|Progressive Calendar 05.15.07||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|From: David Shove (shove001tc.umn.edu)|
|Date: Tue, 15 May 2007 03:07:24 -0700 (PDT)|
P R O G R E S S I V E C A L E N D A R 05.15.07 1. Mumia/KFAI 5.15 11am 2. Picket NWA 5.15 5pm 3. Korten/empire 5.15 5pm 4. Salon/poetry 5.15 6:30pm 5. Bacon/NAFTA 5.15 7pm 6. Spying on us 5.15 9pm 7. KoreanWar/art 5.15-6.02 8. CCHT breakfast 5.16 7:30am 9. Protest Posada 5.16 4:30pm 10. Schools 5.16 6:30pm 11. Sami/Iraq 5.16 7pm 12. Labor films 5.16 7pm 13. Military/abuse 5.16 7:30pm 14. Jennifer Roesch - The Mussolini of Manhattan: Giuliani time 15. James Petras - Notes on cultural renaissance in a time of barbarism -------1 of 15-------- From: Lydia Howell <lhowell [at] visi.com> Subject: Mumia/KFAI 5.15 11am May 15th: 11 am on KFAI's "Catalyst:politics & culture", hosted by Lydia Howell; hear updates about the appeal for political prinsoer and Pennsylvania death Row dissident journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal, whose incisive commentaries can be hear in the Twin Cities ONLY on KFAI. "Catalyst" airs Tuesdays, 11am on KFAI Radio, 90.3 fm Mpls 106.7 fm St. Paul online at http.www.kfai.org All shows archived online for 2 weeks after broadcast. -------2 of 15-------- From: Karen Schultz <schulars [at] bitstream.net> Subject: Picket NWA 5.15 5pm Northwest Employees Fight for Fairness Northwest Airlines employees will conduct informational picketing May 15 at the Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport to demonstrate their anger over NWA management's manipulation of the bankruptcy court that awarded lavish double-digit million dollar bonuses for NWA executives while at the same time forcing 40 percent pay cuts on the rank and file employees (see below for details). "Northwest Airlines will not have a successful future if its employees are angry and demoralized," said Capt. Dave Stevens, chairman of the Northwest Minneapolis, MN Airlines unit of the Air Line Pilots Association. "It is unconscionable to yuse employees' pay cuts to provide huge bonuses to the same executive team that led our company into bankruptcy." Also joining the fight is the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA-CWA) and other NWA employees. "Northwest is well ahead of their business plan, but they refuse to offer their own employees, families and communities relief," said Jay Hong, NWA AFA President, "Instead they want our pain to be the executives' gain. Enough is enough. Rather than worrying about retaining executives who have driven this company into bankruptcy, they need to worry about their employees who have built this company and continue to it." In August 2006, Northwest Airlines employees collectively began giving Northwest Airlines management $1.4 billion dollars in annual concessions. While employees have struggled to adjust their family budgets by over 40 percent relative to their cuts in wages and benefits, Northwest recently announced that it will reward its "top executives" with $400 million once the company emerges from bankruptcy. NWA CEO Doug Steenland will alone receive a $26.6 million bonus. Northwest Unions Picket Executive Stock Plan Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP) Lindberg Terminal Departure Level Across from Ticketing, Parking Garage Side Tuesday, May 15 from 5:00 pm to 6:30 pm For more information about the ALPA or the AFA, please visit their respective websites: www.nwaalpa.org and www.nwaafa.org . SOURCE: ALPA and AFA CONTACTS: Will Holman (ALPA), 612-840-7749 and Andy Wisbacher (AFA-CWA), 952-241-4102 --------3 of 15-------- From: Eric Angell <eric-angell [at] riseup.net> Subject: Korten/empire 5.15 5pm St. Paul Neighborhood Network (SPNN 15) viewers: "Our World In Depth" cablecasts at 5 pm and midnight each Tuesday and 10 am each Wednesday in St. Paul. All households with basic cable can watch. 5/15 and 5/16 "David Korten: The Great Turning from Empire to Earth Community". Presentation by author Korten recorded April '07 in Mpls. --------4 of 15-------- From: patty <pattypax [at] earthlink.net> Subject: Salon/poetry 5.15 6:30pm Tuesday, May 15 , we will read the poems of Martin Espada. His new collection is called The Republic of Poetry, but he has several other books, too. Try the internet if you can't get any books. You will be astounded. He has been described as "the Pablo Neruda of North American authors. Pax Salons ( http://justcomm.org/pax-salon ) are held (unless otherwise noted in advance): Tuesdays, 6:30 to 8:30 pm. Mad Hatter's Tea House, 943 W 7th, St Paul, MN Salons are free but donations encouraged for program and treats. Call 651-227-3228 or 651-227-2511 for information. --------5 of 15-------- From: Lydia Howell <lhowell [at] visi.com> Subject: Bacon/NAFTA 5.15 7pm The Untold Stories series concludes with a presentation by David Bacon, author of Children of NAFTA, on Tuesday, May 15, at 7 p.m., at the Metropolitan State University/Dayton's Bluff Branch Library, Ecolab Room, 645 E. Seventh St., Saint Paul. Children of NAFTA: Labor Wars on the U.S./Mexico Border investigates the impact of the North American Free Trade Agreement on those who labor in the agricultural fields and maquiladora factories on the border. Journalist Bacon paints a powerful portrait of poverty and struggle, offering a devastating critique of NAFTA in the most pointed and in-depth examination of border workers published to date. Bacon is joined by Javier Morillo, president of SEIU Local 26. --------6 of 15-------- From: Richard Dechert <ldechert [at] webtv.net> Subject: Spying on us 5.15 9pm On tpt-2, 5/15 at 9-10pm and 5/16 at 3-4am; tpt-17, 5/16 at 9-10pm. Also Live Discussion: Chat with correspondent Hedrick Smith on 5/16 at 11am ET. For