The harder they hit us
The louder we become
Like the skin on the drum.
- Skin On The Drum. Michael Franti
Take it and run!
End Post Read more!
Thursday, September 27, 2007
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
By now we have amassed a wealth of information. This information has grown to the point where I personally feel obliged to begin some campaign of actions. It has become very difficult for me to learn more and more about what's wrong with the world without doing anything about it. I do not doubt many of you feel the same way.
Therefore, I believe these following actions will collectively move us from the intangible world of internet and into the material world:
1. Begin creation of fliers promoting this blog and its information
2. Beginning a series of peaceful demonstrations involving
- percussion/drum circles including other musical instruments (voices too)
- the collective meditation of the demonstrators, channeling positive energies aimed at awareness and change.
- The use of chalk on the ground as expressions of our creativity and interests
- Decorative banners promoting progressive messages about our solutions for change
i.e Peace banners instead of anti-war banners, calling for election reform through paper ballots, calling for tariffs on trade rather than negatively bashing globalization.
3. Begin weekly meetings where we discuss current events and the activities of our organized behavior.
I wish to begin such action on campus at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, California. Feel free to propose any other locations.
I want to emphasize the continuation of all individual development alongside the growth of a collective body. We must transform life within and without us.
Having laid out this proposition, I put the forum for discussion in our collective hands, in your hands. We must work together in order to make this work in full effect.
It doesn't matter how old you are, how tall or short, what color your skin is, what religion or country you are from. If you are a human being who cares about other human beings then you have a stake in creating change.
You may also reach me at Mr.Barbarian@gmail.com. Send me your contact information with a message of intent...if you realllly want to, I mean you can, and you probably should but only if you reallly want to : )
Thank you. Read more!
The Shock Doctrine
By Naomi Klein
The Guardian UK
Saturday 08 September 2007
Her explosive new book exposes the lie that free markets thrive on freedom. In our first exclusive extract, the No Logo author reveals the business of exploiting disaster.
I met Jamar Perry in September 2005, at the big Red Cross shelter in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Dinner was being doled out by grinning young Scientologists, and he was standing in line. I had just been busted for talking to evacuees without a media escort and was now doing my best to blend in, a white Canadian in a sea of African- American southerners. I dodged into the food line behind Perry and asked him to talk to me as if we were old friends, which he kindly did.
Born and raised in New Orleans, he'd been out of the flooded city for a week. He and his family had waited forever for the evacuation buses; when they didn't arrive, they had walked out in the baking sun. Finally they ended up here, a sprawling convention centre now jammed with 2,000 cots and a mess of angry, exhausted people being patrolled by edgy National Guard soldiers just back from Iraq.
The news racing around the shelter that day was that the Republican Congressman Richard Baker had told a group of lobbyists, "We finally cleaned up public housing in New Orleans. We couldn't do it, but God did." Joseph Canizaro, one of New Orleans' wealthiest developers, had just expressed a similar sentiment: "I think we have a clean sheet to start again. And with that clean sheet we have some very big opportunities." All that week Baton Rouge had been crawling with corporate lobbyists helping to lock in those big opportunities: lower taxes, fewer regulations, cheaper workers and a "smaller, safer city" - which in practice meant plans to level the public housing projects. Hearing all the talk of "fresh starts" and "clean sheets", you could almost forget the toxic stew of rubble, chemical outflows and human remains just a few miles down the highway.
Over at the shelter, Jamar could think of nothing else. "I really don't see it as cleaning up the city. What I see is that a lot of people got killed uptown. People who shouldn't have died."
He was speaking quietly, but an older man in line in front of us overheard and whipped around. "What is wrong with these people in Baton Rouge? This isn't an opportunity. It's a goddamned tragedy. Are they blind?" A mother with two kids chimed in. "No, they're not blind, they're evil. They see just fine."
One of those who saw opportunity in the floodwaters of New Orleans was the late Milton Friedman, grand guru of unfettered capitalism and credited with writing the rulebook for the contemporary, hyper-mobile global economy. Ninety-three years old and in failing health, "Uncle Miltie", as he was known to his followers, found the strength to write an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal three months after the levees broke. "Most New Orleans schools are in ruins," Friedman observed, "as are the homes of the children who have attended them. The children are now scattered all over the country. This is a tragedy. It is also an opportunity."
Friedman's radical idea was that instead of spending a portion of the billions of dollars in reconstruction money on rebuilding and improving New Orleans' existing public school system, the government should provide families with vouchers, which they could spend at private institutions.
In sharp contrast to the glacial pace with which the levees were repaired and the electricity grid brought back online, the auctioning-off of New Orleans' school system took place with military speed and precision. Within 19 months, with most of the city's poor residents still in exile, New Orleans' public school system had been almost completely replaced by privately run charter schools.
The Friedmanite American Enterprise Institute enthused that "Katrina accomplished in a day ... what Louisiana school reformers couldn't do after years of trying". Public school teachers, meanwhile, were calling Friedman's plan "an educational land grab". I call these orchestrated raids on the public sphere in the wake of catastrophic events, combined with the treatment of disasters as exciting market opportunities, "disaster capitalism".
Privatising the school system of a mid-size American city may seem a modest preoccupation for the man hailed as the most influential economist of the past half century. Yet his determination to exploit the crisis in New Orleans to advance a fundamentalist version of capitalism was also an oddly fitting farewell. For more than three decades, Friedman and his powerful followers had been perfecting this very strategy: waiting for a major crisis, then selling off pieces of the state to private players while citizens were still reeling from the shock.
In one of his most influential essays, Friedman articulated contemporary capitalism's core tactical nostrum, what I have come to understand as "the shock doctrine". He observed that "only a crisis - actual or perceived - produces real change". When that crisis occurs, the actions taken depend on the ideas that are lying around. Some people stockpile canned goods and water in preparation for major disasters; Friedmanites stockpile free-market ideas. And once a crisis has struck, the University of Chicago professor was convinced that it was crucial to act swiftly, to impose rapid and irreversible change before the crisis-racked society slipped back into the "tyranny of the status quo". A variation on Machiavelli's advice that "injuries" should be inflicted "all at once", this is one of Friedman's most lasting legacies.
Friedman first learned how to exploit a shock or crisis in the mid-70s, when he advised the dictator General Augusto Pinochet. Not only were Chileans in a state of shock after Pinochet's violent coup, but the country was also traumatised by hyperinflation. Friedman advised Pinochet to impose a rapid-fire transformation of the economy - tax cuts, free trade, privatised services, cuts to social spending and deregulation.
It was the most extreme capitalist makeover ever attempted anywhere, and it became known as a "Chicago School" revolution, as so many of Pinochet's economists had studied under Friedman there. Friedman coined a phrase for this painful tactic: economic "shock treatment". In the decades since, whenever governments have imposed sweeping free-market programs, the all-at-once shock treatment, or "shock therapy", has been the method of choice.
I started researching the free market's dependence on the power of shock four years ago, during the early days of the occupation of Iraq. I reported from Baghdad on Washington's failed attempts to follow "shock and awe" with shock therapy - mass privatisation, complete free trade, a 15% flat tax, a dramatically downsized government. Afterwards I travelled to Sri Lanka, several months after the devastating 2004 tsunami, and witnessed another version of the same manoeuvre: foreign investors and international lenders had teamed up to use the atmosphere of panic to hand the entire beautiful coastline over to entrepreneurs who quickly built large resorts, blocking hundreds of thousands of fishing people from rebuilding their villages. By the time Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, it was clear that this was now the preferred method of advancing corporate goals: using moments of collective trauma to engage in radical social and economic engineering. Most people who survive a disaster want the opposite of a clean slate: they want to salvage whatever they can and begin repairing what was not destroyed. "When I rebuild the city I feel like I'm rebuilding myself," said Cassandra Andrews, a resident of New Orleans' heavily damaged Lower Ninth Ward, as she cleared away debris after the storm. But disaster capitalists have no interest in repairing what once was. In Iraq, Sri Lanka and New Orleans, the process deceptively called "reconstruction" began with finishing the job of the original disaster by erasing what was left of the public sphere.
When I began this research into the intersection between super-profits and mega-disasters, I thought I was witnessing a fundamental change in the way the drive to "liberate" markets was advancing around the world. Having been part of the movement against ballooning corporate power that made its global debut in Seattle in 1999, I was accustomed to seeing business-friendly policies imposed through arm-twisting at WTO summits, or as the conditions attached to loans from the IMF.
As I dug deeper into the history of how this market model had swept the globe, I discovered that the idea of exploiting crisis and disaster has been the modus operandi of Friedman's movement from the very beginning - this fundamentalist form of capitalism has always needed disasters to advance. What was happening in Iraq and New Orleans was not a post-September 11 invention. Rather, these bold experiments in crisis exploitation were the culmination of three decades of strict adherence to the shock doctrine.
