|Progressive Calendar 10.02.09||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|From: David Shove (shove001tc.umn.edu)|
|Date: Fri, 2 Oct 2009 06:46:46 -0700 (PDT)|
P R O G R E S S I V E C A L E N D A R 10.02.09 1. Alliant/Gandhi 10.02 7am 2. Progressive mag/KFAI 10.02 11am 3. FFUNCH 10.02 11:30am 4. Palestine vigil 10.02 4:15pm 5. Fong Lee justice 10.02 5:30pm 6. Art for choice 10.02 6:30pm 7. Immigration/film 10.02 7pm 8. Philippines/rights 10.02 10.02 7pm 9. Moore/capitalism/f 10.02 10. Sen John Marty - Turning to jail for a better life 11. Stuart Littlewood - The comic genius of Netanyahu 12. Arundhati Roy - What have we done to democracy? 13. ed - Hope you! (poem) --------1 of 13-------- From: Women Against Military Madness <wamm [at] mtn.org> Subject: Alliant/Gandhi 10.02 7am AlliantACTION's Annual Celebration of Gandhi's Birthday Friday, October 2, 7:00 a.m. Outside Alliant Techsystems, 7480 Flying Cloud Drive, Eden Prairie. Join AlliantACTION's Annual Celebration of Gandhi's Birthday. Theme this year is: "Warfare or Healthcare. Choose One." Sponsored by: AlliantACTION. Endorsed by: WAMM. FFI and directions: Visit www.alliantaction.org or call 612-701-6963. --------2 of 13-------- From: Lydia Howell <lydiahowell [at] visi.com> Subject: Progressive mag/KFAI 10.02 11am NOTE: You can hear my interview with MATHEW ROTHSCHILD, editor of THE PROGRESSIVE and the new anthology 100 YEARS of THE PROGRESSIVE, Fri.Oct.2 11am on "CATALYST: politics & culture" on KFAI RADIO. He talks about the social justice movements that have been the ONLY way to make REAL change in this country. PLEDGE YOUR SUPPORT to KFAI on CATALYST and you can get a copy of this new book! Call FRI.11am:612-375-9030 Lydia Howell,host/producer "Catalyst" Listen on-line live-streaming/archived for 2 weeks after broadcast: http://www.kfai.org/catalyst KFAI Radio 90.3fm Mpls/106.7fm St.Paul Published on Monday, September 28, 2009 by The Progressive <http://www.progressive.org/wx092809.html> http://www.commondreams.org/view/2009/09/28-9 Ralph Nader Throws His Hope in with Enlightened Billionaires by Matthew Rothschild I saw Ralph Nader yesterday, indefatigable as ever. He was on tour for his new book, and his first work of fiction, "Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us The plot is about how seventeen famous billionaires, like Warren Buffett and Ted Turner, all of a sudden come to their conscience and spend some of their money to bring about the anti-corporate and pro-democracy changes that Ralph Nader has spent his life campaigning for. This is a Hail Mary pass for progressive change, and it is an expression of Nader's frustration-even desperation-at our inability to tackle what he rightly calls "the permanent corporate government" in Washington. His approach, in the book, is about as top-down as you can get, though he says it's top-down, bottom-up-the billionaires spend the money so that people at the grassroots can effectively organize. He seems to have lost hope in the labor movement and the environmental movement and the citizen's movement and the broad civil rights movement getting together or a new progressive movement rising up organically. Throughout most of his career, Nader acted on a theory of social change that centered around establishing citizen groups in Washington and across the country that could act as a counterforce to the corporate powers. Then, when that didn't succeed, and when the Democratic Party became increasingly corporatized, Nader ventured into third party presidential politics. In 2000, he ran as a Green, and talked of establishing that as a durable third party that could act as centrifugal force against the Democratic Party moving ever rightward. But Nader became disenchanted with the Greens, and decided to go it alone the last two times. And in a sense, he's going it alone this time in this book. Rather than rely on the citizen's movement, rather than rely on the labor movement, or a unified progressive movement, Nader is relying on the George Soroses of this world to save us, as the title says. "The progressive movement is good at documenting corporate power," he said in his talk in Madison, Wisconsin. "It's good at diagnosing. It's good at coming up with proposals. But that's the end." The problem, he says, is one of resources. "You cannot fight trillions of dollars in big business money with a few millions and expect to win." The citizen movement, he said, is "totally amateurish" compared with how well organized and funded the corporations are. "This mismatch is a disaster," he said. "The progressive movement is going nowhere if it does not address the problem of resources." Nor does he have hope in a new youth movement. Nader was addressing a couple of hundred people in a classroom at the University of Wisconsin, but there weren't many students there. Maybe that was a good thing, since he was harshing on them. "If people are too busy updating their personal profiles on their facebook page," they won't engage in civic action, he said. "The screen is the opium of the masses," he said. He added that we have a whole generation living a virtual existence, and we haven't come to grips with the negative consequences of that. He also criticized today's students for their weak grasp of U.S. history. For them, "The Vietnam War is like the Peloponnesian Wars." Nader had some sharp criticism for Barack Obama, too. "It's very sad to see the continuity between Obama and Bush," he said, rattling off "Afghanistan, renditions, No Child Left Behind, and the faith-based initiative." But he's not surprised that Obama is doing the bidding of the corporate establishment. "In 100 ways, he signaled he was their man" during the campaign, Nader said. "Did ever talk about corporate