|Progressive Calendar 08.24.08||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|From: David Shove (shove001tc.umn.edu)|
|Date: Sun, 24 Aug 2008 06:20:30 -0700 (PDT)|
P R O G R E S S I V E C A L E N D A R 08.24.08 1. Atheists/950AM 8.24 9am 2. Stillwater vigil 8.24 1pm 3. RNC/rights 8.24 1pm 4. YAWR/strike 8.24 1pm 5. YAWR/puppets 8.24 2pm 6. KFAI/Indian 8.24 7pm 7. Fr Smith/MidEast 8.24 7pm Northfield MN 8. Trumbo/film 8.24 7pm 9. RNC/speech/court 8.25 9am 10. Peace walk 8.25 6pm RiverFalls WI 11. Art/politics/KFAI 8.25 6pm 12. 11th hour/eco f 8.25 7pm 13. Witness v the war 8.25 7pm Red Wing MN 14. RNC/NLG/video 8.25 7pm 15. RNC infoline 8.25 7pm 16. EXCO deadline 8.25 17. Joshua Frank - Cindy Sheehan: targeting Pelosi (& the war machine) 18. Paul Street - Totalitarianism: it can happen here 19. ed - Day in the sun (poem) --------1 of 19-------- From: August Berkshire <augustberkshire [at] gmail.com> Subject: Atheists/950AM 8.24 9am Minnesota Atheists' "Atheists Talk" radio show. Broadcast live from the Minnesota State Fair. Sunday, August 24, 2008, 9-10 a.m. Central Time A discussion about atheism. Sunday, August 31, 2008, 9-10 a.m. Central Time A discussion about humanism. We welcome questions during the program at (952) 946-6205 or radio [at] MinnesotaAtheists.org. "Atheists Talk" airs live on AM 950 KTNF in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area. To stream live, go to http://www.am950ktnf.com/listen. Podcasts of past shows are available at http://MinnesotaAtheists.org or through iTunes. Program Notes are available at http://MinnesotaAtheists.org. --------2 of 19------- From: scot b <earthmannow [at] comcast.net> Subject: Stillwater vigil 8.24 1pm A weekly Vigil for Peace Every Sunday, at the Stillwater bridge from 1- 2 p.m. Come after Church or after brunch ! All are invited to join in song and witness to the human desire for peace in our world. Signs need to be positive. Sponsored by the St. Croix Valley Peacemakers. If you have a United Nations flag or a United States flag please bring it. Be sure to dress for the weather . For more information go to <http://www.stcroixvalleypeacemakers.com/>http://www.stcroixvalleypeacemakers.com/ For more information you could call 651 275 0247 or 651 999 - 9560 --------3 of 19-------- From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at] hotmail.com> Subject: RNC/rights 8.24 1pm Sunday, 8/24, 1 to 4:45 pm, Coldsnap Legal Collective sponsors free Know Your Rights and volunteer training for the RNC and aftermath, Merriam Park Library meeting room, 1831 Marshall Ave, St Paul. coldsnap [at] riseup.net --------4 of 19-------- From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at] hotmail.com> Subject: YAWR/strike 8.24 1pm Sunday, 8/24, 1 to 2:30, meeting of Youth Against War and Racism to plan the student strike on September 4, YAWR office, 3024 Chicago Ave S, Mpls. http://yawr.org/strike (Note: meeting may have changed to Bedlam Theater, due to puppet making.) --------5 of 19-------- From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at] hotmail.com> Subject: YAWR/puppets 8.24 2pm Sunday, 8/24, 2 to 5 pm, Youth Against War and Racism makes puppets for the protests against the RNC, Bedlam Theater, 1501 S 6th St, West Bank, Mpls. http://www.yawr.org Puppet workshops are led by Chris Lutter of Puppet Farm Arts, http://puppetfarm.org/lutter.html Please RSVP tytymo [at] gmail so they know how many folks to plan for. --------6 of 19-------- From: Chris Spotted Eagle <chris [at] spottedeagle.org> Subject: KFAI/Indian 8.24 7pm KFAI's Indian Uprising, August 24, 2008 from 7:00 - 8:00 p.m. CDT #279 Daryl Sager (Turtle Mountain Ojibwe), Energy Justice Program Associate, Fresh Energy, Inc. Fresh Energy of St. Paul, Minnesota is an organization leading the transition to a clean, efficient and fair energy system. Its goals are: Healthy Economies, Healthy People, Healthy Environment and Energy Independence. Fresh Energy focus areas are: Clean Electricity, Energy Efficiency, Transportation Policy, Global Warming Solutions and Energy Justice. www.fresh-energy.org "Fresh Energy is the only nonprofit in Minnesota whose sole focus is a clean, just energy future for the Upper Midwest. Often, the economically disadvantaged are the most adversely affected by energy decisions. The Energy Justice program at Fresh Energy works to pass policies that help build the capacity of low-income individuals to have a strong voice in those decisions." Tom Goldtooth (Dine¹/Dakota), Director, Indigenous Environmental Network, Bemidji, Minnesota IEN (nonprofit) is a network of grass-roots Indigenous Peoples empowering Indigenous Nations and communities towards sustainable livelihoods, demanding environmental justice and maintaining the Sacred Fire of cultural traditions. IEN is dependent on private foundations and individual donations but does not solicit for federal grants. www.ienearth.org One immediate concern, says Goldtooth, is the proposed 36-inch diameter tar sand oil pipeline cutting through northern Minnesota running almost 1,000 miles, from Alberta, Canada, to Superior, Wisconsin, dubbed the Alberta Clipper. "The Real Price of Tar Sands Oil - Enbridge, a Canadian company, seeks to build a pipeline to carry synthetic crude oil from Alberta, Canada, into southern Illinois. Of the many problems with this project, the greatest one stems from the energy approach driving its construction: bitumen extraction from Alberta's tar sands. Tar sands oil is produced through a destructive process that has deplorable consequences. Extraction and processing of just one barrel of synthetic crude oil from bitumen requires up to five barrels of fresh water and 1,000 cubic feet of natural gas. The gasoline yield from that single barrel is only enough to fill a Chevrolet Avalanche's tank three-quarters full. The environmental impact is severe. In 2007, greenhouse gas emissions from tar sands plants were roughly equivalent to the annual emissions of 27 million American passenger vehicles. High levels of carcinogens in fish, water and sediment have been found downstream from tar sands areas. Meanwhile, annual production of tar sands oil from Alberta is expected to at least triple by 2015, fueled principally by U.S. demand. While no one enjoys reliance on OPEC oil, the alternative of a pending environmental catastrophe is intolerable." Brian P. Granahan, Staff Attorney, Environment Illinois Research and Education Center (washingtonpost.com, Jan. 2008). Indian Uprising is a KFAI Public & Cultural Affairs program relevant to Native Indigenous people, broadcast each Sunday on 90.3 FM Minneapolis and 106.7 FM St. Paul. Volunteer producer & host is Chris Spotted Eagle. Note: Chris is taking a leave of absence for five months, starting September 1st. --------7 of 19-------- From: "wamm [at] mtn.org" <wamm [at] mtn.org> Subject: Fr Smith/MidEast 8.24 7pm Northfield MN Father David Smith on the Middle East Sunday, August 24, 7:00 p.m. St. Dominic's Catholic Church, 104 Linden Street, Northfield. Professor Smith teaches at the University of St. Thomas and is known for his presentations describing his extended living and traveling experiences in the West Bank of Israel. Free and open to the public. Olive oil from Bethlehem will be available for sale. Sponsored by: Northfielders for Justice for Palestine/Israel. --------8 of 19-------- From: Lydia Howell <lhowell [at] visi.com> Subject: Trumbo/film 8.24 7pm Friday, AUG. 22 thru Thu, Aug 28: (2:20 BARGAIN MATINEE)7:00 LAGOON THEATRE on Lagoon 1 block from Hennepin Ave. in uptown MINNEAPOLIS TRUMBO is a documentary of the great screenwriter and McCarthyism, the 1950s Cold War anti-communist "Red Scare", blacklist victim Dalton Trumbo in TRUMBO. The writer is best known for his anti-war novel JOHNNY GOT HIS GUN - a searing portrait of a wounded vet who can not see, hear or move - but, is locked in with his thoughts and emotions about what war does to human beings. Steven Holden of The New York Times says: "Today few would dispute Trumbo's assessment of that very dark period McCarthyism): 'The blacklist was a time of evil, and no one who survived it on either side came through untouched by evil'. --------9 of 19-------- From: Jodin Morey <organize [at] impeachforpeace.org> Subject: RNC/speech/court 8.25 9am Contact: Jodin Morey Cofounder: Impeach for Peace 1111 Elway St. Suite 505 St. Paul, MN 55116 Phone: 612-328-1451 organizer [at] impeachforpeace.org http://ImpeachforPeace.org RNC Free Speech Legal Battle set for August 25th A date has now been set for August 25th at 9am at the Ramsey County Courthouse in front of Chief Judge Kathleen Gearin (15 W. Kellogg Blvd. St. Paul , MN) for a lawsuit filed by Impeach for Peace (IfP), along with others looking to demonstrate at the Republican National Convention (RNC) with the help of the ACLU of Minnesota demanding the right to free speech. Plaintiffs include: Jodin Morey and Mikael Rudolph of Impeach for Peace, Colleen and Ross Rowley, and Ron Deharporte. Impeach for Peace is a grassroots, nonpartisan organization based in Minnesota with chapters in twelve states throughout the country working to achieve the impeachment of President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney and holding them and future elected officials fully accountable under the Rule of Law. The RNC is having their election year convention in St. Paul, Minnesota at the Xcel Energy Center. During this event, the St. Paul Police have decided to relegate most speech activities in what they call the "Primary Event Area" to an inadequate "Designated Public Assembly Area" or free speech zone. The "Primary Event Area" remains to be fully defined by the police, making it impossible for people to know where in St. Paul they can exercise their rights to freedom of expression and assembly. At the convention, members of congress, mayors, governors, the President and Vice-President of the United States are expected to be in attendance. This provides IfP and other potential demonstrators with a unique opportunity to express their political messages to these governmental officials. The lawsuit alleges that the St. Paul City Council and police have created guidelines for the RNC which restrict free speech to areas that are ³inadequate and unacceptably small.² The ACLU also alleges that the City Council/Police denied IfP their due process rights as stipulated in the Minnesota State Constitution by failing to give notice of their plans regarding free speech restrictions, which would have allowed for public comment and a public hearing. The ACLU also contends that the City Council/Police has also reserved the right to modify the guidelines at any time in ways that the ACLU contends are in violation of the Minnesota State Constitution. The lawsuit seeks to have the guidelines declared by the court to be in violation of IfP¹s free speech rights, to have the Primary Event Area and the Designated Public Assembly Area clearly defined and officially released to the public, and to have the Designated Public Assembly Area include additional areas that are within sight and sound of the convention. John Choi, the St. Paul city attorney has said "These two [lawsuits] represent an attempt by the plaintiffs to get another bite at the apple in state court." He continued that the city has afforded "unprecedented access and accommodations for the protesters." Mr. Choi is incorrect regarding IfP¹s ³bite at the apple,² as the plaintiffs on this lawsuit have not previously been a plaintiff in a lawsuit regarding their free speech rights at the RNC. There was a previous lawsuit with different plaintiffs, but it dealt primarily with a march planned, not the specifics of the Designated Public Assembly Area. Secondly, while Mr. Choi and Impeach for Peace may differ as to what is an acceptable amount of restriction on free speech, these differences could have been worked out if the city had engaged in its constitutional due process requirements. For details on Impeach for Peace's plans to protest, sign up for action alerts at ImpeachforPeace.org. For more information please contact Jodin Morey, Cofounder of Impeach for Peace, at 612.328.1451. Additional Contact Information: organizer [at] impeachforpeace.org minneapolis [at] impeachforpeace.org http://impeachforpeace.org --------10 of 19-------- From: Nancy Holden <d.n.holden [at] comcast.net> Subject: Peace walk 8.25 6pm RiverFalls WI River Falls Peace and Justice Walkers. We meet every Monday from 6-7 pm on the UWRF campus at Cascade Ave. and 2nd Street, immediately across from "Journey" House. We walk through the downtown of River Falls. Contact: d.n.holden [at] comcast.net. Douglas H Holden 1004 Morgan Road River Falls, Wisconsin 54022 --------11 of 19-------- From: "wamm [at] mtn.org" <wamm [at] mtn.org> Subject: Art/politics/KFAI 8.25 6pm Radio Documentary: "Art is Patriotic!" August 25, 27, 29 and September 1, 6:00 to 7:00 p.m. KFAI Radio, 90.3 fm in Minneapolis and 106.7 fm in St. Paul. The Republican National Convention is coming to the Twin Cities, and local artists have heeded the call: art is patriotic! One hour audio documentary explores the relationship between art and politics, and covers a diverse array of arts initiatives in response to the RNC, including the Unconvention, the Provention, the Peace Island Picnic, Ripple Effect, Spark 24 and more. Interviews include former FBI agent and peace activist Coleen Rowley, Rock The Vote blogger Rebecca McDonald, Chris Lutter-Gardella of Puppet Farm Arts, musicians John Munson of Semisonic and Adam Levy of the Honeydogs, Tru Ruts' e.g.bailey and Sha Cage, and Lydia Howell, host of "Catalyst" on KFAI. --------12 of 19-------- From: Christine Frank <christinefrank [at] visi.com> Subject: 11th hour/eco film 8.25 7pm There will be a free screening of the documentary The 11th Hour, produced and narrated by Leonardo DiCaprio and directed by Leila Conners Petersen and Nadia Conners. The film examines the ecological crisis we face on the planet and cites the solutions that are a viable means for change while pointing to the need for immediate action. The screening will take place on Monday, August 25th at 7:00 PM at Mayday Books, 301 Cedar Avenue South, West Bank, Minneapolis. The event is sponsored by the Climate Crisis Coalition of the Twin Cities and is free and open to the public. At 5:00 PM there is a Clean Energy Vigil to Cool Down the Planet outside on the plaza and at 6:00 the 3CTC Business Meeting takes place prior to the forum. All are welcome. For further information, EMAIL: christinefrank [at] visi.com or PHONE: 612-879-8937. --------13 of 19-------- From: pepperwolf [at] circlevision.org Subject: Witness v the war 8.25 7pm Red Wing MN Their journey began July 12 in Chicago, site of the 1968 Democratic Party convention in the midst of the Vietnam War. The walk will conclude on August 31 in St. Paul - in time for the start of the 2008 Republican Party convention in the midst of the Iraq war. Walkers including Kathy Kelly of Voices for Creative Nonviolence, are men and women who have traveled and lived in Iraq, Palestine, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Israel as human rights workers and one as a soldier of the US Army. Hear stories of their witness at a presentation on Monday August 25 7:00 pm Hobgoblin Music Hwy 19 Red Wing Join us at 6 pm for a potluck (optional) <http://www.vcnv.org>vcnv.org pepperwolf [at] circlevision.org --------14 of 19-------- From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at] hotmail.com> Subject: RNC/NLG/video 8.25 7pm Monday, 8/25, 7 to 8:30 pm, NLG sponsors legal observer/videographer training for RNC, Hamline University Law School, Moot Court Room, 1536 Hewitt Ave, St Paul. RSVP to genab [at] visi.com --------15 of 19-------- From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at] hotmail.com> Subject: RNC infoline 8.25 7pm Monday, 8/25, 7 pm, RNC Infoline volunteer training for Arise information hotline (612-871-2283) to be staffed from 8 am to midnight on Friday 8/29 through Friday 9/5, for information about public protest/action schedules, transit and transportation, community resources, rumor control and referrals for medical and legal, Arise Bookstore, 2441 Lyndale Ave S, Mpls. http://www.arisebookstore.org --------16 of 19-------- From: excotc <excotc [at] gmail.com> Subject: EXCO deadline 8.25 *Want to teach an EXCO class this fall? *The final deadline for Fall Applications is Monday August 25th, and we are happy to receive applications from now until then. *Want to take EXCO classes?* Classes will begin the week of September 22nd, though that is flexible based on the needs of facilitators and participants. By September 1st you will be able to find individual class schedules and register online at www.EXCOtc.org. *Want more information information about EXCO?* Check out the Fall Course application attached or online at http://www.excotc.org/node/2. Also, feel free to contact us with your questions or to receive an application at excotc [at] gmial.com or 651-696-8010. --------17 of 19-------- An Interview with Cindy Sheehan Targeting Pelosi (and the War Machine) By JOSHUA FRANK CounterPunch August 23 / 4, 2008 Cindy Sheehan's independent antiwar campaign against Rep. Nancy Pelosi is beginning to gain steam in San Francisco. I recently caught up with Cindy to discuss her bid for Congress as well as the Democrat's perpetual incompetence. . JF Joshua Frank: Cindy, you recently obtained ballot access in your campaign against Rep. Nancy Pelosi in San Francisco. It was a hard fought battle from what I heard. Can you talk about the whole process a little bit, and what you're campaign had to overcome in order to get on the ballot in November's election? Cindy Sheehan: Well, Josh, as you know, last May I renounced my membership in the Democratic Party in response to yet another multi-billion dollar Iraq/Afghanistan war funding bill that Pelosi's Congress handed to George W. Bush. In July of 2007, I decided to run against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in San Francisco's 8th District if she did not reverse her treasonous position of the Constitutional remedy of impeachment being "off the table." As I didn't belong to any political party at that point, I weighed my options and decided to re-register as "Decline to State." Although I resonate with many parts of third party platforms, I thought to retain my independent integrity I would make my bid unaffiliated with any party. We found out early this year that the requirements for obtaining ballot status as a non-partisan in California are the 4th most rigorous in the nation. If one belongs to a party it is far easier to obtain ballot status. I was required to get signatures from 3% of the people in the 8th District who voted in November 2006. That came to an unbelievable number of 10,198. When we first contacted the DOE (Department of Elections) to pull the first petitions. In lieu of filing fee -- which I had to obtain 3000 signatures and pay a fee for 400 signatures, the staff there told us that we could register people and write the form number next to that person's signature on the petition after they signed. Well into the process, we had registered hundreds of new voters and we were told that the DOE would not accept signatures of new voters unless the office had the time to "process" those forms. The first time we turned in our "Nomination" papers, the DOE invalidated 44%, saying that over half of those people weren't "registered." Ten days in advance of the August 8 deadline for the signatures, we needed to turn in 7,694 (out of the original 10,198) more signatures and we turned in 10,856. Our campaign volunteers and staff rejoiced because we were sure that we had made it with those signatures. However, we got "Supplemental" to the nomination papers and continued to collect signatures "just in case." Well, it was a good thing that we did, because the DOE invalidated almost 5,000 of those signatures and we were lacking just under 1,700. We discovered this information the four days before the papers were due from a phone call from the DOE. We were shocked, but we mobilized dozens of people to collect signatures. In the end, we figure that we collected right around 20,000 signatures, and on afternoon of August 8 we received a phone call from the DOE that turned out to be good news: We had qualified! I became only the sixth non-partisan candidate in California