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America is the most grandiose experiment the world has seen, but, I am afraid, it is not going to be a success. -- Sigmund Freud.

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  • America is the most grandiose experiment the world has seen, but, I am afraid, it is not going to be a success. -- Sigmund Freud.

    America is a mistake, a giant mistake.

    Sigmund Freud

  • #2
    America is a mistake, a giant mistake.

    Sigmund Freud


    • #3
      So you're trying to make things better? Is this what you're intending to do?


      • #4
        Sigmund Freud was a sex freak. What did he know about anything? He thought everyone was sexually obsessed with thier parents.


        • #5
          The thing is, if you read Freud's works and understand what he was trying to say, he actually talks very little about sex. What drives the Id is tension release. Now certainly, (if done correctly) sex leads to tension release, but it's not the only thing that does. The better question might be, why do people think that Freud talked about sex all the time?

          Psychoanalysts, by nature, are mental health professionals (could be a psychiatrist, clinical psychologist or someone else) who are specifically trained in advanced Psychoanalytic (Freudian) therapy techniques. All Psychoanalysts use the basic principles that were first identified by Freud. These include recognition of unconscious processes, that early development relates to later behavior, and that dreams might reveal unconscious processes (there are others).

          Not every therapist is an Analyst (most aren't) and may use bits of Freud's work or none at all. Every new approach or theory always tries to compare itself to Freud's ideas. What has always been odd to me is that if you ask people what they think of Freud, they say he's obsessed with sex and a fraud, but if you ask them to describe another person's behavior, they will use Freud's theory.


          • #6
            Most brain researchers dismiss the Freudian concepts of ego, id, and superego. They also claim that the idea that mental illness arises from infantile trauma -- the cornerstone of Freudian theory -- has not been validated. So from a medical and scientific standpoint, one could ask:

            "Well, does psychoanalysis work?"

            To be sure, Freud is to be discussed now more than ever, not only because Monica-gate forced everyone to ponder when a cigar is not just a cigar, but also because a new understanding of the mind is giving Freud his most serious competition ever. A 11-year-old boy joked one day, but not in Freudian terms: "What, did you forget your medication today?" if someone was acting odd. Freud, with his theories of libido, id and repression, has been forced to make room for the Prozac philosophy of mind.

            But these views could very well co-exist. Freud himself insisted that chemical interventions would someday remedy many psychological problems. Freud himself started his career as a neurobiologist and devised a model of the brain that foreshadowed our current conception of synapse networks. Moreover, because the talking cure -- a general term for psychotherapy --forges new associations and meanings, it almost certainly remaps those synapse networks. But once these complementary theories enter mass culture, they tend to degenerate into warring camps -- and Freud and Prozac have become mortal enemies.

            While Freud famously promised to restore neurotics to "ordinary unhappiness" and resolutely insisted on the unruly and savage nature of the unconscious, the pop Prozac myth promises equilibrium -- and more. With Prozac one is supposed to see patient after patient become 'better than well.' Prozac seems to give social confidence to the habitually timid, to make the sensitive brash, to lend the introvert the social skills of a salesman. In its crudest form, this vision of neuroscience sees the mind as a chemical-reaction chamber with no unconscious and no emotion that cannot be adjusted into biochemical balance. However let's not forget that denying the unconscious has profound consequences. It can blind us to the true emotional sources of authority, sap our personal power, and ultimately make us more vulnerable to political coercion and collective hysteria.

            Of course, it's often best to treat psychological problems with both medication and talk therapy. But economic forces are skewing the debate. Talk therapy is more expensive than prescribing drugs; it also fits the marketing plans of one of the most profitable industries, the pharmaceutical business, which heavily subsidizes academic science and lobbies for government research that might lead to the next blockbuster drug. No comparable funding source exists for talk therapy, with the result that the whole research community tilts toward thinking of psychology in terms of biology.

            A study in the prestigious Archives of General Psychiatry provided a glimpse into the power of culture to cause mental illness. The study compared the mental health of Mexican immigrants to U.S.-born Mexican Americans. Despite having much less money and access to health care, the recent immigrants had one-half the mental-health problems of their richer, more Americanized counterparts. But still there's an exchange -- you get material benefits, although you trade off emotional support. And of course such "affluenza," as other researchers have dubbed this problem, can be tranquilized by medication but not cured by it. As why our culture makes us so ill that we need psychiatric drugs -- are being ignored, mainly because they lend themselves to political answers, not biological ones. This study about immigrant mental health, for example, disappeared with almost no media attention, though it certainly raised profound and urgent questions.

            Freud never ignored society. In his 'Civilization and Its Discontents' he postulated that the more sophisticated culture becomes, the greater the psychic toll it exacts. The chemical view of mental illness renders the patient passive, whereas Freud insisted that individuals engage society and make an accommodation with it. Freud's really great discovery is that the mind is active and imaginative in the creation of its own experience of reality. So people can feel as if the world is dealing them a bad hand and be completely unaware of how active they are in creating the dramas in which they experience themselves as a victim. This is a problem of meaning, not of biology. By framing it as a purely biological problem, we deny ourselves the power to shape our destinies.

            How different is the pop-Prozac account of how the body influences the mind! There, consciousness is a just a mix of chemicals that needs to be calibrated into balance by medical professionals, and our lived experience is discounted in favor of laboratory assays. "The
            personality-altering pill is high technology, something unknowable, foreign. Though he generally supports its use, Kramer warns that the drug "may be experienced as self-alienating even when, in particular instances, it restores people to themselves. Having diminished the power of psychoanalysis, we are all the more at the mercy of professional knowledge." Our mind stripped of the power to shape its destiny and our bodies handed over to the medical-industrial complex -- that's a caricature, but it's merely the flip side of the smiley, sunny images used in ads for antidepressive drugs. The very fact that these absurd images are pitted against the Freudian conception of a cryptic and conflicted psyche strongly suggests that the legitimate findings of neurobiology are being exploited to hide other truths. And the thing that is being hidden, is the unconscious.

