Go and read
Oh Gawds, when Chomsky puts his mind to remind us of US history, the result is very depressing, even if one is aware of it beforehand.
The most important victory of the Indochina wars was in 1965, when a US-backed military coup in Indonesia led by General Suharto carried out massive crimes that were compared by the CIA to those of Hitler, Stalin, and Mao. The “staggering mass slaughter”, as the New York Times described it, was reported accurately across the mainstream, and with unrestrained euphoria.
It was “a gleam of light in Asia”, as the noted liberal commentator James Reston wrote in the Times. The coup ended the threat of democracy by demolishing the mass-based political party of the poor, established a dictatorship that went on to compile one of the worst human rights records in the world, and threw the riches of the country open to western investors. Small wonder that, after many other horrors, including the near-genocidal invasion of East Timor, Suharto was welcomed by the Clinton administration in 1995 as “our kind of guy”.
It is telling in how everyone knows and remembers Pol Pot, Mao and Kim Jong-il when they have to talk about how much worse “Communism” is than everything else, but people like Suharto, Pinochet and Franco are conveniently forgotten.
Over all, there are now more people under “correctional supervision” in America-more than six million-than were in the Gulag Archipelago under Stalin at its height.
An interesting tidbit of information about the police state of the US of A, and how their capitalist system has found a way to rework the justice system itself in order to secure cheap and maleable labour.
Patriot Americans love to remind everyone on the socialist side of the prism, about how better capitalism is than everything else, and bring about comparisons with Russian gulags and the like. It’s hilarious to point out that they’re actually far worse than they were.
From reddit I was linked to this post in ClubOrlov about the Grim Truth of America written by a US immigrant. Go and read it, and then check the comments in all thee links. Some interesting thoughts. Some choice quotes:
If you had any idea of how people really lived in Western Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and many parts of Asia, you’d be rioting in the streets calling for a better life. In fact, the average Australian or Singaporean taxi driver has a much better standard of living than the typical American white-collar worker.
The fact is, they work you like dogs in the United States. This should come as no surprise: the United States never got away from the plantation/sweat shop labor model and any real labor movement was brutally suppressed. Unless you happen to be a member of the ownership class, your options are pretty much limited to barely surviving on service-sector wages or playing musical chairs for a spot in a cubicle (a spot that will be outsourced to India next week anyway).
If the people cannot make a change, how about the media? Not a chance. From Fox News to the New York Times, the mass media in the United States is nothing but the public relations wing of the corporatocracy, primarily the military industrial complex. At least the citizens of the former Soviet Union knew that their news was bullshit
Once the shit really hits the fan, do you really think you’ll just be able to jump into the old station wagon, drive across the Canadian border and spend the rest of your days fishing and drinking Molson? No, the government is going to lock the place down. They don’t want their tax base escaping. They don’t want their “recruits” escaping. They don’t want YOU escaping.
One hopes such articles would be enough to jar U.S. Americans out of their blissful delusion, but somehow I doubt it.
AKA: Why People Hate the USA
Quoth Noam Choamsy (as seen in this post)
Why was the U.S. so intent on destroying northern Laos, so poor that peasants hardly even knew they were in Laos? Or Indochina? Or Guatemala? Or Maurice Bishop in Grenada, the nutmeg capital of the world? The reasons are about the same, and are explained in the internal record. These are ‘viruses’ that might ‘infect others’ with the dangerous idea of pursuing similar paths to independent development. The smaller and weaker they are, the more dangerous they tend to be. If they can do it, why can’t we? Does the Godfather allow a small storekeeper to get away with not paying protection money?
Read the whole article too. It’s very RRRRAAAAGE inducing and it nicely exemplifies how imperialism, even violent, army-backed imperialism is only the reality even to this day and age.
Once again, the Empire’s dirty laundry is displayed for all to see. Will many be convinced? Doubtful.
The US conservative mix is an interesting combination of ideologies, from one hand bringing the Christian fundamentalist aspects of Protestantism or Catholicism with their values of meekness, “turn the other cheek”, “love thy neighbour” to rest with the pro-Capitalist ethics of dog-eat-dog competition, “grow or die”, “profits above all”. To say the least, to imagine a pro-capitalist christian is quite a long way away from the story of a Jesus throwing the moneychangers out of the Temple, or to combine the “there-is-no-such-thing-as-free-meal” concepts with a Jesus feeding everyone for free.
