Progressive Calendar 08.20.08
From: David Shove (
Date: Tue, 19 Aug 2008 23:00:06 -0700 (PDT)
             P R O G R E S S I V E   C A L E N D A R    08.20.08

1. Vets/poor/KFAI    8.20 11am
2. Emotional aid     8.20 3pm
3. Sail away         8.20 5:30pm
4. YAWR puppets      8.20 6pm
5. PRT               8.20 6:30pm
6. RNC marshalls     8.20 7pm

7. New Hope demo     8.21 4:30pm
8. Eagan peace vigil 8.21 4:30pm
9. Northtown vigil   8.21 5pm
10. RNC/True Blue    8.21 5:15pm
11. Solar energy     8.21 5:30pm
12. School board     8.21 6:30pm
13. Radical comics   8.21 7pm
14. Arab artists     8.21 7:30pm

15. Nader/Gonzalez - Nader/Gonzalez rally 9.04
16. Bob Egelko     - Journalist says US target was Al-Jazeera
17. James Petras   - Reflections on twenty-first century socialism
18. Uri Avnery     - The life and poems of Mahmoud Darwish
19. James Keye     - Private property and wealth
20. R Tremblay     - Why not simply abolish NATO?

--------1 of 20--------

From: Andy Driscoll <andy [at]>
Subject: Vets/poor/KFAI 8.20 11am

Wednesday, August 20  11:00AM: VETERANS FOR PEACE/IRAQ VETS and POOR

The names and numbers of organizations planning events coincident with and
in response to the Republican National Convention (RNC) just keep on
coming. At the end of the month the national and local chapters of the
VETERANS FOR PEACE (VFP) will hold their convention, joined by the IRAQ
VETERANS AGAINST THE WAR (IVAW), while on September 2, the second large
parade of protesters will seek the eyeballs and ears of RNC delegates and
the media the MARCH FOR OUR LIVES organized by the POOR PEOPLES ECONOMIC

TTTs ANDY DRISCOLL and LYNNELL MICKELSEN will talk with leaders of all
these events and get their take on the dynamics of the convention in St.
Paul, Sept. 1-4 at the Xcel.

  JOHN VARONE, President, VFP Minnesota Chapter 27
  CHANTE WOLF, Vice President, VFP Minnesota Chapter 27
  JIM STEINHAGEN, Past President, VFP Minnesota Chapter 27
  WES DAVEY, Iraq Veterans Against the War
  CHERI HONKALA,  National Organizer, PPEHRC

KFAI Radio, 90.3 Minneapolis /106.7 St. Paul / Streaming live/later

--------2 of 20--------

From: candace bee <candace [at]>
Subject: Emotional first aid 8.20 3pm

Greetings from the North Star Health Collective's Mental Health & Wellness
Space organizers!

With the convention swiftly approaching, we cannot stress enough the need
to be proactive when it comes to the emotional wellbeing of folks planning
to attend the protests. We urge anyone intending to be on the streets,
medics, protesters, local residents, etc. to come find out ways we can
support ourselves and each other leading up to and following the

The North Star Health Collective's Mental Health & Wellness Space
Organizers are offering free trainings in Psychological First Aid to folks
attending the Republican National Convention mobilization. In an effort to
offer these trainings to as wide a variety of folks as possible, we have
chosen a variety of days, times & locations. These trainings will last
between 2 and 3 hours and we urge anyone interested to attend.

Please contact candace [at] if you are interested in attending so we
have an idea of how many people to expect at any given training.

The scheduled trainings are as follows:

* Wednesday, August 20th from 3pm-6pm at the Hosmer Library Lower Level
Meeting Room - 347 East 36th Street, Minneapolis

* Saturday, August 23rd from 11am-2pm at the Hosmer Library Lower Level
Meeting Room - 347 East 36th Street, Minneapolis

* Tuesday, August 26th from 7pm-10pm at the Convergence Space, St. Paul

* Wednesday, August 27th from 3pm-6pm at the Convergence Space, St. Paul

Be well! Candace Bollinger Mental Health Organizer NorthStar Health

--------3 of 20--------

From: St. Paul Sailing Club <saintpaulsailingclub [at]>
Subject: Sail away 8.20 5:30pm

We are holding a fundraiser for the St. Paul Sailing Club at the Lake Phalen
boathouse on Wednesday Aug, 20, 2008. The start time is 5:30 pm and ending
at 10:00 pm. We will be featuring smoked turkey and ham sandwiches courtesy
of the Eastside gormet smoker Gary Unger. Come early and come sail on the
lake with us. We suggest you bring your own life jacket for comfort, but
will have them on-hand as well.

It is our intent to increase the foot and boat traffic on Lake Phalen, which
many believe is the best way to suppress vandalism and violence in the area.
This event coincides with our first full year of operation. Come and see
what we have accomplished.

The suggested donation is $20.00, but this is a fundraiser so we will accept
more. This event will take place rain or shine.

--------4 of 20--------

From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at]>
Subject: YAWR puppets 8.20 6pm

Wednesday, 8/20, 6 to 9 pm, Youth Against War and Racism makes puppets for
the protests against the RNC, Bedlam Theater, 1501 S 6th St, West Bank,
Mpls. Puppet workshops are led by Chris Lutter of
Puppet Farm Arts, Please RSVP
tytymo [at] gmail so they know how many folks to plan for.

--------5 of 20--------

From: Andrea Walker <walk828 [at]>
Subject: PRT 8.20 6:30pm

There is a Citizens for Personal Rapid Transit meeting on Wednesday, Aug
20th at 6:30 pm in the cedar-riverside neighborhood.  we meet at the
perkins off highway 94 and riverside ave.  for more information see  hope to see you there!!!

[PRT is far better and cheaper than LRT. -ed]

--------6 of 20---------

From: "wamm [at]" <wamm [at]>
Subject: RNC marshalls 8.20 7pm

Marshal and Volunteer Trainings for the "March on the RNC and Stop the

Wednesday, August 20, 7:00p.m. Waite House, 2529
13th Avenue South, Minneapolis.

Saturday, August 23, 2:00 p.m. Walker Methodist
Church, 3104 16th Avenue South, Minneapolis.

