Thursday, November 29, 2007

Some things I've been meaning to tell you...

My North Coast Journal book review of Naomi Wolf's "End of America: Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot is just a drop in the bucket when it comes to the references I see out there. I had promised to post a bunch of links and I regret the delay. I urge you to listen closely to what she is saying. This list is by no means comprehensive.

Lecture at University of Washington, 10/11/07
Lecture in Baltimore, MD, 11/7/07
On Stephen Colbert's show:
Mind Over Matters radio interview 10/22/07

Last Sunday Wolf penned an OpEd for the Washington Post. She periodically posts to Huffington Post. She gave a good interview to BuzzFlash back in September. And from another good one last week with Don Hazen at AlterNet:

DH: Well there's a lot of activity currently in terms of the Justice Department aimed at purging voters ... reducing voter rolls ... that's an ongoing battle to try to keep voters eligible. Conservatives are always trying to reduce the electorate. By the way, are you familiar with Naomi Klein's book The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism?

NW: Yes, and it all makes a lot of sense. And its certainly historically true. We're in this post-9/11 period when there is a lot of potential for these kind of "shock therapy" things to happen, but virtually everything ... has happened previously in history in patterns. It's just the blueprint. It's not rocket science.

I could tell last fall when a law was passed expanding the definition of terrorists to include animal rights activists, that people who look more like you and me would start to be called terrorists, which is a classic tactic in what I call a fascist expansion.

DH: Don't look at me -- I'm not a vegetarian. Just kidding.

NW: (Laughs) Right. It's also predictive ... according to the blueprint, that the state starts to torture people that most of us don't identity with, because they're brown, Muslim, people on an island. They're called an enemy.

That there will be a progressive blurring of the line, and six months, two years later, you're going to see it spread to others. ... According to the blueprint, we're right on schedule that this kid recently got tasered in Florida, I gather, for asking questions.
Where to begin to comment? First of all, I am now reading the Naomi Klein book (Shock Doctine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism) referenced above and I recommend it as strongly as I have with Wolf's book. Earlier this year I read Confessions of an Economic Hit Man by John Perkins. As I make my way through Klein's book I am recognizing a tight nexus between all three books. Just as Wolf traces historical echoes of dictatorships, parallels common to the story of all authoritarians closing down open societies, Klein takes the same regimes and angles in on the economic shock therapy typically used to pave the way down a path shepherded by Perkins the hit man, in other words perpetual servitude to the American empire.

Notice above that Wolf says "blurring of the line." To me, this reinforces and builds upon the notion of inherent uncertainty, which is often created by falsely balanced contradictions or completely unverifiable claims. The added uncertainty that Wolf is forecasting is a more individual consideration. It amounts to a People who live with a nagging fear - am I next?

It is also important that Wolf invokes a blueprint for the onset of fascism. Even more important is her statement that it is predictive. In the BuzzFlash interview, she rhetorically asks:
"...if it is reasonable to assume we will have fair, transparent elections. Given all these violations of these sacred tenets of democracy, do you really think that George Bush is going to say, fourteen months from now, that the great pageant of democracy -- a fair election -- must proceed without intervention or corruption? That the people have spoken, the people's will be done? Is that really common sense?"
This position she arrives at is the same one I've held for seven years, though we get there in different ways. She is saying that she expects there will be elections. I don't think it is unreasonable to consider the prospect she may be wrong, but I'm able to accept the premise. Because what she says about upcoming elections is that we know they won't be decided legitimately. With even the first draft of the Voter Confidence Resolution (originally called No Confidence Resolution), on April 10, 2004, I was making the same predictive statement, that there would be no basis for confidence in the results of elections held under current conditions.

There is something a bit weird about predictions. Nobody reading these words would consider gazing into a crystal ball to be a legitimate means of news gathering. So how can a best-selling author, on a non-stop book tour, get away with making predictions? Consider that she is not making a guess. She is not even talking about the future. She is describing things that are already happening, but which many people just don't see. This too is one of the echoes described in End of America. You may know the expression "good Germans," referring to the dazed and confused populace that let Nazism rise to power. Sadly, yet predictably, many "good Americans" cannot or will not recognize fascism when they see it.