Seen through the lens of this doctrine, the past 35 years look very different. Some of the most infamous human rights violations of this era, which have tended to be viewed as sadistic acts carried out by anti-democratic regimes, were in fact either committed with the intent of terrorising the public or actively harnessed to prepare the ground for radical free-market "reforms". In China in 1989, it was the shock of the Tiananmen Square massacre and the arrests of tens of thousands that freed the Communist party to convert much of the country into a sprawling export zone, staffed with workers too terrified to demand their rights. The Falklands war in 1982 served a similar purpose for Margaret Thatcher: the disorder resulting from the war allowed her to crush the striking miners and to launch the first privatisation frenzy in a western democracy.
The bottom line is that, for economic shock therapy to be applied without restraint, some sort of additional collective trauma has always been required. Friedman's economic model is capable of being partially imposed under democracy - the US under Reagan being the best example - but for the vision to be implemented in its complete form, authoritarian or quasi-authoritarian conditions are required.
Until recently, these conditions did not exist in the US. What happened on September 11 2001 is that an ideology hatched in American universities and fortified in Washington institutions finally had its chance to come home. The Bush administration, packed with Friedman's disciples, including his close friend Donald Rumsfeld, seized upon the fear generated to launch the "war on terror" and to ensure that it is an almost completely for-profit venture, a booming new industry that has breathed new life into the faltering US economy. Best understood as a "disaster capitalism complex", it is a global war fought on every level by private companies whose involvement is paid for with public money, with the unending mandate of protecting the US homeland in perpetuity while eliminating all "evil" abroad.
In a few short years, the complex has already expanded its market reach from fighting terrorism to international peacekeeping, to municipal policing, to responding to increasingly frequent natural disasters. The ultimate goal for the corporations at the centre of the complex is to bring the model of for-profit government, which advances so rapidly in extraordinary circumstances, into the ordinary functioning of the state - in effect, to privatise the government.
In scale, the disaster capitalism complex is on a par with the "emerging market" and IT booms of the 90s. It is dominated by US firms, but is global, with British companies bringing their experience in security cameras, Israeli firms their expertise in building hi-tech fences and walls. Combined with soaring insurance industry profits as well as super profits for the oil industry, the disaster economy may well have saved the world market from the full-blown recession it was facing on the eve of 9/11.
In the torrent of words written in eulogy to Milton Friedman, the role of shocks and crises to advance his world view received barely a mention. Instead, the economist's passing, in November 2006, provided an occasion for a retelling of the official story of how his brand of radical capitalism became government orthodoxy in almost every corner of the globe. It is a fairytale history, scrubbed clean of the violence so intimately entwined with this crusade.
It is time for this to change. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, there has been a powerful reckoning with the crimes committed in the name of communism. But what of the crusade to liberate world markets?
I am not arguing that all forms of market systems require large-scale violence. It is eminently possible to have a market-based economy that demands no such brutality or ideological purity. A free market in consumer products can coexist with free public health care, with public schools, with a large segment of the economy - such as a national oil company - held in state hands. It's equally possible to require corporations to pay decent wages, to respect the right of workers to form unions, and for governments to tax and redistribute wealth so that the sharp inequalities that mark the corporatist state are reduced. Markets need not be fundamentalist.
John Maynard Keynes proposed just that kind of mixed, regulated economy after the Great Depression. It was that system of compromises, checks and balances that Friedman's counter-revolution was launched to dismantle in country after country. Seen in that light, Chicago School capitalism has something in common with other fundamentalist ideologies: the signature desire for unattainable purity.
This desire for godlike powers of creation is precisely why free-market ideologues are so drawn to crises and disasters. Non-apocalyptic reality is simply not hospitable to their ambitions. For 35 years, what has animated Friedman's counter-revolution is an attraction to a kind of freedom available only in times of cataclysmic change - when people, with their stubborn habits and insistent demands, are blasted out of the way - moments when democracy seems a practical impossibility. Believers in the shock doctrine are convinced that only a great rupture - a flood, a war, a terrorist attack - can generate the kind of vast, clean canvases they crave. It is in these malleable moments, when we are psychologically unmoored and physically uprooted, that these artists of the real plunge in their hands and begin their work of remaking the world.
Torture: The Other Shock Treatment
From Chile to China to Iraq, torture has been a silent partner in the global free-market crusade. Chile's coup featured three distinct forms of shock, a recipe that would re-emerge three decades later in Iraq. The shock of the coup prepared the ground for economic shock therapy; the shock of the torture chamber terrorized anyone thinking of standing in the way of the economic shocks.
But torture is more than a tool used to enforce unwanted policies on rebellious peoples; it is also a metaphor of the shock doctrine's underlying logic. Torture, or in CIA parlance, "coercive interrogation", is a set of techniques developed by scientists and designed to put prisoners into a state of deep disorientation.
Declassified CIA manuals explain how to break "resistant sources": create violent ruptures between prisoners and their ability to make sense of the world around them. First, the senses are starved (with hoods, earplugs, shackles), then the body is bombarded with overwhelming stimulation (strobe lights, blaring music, beatings). The goal of this "softening-up" stage is to provoke a kind of hurricane in the mind, and it is in that state of shock that most prisoners give their interrogators whatever they want.
The shock doctrine mimics this process precisely. The original disaster - the coup, the terrorist attack, the market meltdown - puts the entire population into a state of collective shock. The falling bombs, the bursts of terror, the pounding winds serve to soften up whole societies. Like the terrorised prisoner who gives up the names of comrades and renounces his faith, shocked societies often give up things they would otherwise fiercely protect.
After reading my last post, or even before, please consider being a part of this:
Mass March & Rally to STOP THE WAR!
SEPTEMBER 29 - SATURDAY Olympic & Broadway
Congress will not end the war, and marches alone are not enough. That's why this event comes at the end of a week in which it's time to "occupy the occupiers." No more business as usual. UNITE to demand TROOPS OUT NOW!
Schedule for the week:
* Sept 22-24: 1st Tent City, Westwood Federal Bldg.
* Sept 25: Move to Downtown Federal Bldg.
* Sept 25-29: 2nd Tent City, Downtown Federal Bldg.
Volunteers Needed! Get in touch with Troops Out Now Coalition (TONC) at the International Action Center office, 5274 W Pico Blvd, Rm 203, L.A. 90019. 323.936.7266
Initiated by Troops Out Now Coalition - L.A.:
* International Action Center
* Latinos Against the War
* March 25th Coalition for Immigrant Rights
Participation by just about everyone else, including CodePINK, CFWP, 9/11 Truth, and others. Read more!
Really, Bush(et al)? Iran Now? Are you F***ing Kidding Me? UGHHHH.
Like Alex said last night when I told him that they might invade Iran without Congress's permission, "Aww heell no". The following article is a very harsh truth and a glimpse into what this country is in for (World War Tres) if we don't do something about it right. NOW.
Now, what will come first, a world war or a war of the worlds? Both simultaneously? 2012? Colbert the other day was having his Threat Down and the number one threat was... us. As in WE. Not you and me, the powers that be, obviously. Someone save ourselves from ourselves! Not that any of you don't know this, but the US is largely hypocritical in its policies and politics in relation and comparison with other countries, including Iran. Yep, we suck. AND based on what I believe to be true, the administration fits nicely into the definition of a terrorist. Isn't it ironic... don't you think? Well, read the article. You'll know what I'm talking about when I say here comes WW3.
U.S. Ramps Up Threats Against Iran
by Larry Everest
The air is thick with intensifying U.S. threats against Iran. New diplomatic and economic assaults by the U.S. are in the works, and there are reports that discussion within the Bush regime has “tilted” toward war with Iran. Since our last alert (“Alert: Bush Regime Escalates Iran War Preparations” in issue #101, online at revcom.us), the trajectory toward confrontation, possibly war, has accelerated.
Six years into the bloody conquests and occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq, the U.S. is bogged down and facing major difficulties. Its global war was launched post-9/11 with the aim of crushing anti-U.S. Islamic fundamentalism and remaking the Middle East and Central Asian regions, as part of a sweeping plan to create an unchallenged and unchallengeable empire. But in many ways this has backfired. Anti-U.S. anger rages across the region; Islamist movements have been further unleashed and fueled; the U.S. has been unable to secure its imperial grip on Iraq and faces years, perhaps decades, of combat; and the U.S. military is strained.
The U.S. rulers have staked their global power on this war for greater empire, waged under the banner of a “war on terror.” So now they’re increasingly focusing on Iran, a prime target of this war from day one. The imperialists’ problem with Iran’s Islamic Republic is not that it’s a reactionary theocracy that has imprisoned or executed thousands of progressives and revolutionaries and enforces very oppressive social relations. Far from it: the U.S., in fact, has supported—or inflicted—bloody repression and oppressive relations across the region, including in Iran during the reign of the tyrant Shah. No, the U.S. rulers’ problem with the Islamic Republic is that it’s a growing obstacle to their predatory agenda of unfettered hegemony and regional transformation. Iran’s fundamentalist regime has been strengthened by the fall of Saddam Hussein to its west and Afghanistan’s Taliban to its east. In Iraq, Shi’a parties with close ties to Tehran are the predominant faction in the new government, and Iranian influence has greatly increased. It has a nuclear energy program, which has the potential to give it the ability to make nuclear weapons at some point in the future. It’s an ideological and material center of support for Islamist groups and trends throughout the region.