crime, even when Wall Street was collapsing?" Nader said Obama "learned too much from Bill Clinton" about the need to compromise with corporate power. And he said that Obama's personality is not right for the times. Unlike FDR, Obama "does not like conflict," he said. Instead, he wants to please. There is a poignance in listening to Ralph Nader these days. Here is a man who, for the last 45 years, has hurled his body at the engine of corporate power. He's dented it more than anyone else in America. But he knows it's still chugging, even more strongly than ever. Nader understands that he's losing. He understands that we're losing-we who believe in democracy, we who care about justice. But if our only hope is with a handful of billionaires, we're in a lot worse shape than I thought. © 2009 The Progressive Matthew Rothschild is the editor of The Progressive <http://www.progressive.org/> magazine. --------3 of 13-------- From: David Shove <shove001 [at] tc.umn.edu> Subject: FFUNCH 10.02 11:30am Meet the FFUNCH BUNCH! 11:30am-1pm First Friday Lunch (FFUNCH) for Greens/progressives. Informal political talk and hanging out. Day By Day Cafe 477 W 7th Av St Paul. Meet in the private room (holds 12+). Day By Day has soups, salads, sandwiches, and dangerous apple pie; is close to downtown St Paul & on major bus lines --------4 of 13-------- From: Eric Angell <eric-angell [at] riseup.net> Subject: Palestine vigil 10.02 4:15pm the weekly vigil for the liberation of Palestine continues at the intersection of Snelling and Summit Aves in St. Paul. the Friday demo starts at 4:15 and ends around 5:30. there are usually extra signs available. --------5 of 13-------- From: Michelle Gross <mgresist [at] visi.com> Subject: Fong Lee justice 10.02 5:30pm FUNDRAISER FOR FONG LEE FAMILY Friday, October 2, 5:30 p.m. Lao Family Community Center 320 W University Ave, St. Paul Fellow friends and community leaders, we need your support to raise $5,000 for the Lee family's appeal to the Federal court so they can continue to fight for justice for Fong Lee, who was gunned down by Minneapolis cop Jason Andersen. Cops later placed a gun on the scene to justify the shooting of an unarmed man. The Lee family would also like to take this opportunity to thank everyone of you who had supported Fong Lee case in the past and hope you all will continuing doing so until we win the case for the name of Hmong. This event with band is $15.00 per person including food and beverage, Please come and support as we are one Hmong nation in the world. For more information, contact Nhia Vue Lee at (651)774-1451 or Vang Meng Lee at (651) 329-3172. UP IN ARMS: A NIGHT OF HIP HOP AND SPOKEN WORD TO HONOR FONG LEE AND END POLICE BRUTALITY Saturday, October 3, 2009, Doors open 7:30pm, Show begins at 8:00pm Macalester College, Kagin Commons, 1600 Grand Avenue, St. Paul http://www.macalester.edu/about/mapbynumber.html Suggested Donation: $5-$10 All proceeds will to go to the family of Fong Lee to assist with legal and case related fees Up In Arms: A Night of Hip Hop and Spoken Word to Honor Fong Lee and End Police Brutality seeks to raise awareness and support of Fong Lee's case while also uniting and activating communities around the issue of police brutality. In July 2006, bicyclist Fong Lee was killed by a Minneapolis police officer in front of a north Minneapolis elementary school. Last May, an all-white federal jury exonerated officer Jason Anderson of using excessive force on the teenager who was shot eight times in the back. Allegations that a gun was planted near Lee's body were ruled irrelevant to the case. For more information about the trial http://www.hmongtoday.com/page11504436.aspx The Lee family's quest for truth does not end with the ruling given in May, and the family has continued the long path towards legal justice. The evening will be emceed by Tou Ger Xiong and Amy Hang. DJ Nak will be on the one's and two's with performances by Magnetic North (from New York City), Nomi of Power Struggle (from the Bay Area), Michelle Myers of Yellow Rage (from Philadelphia), Maria Isa, Blackbird Elements, Kyle "Guante" Myhre, Rodrigo Sanchez-Chavarria, e.g. Bailey, Tou Saiko Lee with PosNoSys, True Mutiny, Shá Cage, Kevin Xiong with Pada Lor, Tish Jones, MaiPaCher, Logan Moua, Bobby Wilson, Poetic Assassins, Hilltribe, and other special guests. This event is sponsored by: Speak!, Lealtad-Suzuki Center, Asian Student Alliance, Ua Ke, DJ Club, History Department, Coalition for Community Relations, The Loft Literary Center, Minnesota Immigrant Freedom Network, Shades of Yellow, Take Action Minnesota, Communities United Against Police Brutality, and Minnesota Poor People's Economic Human Rights Campaign. For more information please visit Coalition for Community Relations on Facebook or contact Tou Ger Xiong at 651-738-0141. --------6 of 13-------- From: Erin Parrish <erin [at] mnwomen.org> Subject: Art for choice 10.02 6:30pm October 2: Pro-Choice Resources Art for Choice. Bid on original artwork by 35 of the Twin Cities most well-known artists while enjoying appetizers, a cash bar, and live music by Bellebottom, DJTK, and DJ Eros. Original art may be viewed online or in person from September 25 - October 1 at Nina Bliese Gallery. 6:30 - 9:30 PM at W Hotel in Minneapolis. --------7 of 13-------- From: Stephanie Bates <Stephanie.Bates [at] americas.org> Subject: Immigration/film 10.02 7pm RCTA Friday Night Movies: "Roots of Migration" Join us the first Friday of every month for an immigration themed movie. Friday, October 2-7pm October's movie will be Roots of Migration produced by Witness for Peace. Follow-up discussion will be led by Robyn Skrebes of Witness for Peace Upper Midwest. Roots of Migration If you're like us, you've wondered where the substance is in the ongoing migration debate. Arguments are limited to border walls and enforcement. Surprisingly lacking from this debate is one essential question: why? Why do millions of Latin Americans make the unlikely decision to leave their communities and cross a dangerous desert in order to live in a country with increasingly draconian anti-immigrant laws? Why did the number of Mexicans who made this decision multiply after the implementation of the U.S.