            The unconscious not only frightens us as individuals, it also threatens political authority. Authority sets the terms of the debate, deciding which arguments are legitimate and which are not. But seeking out unconscious motives means probing behind these terms, smoking out hidden agendas. Even if Freud hadn't been Jewish, the Nazis would have hounded him out of Austria because his theories undermined fascism. After all, if psychoanalysis questions the authority of the analyst, it certainly could -- and did -- question the authority of the demagogue.

            Issues as how we should organize society and what is the purpose of life, are left to get answered in the darkness of our collective unconscious, that is to say at the mercy of unseen forces, such as money, political power-lust, and of course cultural aggression. Or, when it doesn't ignore political and social questions, it is debated in biological terms by, for example, defining the body politic as just that -- a body, an entity that obeys the same natural laws as, say, ant colonies. In this view, social Darwinism just makes perfect sense, though now society offers the pharmacological solution to some of those who don't fare so well -- a pill that can make you "better than yourself."

            People are makers of meaning, unique creatures capable of living not only in a physical world but in a world of dramas and myths that, consciously and unconsciously, we create. Freud's everlasting truth is simply this: No matter how many pills we take, we will continue to shape such dramas. The question is whether we will try to understand them and set a more deliberate course, or whether we will let them carry us where they will, aiming only to accept whatever they bring.


            • #7
              EXACTLY -- in America everyone will do his/her best to make you look like a "loose canon" -- like Eminem says, after all...


              These ideas are nightmares for white parents
              Whose worst fear is a child with dyed hair and who likes earrings
              Like whatever they say has no bearing
              Its so scary in a house that allows no swearing
              To see him walking around with his headphones blaring
              Alone in his own zone, cold and he dont care
              He's a problem child, what bothers him all comes out
              When he talks about his ****in' dad walkin out
              Cos he hates him so bad that he blocks him out
              But if he ever saw him again, he'd prolly knock him out
              His thoughts are whacked, he's mad so he's talkin' back
              Talkin black, brainwashed from rock and rap
              He sags his pants, 2 rags and a stocking cap
              His step-father hit him so he socked him back
              And broke his nose, this house is a broken home
              There's no control, he just lets his emotions go
              Come on...

              Sing with me, sing for the year
              Sing for the laughter, sing for the tear
              Sing with me,just for today
              Maybe tomorrow, the good Lord will take you away

              Verse #2
              Entertainment is danger, intertwine it with gansters
              In the land of the killers, a sinner's mind is a sanctum
              Only you're unholy, only have one homey
              Only this gun, lonely, cuz don't anyone know me
              But everybody just feels like they can relate
              I guess words are a mother****er, they can be great
              Or they can be great, or even worse, they can teach hate
              Its like kids hang on every single statement we make
              Like they worship us, plus all the stores ship us platinum
              Now how the **** did this metamorphasis happen?
              From standin' on corners and porches just rappin'
              To havin' a fortune, no more kissin' ***
              But then these critics crucify you, journalists try to burn you
              Fans turn on you, attorney's all gonna turn it to
              To get their hands on every dime you have
              They want you to lose your mind every time you mad
              So they can try to make you out to look like a loose canon
              You need to spew, dont hesitate to produce air-guns
              Thats why these prosecutors wanna convict me
              Swiftly just to get me offa these streets quickly
              But all their kids been listen'n to me religiously
              So i'm signing cds while police fingerprint me
              They're for the judges daughter, but his grudge is against me
              If i'm such a ****in' menace, this shit doesnt make sense, Pete
              It's all political, if my music is literal and i'm a criminal,
              How the **** can i raise a little girl?
              I couldn't. i wouldn't be fit to
              You're full of shit too, Guerrera, that was a fist that hit you!


              Verse #3
              They say music can alter moods and talk to you
              But can it load a gun for you and cock it too?
              Well if it can, then the next time you assault a dude
              Just tell the judge it was my fault, and i'll get sued
              See what these kids do, is hear about us toting pistols
              And they want to get one, cos they think the shit's cool
              Not knowin' we're really just protectin' ourselves
              We're entertainers, of course this shit's affecting our sales
              You ignoramus. but music is reflection of self
              We just explain it, and then we get our cheques in the mail
              It's ****ed up ain't it, how we can come from practically nothin'
              To bein' able to have any ****in' thing that we wanted
              It's why we sing for these kids that don't have a thing
              Except for a dream and a ****ing rap magazine
              Who post pinup pictures on their walls all day long
              Idolise their favourite rappers and know all they songs
              Or for anyone who's ever been through shit in they lives
              So they sit and they cry at night, wishing they die
              Till they throw on a rap record, and they sit and they vibe
              We're nothing to you, but we're the ****in' shit in their eyes
              That's why we sieze the moment, and try to freeze it and own it
              Squeeze it and hold it, 'cos we consider these minutes golden
              And maybe they'll admit it when we're gone
              Just let our spirits live on, through out lyrics that you hear in our songs
              And we can


              • #8
                And speaking of Eminem, here's another of his 'notorious' songs;


                We love you

                How many people are proud to be citizens of this beautiful country of ours?
                The stripes and the stars for the rights of men who have died for the protect?
                The women and men who have broke their necks for the freedem of speech the United States Government has sworn to uphold

                Yo, I want everyone to listen to the words of this song

                Or so we're told...