In recent speeches on the U.S. war in Iraq, Gen. Petraeus, Ambassador Crocker, and Bush all targeted Iran. Winning in Iraq, Bush argued, was key to countering the “destructive ambitions of Iran” and not allowing it to “dominate the region.” Crocker declared that “Iran plays a harmful role in Iraq.” Petraeus denounced Iran’s “malign actions.”
This week both Bush and Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad are speaking at the UN, and New York has become a stage for whipping up anti-Iran hysteria and hatred. New York authorities refused Ahmadinejad’s request to visit “ground zero” where the World Trade Center stood. Controversy swirls over Columbia University’s decision to allow Ahmadinejad to speak there. And right-wing tabloids are in an anti-Iranian frenzy—the NY Post ran a picture of Ahmadinejad with the caption “NO DOGS ALLOWED.” No doubt Bush will attempt to stoke this belligerent atmosphere in his September 25 UN speech.
This war of words is being accompanied by new diplomatic and economic assaults on Iran. Bush officials were furious when the UN International Atomic Energy Agency recently reported that Iran was being “unusually cooperative,” and the IAEA director, Mohamed ElBaradei, stated that “This is the first time Iran is ready to discuss all the outstanding issues. It’s a significant step.” U.S. officials dismissed the agreement between Iran and the IAEA and denounced ElBaradei for “irresponsible meddling.” This reveals that the U.S. imperialists have never just wanted to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons—they’re out for “regime change,” whether Iran’s ayatollahs want to make a deal or not.
Rather than lessen tensions, the U.S. is intent on further tightening the screws. The U.N. Security Council has so far has passed two punitive measures against Iran, and the U.S. and Europe are waging what some are calling a “financial war” against Iran, designed to cripple its imperialist-dominated economy. Now the U.S. wants yet more sanctions—“with teeth” in the words of Condoleezza Rice. U.S. officials are meeting with other major powers to try and push this through, although China and Russia remain opposed at this point.
On Sept. 20, U.S. forces seized and arrested another Iranian official in Iraq, claiming that he is part of an elite Iranian military unit. Iraqi President Jalal Talabani condemned the action and demanded that the official—who is part of a trade delegation—be released immediately. And the stream of U.S. military “briefings” charging Iran with arming and directing anti-U.S. militias continues.
“A CAREFULLY CALIBRATED PROGRAMME OF ESCALATION”?
Within the Bush administration, a sharp debate has reportedly been taking place between Secretary of State Rice and Vice President Cheney over whether to deal with Iran through continued diplomatic and economic pressure (at least for now), or to more immediately use military means. Rice and Defense Secretary Gates insist that the U.S. still wants to deal with Iran “through diplomatic and economic means,” but a number of recent news stories report that those advocating war are winning the debate. Senior officials believe that “Bush and his inner circle are taking steps to place America on the path to war with Iran,” the Sunday Telegraph reported (9/16). “Pentagon and CIA officers say they believe that the White House has begun a carefully calibrated programme of escalation that could lead to a military showdown with Iran.” The Telegraph also states that Rice “is prepared to settle her differences with Vice-President Dick Cheney and sanction military action.” The New York Times (9/16) says Bush’s recent speeches “indicated that the debate, at least for now, might have tilted toward Mr. Cheney.”
These stories come in the wake of French President Sarkozy’s statement (immediately after his “heart-to-heart” meeting with Bush this August) that war with Iran is a real possibility—and the ominous declaration by the French Foreign Minister, who said in mid-September that France must “prepare for the worst” and that “The worst, sir, is war.”
Meanwhile, two U.S. naval battle groups are positioned near Iran, including an aircraft carrier battle group headed by the U.S.S. Enterprise and the Kearsarge Expeditionary Strike Group, with some 10 warships, two submarines, and attack aircraft. The U.S. reportedly plans to build a military base on the Iraq-Iran border. And Adm. Fallon, the U.S. commander for the Middle East, is touring the region, “pressing Arab allies to form a more united front against Iran.” (AP 9/18)
While publicly discounting the possibility of a U.S. attack, Iran’s leaders are making counter-threats of their own. Iran has been shelling Iraqi bases of anti-Iranian Kurdish forces and warns that they will send troops into Iraq if the attacks in Iran by these Kurdish forces don’t stop. The new leader of Iran's Revolutionary Guards publicly warned that Iran has identified U.S. "weak points" in Iraq and Afghanistan and would “launch a crushing response to any attack.” Iranian officials have declared that they will launch missile strikes at U.S. and Western targets across the region, including Israel, if Iran is attacked.
THE DANGER OF WAR & THE URGENCY OF RESISTANCE
The U.S.’s belligerent threats, “financial war,” demand for tougher sanctions, and its funding of covert operations and anti-regime groups inside Iran (as reported by Seymour Hersh last year) may be aimed at forcing the Islamic Republic to capitulate to U.S. demands or to trigger an internal collapse short of war. The Bush regime could also be waiting to see how these moves play out before deciding on war. But it’s also quite possible that the rulers have begun a “calibrated programme of escalation,” as the Telegraph puts it, in preparation for war.
In any case, Iran is increasingly the focus of U.S. imperialist bullying, and the current trajectory is clearly moving toward confrontation. Given these extreme and growing tensions, war could even start by accident or miscalculation by either side—perhaps as the result of a border clash, a naval incident in the Persian Gulf, or some other event. War could also be triggered by what Steve Clemons (Salon.com, Sept. 19) calls an “engineered provocation” by those close to Cheney (perhaps Israel), leading to an “end run” around the rest of the U.S. decision-making apparatus. A dry run for such a provocation may have already taken place on Sept. 6 when, under still mysterious circumstances, Israeli planes attacked targets in Syria. Bush’s former UN Ambassador John Bolton called this air strike “a clear message to Iran that its continued efforts to acquire nuclear weapons are not going to go unanswered.”
What are the Democrats doing as Bush pours gasoline on the flames in the Middle East? A few leading Democrats say they’re opposed to attacking Iran, but when Congressional Democrats have actually done anything, it’s been to pave the way for war—first, by removing legislative language early this year demanding that Bush consult Congress before any attack on Iran; and second, by voting overwhelmingly this summer for a war-like resolution blaming Iran for killing U.S. soldiers in Iraq. The top Democrats all agree, as Barack Obama recently put it, that Iran “poses a grave challenge.” Obama, Hillary Clinton and John Edwards have all said at one time that “all options” against Iran were on the table. As a ruling class party, the Democrats share with Bush and the Republicans the imperialist goal of defeating Islamic fundamentalism, giving full support to Israel, and maintaining the U.S. stranglehold on the region—even as they have various differences over just how to navigate all the roiling contradictions their empire faces.
Any U.S. attack on Iran—no matter the pretext—would be launched to further America’s imperialist aims, not to liberate anyone, save lives, or lessen the danger of nuclear war. It would be unjust and criminal, and could cause enormous suffering and death in Iran and spark bloodshed across the region. U.S. aggression and war threats are already fueling a very bad dynamic in which the reactionary poles of imperialism on one side and Islamic fundamentalism on the other reinforce each other, even as they clash.
All this makes it urgent for people to speak out and protest U.S. bullying and war preparations now. The organization World Can’t Wait-Drive Out the Bush Regime has called for people broadly to take up the “Declare It Now! Wear Orange!” campaign. Anti-war protests are scheduled for September 29 and October 27. (See www.worldcantwait.org for details.) Read and distribute Revolution so that many, many more can get the truth and be inspired to politically resist the crimes that the U.S. imperialists are committing and further crimes that they are planning. [Source]
"When a resolute young fellow steps up to the great bully, the world, and takes him boldly by the beard, he is often surprised to find it comes off in his hand, and that it was only tied on to scare away the timid adventurers."
-Ralph Waldo Emerson
kindof like... Santa? Rid yourself of the illusions that come with the sensationalism of certain figures. Interpret, control, and create your own reality and mold it into a tool for progress. Have a splendid day, co-existents!
EndPost Read more!
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
Monday, September 24, 2007
by Greg Palast
From The Progressive
Published September 21, 2006
You’d think George Bush would get down on his knees and kiss Hugo Chavez’s behind. Not only has Chavez delivered cheap oil to the Bronx and other poor communities in the United States. And not only did he offer to bring aid to the victims of Katrina. In my interview with the president of Venezuela on March 28, he made Bush the following astonishing offer: Chavez would drop the price of oil to $50 a barrel, “not too high, a fair price,” he said — a third less than the $75 a barrel for oil recently posted on the spot market. That would bring down the price at the pump by about a buck, from $3 to $2 a gallon.