-pushed North American Free Trade Agreement? Why aren't we discussing the roots of migration? --------8 of 13-------- From: Gabe Ormsby <gabeo [at] bitstream.net> Subject: Philippines/rights 10.02 10.02 7pm FORUM: "THE STATE OF HUMAN RIGHTS IN THE PHILIPPINES": FRIDAY, OCTOBER 2 - 7 TO 9 P.M. Amnesty International invites you to an educational forum: "The State of Human Rights in the Philippines in 2009 & The Recent Torture of a US Citizen" with attorney Rex J. M. A. Fernandez Friday, October 2, 7:00-9:00 p.m. Hennepin County Government Center Auditorium 300 South Sixth Street, Minneapolis, MN 55112 Attorney Rex Fernandez talks about the human rights situation in the Philippines, the struggle against impunity for terrible crimes of over 1000 extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances in the Philippines under the current president, what Americans and President Obama can do about the Philippines' human rights situation, and the recent abduction and torture of Fil-American Melissa Roxas and her two colleagues. He is lead counsel for national group, Karapatan, a Philippine organization that finds the Disappeared, digs up unmarked graves, locates political prisoners, stops torture, and helps the legal defense of innocent nongovernment organization volunteers or union organizers in trouble for simply helping the poor get their rights. This Amnesty International event is free and open to the public. For more information, call 763-571-7696. --------9 of 13-------- From: Lydia Howell <lydiahowell [at] visi.com> Subject: Moore/capitalism/f 10.02 OCT. 2;FILMS:Moore's CAPITALISM & Environmental film NO IMPACT MAN BOTH OF THESE FILMS OPEN Friday OCT. 2 in MINNEAPOLIS For screening times, go to: http://www.landmarktheatres.com/Market/Minneapolis/Minneapolis_Frameset.htm Michael Moore's new film! CAPITALISM: A LOVE STORY at Lagoon Cinema, on Lagoon, 1 block from Hennepin Ave. in uptown MINNEAPOLIS In Capitalism: A Love Story, filmmaker Michael Moore (Sicko, Fahrenheit 9/11, Bowling for Columbine, Roger & Me) tackles an issue he has been examining throughout his career: the disastrous impact of corporate dominance on the everyday lives of Americans (and by default, the rest of the world). Moore explores the root causes of the global economic meltdown and takes a comical look at the corporate and political shenanigans that culminated in what he has described as the biggest robbery in the history of this country---the massive transfer of U.S. taxpayer money to private financial institutions. 127 minutes. Rated R. NO IMPACT MAN @ Lagoon Cinema on Lagoon, one block from Hennepin, uptown MINNEAPOLIS Author Colin Beavan /(No Impact Man, Fingerprints, Operation Jedburgh), /in research for his new book, began the No Impact Project in November 2006. A newly self-proclaimed environmentalist who could no longer avoid pointing the finger at himself, Colin leaves behind his liberal complacency for a vow to make as little environmental impact as possible for one year. No more automated transportation, no more electricity, no more non-local food, no more material consumption...no problem. That is, until his espresso-guzzling, retail-worshipping wife Michelle Conlin and their two-year-old daughter Isabella are dragged into the fray. Filmmakers Laura Gabbert and Justin Schein provide a front row seat into the familial strains and strengthened bonds that result from Colin's and Michelle's struggle with this radical lifestyle change. --------10 of 13-------- To the Point! Turning to Jail for a Better Life by Senator John Marty September 29, 2009 From: jmarty [at] apple-pie.org Apple Pie Alliance <http://www.apple-pie.org> A July newspaper headline said it all: "Homeless man decides jail's better than the streets." A 61 year old homeless man in Rochester decided that the only way he could get food and a roof over his head was to go to jail. So he broke some windows at an auto dealer, turned himself in at the police department and asked that they put him in jail. He told police that if they would not arrest him, he would go back and break some more windows. He realized that the only way he could get a fair shake was by going to prison. Unfortunately, he is not alone in his struggle and despair. If you talk to the volunteers and staff working at homeless shelters around Minnesota, you will hear that many shelter residents go to work during the day but return to the shelter each night, seeking a cot to sleep on because they cannot afford housing. There are many hard-working people who earn too little to pay for life's necessities. Many face great mental and physical challenges which make their chance of success slim. This was a reality for many people prior to the recession. Now it is a reality for even more. Health care is another struggle. Melissa Matthews, a 20-year-old inmate in Washington State rejected parole, choosing to stay in prison because she had no health insurance and couldn't afford treatment for her cervical cancer. According to columnist Nicholas Kristof, Melissa said if they release her, "I'm going to die from this cancer." In prison, she had a right to health care; outside of prison, she had nothing. Again, Ms. Matthews is not alone in her desperation to find health care. Eighteen thousand Americans