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)
Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have the exact measure of the injustice and wrong which will be imposed on them.Frederick Douglass
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)
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.
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.
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)
Of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes; and armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few. In war, too, the discretionary power of the Executive is extended; its influence in dealing out offices, honors, and emoluments is multiplied; and all the means of seducing the minds, are added to those of subduing the force, of the people. The same malignant aspect in republicanism may be traced in the inequality of fortunes, and the opportunities of fraud, growing out of a state of war, and in the degeneracy of manners and of morals engendered by both. No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.
James Madison, “Political Observations”, April 20, 1795 (via absurdlakefront)
The power elite, especially the liberal elite, has always been willing to sacrifice integrity and truth for power, personal advancement, foundation grants, awards, tenured professorships, columns, book contracts, television appearances, generous lecture fees and social status. They know what they need to say. They know which ideology they have to serve. They know what lies must be told—the biggest being that they take moral stances on issues that aren’t safe and anodyne. They have been at this game a long time. And they will, should their careers require it, happily sell us out again. … Those who doggedly challenge the orthodoxy of belief, who question the reigning political passions, who refuse to sacrifice their integrity to serve the cult of power, are pushed to the margins. They are denounced by the very people who, years later, will often claim these moral battles as their own. It is only the outcasts and the rebels who keep truth and intellectual inquiry alive. They alone name the crimes of the state. They alone give a voice to the victims of oppression. They alone ask the difficult questions. Most important, they expose the powerful, along with their liberal apologists, for what they are.
Chris Hedges, The Treason of the Intellectuals
Power, strength, force, authority, violence - these are but words to indicate the means by which man rules over man; they are held to be synonyms because they have the same function.
Hannah Arendt, On Violence (via jayaprada)
The degradation which most workers experience on the job is the sum of assorted indignities which can be denominated as ‘discipline.’ Foucault has complexified this phenomenon but it is simple enough. Discipline consists of the totality of totalitarian controls at the workplace — surveillance, rotework, imposed work tempos, production quotas, punching -in and -out, etc. Discipline is what the factory and the office and the store share with the prison and the school and the mental hospital. It is something historically original and horrible. It was beyond the capacities of such demonic dictators of yore as Nero and Genghis Khan and Ivan the Terrible. For all their bad intentions they just didn’t have the machinery to control their subjects as thoroughly as modern despots do. Discipline is the distinctively diabolical modern mode of control, it is an innovative intrusion which must be interdicted at the earliest opportunity.
Bob Black, The Abolition of Work (via anarchist—anthropology)
…all these years later, we have to ask ourselves two questions. One is: Who benefited from this war? You know, we know who paid the price. I heard—I heard you talking about that, so I won’t get into that again. But who benefited from this war? Did the U.S. government? Did the U.S. people benefit? Did they get the oil contracts that they wanted, in the way that they wanted? The answer is no. And yet, today you hear Dick Cheney saying he would do it all over again in a second. So, unfortunately, we are dealing with psychosis. We are dealing with a psychopathic situation. And all of us, including myself, we can’t do anything but keep being reasonable, keep saying what needs to be said. But that doesn’t seem to help the situation, because, of course, as we know, after Iraq, there’s been Libya, there’s Syria, and the rhetoric of, you know, democracy versus radical Islam. When you look at the countries that were attacked, none of them were Wahhabi Islamic fundamentalist countries. Those ones are supported, financed by the U.S., so there is a real collusion between radical Islam and capitalism. What is going on is really a different kind of battle.