But our President has basically told Chavez to take his cheaper oil and stick it up his pipeline. Before I explain why Bush has done so, let me explain why Chavez has the power to pull it off — and the method in the seeming madness of his “take-my-oil-please!” deal.
Venezuela, Chavez told me, has more oil than Saudi Arabia. A nutty boast? Not by a long shot. In fact, his surprising claim comes from a most surprising source: the U.S. Department of Energy. In an internal report, the DOE estimates that Venezuela has five times the Saudis’ reserves. However, most of Venezuela’s mega-horde of crude is in the form of “extra-heavy” oil — liquid asphalt — which is ghastly expensive to pull up and refine. Oil has to sell above $30 a barrel to make the investment in extra-heavy oil worthwhile. A big dip in oil’s price — and, after all, oil cost only $18 a barrel six years ago — would bankrupt heavy-oil investors. Hence Chavez’s offer: Drop the price to $50 — and keep it there. That would guarantee Venezuela’s investment in heavy oil.
But the ascendance of Venezuela within OPEC necessarily means the decline of the power of the House of Saud. And the Bush family wouldn’t like that one bit. It comes down to “petro-dollars.” When George W. ferried then-Crown Prince (now King) Abdullah of Saudi Arabia around the Crawford ranch in a golf cart it wasn’t because America needs Arabian oil. The Saudis will always sell us their petroleum. What Bush needs is Saudi petro-dollars. Saudi Arabia has, over the past three decades, kindly recycled the cash sucked from the wallets of American SUV owners and sent much of the loot right back to New York to buy U.S. Treasury bills and other U.S. assets.
The Gulf potentates understand that in return for lending the U.S. Treasury the cash to fund George Bush’s $2 trillion rise in the nation’s debt, they receive protection in return. They lend us petro-dollars, we lend them the 82nd Airborne.
Chavez would put an end to all that. He’ll sell us oil relatively cheaply — but intends to keep the petro-dollars in Latin America. Recently, Chavez withdrew $20 billion from the U.S. Federal Reserve and, at the same time, lent or committed a like sum to Argentina, Ecuador, and other Latin American nations.
Chavez, notes The Wall Street Journal, has become a “tropical IMF.” And indeed, as the Venezuelan president told me, he wants to abolish the Washington-based International Monetary Fund, with its brutal free-market diktats, and replace it with an “International Humanitarian Fund,” an IHF, or more accurately, an International Hugo Fund. In addition, Chavez wants OPEC to officially recognize Venezuela as the cartel’s reserve leader, which neither the Saudis nor Bush will take kindly to.
Politically, Venezuela is torn in two. Chavez’s “Bolivarian Revolution,” a close replica of Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal — a progressive income tax, public works, social security, cheap electricity — makes him wildly popular with the poor. And most Venezuelans are poor. His critics, a four-centuries’ old white elite, unused to sharing oil wealth, portray him as a Castro-hugging anti-Christ.
Chavez’s government, which used to brush off these critics, has turned aggressive on them. I challenged Chavez several times over charges brought against Sumate, his main opposition group. The two founders of the nongovernmental organization, which led the recall campaign against Chavez, face eight years in prison for taking money from the Bush Administration and the International Republican [Party] Institute. No nation permits foreign funding of political campaigns, but the charges (no one is in jail) seem like a heavy hammer to use on the minor infractions of these pathetic gadflies.
Bush’s reaction to Chavez has been a mix of hostility and provocation. Washington supported the coup attempt against Chavez in 2002, and Condoleezza Rice and Donald Rumsfeld have repeatedly denounced him. The revised National Security Strategy of the United States of America, released in March, says, “In Venezuela, a demagogue awash in oil money is undermining democracy and seeking to destabilize the region.”
So when the Reverend Pat Robertson, a Bush ally, told his faithful in August 2005 that Chavez has to go, it was not unreasonable to assume that he was articulating an Administration wish. “If he thinks we’re trying to assassinate him,” Robertson said, “I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it. It’s a whole lot cheaper than starting a war . . . and I don’t think any oil shipments will stop.”
There are only two ways to defeat the rise of Chavez as the New Abdullah of the Americas. First, the unattractive option: Cut the price of oil below $30 a barrel. That would make Chavez’s crude worthless. Or, option two: Kill him.
Q: Your opponents are saying that you are beginning a slow-motion dictatorship. Is that what we are seeing?
Hugo Chavez: They have been saying that for a long time. When they’re short of ideas, any excuse will do as a vehicle for lies. That is totally false. I would like to invite the citizens of Great Britain and the citizens of the U.S. and the citizens of the world to come here and walk freely through the streets of Venezuela, to talk to anyone they want, to watch television, to read the papers. We are building a true democracy, with human rights for everyone, social rights, education, health care, pensions, social security, and jobs.
Q: Some of your opponents are being charged with the crime of taking money from George Bush. Will you send them to jail?
Chavez: It’s not up to me to decide that. We have the institutions that do that. These people have admitted they have received money from the government of the United States. It’s up to the prosecutors to decide what to do, but the truth is that we can’t allow the U.S. to finance the destabilization of our country. What would happen if we financed somebody in the U.S. to destabilize the government of George Bush? They would go to prison, certainly.
Q: How do you respond to Bush’s charge that you are destabilizing the region and interfering in the elections of other Latin American countries?
Chavez: Mr. Bush is an illegitimate President. In Florida, his brother Jeb deleted many black voters from the electoral registers. So this President is the result of a fraud. Not only that, he is also currently applying a dictatorship in the U.S. People can be put in jail without being charged. They tap phones without court orders. They check what books people take out of public libraries. They arrested Cindy Sheehan because of a T-shirt she was wearing demanding the return of the troops from Iraq. They abuse blacks and Latinos. And if we are going to talk about meddling in other countries, then the U.S. is the champion of meddling in other people’s affairs. They invaded Guatemala, they overthrew Salvador Allende, invaded Panama and the Dominican Republic. They were involved in the coup d’etat in Argentina thirty years ago.
Q: Is the U.S. interfering in your elections here?
Chavez: They have interfered for 200 years. They have tried to prevent us from winning the elections, they supported the coup d’etat, they gave millions of dollars to the coup plotters, they supported the media, newspapers, outlaw movements, military intervention, and espionage. But here the empire is finished, and I believe that before the end of this century, it will be finished in the rest of the world. We will see the burial of the empire of the eagle.
Q: You don’t interfere in the elections of other nations in Latin America?
Chavez: Absolutely not. I concern myself with Venezuela. However, what’s going on now is that some rightwing movements are transforming me into a pawn in the domestic politics of their countries, by making statements that are groundless. About candidates like Morales [of Bolivia], for example. They said I financed the candidacy of President Lula [of Brazil], which is totally false. They said I financed the candidacy of Kirchner [of Argentina], which is totally false. In Mexico, recently, the rightwing party has used my image for its own profit. What’s happened is that in Latin America there is a turn to the left. Latin Americans have gotten tired of the Washington consensus — a neoliberalism that has aggravated misery and poverty.
Q: You have spent millions of dollars of your nation’s oil wealth throughout Latin America. Are you really helping these other nations or are you simply buying political support for your regime?
Chavez: We are brothers and sisters. That’s one of the reasons for the wrath of the empire. You know that Venezuela has the biggest oil reserves in the world. And the biggest gas reserves in this hemisphere, the eighth in the world. Up until seven years ago, Venezuela was a U.S. oil colony. All of our oil was going up to the north, and the gas was being used by the U.S. and not by us. Now we are diversifying. Our oil is helping the poor. We are selling to the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Cuba, some Central American countries, Uruguay, Argentina.
Q: And the Bronx?
Chavez: In the Bronx it is a donation. In all the cases I just mentioned before, it is trade. However, it’s not free trade, just fair commerce. We also have an international humanitarian fund as a result of oil revenues.
Q: Why did George Bush turn down your help for New Orleans after the hurricane?
Chavez: You should ask him, but from the very beginning of the terrible disaster of Katrina, our people in the U.S., like the president of CITGO, went to New Orleans to rescue people. We were in close contact by phone with Jesse Jackson. We hired buses. We got food and water. We tried to protect them; they are our brothers and sisters. Doesn’t matter if they are African, Asian, Cuban, whatever.
Q: Are you replacing the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund as “Daddy Big Bucks”?
Chavez: I do wish that the IMF and the World Bank would disappear soon.
Q: And it would be the Bank of Hugo?
Chavez: No. The International Humanitarian Bank. We are just creating an alternative way to conduct financial exchange. It is based on cooperation. For example, we send oil to Uruguay for their refinery and they are paying us with cows.
Q: Milk for oil.
Chavez: That’s right. Milk for oil. The Argentineans also pay us with cows. And they give us medical equipment to combat cancer. It’s a transfer of technology. We also exchange oil for software technology. Uruguay is one of the biggest producers of software. We are breaking with the neoliberal model. We do not believe in free trade. We believe in fair trade and exchange, not competition but cooperation. I’m not giving away oil for free. Just using oil, first to benefit our people, to relieve poverty. For a hundred years we have been one of the largest oil-producing countries in the world but with a 60 percent poverty rate and now we are canceling the historical debt.