die every year simply because they cannot afford the health care they need. Some Americans -- prison inmates -- have a constitutional right to health care and other necessities of life. Don't the rest of the people deserve as much as prisoners do? These stories merit outrage. And we need to turn that outrage into action; action to ensure that our neighbors are treated with the dignity they deserve. The Legislative Commission to End Poverty in Minnesota by 2020 issued its report early this year, but since then Minnesota has gone backwards. Some of the backsliding was due to the recession, but some was due to government decision making. Perhaps the biggest step backwards was Governor Pawlenty's veto and unallotment of funds for the General Assistance Medical Care (GAMC) program. His own administration acknowledged that it would hurt the poorest and sickest people in the state. These men and women will be unable to get health care until they are sick enough to need costly emergency room care. They would get better care if they would break the law and go to prison. That's really sad. The "Common Foundation" document that spurred creation of the Poverty Commission called on everyone -- the business community, non-profits, the faith community, government -- all of us -- to respond. The challenge was straight forward: We are to ensure that "all people are provided those things that protect human dignity and make for healthy life, adequate food and shelter, meaningful work, safe communities, healthcare, and education." These aren't unrealistic expectations. For example, we could start by delivering health care for all. Truly universal health care, like our proposed Minnesota Health Plan, actually saves money. We need to challenge political and business leaders when they ignore these issues. When a corporate executive pulls in millions of dollars in stock options, earning a ratio of 350 to 1 to that of a manufacturing worker (compared to a ratio of less than 30 to 1 in western European countries), ask them whether more pay for their workers would bring about a more just society. Or, when Governor Pawlenty travels the country hyping his leadership, ask if he is proud that many of his constituents would get better healthcare and housing if they commit crimes than they can get as law-abiding people. The public recognizes this is wrong. Let's work together, build the vision, and change it. --------11 of 13-------- The Comic Genius of Netanyahu by Stuart Littlewood September 29th, 2009 Dissident Voice Knowing that Iran won't surrender its right to civil nuclear power, the schemers in Tel Aviv and Washington were bound to mount a hysterical campaign to scare the rest of the world into believing this would bring terror to our own streets. And at the United Nations we saw the process swing into action as Netanyahu tried to whip up support for another Middle East war for Israel's benefit. "Yesterday, the man who calls the Holocaust a lie spoke from this podium. To those who gave this Holocaust-denier a hearing, I say on behalf of my people, the Jewish people, and decent people everywhere: Have you no shame? Have you no decency?" Who with a speck of decency would have given Netanyahu a hearing after the atrocities of the Gaza blitzkrieg and the Goldstone Report condemning Israel's war crimes? "This Iranian regime is fueled by an extreme fundamentalism - anyone not deemed to be a true believer is brutally subjugated". Netanyahu could be describing the Israeli regime. "The greatest threat facing the world today is the marriage between religious fanaticism and the weapons of mass destruction". He should know. Israel is bristling with both. "The most urgent challenge facing this body is to prevent the tyrants of Tehran from acquiring nuclear weapons". That would be nice for the warmongers in Tel Aviv, who already have them. "Will the international community thwart the world's most pernicious sponsors and practitioners of terrorism?" I do hope so. But are we all agreed who they are? "Rather than condemning the terrorists and their Iranian patrons, some here have condemned their victims. That is exactly what a recent UN report on Gaza did, falsely equating the terrorists with those they targeted". Substitute American for Iranian and it begins to make sense. "In 2005, hoping to advance peace, Israel unilaterally withdrew from every inch of Gaza. We didn't get peace. Instead we got an Iranian backed terror base fifty miles from Tel Aviv. Life in Israeli towns and cities next to Gaza became a nightmare. You see, the Hamas rocket attacks not only continued, they increased tenfold. Again, the UN was silent". Defenceless Gazans know all about nightmares. Israel, camped on their doorstep and still occupying Gaza's airspace and coastal waters, lobs high explosives into the tiny enclave's 1.5 million starving civilians, and there's no escape. "There is only one example in history of thousands of rockets being fired on a country's civilian population. It happened when the Nazis rocketed British cities during World War II. During that war, the allies leveled German cities, causing hundreds of thousands of casualties". The Nazis launched sophisticated rockets with huge destructive power at London and Southern England from territory they had invaded and occupied. They weren't firing makeshift missiles built in a garden shed to defend their homeland. "Israel... tried to minimize casualties by urging Palestinian civilians to vacate the targeted areas. We dropped countless flyers over their homes, sent thousands of text messages and called thousands of cell phones asking people to leave. Never has a country gone to such extraordinary lengths to remove the enemy's civilian population from harm.s way". How