The neoliberal era of the last generation is dedicated, in principle, to destroying the only means we have to defend ourselves from destruction. It's not called that, what it's called is shifting decision-making from public institutions, which at least in principle are under public influence, to private institutions which are immune from public control, in principle. That's called "shifting to the market", it's under the rhetoric of freedom, but it just means servitude. It means servitude to unaccountable private institutions.
If you assume that there is no hope, you guarantee that there will be no hope. If you assume that there is an instinct for freedom, that there are opportunities to change things, then there is a possibility that you can contribute to making a better world.
My own concern is primarily the terror and violence carried out by my own state, for two reasons. For one thing, because it happens to be the larger component of international violence. But also for a much more important reason than that; namely, I can do something about it. So even if the U.S. was responsible for 2 percent of the violence in the world instead of the majority of it, it would be that 2 percent I would be primarily responsible for. And that is a simple ethical judgment. That is, the ethical value of one's actions depends on their anticipated and predictable consequences. It is very easy to denounce the atrocities of someone else. That has about as much ethical value as denouncing atrocities that took place in the 18th century.
Anti-Semitism, in short, is not merely conflated with anti-Zionism, but even extended to Zionists who are critical of Israeli practices. Correspondingly, authentic anti-Semitism on the part of those whose services to Israeli power are deemed appropriate is of no account.
These two aspects of "the real anti-Semitism," ADL-style, were illustrated during the 1988 U.S. presidential campaign. The Democratic Party was denounced for anti-Semitism on the grounds that its convention dared to debate a resolution calling for a two-state political settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In contrast, when an array of Nazi sympathizers and anti-Semites were exposed in August 1988 in the Bush presidential campaign, the major Jewish organizations and leaders were, for the most part, "curiously blasé about both the revelations and Bush's response to them," largely ignoring the matter, John Judis comments. The New Republic dismissed as a minor matter the "antique and anemic forms of anti-Semitism" of virulent anti-Semites and Nazi and fascist sympathizers at a high level of the Republican campaign organization. The editors stressed, rather, the "comfortable haven for Jew-hatred on the left, including the left wing of the Democratic Party," parts of the Jackson campaign, and "the ranks of increasingly well-organized Arab activists," all of whom supported the two-state resolution at the Party convention and thus qualify as "Jew-haters."
The point is that the ultra-right Republicans are regarded as properly supportive of Israel by hard-line standards, while the Democratic Party reveals its "Jew-hatred" by tolerating elements that believe that Palestinians are human beings with the same rights as Jews, including the right of national self-determination alongside of Israel. Following the lead of the major Jewish organizations, the Democrats carefully avoided the discovery of anti-Semites and Nazis in the Republican campaign headquarters and the continuing close links after exposure.
The same point was illustrated by the revelation, at the same time, that the Reagan Department of Education had once again refused federal funds for a highly praised school history program on the Holocaust. It was first rejected in 1986 "after a review panel member complained that the views of the Nazi Party and the Ku Klux Klan were not represented." Republican faithfuls charged the program with "psychological manipulation, induced behavioral change and privacy-invading treatment" (Phyllis Schlafly); citing "leftist authorities" such as New York Times columnist Flora Lewis, British historian A.J.P. Taylor, and Kurt Vonnegut; being "profoundly offensive to fundamentalists and evangelicals"; and even being "anti-war, anti-hunting" and likely to "induce a guilt trip." A senior Education Department official attributed the rejections to "those on the extreme right wing of the Republican Party." In 1986 and 1987, this particular program had been "singled out for a refusal." In 1988, when the program "was the top-rated project in the category [of history, geography, and civics], created by then-Education Secretary William J. Bennett," the entire category was eliminated.
But "the extreme right wing of the Republican Party," whatever its attitudes towards Nazis and the Holocaust, is adequately pro-Israel. There was no detectable protest, and the issue did not arise in the last stages of the election campaign.
The cheapening of the concept of anti-Semitism and the ready tolerance for anti-Arab racism go hand-in-hand, expressing the same political commitments. All of this, again, is merely "antique and anemic anti-Semitism."
As long as the general population is passive, apathetic, diverted to consumerism or hatred of the vulnerable, then the powerful can do as they please, and those who survive will be left to contemplate the outcome.
See, capitalism is not fundamentally racist -- it can exploit racism for its purposes, but racism isn't built into it. Capitalism basically wants people to be interchangeable cogs, and differences among them, such as on the basis of race, usually are not functional. I mean, they may be functional for a period, like if you want a super exploited workforce or something, but those situations are kind of anomalous. Over the long term, you can expect capitalism to be anti-racist -- just because its anti-human. And race is in fact a human characteristic -- there's no reason why it should be a negative characteristic, but it is a human characteristic. So therefore identifications based on race interfere with the basic ideal that people should be available just as consumers and producers, interchangeable cogs who will purchase all the junk that's produced -- that's their ultimate function, and any other properties they might have are kind of irrelevant, and usually a nuisance.
Take, say, the Bernie Sanders campaign. Which I think is important, impressive, he is doing good and courageous things, he is organizing a lot of people. That campaign ought to be directed to sustaining a popular movement which will use the election as kind of an incentive, but then go on. And unfortunately it's not. When the election's over, the movement's gonna die. And that's a serious error.
The only thing that's gonna ever bring about any meaningful change is ongoing, dedicated popular movements which don't pay attention to the election cycle. It's an extravaganza every four years; you have to be involved in it, so fine, we'll be involved in it. But then we go on. If that were done you could get major changes.