details, see: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/discussion/2007/05/03/DI2007050301142.html>. After 9/11 former Attorney General John Ashcroft says President Bush told him, "Never let this happen again." Ashcroft tells FRONTLINE how he interpreted the president's injunction, "Now not letting something happen is different from proving something happened. The old business of the Justice Department to be able to prosecute the criminal and declare victory is not good enough when you lose 3,000 people and the criminals purposefully extinguish themselves in the perpetration of the crime." In "Spying on the Home Front" this Tuesday, correspondent Hedrick Smith and producer Rick Young investigate what the new 'prevention' paradigm means to civil liberties here at home. In one case, the FBI conducted a data sweep on 250,000 Las Vegas vacationers after receiving a non specific threat that Al Qaeda was interested in Vegas as a target. In another case, a curious employee at AT&T in San Francisco learned that the whole flow of internet traffic in that office was being diverted to the National Security Agency which had installed a 'black box' in a super secret room. One expert says that it appears NASA set up these boxes in 10-15 AT&T sites across the country with the ability to intercept about 10 per cent of all internet traffic. There's much more. The Government Accounting Office found 50 government agencies with nearly 200 data mining projects underway. In the age of the super computer, private companies are amassing vast amounts of data about all of us. From home mortgages to spending habits, virtual digital dossiers are being created every day. Correspondent Smith wonders what happens when the government does this kind of data mining, moving from our tradition of individualized suspicion, to checking out everybody to find who are the bad guys. The former head of counter terrorism for the FBI, Larry Mefford, told FRONTLINE: "I can give you more security, but I've got to take away some rights. And so there's a balance." For a look at how the balance is being struck today, we hope you will be able to join us Tuesday, but if not, "Spying on the Home Front" will be up and streaming the day after broadcast on our Web site, where you'll also find more background on this story and the opportunity to express your opinion about the report at http://www.pbs.org/frontline/homefront/>. Louis Wiley, Jr. Executive Editor [Spying on us is done in the interest of the ruling class, who fears that someday we may get wise and end their dominion. As always, in every country in history. -ed] --------7 of 15-------- From: Lydia Howell <lhowell [at] visi.com> Subject: KoreanWar/art 5.15-6.02 through JUNE 2:STILL PRESENT PASTS (EXHIBITION) Peace artwork "Rendezvous" (detail) by Aesop Rhim Intermedia Arts, 2822 Lyndale Ave. S. Minneapolis Open daily NOON to 5pm STILL PRESENT PASTS is a unique traveling art and multi-media exhibit that encourages reflection about the devastation of war for all Americans by exploring the legacies of the Korean War. Still Present Pasts will feature local Korean American artists and include a series of educational, outreach, and artistic events. See www.mnstillpresentpasts.org for a complete and updated list of events. --------8 of 15-------- From: Philip Schaffner <PSchaffner [at] ccht.org> Subject: CCHT breakfast 5.16 7:30am Central Community Housing Trust CCHT's 2007 Beyond Bricks & Mortar fundraising breakfast will be on May 16, 7:30 - 8:30 a.m. at the Hilton in downtown Minneapolis. register online: <http://www.ccht.org/Beyond_Bricks_Mortar_2007.html> Central Community Housing Trust 1625 Park Ave Minneapolis, MN 55404 (612) 341-3148 www.ccht.org --------9 of 15-------- From: Minnesota Cuba Committee <mncuba [at] usfamily.net> Subject: Protest Posada 5.16 4:30pm Protest on Wednesday, May 16, against the release of Luis Posada Carriles! 4:30 - 6:00 -- Federal Courthouse -- 3rd Ave. and 4th Street Minneapolis Luis Posada Carriles is a long-time admitted and convicted terrorist, trained by the CIA to carry out deadly attacks on Cuba. He is responsible for the murder of 73 people in the 1976 bombing of a Cuban airliner, and for Havana hotel bombings in the 1990's that killed an Italian tourist. In the 1970s, as an official in Venezuela's "intelligence" police, he tortured and murdered Venezuelan activists. In Panama in 2000, he led a group of terrorists to try to assassinate Fidel Castro with 33 pounds of explosives, which if, successful, would have also killed hundreds of students where Castro was due to speak. In 2005, Posada illegally entered the United States, and has since been treated with kid gloves by the Bush administration. On May 8, federal judge Kathleen Cordone dropped all charges against Posada and he now walks free in Miami. His case was featured on Democracy Now on May 9 and 10 and was the subject of editorials on May 11 in the LA Times, the Washington Post and others calling for him to be brought to justice. (A link to the articles can be found at http://www.freethefive.org/newsupdates.htm.) Sponsored by Minnesota Cuba Committee, mncuba [at] usfamily.net --------10 of 15-------- From: umjoe [at] comcastS.net Subject: Schools 5.16 6:30pm [SPIF] May 16 super inner city hs principal will speak Why does the Ohio Dept of Education rated an inner city high school with no admissions test as "Excellent," the highest of five ranks a public school can be rated? Why does the school consistently do better with inner city African American students than mostly white suburban high schools? How does separate young women and young men in academic classes? How does it partner with a local university and social service agency? Answers to these and other questions at a free presentation by the founder/principal of