history to qualify for ballot status, and the first Congressional Candidate since 1996! The signature process was very labor intensive, and time consuming, but we were able to obtain about 20,000 votes and dozens of energized volunteers that will be with us until November 4th, when we celebrate victory. I am sure there will many more obstacles thrown in the path of our campaign, but we are experts at overcoming obstacles and fearless in the face of adversity. Frank: Some may laugh when you say, "celebrate victory". Do you really think you can beat Nancy Pelosi? Also, do you believe it is more effective to challenge the Democrat's position outside of the party, instead of inside, like the Progressive Democrats of America (PDA) are trying to do? Sheehan: Well, I always say that there's not enough laughter in the world today ... but seriously, we have a society where "winning" is the only acceptable outcome of any event: from sports, to American Idol to politics. I believe that every day our campaign office is open and functioning and attracting more volunteers and positive energy is a victory. I go to sleep every night convinced of this fact and wake up every morning ready to get back to the important work of confronting what Nancy Pelosi represents to many people: corporate militarism and a fascist police state. Besides the daily victories, and the major victory of just getting on the ballot as a non-partisan candidate, I do think that this election is winnable. There is excitement from all over the world, really, for this race. We have a comfortable amount of money right now that we are planning to use to wage a fierce-issues based campaign. I can't really believe that the people of the 8th District would vote for Pelosi when they find out that she knew about torture and sanctioned the inhumane practice as well as her other failures for the people (but victories for the war machine). I tried working the whole inside/outside strategy of the PDA, and was, in fact, on its national board until they refused to endorse me in my race against Pelosi. I believe that the only way we are going to save our representative republic and restore some kind of peace and economic equality is to challenge the two party duopoly that only suppresses these attributes. Frank: Progressive Democrats of America did not endorse your candidacy? Did they give you a reason as to why? What has your support been like among Democrats in general this year? Sheehan: PDA only endorses Democratic candidates, so to the organization, it's not how progressive a candidate is, but what letter comes after their name. They won't endorse Pelosi, I don't think, at least that's what I have been told, but I think the organization should enthusiastically endorse me because of my platform and the work I have done with them. I have had some very private endorsements from Democrats, but nothing public. I also have a few top people in the California Democratic National Committee who are helping me behind the scenes because they have been warned away from my campaign. I know I have to appeal to progressive Democrats to win, but I think my message does this directly. However, "Decline to State" makes up the second highest amounts of registration here in San Francisco, so we just need an aggressive campaign to get the progressive message out there. Frank: Why did you decide to target Pelosi out of all the bad Democrats out there? Sheehan: I decided to target Pelosi because she is the number one Democrat in Congress and she was the number one obstacle to ending the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan. My reasoning was and is that if she refused to hold Bush accountable, then someone needed to hold her accountable. I am not the kind of person to wait for someone else to do something that needs to be done. So here I am. Frank: How has she responded to your campaign or the issues you are raising? Can you talk about those issues a bit? Sheehan: When we qualified for the ballot she said something like she "welcomes" the challenge and has the highest "respect" for me. I don't respect her because I believe she has taken the amazing power that was bestowed on her and has further diminished the causes of peace, justice, environmental sustainability and economic equality. But since she has sold out to the war machine, she knows who her masters are. We saw one interesting step slightly to the left for her when she allowed Congressman John Conyers to have the non-impeachment hearings last month. Otherwise, she has effectively destroyed the 4th Amendment by granting the telecommunication companies and the Bushites immunity from warrantless spying, and she has proudly funded the war until the middle of next year. She was also fully briefed on torture in 2002 and sanctioned the practice. There are many other ways she has abused "We the People." Frank: Now that you are on the ballot, has Pelosi agreed to any formal debates? Sheehan: That's an easy one: No. But we will press her and press her to come to San Francisco and debate her opponents, which include a Republican and a Libertarian, and answer for her deplorable record. One thing I forgot to mention in your last question is her unforgivable backslide to the oil companies in offshore drilling. I haven't seen poll numbers that address this issue here in the 8th, but I sense that this is as big of a betrayal to most voters here as it is to me. Frank: Ultimately, what you expect to achieve by running against Pelosi this year? And what can members of the antiwar movement do to learn more about your campaign? Sheehan: I expect to achieve victory against the war machine. I realize that win or lose, we still have a long way to go in achieving a better world, but taking out Pelosi will be a significant step in the right direction. I believe that we have marched as far as we can go; signed as many petitions as we can; knocked on too many Congressional office doors; and sang too many verses of "We shall overcome." This campaign is the most significant action an anti-war person can be involved in until November 4th. To learn more about our campaign, people should visit our site at www.CindyForCongress.org. Joshua Frank is co-editor of Dissident Voice and author of Left Out! How Liberals Helped Reelect George W. Bush (Common Courage Press, 2005), and along with Jeffrey St. Clair, the editor of the brand new book Red State Rebels: Tales of Grassroots Resistance in the Heartland, published by AK Press in July 2008. --------18 of 19-------- Totalitarianism: It Can Happen Here by Paul Street August 23rd, 2008 Dissident Voice Democracy Incorporated: Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism By Sheldon Wolin (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2008) ISBN-10: 0691135665 ISBN-13: 978-0691135663 Domesticated