Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Emma Goldman: A Thoroughly Modern Anarchist

Ally Fogg comments for The Guardian:

The best political comment tumbles through the ages like a snowball, gathering mass and momentum with each new appreciation. Whatever our politics, most of us can still find validation or inspiration in the works of Paine or Burke, Mill or Marx. So when invited to write in praise of my own ideological idol, the pioneering anarchist and feminist Emma Goldman, I was not surprised to find her words still rang true and clear. But as we approach the 100th anniversary of Anarchism and Other Essays, her first and best book, what is astonishing is the continuing relevance of her subject matter. Rereading the book today, one could easily be browsing any given week on Comment is free.

Could there be a better riposte than this to the New Labour stalwart and scourge of sex traffickers, Denis McShane:

"What is really the cause of the trade in women? Exploitation, of course; the merciless Moloch of capitalism that fattens on underpaid labour, thus driving thousands of women and girls into prostitution ... Naturally our reformers say nothing about this cause. They know it well enough, but it doesn't pay to say anything about it. It is much more profitable to play the Pharisee, to pretend an outraged morality, than to go to the bottom of things."

In the aftermath of the papal visit, how is this for a defence of aggressive atheism:

"Religion! How it dominates man's mind, how it humiliates and degrades his soul. God is everything, man is nothing, says religion. But out of that nothing God has created a kingdom so despotic, so tyrannical, so cruel, so terribly exacting that naught but gloom and tears and blood have ruled the world since gods began."

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Serbia: Fake Revolutions, Real Struggles

A tremendous amount of attention has focused on Greece lately. Looking at the successful anarchist movement there, we can nurture utopian visions to strengthen our resolve; but if we only consider apparent success stories, we will not be prepared for the challenges ahead.

The entire Balkan peninsula is a sort of laboratory of crisis. Studying it, we can discern some of the possible futures that may await us now that North America seems to be entering an era of crisis as well. The vibrant anarchist movement in Greece represents one possible future, in which a powerful social movement establishes hubs of resistance. But only a few hundred kilometers north Serbia shows another: a nightmare of ethnic conflict, nationalist war, and false resistance movements in which the anarchist alternative has sunk almost as deep as Atlantis.

The roots of the differences between these countries are hundreds of years old, but we can identify some recent factors. Only a generation ago, both were ruled by dictatorships: Greece by a US-based fascist dictatorship that collapsed under pressure from rebellious students, winning youth revolt the respect of the general population to this day; Yugoslavia by a socialist dictatorship, in which Tito maintained power by playing various groups off against each other. When the Berlin Wall came down and the socialist government collapsed, the country was torn apart by ethnic strife. By the end of the 1990s, Serbia was reduced to a much smaller nation ruled by a nationalistic communist, Slobodan Milošević.

On paper, what happened next reads like an anarchist fairy tale. An ostensibly decentralized and nonhierarchical underground youth group named Otpor (“Resistance”) carried out a propaganda campaign aimed at rousing popular revolt, despite aggressive repression from the authorities. After a rigged election, hundreds of thousands of people converged on the capital and intense streetfighting ensued. An unemployed vehicle operator, nicknamed “Joe” by his colleagues, drove his bulldozer through a hail of bullets into the headquarters of the state television station at the head of a furious crowd. Other protesters set the Parliament on fire and violently wrested control of the streets from police. The authorities surrendered, the government toppled, and soon a former anarchist was prime minister.

In fact, organizers at the center of Otpor were directed by organizations affiliated with the US government, from whom they received millions of dollars. By ostensibly limiting itself to attacking the established order, Otpor drew participants of all ideological persuasions, while preparing the way for the implementation of capitalist democracy. The entire event was carefully choreographed to smooth Serbia's transition into the neoliberal market. Afterwards, the same model was exported almost anywhere a regime was not cooperating with the US agenda; Otpor was followed by Kmara in Georgia, Pora in Ukraine, Zubr in Belarus, MJAFT! in Albania, Oborona in Russia, KelKel in Kyrgyzstan, Bolga in Uzbekistan, and Nabad-al-Horriye in Lebanon. In each of these cases genuine local unrest was channeled into a proxy war serving the interests of powerful outsiders. Yet most of the participants must have felt that they were genuinely fighting for liberation.

Ljubisav Đokić, the man who drove his bulldozer into the state television headquarters, declared shortly afterwards that the uprising had made no difference. Today Serbia is no closer to meaningful social change. Nationalism and fascism are still rampant, the population is more discouraged and apathetic than ever, and local anarchists are still struggling to gain traction in an unfavorable social terrain.

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Death and Taxes vs. Life and War Tax Resistance



A recent study shows that more than 40 percent of every income tax dollar in 2007 went towards military spending. We speak with Pat and John Schwiebert, a Portland couple who have refused to pay their taxes for the past thirty years to protest military spending.





Meet 28 people who offer their motivations for and methods of resisting the war machine.




She sat 2 years in an ancient redwood and now fights taxation that funds war. Julia Butterfly HIll is a heroine for all times. War Resistors League event. Camera: Paula Gloria.




National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee (NWTRCC) is an activist group that promotes tax resistance as a way to protest against and/or disassociate from war and militarism. http://www.nwtrcc.org/ (Christopher Dimitrov, Jared Ingster, Antonella Lentini)


These Kinds of Discoveries Validate Mystical Interpretations of Reality

From Theoretical Trends and their Promise of Societal Change: Part II by Craig Bowman, Ph.D.

Traditionally the most material of disciplines, new science is now advancing such considerations as the existence of parallel universes  (that alternative and possible futures are all real) and interconnected fields of energy within a universal web. Importantly, scientific observations consistently show that consciousness inter-relates with matter in ways that transcend the the limits of rigid space and constant time.

