June 26, 2006

Privatization, Occupation & Other Atrocities

Privatization, Occupation & Other Atrocities

Frank Rich had a great column in The New York Times of Sunday, June 25. He summarized how a shadow government of corrupt and incompetent corporations have seized power and are running the occupation of Iraq and, presumably, much else. Rich says that almost "40 cents of every dollar in federal discretionary spending now goes to private companies" and he does a brief summary of Eric Lipton's research documenting how crony capitalism has taken over. John Ashcroft, Rich reminds us, is the "first former attorney general in American history to immediately register as a lobbyist" and George Bush is the first president with an M.B.A. Lobbyists, chiefs of staff and procurement officers now live in a fast-moving, revolving-door world and have developed a vested economic interest in the war and the occupation continuing. For the misspent billions of dollars designated for infrastructure Iraqis have only intermittent electricity and a handful of clinics while corporate America has been appropriating a share of designated funds and services and giving them to management and administration. These are funds and services which, in saner times, would go to disaster relief in New Orleans. One reason why the money doesn't make it to New Orleans via government channels is that there is almost no government left to do disaster management and repair; the oversight and work has been contracted out.

This is something past patriotism and sentimentality, which American crony capitalism seems to have abandoned. One corporation didn't build walls around 7 of 17 forts it constructed in Iraq and for which it was quite handsomely paid. The Homeland Security funds which New York and Washington lost were partly redirected to St. Louis, in the home state of John Ashcroft and the DHS assistant secretary for grants and training. The consulting firm hired to oversee this redirection of funds employs a past DHS procurement chief and won a multimillion dollar contract for "technology consulting." Representative Waxman has apparently determined that "$30 billion in American taxpayers' money has been squandered" on botched jobs contracted out through crony capitalist networks.

I have been thinking a great deal about this since Memorial Day and as more Americans stand accused of taking part in massacres in Iraq.

One of my father's cousins was killed in the Battle of the Bulge and my father was a highly decorated World War Two veteran. They enlisted as young men from the Pennsylvania coal fields. Brothers and friends enlisted together then. Their working class culture and values were based on shared sacrifices and mutual protection. They worked like that in the mines, they lived like that with their families and they carried those ethics into the military. The slogan "An Army Of One" would make no sense to them. They had seen and taken part in the mass movements of the 1930s; collective action ran deep in their consciousness.

Since those days "Decoration Day" has become "Memorial Day" and each year it is less patriotic and more about sales events. I remember World War One veterans and guys from the VA hospitals parading along, many crippled and emotionally lost two or three generations after their wars. It was, unintentionally, a stunningly antiwar manifestation. Then the stores took over with big weekend sales. In an ironic twist, the bigger sales events are giving way to yard sales as working class Americans use the day to make a few extra bucks. We have moved from decorating graves and honoring the dead and facing the wounded to remembering them and then we have ourselves moved to consuming and to selling.

"An Army Of One" very much describes the experience of young people born in the late 1980s and now perhaps headed off to war. They have seen only Republicans and Republican wannabees in office. They grew up isolated from one another, with games and an educational system designed not so much to create or accent individuality but to reduce the individual to the smallest and least accountable of social particles. The labor movement was in rapid disintegration when they were born and every other social movement was playing defense. Speaking to them about collective action is like talking about life on Mars.

I think that because these young people have not seen collective action and collective resistance in their own lives they panic when they see it in Iraq, Afghanistan or Guantanamo. Even non-violent protest in Guantanamo shakes them because they cannot grasp its logic or speak its language but see immediately its effectiveness and superiority. In the panic and anger of lone individuals facing opposing and collectively held hatred they commit atrocities. They are indeed each an army of one - and an army with little else behind them than contractors prepared to cut and run when the profit margin slips - and they are facing forces who are fighting for much more than profit margins and crony capitalism. The United States may well lose the wars because of this dynamic, or some president, feeling a similar panic, may well escalate and make one of the conflicts nuclear in the face of a collective resistance which he can neither understand nor summon the forces to decisively defeat politically or militarily.

It is indeed true that the wars now underway are wars for the heart of civilization. The heart of civilization beats with the rhythm of justice, mercy and shared humanism and no side - and, perhaps, least of all the contractors and profiteers - have claim to that beating heart.