Democracy It is by now commonplace to observe that democracy is in a weakened state in the United States. But could it be that the U.S. is no longer a democracy at all, if it ever truly was? According to Princeton emeritus political scientist Sheldon Wolin's chilling new volume Democracy, Inc: Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism (2008), the United States is becoming a totalitarian state posing as a democracy. Under the rules of what Wolin calls "inverted totalitarianism," corporate and state power have become deeply "co-joined" and practically "unbridled". The popular majority of the citizenry - the People - in whose name U.S. "democracy" purports to function is politically uninterested, infantilized, obedient, distracted, and divided. An increasingly spectator-ized and subordinate public is shepherded by the professional political class across a painfully narrow business- and Empire-friendly field of political, policy, and ideological "choices". Those harshly limited options are presented in periodic superficial, candidate-centered and corporate-crafted elections that function as anti-democratic exercises in capitalist marketing and managerial control. These spectacular rolling extravaganzas privilege candidate image and other trivial matters over substantive questions of policy and ideology, with campaign consultants and advertisers selling candidates like they sell candy or cars. They help keep the interrelated issues of the ever-growing rich-poor gap, corporate power, and imperial militarism (the last two topics are taboo in "mainstream" U.S. political life) "off the table" of acceptable debate and public scrutiny even though they are of primary interest to most American citizens. By Wolin's account: The citizenry, supposedly the source of governmental power and authority as well as participant, has been replaced by the "electorate," that is, by voters who acquire a political life at election time. During the intervals between elections the political existence of the citizenry is relegated to a shadow-citizenship of virtual participation. Instead of participating in power, the virtual citizen is invited to have "opinions": measurable responses to questions predesigned to elicit them. (p. 59) "In elections parties set out to mobilize the citizen-as-voter, to define political obligation as fulfilled by the casting of a vote. Afterwards, post-election politics of lobbying, repaying donors, and promoting corporate interests - the real players - takes over. The effect is to demobilize the citizenry, to teach them not to be involved or to ponder matters that are either settled or beyond their efficacy. (p. 205) Once votes have been counted (or not) in America's totalitarian system, "the people" fade back into the woodwork. Politicians from both sides of the nation's corporate-sponsored "one-and-a-half party system" - the more explicitly authoritarian Republicans or the "inauthentic opposition" advanced by neoliberal corporate Democrats (whose 2004 presidential candidate made a point of stating his opposition to the redistribution of wealth) - proceed to do precisely what the American ex-citizenry wishes them not to do. They advance empire, inequality, and repression, concentrating riches and power ever further upward in what has long been the industrialized world's most unequal and wealth-top-heavy society. American "democracy" has been "domesticated" by modern managerial business technique. Its wild democratic risk has been removed for and by the Few. It has been quietly subsumed by corporation, whose mission is to guarantee returns on capital by minimizing chance and maintaining a "stable" environment (including a safely supine domestic population) for investors. Democracy has been incorporated. In this pseudo-democratic Brave New America, corporate power no longer answers to political controls. The needs of the popular majority are relentlessly subordinated to the "quest for 'economic growth'" - and to the foreign policy elite's imperial perceptions of "Superpower's" needs and the so-called "national interest". "Economic growth" and "national interest" are code words for whatever capital wants and cloak the regular state-capitalist practice of funneling wealth and power from the Many to the Few. The demoted "people" are kept in perpetual fear and prodded to cower under the umbrella of the National Insecurity State by an endless so-called "War on Terror," heir to the imperial Cold War. The Few steal elections, shred civil liberties, and launch illegal, immoral, and aggressive wars and occupations without serious fear of popular resistance. Young black males - formerly a leading source of protest . are dragooned into the burgeoning mass incarceration state. The use of state power to alleviate poverty and ameliorate inequality is shamed as dangerous public overreach but the use of that power to shamelessly advance corporate interests and pay off big money election investors is celebrated in the ironic name of the "free market". Working peoples' living standards are savagely rolled back and working-class sons and daughters are shipped off to kill and die in bloody campaigns of colonial conquest - wars that are waged on false pretexts and serve the interests of the Few while the costs are spread across society and fall with special force on the poor. It's a "Hood-Robin" system. Policy-relevant political power is "monopolized by the Few," who "possess the skills, resources, and focused time that enables them to impose their will on a society the vast majority of whose members are overburdened and distracted by the demands of day-to-day survival" (p. 277). Those demands grow ever more difficult as corporate and imperial masters deepen their stranglehold over American politics, policy, culture, and "life". It's a vicious circle that threatens to blow out democracy's last glowing embers in the "land of the free". This American "totalitarianism" promotes more than just specific policies and practices that serve the corporate and financial "elite". It also advances a "totalizing" and authoritarian notion of the perfect and final society. The 2002 National Security Strategy of the United States defines America's grand historical mission as advancing "freedom" and the "single sustainable model of for national success: freedom, democracy, and free enterprise" along with "development, free trade, and free markets". As Wolin notes, "the freedoms dangled before the unfree are, in reality, disguised power" - the heavily state-protected and publicly subsidized power of multinational corporations, global high finance, and the military empire required to advance and protect capitalist profit ("development") on a global scale. "When the NSS document presents the 'free market' as one of the three components of the ideal