considerate. But where were Gaza's terrified civilians supposed to run to? Into the sea? Bombing their homes was the ultimate terror act. There's no excuse. "If Israel is again asked to take more risks for peace, we must know today that you will stand with us tomorrow. Only if we have the confidence that we can defend ourselves can we take further risks for peace". What exactly are these "risks for peace" Israel has so bravely taken? In 61 years what peace dividends has Israel's risk-taking delivered? The pot calls the kettle black Netanyahu has a rare genius for irony, except that he himself doesn't see it. That's what makes him such a comedian. The irony of what he says is totally lost on him. Nearly every offensive remark he makes about Iran and Palestine can be flung back in his face because Israel is no better and in most respects far worse. Netanyahu's speech to the UN was the most hilarious example in history of the pot calling the kettle black. His scriptwriters evidently feed off the Zionists' propaganda training manual, which teaches the art of lying and distortion and how to sugar-coat it all for easy swallowing by gullible audiences. Notice how everything Israel dislikes, and everything that thwarts their lust for domination, is now labeled "Iranian-backed" - and how everyone else, too, is in mortal danger from Iran and must therefore huddle together in Israel's axis of aggression. Also note how situations are defined in language that suit only Israel's case. Less amusing is Netanyahu's arrogant rejection of the UN Human Rights Council's Goldstone report condemning Israel's conduct. [begin quote] "By these twisted standards... [they] would have dragged Roosevelt and Churchill to the dock as war criminals. What a perversion of truth. What a perversion of justice. Will you accept this farce? If this body does not reject this report, it would send a message to terrorists everywhere: Terror pays; if you launch your attacks from densely populated areas, you will win immunity. And in condemning Israel, this body would also deal a mortal blow to peace. Here's why. "When Israel left Gaza, many hoped that the missile attacks would stop. Others believed that at the very least, Israel would have international legitimacy to exercise its right of self-defense. What legitimacy? What self-defense? "The same UN that cheered Israel as it left Gaza and promised to back our right of self-defense now accuses us - my people, my country - of war crimes? And for what? For acting responsibly in self-defense. What a travesty! "Israel justly defended itself against terror. This biased and unjust report is a clear-cut test for all governments. Will you stand with Israel or will you stand with the terrorists?" [end quote] The false choice in that last sentence is a propaganda favourite. Why would anyone with any sense wish to stand alongside either? And how dare Netanyahu equate Roosevelt and Churchill's epic struggle against the rampaging Nazis with Israel's brutal crushing of Palestinian resistance against the illegal occupation of the Holy Land? What has the UN come to when a regime that is armed to the teeth with nuclear weapons and not even a signatory to the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty can call on the world's nations to gang up against another country for starting its own nuclear programme? Israel itself refuses to submit to inspection and poses an alarming nuclear threat. It hasn't signed the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention either, nor the Chemical Weapons Convention. And is it not an insult to everyone's intelligence to hear the UN being lambasted by the leader of a regime that is in open defiance of international law and countless UN resolutions? The UN Human Rights Council is due to debate the Goldstone report today, when a vote will be taken on how its recommendations should be acted on. There are fears that the British government plans to reject the report's key recommendations. If that's the case and others follow suit, Israel will be let off the hook and allowed to continue its crime spree. It will hand Israel's comic genius a personal triumph. The Zionist network will no doubt show their gratitude in the usual way. Stuart Littlewood is author of the book Radio Free Palestine, which tells the plight of the Palestinians under occupation. He can be reached at: stu [at] f8.eclipse.co.uk. --------12 of 13-------- What Have We Done to Democracy? Of Nearsighted Progress, Feral Howls, Consensus, Chaos, and a New Cold War in Kashmir by Arundhati Roy Monday, September 28, 2009 TomDispatch.com Common Dreams While we're still arguing about whether there's life after death, can we add another question to the cart? Is there life after democracy? What sort of life will it be? By "democracy" I don't mean democracy as an ideal or an aspiration. I mean the working model: Western liberal democracy, and its variants, such as they are. So, is there life after democracy? Attempts to answer this question often turn into a comparison of different systems of governance, and end with a somewhat prickly, combative defense of democracy. It's flawed, we say. It isn't perfect, but it's better than everything else that's on offer. Inevitably, someone in the room will say: "Afghanistan, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia... is that what you would prefer?" Whether democracy should be the utopia that all "developing" societies aspire to is a separate question altogether. (I think it should. The early, idealistic phase can be quite heady.) The question about life after democracy is addressed to those of us who already live in democracies, or in countries that pretend to be democracies. It isn't meant to suggest that we lapse into older, discredited