beltway suburb. But as the nation’s top weapons contractor, it migrated to DC from southern California because that’s where the money is. And Lockheed rakes it in from the federal treasury at the rate of $65 million every single day of the year.
From nuclear missiles to fighter planes, software code to spy satellites, the Patriot missile to Star Wars, Lockheed has come to dominate the weapons market in a way that the Standard Oil Company used to hold sway over the nation’s petroleum supplies. And it all happened with the help of the federal government, which steered lucrative no bid contracts Lockheed’s way, enacted tax breaks that encouraged Lockheed’s merger and acquisition frenzy in the 1980s and 1990s and turned a blind eye to the company’s criminal rap sheet, ripe with indiscretions ranging from bribery to contract fraud.
Immigration: Western Wars and Imperial Exploitation Uproot Millions
by Prof. James Petras
“Immigration” has become the dominant issue dividing Europe and the US, yet the most important matter which is driving millions to emigrate is overlooked – wars. In this paper we will discuss the reasons behind the massification of immigration, focusing on several issues, namely (1) imperial wars (2) multi-national corporate expansion (3) the decline of the anti-war movements in the US and Western Europe (4) the weakness of the trade union and solidarity movements.
We will proceed by identifying the major countries affected by US and EU wars leading to massive immigration, and then turn to the western powers forcing refugees to ‘follow’ the flows of profits.
Imperial Wars and Mass Immigration
The US invasions and wars in Afghanistan and Iraq uprooted several million people, destroying their lives, families, livelihood, housing and communities and undermining their security.
Dark Story Behind Global Warming aka Climate Change
by F. William Engdahl
The recent UN
global warming conference under auspices of the deceptively-named International
Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concluded its meeting in South Korea discussing
how to drastically limit global temperature rise. Mainstream media is
predictably retailing various panic scenarios “predicting” catastrophic climate
change because of man-made emissions of Greenhouse Gases, especially CO2, if
drastic changes in our lifestyle are not urgently undertaken. There is only one
thing wrong with all that. It’s based on fake science and corrupted climate
modelers who have reaped by now billions in government research grants to
buttress the arguments for radical change in our standard of living. We might
casually ask “What’s the point?” The answer is not positive.
Trump administration asks Supreme Court to stop teenagers' climate lawsuit
Climate Crisis is Upon Us
by Rob Urie
One of the more useful allusions hidden in plain sight in the recent IPCC / UN report on climate crisis is the distinction between the pre-industrial and industrial ages that defines the era of climate crisis. Industrial capitalism, a/k/a capitalism, is the cause of climate crisis. Plenty of pseudo-scientific rubbish about human caused and Anthropocene can be found in the report’s text. But industry— the integration of science and technology in capitalist production, is identified as the cause. No longer are goat herders in Turkmenistan as responsible as the executives of Exxon-Mobil for the unfolding debacle.
The report is striking in its urgency. Feedback loops and tipping points contradict any straight-line assurances of an orderly and knowable path forward. Behind pages of stark calculations can be found Gaia, the unknowable relations of Mother Earth that make a mockery of scientific certainty beyond the understanding that the environment of the planet is being destroyed and needs to be fixed. Missing is any semblance of a political program to move resolution forward. But also missing is the usual subtext of technocrats meeting in swank hotels to eat four-star meals, swap resumes and network. The stakes are now apparently too high.
Identification of the industrial age— capitalism, as the cause of climate crisis brings with it a host of related revelations. Capitalist wealth becomes a crude measure of its reciprocal in environmental devastation. The relation of wealth to political power makes timely and / or peaceful resolution improbable. Capitalist accumulation will hereafter be a measure of informed socio-pathology. The writing is on the wall. The American political ‘choice’ between the wealthy or their technocratic servants is a formula for environmental annihilation. The system crisis is a metaphor for the political crisis that makes resolution so intractable.
Trump Administration Agency Predicts 7 Degree F
in Global Temperatures by 2100
by Kaleigh Rogers
Oh, and the report suggests there’s no point doing anything to stop it.
Hidden in a largely overlooked draft report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration are some startling figures: the Trump administration believes there will be a 7 degree Fahrenheit rise in average global temperatures by 2100, and the report suggest we not even bother trying to stop it.