political system," Wolin observes, "the market is a surrogate, a stand-in for globalization/empire". (p. 85) And the deeply authoritarian reality of empire, Wolin notes, is an unmentionable topic under American totalitarianism. "The subject of [U.S.] empire," Wolin observers, "is taboo in [U.S. political] debate. No major politician or party has so much as publicly remarked on the existence of an American empire". (p. 192) Brave New America Wolin calls the American pseudo-democratic political system "inverted totalitarianism" to differentiate it from the openly statist totalitarianism of classic European fascism (principally German Nazism) and Soviet Stalinism. The earlier totalitarian systems mobilized millions to rally behind centralized state power and a single personal ruler. They explicitly and rapidly demolished democratic and parliamentary institutions and elevated personalized state rule over markets and private profit. The American model, by contrast, has evolved more slowly and under the guise - and in the name of - of democratic institutions and ideals, without open authoritarian intent. It "succeeds by encouraging political disengagement rather than mass mobilization". It "relies more on 'private' media than on public agencies to disseminate propaganda reinforcing the official version of events". (p. 44) It makes "capitalism" its official "regime ideology," trumpeting the virtues of "free markets," "free trade," and "free enterprise" (code words for authoritarian state-capitalist corporate-managerial rule), which are falsely conflated "democracy". "Inverted totalitarianism" wraps itself in the language and lingering, watered-down legacy of democratic freedom and constitutionalism. It advances "leaders" who are the products but not the architects of the system. It does not crush popular government under the iron heel of dictatorship but rather renders democracy ever-more feckless and irrelevant through regular systemic corruption, popular exhaustion, cultural privatism, popular division/diversion, mass misinformation, and mass entertainment. Unlike classic 20th century fascist and Soviet (red fascist) totalitarianism, it requires no great sacrifice or strength on the part of its subject populace. It creates a "soft," childish, and fearful citizenry that is asked mainly to buy things, to watch their telescreens (which largely filter and package the world in terms fit for corporate and imperial hegemony), and perhaps to occasionally vote for its favorite corporate-vetted and "misrepresentative" political candidates every few years. "Inverted totalitarianism's" ideal "good Americans" pretty much stay at work, home, the bank, and the mall. They are happy to leave big political and policy decisions and public affairs to designated experts and protectors from the professional political class that has emerged to serve the combined and interrelated interests of the corporate and imperial Few. In Wolin's view, they represent the corporate-era fulfillment of the British political philosopher Thomas Hobbes' arch-authoritarian notion - developed in Hobbes's book Leviathan (1651) - of the good society as one that combines the absolute power of the ruler with a populace that loathes and runs from political engagement: Leviathan was the first image of superpower and the first intimation of the kind of privatized citizen congenial with its requirements, the citizen who finds politics a distraction to be avoided, who if denied "a hand in public business," remains convinced that taking an active part means to "to hate and be hated," "without any benefit," and "to neglect the affairs of [his] own family". Hobbes had not only foreseen the power possibilities in the oxymoron of private citizen, but exploited them to prevent sovereign power from being shared among its subjects. Hobbes reasoned that if individuals were protected in their interests and positively encouraged by the state to pursue them wholeheartedly, subject only to laws designed to safeguard them from the unlawful acts of others, then they would soon recognize that political participation was superfluous, expendable, not a rational choice. Civic indifference was thus elevated to a form of rational virtue, "[justifying the emergence of] an apolitical citizenry" [immersed in] private concerns". (p.75) Classic totalitarianism assembled, rallied, and projected the "masses". It beat up, intimidated, arrested, tortured, and killed dissenters. By contrast, the American model of totalitarianism demobilizes and inverts the populace, keeping it (us) focused on personal, private, and family concerns - and on its corporate telescreens. Antiwar and social justice activists don't generally have to be beaten and jailed; they are deleted and occasionally mocked and marginalized on the Ten O' Clock News, leaving little mark on degraded public perceptions and history. "Inverted totalitarianism's" pacified, apathetic, ignorant, and deceived public is content to leave history to be made by supposedly wise and benevolent masters like Dick Cheney, Karl Rove, James Baker, and Donald Rumsfeld, who follow in the Nazis' footsteps by launching criminal and supposedly "preventive" wars of aggression sold on brazenly false pretexts that are dutifully advanced by dominant media, including the Orwellian claim to be exporting democracy through colonial conquest. Since the Few learned from Vietnam not to send a citizen's army into bloody colonial "service," today's wars are fought by a safely segregated caste of mostly working class imperial mercenaries. In Brave New America, the People do not need to be hardened and rallied to inflict violence on designated ideological and ethnic enemies of the state at home or abroad. Their main jobs are to buy stuff, watch their telescreens and pursue their private interests. The definition of meaningful popular participation in the polity is reduced largely to casting an occasional vote in carefully crafted elections where none of the candidates are foolish enough to think they could run viably funded and broadcast campaigns in the name of the social-democratic and anti-imperial beliefs that most Americans privately and passively tell pollsters they hold. Meanwhile the ex-citizenry is encouraged to believe that it is in charge of the nation. There is no serious push back in the corporate media, naturally enough, or even in the universities, since "the Academy ha[s] become self-pacifying". (p. 68) As for the Democrats, Wolin observes that they offer no real or relevant opposition to the more explicitly plutocratic and militarist despotism of the Republicans. If anything, Wolin argues, the Democratic Party deepens "inverted totalitarianism's' hold by capturing and co-opting reformist impulses within a broadly corporatist framework and by enhancing the illusion of