However the truth is that there are also significant similarities between the two ideologies when one takes the contemporary version of Christianity as is dominant in the USA, which has chosen particular aspects of the Christian dogma to promote and others to marginalize as is common with the Great Book of Multiple Choice: The Holy Bible. In this instance far more weight is given to the concepts of the Protestant work ethic, Catholic blind respect for authority, self-blame, judgement and fear, while the ideals of selfless love, communalism, anti-metchantilism, anti-greed etc have been quite purposefully hidden from view to all but the most inquisitive minds (i.e. to those who are not content to have the bible interpreted for them by their local clergy.)
When taken in this light, “Christianisty” becomes suddenly a perfect match with the right-wing ideologies which spread the myths that Capitalism rewards the hard-working and most capable, that only the best rise to the top (and therefore the “just hierarchy” this implies) and the general idea that the poor and downtrodden have only themselves to blame. In fact, the basic combining point of those two ideologies would be this simple concept:
The Poor and downtrodden have only themselves to blame.
This kind of mentality is profoundly popular amongst pro-capitalist, right-“libertarians” and assorted propertarians and very often my discussions with them will devolve to the point where I’m trying to explain how wealth is primarily accumulated via some combination of luck (or ancestry, of birth, of health, of location, of time etc) rather than personal hard work. And this is treated a the gravest of heresies. I urge you to try it one time with some defender of Capitalism and see how they react.
When you point out that there’s plently of hard-working people who remain poor, the counter argument is that some few people did grow rich (at this point names like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs are commonly mentioned). This does not counter the fact that the majority of hard-working people don’t “make it” but it does serve as a useful distraction. When you point out that a rich guy born in the US has infinitely more opportunities to “make it” than a poor, black guy born in Congo, they may point that better ones manage to immigrate. Again, a red herring.
Propaganda and a priori justifications of propertarian free markets are not much different. More often than not, the simplistic examples used involve one “entrepreneurial” individual who is more able, smarter, more frugal, wiser, or simply more hard-working from the rest and therefore manages to create, accumulate or invent something that others will wish to rent from him. This implies of course that the reasons the rest of people stayed in their current social position is because they are lazy or stupid. The silliness of course is when those fantastical examples are juxtaposed in current reality as an attempt to prove that the poor have only themselves to blame. No attempt at empirical research to discover the reasons is made. As is common in economics, reality is assumed to fit the theoretical models.
Similarly, the USA breed of fundamentalist Christian is quick to assume that their current life is totally justified by their work ethic and their piety in front of their god. All good luck is interpreted as holy blessing for their good deeds and faith while all trouble can easily be attributed to insufficient following of their interpretations of the Great Book of Mutliple Choice Bible. Under this prism, it’s not difficult to see how religious nutters can attain any measure of success.
This mindframe then allows the believer to not only ignore the visible effects of poverty without helping and with a clear conscience (“It’s their own fault for being too promiscuous/sinful/unfaithful”) but to also rationalize the existence of wealthy Christians (“They wouldn’t have been rewarded with wealth had they not been good Christians“) to Christian claims such as the ones which claim that the rich will not get in Heaven. This is what, to me at least, seems to feed the extreme judgementalism and schadenfreude that fundamentalists display.
Given such a strong connecting point, it’s not surprising at all that US conservatives are a unstable mix of Pro-Capitalist and Christian Fundamentalists and how criticisms on their intolerance or inhumanity in the face of suffering does not seem to affect them when the way the view the world fundamentally differs from the reality. It’s no wonder that some of the more radical elements of both parties, resemble each other so much in action. It’s no wonder that the two ideologies most unwittingly supporting the ruling elite have found common ground to work at it together.
Of course, as is the case for all things which depart from the facts, reality has a particular way of slapping one back in very unpleasant ways. Once this happens, once the true nature of the capitalist system starts to make itself known to those two camps and the answers provided by their apologists of choice (Priests or Economists, pick your poison) don’t fulfill, then is the time that friction starts to occur. The lifetime hard-working christian who suddenly finds himself at or past the edge of bankruptcy because of a serious illness is quite likely to start challenging the notions that the Capitalist system or God rewards the hard-working. He will seek answers for his predicament and when those fail to fulfill as they are bound to do, perhaps they’ll start thinking things over. The eager entepreneur who finds his startup attempts squashed like a bug by large companies and corporations and ends up in the position of a minimum-wage-slave despite his credential might end up challenging ideas of working free markets and how the brighter rise to the top, once he has to experience the true face of scientific management.