this Cincinnati Public School next WEDNESDAY night, May 16, 6:30 at the Capril Theatre, 2027 West Broadway, In Minneapolis The presentation is sponsored by the HOPE Collaboration, a new Twin Cities group including educators, community members, and political leaders. For more info, please see attached or call Joe Nathan 612 625-3506 --------11 of 15-------- From: Lydia Howell <lhowell [at] visi.com> Subject: Sami/Iraq 5.16 7pm Iraqi-American Sami Rasouli Wednesday, May 16, 7:00 p.m. Unity Church-Unitarian, 732 Holly Avenue, St. Paul. FFI: Call Rachel, 651-436-2238 or email <rachel.kaul [at] alfredbarry.com>. --------12 of 15-------- From: bkucera [at] csom.umn.edu Subject: Labor films 5.16 7pm Wednesday, May 16: The University of Minnesota Labor Education Service will screen the final two films in the 2006-2007 Labor & Community Film Series: Transnational Tradeswomen and Sisters of Philadelphia. The showing will start at 7 p.m. at the Lakes & Plains Regional Council of Carpenters, 700 Olive St., St. Paul. Transnational Tradeswomen (62 minutes) is a documentary by former construction worker Vivian Price that explores the current and historical roles of women in the construction industry in Asia discovering several startling facts. Capturing footage that shatters common stereotypes, Price discovers that women in many parts of Asia have been doing construction labor for centuries. But conversations with these women show that development and the resulting mechanization are pushing them out of the industry. Their stories disturb the notion of "progress" that many people hold and show how globalization, modernization, education and technology don't always result in gender equality and the alleviation of poverty. Celebrating a range of women workers - from a Japanese truck driver and two young Pakistani women working on a construction site in Lahore, to a Taiwanese woman who works alongside her husband - this film deftly probes the connections in their experiences. Sisters of Philadelphia (11 minutes) is a film produced by and for women carpenters in Philadelphia. K.S. Haskey, the director, has worked as a U.B.C.J. carpenter for over 21 years. She highlights the warmth and spirit that women in the trades bring to their work and to the labor movement overall. The film showing is co-sponsored with the Lakes & Plains Council of Carpenters and Women in the Trades. --------13 of 15-------- From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at] hotmail.com> Subject: Military/abuse 5.16 7:30pm Wednesday, 5/16, 7:30 pm, Dr Mic Hunter discusses his book "Honor Betrayed: Sexual Abuse in the Military," Magers and Quinn Books, 3038 Hennepin Ave S, Mpls. www.magersandquinn.com or 612-822-4611. --------14 of 15-------- The Mussolini of Manhattan Giuliani Time By JENNIFER ROESCH CounterPunch May 14, 2007 With the Bush presidency in a free-fall and Republicans scrambling to find a candidate with as little connection as possible to the White House, former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani is back at center stage. Despised in New York as a lame-duck mayor through much of his second term, Giuliani today is leading in opinion polls among contenders for the Republican presidential nomination. Giuliani's popularity is the result of the September 11 attacks in New York. That year, Time magazine declared him its "Person of the Year," and he became known as "America's mayor." He projected an image of a tough but compassionate leader who would unite New Yorkers and "heal the wounds" of a traumatized city. Another aspect of Giuliani's appeal is his carefully nurtured image as a moderate on social issues - especially gay rights and a woman's right to choose abortion - an aberration in a Republican Party where the Religious Right seems to call the shots. This image has been aided by a compliant media that paints Giuliani as able to reach across partisan lines to provide leadership in times of crisis. The reality could not be more different - and Giuliani's reign as mayor of New York proves it. * * * In 1993, Giuliani rode to power on the wave of a racist backlash against African American Mayor David Dinkins. Once in office, Giuliani was unapologetic in appealing to racist stereotypes to drive through his policies. During his time as mayor, Giuliani led a racist war on working and poor New Yorkers that slashed social services, threw women and children off welfare, attacked union rights and spurred an epidemic of police brutality. Giuliani has made it clear that he intends to carry this "tough on crime" agenda - now repackaged as "tough on terrorism" - into the presidential campaign. In a recent New Hampshire appearance, he took a page out of Dick Cheney's book, suggesting that the U.S. would be more vulnerable to a terrorist attack if the Democrats were elected. "If one of them gets elected, it sounds to me like we're going on the defense," he said. "We've got a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq. We're going to wave the white flag there. We're going to try to cut back on the Patriot Act. We're going to cut back on electronic surveillance. We're going to cut back on interrogation. We're going to cut back, cut back, cut back, and we'll be back in our pre-September 11 mentality of being on defense." Another carryover from the Giuliani years in New York City is his blatant appeal to racism. While campaigning in the South, this "social moderate" defended flying the Confederate flag as an issue of "state's rights" - the rallying cry of the Jim Crow South 40 years ago. As for his supposedly liberal credentials on social issues, Giuliani has shown that he is willing to shift positions to appease a right-wing audience. For example, while he has long been known as a supporter of abortion rights, Giuliani