“The amazing thing they’re saying is human activities are going to lead to this rise of carbon dioxide that is disastrous for the environment and society. And then they’re saying they’re not going to do anything about it,” Michael MacCracken, who served as a senior scientist at the U.S. Global Change Research Program from 1993 to 2002, told the Washington Post.
Deep in the dog days of summer this year, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released a 500-page report on the environmental impact of fuel economy standards. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this document was not widely-read. But on Friday, the Washington Post reported the fact that the paper assumes that if current practices are unchanged, the planet will warm a catastrophic 7 degrees F, or about 4 degrees Celsius.
How We Roasted Donald Duck, Disney’s Agent of Imperialism
by Ariel Dorfman
I should not have been entirely surprised when I saw How to Read Donald Duck, a book I had written with the Belgian sociologist Armand Mattelart, being burned on TV by Chilean soldiers. It was mid-September 1973 and a military coup had just toppled Salvador Allende, the country’s president, terminating his remarkable experiment of building socialism through peaceful means.
I was in a safe house when I witnessed my book – along with hundreds of other subversive volumes – being consigned to the inquisitorial pyre. One of the reasons I had gone into hiding, besides my fervent participation in the revolutionary government that had just been overthrown, was the hatred the Donald Duck book had elicited among the new authorities of Chile and their rightwing civilian accomplices.
We had received death threats, an irate woman had tried to run me over and neighbours – accompanied by their children – had stoned the house where my wife, Angélica, and I lived in Santiago, shouting: “Long live Donald Duck!” It was later discovered that the 5,000 copies of the third printing of the book had been taken from a warehouse by the Chilean navy and cast into the bay of Valparaíso.
What had we done to incur such enmity?
Armand and I had denounced Walt Disney as an agent of American cultural imperialism, incarnated in the life, adventures and misdeeds of Donald Duck, that innocuous icon, then one of the most popular characters in the world. Probing hundreds of Disney comic strips – sold by the million on newsstands in Chile and countless other lands – we had tried to reveal the ideological messages that underlay those supposedly innocent, supposedly apolitical stories.
We wanted Chilean readers to realise they were being fed values that were inimical to a revolution that sought to unshackle them from centuries-old exploitation: competition rather than solidarity, prejudice rather than critical thinking, obedience rather than rebellion, paternalism rather than resistance, money rather than compassion as the standard of worth.
We wanted Chileans to realise they were being fed values inimical to a revolution … to understand how previous rulers had presented subjugation as normal, natural and benign
It was not enough, we felt, to change the economic and social structures that benefited a rich minority and their international corporate allies. It was also imperative to understand how the previous rulers of our land had presented this subjugation as normal, natural and benign; how they had been covertly selling us an American model of success and consumer affluence as the false solution to poverty and misdevelopment.
Just as copper and other resources usurped by foreign hands needed to be recovered for the nation, so too did our dreams and desires. We had to take back control, forge a new identity, devise new forms of entertainment. Our book was meant to contest the authoritarian plots imported from the US, to open spaces for stories of our own making.
Brazil In Danger: Three Time Bombs
Boaventura de Sousa Santos
Brazilian democracy is on the brink of the abyss. The institutional coup that was set in motion with President Dilma Rousseff’s impeachment and led to the unjust imprisonment of former President Lula da Silva is all but complete. The consummation of the coup has acquired a meaning that is quite different from what was initially intended by many of the political and social forces that promoted it or just would not disagree with it. Some of these forces either acted or reacted in the honest belief that the coup was aimed at regenerating Brazilian democracy by fighting corruption, while others saw it was a way of neutralizing the elevation of the popular classes to a standard of living that sooner or later was to be a threat not only to the elites but also to the middle classes (among whom there were many who were the product of the redistributive policies against which they were now turning). Of course none of the two groups spoke of a coup and both believed that democracy was there to stay. They were unaware of the existence of three time bombs which, although built at very different times, could explode all at once. Were that to happen, democracy would show its frailty and possibly prove unable to survive.