Q: Speaking of the free market, you’ve demanded back taxes from U.S. oil companies. You have eliminated contracts for North American, British, and European oil companies. Are you trying to slice out the British and American oil companies from Venezuela?
Chavez: No, we don’t want them to go, and I don’t think they want to leave the country, either. We need each other. It’s simply that we have recovered our oil sovereignty. They didn’t pay taxes. They didn’t pay royalties. They didn’t give an account of their actions to the government. They had more land than had previously been established in the contracts. They didn’t comply with the agreed technology exchange. They polluted the environment and didn’t pay anything towards the cleanup. They now have to comply with the law.
Q: You’ve said that you imagine the price of oil rising to $100 dollars per barrel. Are you going to use your new oil wealth to squeeze the planet?
Chavez: No, no. We have no intention of squeezing anyone. Now, we have been squeezed and very hard. Five hundred years of squeezing us and stifling us, the people of the South. I do believe that demand is increasing and supply is dropping and the large reservoirs are running out. But it’s not our fault. In the future, there must be an agreement between the large consumers and the large producers.
Q: What happens when the oil money runs out, what happens when the price of oil falls as it always does? Will the
Bolivarian revolution of Hugo Chavez simply collapse because there’s no money to pay for the big free ride?
Chavez: I don’t think it will collapse, in the unlikely case of oil running out today. The revolution will survive. It does not rely solely on oil for its survival. There is a national will, there is a national idea, a national project. However, we are today implementing a strategic program called the Oil Sowing Plan: using oil wealth so Venezuela can become an agricultural country, a tourist destination, an industrialized country with a diversified economy. We are investing billions of dollars in the infrastructure: power generators using thermal energy, a large railway, roads, highways, new towns, new universities, new schools, recuperating land, building tractors, and giving loans to farmers. One day we won’t have any more oil, but that will be in the twenty-second century. Venezuela has oil for another 200 years.
Q: But the revolution can come to an end if there’s another coup and it succeeds. Do you believe Bush is still trying to overthrow your government?
Chavez: He would like to, but what you want is one thing, and what you cannot really obtain is another.
For more info see the videos on Greg Palast's website.
For the record: the CIA with the help of the Venezuelan military initiated a coup to remove Chavez' administration, and used the privatized media to spread lies about the use of deadly force in the protest that preceded the coup. The privatized media framed/blamed Chavez when in fact it was the CIA, Venezuelan opposition, and military objectors who used deadly force at the protests. Please see the Revolution will not be Televised! And after you do, get very ANGRY.
From the above information, Chavez appears straightforward, sincere, and progressive; promoting an equal world and common humanity. It pains me to know we live under such a horrible President/corrupt government. It delights me to know we lay in the belly of the beast.
As we develop our ideas further and get ever more detailed about our passions and pursuits, our posts too reflect this. Therefore I've created expandable posts so that the author may post a summary paragraph followed by a link to the larger post (this is best for our longer posts that take lots of time to scroll across). In order to do this every new post will have the following code built into the blank screen.
Place your summary post here.
Place the rest of it here.
Simply place your summary paragraph at the top of the code, and the rest between the lines span class="fullpost" & /span
A typical post should look something like this:
Harry Potter uses his mastery of of the universe to abolish all private property.
While doing so, he faces massive threats to his life by elite capitalists and landowners who use their advantages to turn men into means for their own survival.
Unfortunately a "Read More!" link must appear after every post regardless of whether or not it is long or short. If you wish to post a short piece and not use expandable posts then simply delete this code
Place your summary post here.
Place the rest of it here.
from the page and type or paste away. It is also unfortunate that Harry Potter did not do such a feat, yet... : )
p.s It would be helpful if you added a little "End of Post" or "Fin" or "No mas" at the end of posts that do not expand.
p.p.s Don't forget to label your posts!
I think everyone reading this and writing/posting here is doing something great for ourselves and others. I want to thank you all for doing what you do and hope that we can continue to progress. Let's keep this movement moving.
That's all folks. Read more!
By Paul Krugman
The New York Times
Monday 24 September 2007
Last Thursday there was a huge march in Jena, La., to protest the harsh and unequal treatment of six black students arrested in the beating of a white classmate. Students who hung nooses to warn blacks not to sit under a "white" tree were suspended for three days; on the other hand, the students accused in the beating were initially charged with second-degree attempted murder.
And one of the Jena Six remains in jail, even though appeals courts have voided his conviction on the grounds that he was improperly tried as an adult.
Many press accounts of the march have a tone of amazement. Scenes like those in Jena, the stories seemed to imply, belonged in the 1960s, not the 21st century. The headline on the New York Times report, "Protest in Louisiana Case Echoes the Civil Rights Era," was fairly typical.
But the reality is that things haven't changed nearly as much as people think. Racial tension, especially in the South, has never gone away, and has never stopped being important. And race remains one of the defining factors in modern American politics.
Consider voting in last year's Congressional elections. Republicans, as President Bush conceded, received a "thumping," with almost every major demographic group turning against them. The one big exception was Southern whites, 62 percent of whom voted Republican in House races.
And yes, Southern white exceptionalism is about race, much more than it is about moral values, religion, support for the military or other explanations sometimes offered. There's a large statistical literature on the subject, whose conclusion is summed up by the political scientist Thomas F. Schaller in his book "Whistling Past Dixie": "Despite the best efforts of Republican spinmeisters to depict American conservatism as a nonracial phenomenon, the partisan impact of racial attitudes in the South is stronger today than in the past."
Republican politicians, who understand quite well that the G.O.P.'s national success since the 1970s owes everything to the partisan switch of Southern whites, have tacitly acknowledged this reality. Since the days of Gerald Ford, just about every Republican presidential campaign has included some symbolic gesture of approval for good old-fashioned racism.
Thus Ronald Reagan, who began his political career by campaigning against California's Fair Housing Act, started his 1980 campaign with a speech supporting states' rights delivered just outside Philadelphia, Miss., where three civil rights workers were murdered. In 2000, Mr. Bush made a pilgrimage to Bob Jones University, famed at the time for its ban on interracial dating.
And all four leading Republican candidates for the 2008 nomination have turned down an invitation to a debate on minority issues scheduled to air on PBS this week.
Yet if the marchers at Jena reminded us that America still hasn't fully purged itself of the poisonous legacy of slavery, it would be wrong to suggest that the nation has made no progress. Racism, though not gone, is greatly diminished: both opinion polls and daily experience suggest that we are truly becoming a more tolerant, open society.
And the cynicism of the "Southern strategy" introduced by Richard Nixon, which delivered decades of political victories to Republicans, is now starting to look like a trap for the G.O.P.
One of the truly remarkable things about the contest for the Republican nomination is the way the contenders have snubbed not just blacks - who, given the G.O.P.'s modern history, probably won't vote for a Republican in significant numbers no matter what - but Hispanics. In July, all the major contenders refused invitations to address the National Council of La Raza, which Mr. Bush addressed in 2000. Univision, the Spanish-language TV network, had to cancel a debate scheduled for Sept. 16 because only John McCain was willing to come.
If this sounds like a good way to ensure defeat in future elections, that's because it is: Hispanics are a rapidly growing force in the electorate.
But to get the Republican nomination, a candidate must appeal to the base - and the base consists, in large part, of Southern whites who carry over to immigrants the same racial attitudes that brought them into the Republican fold to begin with. As a result, you have the spectacle of Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney, pragmatists on immigration issues when they actually had to govern in diverse states, trying to reinvent themselves as defenders of Fortress America.
And both Hispanics and Asians, another growing force in the electorate, are getting the message. Last year they voted overwhelmingly Democratic, by 69 percent and 62 percent respectively.
In other words, it looks as if the Republican Party is about to start paying a price for its history of exploiting racial antagonism. If that happens, it will be deeply ironic. But it will also be poetic justice.
"We do not yet trust the unknown powers of thought. Whence came all these tools, inventions, book laws, parties, kingdoms? Out of the invisible world, through a few brains. The arts and institutions of men are created out of thought. The powers that make the capitalist are metaphysical, the force of method and force of will makes trade, and builds towns." -Ralph Waldo Emerson
But never let them think you also have that kind of capacity too or they'll kill ya.
We need you, Jimi.
End of Post. Read more!
Confront the Horowitz Fascists with Real Facts and Truth
There is an ice sheet spreading across the campuses of America. Well-known professors have lost their jobs due to their political views. Scores, perhaps hundreds, of other professors, less well-known, have been fired, denied tenure, harassed and silenced. Critical thinking is under assault; the universities are being transformed into uncontested centers of indoctrination.