Sunday, August 31, 2:00 p.m. U of M, Hubert
Humphrey Building, Room 30, 301 19th Avenue
South, Minneapolis.

Interested in volunteering at the biggest march in Minnesota history? Come
to one of three marshalling and volunteer trainings so that you can help
with the March on the RNC and Stop the War on September 1. All marshals at
the demonstration must attend one of these trainings. Organized by: the
Coalition to March on the RNC and Stop the War. FFI: Email
<info [at]> or call 612-379-3584.

--------7 of 20--------

From: Carole Rydberg <carydberg [at]>
Subject: New Hope demo 8.21 4:30pm

NWN4P-New Hope demonstration every Thursday 4:30 to 6 PM at the corner
of Winnetka and 42nd.  You may park near Walgreens or in the larger lot
near McDonalds; we will be on all four corners.  Bring your own or use
our signs.

--------8 of 20--------

From: Greg and Sue Skog <family4peace [at]>
Subject: Eagan peace vigil 8.21 4:30pm

CANDLELIGHT PEACE VIGIL EVERY THURSDAY from 4:30-5:30pm on the Northwest
corner of Pilot Knob Road and Yankee Doodle Road in Eagan. We have signs
and candles. Say "NO to war!" The weekly vigil is sponsored by: Friends
south of the river speaking out against war.

--------9 of 20--------

From: EKalamboki [at]
Subject: Northtown vigil 8.21 5pm

NORTHTOWN Peace Vigil every Thursday 5-6pm, at the intersection of Co. Hwy
10 and University Ave NE (SE corner across from Denny's), in Blaine.

Communities situated near the Northtown Mall include: Blaine, Mounds View,
New Brighton, Roseville, Shoreview, Arden Hills, Spring Lake Park,
Fridley, and Coon Rapids.  We'll have extra signs.

For more information people can contact Evangelos Kalambokidis by phone or
email: (763)574-9615, ekalamboki [at]

--------10 of 20--------

From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at]>
Subject: RNC/True Blue 8.21 5:15pm

Thursday, 8/21, 5:15 to 7:45 pm, sneak preview for True Blue Minnesota's
planned RNC activities, Kellogg Square, 3rd floor, Downtown St Paul.

--------11 of 20--------

From: "Krista Menzel (MRES)" <web [at]>
Subject: Solar energy 8.21 5:30pm

The Eco Experience at the Minnesota State Fair
August 21-September 1, 2008

The Eco Experience at the Minnesota State Fair is an indoor green space
with lush rain gardens, an eco home, live entertainment, and cutting-edge
displays on renewable energy, new fuels and vehicles, and organic farming.
Perfect for do-it-yourselfers, techies, gardeners, and nature-lovers, the
space features a children's area with fun for kids of all ages. The Eco
Experience is presented by the Minnesota State Fair and the Minnesota
Pollution Control Agency, helping Minnesotans protect the environment
since 1967. Bring your family, bring a friend - get in on The Eco

The Eco Experience is located in the Progress Center building (J-9 on map)
at the corner of Cooper Street and Randall Avenue on the State
Fairgrounds. Visit for more information about The
Eco Experience.

Volunteers Needed! Solar enthusiasts needed! All solar enthusiasts -
expert or novice - are invited to volunteer as Solar Area Educators with
the Minnesota Renewable Energy Society (MRES) and the Connect To The Sun
exhibit in The Eco Experience building at the Minnesota State Fair, August
21-September 1, 2008. We need volunteers (18+ years) to staff the Solar
Area of The Eco Experience. Volunteers receive free State Fair admission,
solar training, and an Eco Experience t-shirt.

Register Online at The Eco Experience Web Site:

Solar Energy Training Workshop for State Fair Eco Experience Volunteers
Tuesday, August 19, 2008 5:30-8:30 p.m. Location and details TBA upon
registration as Eco Experience volunteer

Want to learn more about solar power before volunteering at The Eco
Experience? Join MRES and partnering solar organizations for a free
three-hour Solar Energy Training workshop on August 19, 2008, 5:30-8:30
p.m., to develop your skills and knowledge prior to the Fair and gain
insight into renewable energy, solar energy technology, regulations and
codes, and fun facts about the solar area partners and displays at The Eco
Experience. This voluntary training is provided free of charge for all
Solar Area volunteers. You will receive details once you register as an
Eco Experience Solar Area volunteer.

Sponsor: Minnesota Renewable Energy Society

More Information:

--------12 of 20--------

From: Becki Smith <becki [at]>
Subject: School board 8.21 6:30pm

Please join us at Sabathani Community Center August 21st for a school
board candidate forum.  Doors open at 5:00 and the forum starts at 6:30.
There will be food as well as networking oppertunities. 310 E 38th St
Minneapolis, MN

Sponsored by the Minnesota Women's Political Caucus partnered with
Sabathani Community Center.

--------13 of 20--------

From: Jane Franklin <jfranklin008 [at]>
Subject: Radical NYC comics 8.21 7pm

New York graphic novelist visits Minneapolis to support anti-RNC

Contact: Event organizer Jane Franklin at 612-385-0132 or
jfranklin008 [at] Arise Books: 612-871-7110

Radical New York artist and cartoonist Seth Tobocman uses music and images
to dramatize incidents from his new book, 'Disaster and Resistance'
( in
Minneapolis on Thursday, August 21st.  Tobocman writes and draws about
urban activism, the struggle against racism and paranoia in post-9/11 New
York and his experience volunteering in flooded New Orleans.  The reading
will take place on the 21st at 7pm at Arise Books, located at 2441 Lyndale
Avenue S. Sliding scale $2-$10.

Seth Tobocman's work draws on his experience as a squatter in New York's
Lower East Side and his work as an anti-racist and anti-war activist. He
is the co-founder of long-running radical comics journal World War Three
Illustrated and the author of War in the Neighborhood, You Don't Have To
Fuck People Over To Survive, Freedom of the Press in Black and White: The
Story of Mumia Abu-Jamal, a Black Reporter, and Portraits of Israelis and
Palestinians for My Parents.  His art is deeply critical of the Bush
administration and often focuses on communities resisting racism and
economic attack.