meaningful popular representation within a system designed to keep the populace and democracy at bay: "The Democrats' politics might be described as inauthentic opposition in the era of Superpower. Having fended off its reformist elements and disclaimed the label of liberal, [the Democratic Party] is trapped by new rules of the game which dictate that a party exists to win elections rather than to promote a vision of the good society. Accordingly, the party competes for an apolitical segment of the electorate, "the undecided," and puzzles how best to woo religious zealots. Should Democrats somehow be elected, corporate sponsors make it politically impossible for the new officeholders to alter significantly the direction of society. At best, Democrats might repair some of the damage done to environmental safeguards or to Medicare without substantially reversing the drift rightwards. By offering palliatives, a Democratic administration contributes to plausible denial about the true nature of the system. By fostering an illusion among the powerless classes that the party can make their interests a priority, it pacifies and thereby defines the style of an opposition part in an inverted totalitarian system. In the process it demonstrates the superior cost-effectiveness of inverted totalitarianism over the crude classic versions". (p. 201) Capitalism v. Democracy: "The Dictatorship of the Bourgeoisie" Wolin's book is not without problems. Its annotation and detailed reference to current and recent events is painfully thin. It spends too much time on classical antiquity and past thinkers (the U.S. Founders, Machiavelli, Hobbes, and Tocqueville) relative to more modern U.S. business and political history and current events. It pays essentially no attention to the concrete empirical record of corporate evolution and rule and narrow-spectrum, business-friendly politics in U.S. history - a record that predates the Progressive Era (1900-1920), when the American philosopher John Dewey rightly proclaimed that U.S. "politics are the shadow cast on society by big business". As the historian Richard Hofstader noted sixty years ago in his widely read text The American Political Tradition: "the range of vision embraced by the primary contestants in the major [U.S.] parties has always been bounded by the horizons of property and enterprise. They have accepted the economic virtues of capitalist culture as necessary qualities of man. That culture has been intensely nationalistic".1 Wolin seems remarkably unaware of, or unwilling to cite, Left thinkers who have written valuable works on capitalism, imperialism, and the trumping of American and Western "democracy" by concentrated economic and political power. Some of the ignored names that come to mind are Charles Derber (who writes in interesting and informative ways about successive "corporate regimes" that have ruled American politics since the late 19th century), C. Wright Mills, G. William Domhoff, Ralph Milliband, Ellen Meiksens-Wood, Alex Carey (an expert on corporate propaganda's longstanding war on U.S. democracy), William T. Robinson, Jeff Faux, Joel Bakan, William Greider, David Montgomery, and (last but not least) Noam Chomsky. Given Wolin's taste for historical texts and theories on politics, I was disappointed that he did not join Chomsky in citing Aristotle and Thomas Jefferson on the core contradiction between wealth inequality (an inherent characteristic and tendency of capitalism) and democracy. Then there's the largely invisible (in Wolin's book) Karl Marx, for whom capitalist democracy, being a system of class rule, amounted to a "dictatorship of the bourgeoisie". Democracy and capitalism have never mixed and never will, as generations of progressive thinkers have long argued. Wolin underestimates or ignores the significant extent to which German Nazism reflected and acted on the desires of the German bourgeoisie. Wolin writes in often excessively abstract and academic language despite his book's popular, general-audience title. This style cannot help but ironically limit his book's relevance as an antidote to elitism. He missed, I think, a good opportunity to capture the often forgotten significance of Aldous Huxley's novel Brave New World, as relevant to the United States. particular brand of authoritarianism as George Orwell's more Soviet-focused Nineteen Eighty Four. In Huxley's dystopia, corporate-state masters divert people away from meaningful matters of serious public concern, transporting them to politically harmless states of childish amusement, personal preoccupation, and drugged, narcissistic fascination. Wolin shows no appreciation of left "cultural theory" since Antonio Gramsci and the Frankfurt School, ignoring thinkers (themselves admittedly often hyper-abstract) who contributed critically to the analysis of corporate totalitarianism and capitalist cultural hegemony. Wolin ignores the large number of Americans who do seem to represent efforts towards a mobilized far-right project. I am thinking here especially of the evangelical "American fascists" that Chris Hedges has warned us about across the vast swaths of so-called "Red State America". And I can't escape the possibility that a harder form of more explicitly fascist-like totalitarianism (already experienced by millions of very disproportionately black inmates and permanent felons in the United States' Prison Nation) awaits Americans who have been softened up by the "inverted" variant Wolin describes. The iron fist lives on beneath the silk glove of corporate neoliberal paternalism. I wonder how many (if any) mass antiwar or immigrant rights or global justice demonstrations Wolin has attended in the last decades. It is not uncommon to directly confront the reality of state repression right here in the U.S. during such events, as I would guess many Dissident Voice readers can attest. (We shall see how many protestors get tasered, beaten, and perhaps even [we hope not] killed in Denver and St. Paul over the next few weeks). Last but not least, Wolin's terminology is problematic. Charles Derber's more concrete historical notion (developed in his 2005 book Hidden Power) of successive and inherently authoritarian corporate regimes - Derber places us in the age of the "third corporate regime," dominated by the transnational corporation, aggressive global Empire, and rampant social insecurity at home - is much better than Wolin's somewhat abstract and potentially bewildering concept of "inverted totalitarianism". As a Kansas-based progressive- Democratic activist (who prefers to remain anonymous) recently wrote to me in a thoughtful reflection on Wolin's book: Wolin's term "totalitarian" is a fabulous contribution, but to say it is "inverted" is not a viable, easily grasped, understandable label. It is too easily