                Verse #1
                I never woulda dreamed in a million years id see
                so many mutha ****in people who feel like me
                Who share the same views
                And the same exact beliefs
                Its like a ****in army marchin in back of me
                So many lives I touched
                So much anger aimed at no perticular direction
                Just sprays and sprays
                Straight through your radio wavs
                It plays and plays
                Till it stays stuck in your head
                For days and days
                who woulda thought standin in this mirror
                Bleachin my hair wit some Peroxide
                Reachin for a T shirt to wear
                That I would catipult to the fore-front of rap like this
                How can I predict my words
                And have an impact like this
                I musta struck a chord wit somebody up in the office
                Cuz congress keeps tellin me
                I aint causin nuttin but problems
                And now they sayin im in trouble wit the government
                Im lovin it
                I shovelled shit all my life
                And now im dumpin it on

                WHITE AMERICA
                I could be one of ur kids
                WHITE AMERICA
                Little erik looks just like this
                WHITE AMERICA
                Erica loves my shit
                I go to TRL
                Look how many hugs I get

                Verse #2
                Look at these eyes baby blue baby just like urself
                If they were brown
                Shady lose shady sits on the shelf
                But Shadys cute
                Shady knew Shady's dimples would help
                Make ladies swoon baby
                (ooo baby)
                Look at myself!
                Lets do the math
                If I was black I woulda sold half
                I aint have to graduate
                From Lincoln High School to know that
                But I can rap so **** school
                Im too cool to go back
                Gimme the mic
                Show me where the ****in studio's at
                When I was underground
                No one gave a **** I was white
                No lables wanted to sign me
                Almost gave up, I was like "**** it"
                Until I met Dre
                The only one who looked past
                Gave me a chance
                And I lit a fire up under his ***
                Helped him get back to the top
                Every fan black that I got
                Was probly his
                In exchange for every white fan that he's got
                Like damn we just swapped
                Sittin back look at this shit wow
                Im like "My skin, is it startin to work to my benifit now?"


                Verse #3
                See the problem is I speak to suberban kids
                Who otherwise
                Woulda never knew these words exist
                These moms probly woulda never gave 2 squirts of piss
                Till I created so much mutha ****in turbulence
                Straight out the tube right into ya livin rooms I came
                And kids Flipped
                When they knew I was produced by Dre
                Thats all it took
                And they were instantly hooked right in
                And they connected wit me too cuz I looked like them
                Thats why they put my lyrics up under this microscope
                Searchin wit a fine toothed comb
                Its like this rope waitin to choke
                Tightenin around my throat
                Watchin me while I write this like "I dont like this, NO!"
                All I hear is
                Lyrics lyrics constant controversy
                Sponsors workin round the clock
                To try to stop my concerts early
                Surely hip hop is never a problem
                In Harlem only In Boston
                After it bothered ya fathers
                of daughters startin to blossom
                Now im catchin the flack from these activists
                When they raggin
                Actin like im the 1st rapper to smack a ***** and say faggot
                Just look at me like im ya closest pal
                A poster child
                the mutha ****in spokesman now!


                So to the parents of America
                I am the damager aimed at little Erica
                To attack her character
                The ring leader of the circus of worthless pawns
                Sent to lead the march right up to the steps of Congress
                And piss on the lawns of the whitehouse
                To burn the casket and replace it with a parental advisory sticker
                To spit liquor in the faces of this democracy of hipocracy
                **** you Ms Cheeney
                **** you Tipper Gore
                **** you with the freeness of speech this divided states of embarrasment will allow me to have
                **** You

                hahaha! im just playin america, you know I love you


                • #9
                  me too hates America, as it is:

                  GOODBYE AMERICA!

                  yeah everything bothers me
                  just about everything that i see
                  no need for a flag or a country
                  raise your finger if you agree

                  the problems won't go away
                  if we keep our rage at bay
                  the filth and slime will always stay
                  if we choose to ignore and play

                  goodbye america! **** you america! goodbye america! **** you!

                  the stars and strips are prison bars
                  they won't let you get too far
                  the rule over many by the few
                  you cant police my mind because i won't let you

                  Goodbye america, **** you america
                  goodbye america, **** you!

                  pledge allegence to your self
                  not greed, power, war, and wealth
                  remember you were born a human being
                  not a part of their machine

                  Good bye america, **** you america
                  Goodbye america, **** you!

                  NO MORE SOCIAL ORDER!


                  • #10
                    Yours Truly: The Lost Chapter or, America

                    "In Dr. Johnson's famous dictionary
                    patriotism is defined as
                    the last resort of a scoundrel.
                    With all due respect to an enlightened
                    but inferior lexicographer,
                    I beg to submit that it is the first."
                    Ambrose Bierce

                    "Older man declare war.
                    But it is youth that must fight and die."
                    Herbert Hoover

                    Seeing those teary-eyed immigrants gratefully saying the Pledge of Allegiance, I used to wonder why anyone would want to be called an American, What does America stand for? I used to think that it stood for opportunity, equality and justice. The older I get I think that America stands for greed, arrogance and hypocrisy. When I went to Australia last year I was amazed by what people told me they thought about America. The younger people dreamed of going to Los Angeles or New York, imaging them as places filled with excitement and glamour. The older people thought of America as the world's cop and the biggest bully there ever was. They felt that America was like Rome in the days before it fell, full of criminals, festering in garbage. Most people I have met think of America as being number one, yet I don't really know what the contest was. Certainly we are a leader in the amount of homicides, and the number of guns. We make the most movies and television shows, but not necessarily the best. We smoke the most pot, snort the most lines, mainline the most smack, while hypocritically denouncing drug producing countries. Odds are good that our government may even have been involved in dealing and importing drugs.

                    What is the history of America? The original settlers slaughtered the Indians, enslaved the Africans and plundered the continent. We loudly criticize other countries for their human rights violations while just thirty years ago our police allowed German Shepherds to attack unarmed protesters. Just one year ago the world watched in horror as a crowd of white police officers kicked the crap out of an unarmed black man, and then were found to be guilty of nothing. So why do some people want so much to be a part of it, while many others start to sound like the youth in Germany, "America for Americans." I think that being American is a state of mind, not necessarily the words on your passport. I think the problem, especially for the 'patriotic' types, is in priority. What we define ourselves as being reflects how we see other people. These people see themselves as Americans first, perhaps men second, perhaps fathers third, and farmers fourth. The politically active might set up a different set of identity. They might be gay first, vegetarian second, Texan third, and cabinet-maker fourth. This method of defining ourselves and what we believe to be right is exclusionary, since by definition there can never be a tie among these priorities. When we call ourselves Mexican Americans, it says to the Americans, that the Mexican part is first, and for them it is an insult. If you live in America and you want to be an American, that is what you are first and foremost.