Seth Tobocman's work is instantly recognizable, a fusion of the
documentary and the symbolic: a crowded courtroom gives way to a flooded
landscape menaced by vultures clutching electrical cable and dollar bills;
a woman cradles her home carefully in her hand; two figures struggle in
agony, one tearing the other's throat.  His work has been shown on streets
and in galleries around the globe, including the Museum of Modern Art and
the New Museum of Contemporary Art.

Tobocman will give a multimedia presentation of material from his new book
at Arise Bookstore and Resource Center, a radical space located at 2441
Lyndale Avenue South in Minneapolis.  Arise! has been an activist
information hub in the Twin Cities for almost fifteen years.  Established
in 1993 as a source for radical and progressive media and as an activist
event space, Arise! is collectively run, staffed by volunteers and offers
meeting space, a free computer lab and other resources.

--------14 of 20--------

From: Mizna  <mizna-announce [at]>
Subject: Arab artists 8.21 7:30pm

Latitudes: Local Arab Artists Show
Sarah Ahmed, Charlotte Albrecht, Naj Bagdadi, and Saed Kakish. Directed by
Dipankar Mukherjee.
Thursday, August 21 - Sunday, August 24
4 performances!
7:30 pm
Pangea World Theater 711 West Lake Street Minneapolis, MN

Mizna presents an interactive performance with its Latitudes granting
recipients. This year's artists spent a year in workshops and intense
rehearsals to create a collaborative performance. Directed by Pangea World
Theater's Dipankar Mukherjee, this performance explores themes of
visibility, journey, struggle, and body. The program was designed to
facilitate and support original artistic work created by community members
who identify as Arab, Muslim, Berber, or Iranian.
Visit our website at

--------15 of 20--------

From: PRO826 [at]
Subject: Nader/Gonzalez rally 9.04

Super Rally with Ralph Nader and Matt Gonzalez

Come hear the candidates who have the courage to Challenge the System
Iraq:  Total Military and Corporate Withdrawal
Stop Drug War Madness
End Pay or Die Healthcare
Living Wage
Crackdown on Corporate Criminals
Repeal Patriot Act
Repeal 2008 FISA Amendments
Solar Now!  No Nukes
Fair Trade NOT Free Trade

More on the issues can be found at the ISSUES link on _www.votenader.org_

Sept. 4th, 7:30pm (Doors @ 6:30pm)
"Open the Debates" Super Rally at the RNC
Speakers/Performers: Nellie McKay, Cindy Sheehan and Tom  Neilson and special
Orchestra Hall
1111 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis, MN 55403

(202) 299-4053 or _events [at] votenader.org_ (mailto:events [at]
Advanced ticket sales available soon, more information to  come
$10 advanced ticket price
$12 at the door

Danene Provencher MN State Coordinator Nader/Gonzalez '08
_Danene [at] votenader.org_ (mailto:Danene [at]

--------16 of 20--------

Journalist Says US Target was Al-Jazeera
by Bob Egelko
Published on Monday, August 18, 2008 by San Francisco Chronicle
Common Dreams

After more than six years as a prisoner of the United States, former TV
cameraman Sami al-Hajj is back at work with Al-Jazeera, the largest
broadcaster in the Arab world, a thorn in the side of most Arab
governments - and, by most indications, a target of deep hostility from
the Bush administration.

Al-Hajj, 39, was the longest-held journalist in U.S. custody at the time
of his release in May, and the only one ever held at the U.S. naval base
at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Military authorities repeatedly accused him of
being a terrorist in league with al Qaeda, then released him without

His case is emblematic of the poisoned relationship between the U.S.
government and a television network with 40 million viewers in the Middle

Since 2001, Bush administration officials have regularly denounced
Al-Jazeera as an anti-American propaganda organ and a mouthpiece for
terrorists, and have periodically urged its chief patron, the emir of
Qatar, to rein it in.

The United States even founded a rival Arab-language network, Al Hurra, in
2004, but commentators on the region generally agree it hasn't made a dent
in Al-Jazeera's popularity.

Al-Jazeera has also been hit twice by U.S. artillery fire. One shelling
destroyed its Kabul bureau in November 2001. The second struck a Baghdad
office in April 2003, killing correspondent Tareq Ayoub. The U.S. military
concluded both shellings were accidents.

According to the Defense Department, al-Hajj was just another suspected
terrorist among the 780 who have been held as enemy combatants since
January 2002 at Guantanamo. But his lawyer, Clive Stafford Smith, says
al-Hajj's imprisonment was all about Al-Jazeera.

"We calculated about 135 times he'd been interrogated, and about the first
120 the only interest they had was Al-Jazeera," Smith said. "They told him
that they thought Al-Jazeera was an al Qaeda front.

"They were trying to get him to finger a number of well-known Al-Jazeera
journalists as being in the Muslim Brotherhood," an Islamist organization
based in Egypt. "They offered to let him go if he'd spy".

Al-Hajj's response, Smith said, was that "he'd rather stay in Guantanamo
for another 10 years".

Al-Hajj gave a similar account to a gathering of supporters in his native
Sudan in late May.

"They wanted me to betray the principles of my job and to turn me into a
spy," he said, according to an Al-Jazeera account.

Smith, who heads a London-based legal organization called Reprieve, which
has represented about 80 inmates at Guantanamo, took on al-Hajj's case in
2005 after the prisoner's brother contacted him.

His information about the case, he said, comes from speaking with his
client and from investigating the government's varying allegations against
him - all of which, Smith said, proved baseless.

The Defense Department declined to provide anyone to speak for attribution
about the case, but denied pressuring al-Hajj to denounce Al-Jazeera or
offering to free him if he agreed to spy on the network.

                               No deals

"We don't make deals with detainees," said a department official, speaking
anonymously. [Yeah, right, say I, speaking anonymously.]

The official said the U.S. military doesn't target journalists in general
or Al-Jazeera in particular.

"If we were going to try to silence Al-Jazeera, it would be at a higher
level of personnel than some cameraman trainee," the official said of
al-Hajj, who - according to the network - was a full-fledged cameraman
when he was arrested.