interpreted as "opposite". I think it is far better to say the corporate regime IS a form of totalitarian governance or is totalitarian via managed, intentional propaganda, apathy, ignorance, passivity, a lack of spare time, and a two-party, money-controlled, corrupt, plutocratic system. If I had to pick one adjective to distinguish American "totalitarianism" from the fascist, violence-based systems of Hitler and Stalin I wouldn't say "inverted" but would say (ala Huxley) "pacified totalitarian" or "propaganda-based totalitarian" or "money-controlled totalitarian". "Inverted" seems confusing at best. Still, Wolin has done some very important and properly dark descriptive work on the United States' dangerously constricted political culture at this terrible stage in the development of Brave New America. As the liberal political scientist Robert Dahl noted in 1959: "[If] political preferences are simply plugged into the system by leaders [business or other] in order to extract what they want from the system, then the model of plebiscitary democracy is substantially equivalent to the model of totalitarian rule".2 That's pretty much where we are half a century later in "America, the greatest democracy that money can [and did] buy". In its presidential as in its other elections, Laurence Shoup noted last February, U.S. "democracy" is "at best" a "guided one"; at its worst it is a corrupt farce, amounting to manipulation, with the larger population projects of propaganda in a controlled and trivialized electoral process. It is an illusion, Shoup claims - correctly in my opinion - "that real change can ever come from electing a different ruling class-sponsored candidate".3 Beneath and beyond the regular, much-ballyhooed election spectacles, wealth and power are concentrated ever-further upward over and above the sadly irrelevant U.S. public's secretly progressive, social-democratic and anti-imperial policy preferences. Because of this chasm between public opinion and policy, the People find no meaningful institutional and political expression in "Superpower's" "managed" and "ersatz-," "pseudo", and even "anti-democracy" - thus the reality of its totalitarian nature. And it is probably useful to have the full authoritarian darkness of this harsh reality acknowledged and described by someone like Wolin, who has long operated in the belly of the beast. He is an Ivy League academician who has long functioned within the elite mainstream of U.S. social science and not on the "lunatic fringe" to which serious left-progressive thinkers are sadly consigned in the American ideological system - consistent with the notion that U.S. government and political culture are totalitarian. Brave New HOPE? For what it's worth, my new book Barack Obama and the Future of American Politics suggests that the ongoing "Obama phenomenon" is more than consistent with Wolin's bleak thesis. It exposes Barack Obama as a conservative, corporate, militarist Democrat posing as a democratic progressive and suggests that the phenomenon is helping de-mobilize, co-opt, and contain (incorporate) the citizenry at the same time that it may be expanding the electorate. In the United States' dangerously narrow, corporate-totalitarian political culture, many people can't process serious and substantive criticism of the Obama phenomenon from the left as anything but an argument to elect John McCain and/or a purely personal assault on Obama. But my dichotomy is not Obama versus McCain. It is (i) corporate- "managed democracy" versus grassroots popular activism against Dr. Martin Luther King Jr's "triple evils that are interrelated" (capitalism, racism, and imperialism) and against other and related evils (sexism, corporate-eco-cide, state terrorism and repression) as well. It is also about the timeworn battle between capitalism and democracy. Understood in terms of these deeper dichotomies and conflicts, what people do for two minutes on the holy day of the quadrennial election spectacle is a secondary matter. My main concern is that citizens and activists find or maintain some relevant way to be and stay true to the actual historical Left's commitment to popular resistance and mobilization under either an a McCain or an Obama presidency. And while a conservative corporate-neoliberal Obama victory may be preferable to an extremist and neoconservative McCain triumph in the short term, I fear that an Obama ascendancy carries serious related risks of excessive progressive self-pacification and threatens to dangerously re-legitimize the totalitarian politics of corporate rule and Empire. As Greg Guma recently noted in a thoughtful reflection on Obama as "The New Jimmy Carter": "the truth is that, in Obama, a worried establishment has found the vessel through which they hope to restore international and domestic stability". As Guma rightly observes, "Obama, like Carter, can be useful [to the U.S. power elite] in calming things down and re-establishing confidence in the legitimacy of the current political order. In short, he can reinforce the argument that 'the system' still works".4 Our current corporate-totalitarian political order doesn't "work" for any but the Few. It is a grave threat to human survival and peace, justice, and democracy at home and abroad. 1. Richard Hofstader, The American Political Tradition and the Men Who Made It (New York: Vintage, 1989 ), pp.xxxiii-xl. [.] 2. Robert Dahl, "Business and Politics: a Critical Appraisal of Political Science," in Robert Dahl, ed., Social Science Research on Business: Product and Potential [New York, 1959], p. 53. [.] 3. Laurence H. Shoup, "The Presidential Election 2008," Z Magazine, February 2008, p. 31. [.] 4. Greg Guma, .Barack Obama: The New Jimmy Carter,. ZNet, July 28, 2008. [.] Paul Street (paulstreet99 [at] yahoo.com) is a veteran radical historian and independent author, activist, researcher, and journalist in Iowa City, IA. He is the author of Empire and Inequality: America and the World Since 9/11 (Paradigm 2005); Segregated Schools: Educational Apartheid in the Post-Civil Rights Era (Routledge 2005): and Racial Oppression in the Global Metropolis (Rowman&Littlefied 2007). Street's new book Barack Obama and the Future of American Politics can now be ordered. This article was posted on Saturday, August 23rd, 2008 at 6:00 am and is filed under Book Review, Corporate Globalization, Democracy, Democrats, Empire. --------19 of 19-------- With rockets we can give our ruling class masters their day IN the sun ------------------------------------------------------------------------------ - 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 To GO DIRECTLY to an item, eg --------8 of x-------- do a find on --8 vote third party for president for congress now and forever
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