Built in colonial times and during the independence process, the first time bomb was detonated in a particularly brutal way on several occasions throughout Brazil’s modern history, but was never effectively defused. It is the very DNA of a society divided into masters and servants, oligarchic elites and the “ignorant” people, institutional normalcy and extra-institutional violence – in a word, an extremely unequal society in which socio-economic inequality has never been extricated from racial and sexual prejudice. Despite all their mistakes and defects, the PT (Workers’ Party) governments were unparalleled in the manner in which they contributed to defuse this bomb, creating policies of social redistribution and fighting racial and sexual discrimination in ways that were unprecedented in Brazilian history. For the defusing to be effective, these policies would have to be sustainable and held in place for several generations, thus keeping the memory of extreme inequality and crude discrimination from being susceptible to political reactivation by hostile forces. Since this has not been the case, those policies have had other effects but failed to defuse the time bomb. On the contrary, they provoked those who had the power to activate it into doing so as soon as they possibly could, before it was too late and the threats posed to the elites and the middle classes became irreversible. The overwhelming demonization of the PT by the oligopolistic media, especially from 2013 onwards, exposed this desperate wish to stop the threat.
Billionaire-Funded Fascism Is Rising in America
by Thom Hartmann
The Rats Revolt
by Ralph Nader
Henry Kissinger Heckled At NYU, Told To "Rot In Hell"
by Tyler Durden
A Disney Heiress Reveals the 1 Percent's Worst-Kept Secret
Abigail Disney. (Womens eNews / Flickr Creative Commons)
by Iliana Novick
When the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act passed, Republicans celebrated with beers in the White House Rose Garden. President Trump promised help for financially struggling Americans, saying, “Congress has reached an agreement on tax legislation that will deliver more jobs, higher wages and massive tax relief for American families and American companies.”
But as a new, remarkably honest video by Abigail Disney, filmmaker, activist and heiress to the Walt Disney fortune shows, it’s not the American family struggling to put food on the table and pay rent that will benefit from these tax cuts.
“Greetings from the 1%,” Disney begins the video. “[W]e in the 1% got a great Christmas present last year,” she says, “I don’t know if you remember—it was called a very big tax break.”
“I didn’t need it,” Disney continues, “but the Republicans gave it to me anyway. And I hear [that] if the Republicans do well in these midterms, they want to give me another one; an even bigger one, in fact.”
Protesters Target US Senator McConnell
“Oh yeah, why don’t you get out of here? Why don’t you leave our entire country,” the angry man told the couple.
After Chao attempted to argue with the man, McConnell simply ignored him. Meanwhile, other customers began shoo-ing gestures and told the yelling man to leave the couple alone.
The woman who recorded the incident told TMZ that the angry man hit McConnell’s table with his fists and threw food, after accusing McConnell of planning to “come for Social Security,” cited by The Hill.
Marxism 101: How Capitalism is Killing Itself with Dr. Richard Wolff
Despite a concerted effort by the U.S. Empire to snuff out the ideology, a 2016 poll found young Americans have a much more favorable view of socialism than capitalism. Though he died 133 years ago, the analysis put forward by one of the world’s most influential thinkers, Karl Marx, remains extremely relevant today. The Empire’s recent rigged presidential election has been disrupted by the support of an avowed socialist, Bernie Sanders, by millions of voters. To find out why Marx’s popularity has stood the test of time, Abby Martin interviews renowned Marxist economist Richard Wolff, Professor Emeritus of Economics at UMass - Amherst, and visiting professor at the New School in New York. Prof. Wolff gives an introduction suited for both beginners and seasoned Marxists, with comprehensive explanations of key tenets of Marxism including dialectical and historical materialism, surplus value, crises of overproduction, capitalism's internal contradictions, and more.
Who Really Runs The World? - Russell Brand & Yuval Noah Harari
A clip from the new Under The Skin podcast episode with Yuval Noah Harari discussing power, AI and our future and identity as human beings.
Black Agenda Radio
Week of October 15, 2018
Black America Must Say No to US Imperialism
The director of the Black Alliance for Peace, Ajamu Baraka, said it is vitally important to give voice to Black Americans’ historical opposition to US military adventures abroad. A Black peace movement is necessary, “so we can determine our friends from our enemies, so we don’t allow our young people to be marched off to fight for the interests of the 1% against other poor and oppressed people around the world,” said Baraka, the Green Party 2016 vice presidential candidate and an editor and columnist for Black Agenda Report.