recently backed the Supreme Court decision upholding a federal ban on a late-term abortion procedure misnamed "partial birth abortion" by the right. Giuliani says that if he were president, he would appoint "strict constructionist" judges - a phrase that many consider code for overturning the Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion. * * * IF ANYONE wants to know what a Giuliani presidency would really look like, they should go back to his years as mayor of New York during the 1990s. Giuliani is credited with an urban renewal in NYC that cut crime rates and revived the economy and tourism. While he did create a Disneyland version of NYC, complete with a redeveloped Times Square and booming Wall Street, the reality of what happened to working-class and poor New Yorkers during his time in office is a much darker story. Giuliani came to power in the context of a racially divided city. During his election campaign, he spoke at a police "protest" - in reality, a drunken brawl of white cops - held on the steps of City Hall against the establishment of a civilian complaint review board. Complete and unapologetic support for the NYPD became a hallmark of his tenure. As soon as he took office, Giuliani announced a "quality of life" campaign, claiming that by going after small-time offenses, the city would be able to root out more violent crimes. The symbol of this campaign was Giuliani's plan to drive "squeegee men" - homeless people who wiped windshields at traffic stops for money - from NYC streets. Giuliani's cops went after them with a ruthlessness that foreshadowed much greater brutality to come. As the campaign got underway, an off-duty cop shot and killed an unarmed "squeegee man" - and defended his actions on the basis that the man was a "criminal." Treating misdemeanors as equal to more serious crimes meant ratcheting up the level of violence and repression in poor, minority communities. The underlying assumption of the new "stop and frisk" policy was that all Blacks and Latinos were potential criminals. A report by then-Attorney General Eliot Spitzer found that Latinos were stopped 39 percent more often than whites under the policy, and Blacks were stopped 23 percent more often. The year before Giuliani took office, 720 people were arrested for misdemeanor marijuana-related offenses; by 2000, the number had jumped to 59,495 - an increase of 4,549 percent. During a 10-month period in 1996, 50,000 people detained on misdemeanors were strip-searched by the Department of Corrections. These kinds of aggressive policies gave a green light to the NYPD to terrorize Black and Latino communities. When unarmed cousins Anthony Rosario and Hilton Vega were shot in the back and killed while they lay face down on the floor in 1995, Giuliani called the officers and congratulated them on their performance. When Anthony's mother, Margarita Rosario, began organizing in protest, Giuliani told her that her son died because she was a bad mother. This attitude was exemplified most starkly when cops tortured and sodomized Abner Louima in a Brooklyn police station in 1997. Even after the killing of Amadou Diallo - shot 41 times in the hallway of his building in 1999 - Giuliani maintained his defense of the police and his opposition to any kind of reform of the NYPD. Giuliani and his supporters defended these actions by claiming that "tough on crime" policies were crucial to a decline in crime statistics. But a look at the statistics shows that the drop in crime began 36 months before Giuliani took office - while Dinkins was still mayor. In fact, the 1990s saw a national reduction in crime, due largely to demographic and economic changes. * * * IN REALITY, the dramatic escalation of repression was needed to manage a city that saw an expansion of economic and social polarization during the Giuliani era. Despite the Wall Street boom of the 1990s, living standards for working class and poor New Yorkers actually declined. By 2000, one in four New Yorkers lived in poverty - basically the same rate as during the 1989-1992 recession a decade before, and nearly double the national average. That same year, New York's homeless population reached its highest point since 1989, and the city had a shortfall of 390,000 affordable housing units for low-income renters. These statistics were the result of deliberate policies on the part of the Giuliani administration. Throughout successive budgets, Giuliani cut funding for municipal employees, schools and other social services, while cutting taxes for the wealthy and Wall Street. Some of the most devastating attacks came through Giuliani's restructuring of the local welfare system. In one of the most sweeping attacks on recipients, Giuliani converted welfare offices to "job centers," introduced "workfare" requirements, cut funding and actively discouraged and prevented poor people from getting the benefits they were entitled to. In 1994, 27 percent of applicants were rejected from welfare. By November 1999, 75 percent of job center applicants and 52 percent of applicants overall were rejected. In the four years following welfare reform, the food stamp rolls were reduced by 35 percent. These figures weren't the result of recipients moving off welfare into new jobs. In fact, of the first 5,300 people to enter the city's job search program, only 265 people were placed. Instead, people were forced off the rolls and into the Work Experience Program (WEP) to perform previously unionized jobs at sweatshop wages. Thus, between 1991 and 1999, the WEP workforce in the Parks Department grew from 170 to 2,389, while regular Parks employees dropped from 4,285 to 2,101. WEP workers in the Parks Department made $1.80 an hour - compared to an average wage for Parks employee of $8.65. At