Feminism, Freedom, poetry, Politics, Spain, Uncategorized, War, We The People

The Partisan

Her smile inspires her fellow partisans and her community

She throws caution to the wind

so as to watch their spirits soar

When Fascists questioned her commitment

she let her carbine counterclaim

She looks out over Barcelona

her city

From the top of the highest tower

survaying a land riven by

passions and politics

But beyond this tumultuous horizon

there is a glint of light

beginning to peak through

the gathered clouds

and so she smiles

and goes about her revolution

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anarchism, poetry, Uncategorized

Red Bird

I see where the red bird flew

into the vast verboten blue

over the snares and telephone wires

free towards tomorrows dawn

 

adobe homes massed below

comrades huddle in the glow

of a warm insurgent fire

foretime near, tomorrow gone

 

from the dust a dream took wing

buoyant misbegotten thing

kept aloft by the ire

of heroic Aragon

 

 

 

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history, opinion, War, War Crimes

A Word on the Atomic Bombing of Japan in 1945

White-stripe-Mark-ROTHKO

The lethal possibilities of atomic warfare in the future are frightening. My own feeling was that in being the first to use it, we had adopted an ethical standard common to the barbarians of the Dark Ages. I was not taught to make war in that fashion, and wars cannot be won by destroying women and children.” —-Fleet Admiral William D. Leahy, Chief of Staff To President Truman

“The Japanese had, in fact, already sued for peace. The atomic bomb played no decisive part, from a purely military point of view, in the defeat of Japan.” —-Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, Commander in Chief of the U.S. Pacific Fleet

“[T]he widespread image of the Japanese as sub-human constituted an emotional context which provided another justification for decisions which resulted in the death of hundreds of thousands.”—Historian James J. Weingartner, The Pacific Historical Review

“I was one of those who felt that there were a number of cogent reasons to question the wisdom of such an act. During his recitation of the relevant facts, I had been conscious of a feeling of depression and so I voiced to him my grave misgivings, first on the basis of my belief that Japan was already defeated and that dropping the bomb was completely unnecessary, and secondly because I thought that our country should avoid shocking world opinion by the use of a weapon whose employment was, I thought, no longer mandatory as a measure to save American lives.”

—–President Dwight David Eisenhower in his memoirs, “The White House Years

***

I do believe that what the US did Atomic Bombing Japan in 1945 amounts to a crime against humanity on par with the Holocaust or the Rwandan Genocide. No one “needs” to atomic bomb another nation, lives “saved” by using a bomb instead of an invasion is a non sequitur argument and is based on the racist, propagandistic and self serving assumption that the Japanese people (a sophisticated, advanced, and as philosophical and moral a people as any one Earth) would fight to the death to a person. We murdered 300,000 people, maimed hundreds of thousands more, and terrorized millions. Added to the 1 Million+ killed in the Napalm Firebombings of 67 large and medium sized Japanese cities this amounts to a genocide, even within the context of war, as over 90% of those killed in the bombings were civilians and non-combatants.

We condemn, rightly, the Wehrmacht and the Imperial Japanese Army for their atrocities against civilian populations and non-combatants, but we do not hold ourselves to the same standard because from our perspective, we were the “good guys”. In the case of the war with Imperial Japan, there were no good guys: Both nations, U.S. and Japan, were brutal, hegemonic, imperial and colonial powers in the Pacific, and both were fighting for influence in South East Asia and the South Pacific for its strategic location and natural resources. The Japanese were brutal and committed genocidal acts during and before the war. So did the United States. One does not excuse the other. However, we must acknowledge the part we play in the course of human events, and we must, if we are to hold on to any claim of being a moral nation and people, acknowledge the evil that we have committed and which was committed in our name. There were no winners in the Pacific War, none save for those at the very top of the military, political, and business worlds.

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Uncategorized

What Does Memorial Day Mean?

vietnam-war-01

“Memorial Day will be celebrated … by the usual betrayal of the dead, by the hypocritical patriotism of the politicians and contractors preparing for more wars, more graves to receive more flowers on future Memorial Days. The memory of the dead deserves a different dedication. To peace, to defiance of governments.”

—-Howard Zinn

There has been a campaign on social media to promote something called the “Go Silent” campaign. As to this “Go Silent” campaign to ask for a moment of silence on memorial day; I will not be taking part because I find this request insulting and condescending to the people of the US. We The People have the right to free speech, we have the right to speak out against the injustice being perpetrated against innocent people all over the world by the US Military in the service of US Government/Corporate interests. I will use tomorrow to speak out against the glorifying/deification of war dead, which only serves as a way to silence and shame discontent and dissension from the people against the crimes being done in their name.

No war or military operation the US has fought has been just or warranted, not since at least WWII, and since the end of the Vietnam war we have had a volunteer force so anyone who has died since then has died because of a choice THEY made to be a part of an armed forces in services of a government that has perpetrated slaughter on a massive scale, especially in the Middle East. Why, why does the “protection” of our “freedom” and “liberty” and “way of life” seem so often to require the wholesale destruction of other nations and peoples?