models of totalitarian or authoritarian governance. It's meant to suggest that the system of representative democracy - too much representation, too little democracy - needs some structural adjustment. The question here, really, is what have we done to democracy? What have we turned it into? What happens once democracy has been used up? When it has been hollowed out and emptied of meaning? What happens when each of its institutions has metastasized into something dangerous? What happens now that democracy and the free market have fused into a single predatory organism with a thin, constricted imagination that revolves almost entirely around the idea of maximizing profit? Is it possible to reverse this process? Can something that has mutated go back to being what it used to be? What we need today, for the sake of the survival of this planet, is long-term vision. Can governments whose very survival depends on immediate, extractive, short-term gain provide this? Could it be that democracy, the sacred answer to our short-term hopes and prayers, the protector of our individual freedoms and nurturer of our avaricious dreams, will turn out to be the endgame for the human race? Could it be that democracy is such a hit with modern humans precisely because it mirrors our greatest folly - our nearsightedness? Our inability to live entirely in the present (like most animals do), combined with our inability to see very far into the future, makes us strange in-between creatures, neither beast nor prophet. Our amazing intelligence seems to have outstripped our instinct for survival. We plunder the earth hoping that accumulating material surplus will make up for the profound, unfathomable thing that we have lost. It would be conceit to pretend I have the answers to any of these questions. But it does look as if the beacon could be failing and democracy can perhaps no longer be relied upon to deliver the justice and stability we once dreamed it would. A Clerk of Resistance As a writer, a fiction writer, I have often wondered whether the attempt to always be precise, to try and get it all factually right somehow reduces the epic scale of what is really going on. Does it eventually mask a larger truth? I worry that I am allowing myself to be railroaded into offering prosaic, factual precision when maybe what we need is a feral howl, or the transformative power and real precision of poetry. Something about the cunning, Brahmanical, intricate, bureaucratic, file-bound, "apply-through-proper-channels" nature of governance and subjugation in India seems to have made a clerk out of me. My only excuse is to say that it takes odd tools to uncover the maze of subterfuge and hypocrisy that cloaks the callousness and the cold, calculated violence of the world's favorite new superpower. Repression "through proper channels" sometimes engenders resistance "through proper channels." As resistance goes this isn't enough, I know. But for now, it's all I have. Perhaps someday it will become the underpinning for poetry and for the feral howl. Today, words like "progress" and "development" have become interchangeable with economic "reforms," "deregulation," and "privatization." Freedom has come to mean choice. It has less to do with the human spirit than with different brands of deodorant. Market no longer means a place where you buy provisions. The "market" is a de-territorialized space where faceless corporations do business, including buying and selling "futures." Justice has come to mean human rights (and of those, as they say, "a few will do"). This theft of language, this technique of usurping words and deploying them like weapons, of using them to mask intent and to mean exactly the opposite of what they have traditionally meant, has been one of the most brilliant strategic victories of the tsars of the new dispensation. It has allowed them to marginalize their detractors, deprive them of a language to voice their critique and dismiss them as being "anti-progress," "anti-development," "anti-reform," and of course "anti-national" - negativists of the worst sort. Talk about saving a river or protecting a forest and they say, "Don't you believe in progress?" To people whose land is being submerged by dam reservoirs, and whose homes are being bulldozed, they say, "Do you have an alternative development model?" To those who believe that a government is duty bound to provide people with basic education, health care, and social security, they say, "You're against the market." And who except a cretin could be against markets? To reclaim these stolen words requires explanations that are too tedious for a world with a short attention span, and too expensive in an era when Free Speech has become unaffordable for the poor. This language heist may prove to be the keystone of our undoing. Two decades of "Progress" in India has created a vast middle class punch-drunk on sudden wealth and the sudden respect that comes with it - and a much, much vaster, desperate underclass. Tens of millions of people have been dispossessed and displaced from their land by floods, droughts, and desertification caused by indiscriminate environmental engineering and massive infrastructural projects, dams, mines, and Special Economic Zones. All developed in the name of the poor, but really meant to service the rising demands of the new aristocracy. The hoary institutions of Indian democracy - the judiciary, the police, the "free" press, and, of course, elections - far from working as a system of checks and balances, quite often do the opposite. They provide each other cover to promote the larger interests of Union and Progress. In the process, they generate such confusion, such a cacophony, that voices raised in warning just become