the same time, 13,000 students in the CUNY public education system were forced out of college and into workfare programs. Numerous investigations uncovered the cruel methods used to cut the rolls. At one point, a scandal erupted when it was discovered that welfare centers were "losing" food stamp applications - thus, making it impossible for recipients to apply. Giuliani's treatment of the homeless was equally callous. At one point, he housed homeless applicants for emergency shelter - including children - in a former jail. During his administration, spending on affordable housing was cut by 44 percent, and the creation of apartments for the homeless declined by 75 percent. At the same time, police conducted aggressive sweeps to keep the homeless off city streets and out of view. The real legacy of "Giuliani time" is a city where Wall Street executives celebrate enormous bonuses with spectacular meals, washed down with trophy wines - while the poor are increasingly pushed to the margins. A city whose tourist centers glitter while service cuts leave garbage to accumulate on the streets of working-class neighborhoods. A city where the NYPD's thugs in blue continue to terrorize minority communities. At a time when a majority of Americans believe that the war in Iraq should end and more money should be spent on vital social services, Giuliani would represent a return to the heyday of the "Republican Revolution": a war on the poor that threw women and children into the streets, civil liberties gutted, and "tough on crime" policies that devastated Black and Latino communities. Jennifer Roesch lives in New York. She writes for the Socialist Worker. --------15 of 15-------- Notes on Cultural Renaissance in a Time of Barbarism by James Petras / May 13th, 2007 Introduction We live in a time of imperial-driven destructive wars in the name of "democracy," savage exploitation in the name of "emerging world powers," massive forced population displacement in the name of "immigration" and large-scale pillage of natural resources in the name of "free markets". We live in a time of barbarism and the barbarian elites employ an army of linguistic and cultural manipulators to justify their conquests. The great crimes against most of humanity are justified by a corrosive debasement of language and thought - a deliberate fabrication of euphemisms, falsehoods and conceptual deceptions. Cultural expressions are a central determinant in class, national, ethnic and gender relations. They reflect and are products of political, economic and social power. But just as power is ultimately a social relation between antagonistic classes, cultural expressions are also mediated through the lenses, experiences and interests of the dominant elites and their rebellious subjects. Even as the writers of the barbarous elites have fabricated a linguistic world of terror, of demons and saviors, of axes of good and evil, of euphemisms which embellish the crimes against humanity, so have new groups of writers, artists and collective participants come forth to clarify reality and elucidate the existential and collective bases for demystifying the lies and creating a new cultural reality. In the face of elite barbarism, a cultural renaissance is born. Revelations of crimes are made through journalistic investigations, plays and songs. Affirmations of integrity, social solidarity and individual rejections of the monetary enticements strengthen moral commitment in the face of ever-present threats, assassinations and official censure. The great crimes of the imperial powers and their local clients include the massacres and daily death counts, propaganda, which pronounces every victim a criminal, and every criminal a savior. The political delinquents have not, do not and cannot silence, deafen or blind a new generation of critical intellectuals, poets and artists who speak truth to the people. There are several themes which are essential in the advancement of the emerging cultural renaissance and our challenge to the reign of barbarism: These include the politics of language, conceptual misconceptions and intellectual courage in everyday life. The great conflict is between the power of the mass media and collective solidarity, and the false association of class with high and mass culture. The Politics of Language The corruption of language is a prescription for complicity in political crimes. Corruption of language takes the form of euphemisms concocted by propagandists, transmitted through the mass media, echoed in the pompous language of academics, judges, and translated into the gutter language of the sensationalist yellow press. Monstrous crimes against rural communities perpetuated by the police state are described as "pacification"; reduction of salaries and social services are described as "stabilization"; and the elimination of labor legislation protecting employment from arbitrary firings and weakening of trade unions is described as "labor flexibilization". Human rights advocates defending victims of military violence are called "accomplices of terrorists"; systematic state and paramilitary violence is called national security; opposition to military and political linkages to death squads is called terrorism; large scale counter-insurgency plans designed and funded by foreign imperial powers are labeled measures for "national salvation". There is also the pretext of providing a pseudo-scientific neutral terminology to inhuman acts - destroying thousands of communities and displacing millions is described as "liquidating subversive elements" and likened to the extermination of noxious insects. Euphemisms are a form of collective anesthesia - to tranquilize the population not directly affected by state violence. The imagery evoked by euphemisms