An exception to state-run broadcasting in much of the Arab region,
Al-Jazeera was founded in 1996 and quickly became the most-watched channel
in Arab nations while angering many of their governments with its
coverage, which included appearances by political dissidents.

The U.S. government has criticized Al-Jazeera for its coverage of the wars
in Afghanistan and Iraq, which has included footage of dead and wounded
civilians as well as U.S. military casualties that is seldom shown in the
United States.

Since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the network has carried
videotaped messages from Osama bin Laden and other al Qaeda leaders.

Smith said one of the reasons U.S. military authorities first gave for
imprisoning al-Hajj was a suspicion - which proved unfounded - that he had
taken part in Al-Jazeera's interview of bin Laden in October 2001.

                            Born in Sudan

Al-Hajj, born and raised in Sudan, studied English at a college in India,
then worked at a beverage company in the United Arab Emirates in the early
1990s before turning to journalism, according to biographical information
from Al-Jazeera.

He got his first news media job with Al-Jazeera in 2001 and was assigned
to Afghanistan to cover the war in October of that year. He entered
Pakistan after U.S.-led forces ousted the Taliban government in
Afghanistan, and was arrested by Pakistani authorities when he tried to
re-enter Afghanistan in December 2001.

Al-Hajj was turned over to U.S. authorities at the military base in Bagram
in January 2002, was transferred to the base at Kandahar a month later and
was flown to Guantanamo in June 2002.

In describing al-Hajj as an enemy combatant and suspected terrorist,
military authorities offered a variety of allegations that mostly had a
common theme, Smith said: that he was using his journalistic credentials
to promote terrorism.

They accused him at different times of filming bin Laden and other al
Qaeda figures for Al-Jazeera and of maintaining a Web site to contact the
terrorist group, Smith said.

Military officials also alleged for a time that al-Hajj had smuggled
Stinger missiles to Chechen rebels.

                      Trained in use of cameras

A final assessment by a military panel at Guantanamo in October 2007,
accusing al-Hajj of working to facilitate "terrorist acts," cited as
evidence the fact that he "was trained by Al-Jazeera in the use of
cameras," Smith said, quoting the report.

Smith said al-Hajj was subjected to physical and psychological abuse
throughout his captivity. The Pentagon disputes his description, and it
can't be verified independently. But it is consistent with human-rights
groups' assessments of conditions at the U.S. detention facilities.

Al-Hajj still bears the scars of some of his treatment, his lawyer said -
a broken kneecap that was stomped on by guards at Bagram, and marks on his
knees from being forced to kneel on cold concrete for long periods at
Kandahar. U.S. military police at Kandahar also beat him regularly and
pulled out the hairs of his beard one by one, Smith said.

At Guantanamo, Smith said, the worst injuries were psychological - the
isolation and hopelessness that led al-Hajj to begin a hunger strike in
January 2007.

After three weeks, Smith said, al-Hajj, like other hunger-strikers at the
base, was force-fed twice a day for the rest of his imprisonment, strapped
to a restraint chair while a 43-inch-long tube was inserted in one nostril
to carry high-protein liquid to his stomach.

                       Pressure from reporters

Throughout his captivity, Al-Jazeera and Reporters Without Borders, a
free-press organization that monitors governments' treatment of
journalists, pressed for al-Hajj's release.

They were eventually joined by the government of Sudan and by the BBC,
whose correspondent Alan Johnston was kidnapped and held for nearly four
months in Gaza last year.

But Smith said U.S. authorities insisted to the end that al-Hajj denounce
Al-Jazeera and also tried, unsuccessfully, to get the Sudanese government
to restrict his travel and prevent him from working for the network.

His release was as abrupt and unexplained as his imprisonment, Smith said.

Al-Hajj was blindfolded, shackled and chained to the floor of the plane
that took him back to Sudan, Smith said. He said al-Hajj collapsed when he
landed, was hospitalized for a few days and then returned to his wife and
their son, now 7.

Two months after his release, the former cameraman was given a new job, as
news producer for human rights at Al-Jazeera's headquarters in Doha, the
capital of Qatar. In a statement released by the network, al-Hajj said he
hopes to use his position "as a vehicle to show the world that human
rights abuses still occur all over the globe".

 2008 Hearst Communications Inc.

--------17 of 20--------

Reflections on Twenty-First Century Socialism
by James Petras
August 18th, 2008
Dissident Voice

In order to explore the perspectives for socialism in the 21st century, it
is essential to recover some of the basic postulates, which inform the
socialist project. In addition, it is important to recover some of the
basic advances achieved by 20th century socialist regimes as well as to
critically reflect on their distorted structures and failed policies.

In the most basic sense it is important to remember that "socialism" is a
means to a better material life than under capitalism: Higher living
standards, greater political freedom, social equality of conditions, and
internal and external security. "Respect", "dignity" and "solidarity" can
only be understood as accompaniments of these basic material goals, not as
substitutes. "Respect" and "dignity" cannot be pursued in the face of
long-term, large-scale deprivation, sacrifice and delayed fulfillment of
material improvement. Governments claiming to be "socialist" which
idealize "sacrifice" of material living standards in the name of abstract
principles of justice, are more akin to "spiritual socialism" of a
religious order rather than a modern dynamic socialist government.

Social transformations and the replacement of capitalist owners by the
socialist state can only be justified if the new order can improve the
efficiency, working conditions and responsiveness to consumers of the
socialist enterprise. For example, in some socialist regimes, under the
guise of a "revolutionary offensive", the state intervened and eliminated
thousands of small and medium size retail urban enterprises in the name of
"eliminating capitalists". The result was a disaster: The stores remained
closed; the state was incapable of organizing the multitude of small
businesses and the great majority of workers were deprived of vital

Twentieth century socialist states built effective and successful medical,
educational and security systems to serve the majority of the workers. The
majority of socialist states eliminated foreign control and exploitation
of natural resources and in some cases developed diversified industrial
economies. On the whole, living standards rose, crime declined,
employment, pensions and welfare were secured. However, 20th century
socialism was divided by deep contradictions leading to profound systemic
crises. Bureaucratic centralism denied freedom at the workplace and
restricted public debate and popular governance. Public authority's
over-emphasis on "security" blocked innovation, entrepreneurship,
scientific and popular initiatives leading to technological stagnation and
mass passivity. Elite material privileges based on political office led to
profound inequalities, which undermined popular belief in socialist
principles and led to the spread of capitalist values.