In other words, both the most reduced and the most absolute act in accord with conscious energy—possibly one of the most universal and fundamental components of existence.  Many argue that these kinds of discoveries validate mystical interpretations of reality, which suggest that consciousness may be supreme and precede, not result from, the formation or evolution of material existence.  This is a 180 degree flip from the philosophy of materialism that has dominated scientific theory the past few hundred years.

Progressive Psychology

Meanwhile, in the field of psychology, similar events are occurring.  Traditional schools of psychology (e.g., Developmental, Behavioral, Neuro, and Cognitive), limited by the modern story, have assumed personality, functioning, and identity to be determined simply by genetics, environment, integration of early-life stages, and the result of material evolution of matter, life, and species.  We were taught that the height of human growth is reached at individuated ego formation.  Following such ideology, treatment is best achieved by reinforcing “rational” behavior or by isolating and manipulating brain chemistry. Again, these are practices heavily influenced by the modern material worldview, as was discussed in Part I of the series.

Alternative psychologists (e.g., humanistic, archetypal, transpersonal, Jungian, and integral) tend to believe that we are influenced by many more factors, and have considerable levels of potential.  By expanding methodological approaches, some of these theorists conclude that human actualization is best expressed when we are beyond the developmental stage of ego manifestation. As “trans-egoic” stages are integrated, some theorists argue, the human develops higher values and levels of functioning.  This is theoretically possible if higher, deeper, or more sophisticated levels of the human Self and of the cosmos interconnect at more universal and subtle energetic vibrations, as is assumed by some alternative paradigms.

The idea of human empowerment is shifting as well.  More people are claiming an ability to “create” and take responsibility over their life situations.  They believe this is best achieved by accessing the inherent power of elevated intentions and thoughts, as well as by deeply tuning into the present moment.  All of these so-called deep or elevated qualities of experience seem to allow the individual to transcend ego and the limitations of three-dimensional time and space.  Many of these “new” and increasingly popular teachings suggest that when we operate primarily from ego, our mundane life experiences are more prone to be bogged down by fear, negativity, and illusions of separation. Operating from greater depth and inclusion (ego and higher levels of Self), one can experience greater achievements of peace, awareness, and empowerment.

In addition, popular and psychologically minded scientific studies show that our intentions and emotions impact matter and other forms of life outside of ourselves.  Meditating groups of individuals, for instance, can significantly reduce city crime, as was suggested by controlled studies.  Similarly, the research of Masuru Emoto shows that individuals focusing on elevated emotions, such as love and joy, easily shift water to make it visibly more beautiful at a molecular level.

~ more... ~

~ Paths of Truth and Progress Part I: Two Ailing and Discordant Worldviews ~

'Our bankers? Our CEOs? Our statesmen? Bought. All of them.'

From John le Carre's Our Kind of Traitor Is About Money Laundering, But It May Be His Scariest Novel by Jesse Kornbluth, The Huffington Post

Spies used to operate on the margins, at checkpoints, in lonely towns with names you can't pronounce. Then they were soldiers in the Cold War. Now, le Carré tells us, they exist for much darker purposes.

Of all of le Carré's novels, this is the one that makes me feel like a child. I mean, I know we're all under surveillance now. Photographed often. Every keystroke, every e-mail, every Tweet saved -- illegally, but saved. At any moment, the President can declare an American citizen an enemy combatant, a threat to the security of the Republic, and without judicial review or formal charge, he can order that American to be killed. But although I know all that, I hadn't quite realized that when large amounts of money are involved, none of the old words -- honor, truth, empathy -- matter at all.

What le Carré is telling us here is that there is something that might be called the country of money. It has no boundaries. There are no "sides." The government of Russia has made a pact with the Russian Mafia -- or is it the other way around? -- so criminal fortunes are appropriately shared. (When things go wrong, blame the Chechens.) And the cash-starved West? Our bankers? Our CEOs? Our statesmen? Bought. All of them.

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James Madison - First U.S. President to Use Covert Operations to Overthrow a Foreign Government?

From Our views: Mr. Madison, spy master?

Participants in the recent Baton Rouge gathering honored the 200th anniversary of the West Florida Republic  and reflected on the wider history of independence movements in the Spanish colonies of the Western Hemisphere.

One such Spanish colony existed in what is now Louisiana. But in 1810, many area residents tired of the arrangement, captured a fort at Baton Rouge, and declared the area an independent state, the Republic of West Florida.

The fledgling republic included all of the Louisiana parishes from Slidell to Baton Rouge. Some residents were in favor of remaining independent, while others wanted annexation to the United States.

President James Madison resolved the dispute by proclaiming that the United States always had considered West Florida a part of the 1803 Louisiana Purchase. In December 1810, Gov. William C.C. Claiborne of the Orleans Territory took control of the fort at Baton Rouge by force.

~ more... ~

~ West Florida Bicentennial Celebration ~

Scientists and Soldiers Solve a Bee Mystery

It has been one of the great murder mysteries of the garden: what is killing off the honeybees?

Since 2006, 20 to 40 percent of the bee colonies in the United States alone have suffered “colony collapse.” Suspected culprits ranged from pesticides to genetically modified food.

Now, a unique partnership — of military scientists and entomologists — appears to have achieved a major breakthrough: identifying a new suspect, or two.

A fungus tag-teaming with a virus have apparently interacted to cause the problem, according to a paper by Army scientists in Maryland and bee experts in Montana in the online science journal PLoS One.

Exactly how that combination kills bees remains uncertain, the scientists said — a subject for the next round of research. But there are solid clues: both the virus and the fungus proliferate in cool, damp weather, and both do their dirty work in the bee gut, suggesting that insect nutrition is somehow compromised.

~ more... ~

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