                    We pledge allegiance to the flag, God and country. It may be related to the Communist witch hunts of the McCarthy era, when there were questions of loyalty. Does it make you an American to join the military and legally execute strangers? Does it make you American to pay taxes and keep a flag in the front yard? I don't think it should make a difference. I think that if we all just considered ourselves human first, everything else being entirely secondary, we might just be better off. We might all see each other as part of the group, part of a vast collective, existing equally within the whole. This does not mean that we need to give up our individuality or identity, quite the contrary. We give up our petty allegiances to transitory memberships, and accept our small place on this small planet, in this short time. When we align ourselves within any group, it is impossible for the will of the group to accurately and thoroughly speak for us. It is this desire, perhaps related to childhood desires for acceptance, perhaps an unconscious desire to be removed from the difficult tasks of decision-making, that allows us to give up that part of ourselves to the herd. Herding never affords us the safety that we imagine, more safety is to be had in solidarity than herding. It might seem irrelevant to even try to redefine our roles, useless to change minds already programmed to self destruct, carved in stone. Perhaps it is, but I don't say this because it is the way that I am and therefore people should try to emulate me. I believe that people should live by what they believe, and for me there doesn't exist a group that believes everything that I believe.

                    It is sometimes necessary to define our own reality, but in order to be in some kind of society we need to be in agreement on a few basic things. We cannot even agree to disagree. There is no longer any middle, if there ever was one, between my side and your side, because we like to choose sides. From the minute we are socialized, we are taught to establish cliques, to formulate pecking orders, to dominate or be dominated. It leaves no room for anything else, if you dare to step outside the established order, you are by definition outside. Stripped of your privileges, alone in the wilderness. Or you can establish a new order, outside of the old one, but quickly your instincts resurface and you regress back. Hell, I may be a computer geek, but I am the ******* King of the Computer Geeks. I may be a punk rocker, but the rest of you dicks are a bunch of suburban poseurs.

                    The uniforms may appear different, the suit, the long hair and leather jackets, the tie-dyes and Birkenstocks, but at the heart of it they are uniforms conveying identity and allegiance to the group. The only fringes left are reserved for the walking wounded, the ones so far removed that they are oblivious to anything but the voices in their heads. Instead of trying to rise to new heights, we bury our heads and dig deeper into the muck. It is a luxury to be able to chuck it all, give up on everything. It quite lovely to rely on public transportation, have hot and tasty food and live in a world where everyone we know only a phone call away. There is no judgment to be made, no fingers to point, no blame to be assessed. My rights end where your nose begins, but my responsibilities extend much further. There is a great satisfaction that comes from living well, from treating others as you would treat yourself, and if you are unkind to yourself, than treat others better. Agree to disagree, but attempt to understand. Empathy is more important than sympathy, I can't hate you unless I understand you, and if I understand you I can't hate you. Simple words to live by.


                    • #11
                      I've been reading so much online about the current American travesties that I can't remember where I saw a list of criteria that are indicators of the imminent fall of an empire. If I remember correctly, my country is exhibiting all of them.

                      On top of that we have ravaging fires in drought-ridden parts of this country, heavy rains and flooding in areas already known to be sodden, horrific tales of pedophiliac priests rising out of the religious dark, and an increasing number of news stories of parents breaking apart their kids' bodies and spirits.

                      My son ruminates online about his painful alienation from his country of birth, and we all wait to see if something awful will happen on the day on which we celebrate the ideal that America was supposed to strive toward.

                      No wonder we're all depressed. There is hardly anything that is in our control anymore. It makes me wonder about what exactly IS still in our control.

                      Maybe all we have is all we really can expect to have as humans on this planet: the challenges of daily survival; of creating ways to connect with and love each other; of working toward and celebrating small successes because the large ones will always be out of our control; of learning how to share our successes with each other so that we can all hope beyond the daily.

                      Perhaps we humans have gotten too arrogant. We assume that we can control -- each other, the elements, the whims of the universe. The truth is, it seems to me, that the only thing that we each have control over is our own Self. And nowhere in our upbringings or educations are we taught to understand that and how to accomplish that with love, compassion, joy, and meaningful connection.

                      Maybe those of us who survive what comes next will be those of us who can hunker down, live small, stay connected with similar souls, wait for it all to blow over. If it doesn't blow us all up before we make it through.


                      • #12
                        There is anger, enmity, even rage against America, and the question of "why?" obviously reflects the insecurities born of September 11. Why they hate us may help explain terrorism. Explain, not excuse. Here are four reasons, call them the four horsemen of hate (H's all) that suggest why we are not always loved: Hyper-power, hypocrisy, humiliation and homogenization.

                        1) Hyperpower: The fall of the Soviet Union and the end of the cold war seemed to signal an American success that brought an end to bipolarity and left America the only great power standing (this is what Francis Fukuyama meant by "the end of history"). But power entails responsibility. Americans argue persuasively that we did not create many of the problems from which the planet suffers and for which we are almost always blamed. Yet while that may be true, to be powerful brings responsibility even where no causality is to be attributed. We need to stop being coy about our power: it is real to others and has to be handled responsibly by us. We will never be loved for it, but can be respected and even admired if we use it responsibly, consistently and effectively to deal with the world's problems - whether they are of our own making or not.

                        2) Hypocrisy: Powerful nations are never liked; but powerful nations that act hypocritically and inconsistently are often detested. America sees itself (quite rightly) as a democratic nation born out of revolution and forged in its modern identity by the struggle for inclusion, equality and prosperity for all. Yet while it talks those values as it projects its power around the world, it more often acts on behalf of narrow national interests that are at best only remotely connected to its values. Its dual addiction to opium and oil, for example, often trump its commitment to democracy. Its quest for a secure business environment for its ubiquitous multinationals leads it to neglect the human rights and human welfare issues that mark its idealistic rhetoric.

