Lying Media Bastards

July 22, 2007

Words Draw Close

Recently read the book War Talk by Arundhati Roy, who’s work I like very much. A poetic novelist and rabblerouser, the book is a short collection of her essays and speeches about the increasing fascism and religious violence in her home country of India, and the rise of American empire in the early 2000s. There are some great quotes in there, some of them which seem to… transcend their specific topic.

When referring to the attacks and counterattacks between Indian Hindus and Muslims, she says

The more the two sides try and call attention to their religious differences by slaughtering each other, the less there is to distinguish them from one another. They worship at the same altar. They’re both apostles of the same murderous god, whoever he is.

Obviously, that sentiment isn’t limited to just that particular conflict.

Referring to the rise of the Hindu nationalist/fascist political party BJP and its related tentacles, it struck me how much of this passage could easily apply to the US:

Over the past fifty years, ordinary citizens’ modest hopes for lives of dignity, security and relief from abject poverty have been systematically snuffed out. Every “democratic” institution in this county has shown itself to be unaccountable, inaccessible to the ordinary citizen, and either unwilling or incapable of acting in the interests of genuine social justice. Every strategy for real social change– land reform, education, public health, the equitable distribution of natural resources, the implementation of positive discrimination– has been cleverly, cunningly, and consistently scuttled and rendered ineffectual by those castes and that class of people which has a stranglehold on the political process. And now corporate globalization is being relentlessly and arbitrarily imposed on an essentially feudal society, tearing through its complex, tiered social fabric, ripping it apart culturally and economically.

There is very real grievance here. And the fascists didn’t create it. But they have seized upon it, upturned it, and forged it from a hideous, bogus sense of pride. They have mobilized human beings using the lowest common denominator– religion. People who have lost control over their lives, people who have been uprooted from their homes and communities, who have lost their culture and their language, are being made to feel proud of something. Not something they have striven for and achieved, not something they can count as a personal accomplishment, but something they just happen to be. Or more accurately, something they happen not to be. And the falseness, the emptiness, of that pride is fueling a gladatorial anger that is then directed toward a simulated target that has been wheeled into the amphitheater.

And then, her description of what empire is:

…it is a myth that the free market breaks down national barriers. The free market does not threaten national sovereignty, it undermines democracy.

As the disparity between the rich and the poor grows, the fight to corner resources is intensifying. To push through their “sweetheart deals”, to corporatize the crops we grow, the water we drink, the air we breathe, and the dreams we dream, corporate globalization needs an international confederation of loyal, corrupt, authoritarian governments in poorer countries to push through unpopular reforms and quell the mutinies.

Corporate globalization– or shall we call it by its name?– Imperialism– needs a press that pretends to be free. It needs courts that pretend to dispense justice.

Meanwhile, the countries of the North harden their borders and stockpile weapons of mass destruction. After all they have to make sure that it’s only money, goods, patents and services that are globalized. Not the free movement of people. Not a respect for human rights. Not international treaties on racial discrimination or chemical and nuclear weapons or greenhouse gas emissions or climate change or– god forbid– justice.

So this–all this– is Empire. This loyal confederation, this obscene accumulation of power, this greatly increased distance between those who make the decisions and those who have to suffer for them.

Our fight, our goal, our vision of another world must be to eliminate that distance.

And that’s why I could never be a liberal. There are hugely powerful forces in every nation working for their common interests, which result in the death, suffering, oppression, and obedience of billions. Voting for Barack Obama is supposed to change all that?

Posted by Jake on July 22, 2007 10:06 pm

11 Comments »

  1. Well, no, voting for Obama won’t change everything. But it will be an improvement. We cannot expect a better world to spontaneously emerge, we can only build it in incremental steps. We should push for ideals but embrace improvements when we have the opportunity.

    We shouldn’t refuse to use our legs just because we have no wings to fly.

    Comment by Chris Meyer — July 23, 2007 @ 2:45 pm

  2. I suppose I phrased that badly. Democrats aren’t an “incremental step” towards a better world. They are part of the problem I was referring to above. Clinton was one of the best friends corporate globalization ever had. He invaded Somalia, Kosovo, and starved hundreds of thousands of Iraqis to death. Tried to stop Africans from creating generic AIDS drugs to treat their HIV epidemic. Created “don’t ask, don’t tell”. Ended “welfare as we know it.” Refused to implement the Kyoto Protocol.

    At best, Democrats are dedicated to preserving some semblance of a middle class in the United States, and possibly provide some support to the nation’s poorest. But they all still endorse the power of corporations, the right of Americans to have comfort at the expense of all peoples of the world, and the right to impose our will by force on any part of the globe.

    Yes, we’ve got to start somewhere, but putting our faith in a millionaire endorsed by billionaires seems a foolish way to go.

    Comment by Jake — July 23, 2007 @ 9:46 pm

  3. Hmmm I entered a response, but it doesn’t show after I refresh the site. But when I try and submit it again it says its a duplicate comment. Hopefully it went through.

    Comment by Chris Meyer — July 24, 2007 @ 2:51 am

  4. Ok, that one showed but the original didn’t. Too long perhaps? Let’s try again:

    I share most of your grievances with Clinton. But while he was very pro-corporate (moreso, I’d note, than the majority of his party) he was not their best friend, only their second best. I submit to you that for every grievance on your list, a Bush or Reagan would have been worse.