Capitalism thrives on social inequalities; socialism deepens through
greater equality. Both capitalism and socialism depend on efficient,
productive and innovative workers: The former in order to maximize
profits, the latter to sustain an expanding welfare state.

        20th Century Lessons for 21st Century Socialists

Twenty-first century socialist can learn from the achievements and
failures of 20th century socialism.

First: Policies must be directed toward improving the living as well as
working conditions of the people. That means massive investment in quality
housing, household appliances, public transport, environmental concerns
and infrastructure. Overseas solidarity and missions should not take
priority over large-scale, long-term investments in expanding and
deepening material improvements for the principal internal class base of
the socialist regime. Solidarity begins at home.

Second: Development policies should focus on diversifying the economy with
a special focus on industrializing the raw material, making major
investment in industries producing quality goods of mass consumption
(clothing, shoes, and so on) and in agriculture, especially becoming
self-sufficient in basic essential foods. Under no conditions should
socialist economies rely on single products for income (sugar, tourism,
petroleum, nickel), which are subject to great volatility.

A socialist government should finance education, income and infrastructure
policies, which are compatible with its high economic social and cultural
priorities; this means educating agronomists and skilled agricultural
workers, skilled construction workers (plumbers, electricians, painters)
and civil engineers, transport workers and urban and rural planners of
public housing to decentralize mega-cities and substitute public for
private transport. They should set up popularly elected environment and
consumer councils to oversee the quality of air, water and noise levels
and the availability, prices and quality of food.

Twentieth century socialist governments frequently alienated their workers
by diverting large of amount of aid to overseas regimes (many of whom were
not even progressive!). As a result, local needs were neglected in the
name of "international solidarity". The first priority of 21st century
socialism is solidarity at home. Twentieth century socialists emphasized
"welfare" from above - government as "giver" and the masses as "receivers"
- discouraging local action and encouraging passivity. Twenty-first
century socialism must encourage autonomous class action to counter
privileged "socialist" bourgeois ministers and functionaries who use their
office to accumulate and protect private wealth through public power.
Autonomous popular organizations can expose the hypocrisy of rich
ministers who attack well-paid industrial workers as "privileged" while
riding in chauffeured Mercedes and enjoying luxurious apartments, second
and third "vacation homes" and who send their children to expensive and
exclusive private schools at home and abroad.

Above all socialism is about social equality: Equality in income, schools
and hospitals; equality between classes and within classes. Without social
equality, all talk of "diversity", "dignity" and "respect" is meaningless.
Capitalists also support "diversity", as long as it does not affect their
profits and wealth. Socialists support income and property equality which
effectively re-distributes wealth and property to all workers, white and
black, Indian farmer and urban worker, men and women, and young and old.
There is no "dignity" in being poor and exploited; dignity comes with
struggle and the achievement of socialist goals of social equality and
rising living standards.

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). Petras. forthcoming book, Zionism,
Militarism and the Decline of US Power, is due from Clarity Press,
Atlanta, in August 2008. He can be reached at: jpetras [at]
Read other articles by James, or visit James's website.

This article was posted on Monday, August 18th, 2008 at 6:02 am and is
filed under Socialism, Solidarity.

--------18 of 20--------

The Life and Poems of Mahmoud Darwish
The Anger, the Longing, the Hope
August 18, 2008

One of the wisest pronouncements I have heard in my life was that of an
Egyptian general, a few days after Anwar Sadat's historic visit to

We were the first Israelis to come to Cairo, and one of the things we were
very curious about was: how did you manage to surprise us at the beginning
of the October 1973 war?

The general answered: "Instead of reading the intelligence reports, you
should have read our poets."

I reflected on these words last Wednesday, at the funeral of Mahmoud

* * *

DURING THE funeral ceremony in Ramallah he was referred to again and again
as "the Palestinian National Poet".

But he was much more than that. He was the embodiment of the Palestinian
destiny. His personal fate coincided with the fate of his people.

He was born in al-Birwa, a village on the Acre-Safad road. As early as 900
years ago, a Persian traveler reported that he had visited this village
and prostrated himself on the graves of "Esau and Simeon, may they rest in
peace". In 1931, ten years before the birth of Mahmoud, the population of
the village numbered 996, of whom 92 were Christians and the rest Sunni

On June 11, 1948, the village was captured by the Jewish forces. Its 224
houses were eradicated soon after the war, together with those of 650
other Palestinian villages. Only some cactus plants and a few ruins still
testify to their past existence. The Darwish family fled just before the
arrival of the troops, taking 7-year old Mahmoud with them.

Somehow, the family made their way back into what was by then Israeli
territory. They were accorded the status of "present absentees" - a
cunning Israeli invention. It meant that they were legal residents of
Israel, but their lands were taken from them under a law that dispossessed
every Arab who was not physically present in his village when it was
occupied. On their land the kibbutz Yasur (belonging to the left-wing
Hashomer Hatzair movement) and the cooperative village Ahihud were set up.

Mahmoud's father settled in the next Arab village, Jadeidi, from where he
could view his land from afar. That's where Mahmoud grew up and where his
family lives to this day.

During the first 15 years of the State of Israel, Arab citizens were
subject to a "military regime" - a system of severe repression that
controlled every aspect of their lives, including all their movements. An
Arab was forbidden to leave his village without a special permit. Young
Mahmoud Darwish violated this order several times, and whenever he was
caught he went to prison. When he started to write poems, he was accused
of incitement and put in "administrative detention" without trial.

At that time he wrote one of his best known poems, "Identity Card", a poem
expressing the anger of a youngster growing up under these humiliating
conditions. It opens with the thunderous words: "Record: I am an Arab!"

It was during this period that I met him for the first time. He came to me
with another young village man with a strong national commitment, the poet
Rashid Hussein. I remember a sentence of his: "The Germans killed six
million Jews, and barely six years later you made peace with them. But
with us, the Jews refuse to make peace."