                        Democracy and social justice cannot be sometime principles, trumped by some transient economic interest whenever they are found to be inconvenient. Either we stand by the principle of popular election and resist the overthrow of democratically elected individuals and parties we happen to dislike (the Islamic Party in Algeria ten years ago, President Chavez of Venezuela last week), or we surrender our right to be regarded and liked as a friend of democracy and electoral autonomy around the world. Either we support human rights even when such support undermines the autocratic governments we otherwise favor because they support American business interests (China) or they affect enmity to a terrorism that their regimes often have helped incite (Saudi Arabia, Egypt), or we will be regarded as hypocritical allies of tyranny. A very simple way for us to get people to stop hating us is to support in practice the democracy to which we subscribe in theory - or, minimally, to stop opposing and undermining those trying to practice it around the world.

                        3) Humiliation: there are myriad issues of economic injustice (the widening gap between rich and poor in global markets), exclusion (much of Africa is off the map when it comes to world trade) and exploitation (WTO and IMF policies often seem to privilege investors at the expense of local social agendas) that spur anger and resentment. But for many around the world who hope to participate in America's bounty, poverty has been more an engine of striving than a cause of resentment (India and Bangladesh for example). It is not America's wealth and power per se that excite fury but the humiliation which the arrogant deployment of those resources has sometimes inflicted. In the Muslim world, humiliation has become a way of life, associated with a long history of Western arrogance that goes all the way back to the Crusades. In modern times, it can be traced from the failure of Britain and its allies to live up to their pledge to give their Arab partners in the World War I campaign against the Ottomans the independence promised them after the war. It continues right down to the rejection by France and others of the Islamic victory in the 1992 Algerian elections and to the recent rhetoric of a clash of civilizations (Samuel Huntington) in which Islam plays the heavy. Oddly, words and symbolic politics can be more humiliating than deeds. Calling Sharon "a man of peace" at a moment when his forces have been dismantling the Palestinian Authority's civic infrastructure and (inadvertently but decisively) killing civilians on its way to trying to root out terrorists may be more incendiary than Israel's self-defense actions themselves. Tolerating the incarceration and humiliation of Arafat may be more infuriating to Palestinians than condemning the suicide bombers or suggesting that he condones terrorism. Like liberty, dignity is often prized above life - something the American heirs of Patrick Henry ought to understand. The suicide bombers - call them martyrs or call them terrorists - speak consistently of humiliation as a driving force in their rage against not just Israel but America. It does not condone terrorism to understand that we must address humiliation. In World War One, Germany was humiliated: the Nazis and World War II followed. After World War II, Germany was rebuilt economically and politically. A democratic Europe ensued.

                        4) Homogenization. The people of the third world, among them, the people of Islam, have two great fears: the first is that their children will be excluded from modernity -- left out of the new global network of trade and goods and cultural commodities that define modern prosperity and create the conditions for democracy; the second is that their children will be included in modernity, corrupted by the very prosperity of which they dream. Ambivalence runs deep here. For economic success in America's terms may buy opportunity and prosperity at the cost of indigenous moral, cultural and religious values. Liberation from want can become slavery to the materialism that makes liberation possible. The hunger for profit can undo the hunger for meaning. Exchanging the dogmatism of a monolithic theocracy for the dogmatism of a monolithic consumerism may not impress everyone as progress. There must be more to choose from than reactionary mullahs or ubiquitous malls.

                        One McDonalds in a third world society may introduce cuisinary diversity and a dozen may mean new economic opportunity, but a thousand will begin to feel like radical homogenization and the extinction of all cultural differences. American films and television programs enrich the global entertainment fare - until there are only American films and television programs around the globe. When does a fair market share become a cultural monopoly that diminishes rather than increases diversity? When do aggressively marketed materialist commodities inflected with sex and violence (commodified values) imperil religious and cultural values? Check out the multiplex, the internet and the mall, and you will discover a radical materialist ideology in which profit and hedonism are the chief values and in which private consumer choice masquerades as 'liberty.' You will find consumers who think that spending their dollars and Euros and yen is the same thing as citizenship. Farewell traditional culture. But farewell, too, democracy.

                        One need not travel abroad to discover this ambivalence. There are two million American fundamentalist Christian families who, appalled by the materialist values purveyed in the private market place that is public schooling, school their kids at home. After all, the theme-park is no less an educator than the mosque, and kids the world over learn values more easily from MTV and multiplex big screens than they do from their teachers and their priests. Hence it should come as no surprise that those who love our culture and our commodities also hate our culture and our commodities. They want to be us and they fear the costs of being us. Their ambivalence is not incoherent, it mirrors our own attitudes towards materialism and our profit obsessed society.

                        The four H's suggest their own remedies. America's global power must be tempered by a commitment to democracy, for democracy means sharing our power and facilitating the empowerment of others. Nor can democracy be served by hypocrisy, which serves to turn potential citizens into cynics and potential friends into enraged adversaries; it requires respect and a reciprocity of recognition that alone can bring an end to humiliation; and since empowerment is the clearest remedy to humiliation - which is but the flaunting of an enemy's powerlessness -- this again means more democracy. It also means diversity and hence a willingness to limit the compass of global materialism by leaving space for civil society, indigenous cultures and traditional religion, for democracy is not a philosophy of consensus but a recipe for pluralism.

                        Finally it ought not to be so hard even for a hyper-powerful America to moderate the rage with which its power will inevitably be greeted by those affected by it. For if we project abroad the appetite for liberty and justice which, along side the appetite for goods and profits, has marked our own history; if we purse on behalf of others the multicultural diversity and inclusion that has been our own civic faith; if we make democracy and justice the keystones of a foreign policy which by definition must then be focused on interdependence and driven by multilateralism, we will to be sure have to share our power. But on the way to doing that we will be allowed to share the heavy responsibilities of leadership and to help others enjoy the blessings of liberty. By joining the world rather than insisting that the world join us, we will benefit the world immeasurably - but benefit America still more.