June 25, 2006


Monday, June 19, 2006

The Oaxacan womens' weaving collective La Vida Nueva exhibited in Salem this spring. The weavers, indigenous Zapotec women, have broken with tradition by leaving their homes to meet and organize with other women around weaving. Juanita Rodriguez of Corvallis organizes display and sales; the money for the rugs goes directly to the weavers, eliminating exploitative buyers. Some weavers have traveled to Cuba and to Oregon, and at least one will study in Cuban medical school at no charge. About the current situation in Oaxaca, Juanita wrote: "The strike of Oaxacan teachers is still going on, although the Mexican government stepped in violently and tried removing them all from the downtown area." Books Juanita recommends: Enrique's Journey, by Sonia Nazario, and The Devil's Highway, by Luis Alberto Urrea.

June 9, 2006

Montenegro & the European Union

(The separation of Montenegro from Serbia--and the dissolution of Yugoslavia overall--came to me as a terrible tragedy. Since the days of ascendant Croatian separatism I have vacillated in my understanding and political work relating to Yugoslavia and the constituent Yugoslav republics. Like so many others, I am sentimental about the SFRY. May 25 marked the birth of our Tito, born in 1892. I count him as one of the greatest socialist leaders of our times and I believe that the Yugoslav model has much to commend it. What follows is a statement from my comrades in Slovenia dealing with the recent separation of Montenegro from Serbia. If I do not agree with all of the points made here, I certainly mourn with them the dissolution of Yugoslavia and the apparent triumph of globalization these events indicate. This is not a triumph for democracy or autonomy, but instead marks western encroachment and the creation and seizure of markets by competing European and American capital.--ethnicguy)

REVOLUCIONARNI BIRO ZA JAVNO INFORMIRANJE www.geocities.com/revolucija_slo/
Slovenian Board of Communists
Statement about Montenegro's referendum
The secessionists "victory" in Montenegro was quite expected indeed as everything was well prepared in advance. It is the same old scenario we have seen in Slovenia back in 1990! The same manipulation of the public opinion, the same foul play.
European Union means puting an end to Europe proclaimed in Versailles on 28th June 1919. On that occasion the kingdom of SHS was proclamed and later on Yugoslavia. The acknowledgement of Yugoslavia at the end of the I World war by the winning powers was dictated by their strategic interest to not let Germany on the Adriatic sea, rather than by the interests of peoples of Yugoslavia.
Germany has always wanted to get to the Adriatic sea through Austria. That is why Germany was poised to destroy Yugoslavia! That is why Germany attaked Yugoslavia militarily in 1941, and actually destroyed it in 1990 by means of secret agents and spies and thanks to the considerable help of Vatican and plans elaborated by the USA president Reagan and British PM Margaret Tacher in 1984. As a matter of fact, the destruction of Yugoslavia in 1991 was a well planified wicked conspiracy !!!!! Yugoslavia never desintegrated by itself !!!! "New Europe" is the conspiracy of the old reactionary capitalistic powers : England, France and Germany, united in the EU, again profit on small people's back. Germany gave up it's Deutschmark in support to euro, but in exchange asked for free access to Adriatic sea. Slovenian nationalists (German spies:Lojze Peterle,now member of EU parliament, the PM Janez Jansa and his older tutor, now defunct, Joze Pucnik) were given orders directly by Helmut Kohl in 1988 while in Ljubliana in visit to the bishop Alojz Susitari! The most prominent organising role in the process ment to destroy Yugoslavia was provided by the Catholic church in Slovenia. The conspirators general staff met at Franciskan's in a church near Tromostovlje in the central Ljubljana. The treasonous Milan Kucan acting as a secretary of ZKS (Slovenia communist party) was in reality a Vatican's janizary. The fascists of the sort have brought upon the people of Slovenia the historical responsability for having started up the wars and the destructions in the Socialist Federative Republic of Yugoslavia ! Slovenian alleged heros tried everything to provoke the war! A peaceable disolution of the federation was possible, but the counter-revolutionary criminals needed hatered and blod to be able to restore capitalism and steal the working people proprety. In todays Slovenia, the Catholic church is the apsolute lord. The german capital dominates even the most vital economy and finance sectors of ours!!! The Germans did not conquer us by their armies, it is their money that make us slaves.
Not surprisingly,Janez Drnovsek also made a visit to the Montenegro's secessionists. During the II World war, his father in the Dachau concentration camp survived as a Gestapo collaborator. The son is today collaborating with Germany and the Vatican.
The secession of Montenegro was planned not to make Montenegrans happier, but to make Serbia sealess !!!!Cynics say that Montenegro divorced Serbia to join the warlords in the spoilage. But the Albanian factor is also to be considered in its quest for the independence of the Serbian province of Kosovo.
Obviously, the Albanian secessionists are pushing for an independent Montenegro to be able later on to ask for parts of its territories.
5th june 2006