is always portrayed as benign to obscure the malignant reality. To "pacify" suggests a "pacifier" and allows a parent to gently calm an infant and eliminate its irritable cries. "Pacification" of a people means the opposite: the violent eruption of military forces into a tranquil community that causes screams of pain and shudders of death. Stabilization in the mouths of state authorities means to reduce trade and budget deficits by lowering wages and salaries while retaining subsidies and tax-exemptions for the ruling class. Stabilization for big business and the banks means de-stabilization for the working class and the poor: the loss of health services, increases in the prices of basic commodities like food and transportation and the loss of employment leading to family break-ups, children leaving school, single parent homes and rising rates of suicide and alcoholism. The dress rehearsal for any political and social transformation is linguistic clarity - speaking and writing in a language in which words and concepts evoke the reality we live, especially the differential class impact of specific policies. The unmasking of euphemisms is not a job for linguists but for all committed intellectuals and artists. Language and the Left Too many times the left fails to elucidate the meaning of euphemisms - resorting to the lazy device of hanging quotation marks around the targeted phrase. The quotation marks are meant to indicate irony and criticism or rejection of the euphemism - but they are just as obscurantist as the euphemism they seek to discredit. For example, many writers deal with authoritarian or police state regimes which claim to be democratic by simply putting quotes around "democracy" - as if the quotes are self-explanatory. The critics fail to take the time and make the effort to elaborate a more precise term, which captures the cognitive meaning of the political system. The resort to quotation marks has a long tradition of abuse on the left, an abuse that serves to undermine the pedagogical purposes of educating the popular classes and providing a new and useful political vocabulary. More recently, especially among intellectuals who have a pretense of communicating or leading the working class and peasantry, they abuse popular understanding by swearing. When using "swear words" intellectuals abdicate their responsibility to widen the vocabulary of the working class or peasant activists. When workers or peasants resort to swear words, much depends on the context and tonality to determine meaning. The same swear word can be a denunciation or a term of affection, depending on the context. But when there is a political vocabulary that is more precise and varied, the pseudo-populist intellectual should introduce and define its meaning instead of pretending to establish rapport on the basis of the most limited and simplistic level of communication: vulgarity. The intellectual playing down to the workers and peasants doesn't raise their understanding; instead it reduces the literacy of the intellectual. The other side of the coin is the problem of the exoticism of the intellectual: The use of an unfamiliar, abstract language derived from highly specialized texts, which fail to connect to the concrete realities and struggles of the workers and peasants. The task for intellectuals is to take complex ideas and make them comprehensible - to illustrate ideas from everyday practice. It is easier to write for other intellectuals than it is to take the effort of explaining the content and meaning of a concept to the popular classes. But that is what must be done without condescension or over-simplification. Conceptual Clarity: Between Democracy and Barbarism Conceptual perversion is the opium of the intellectual apologists of state terror. What are the concepts, which are most often perverted? What are the most frequent acts of perversion? How and why do these obscene activities take place? The most frequent concepts subject to perversion by state power are democracy, citizenship (or citizenry), civil society and free elections. Democracy, as it is used by foreign and domestic apologist of the terror state, reduces democracy to a set of electoral procedures, competition by two or more competing parties and legislative and executive institutions based on the elections. The most essential elements of democracy, the freedom to speak, organize, assemble and protest are excluded; death squad, police and military violence resulting in systematic assassination, kidnapping and disappearances undermine the entire context leading up to the election. In other words, state terror undermines the political context for free elections, for competitive parties and critical candidates. The widespread and intensive use of force and violence in the run-up to the elections determines the consequences of the elections: alternation of leaders within the narrow confines of the ruling oligarchy. Electoral procedures subject to state terror and systematic assassinations and intimidation are clearly incompatible with any substantive conception of democracy. The systematic physical elimination of political opponents and the psychological intimidation of the mass electorate define a police state. Associating state terror and political threats with democracy is a gross perversion of the very foundations of the democratic process: the freedom to choose to run for office and to pursue alternatives to the existing system. Some writers refer to death-squad-democracies - states in which state-promoted death squads condition electoral processes. The irony of this expression - the linking of opposites is a reminder of George Orwell's phrase "slavery is democracy". Likewise, some speak of imperial-democracy to refer to the US in which