                        • #13
                          African Americans were appalled but not surprised by the terrorist attack, says author Walter Mosley. They understand the anger of America's enemies, which is why they should be the ones to lead a new movement for peace

                          Sean O'Hagan
                          Sunday August 18, 2002
                          The Observer

                          Walter Mosley, crime writer, essayist, activist and, famously, Bill Clinton's favourite novelist, is holding court in his bright and spacious apartment on West 14th Street in New York. 'Most black people in America were not surprised by 11 September,' he tells me, his defiant tone suggesting that he knows this is not a popular opinion.

                          'I haven't met one black person who was surprised. Like everyone else, they were shocked by the magnitude of it, and appalled by the deaths, but they weren't surprised by the hate and anger that produced it. Black Americans are very aware of the attitude of America towards people who are different, people whose beliefs are different, people of a different colour. We live with that attitude every single day. We know how hated America is.'

                          Walter Mosley is a bear of a man, with soft features, olive skin and a face that, even in repose, has a quizzical look. When he grows animated, his words echo across the room, which is the size of a small football pitch and empty save for the table we are sitting at. I never get around to asking him if he has just moved in or if he simply likes the Zen calm of uncluttered space. You get the feeling that he's not one for small talk. At times, he seems impatient, chippy, but it may just be that his words have trouble keeping up with his tumbling thoughts. He speaks with the zeal of someone who has undergone a political epiphany. Which, in a way, he has.

                          Last year, on 11 September, he, like many New Yorkers, saw a passenger plane slice into a skyscraper. Unlike many Americans, whose immediate response was incredulity, he says he knew instinctively that it was a deliberate act. 'It crossed my mind for a second that the pilot had lost his way. Then it was, "I get it". I mean, those buildings define America. I thought, this is an act born out of rage.' He pauses for a second, perhaps wary, like all American left-wing thinkers, that any deviation from Bush's all-out 'war on terrorism' line will be viewed as unpatriotic. 'It was a terrible thing, a truly terrible thing, and I don't think you'll find many black Americans who would agree with the act, but they were not surprised by it in the way that white America was. That is a crucial, and determining, difference. It tells you a lot about America, and how it sees itself.'

                          It is that 'crucial and determining difference' which underpins Walter Mosley's newly completed book, What Next?, to be published in America early next year. It is a collection of essays whose central theme is that America needs a new peace movement and that the black community should be at the vanguard of that movement.

                          'Because of our history and our experience right here in America, as well as in Africa, we have an understanding of the rage and anger of America's so-called enemies,' he elaborates. 'Black people know that most Arabs and Muslims are good people, that their beliefs are just as valid as Christian beliefs, that they have been at the receiving end of American so-called foreign policy for years. As a people of colour, we know how America treats other people of colour - with suspicion or disdain. What I am saying is that because of our unique position, we should be at the forefront of a new peace movement that starts the process whereby Americans start to see the world, and themselves, differently.'

                          Born Walter Ellis Mosley in east Los Angeles in 1952, he is an only child. He graduated from Hamilton High School in 1970, then drifted into a bohemian life in Santa Cruz, before earning a degree in political science at university in Vermont. Mosley came to writing late, aged 39, after 10 years as a computer programmer, and to fame even later. After marrying Joy Kelman, a dancer and choreographer in 1987, he started writing fiction instead of computer programmes, influenced by Alice Walker's The Color Purple.

                          Now turned 50, he has long led a parallel life as a polemicist: he came of age in the Sixties, witnessing first-hand the 1965 Los Angeles race riots in Watts. As the child of a black father from Louisiana and a Polish Jewish mother, Mosley has always been aware of the problems of belonging that attend the experience of black Americans. Since 11 September, he has been stopped and questioned every time he passes through an airport.

                          'I guess I look vaguely Arabic,' he says, 'but it gives you an even more heightened awareness of the suspicion that Muslims, even American Muslims, feel under at the moment. Many of these people consider themselves patriotic Americans and suddenly it's, "Whoah! America doesn't want us".'

                          In his fiction, too, he has been dealing with issues of belonging and identity, racism and injustice, since his first book, Devil in a Blue Dress, was published in 1990. That book introduced the world to part-time private eye Ezekiel Porterhouse Rawlins, aka 'Easy', a black man who has made some kind of peace with white America, and his sidekick, the amoral, often literally murderous Mouse, who most definitely hasn't. Hate and rage simmer beneath the surface of all seven Easy Rawlins novels: it underpins Mouse's more brutal excesses, as well as the racism and bigotry that Mosley's characters face daily, most often from an LAPD that views every black person as a suspect. If the Easy Rawlins books have a consistent subtext, it is how black Americans have negotiated, and continue to negotiate, a white society that, in the main, is inured to its own prejudice.

                          Since his early novels were publicly endorsed by Bill Clinton during the 1992 presidential campaign, Mosley has occupied a unique position in American letters, being both immensely popular and consistently provocative. His latest novel, Bad Boy Brawly Brown, which he has described as 'my homage to Malcolm X', is set in 1964, but like the other Easy Rawlins narratives, has a hard contemporary edge. Rawlins operates on the streets, filtering the ghetto life around him through a world view that is cynical to the point of world-weary.

                          'I got a review of the new book in the New York Times recently,' he tells me, smiling resignedly, 'and the woman goes, "Why does Easy Rawlins have to be stopped and threatened by two white cops? It's too easy". The next week, a black guy gets hauled in and beaten to a pulp on camera. Y'know, come on. Wake up.

                          'Americans only tend to see blacks who are kind of like them,' he continues. 'There are two Americas, and one is blind to the other. The way most black people live, the daily racism and the suffering, is transparent to white America. They just don't see it, or they choose not to. More importantly, they don't understand how most black people feel, how we live with rage every day, a rage against America.'

                          Mosley once told an interviewer, 'I like the free-floating creative chaos you get from being black', and his ideas come at you thick and fast, often linked by the thinnest threads. Sometimes he sounds impatient with the necessary formality of the interview contract.