He joined the Communist party, then the only party where a nationalist
Arab could be active. He edited their newspapers. The party sent him to
Moscow for studies, but expelled him when he decided not to come back to
Israel. Instead he joined the PLO and went to Yasser Arafat's headquarters
in Beirut.

* * *

IT WAS there that I met him again, in one of the most exciting episodes of
my life, when I crossed the lines in July 1982, at the height of the siege
of Beirut, and met with Arafat. The Palestinian leader insisted that
Mahmoud Darwish be present at this symbolic event, his first ever meeting
with an Israeli. He sent somebody to call him.

His description of the siege of Beirut is one of Darwish's most impressive
works. These were the days when he became the national poet. He
accompanied the Palestinian struggle, and at the sessions of the
Palestinian National Council, the institution that united all parts of the
Palestinian people, he electrified the hall with readings of his stirring

During those years he was very close to Arafat. While Arafat was the
political leader of the Palestinian national movement, Darwish was its
spiritual leader. It was he who wrote the Palestinian Declaration of
Independence, which was adopted by the 1988 session of the National
Council on the initiative of Arafat. It is very similar to the Israeli
Declaration of Independence, which Darwish had learned at school.

He clearly understood its significance: by adopting this document the
Palestinian parliament-in-exile accepted in practice the idea of
establishing a Palestinian state side-by-side with Israel, in only a part
of the homeland, as proposed by Arafat.

The alliance between the two broke down when the Oslo agreement was
signed. Arafat saw it as "the best agreement in the worst situation".
Darwish believed that Arafat had conceded too much. The national heart
confronted the national mind. (That historical debate has still not been
concluded today, after both of them have died.)

Since then Darwish lived in Paris, Amman and Ramallah - the Wandering
Palestinian, who has replaced the Wandering Jew.

* * *

HE DID not want to be the National Poet. He did not want to be a political
poet at all, but a lyrical one, a poet of love. But whenever he turned in
this direction, the long arm of Palestinian fate dragged him back.

I am not qualified to judge his poems or to assess his greatness as a
poet. Leading experts on the Arabic language are still bitterly quarreling
among themselves about the meaning of his poems, their nuances and layers,
images and allusions. He was a master of classical Arabic, and equally at
home with Western and Israeli poetry. Many believe that he was the
greatest Arab poet, and one of the greatest poets of our time.

His poetry enabled him to do what no one had succeeded in doing by other
means: to unite all the parts of the fractured and fragmented Palestinian
people - in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, in Israel, in the refugee camps
and throughout the Diaspora. He belonged to all of them. The refugees
could identify with him because he was a refugee, Israel's Palestinian
citizens could identify with him because he was one of them, and so could
the inhabitants of the occupied Palestinian territories, because he was a
fighter against the occupation.

This week some people of the Palestinian Authority tried to exploit him
for their struggle with Hamas. I don't think that he would have agreed. In
spite of the fact that he was a totally secular Palestinian and very far
from the religious world of Hamas, he expressed the feelings of all
Palestinians. His poems also resonate with the soul of a member of Hamas
in Gaza.

* * *

HE WAS the poet of anger, of longing, of hope and of peace. These were the
strings of his violin.

Anger about the injustice done to the Palestinian people and every
Palestinian individual. Longing for "my mother's coffee", for his
village's olive tree, for the land of his forefathers. Hope that the
conflict would come to an end. Support for peace between the two peoples,
based on justice and mutual respect. In the documentary by the
Israeli-French film-maker Simone Bitton, he pointed at the donkey as a
symbol of the Palestinian people - a wise, patient animal that manages to

He understood the nature of the conflict better than most Israelis and
Palestinians. He called it "a struggle between two memories". The
Palestinian historical memory clashes with the Jewish historical memory.
Peace can come about only when each side understands the memories of the
other - their myths, their secret longings, their hopes and fears.

That is the meaning of the Egyptian general's saying: poetry expresses the
most profound feelings of a people. And only the understanding of these
feelings can open the way for a real peace. A peace between politicians is
not worth very much without a peace between the poets and the public they
express. That's why Oslo failed, and why the present so-called negotiation
for a "shelf agreement" is so worthless. It has no basis in the feelings
of the two peoples.

Eight years ago, then Minister of Education Yossi Sarid tried to include
two poems of Darwish in the Israeli school curriculum. This caused a
furor, and the Prime Minister, Ehud Barak, decided that "the Israeli
public is not ready for this".  This meant, in reality, that "the Israeli
public is not ready for peace."

This may still be true. Real peace, peace between the peoples, peace
between the children born this week, on the day of the funeral, in Tel
Aviv and Ramallah, will only come about when Arab pupils learn the
immortal poem of Chaim Nachman Bialik "The Valley of Death", about the
Kishinev pogrom, and when Israeli pupils learn the poems of Darwish about
the Naqba. Yes, also the poems of anger, including the line "Go away, and
take your dead with you."

Without understanding and courageously facing the flaming anger about the
Naqba and its consequences, we shall not understand the roots of the
conflict and shall not be able to solve it. And as another great
Palestinian man of letters, Edward Said, said: without understanding the
impact of the Holocaust upon the Israeli soul, the Palestinians will not
be able to deal with the Israelis.

The Poets are the marshals of the struggle between the memories, between
the myths, between the traumas. We shall need them on the road to peace
between the two peoples, between the two states, for building a common

* * *

I was not present at the state funeral arranged by the Palestinian
Authority in the Mukata, so orderly, so orchestrated. I was there, two
hours later, when his body was buried on a beautiful hill, overlooking the

I was deeply impressed by the public, which gathered under the blazing sun
around the wreath-covered grave and listened to the recorded voice of
Mahmoud reading his poems. Those present, people of the elite and simple
villagers, connected with the man in silence, in a very private communion.
Despite the crowding, they opened a way for us, the Israelis, who came to
pay our respects at the grave.

We bade our silent farewell to a great Palestinian, a great poet, a great
human being.

Uri Avnery is an Israeli writer and peace activist with Gush Shalom. He is
a contributor to CounterPunch's book The Politics of Anti-Semitism.