This October 22-26, America’s fascists will attempt to make a further major step in this repressive process. They have declared an “Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week.” They are planning programs and protests at over 100 campuses, supposedly against the oppression of women under Islam and “the threat posed by the Islamic crusade against the West.” In fact, their aim is to rally people behind the U.S. “crusade” against the people of the world and to shut down dissent against this crusade on the campus and, by extension, more broadly throughout society. Coming as it does at the time of continued escalation of the Iraq war and the distinct possibility of war against Iran, the danger of this cannot be underestimated. A particular objective of “Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week” is to whip up reactionary sentiment and hysteria on campuses, and to provide a rallying point to further organize a fascist student movement – spreading racism, chauvinism, and intellectual conformity to reaction; hounding progressive professors and student organizations; and creating a more repressive climate on campus.
This must be confronted and opposed on every campus where it rears its head. Indeed, all people who care anything about critical thinking and academic freedom and about the issues of war, repression, racism and the oppression of women must rally together, and seek out, confront and put this whole effort on the political defensive. Horowitz’s project has to be opposed and taken as an opportunity to raise awareness of the growing danger of U.S. fascism and the reality of the fascist direction and measures being taken by those in the highest reaches of power.
What Is “Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week”?
Go online to revcom.us for more articles exposing David Horowitz, and on the fight to defend dissent and critical thinking on campuses. And watch the pages of Revolution newspaper and check revcom.us for more information leading up to the “Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week.”
The very term “Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week” is an attempt to frame discussion and debate in a way that forces people to choose between U.S. imperialism’s bloody crusade on the one hand, or Islamic fundamentalism on the other. Posing these as the only choices traps people in a deadly framework and logic. It ends up strengthening both of these reactionary forces, when neither represents liberation for the people.
Islamic fundamentalism is a reactionary force. Like other brands of religious literalism, it is a program full of oppressive and outmoded content: patriarchy, bigotry, religious warfare and the all-round promotion of superstition and ignorance.
But the U.S. is the far, far more aggressive, and dangerous reactionary force in the world. And those who live inside the U.S. have the particular responsibility to oppose this power. What is needed right now, on campuses and around the country (and the world) is to bring forward a movement, and critical thinking that opposes the crimes of U.S. imperialism, and, in the process, brings forward a whole different alternative—both in the imperialist countries and in the nations oppressed by imperialism.
Horowitz is threatening sit-ins against Women’s Studies departments “to protest their silence about the oppression of women in Islam.” Coming from someone who does not only support, but helps strategize with the Bush regime, this is grotesque, galling and shameless hypocrisy. This regime has taken major steps to ban not just abortion but birth control as well. And the Bush regime, and Horowitz himself, is deeply connected to their own brand of reactionary, theocratic religion: the Christian Fascist movement, which commands women to subordinate themselves to their husbands and to see their main role as breeders of children, and which has committed violence and murder against abortion providers.
Horowitz is threatening to go after “the anti-American curriculum of the tenured left” and to “teach an alternative curriculum that will arm America against the radical Jihad.” In fact, Horowitz has already led attacks on professors like Ward Churchill, known mainly for his work on exposing the U.S. genocide against Native Americans, and Norman Finkelstein, known mainly for his exposure of Israel’s crimes and its hypocritical use of the Nazi Holocaust of the Jews to justify those crimes. He has published a book listing 101 “dangerous professors”—almost all of whom research and teach about the real nature of American society and whose work and views don’t “fit into” the crusade now being carried out by the U.S. government.
He is branding the Muslim Student Associations as “the enemy,” and is aiming to stir up hatred and suppression against these students. He is going after the environmentalists for supposedly raising too much concern over global warming in a way that Horowitz feels detracts from the so-called “war on terror.”
If this goes down unopposed, it will be very bad—it will mark a major new degree of chill on the ice age now descending on the universities. Instead, something different must emerge. This “week” must be confronted and opposed, and out of that must emerge a greatly heightened understanding of, and resistance to, the real fascist danger in this society.
People need to prepare to plunge into the coming controversy, seeking out these fascists and confronting them with the real facts and the truth, and in the process winning over many others. Students must step forward now, on every campus, and organize to politically confront and expose Horowitz’ campus fascists—and to change the tone and tenor on these campuses, unleashing ferment and activism, and organized resistance.
Who Is David Horowitz?
Horowitz is a self-described “battering ram” against any thinking in academia that challenges a whole range of lies this system has perpetrated. As the accompanying article points out, he’s played a major role in slandering, hounding, and even ending the careers of progressive teachers.
Horowitz established his credentials with the ruling class by renouncing his involvement in the 1960s movements for social change in a series of slanderous articles, books and conferences. He “made his bones” in the ’90s, by waging a high-profile campaign against reparations for African-Americans, with the theme that Black people should be grateful for slavery! Horowitz took out huge ads in campus newspapers proclaiming this vicious lie and to this day makes it a major part of his attack.
He wrote a book on the “art of political war” that Karl Rove distributed to key Republican campaign operatives. He is a vitriolic defender of everything from the extermination of the Native Americans and the enslavement of Black people, to the savage and criminal wars against Iraq and Afghanistan and the torture of those whom this regime deems to be terrorists. He has set up a website that clamors for the arrest and imprisonment of revolutionaries, radicals, dissenters and liberals and reports every slander, rumor, lie and innuendo that comes his way. And, bankrolled from the ruling class, he has organized the falsely named “Students for Academic Freedom,” which literally takes notes on lectures and rips things out of context in an attempt to get professors who do not sufficiently bow down to the Bush agenda fired. The modern-day Nazi-type student groups inspired by Horowitz organize so-called “games” like “Catch an Illegal Immigrant” on campus.
In short, Horowitz defends every crime that this system has ever committed and is now preparing to justify even more, and to intimidate and silence any who would question or resist this.
Sunday, September 23, 2007
Precis: The writer of this article reveals how he learned an ancient, mystical technique to survive in the cold.
By Dr. L. Daka
I grew up in Minnesota. For those of you unfamiliar with the state (other than knowing that the current governor used to be a professional wrestler), let me tell you about it.
Fully half the population of Minnesota resides in the "Twin Cities," Minneapolis and St. Paul. For all practical purposes, however, they are really one city divided by the Mississippi river. Even so, each city has its own character. St. Paul, the seat of government, was originally named "Pig's Eye" after a river pirate. A huge Catholic cathedral was built on a hill (a major part of the funding coming from the most notorious Madam of the time), and the city adopted the name of the cathedral. St. Paul is on the east side of the Mississippi and is often called the "biggest little city in the U.S."
The name, "Minneapolis," is quite unusual, being a combination of Native American (Minne-) and Greek (-polis). It is larger than St. Paul, is on the west side of the Mississippi, and is sometimes known as the "smallest big city in the U.S."
I grew up in a suburb called Lakeville, and it was wonderful. I was close to the Twin Cities but just far away enough for an almost rural life. My favorite times of the year were Spring, when the snows had melted and the plants were starting to grow and bud, and Fall, when the leaves turned color and the brisk winds were a pleasant relief from the Summer heat and humidity.
But other than those two seasons of the year, the weather was harsh.
Summer was very hot and humid. We would go to the malls and movie theaters just to get into some air conditioning. Sometimes the heat was so oppressive that sleeping at night was difficult. The winter was incredibly cold. We used to be thankful for snow because that would mean it was warmer. It actually got too cold to snow, and people used to say that we had nine months of winter and three months of bad skiing.
One of the truly wonderful things about Minnesota is the people. They tend to be friendly and polite, and they help each other. If a car has difficulty on a snowy road, many people will stop their cars and offer help. Everyone knows that the next time it could be them.
After I graduated from the University of Minnesota (with their sports teams, the "Golden Gophers") and completed my residency, I got a job offer in Florida. I lasted all of a year. Although there are wonderful people there, I felt trapped — there were too many people. And the weather was almost the reverse of Minnesota: hot and humid for most of the year. I wanted to run away. I found I actually missed the cold of my home. I guess I had become accustomed to it.
So when a job opened in a small, cold place, I took it. It is a little town I'll call "Tallman" in Alaska. Tallman is very rural and small. In the winter, snowmobiles are the most common form of transportation for getting around town. That's when I started worrying.
In Minnesota, the roads I frequented were almost always cleared of snow in the winter and if you got in trouble, there were other people driving by. In Tallman, there were neither cleared winter roads nor frequent drivers. If your snowmobile broke down and you were stranded outside the town proper, you could be in a lot of trouble. I decided I needed to do something about it.
SEARCHING THE INTERNET
Even though our town is small and out of the way (in the winter, flying in is the only way to get here), we don't lack for necessities of modern life, including access to the internet. I did searches through various areas and found special heaters, small, lightweight blankets that were supposed to keep you warm, and other gadgets. I felt uncomfortable with all of them.
In my web searching, I found a reference to something called tumo. The websites I visited didn't say much more than that it was a Tibetan technique to keep warm. It claimed that tumo could keep you warm "in spite of snow, freezing winds and ice." It worked by a meditation technique that would send a "mystic heat" through veins, arteries and nerve channels. This process, they claimed, would keep you warm even during freezing conditions. But they didn't say how to do it.
