The American Bear


Hope, in this deep and powerful sense, is not the same as joy that things are going well, or willingness to invest in enterprises that are obviously headed for early success, but, rather, an ability to work for something because it is good, not just because it stands a chance to succeed. The more unpropitious the situation in which we demonstrate hope, the deeper that hope is. Hope is definitely not the same thing as optimism. It is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out. In short, I think that the deepest and most important form of hope, the only one that can keep us above water and urge us to good works, and the only true source of the breathtaking dimension of the human spirit and its efforts, is something we get, as it were, from “elsewhere.” It is also this hope, above all, which gives us the strength to live and continually to try new things, even in conditions that seem as hopeless as ours do, here and now. Václav Havel (via azspot)

(via shrinkrants)

It is important to bear in mind I am being called a traitor by men like former Vice President Dick Cheney. This is a man who gave us the warrantless wiretapping scheme as a kind of atrocity warm up on the way to deceitfully engineering a conflict that has killed over 4,400 and maimed nearly 32,000 Americans, as well as leaving over 100,000 Iraqis dead. Being called a traitor by Dick Cheney is the highest honor you can give an American, and the more panicked talk we hear from people like him, Feinstein, and King, the better off we all are. Edward Snowden (via vulgartrader)

(via robotmonastery-deactivated)

Political writers have established it as a maxim, that, in contriving any system of government, and fixing the several checks and controuls of the constitution, every man ought to be supposed a knave, and to have no other end, in all his actions, than private interest. By this interest we must govern him, and, by means of it, make him, notwithstanding his insatiable avarice and ambition, co-operate to public good. Without this, say they, we shall in vain boast of the advantages of any constitution, and shall find, in the end, that we have no security for our liberties or possessions, except the good-will of our rulers; that is, we shall have no security at all. David Hume

I just don’t buy this argument that, you know, this hurts national security. I covered al-Qaeda for The New York Times, and, believe me, they know they’re being monitored. The whole idea that somehow it comes as a great surprise to jihadist groups that their emails, websites and phone calls are being tracked is absurd. This is—we’re talking about the wholesale collection of information on virtually most of the American public, and the consequences of that are truly terrifying. At that point, we are in essence snuffing out the capacity of any kind of investigation into the inner workings of power. And to throw out this notion that it harmed—this harmed national security, there’s no evidence for that, in the same way that there is no evidence that the information that Bradley Manning leaked in any way harmed national security. It didn’t. What the security and surveillance state is doing is playing on fear and using that fear to accrue to themselves tremendous forms of power that in a civil society, in a democracy, they should never have. And that’s the battle that’s underway right now, and, frankly, we’re losing. Chris Hedges (via azspot)

(via azspot)

The worker always has the right to leave his employer, but has he the means to do so? And if he does quit him, is it in order to lead a free existence, in which he will have no master but himself? No, he does it in order to sell himself to another employer. He is driven to it by the same hunger which forced him to sell himself to the first employer. Thus the worker’s liberty, so much exalted by the economists, jurists, and bourgeois republicans, is only a theoretical freedom, lacking any means for its possible realization, and consequently it is only a fictitious liberty, an utter falsehood.

Mikhail Bakunin, The Capitalist System

(via tabularasae)

(Source: thesubversivesound, via sigma-x)

The original republic was thought out carefully, and openly, in The Federalist Papers: we were not going to have a monarchy and we were not going to have a democracy. And to this day we have had neither. For 200 years we have had an oligarchical system in which men of property can do well and the others are on their own. Or, as Brooks Adams put it, the sole problem of our ruling class is whether to coerce or to bribe the powerless majority. The so-called Great Society bribed; today coercion is very much in the air. Happily, our neoconservative Mongoloids favor only authoritarian and never totalitarian means of coercion. Gore Vidal (1985)

Not everyone liked the new empire. After Manila, Mark Twain thought that the stars and bars of the American flag should be replaced by a skull and crossbones. He also said, ‘We cannot maintain an empire in the Orient and maintain a republic in America.’ He was right, of course. But as he was only a writer who said funny things, he was ignored. The compulsively vigorous [Teddy] Roosevelt defended our war against the Philippine population, and he attacked the likes of Twain. ‘Every argument that can be made for the Filipinos could be made for the Apaches,’ he explained, with his lovely gift for analogy. ‘And every word that can be said for Aguinaldo could be said for Sitting Bull. As peace, order and prosperity followed our expansion over the land of the Indians, so they will follow us in the Philippines.’ … Despite the criticism of the few, the Four Horsemen had pulled it off. The United States was a world empire. And one of the horsemen not only got to be president but for his pious meddling in the Russo-Japanese conflict, our greatest apostle of war was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. One must never underestimate the Scandinavian wit. Gore Vidal