    First, Clinton signed the Kyoto Protocol, Bush later withdrew.

    I don’t understand understand how Clinton’s participation in the Somalia conflict supported corporations. Kosovo, perhaps, because of its proximity to economic partners. But Somalia, if misconceived, does not strike me as malintentioned. And in Kosovo we were at least mostly successful in ending the genocide.

    Killing thousands of Iraqis indirectly through sanctions is better than killing them outright in an invasion. And nation building with benevolent or benign intent is superior to nation building with malevolent intent (and if you’re going to argue that Kosovo and Somalia were malevolent exercises, they certainly were not moreso than Iraq).

    Clinton may have pushed patent rights, but the Republicans support patent rights every bit as much, and did much less to fight AIDS. Reagan wouldn’t even talk about it. Bush pushes Abstinence only education. AIDS victims are better off with a Clinton presidency than a Republican presidency.

    Comment by Chris Meyer — July 24, 2007 @ 2:54 am

  5. Well what the fuck I tried breaking it into smaller posts (is there something against long comments?) and I’m not getting the duplicate message anymore, but it still what post.

    Comment by Chris Meyer — July 24, 2007 @ 3:00 am

  6. Bizarre. Here’s the rest:

    Clinton ’s support of welfare reform was an aberration from his party, and here again he was still better for poor people than the Republicans. The Republicans supported the reforms as much as he did, but they certainly didn’t support the healthcare plan and other proposals Clinton might have been able to get through if he had greater support in congress.

    Clinton wanted to let gays serve openly, indeed he had campaigned on that… but military leaders put up a lot of resistance. But what he got done was still a very significant improvement, prior to his presidency gays were just banned period.

    More often than not it seems to me that Democrats don’t go far enough to solve the problems, rather than being the ones that caused them. And to the extent that they do contribute to problems, I can’t see how you don’t think they are at least an incremental step in the right direction. We are faced with a choice between bad and worse.
    And we certainly aren’t obliged to put “faith” in anybody. Just to push for the best we can get. And I do think Republicans

    Comment by Chris Meyer — July 24, 2007 @ 10:52 am

  7. … now it ate part of it:

    And I do think Republicans

    Comment by Chris Meyer — July 24, 2007 @ 10:54 am

  8. And I do think Republicans

    Comment by Chris Meyer — July 24, 2007 @ 10:58 am

  9. This is the most revealing comment from a liberal or a Democrat voter if I ever saw one:

    “Killing thousands of Iraqis indirectly through sanctions is better than killing them outright in an invasion. And nation building with benevolent or benign intent is superior to nation building with malevolent intent (and if you’re going to argue that Kosovo and Somalia were malevolent exercises, they certainly were not moreso than Iraq).”

    I tend to think that liberals are comfortable with imperialism and genocide if it’s a Democrat doing it.

    And when it comes to times like Somalia, there’s no one more red, white, and blue…so love me, love me, love me, I’m a liberal.

    Comment by Eric — July 24, 2007 @ 6:54 pm

  10. I don’t really know what to call myself. I’m from rural South Dakota, around here I’m a radical. On this site I suppose I’m a liberal.

    “I tend to think that liberals are comfortable with imperialism and genocide if it’s a Democrat doing it.”

    I don’t feel that’s fair at least in regard to what I said. I’m not comfortable with the imperialism or genocide committed by Democrats. I believe that the imperialism and genocide committed by Democrats is of a lesser magnitude.

    Earlier the site kept eating my comments and I gave up trying. One of the things I tried to say is that I would like to hear the case for alternative options. What should we do in regard to electoral politics? Vote Green party? Abstain? Violently rebel? I’d like to know how any of these is tactically more effective.

    Comment by Chris Meyer — July 28, 2007 @ 3:04 pm

  11. Lesser magnitude? How about dropping atomic bombs and most of the Vietnam War - which happened under the Democrats’ watch. The bombings in eastern Europe under Clinton are deemed more “acceptable” because the UN was involved. The Republicans and neocons are the most degraded group in U.S. politics, but the Democrats and liberal supporters offer no significant opposition, in fact, they’re on the same side despite tactical differences. The current Democratic presidential candidates like Clinton, Obama, and others have given no indication that they will end the war and have actually attacked Bush for not doing anything about Iran (!) So is it tactically sound to vote for candidates who hinted that they would expand the war? To answer your questions, I’m not a supporter of the Green party (or any political party) since I see them as an outfit that appeals to the powers to behave themselves. I will add that the Democrats were guilty of keeping the Greens off the ballot in various places anyway to preserve the duopoly (not because the Greens weren’t tactically effective). Violently rebel? Well, that’s up to the people. It would have to be something that is thought through. Abstain? Personally, I think electoral politics are self-defeating, but if one were to participate, I would think it would make sense to vote for an actual antiwar candidate who will unconditionally withdraw the troops. instead of a candidate who will continue the war and may expand it. Since the system is put in place to snuff out such opposition, then it makes sense to focus on the system and the root causes of the problems it causes instead of running in circles supporting Democrats because it’s the convenient thing to do.

    Comment by Eric — July 29, 2007 @ 9:13 am

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