                          He insists that he is not a spokesperson for the black community but his essays and interviews suggest otherwise. His novels, on the other hand, veer between an adherence to the conventions of the traditional crime thriller - Raymond Chandler relocated to Fifties black Los Angeles - and an often brutal contemporary realism. Mosley insists he writes from life - 'having a rage inside you is part of being a black American, no question'.

                          How, I ask him, perhaps glibly, does all this square with the notion of a black-led peace movement?

                          He looks at me and shakes his head. 'Maybe you should think about that question. It's important to rage at the injustice and the lies. If someone keeps telling you it's equal, and everyday you see that it isn't, and every day nothing changes, what have you got except your rage? That is not to say that violence is the solution. Violent responses are the absolute last resort. And, as I think my books show, violence is going to tear you down as well.'

                          He pauses for a moment, shifting in his chair as the thoughts run into each other. 'I mean, take 11 September: that was not an act endorsed by God. No matter what these misguided people might believe, that was an act of fanatical craziness. What I believe is that the only way to make sure that sort of atrocity does not happen again is to make sure we don't do it to anyone else.'

                          To this end, Mosley seems to have come to a conclusion roughly similar to Naomi 'No Logo' Klein's, citing the all-powerful sway of corporate America as 'the antithesis of democracy as it is defined in the constitution'. He sees globalisation as colonisation on a grander scale. 'American foreign policy is defined by our international business concerns, and is aimed at the erosion of the sovereignty of the nations we exploit. Put simply, we do not want democracies or unions in Haiti, we want to pay poor Haitians 50 cents an hour to build cheap cars. That's how unfettered capitalism works, that's how America works.'

                          In the American media coverage of 11 September, there has been relatively little media coverage of one particular demographic: the scores of menial workers - cooks, cleaners, catering staff, many of whom were illegal immigrants on breadline wages - who perished in the attacks on the Twin Towers. 'Capitalism,' as Walter Mosley notes, 'looks after its own.' In his last non-fiction book, Working on the Chain Gang: Shaking Off the Dead Hand of History, Mosley writes, 'Our actions, and the actions taken in our name, are not truly ours to govern.' This, one feels, is what motivates his activism, the sense that we have been robbed even of the right to protest. His answer to all this is steeped in the grass-roots activism of his Sixties youth: self-empowerment through education.

                          'We all need to be a part of an effort to understand the world we live in. We need to organise reading groups where people can disseminate the news, not just rely on big media corporations like Time-Warner.' I nod. I agree. Wholeheartedly. The only problem, I say, is that in America, I do not see the will for peace, nor for self-empowerment through self-education. Instead, I see an angry nation rallying behind a gung-ho President as he prepares to invade Iraq. Mosley is undeterred.

                          'I know all this is anathema to many Americans, and I can understand their trauma and confusion right now. But what is the alternative? We are on a precipice here. When people say, "Surely you don't want this to happen to America again?", my answer is, "I don't want it to happen to anyone again". If 11 September has taught us anything, it is that only by working for peace, can we ensure our own peace and safety. And, hey, hasn't Vietnam shown us that you cannot bomb for peace, or invade for peace, or attempt to destroy whole cultures for peace?' Mosley keeps returning to the notion that this reappraisal of what it means to be American must come from, and be steered by, the black community. 'We have traditionally been America's cultural leaders,' he says. 'from Louis Armstrong to Muhammad Ali and Martin Luther King.' It is as if, in the midst of 11 September, he caught a glimpse of a way to resolve the traumas - of race, allegiance, identity, inequality - that have beset America since it declared itself, vauntingly, impossibly, 'the land of the free'. His epiphany has not been clouded by incredulity and recrimination, but has led him down a path both well-worn and, in recent years, untrodden: a Martin Luther King-style mass movement for peace. It is an idea both radical and simple, which, as Mosley understands, is exactly the sort of idea America was founded on, and that Americans instinctively rally round.

                          'When you write about 11 September, you should write about the next 10 years,' he tells me, 'not just about the moment itself.' He is quiet for a moment, then adds: 'You cannot ignore rage. It just does not go away. It only goes away when the causes of that rage are addressed. You do not have to look outside America to see how that is the case.'



                          • #14
                            The nation's most implacable critic of U.S. foreign policy argues that the war is unjust, America is the biggest terrorist
                            state and intellectuals always support official violence.

                            Chomsky: "The terrorist attacks were major atrocities. In scale they may not reach the level of many others, for example, the bombing of the Sudan with no credible pretext, destroying half its pharmaceutical supplies and killing unknown numbers of people (no one knows, because the U.S. blocked an inquiry at the U.N. and no one cares to pursue it)." To many, it seemed Chomsky was shrugging off the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States because our country commits atrocities just as terrible and often worse. To those who consider American power grossly abusive, Chomsky is a voice of reason -- an American activist who reads their newspapers, keeps track of their suffering and never lets his countrymen forget about it. In his 2000 book, "A New Generation Draws the Line," he railed against our policies in East Timor and Israel, and most importantly, our intervention in Kosovo. What brought the U.S. to the battered region of Yugoslavia, Chomsky wrote, was not a humanitarian drive to stop Slobodan Milosevic from ethnically cleansing yet another Muslim population, but in fact the interests of our foreign policy elite. His critics argue that this is typical; the Chomsky position reflexively brands American foreign intervention as self-interested or imperialistic, regardless of what else might be at stake. But Chomsky's remarks after Sept. 11 struck many as beyond the pale, even those accustomed to his relentless style of dissent.

                            Chomsky's latest book, "9-11," is a collection of interviews about the "war on terrorism" -- a characterization of the current conflict he rejects.

                            - In your public comments after Sept. 11, you drew comparisons to our bombing of the Sudan following bin Laden's attacks on overseas American targets. Were you implying that we brought this on ourselves?

                            Of course not. That's idiotic.

                            - That wasn't your intention?