For the past several years, I have been a doctor, and my interests have been firmly in the scientific world. The internet is filled with some rather bizarre medical claims, and I take most of them with more than a grain of salt. Some of my patients come in with these supposed cures for everything from hair loss to benign prostate disease. I always ask for the scientific proof. Sometimes what you read on the internet is accurate. Sometimes it is exaggerated. And sometimes it is just wrong.
So the idea of tumo sounded absurd to me. But whether it worked or not would be easy to prove. All I had to do was try it. But before I could do so, I had to learn it, and I was finding dead ends everywhere.
Finally, I saw a review of a recently-published book that claimed to give the entire process for learning tumo. I clicked on the "to buy this book" icon and purchased the book over the internet. Soon I had a copy of Occult Tibet by J. H. Brennan.
Chapter six exclusively teaches the technique of tumo. Brennan says that in Tibet the training would take "three years, three months, and three days," (p. 61), and this disappointed me. But he quickly follows by saying that this "clearly has symbolic association." I was relieved to discover that it might take a much shorter time. Besides, the author adds that "the various steps of the exercise have benefits in their own right." I was ready to start.
There are three stages to learning tumo, each having several parts. The first stage consists of preliminary exercises. The first exercise shocked me and almost turned me off to the entire practice! So don't turn away after reading the technique, be sure to read the explanation afterward.
"[V]isualize yourself as the naked, virginal, sixteen-year-old Vajra-Yogini, a Tantric divinity who personifies spiritual energy. This goddess has luminous ruby-red skin and a visible third eye in the middle of her forehead. In her right hand she holds a gleaming curved knife high above her heard to cut off completely all intrusive thought processes. In her left hand she holds a blood-filled human skull against her breast. On the head of the goddess is a tiara made from five dried human skulls, while around her neck is a necklace of fifty human heads dripping blood. She wears armbands, wristbands, and anklets, but her only other item of adornment is a Mirror of Karma breastplate held in place by double strings of beads made from human bones that circle her waist and pass over her shoulders. There is a long staff in the crook of her left arm and a flame-like aura around her whole form. The goddess is dancing with her right leg bent and the foot lifted up while her left foot tramples a prostate human." (p. 62)
When I read this repulsive description, I figured this was too bizarre for me. But I read on to discover that "even the worst of the horrors has symbolic significance. The necklace of human heads, for example, should be seen as representing separation from the wheel of birth, death, and rebirth that locks humanity into the world of illusion." (p. 62) Understanding that this was all symbolic made me feel a bit better, so I decided to continue.
The book explains that this is just the outer form of the goddess and internally you should imagine yourself empty, "like a silken tent or shaped balloon." (p. 62) Visualizations had always been easy for me. When I was studying medicine, I used visualizations of myself easily and successfully passing tests to relieve pressure and stress when taking exams. This was a bit different because I was supposed to have two images in my mind at the same time, the external image of the goddess figure and the internal emptiness. It took me a few days to master this.
Next, per the instructions in the book, I increased the size of the goddess image, larger and larger, until it was as big as a house, a hill, and so on until it encompassed the entire universe. I stayed with that visualization for a time. It was, as they say, a real "mind-rush." Then I did just the opposite, shrinking the visualization down until it was the size of a tiny seed and then to microscopic levels.
The next exercise is to visualize the Vagra-Yogini the same size as me, and then concentrate on visualizing an energy channel down the middle of my body. "It should be seen as straight, hollow, about the size of an arrow-shaft, and a bright, almost luminous red." (p. 63). Again, per the instructions in the book, once I had this down I expanded the channel until it was the size of a "walking staff, then a pillar, a house, a hill, and finally large enough to contain the whole of the universe." (p. 63) At this stage the channel, of course, pervades the entire body, not just the center of it.
Then I was to visualize the channel getting smaller until it was about one-hundredth the thickness of a hair. All of this was fairly easy for me to do, and within a week, I was pretty good at it.
The third exercise begins with sitting in the famous cross-legged lotus pose found in Hatha yoga. I had studied yoga for a while, and quite frankly, I could never do the lotus pose. Luckily, the teacher I had gave me a solution: "Do the best you can. Alter the pose to fit your needs." I found that if I sat on the edge of a cushion I could modify the pose a bit, be comfortable, and get the desired effects of the pose. Brennan mentions some alternatives, too.
Sitting in this position (with the right leg on top), you put your hands in your lap, palms up, with the forefinger, thumb and pinky extended. The spine should be straight, chin down, tongue against the roof of the mouth, and the eyes fixed on the tip of the nose.
Take three deep breaths and exhale completely. Then inhale as much as possible and hold the breath as long as possible without straining. "As you breathe out, imagine that five-color rays emerge from every pore of your body to fill the entire world. The colors, which equate to the elements, are blue, green, red, white, and yellow — symbolizing respectively ether [spirit], air, water, and earth. On the in-breath, imagine these rays returning through the pores to fill your body with multicolored light. Repeat the exercise seven times." (p. 64–65) I found this part of the exercise to be very stimulating; leaving me feeling balanced and energized.
The exercise continues with sound, visualizing the concept of the five colors being part of the syllable hum (I guess that is the Tibetan equivalent of the Hindu Om). On the exhalation I would visualize the world being filled with the colored hum. On inhaling I would feel the sound and colors enter and fill my body. This, too, was repeated seven times.
The next part of the exercise was to imagine that each time I exhaled, the colored hum sound changed to mustard seed-sized versions of fierce, angry, and menacing deities. Such deities are common in Tibet. On the exhale they were to fill the world, while on the inhale they were to fill me. This was repeated seven times. Believe me, the feeling of all these little creatures, even though they were only visualized, was quite...interesting, to say the least.
The next part of this step is, according to Brennan, a "critical stage in the exercise. You are required to imagine that every pore of your body is inhabited by one of these tiny deities with his face turned outward. The result of this visualization, when performed correctly, is that you see yourself as having grown a second protective skin composed of fierce and angry deities, which functions rather like a suit of mail armor." (p. 66)
For two weeks, I practiced this. Although I could sense the deities, I didn't have a feeling of them being armor. Then, at the end of two weeks, I had a dream in which I was having a battle against giant monsters. Although I battled valiantly, I realized I would lose. "Somebody help me!" I cried out. I immediately heard a tittering sound. Looking around I saw tens of thousands of tiny, angry, Tibetan gods. "Oh great," I thought, "a lot of good they're going to be." Instead of fighting the monsters, they started jumping on top of each other until they formed a wall between the monsters and me. "Hey, this looks like it might work," I said. Then the wall of deities moved toward me, and with a leap, surrounded me like a second skin. At first I thought I wouldn't be able to breathe, but I quickly realized that their protective cover didn't harm me in any way. Better, it prevented me from being harmed by the monsters, although my sword could cut through the beasts.
When I awoke, my first thought was that I had, indeed, been successful in getting the deities to be an armor-like second skin. But then I wondered, "What were the monsters?" I thought about it for a day before I realized that I was feeling very happy, content, and peaceful. In my dream I had defeated my own fears, phobias, insecurities, and other negative qualities. It didn't mean I had won the "war" with them, but I had won a battle. That knowledge made me feel great! Even if this tumo didn't work, I'd already learned a powerful technique for personal development.
There are two other exercises in this stage, but I'm not sure that they are necessary for this overview, so I'll leave it for you to study them and decide for yourself.
STAGE TWO: THE REAL WORK
In this section Brennan goes into actual techniques for learning how to generate what he calls psychic heat. It begins with breath control known as Nine Bellows Blowings:
"Close off your left nostril with your forefinger so that you are breathing only through the right nostril.
"Turn your head slowly from right to left while inhaling and exhaling three times through the right nostril.
"Now close off your right nostril and inhale/exhale three times while moving your head slowly from left to right.
"Finally, with your head steady and looking straight ahead, inhale/exhale three times through both nostrils." (p. 69)
This cycle is repeated three times. The first set has you breathe very, very gently. The second is stronger. With the third you inhale and exhale very completely, using the abdominal muscles to help push out all of the air. For me, this was easy to do. It only took a short time to get the feeling that I was doing it right.
The next step is called Four Combined Breathing. Bend your neck over and silently and deeply (let your chest bulge out) breathe in through both nostrils as if the breath was coming from about a foot-and-a-half in front of you. When this inhalation is hard to maintain, take several short breaths to equalize the pressure in both lungs.
When you are totally filled with air, begin to exhale gently, then with greater force, then gently again, all on a single breath. This is called "shooting the breath forth like an arrow." (p. 70) Indeed, that name described what the sensation felt like.
The above two techniques are known as Calm Breathing. The next technique is called Violent Breathing. It has five exercises that are described briefly. They all involve realizing that with every breath,energy is coming into your body. More importantly, the "final technique of the sequence seeks to mingle the internalized life force with the great reservoir of cosmic energy all around you. This is referred to as the Art of Relaxing the Breathing, a name which suggests the process involves an out-breath." (p. 72) I took this to mean that I should visualize energy coming in with each breath, combining with my inner energy in my lungs and expanded body (from the first stage), and sent out on the exhalation. Practice of an hour a day for a week made this very powerful, and I felt filled with power, but not "antsy." My power gave me peace of mind.
