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I’ve moved to another site entitled All Tied Up and Nowhere to Go.


Someone gave a proper order to a few very current events

Chris Floyd had the honor:

The uprising in Egypt on Tuesday is of infinitely greater importance than the goon show staged by the corporate-lackey-in-chief and the great mooing herd of cud-chewers in Congress the same night. For decades, the remarkably brutal — and rottenly stagnant — dictatorship in Egypt has been one of linchpins of Washington's never-ending effort to "project dominance" over the Middle East. If the Cairo regime falls to a popular revolution, it will send shock waves all through the world-spanning tentacles of the American Empire.

So, while Barack Obama exhorted Americans to suck it up and to firmly grab their bootstraps — "The future is ours to win." and "It [the future] has required each generation to sacrifice, and struggle and meet the demands of a new age." — parts of the world were then forcing the American Eagle to retract his claws.

Blowback? Yes, indeed! Expected? Yes, at least by some. Welcomed? Yes, by many, for retrenchment of this kind is both inevitable and timely. It's inevitable because the United States cannot afford to engage forever in wars of conquest and pacification, especially since these will remain wars which it will never truly win. This incapacity can be explained by the fact that both global political and military power presuppose a globally significant economic power by the country that would be a world power. Yet having economic power of this magnitude is something which America can only watch dissipate while this economic power passes eastward from its hands to China and India's. It's timely because, for decades, America's global empire garroted America's modestly democratic institutions while it has also wasted the lives of millions of Americans and millions more of those targeted by Uncle Sam's juggernaut. Americans should never forget that the United States was the Rogue State in the world, one that was too powerful to resist by most of the Lilliputians who confronted it. Fortunately, successfully resisting the Rogue Power has since become a feasible goal for those willing to fight and die for their political project. This is their moment. This is America's descent to a condition of unexceptional existence.

As his speech neared its conclusion, Obama the myth-monger (on which, see this, this, this, this, this) exclaimed, "We do big things." Indeed, America has done many big things over the course of its history. In making this claim Obama clearly meant to convey to his audiences that he was hopeful about the future. Nevertheless, America will fail spectacularly simply because it does so many things in a very big way, as Floyd suggests in his conclusion:

Poor Barack. Not that long ago, he was taking the world stage in Cairo, with a speech that offered a "new start" in relations to the regions — empty words which have long since proved to have been just another part of the vicious deceptions currently being exposed by al Jazeera. Now Cairo is ablaze with the promise of a genuine new start, driven by the needs of ordinary people, not the greeds of the elite. More than ever, Obama looks like yesterday's man, abandoned by history as it sweeps forward, leaving him mired with the goons and the loons, fighting a rearguard action to save the pomps and privileges of a rotting empire.

This article was cross-posted at FireDogLake


Chris Hedges yet again criticized liberals and advocated a civilly disobedient politics

Hedges wrote the following in his Monday Truthdig article:

The moral outrage of the liberal class, a specialty of MSNBC, groups such as Progressives for Obama and MoveOn.org, is built around the absurd language of personal narrative — as if Barack Obama ever wanted to or could defy the interests of Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase or General Electric. The liberal class refuses to directly confront the dead hand of corporate power that is rapidly transforming America into a brutal feudal state. To name this power, to admit that it has a death grip on our political process, our systems of information, our artistic and religious expression, our education, and has successfully emasculated popular movements, including labor, is to admit that the only weapons we have left are acts of civil disobedience. And civil disobedience is difficult, uncomfortable and lonely. It requires us to step outside the formal systems of power and trust in acts that are marginal, often unrecognized and have no hope of immediate success.