If you have no constraints on capital flow, then you can attack currencies freely.
That creates what international economists sometimes call a virtual parliament of investors and lenders who can - I'm quoting from technical literature - "carry out a moment by moment referrendum on government policies". And if they think the policies are irrational, they can vote against them by capital flight or by attacks on the currencies, and so on. Policies that are irrational are, by definition, those that benefit people, but don't improve profit and market access and so on. And therefore, governments face what's called a dual constituency - their own population, and the virtual parliament.
And the virtual parliament usually wins, especially in poorer countries. The rich countries, it was modulated, they didn't accept the neo-liberal package as completely as say, Latin America, but to the extent that they did, the effects are predictable. And the same is true of other elements of neo-liberal programs. Take say, privitization, which became a mantra. Well, by definition, privitization undercuts democracy. It takes something out of the public arena and puts it into the hands of unaccountable private tyrannies that are created and appointed by the state, which is what corporations are.
People who call themselves supporters of Israel are actually supporters of its moral degeneration and ultimate destruction.
If kids are studying for a test, they're not going to learn anything. We all know that from our own experience. You study for a test and pass it and you forget what the topic was, you know. And I presume that this is all pretty conscious. How conscious are they? I don't know, but they're reflections of the attitude that you have to have discipline, passivity, obedience, the kind of independence and creativity that we were shown in the '60s and since then - it's just dangerous.
These sectors of doctrinal system serve to divert the unwashed masses and reinforce the basic social values: Passivity, submissiveness to authority, the overriding virtue of greed and personal gain, lack of concern for others, fear of real and imagined enemies, etc. The goal is to keep the bewildered herd bewildered. It's unnecessary for them to trouble themselves with what's happening in the world. In fact, it's undesirable if they see too much of reality they may set themselves to change it.
It’s not that they’re bad people. It reveals an institutional pathology. There is an institutional structure that says that if you’re the CEO of a major corporation, which incidentally means that you have enormous influence in the political system, then you simply don’t care about what happens to the world in the next generation, including your own grandchildren. What you care about is profits tomorrow. It’s an institutional imperative.
The way to overcome this situation is to create real political parties. To have real political parties, the people must participate and make decisions, not just come together every four years to pull a lever. That is not politics. It is the opposite of politics. If you have mass popular organizations that are functioning all the time - at local, regional, and international levels - then you have at least the basis for democracy. Such organizations existed here in the past.
What’s going on with the austerity is really class war. As an economic program, austerity, under recession, makes no sense. It just makes the situation worse. So the Greek debt, relative to GDP, has actually gone up during the period of—which is—well, the policies that are supposed to overcome the debt. In the case of Spain, the debt was not a public debt, it was private debt. It was the actions of the banks. And that means also the German banks. Remember, when a bank makes a dangerous, a risky borrowing, somebody is making a risky lending. And the policies that are designed by the troika, you know, are basically paying off the banks, the perpetrators, much like here. The population is suffering. But one of the things that’s happening is that the—you know, the social democratic policies, so-called welfare state, is being eroded. That’s class war. It’s not an economic policy that makes any sense as to end a serious recession. And there is a reaction to it—Greece, Spain and some in Ireland, growing elsewhere, France. But it’s a very dangerous situation, could lead to a right-wing response, very right-wing. The alternative to Syriza might be Golden Dawn, neo-Nazi party.
It's pretty ironic that the so-called 'least advantaged' people are the ones taking the lead in trying to protect all of us, while the richest and most powerful among us are the ones who are trying to drive the society to destruction
The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum - even encourage the more critical and dissident views. That gives people the sense that there's free thinking going on, while all the time presuppositions of the system are being reinforced by the limits put on the range of the debate.
If you go to one demonstration and then go home, that's something, but the people in power can live with that. What they can't live with is sustained pressure that keeps building, organizations that keep doing things, and people that keep learning lessons from the last time and doing it better the next time.
Suppose that humans happen to be so constructed that they desire the opportunity for freely undertaken productive work. Suppose that they want to be free from the meddling of technocrats and commissars, bankers and tycoons, mad bombers who engage in psychological tests of will with peasants defending their homes, behavioral scientists who can't tell a pigeon from a poet, or anyone else who tries to wish freedom and dignity out of existence or beat them into oblivion.
We cannot say much about human affairs with any confidence, but sometimes it is possible. We can, for example, be fairly confident that either there will be a world without war, or there won't be a world -- at least, a world inhabited by creatures other than bacteria and beetles, with some scattering of others.
The past month was the 10th anniversary of the massacres in Rwanda, and there was much soul-searching about our failure to do anything about them. So headlines read "To Say `Never Again' and Mean it; the 1994 Rwandan genocide should have taught us about the consequences of doing nothing" (Richard Holbrooke, Washington Post); "Learn from Rwanda" (Bill Clinton, Washington Post).
So what did we learn? In Rwanda, for 100 days people were being killed at the rate of about 8000 a day, and we did nothing. Fast forward to today. In Africa, about 10,000 children a day are dying from easily treatable diseases, and we are doing nothing to save them. That's not just 100 days, it's every day, year after year, killing at the Rwanda rate. And far easier to stop then Rwanda: it just means pennies to bribe drug companies to produce remedies.
But we do nothing. Which raises another question: what kind of socioeconomic system can be so savage and insane that to stop Rwanda-scale killings among children going on year after year it's necessary to bribe the most profitable industry that ever existed? That's carrying socioeconomic lunacy beyond the bounds that even the craziest maniac could imagine? But we do nothing.ZNet forum reply, May 9, 2004