part of the noise. And that only helps to enhance the image of the tolerant, lumbering, colorful, somewhat chaotic democracy. The chaos is real. But so is the consensus. A New Cold War in Kashmir Speaking of consensus, there's the small and ever-present matter of Kashmir. When it comes to Kashmir the consensus in India is hard core. It cuts across every section of the establishment - including the media, the bureaucracy, the intelligentsia, and even Bollywood. The war in the Kashmir valley is almost 20 years old now, and has claimed about 70,000 lives. Tens of thousands have been tortured, several thousand have "disappeared," women have been raped, tens of thousands widowed. Half a million Indian troops patrol the Kashmir valley, making it the most militarized zone in the world. (The United States had about 165,000 active-duty troops in Iraq at the height of its occupation.) The Indian Army now claims that it has, for the most part, crushed militancy in Kashmir. Perhaps that's true. But does military domination mean victory? How does a government that claims to be a democracy justify a military occupation? By holding regular elections, of course. Elections in Kashmir have had a long and fascinating past. The blatantly rigged state election of 1987 was the immediate provocation for the armed uprising that began in 1990. Since then elections have become a finely honed instrument of the military occupation, a sinister playground for India's deep state. Intelligence agencies have created political parties and decoy politicians, they have constructed and destroyed political careers at will. It is they more than anyone else who decide what the outcome of each election will be. After every election, the Indian establishment declares that India has won a popular mandate from the people of Kashmir. In the summer of 2008, a dispute over land being allotted to the Amarnath Shrine Board coalesced into a massive, nonviolent uprising. Day after day, hundreds of thousands of people defied soldiers and policemen - who fired straight into the crowds, killing scores of people - and thronged the streets. From early morning to late in the night, the city reverberated to chants of "Azadi! Azadi!" (Freedom! Freedom!). Fruit sellers weighed fruit chanting "Azadi! Azadi!" Shopkeepers, doctors, houseboat owners, guides, weavers, carpet sellers - everybody was out with placards, everybody shouted "Azadi! Azadi!" The protests went on for several days. The protests were massive. They were democratic, and they were nonviolent. For the first time in decades fissures appeared in mainstream public opinion in India. The Indian state panicked. Unsure of how to deal with this mass civil disobedience, it ordered a crackdown. It enforced the harshest curfew in recent memory with shoot-on-sight orders. In effect, for days on end, it virtually caged millions of people. The major pro-freedom leaders were placed under house arrest, several others were jailed. House-to-house searches culminated in the arrests of hundreds of people. Once the rebellion was brought under control, the government did something extraordinary - it announced elections in the state. Pro-independence leaders called for a boycott. They were rearrested. Almost everybody believed the elections would become a huge embarrassment for the Indian government. The security establishment was convulsed with paranoia. Its elaborate network of spies, renegades, and embedded journalists began to buzz with renewed energy. No chances were taken. (Even I, who had nothing to do with any of what was going on, was put under house arrest in Srinagar for two days.) Calling for elections was a huge risk. But the gamble paid off. People turned out to vote in droves. It was the biggest voter turnout since the armed struggle began. It helped that the polls were scheduled so that the first districts to vote were the most militarized districts even within the Kashmir valley. None of India's analysts, journalists, and psephologists cared to ask why people who had only weeks ago risked everything, including bullets and shoot-on-sight orders, should have suddenly changed their minds. None of the high-profile scholars of the great festival of democracy - who practically live in TV studios when there are elections in mainland India, picking apart every forecast and exit poll and every minor percentile swing in the vote count - talked about what elections mean in the presence of such a massive, year-round troop deployment (an armed soldier for every 20 civilians). No one speculated about the mystery of hundreds of unknown candidates who materialized out of nowhere to represent political parties that had no previous presence in the Kashmir valley. Where had they come from? Who was financing them? No one was curious. No one spoke about the curfew, the mass arrests, the lockdown of constituencies that were going to the polls. Not many talked about the fact that campaigning politicians went out of their way to de-link Azadi and the Kashmir dispute from elections, which they insisted were only about municipal issues - roads, water, electricity. No one talked about why people who have lived under a military occupation for decades - where soldiers could barge into homes and whisk away people at any time of the day or night - might need someone to listen to them, to take up their cases, to represent them. The minute elections were over, the establishment and the mainstream press declared victory (for India) once again. The most worrying fallout was that in Kashmir, people began to parrot their colonizers' view of themselves as a somewhat pathetic people who deserved what they got. "Never trust a Kashmiri," several Kashmiris said to me. "We're fickle and unreliable." Psychological