domestic policy is democratic while the imperial foreign policy dictates the harsh rules of violence and dictatorial regimes. These hyphenated terms however are static conceptions; empire building, especially in periods of defeat and domestic unrest can lead to the usurpation of dictatorial executive power - imperial democracy becomes an imperial police state. Another concept, which has been corrupted by the apologists of state power, is civil society - namely the social classes, organizations and associations that are independent of the state. The apologists of state terror, who call for the defense of civil society, refer only to specific elite civil organizations and obfuscate their intimate inter-relations with the police state. Their virtuous civil society excludes the independent peasant associations and class-oriented trade unions. While speaking in defense of civil society, they defend the police state engaged in the assassination of civil society leaders as constituted by independent jurists, lawyers, peasants, workers, students and others. The decimation of civil society in the name of civil society describes a state of barbarism - the barbarous state under the facade of competitive oligarchic electoral politics. Citizenship and the Barbarous State The full or partial exercise of civic virtues is a perilous undertaking in the barbarous state. The record is clear in Colombia: 3 million forcibly displaced rural citizens, 40,000 citizens killed by the paramilitary and military, tens of thousands of citizens forced into exile or into hiding. For many citizens the decision to continue to fully exercise their civic duties, exercising their social rights to organize civic action and their political rights to question arbitrary oligarchic rule is fraught with danger, on a daily basis. For many others, the more prudent citizens, they choose to operate within the institutional parameters imposed by the oligarchy, using Aesopian language, to voice their dissent against state violence. Presidents of barbarous states who publicly denounce citizens exercising their civic rights are writing a death sentence - usually exercised by sicario-motorcyclists shooting trade unionists going to work, human rights lawyers leaving their offices, peasant activists tilling their fields. The everyday exercise of civic virtues in a state of barbarism is a heroic deed. Civility, in the face of death threats emanating from political leaders with immunity is a virtue that can only be attributed to the citizen. Civility is not embedded in the political system; it exists despite and against the barbarian state. Under extreme conditions, civic consciousness can include non-voting or abstention. These can be considered meretricious acts particularly where the oligarchs control the political process and voting only serves to provide a veneer of pseudo-legitimacy to the barbarians in power. Where political alternatives emerge, free of oligarchic control, citizens may choose to exercise their political rights to assemble and collectively decide to break with the system and apparatus of violence. Political Tragedies or Political Criminality? Many progressive writers and artists, when writing of the lost potentialities of countries with great human and material richness because of misrule, speak of political tragedies. This is a serious misconception, which misconstrues the nature of tragedy and the abuse of political power. A political tragedy exists, in the classical sense, when well-intentioned rulers with flawed characters inadvertently commit acts of horror - family killings - or plunge their countries into devastating wars over slight pretexts; out of individual pride (hubris). The barbaric acts of violence of the oligarchic rulers are not the result of individual flaws; they are products of collective, deliberate, systematic acts of pillage, exploitation and the usurpation of small land-owners. The acts of war are against the communities in their realm. The reasons for war are not personal slights, but the defense of indefensible privileges, illegitimate power and great concentrations of wealth. The systematic long-term, large-scale violence of a succession of oligarchic rulers against their citizens and the impoverishment of a potentially rich country is not a tragedy. It is a political crime, or more accurately a crime against humanity. When we speak of political tragedies, let us speak of ancient classical Athens or Shakespeare's Hamlet, not contemporary Colombia, a state where the narrative is more akin to the genealogy of the Mafia. Tragedy speaks to good rulers who through excess pride commit a political crime. The audience of a tragedy identifies, at least at the beginning with the ruler and their apparent virtues and benign rule. As the ruler moves inexorably to their fall, the audience is repulsed by the crime, but as justice is meted they experience a catharsis - a sense of civic virtue redeemed, even a feeling that political absolutism, even exercised by a once virtuous ruler, has been duly punished. A sense of citizen ambiguity regarding the human condition, even among those occupying the highest sphere of politics, remains in the public consciousness. In contrast, contemporary oligarchic rulers begin their tenure in office as homicidal delinquents. Their very electoral campaigns are plagued with murder, mayhem and massacres' Upon becoming heads of states, there is no ambiguity: The Presidents' closest associates are oligarchs, their Congressional supporters are elected by the illicit funds of narco-traffickers and the rule is imposed by guns and machetes of paid assassins. Criminal acts of rulership continue in perpetuity with no redeeming virtues. At no point in time does the audience - the citizens - express