The next part of this stage involves visualizations. Again, you visualize the Vajra-Yogini, but "instead of imagining yourself as this deity, you should create an image of the goddess standing at normal human size before you. This image becomes your contact point with the universal energy and part of a visualized 'generator' that will produce the psychic heat." (p. 72–73) When I read that this was where things will start, I got really excited. I had this visualization down pat within two days.
The next visualization, as before, deals with the energy channel. But rather than just the one main channel, there are now three. The center one is hollow, red, transparent, and bright. Two more go on either side of this central tube, gently curving to the center, crossing each other at the central point and continuing in this way back and fourth. This is just like the image of the caduceus, the wand that was the symbol of medicine, my profession.
At each crossing point through the center channel, there is a chakra or power center. There are four major chakras (this is different from the popular pictures I've seen, but most of those deal with the Hindu chakras, so I made up my mind to try this out.)
The next part is difficult to explain in a brief article like this; you'll have to get a copy of Occult Tibet for yourself. The basic idea is that you take two letters of the Tibetan alphabet (for those familiar with it, they are the letter ham and half of the vowel A) and visualize them in certain ways while working with the breath. It's not difficult, just complex to describe. As you do this work, the letters change to flickering, spinning fires. At the tip of the Ham is a drop of pearlescent "moon fluid" which overflows the crown chakra above the head and then flows over the chakras at the throat, heart, and navel, and finally the entire body.
"The overall sequence of 108 breath cycles constitutes a single tumo course. To become proficient, you will need to repeat six courses over each twenty-four-hour period in the early stage of your training." (p. 75–76) I practiced this until I could sense that I had an increased amount of the universal life force charging me. The book advises to cut the number of courses to four after that increase occurs.
STAGE THREE: TRIGGERING TUMO
Brennan reveals that there are three ways to trigger the heat of tumo. Once you have practiced and can perform all of the exercises already given, the simplest means of triggering the heat is through deep, diaphragmatic breathing. The third method he gives involves visualizing yourself with all of the above images and with suns blazing in the palms and soles. Bring the palms together and then the soles so the suns meet, then rub the palms and feet against one another. "[F]ire will flare up to strike the sun below the navel, then the [Ham] symbol, and go on to permeate your whole body." There's a bit more to it revealed in the book, but this is the basic idea.
However, it was the second method that most interested me: "While seated in a simple cross-legged position, grasp the underneath of your thighs with your hands. Use your stomach and abdominal muscles to circle the belly area three times to the right and three times to the left while keeping the torso still. (You can prepare for this by first moving the muscles left and right, then gradually building up to a circular movement.) Churn the stomach vigorously by rippling the muscles from top to bottom, then shake your body like a dog that has just come out of the water. While you are doing so, raise yourself a little on your crossed legs, then drop back again onto your cushion, in effect bouncing a little off the floor. Repeat this whole exercise three times, ending with a more vigorous bounce." (p. 76)
According to Brennan, if you perform twenty-one vigorous bounces while doing the visualization for a week, "you will be able to endure almost any degree of cold" (p. 77) while wearing only a thin cotton robe. This was what I wanted! I practiced daily for a couple of weeks. Then I settled down to practicing only twice a week.
PUTTING IT TO THE TEST
Spring had arrived, and the snows were melting. I was giving myself several months of practice before relying on tumo for my safety. I could swear that I was generating heat, but was it my imagination or was it real? Then there was a surprise cold spell and a late snow. I decided to test what I had learned.
I drove out to the side of a large hill not far from Tallman. By the afternoon, the sun was behind one side of the hill, and the dark side was not only covered with eight inches of snow, but was in the shade. The cold had gotten worse, so it wasn't going to snow any more that afternoon or night. Using a snow shovel, I quickly made a six-foot-high pile of snow. Then I packed it down firmly and piled on more snow. I repeated this until I had a six-foot-tall mound of hard-packed snow. It was a little after 4:00 when I climbed to the top of the pile and stripped off my parka and outer clothes, leaving only my underwear. I sat down, cross-legged, making a crunching sound as the snow compressed under me. Within seconds, my teeth were chattering and my skin started to feel numb. I closed my eyes to focus on what I was going to do and started using the second method to trigger the tumo heat. My stomach churned side to side and top to bottom. I bounced once. I did the visualization.
I repeated this, making the bounce more vigorous and gave more effort to the visualization, trying to make it even stronger than before. On the third round, everything seemed to flow. I got an eerie feeling that time was changing. I think the visualization lasted a long time. After the fourth round, I noticed that my teeth were not chattering and my body did not feel numb at all. I was feeling rather comfortable. Was this really working?
By the seventh bounce and visualization, I was feeling peaceful and warm. Actually, I was feeling very warm. I realized that there was nothing in the book that said how long this effect would last. I just sat there with my eyes closed, relaxing, feeling comfortable.
And then I noticed something odd. It was a sensation I had experienced innumerable times before, but it was odd right now. There was a slightly itching sensation at the tip of my nose. It was a drop of sweat! I was perspiring. This really works. I wiped the sweat from my nose, but my realization had broken the state I was in. I opened my eyes.
It was dark in front of me. Every where I looked it was dark. I was terrified. What had happened? I looked up and saw stars. The heat from my body had been so warm and so long lasting that it had formed a hole four-feet deep in the snow! As I clambered out of the hole, I realized how desperately cold it was and struggled back into my icy clothes. There was a propane heater on my snowmobile and I started it up. In a few minutes I was warm without the need for tumo. Now that I had this technique and knew that it worked, I wouldn't have to rely on having a supply of propane for an unknown amount of time. I could be safe and warm and not worry. But for how long?
I thought about the stars and realized that it was night. I checked the watch I had left on the snowmobile. It read 10:37. I had been safe, warm, and comfortable for over six hours! This was absolutely astounding and amazing.
BACK TO REALITY
Having lived in areas that get very cold for most of my life, I can tell you that one way to survive the cold is to build a small snow building like a cave or igloo. Sheltered from the wind and warmed by your body heat, it may be your only way to survive without dying from hypothermia. So it could be that the pit-like hole in the snow was what kept me warm and safe that afternoon and evening. At least, that's what the skeptical side of me would say.
But who or what made the hole? I didn't dig it. In fact, I made sure that the snow was firm and hard packed so I couldn't just sink down. Even if you accept the idea that the pit I sank into kept me warm, the only conclusion I can make is that through tumo, as taught in Occult Tibet, I was able to create enough heat to create that pit in the snow.
I look forward to the mild summer weather ahead, but I intend to keep up my practice. Winter will come again and I feel very safe. Perhaps I'll melt some new holes in the snow in a few months.
Editor's note: "L. Daka" is the nom de plume of a man wishing to stay anonymous in a small community. "Tallman" is the name being used here for a town that is about 100 miles from Anchorage, 250 miles from Fairbanks, and about 150 miles from the entrance of Denali National Park.
Occult Tibet by J.H. Brennan is © Llewellyn Worldwide, Ltd. All quotes are used by permission.
This morning, Adam was telling me about his lucid dream he'd had last night. This was interesting because I'd been researching dream-yoga in the buddhist Six Yogas of Naropa for the last couple of days. You can only do Dream-Yoga once you've mastered tummo (kundalini) meditation, so it's getting a little ahead of ourselves, but whatever. It's basically really mastering lucid dreaming, Dream-Yoga is. Buddhists believe there are four states of consciousness: 1) Waking-state, 2) Dream-state, 3) During orgasm, 4) Right before death. In the 2,3, and 4 the mind is in a very subtle state in which it's possible to master and reach full enlightenment and nirvana. In trying to explain dream-yoga to him something really profound hit me: In lucid dreaming, you gain control of your dreams ONLY WHEN you realize you're dreaming; only when you realize, basically, that the world you're in at the moment is a complete illusion; only then can you be in control of your dreamstate and do whatever you want. Well, "as without, so within:" The same applies to our wakingstate. Only if and when we realize that our waking-world amounts to little nothing than an illusion can we be in complete control of ourselves in that state. Things start to taste a bit mystical from here: there are accounts of the Buddha's abilities after he reached enlightenment, some abilities can be attributed to his mastering of energy through kundalini meditation (psychic abilities, reading minds, healing people, moving matter with energy). There's also an account of his being in two places at the same time, which is to say, his consciousness was in two places at the same time. And then there's the usual litany of miracles attributed to Jesus and Co. Whether or not I agree with that area of the subject, I still find it an interesting connection.
The Six Yogas of Naropa are basically precise instructions on how to do it, and can only be taught from teacher to student. These yogas are also called "vajra meditation," and end with the forceful transference of consciousness from the crown chakra to a union with God (a pure Buddhafield), and it's what our friend over in Nepal is doing as we've finished reading this last sentence.
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