Come to think of it, I have made some other predictive statements, particularly about the economic and environmental crashes inevitably looming on the horizon. There simply is no argument to be made that our course on either front meets any definition of sustainable. Thus, this too is a prediction of the present. Many of us are certain the collapse has already begun. Here we are only talking about how long it will take and what degree of personal uncertainty must become the norm before what is now clearly visible to some becomes apparent to all.

* * *

I'm late to the show for commenting on the privileged impeachment resolution introduced by Rep. Dennis Kucinich a few weeks ago, when he attempted to force a floor vote in the House of Representatives. However, the stray notes I made at the time take us back to one more predictive statement:
Republicans as a rule are obstructionist in this Congress. Yesterday they had many possible ways to obstruct, any of which would alter the course away from the only thing worth describing as a goal, which is a successful vote to impeach.

Republicans portray themselves as victims, even as they bully the world. To prolong impeachment discussions, inwardly believing they are benign, creates a new, manageable internal threat. As Wolf notes in End of America, fascist dictators always evoke threats, both internal and external.

In this year's Reflections on Independence (Vol. 5), I pointed out that there is no precedent for expecting this admin to allow itself to be held accountable. It will never allow impeachment to proceed through all its machinations. However, whatever method of preempting impeachment one may imagine, it will not be unleashed until deemed necessary or opportunistically ideal. By prolonging and managing the pace of the impeachment discussion the admin increases its control over when that point of perceived necessity arrives.
With a few weeks gone by now, I don't really see that Kucinich's welcome bravado did anything to shift control of the impeachment issue. Worth noting, though, is this statement by New Hampshire State Representative Betty Hall. While I don't consider her endorsement of Kucinich's presidential candidacy to be too relevant, she goes much further by introducing her own impeachment resolution in the NH House.

At least two things are significant about this. First, while it may take a few months, NH law guarantees this resolution will get a full floor vote - it cannot be killed in committee. The other important part of this development is that Hall's resolution was drafted primarily by Paul Lehto, election protection attorney, co-founder of, and the author of the Foreword to my book, We Do Not Consent (free .pdf download). The genius Lehto displays here is connecting the necessity of impeachment with the absolute destruction of legitimate elections. The final paragraph of the resolution:
That, for directly harming the rights and manner of suffrage, for suffering to make them secret and unknowable, for instituting debates and doubts about the true nature of elections, all against the will and consent of local voters affected, and forced through threats of litigation, the actions of George W. Bush and Richard Cheney to do the opposite of securing and guaranteeing the right of the people to alter or abolish their government, being a violation of an inalienable right, and an immediate threat to Liberty, is good cause for impeachment to be immediately granted.
Of the dozens if not hundreds of good causes for impeachment, this one may be the oldest chronologically if we go back to November and December 2000.

One last thing I've been meaning to tell you. A few weeks ago there were demonstrations of the US-approved torture tactic called waterboarding. This YouTube video was filmed in front of a Justice Department building, and this footage was taken by Code Pink members confronting CA Sen. Dianne Feinstein in front of CNN studios in D.C. This could only be done with volunteers willing to endure the pain and risk of death. It is totally surreal. Imagine you're a cop. On an ordinary day you might observe a group carrying signs and singing songs ("mostly say hooray for our side!"). You might see people lay down in the street for a "die-in." But what do you do when you see somebody conducting waterboarding, even if on a willing subject?

Can an ordinary beat cop bring you up on war crimes charges?

How does the sacrifice of allowing oneself to be waterboarded compare to the sacrifice of being arrested for torture, charges exactly applicable to Bush, Cheney, etc.

Is a demonstration of torture, even if on a willing victim, consistent with the principles of non-violence? I don't have an answer for this but imagine it could be quite debatable. Comments welcome.


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