This memorial day I will be honoring not the US war dead (they have plenty of people celebrating their cause) but instead the victims of US imperial brutality in the name of “freedom”. Also remember, the best way to honor the war dead, veterans, and those who are still serving is to make sure they are never again sent to fight a war of aggression in the name of national security, corporate interests, or plain old fear. The holiday has also become yet another excuse for Americans to self-righteously congratulate themselves, to worship the military for the sake of it being the military, and also an excuse for retailers to sell cheap foreign made goods to eager consumers. I am not asking that you believe what I believe or act how I act, but I am asking that you take a long hard look at what it is exactly that we are memorializing this day, and why.

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Philosophy

We Are the Evil Empire

us-bombing-bagdad-march-21-2003

This Essay is Dedicated to the victims of Imperial Violence everywhere, and throughout time

I realized the other day that the Invading US Military, controlled by Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz and nominally George Bush II among others, appoint a AMERICAN MILITARY/COLONIAL DICTATOR to rule Iraq, a nation of over 20 million independent, living, breathing, worthwhile people. His name was L. Paul Bremer and he was aided by Gen. Ricardo Sanchez and they were no different than General Iwane Matsui in Nanjiang in 1937, or Lucius Flavius SIlva at Masada, or Nathan Bedford Forest at Fort Pillow or Field Marshal Walter Model in Warsaw in 1944…they were functionaries, brutal ones, of the imperial/fascistic order of their national/ethnic system of power. We are no different than any other violent, expanding, brutal, greedy, ambitious empires in history. The scale of the violence inflicted upon Iraq, for no reason other than petty revenge by the ruling Bush family, profit and for Dick Cheney, the then dictator of the US, and out of shear myopic xenophobic rage against anything that challenged or even irritated US imperial authority and economic control, is on par with the violence inflicted by the Mongols on Baghdad in 1258, or the IDF in Palestine since 1948, or the Germans on Spain in 1936.

The only objective differences between our empire and any other in history is time, distance, technology, and professed ideology. We are convinced of our moral superiority to, our difference from, the “others”, these “truly evil” empires. We killed at least a million people in war in Iraq, surely if we count the death toll from starvation and illness caused by our invasion and occupation and the sanctions, that total is closer to 2 million. We would count these deaths as part of the war victims if we were analyzing the Soviets, or ISIS, or Imperial Japan in their imperial debacles. The founding imperial myth of “American Exceptionalism” notwithstanding, a US Sniper killing a child in Baghdad because he “may have been a potential terrorist” is not different morally from a Soviet Private running a Berlin shopkeeper through with a bayonet, or British Regulars gunning down women and children at Amritsar. Iraqi lives are no less valuable than American lives, or Jewish lives, or Tibetan lives. Iraqis are no more or less prone to “evil” or “savagery” then any other arbitrary grouping of peoples in the world. How is a US soldier killing an Iraqi civilian in Anbar Provence any different than a Chinese Communist beating a Nationalist Sympathizer to death in Xian? THERE IS NO DIFFERENCE. We are no more or less evil than any other empire in history. Our belief in the righteousness of our moral/political/philosophical/economic/religious systems are not unique, every empire has its self-sustaining myths and belief in its own self evident superiority. I mention Iraq because it is the most egregious recent example of our imperial brutality, but I could also mention the fire bombing of Tokyo in 1945, the nuclear obliteration and slow radiation poisoning of 500,000 people in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the ideological motivated and justified genocide committed against the Vietnamese during the Vietnam War, the wholesale slaughter of Indians over 200 years of Manifest Destiny warfare. China occupies Tibet, and Russia occupies Chechnya, but we occupy the Najavo Nation, the Cherokee Nation, the Iroquois Confederacy. There is no moral difference. Only the cast of characters, the slogans, and the justifications are different. We are what we condemn. We are the evil empire. We are the most dangerous and violent empire now existing on Earth.

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Politics

The Poison that is Nationalism

nationalism

Ukraine and Russia are at war, but it is not for the reasons you have been told. The issue is not Vladimir Putin being the second coming of Hitler and wanting to conquer all of Eastern Europe, nor is the problem a western backed cabal of capitalists and neofascists pushing Ukraine into a symbiotic relationship with the West. Both those things may be, and probably are, true to one degree or another, but both are SYMPTOMS of a larger, deeper, and more profound problem: Nationalism.

Nationalism is the irrational belief that the geography of a region has something to do with the moral and existential merit of a people or group of people. It is represented in superstitious worship of national symbols like flags and songs, irrational hatred for those deemed by the leadership to be “enemies”, a paranoid belief that other nations and groups are “out to get us”. Oftentimes this nationalism leads a population to follow its leaders blindly into misguided military (and social/economic) adventures that lead to death, destruction, and privation for the population itself and for victims in other nations. Nationalism is a disease that in its metastasized state can become Imperialism, the complete subordination of the economic, cultural, military, and intellectual engines of the state to the whims of a power structure that wishes to expand its power, and its markets, over as much of the world as possible. The chief imperial states today consist of the United States, Russia, the European Union and China, with many regional “great powers” who dominate others on a smaller geographic or demographic scale. Each Imperial state was born of a certain strain of nationalism, each has its own national mythology and belief in its own exceptionalism, and each wishes to extend and expand its power and reach over other nations and peoples. The Ukrainian-Russian War is not a war of “democracy” vs “tyranny” or “right” vs “left” or “capitalism” vs “socialism”, it is a war between an imperial state, Russia, trying to reclaim a territory on its borders that it sees as part of its cultural, economic, and political “manifest destiny”, and the emerging nation state of Ukraine, which wishes to join the imperial sphere of the US/EU alliance and to assert itself as a regional power in its own right.