Being in a minority, even in a minority of one, did not make you mad. There was truth and there was untruth, and if you clung to the truth even against the whole world, you were not mad. George Orwell - 1984 (via karuihiro)

(via wozziebear)

I have never really understood exactly what a ‘liberal’ is, since I have heard ‘liberals’ express every conceivable opinion on every conceivable subject. As far as I can tell, you have the extreme right, who are fascist, racist capitalist dogs like Ronald Reagan, who come right out and let you know where they’re from. And on the opposite end, you have the left, who are supposed to be committed to justice, equality, and human rights. And somewhere between these two points is the liberal. As far as I’m concerned, ‘liberal’ is the most meaningless word in the dictionary. History has shown me that as long as some white middle class people can live high on the hog, take vacations to Europe, send their children to private schools, and the reap the benefits of their white skin privileges, then they are ‘liberals’. But when times get hard and money gets tight, they pull off that liberal mask and you think you’re talking to Adolf Hitler. They feel sorry for the so-called underprivileged just as long as they can maintain their own privileges. Assata Shakur (via basednkrumah)

(via robotmonastery-deactivated)

If, on the other hand, we stop taking world leaders at their word and instead think of neoliberalism as a political project, it suddenly looks spectacularly effective. The politicians, CEOs, trade bureaucrats, and so forth who regularly meet at summits like Davos or the G20 may have done a miserable job in creating a world capitalist economy that meets the needs of a majority of the world’s inhabitants (let alone produces hope, happiness, security, or meaning), but they have succeeded magnificently in convincing the world that capitalism—and not just capitalism, but exactly the financialized, semifeudal capitalism we happen to have right now—is the only viable economic system. If you think about it, this is a remarkable accomplishment.

David Graeber, “A Practical Utopian’s Guide to the Coming Collapse” in the latest issue of The Baffler (via youthisastateofmind)

On the same topic (the political triumph of neoliberalism), read Philip Mader’s Buying Time and Running Out

(via robotmonastery-deactivated)

We are supposed to know everything that the government does. That is why they are called The Public Sector, and they are supposed to know almost nothing about us. That is why we are private individuals. This has been completely reversed so that we know almost nothing about what the government does, it operates behind this impenetrable bureaucracy, while they know everything about what it is we are doing, with whom we’re speaking and communicating, what we’re reading. Glenn Greenwald (via vulgartrader)

It’s exactly when we experience a nightmare like [the] bombing of the Boston Marathon that we need a serious assessment of risk and danger in this country. An event like this, horrific as it is, and the panic that goes with it will inevitably be the spark for yet greater investment, both emotionally and financially, in the national security state, greater up-armoring of the police, a further militarization of society, further moves to give latitude to intelligence agencies as they search amongst us, and so on. Perhaps counterintuitively, this is exactly the moment for a piece like the one I wrote – though obviously I had no crystal ball and couldn’t see a terror bombing coming – on the general lack of major enemies in our American world. The panic of a terrible event like this makes us even blinder to reality, to what dangers we actually face (and don’t face), globally and locally. The murder of innocents is always a terrible and tragic thing, but it’s also a moment to suck it up and not plunge deeper into the twenty-first century American Big Muddy. Terror is a horrific thing, but it does not truly endanger us as a country. It is, in many ways, strangely helpless, even when it can kill and wound small (or even, as on 9/11, large) numbers of people. Give into it and you’re not really ‘safe,’ you’re just in another America.

Tom Engelhardt

h/t the-lone-pamphleteer (← follow)

In the cybernetic age, the individual becomes increasingly subject to manipulation. His work, his consumption, and his leisure are manipulated by advertising, by ideologies, by what Skinner calls ‘positive reinforcements.’ The individuals loses his active, responsible role in the social process; he becomes completely ‘adjusted’ and learns that any behavior, act, thought, or feeling which does not fit into the general scheme puts him at a severe disadvantage; in fact he is what he is supposed to be…What has happened in modern industrial society is that traditions, and common values, and genuine social personal ties with others have largely disappeared. The modern mass man is isolated and lonely, even though he is part of a crowd; he has no convictions which he could share with others, only slogans and ideologies he gets from the communications media.  Erich Fromm,  from “The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness” (via wordythings)

(Source: heartbloodspirit, via absurdlakefront)