--------19 of 20--------

Private Property and Wealth
by James Keye
August 19th, 2008
Dissident Voice

That objects, regions of physical space and now ideas can be owned
(sometimes even including other humans and non-human animals), i.e., held
in the protected control of a person or representatives of a person, is an
article of faith even more pervasive than faith in religious values. But
there is no basis for this belief and assertion other than the power to
enforce it. This can be seen with great clarity with the territories of
animals. A bit of ground sufficient to live on is marked off in some way
appropriate to the species and supported by a willingness to engage in
fisticuffs. The property holder most often "wins" since it is on "home
ground". From this simple model we humans have ramped up designs taking
the property holder to the exalted and purely mythical state of property
owner. And in the typical fashion of most things carried too far, solved a
big problem by creating a number of even larger ones.

One way of looking at economics and its servant, the law, is the processes
involved in protecting and unprotecting wealth. Every organism protects
its wealth; first and foremost, its DNA and then, in some descending
order, the designs and devices that protect that primary protection. Bees
sting. Squirrels hide food. Ungulates run fast or get big. A katydid hides
its own body as a leaf. "Half" of the behaviors of the biological world
can be seen as protections of body, sustenance and place. The other "half"
can be seen as behaviors that undo the protections of others.

Unprotecting the wealth of others is also called "making a living" whether
it is a spider capturing a fly or a businessman enticing a customer into
opening a wallet. Though in the case of the spider and the fly, it is
necessary to look to the species level to see the mutual advantage;
certainly the individual fly has all of its wealth unprotected by the
spider. Before humans began to apply their own consciousness processes to
protecting and unprotecting wealth the rules were (and are) those that we
call evolution.

Ownership is a form of "protecting" wealth. Humans have carried the ritual
fighting for place - the place holder almost always has a home-field
advantage - into the idea of ownership. Add to "holder-ship," a biological
construct, the idea of agreed on and enforceable rules that define the
conditions of "ownership," and the process of protecting wealth changes
from living process to consciousness process. However, the situation has
not become "antiseptic," the force that drives the action has been moved
to the human community and is not immediately contained in the individual,
that is, the individual must perform protecting and unprotecting behaviors
through the community's social and legal rules.

Immediately, as such social and legal rules are in place, clever humans go
to work trying to unprotect the wealth that is protected by those rules.
This can be as simple as picking a good spot for a robbery and as complex
as finding a way to get a percentage of every person's production. The
human world is replete with cons and Ponzi schemes, abuses of force and
skimming, misappropriations of value added and political redistribution by
taxation (99 % from the poor to the rich, which is often how it is that
wealth happens in the first place! "Redistribution" from the rich to the
poor is almost always a correction for the misappropriation of value

The key device is property. In the first instance there was no property
beyond what a person or a community could protect by direct action: being
physically present or threat of force associated with a marking of object
or boundary. In the second, property in immediate holding could be "owned"
by a person, but the larger holdings were the property of a priestly or
kingly class. From this model it was considered a great step forward to
the enforceable concept of "private property," not meaning that "the thing
was mine" so much as "the thing was not the king's". This idea has been
gradually changed to a rather strident rejection of all things communal,
but the origin of private property was not the rejection of communal

Property, especially real estate, can only be owned in the imagination,
though the imagination can work its designs into actual sheriffs and
armies and so be enforced. The "right" to property considered so important
in the early growth of liberal thought arose less from the assumption of a
natural right of humans to the earth and more from the power of private
property to secure a foot hold in the struggle with hereditary sovereignty
(a strengthening political and economic form today).

The assumption that private property is both an absolute right and
essential to "correct" human economic and cultural existence is an
artifact of history as well as a very useful device in unprotecting the
wealth of others (if a plot of land is held communally, the first step to
taking it is to get it broken up and held individually). It is also
destructive of the whole living enterprise. A wolf pack may hold a
territory, but it doesn't presume to evict the earthworms or the moths,
but humans assume such an absolute right. Part of the Madness of our
present thinking is that the earth is ours to do with as we wish - an
extension of the "holder" to "owner" model into complete societal

On the one hand, we imagine our preeminence and believe our own
imaginings. On the other hand, the rules of property, as they have been
formed in the process of making tools to unprotect wealth, allow greater
and greater amounts of wealth to be consolidated into fewer and fewer
hands. Both are powerful forces in maintaining this essentially arbitrary
and destructive economic and social design. Those who accumulate wealth
have more control over the process of designing the social and legal
protections of wealth and so give to themselves the tools to unprotect the
wealth of the less powerful.

The idea that the world cannot be owned is countered today with the idea
that everything, absolutely everything, should be owned so that all of the
earth that humans can touch would be invited into the human economic
process. Part of the thinking [sic] is that the Market will (is the only
real tool to) correctly value the biophysical space. This is like letting
a herd of babies loose in a razorblade factory - an utter mismatch of
capacities and needs.

Exactly the opposite is essential; we must find a way to structure in
social value and law, i.e., make agreed and enforceable, a new concept of
the commons and protect it as well as possible from the forces that will
immediately go to work to unprotect it.

We are so deep in the madness and perversion of private property and the
primacy of material wealth values that there are no clear options forward.
We need to keep our wits about us, a vision before us and be ready. The
present Madness is driving us, willing joy-riders and captives alike,
rapidly toward a cliff. By all appearances we will not stop. But we can
prepare: ourselves with knowledge, our children with adaptability and
courage and others by sharing a reality based vision.

(This is part of a series of essays that look at the primary articles of
faith that seem normal and essential to our present cultural life, but
that are the underlying forces for damage to the biosphere, destruction of
our specieshood and ultimately devastating to the most positive qualities
of the cultural life we are trying to sustain.)