CEOs Should Have Been Held Responsible for the 2008 Financial Crisis — Why Are They Still Heroes?
The contemporary adulation and admiration of CEOs raises the question of what enabled their continued idolisation.
Facebook is Not Your Friend
Facebook has become The Great Censor, ready to pull the pages of dissenters that seek to “stir up political debate” in ways that threaten the legitimacy of corporate rule.
“Facebook is indispensable to maintaining the global corporate monopoly on truth -- as is Google.”
Facebook has declared war on political dissent. In a rash of purges last week, the behemoth corporation banned 30 pages, with a total of 22 million fans, on the grounds that the accounts were “created to stir up political debate in the US, the Middle East, Russia and the UK.” At the top of the list were the anti-police lawlessness pages Cop Block , Filming Cops , The Free Thought Project and Police the Police, with a combined audience of 8.1 million. The other banned pages range across the non-establishment spectrum , from the reactionary Right Wing News, to Punk Rock Libertarians and the pro-marijuana page, Hemp.
These pages are “inauthentic,” Facebook claims , because they “use sensational political content” to “drive traffic to their websites.” Of course, the New York Times , the Washington Post and virtually every other organ of corporate media also maintain Facebook pages that are designed to “drive traffic to their websites.” The daily content of these imperial propagandists is filled with “sensational” stories that are designed to inflame the public, laying the groundwork for endless wars -- most often on evidence that turns out to be fictitious. Yet Facebook has enlisted as “fact-checkers” the same corporate media that vouched for the presence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, spread lies about Viagra-fueled mass rape by Muammar Gaddafi’s soldiers in Libya, and continue to mask the U.S. alliance with al Qaida fighters in Syria. These same corporate “news” organs have treated allegations of Russian collusion with Trump during the 2016 elections as fact -- without a shred of evidence -- in order to whip up a new Cold War.
“At the top of the list were the anti-police lawlessness pages Cop Block, Filming Cops, The Free Thought Project and Police the Police.”
Polls have long showed that the U.S. public -- of all racial and political shades -- no longer believes the corporate media version of reality, which almost routinely turns out to be false, and which Black people have always known to be false. This crisis of legitimacy for the ruling class and its media organs became acute in 2016, when the wildly unpredictable Donald Trump seemed to threaten the gentlemen’s agreement between the two corporate parties on regime change warfare and so-called free trade. Barely a week after Trump’s surprise victory at the polls, outgoing President Barack Obama, on a visit with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, called for the imposition of a standardized version of truth.
Naomi Klein: We've Entered a Frightening New Era of Capitalism
Trump threatens to build up US nuclear arsenal until Russia, China 'come to their senses'
US President Donald Trump threatned Russia and China that Washington intends to build up its nuclear arsenal until “people come to their senses.”
The president said his words were directed towards Moscow and Beijing, as he prepared to unilaterally leave the Intermediate Nuclear Forces in Europe (INF) treaty. The US president implied China should be part of any new nuclear arms control treaty.
“Russia has not adhered to the agreement,” neither in form or in spirit, Trump told reporters outside the White House on Monday, before departing for a campaign rally in Texas.
It Is Like A Western Movie: A Showdown Is In The Making
by Paul Craig Roberts
It has taken the US military/security complex 31 years to get rid of President Reagan’s last nuclear disarmament achievement—the INF Treaty that President Reagan and Soviet President Gorbachev achieved in 1987.
The Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty was ratified by the US Senate on May 27, 1988 and became effective a few days later on June 1. Behind the scenes, I had some role in this, and as I remember what the treaty achieved was to make Europe safe from nuclear attack by Soviet short and intermediate range missiles, and to make the Soviet Union safe from US attack from short and intermediate range US nuclear missiles in Europe. By restricting nuclear weapons to ICBMs, which allowed some warning time, thus guaranteeing retaliation and non-use of nucular weapons, the INF Treaty was regarded as reducing the risk of an American first-strike on Russia and a Russian first-strike on Europe, strikes that could be delivered by low-flying cruise missiles with next to zero warning time.