Hedges next focused his attention on "a politics of solidarity":

The organizers of the Left Forum conference scheduled for this March at Pace University in New York City also communicate in the amorphous, high-blown moral rhetoric that is unmoored from the actual and real. The upcoming Left Forum conference, which has the vacuous title "Towards a Politics of Solidarity," promises to "focus on the age-old theme of solidarity: the moral act of imagination underpinning working-class victories everywhere. It will undertake to examine the new forms of far-reaching solidarity that are both necessary and possible in an increasingly global world." The organizers posit that "the potential for transformative struggles in the 21st century depends on new chains of solidarity—between workers in the rich world and workers in the global south, indigenous peasants and more affluent consumers, students and pensioners, villagers in the Niger Delta and environmental campaigners in the Gulf of Mexico, marchers and rioters in Greece and Spain, and unionists in the United States and China." The conference "will contribute to the intellectual underpinnings of new and tighter forms of world-wide solidarity upon which all successful emancipatory struggles of the future will depend."

Hedges showed his disdain for such talk-fests when he exclaimed:

The last thing the liberal class intends to do is fight back. Left Forum brings in a few titans, including Noam Chomsky, who is always worth hearing, but it contributes as well to the lethargy and turpitude that have made the liberal class impotent.

Only action suffices, according to Hedges

The only gatherings worth attending from now on are acts that organize civil disobedience, which is why I will be at Lafayette Park in Washington, D.C., at noon March 19 to protest the eighth anniversary of the invasion and occupation of Iraq.

To my mind, there are problems with Hedges position, problems which reveal his argument to be sloppy and even demagogic. Briefly put, they are:

First, communication, such as those Hedges criticized, is a species of political action. That is, to write and speak about unemployment and the incoherence of Obamanomics, the state of race relations today and white terror in the United States, America's empire and militarism, its prison population and poverty, personal privacy and public action — that is, to communicate about these issues entails acting politically.

As it turns out, Hedges article denouncing liberal talk-fests counts as a politically communicative act. He thus ensnares himself in a paradox when he makes claims such as these.

Second, the March 19 march Hedges will attend can and ought to be considered an instance of political communication about Iraq and an act of solidarity with the victims of that crime. As a matter of fact and logic, the solidarity revealed on March 19 is itself an instance of political communication. This act of communication manifests itself through the collective action of a group of individuals and though the solidarity expressed for the victims of America's crimes. The relationship between solidarity and communication does not directly depend on the intentions of those acting. It issues instead from the public and political nature of the action.

Third, I see no reason for America's small dissident public to limit its political repertoire to forms of civil disobedience and marches. Any movement that wants to endure and, in the end, to be successful must attract members, organize those it attracts, raise monies that fund actions and solve coordination problems which it must solve in order for these actions to succeed. Organizations are forms of communication and solidarity as well as being instruments which serve the interests of their members. They enable like-minded individuals to act collectively. They also tell the public that they have political projects they intend to achieve along with strategies and tactics they will use to achieve their ends. The tactics employed by these organizations include civilly disobedient actions and marches.

As of this moment, the left in the United States is so weak that limiting itself to civilly disobedient acts is both unproductive and unnecessary. For one thing, security forces can easily police these events, turning them into opportunities to jail march leaders and activists. For another, acts of civil disobedience and political marches also suppose organizational support. Organization- and movement-building work thus leads to and provides a necessary condition for engaging in the actions Hedges affirms.

If my conclusion seems wrong, I only ask my reader to consider the fact that the left is weak today because it has not endured as a politically independent entity, one composed of strong movements and viable organizations. That is, it failed to conserve the political and organizational achievements won with the Civil Rights Movement and the New Left, organized movements that left their mark on the federal, state and local governments they touched.

Cross-posted at FireDogLake


A disturbing photograph

Someone's famine and another's feast:

Photograph taken in Africa


MSNBC gave Keith Olbermann a pink slip

The eight-year run of Countdown on MSNBC came to an end last night (1.21.2011). It is only a coincidence that the Federal Communication Commission approved (.pdf) Comcast's purchase of NBCU from General Electric three days before.

Olbermann's public goodbye:

Update (1.22.2011)

The New York Times now reports that Olbermann and MSNBC had quietly negotiated over the terms of Olbermann's departure for "the last several weeks." The talks ended on Friday.


Bill Maher bashes the reactionaries

It's funny even if he's not always accurate!