The war in eastern Ukraine is like all wars since the advent of the nation state: a bloody conflict declared by powers that be of two (or more) nations and executed by the people of those respective nations. The aim is national expansion or at least national preservation. By “national” read the state, its mechanisms and markets, and its conception of the people living within its borders. The people fight the war not because it is in their direct interest to do so, but because the powers that be have made an argument, or a declaration, that the “other” is the existential enemy of the people of “our” nation, and that to let them win would be to destroy all that is loved and cherished by the people. It is a sort of emotional blackmail that leads people who otherwise would have no stake in such a foolish conflict to give their lives for the national “cause”.

The powers that be in nation states are themselves guided by the powers that be within the power structure of the larger imperial states and the corporations and interests who depend on them and who support them. In this case Russia, under a nationalistic and paranoid leader, wishes to expand his power base and sphere of influence and to make himself look like a conquering hero to the people and the elites of his nation. This is also based in an all too Russian fear of being invaded and dominated by other powers. They are pitted against an pragmatic alliance of the US and EU Imperial systems, who are attempting to absorb Ukraine into the Neoliberal economic sphere and the Neoconservative military and cultural paradigm. Stuck in the middle is the smaller, but no less nationalistically driven, state of Ukraine, which after being dominated by Russia for centuries is now taking tentative steps towards creating its own national mythology and mission. There is no “right side” in this conflict, and there is no “winner” possible; the outcome will be one Imperial State or another gaining temporary advantage in the great chess game that is international affairs, while the people will suffer the consequences. There is nothing “radical” or “new” or “21st Century” about this war. Imperial states have always used proxies to fight, they have always stoked ethnic and national tensions in target nations, and they have always tried to manipulate the media message in their favor. The only thing that is different now is the technology involved and the paranoia and anxiety of a world that is slowly beginning to realize that nationalism and free market capitalism are the two evils that are turning the world into a hell-scape for most of its residents.

The ambitions of Imperial states often culminate in world wide, or region wide, conflict. This has happened ever since the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars and continues to the present day. We have not seen a calamitous, world wide conflict since the end of the Second World War, but that does not mean it cannot, or will not, happen. Events such as those transpiring in Ukraine point to the fact that the world is still in thrall to the religion that is nationalism. Until we realize that we must unite as PEOPLE and not as NATIONS in order to reject the idea of separateness and profit over people we will never be able to “solve” or “win” conflicts like that in Ukraine. There are no winners in the great game of nationalism, only profiteers and power brokers.

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Conservatism, essay

“I’m Just A Monkey on A Gun”: The REAL American Sniper

Chris Kyle at Work

Chris Kyle at Work

Is this what it has come to in this nation? Are people like Chris Kyle really supposed to be celebrated like a “hero”? Men who admitted in their own autobiography that they looted the houses and bodies of the people they killed in Iraq, who calls the people he killed “scum” and celebrates their death as a sign of American exceptionalism and a step towards more American “freedom”?

A man whose supporters attack others with rape, death, and assault threats for daring to even express dislike for a movie made about him? Is this a hero? A man who said he enjoyed killing and would do it all over again? We are supposed to celebrate that? On the day we celebrate the life of a true hero, Martin Luther King, Jr., a man killed by a sniper, a film is out in theaters about a man who killed 200 people with a rifle. There is something perverse about that. Something wrong…something sick in the American spirit that we can find room in our hearts to celebrate as heroes people who kill others in the name of a freedom that they then rail against and denigrate at home whenever someone they do not agree with exercises it in public. “Kill the ragheads!” “Death to liberals” “That feminist should be raped!”…we see this online and in person every time some one has the temerity to dare and question the conservative myth-making industry. We must move past such false heroes as Chris Kyle, abandon them and call them what they are: drones, enforcers of power and privilege, or in other words, Cowards.

The US Public has long celebrated cowards, people who do with their fists and their guns what they cannot or will not do with their minds or their hearts. It is part of our American inheritance, our Imperial ethos, the same sensibility that could turn Christopher Columbus into a hero and the Native Americans into perennial villains. It is the faulty nature of American morality itself, our collective belief that our power is good, or rage is justified, and our desires matter more than anything else.

So, in conclusion, and to put it as simply as I possibly can: If you think “American Sniper” Chris Kyle is a hero, you are morally repugnant. The man was a racist, xenophobic, sociopath mass murderer and confessed war criminal. Move on and grow up. As Chris Kyle said about himself, quoted in a profile posted on CNN, [http://www.cnn.com/2013/02/03/us/texas-sniper-killed-kyle-profile/] : “I am just a monkey on a gun.”

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