Dissident Saudi Academic Madawi Al-Rasheed on Khashoggi’s Disappearance, U.S.-Saudi Relations & More
Khashoggi murder a ‘monstrosity’, no arms exports to Riyadh
until incident cleared up – Merkel
New twist in Khashoggi mystery: MBS spoke to journalist moments before his death, report claims
Khashoggi, a critic of the Saudi royal family, was last seen when he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2 to obtain documents for his forthcoming marriage. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Sunday that Ankara would reveal the full truth surrounding his death on Tuesday, after his country previously stated that the journalist was killed by a Saudi assassination squad.
Riyadh's initial claim of Khashoggi dying in a fistfight has been met with criticism, including from US senators who believe Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman ordered the journalist to be killed.
Meanwhile, an unnamed Turkish official backed up the assassination squad claim earlier on Monday, telling CNN that one of the members of the 15-man squad was a man who looked like Khashoggi and left the consulate wearing his clothes moments after the killing.
Although the journalist's death has prompted a wave of global backlash against Riyadh, the Gulf kingdom has said that its relationship with the US can weather the incident, and insists the killing won't trigger a repeat of the 1973 oil embargo.
Swelling Migrant Caravan Resumes March to U.S.
by Mark Stevenson
As they passed through Mexican villages on the outskirts of Ciudad Hidalgo, they drew applause, cheers and donations of food and clothing from Mexicans.
CIUDAD HIDALGO, Mexico—A growing throng of Central American migrants resumed their advance toward the U.S. border in southern Mexico on Sunday, overwhelming Mexican government attempts to stop them at the border.
Their numbers swelled to about 5,000 overnight and at first light they set out walking toward the Mexican town of Tapachula, 10 abreast in a line stretching approximately a mile (1.5 kilometers).
Several hundred more already had applied for refugee status in Mexico and an estimated 1,500 were still on the Guatemalan side of the Suchiate River, hoping to enter legally.
It was not immediately clear where the additional travelers had materialized from since about 2,000 had been gathered on the Mexican side Saturday night. They seemed likely to be people who had been waiting in the Guatemalan town of Tecun Uman and who decided to cross during the night.
They marched on through Mexico like a ragtag army of the poor, shouting triumphantly slogans like “Si se pudo!” or “Yes, we could!”
Who’s Behind ICE? How Amazon, Palantir, Microsoft & Tech Giants
Are Powering Trump’s Deportations
Inside Nikki Haley's Shocking Speech to Secretive Far-Right Group
Just days before she resigned as UN Ambassador, Nikki Haley delivered a private speech to the Council for National Policy, a secretive group of influential right-wing figures. Journalist Max Blumenthal obtained exclusive access and reveals shocking details -- including Haley's admission that she threatened the Chinese ambassador with a US invasion of North Korea.
The Story of the Armenian Legion: a Dark Tale of Anger and Revenge
by Robert Fisk
Saudi Arabia Financed the Killers of American Troops I Commanded
Donald Trump with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the White House in March. (Shealah Craighead / White House)
by Maj. Danny Sjursen
(U.S. Army officer and former history instructor at West Point, who served tours with reconnaissance units in Iraq and Afghanistan)
It’s time to ask an uncomfortable question: What exactly is the U.S. getting out of its partnership with Saudi Arabia? The answer is: nothing but headaches, human rights abuses and national embarrassment. In the cynical past, the U.S. could at least argue that it needed Saudi oil, but that’s no longer the case, due to the shale-oil boom (though that fact is not necessarily good for an ever-warming planet).
Recently, the crimes of the Saudi government managed to pierce the Trump-all-the-time-Kanye-West-sometimes media-entertainment complex due to Riyadh’s likely murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi. That the U.S.-Saudi relationship is, however briefly, coming under the proverbial microscope is a good thing. Still, it is astonishing that this incident—rather than dozens of other crimes—finally garnered attention. Even so, President Trump appears reluctant to cancel his negotiated $110 billion record arms deal with the kingdom.
For me, it’s personal. Saudi Arabia’s fingerprints—both of its government and private-citizen donors—have been all over America’s various opponents these past 17 years of war. I patrolled the streets and suburbs of Baghdad from 2006 to 2007. Sunni Islamist insurgents, which were funded by the Saudis, shot a few of my soldiers and paralyzed one permanently. We regularly found Saudi Wahhabi Islamist literature in the homes and caches of our insurgent enemies.
The Rule of the Uber-Rich Means Tyranny or Revolution
by Chris Hedges