James Keye is the nom de plume of a biologist and psychologist who after
discovering a mismatch between academe and himself went into private
business for many years. His whole post-pubescent life has been focused on
understanding at both the intellectual and personal levels what it is to
be of the human species; he claims some success. Email him at:
jkeye1632 [at] Read other articles by James, or visit James's

This article was posted on Tuesday, August 19th, 2008 at 6:02 am and is
filed under Economy/Economics, Philosophy, Socialism. ShareThis

--------20 of 20--------

Why Not Simply Abolish NATO?
by Rodrigue Tremblay
August 19th, 2008
Dissident Voice

[NATO's goal is] to keep the Russians out, the Americans in, and the
Germans down.
 - Lord Ismay, first NATO Secretary-General

We should immediately call a meeting of the North Atlantic Council to
assess Georgia's security and review measures NATO can take to contribute
to stabilizing this very dangerous situation.
 - Sen. John McCain, (August 8, 2008)

If we would have preemptively worked with Russia, with Georgia, making
sure that NATO had the kind of ability and the presence and the
engagement, we could have perhaps avoided this [the invasion of S. Ossetia
by Georgia and the subsequent Russian response].
 - Tom Daschle, former Senate Majority Leader and adviser to Sen. Barack
Obama, (August 17, 2008)

Of all the enemies to public liberty, war is perhaps the most to be
dreaded because it comprises and develops the germ of every other.
 - James Madison (1751-1836), fourth American President

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is a relic of the Cold War.
It was created on April 4, 1949 as a defensive alliance of Western Europe
countries plus Canada and the United States to protect the former
countries from encroachments by the Soviet Union.

But since 1991, the Soviet empire no longer exists and Russia has been
cooperating economically with Western European countries, supplying them
with gas and oil, and all types of commodities. This has increased
European economic interdependence and thus greatly reduced the need for
such a defensive military alliance above and beyond European countries'
own self-defense military system.

But the U.S. government does not see things that way. It would prefer
keeping its role as Europe's patronizing protector and as the world's sole
superpower. NATO is a convenient tool to that effect. But maybe the world
should be worried about those who go around the planet with a can of
gasoline in one hand and a box of matches in the other, pretending to sell
fire insurance.

As of now, it is a fact that the U.S. government and the American foreign
affairs nomenklatura see NATO as an important tool of American foreign
policy of intervention around the world. Since many American politicians
do not anymore support de facto the United Nations as the supreme
international organization devoted to maintaining peace in the world, a
U.S.-controlled NATO would seem to be, in their eyes, a most attractive
substitute to the United Nations for providing a legal front for their
otherwise illegal offensive military undertakings around the world. They
prefer to control totally a smaller organization such as NATO, even though
it has become a redundant institution, than to have to make compromises at
the U.N., where the U.S nevertheless has one of the five vetoes on the
Security Council.

That is the strong rationale behind the proposals to reshape, reorient and
enlarge NATO, in order to transform it into a flexible tool of American
foreign policy. This is another demonstration that redundant institutions
have a life of their own. Indeed, when the purpose for which they have
been initially established no longer exists, new purposes are invented to
keep them going.

Regarding NATO, the plan is to turn it into an aggrandized offensive
imperial U.S.-dominated political and military alliance against the rest
of the world. According to plan, NATO would be enlarged in the
Central-Eastern European region to include not only most of the former
members of the Warsaw Pact (Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia,
Bulgaria, Romania, Albania and Hungary) and many of the former republics
of the Soviet Union (Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Georgia and Ukraine), but
also in Asia to include Japan, Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, and
possibly admit Israel in the Middle East. Today the initially 12-member
NATO has mushroomed into a 26-member organization. In the future, if the
U.S. has its way, NATO could be a 40-member organization.

In the United States, both the Republicans and the Democrats see the old
NATO transformed into this new offensive military alliance as a good
(neocon) idea to promote American interests around the world, as well as
those of its close allies, such as Israel. It is not only an idea actively
promoted by the neocon Bush-Cheney administration, but also by the
neoconservative advisers to both 2008 American presidential candidates,
Sen. John McCain and Sen. Barack Obama.

Indeed, both 2008 presidential candidates are enthusiastic military
interventionists, and this is essentially because both rely on advisers
originating from the same neocon camp.

For instance, the rush with which the Bush-Cheney recklessly promised NATO
membership to the former Soviet republic of Georgia and American military
support and supply is a good example of how NATO is viewed in Washington
D.C. by both main American political parties. For one, Republican
presidential candidate John McCain envisages a new world order built
around a neocon-inspired "League of Democracies" that would de facto
replace the United Nations and through which the United States would rule
the world. Secondly, Sen. Barack Obama's position is not that far from
Sen. McCain's foreign policy proposals. Indeed, Sen. Obama advocates the
use of U.S. military force and multilateral military interventions in
regional crises, for "humanitarian purposes", even if by so doing, the
United Nations must be bypassed. Therefore, if he ever gains power, it is
a safe bet that Sen. Obama would not have any qualms about adopting Sen.
McCain's view of the world. For example, both presidential candidates
would probably support the removal of the no "first strike" clause from
the NATO convention. It can be taken for granted that with either
politician in the White House, the world would be a less lawful and a less
safe place, and would not be more advanced than it has become under the
lawless Bush-Cheney administration.

However, it is difficult to see how this new offensive role for NATO would
be in the interests of European countries or of Canada. Western Europe in
particular has everything to fear from a resurgence of the Cold War with
Russia, and possibly with China. The transformation of NATO from a North
Atlantic defensive military organization into a U.S.-led worldwide
offensive military organization is going to have profound international
geopolitical consequences around the world, but especially for Europe.
Europe has a strong economic attraction for Russia. Then why embark upon
the aggressive Bush-Cheney administration's policy of encircling Russia
militarily by expanding NATO right up to Russia's doorstep and by placing
a missile shields right next to Russia? Wouldn't it be better for Europe
to develop harmonious economic and political relations with Russia? Why
prepare the next war?

And as for Canada, under the neocon minority Harper government, it has
sadly become a de facto American colony as far as foreign affairs are
concerned, and this, without any serious debate or referendum to that
effect within Canada. The last thing Canada needs is to go further on that
mined road.

In conclusion, it would seem that the humanist idea of having peace, free
trade and international law as the foundations of the world order is being
cast aside in favor of a return to great power politics and gunboat
diplomacy. This is a 100-year setback.

It is a shame.

Rodrigue Tremblay is a Canadian economist who lives in Montreal; he can be
reached at: rodrigue.tremblay [at] Check Dr. Tremblay's coming book
The Code for Global Ethics. Read other articles by Rodrigue, or visit
Rodrigue's website.

This article was posted on Tuesday, August 19th, 2008 at 6:00 am and is
filed under Military/Militarism.


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