any emotional identification. On the contrary, as the crimes multiply, their emotional indignation and repudiation grows more intense. With the system of justice so thoroughly corrupted and the mass media complicit, the people find no publicly expressive redemption - no sense of justice emerges because, unlike the Greek or Shakespearean tragedies, there is no end to the horror. Political criminality that permeates the contemporary barbarous state will not emerge from an elite redeemer. Colombia: Heroes in Everyday Life Many are the literary critics and large is the public that looks to celebrities in film and sports and Nobel Prize winners as their virtual heroes and heroines. I must confess however that my heroes and heroines are neither saints nor notables, not even the great critics and world-renowned intellectuals in the US or Europe. The most admirable are those Colombians who work steadily with great energy and purpose in pursuit of the civic virtues of class solidarity with the victims of the barbarous state and affirm their civic dignity through their defense of human and social rights. Cultural celebrities and intellectuals - notables especially in the North - have their world reputations to protect them from the predator states when they criticize injustice. For them it is an occasional grand moment - a press conference, a public meeting, signing a petition. These small acts have meaning and carry some moral weight. But, to me, they shrink in stature faced with the everyday acts of courage and solidarity, which engage trade union activists - beverage and farm workers, coal miners - and human rights lawyers and professionals in the face of daily acts of murder and threats of death. There is a great moral distance between putting your life on the line every minute of the day, as do Colombian peasants active in their movements, and the academics who speak from the protection of the ivory towers of prestigious universities in Europe and North America. The latter actions, because of their celebrity status, may pressure the barbarous state to release a victim of torture, and that is not insignificant especially for the individual in question. The temporary lessening of intimidation provides a moment of relief but once the celebrities, the Nobel Prize winners turn away to their other professional pursuits, it is the workers, peasants, the activists and social movements which have to face the life and death threats and challenges in their everyday work, in their families and neighborhoods. Their virtues of solidarity and civility, of militancy and their consequential beliefs are what inspire me to believe that barbarism is neither omnipotent nor is it our destiny. Despite the pompous pronouncements by experts and critics of mass communication who proclaim the power of the mass media, we know that millions everywhere defy the media messages. They organize popular protests, uprisings, general strikes despite the fact that every mass media is against the mass action. Against the mass conformity of the mass media, the spirit and traditions of class, family and community solidarity have been far more successful than the media experts admit. In Venezuela every major private mass media monopoly denounced President Chavez and supported a coup against him - and yet he was reinstated in power and elected three times each time by a larger majority. The truth is that the barbaric state is vulnerable, tactically powerful because of money and arms but strategically vulnerable: No institutions, even those that buttress a police state, can stand in the face of a sustained cultural and political resistance that exposes its deceptions, its criminal acts, its corruption and depredations. The President of the United States and his most loyal client in Latin American can still engage in mass murder but nobody believes their lies and deceptions: When their justifications for brutality relies solely on their control of force they have already lost the political struggle. To further their political demise and above all to ensure that another barbarous oligarch does no replace them, a profound cultural revolution must accompany the rupture with the political past. The passing of barbarism requires a cultural renaissance; in which the best of art, language, dance and music is not defined by class boundaries and taboos. - James Petras, a former Professor of Sociology at Binghamton University, New York, owns a 50-year membership in the class struggle, is an adviser to the landless and jobless in Brazil and Argentina, and is co-author of Globalization Unmasked (Zed Books). His latest book is The Power of Israel in the United States (Clarity Press, 2006). His forthcoming book is Rulers and Ruled (Bankers, Zionists and Militants (Clarity Press, Atlanta). He can be reached at: jpetras [at] binghamton.edu. Read other articles by James, or visit James's website. This article was posted on Sunday, May 13th, 2007 at 5:00 am and is filed under Capitalism and Language. Send to a friend. [I suggest we practice "humanitarian relocation" on the ruling class by transporting them to some other planet, before this one dies of warming caused by the ruling class. Other names for this generous policy are "Pre-emptive transportation", "leave no ruling class person behind", "elite habitat outsourcing", "Martian as a second language", and "flight of (the) fancy". Once they're gone, Earth will at last have a chance to become a "world without end" - ed] ------------------------------------------------------------------------------ - David Shove shove001 [at] tc.umn.edu rhymes with clove Progressive Calendar over 2225 subscribers as of 12.19.02 please send all messages in plain text no attachments
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