Posted by: quiscus | July 31, 2010

July 31, 2010

1.  “National Insecurity

Betraying our ideals without even knowing it.

There’s a country that earlier generations might not recognize in which the national government’s criminal investigative agency can execute its own warrants without court approval; present them to private companies and demand information about people who are not necessarily suspected of criminal wrongdoing; and — if that were not enough — forbid those companies from telling anyone — not even the target of the investigation.

The country I have in mind is not a Latin American banana republic or a Middle Eastern dictatorship. It’s the United States of America.”

2.  “Life and Death in the Obedience Culture

I have sometimes described America today as an “obedience culture.” The phrase refers to the fact that, beneath the specifics of the largely pointless debates on any topic you care to name, those who purport to speak on behalf of the values of “civilization” and “order” — that is, those who contend they and only they are the true defenders of Western civilization generally — insist on the primacy of one virtue above all others: obedience to authority.”

3.  “FBI admits probing ‘radical’ historian Zinn for criticizing bureau

Of the FBI, he said, “They don’t like social movements. They work for the establishment and the corporations and the politicos to keep things as they are. And they want to frighten and chill the people who are trying to change things. So the best defense against them and resistance against them is simply to keep on fighting back, to keep on exposing them.”

4.  “Burning the Qur’an? ‘Wherever they burn books, they will in the end Burn Human Beings’

A tiny, fringe fundamentalist cult in Florida, of the sort that American popular Christianity specializes in producing, has announced that it will burn the Qur’an on the anniversary of September 11 because it considers Islam an evil religion. The group also targets gays and the Wicca worship of the Goddess.

This is more cult-like thinking, of the sort I discussed yesterday, in which ‘good’ equals ‘us’ and ‘evil’ equals people we don’t agree with.

The German poet Heinrich Heine (d. 1856), in his play lamenting the forced conversion of Spain’s Muslims to Christianity, “Almansor,” wrote, “Wherever they burn books, in the end they will burn human beings.” (When the Nazis burned books in 1933, Heine’s were among those set afire, and his prediction was borne out).”

5.  “Free Trade Does Not Work

These historical facts are not hard to learn, but it seems that they are also easy to ignore.  Generations of economists have been socialized to ignore history and to deduce economic theory from their ahistorical models.  From their point of view, the failure of fact to conform to theory means that extraneous factors have been introduced.   The goal must be to press the application of theory harder.  The fact is that those countries that have followed their recommendations most fully have not been successful whereas those that have been successful have learned how to exploit the commitments of others to free trade without making such commitments themselves.  But this fact does not affect adherence to the theory.

The nearly uniform commitment of professional economists to free trade is remarkable even in this context.  The adherence to free trade is typically based on appeal to the doctrine of comparative advantage.  But the author of that doctrine himself said that comparative advantage is inapplicable if capital is mobile.  Obviously, economists who adopt his theory know that he made this point and that in fact capital is mobile.  They have developed various ways to defang this objection and continue on their way as if it required no significant modifications of the ideal of free trade.  But this displays more their socialization into affirming the virtues of free trade than any serious examination of the effects of capital mobility. ”

6.  “The Real Aim of Israel’s Bomb Iran Campaign

What is important to understand about this campaign is that the aim of Gerecht and of the right-wing government of Benjamin Netanyahu is to support an attack by Israel so that the United States can be drawn into direct, full-scale war with Iran.

That has long been the Israeli strategy for Iran, because Israel cannot fight a war with Iran without full U.S. involvement. Israel needs to know that the United States will finish the war that Israel wants to start. ”

7.  “Newt Gingrich Suggests Attacking Rest Of ‘Axis Of Evil’

8.  ”

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Trends to Barbarism and Prospects for Socialism

In summary, ‘barbarism’ has emerged as a defining reality, product of the ascendancy of a militarist and parasitic financial ruling class.  The barbarians are here and now, present within the frontiers of Western societies and states.  They are dominant and aggressively pursuing an agenda which is continually reducing living standards, transferring public wealth to their private coffers, pillaging public resources, savaging constitutional rights in their pursuit of imperial wars, segregating and persecuting millions of immigrant workers and promoting the disintegration and diminution of the stable working and middle class.  More than at any time in recent history, the top 1% of the population controls an increasing share of national wealth and income.”


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