warfare, technically known as psy-ops, has been an instrument of official policy in Kashmir. Its depredations over decades - its attempt to destroy people's self-esteem - are arguably the worst aspect of the occupation. It's enough to make you wonder whether there is any connection at all between elections and democracy. The trouble is that Kashmir sits on the fault lines of a region that is awash in weapons and sliding into chaos. The Kashmiri freedom struggle, with its crystal clear sentiment but fuzzy outlines, is caught in the vortex of several dangerous and conflicting ideologies - Indian nationalism (corporate as well as "Hindu," shading into imperialism), Pakistani nationalism (breaking down under the burden of its own contradictions), U.S. imperialism (made impatient by a tanking economy), and a resurgent medieval-Islamist Taliban (fast gaining legitimacy, despite its insane brutality, because it is seen to be resisting an occupation). Each of these ideologies is capable of a ruthlessness that can range from genocide to nuclear war. Add Chinese imperial ambitions, an aggressive, reincarnated Russia, and the huge reserves of natural gas in the Caspian region and persistent whispers about natural gas, oil, and uranium reserves in Kashmir and Ladakh, and you have the recipe for a new Cold War (which, like the last one, is cold for some and hot for others). In the midst of all this, Kashmir is set to become the conduit through which the mayhem unfolding in Afghanistan and Pakistan spills into India, where it will find purchase in the anger of the young among India's 150 million Muslims who have been brutalized, humiliated, and marginalized. Notice has been given by the series of terrorist strikes that culminated in the Mumbai attacks of 2008. There is no doubt that the Kashmir dispute ranks right up there, along with Palestine, as one of the oldest, most intractable disputes in the world. That does not mean that it cannot be resolved. Only that the solution will not be completely to the satisfaction of any one party, one country, or one ideology. Negotiators will have to be prepared to deviate from the "party line." Of course, we haven't yet reached the stage where the government of India is even prepared to admit that there's a problem, let alone negotiate a solution. Right now it has no reason to. Internationally, its stocks are soaring. And while its neighbors deal with bloodshed, civil war, concentration camps, refugees, and army mutinies, India has just concluded a beautiful election. However, "demon-crazy" can't fool all the people all the time. India's temporary, shotgun solutions to the unrest in Kashmir (pardon the pun), have magnified the problem and driven it deep into a place where it is poisoning the aquifers. Is Democracy Melting? Perhaps the story of the Siachen Glacier, the highest battlefield in the world, is the most appropriate metaphor for the insanity of our times. Thousands of Indian and Pakistani soldiers have been deployed there, enduring chill winds and temperatures that dip to minus 40 degrees Celsius. Of the hundreds who have died there, many have died just from the elements. The glacier has become a garbage dump now, littered with the detritus of war - thousands of empty artillery shells, empty fuel drums, ice axes, old boots, tents, and every other kind of waste that thousands of warring human beings generate. The garbage remains intact, perfectly preserved at those icy temperatures, a pristine monument to human folly. While the Indian and Pakistani governments spend billions of dollars on weapons and the logistics of high-altitude warfare, the battlefield has begun to melt. Right now, it has shrunk to about half its size. The melting has less to do with the military standoff than with people far away, on the other side of the world, living the good life. They're good people who believe in peace, free speech, and in human rights. They live in thriving democracies whose governments sit on the U.N. Security Council and whose economies depend heavily on the export of war and the sale of weapons to countries like India and Pakistan. (And Rwanda, Sudan, Somalia, the Republic of Congo, Iraq, Afghanistan... it's a long list.) The glacial melt will cause severe floods on the subcontinent, and eventually severe drought that will affect the lives of millions of people. That will give us even more reasons to fight. We'll need more weapons. Who knows? That sort of consumer confidence may be just what the world needs to get over the current recession. Then everyone in the thriving democracies will have an even better life - and the glaciers will melt even faster. 2009 Arundhati Roy Arundhati Roy was born in 1959 in Shillong, India. She studied architecture in New Delhi, where she now lives, and has worked as a film designer, actor, and screenplay writer in India. Her latest book, Listening to Grasshoppers: Fields Notes on Democracy, is a collection of recent essays. A tenth anniversary edition of her novel, The God of Small Things (Random House), for which she received the 1997 Booker Prize, was recently released. She is also the author of numerous nonfiction titles, including An Ordinary Person's Guide to Empire. --------13 of 13-------- They used to say "F*** You!" Now the even worse curse in the streets is "Hope You!" You hold out a prize, they reach out to take it, you yank it back. Hope you! ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- - 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 vote third party for president for congress now and forever Socialism YES Capitalism NO To GO DIRECTLY to an item, eg --------8 of x-------- do a find on --8
- (no other messages in thread)
Results generated by Tiger Technologies Web hosting using MHonArc.