As unfortunate as it is that there’s not a lot of room to convert people who simply don’t have the correct experiences in their life (good luck convincing a successful entrepreneur that his success is due to luck and privilege and that capitalism doesn’t work) the good thing is that the periodic collapses of the capitalist system often make large bulks of people start challenging their previously held beliefs. We can then only hope we have good enough arguments to push them in the right direction and start the snowball effect of their awakening from Religious and Capitalist myths.
Recent times have shown how little politicians care to follow on their promises and how crassly they use their positions to promote special interests from the Capitalist class. However, nowhere is this more obvious I believe than in the continuous reformation and amendments to Copyright laws. The latest example really takes the cake.
You just have to admire how little the US state even cares to keep up appearances of serving the people anymore. They don’t even care to bring up some non-corporate lobbyists around, even if it’s just for show and will get ignored anyway. They even go as far as kicking the press out when it’s it doesn’t present the bright picture they’d like.
This is like a textbook example of what revolutionaries are talking about when we say that you cannot trust in the current system to reform for the better. Here you have copyright laws, who have shown that they historically do jack-shit for promoting creativity and progress and actual harm it, that have a huge public rejection (just check how many millions are file-sharing copyrighted work per second) , that have been continuously increased in scale and magnitude based on false data and used to promote monopolistic practices, and the only people who are invited to discuss government policy on them is corporate lobbyists.
This kind of thing should really point out that States have very little to do with protecting the majority interests, even when this is provable via widespread public opposition and scientific data. And yet, for all this, in the face of Mikey Mouse protections and other such legislation designed to simply protect the interests of the already wealthy, Statists will blindly insist that a bigger, more powerful government is better for all of us.
I really don’t know if all the naked cronyism of the later US governments even register in the mind of people who still naively believe in it. It seems as if the US “Liberals” will accept anything as long as it’s from the Democrats and the Conservatives will accept anything as long as it’s from the GOP. They only remember to protest when it’s the other party that does something they don’t like. At best they may pathetically mumble a bit and that’s it for public dissent.
In the end, both sides simply accepted the naked power and wealth grabs the capitalists did by using the state. The various “wars for peace” which simply opens border for oil and resource grabs, the “war on drugs” which provides ample workers for the increasing private police nation, the foreign aid to dictators and right-wing “freedom fighters” who make their countries more open to US special interest groups, the anti-terror operations which more often than not target peaceful environmental groups and of course the laws increasing copyright and patent powers which directly feed the Publishing monopolies which are primarily USA located.
One does need to retain hope that freethinkers might eventually become cynical enough from all those crass sell-outs of their interests for the benefit of the wealthy. There’s only so many toes a state can step on before people band up to do something about it. Now it’s stepping on the toes of the creativity crowd, yesterday it was the recreative drug users, tomorrow it will be whatever thing you hold dear instead. Perhaps this will be a trigger to people radicalism. One can only hope.
Every time I have to argue politics with people coming from the US I have to internally cringe at the way most political concepts and movements have been distorted and twisted by their fear of Communism. It only becomes worse when people will ask me “but isn’t libertarian socialism an oxymoron?” or automatically conflate Anarchists with simple anti-statists. I end up having to mentally decode what an US American would say and what they really mean in the political language of everyone else. It’s as if their whole political spectrum has taken as a whole a turn to the right, to avoid mentioning (Oh Horror of horrors) “Socialism”.
And since I notice that there’s others encountering the same issues. I decided to make a handy table to make it easy for non-Americans to understand what the US are talking about.
Name of political theory or newspeak as used in the USA.
What everyone else calls it.
|Fiscal Conservative.||Corporate Cronyist.|
|Socialism when used by Liberals (see above).||Social Democracy.|
|Socialism when used by Conservatives (see above).||Totalitarian Dictatorship.|
|Democracy.||US American proxy government.|
|Free Market.||Mixed economy with hefty tax cuts and subsidies for the rich.|
|Fascism.||Mixed economy with benefits for the poor.|
|Terrorist.||Anyone who opposes US policy.|
|Nazi Communist Hippie Liberal||Obama|
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