                            Nobody could possibly interpret it that way. [I said] look, this is a horrendous atrocity but unfortunately the toll is not unusual. And that's just a plain fact. I mentioned the toll from one bombing, a minor footnote to U.S. actions -- what was known to be a pharmaceutical plant in Sudan, providing half the supplies of the country. That one bombing, according to the estimates made by the German Embassy in Sudan and Human Rights Watch, probably led to tens of thousands of deaths.

                            I said, look, this is a horrible atrocity but outside of Europe and North America, people understand very well that it's just like a lot of history.

                            I'm kind of simple-minded. I believe in elementary moral truisms -- namely, if something is a crime when it's committed against us, it's a crime when we commit it against others. If there is a simpler moral truism than that, I'd like to hear it. I think it makes sense to remind people of it.

                            - Were you surprised by how people commonly interpreted your statement?

                            No, not at all. I expect the intellectual classes to behave exactly like that. That's their historical role -- to support state violence and defame people who try to bring up moral truisms.

                            - You don't think that your statements downplayed what happened on Sept. 11?

                            By saying that this was a horrendous atrocity committed with wickedness and awesome cruelty, but we should understand that the toll is regrettably not unusual? What's unusual is the direction in which the guns were pointing. I think we should be honest enough to understand that.

                            - You've said repeatedly that the United States is a leading terrorist state. What is your definition of terrorism?

                            My definition of terrorism is taken from the U.S. Code, which seems to me quite adequate. It comes down to the statement that terrorism is the calculated threat or use of violence with the aim of intimidating and provoking fear and damage in order to achieve political, religious, ideological and other goals, typically directed against civilian populations.

                            - Do you distinguish between different kinds of terrorism, and if so, how?

                            There are different kinds. The U.S., of course, did declare a war on terrorism 20 years ago. The Reagan administration came into office announcing that the war on terrorism would be the core of U.S. foreign policy. To quote Reagan and George Schultz, terrorism was condemned as a war carried out by depraved opponents of civilization itself, a return to barbarism in our time, an evil scourge. They were concerned primarily with what they called state-sponsored international terrorism. So the Oklahoma City bombing was terrorism but not state-supported international terrorism.

                            I take terrorism to be just how they define it. By that standard, it's uncontroversial that the United States is a leading terrorist state. In fact, it's the only state that was condemned for international terrorism by the highest bodies: the International Court of Justice in 1986 [for backing Contra forces against Nicaragua] and the supporting resolution of the Security Council which followed shortly after that. The United States vetoed it.

                            - How do you distinguish between what you consider U.S. terrorism and al-Qaida's terrorism on Sept. 11?

                            One is state terrorism and the other is private terrorism.

                            - How do you think both cases should be addressed?

                            Nicaragua dealt with the problem of terrorism in exactly the right way. It followed international law and treaty obligations. It collected evidence, brought the evidence to the highest existing tribunal, the International Court of Justice, and received a verdict -- which of course the U.S. dismissed with contempt. The court called upon the United States to terminate the crime and pay substantial reparations. The U.S. responded by immediately escalating the war; new funding was provided. In fact, the U.S. official orders shifted to more extreme terrorism. The Contra forces were encouraged to attack "soft targets," as they were called, or undefended civilian targets, and avoid combat with the Nicaraguan army.

                            It continued until 1990. Nicaragua followed all the right procedures, but of course, couldn't get anywhere because the U.S. simply did not adhere to it.. In that case, there was no need to carry out a police investigation. The facts were clear.

                            - And al-Qaida?

                            In the case of something like al-Qaida terrorism -- I presume like everyone else that al-Qaida was responsible for Sept. 11, or some network very much like it -- the right approach has been laid out by others. For example, in the current issue of Foreign Affairs, there's an article by the preeminent Anglo-American military historian, Michael Howard, a very conservative figure, who's very supportive of U.S. policy and British policy.

                            I don't agree with a lot of what Howard says about history, but his recommendation seems to make sense. He says that the right way to deal with criminal atrocities like the al-Qaida bombings is careful police work; a criminal investigation carried out by international authorities; the use of internationally sanctioned means, which could include force, to apprehend the criminals; bring the criminals to justice; ensure that they have fair trials and international tribunals. That sounds to me like sound judgement. It's also been proposed by the Vatican and innumerable others. So it's not only my opinion..

                            - Do you think that American force is justified in the case of self-defense?

                            Sure, anybody is entitled to self-defense. That's Article 51 of the U.N. charter. However, it's very hard to find such cases. Nicaragua, for example, was entitled to the use of violence in self-defense. They didn't follow that but they would have been entitled to because they were certainly under attack.

                            Nicaragua's not the only case. All through Latin America, there's sharp condemnation of the criminal atrocities of Sept. 11. But it's qualified by the observation that although these are horrible atrocities, they are not unfamiliar. The Jesuit University in Managua's research journal, Envio, says that yes, [Sept. 11] could be called Armageddon but we're familiar with our own Armageddon. They describe the assault on Nicaragua, which was no small thing. Tens of thousands of people were killed and the country was practically destroyed during the Contra war.

                            - So you don't think our war in Afghanistan is an example of self-defense?

                            Is the United States under an armed attack?

                            - I would think so.

                            Article 51 [of the U.N. charter] is very explicit and I believe it's correct. It says force can be used in self-defense against armed attack. Armed attack has a definition in international law. It means sudden, overwhelming, instantaneous ongoing attack. Nobody believes the U.S. is under armed attack.

                            [Note: After the attacks, NATO allies invoked Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty which states, "An armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all."]

                            If the United States wanted to appeal to Article 51, it could. The United States could easily have obtained Security Council authorization for its use of force in Afghanistan but purposely chose not to. It would have gained authorization [and] Britain would go along reflexively, France would raise no objections, Russia would be enthusiastically in favor of it because Russia is eager to gain U.S. support for its own massive atrocities in Chechnya. China would have gone along for similar reasons -- support for its own atrocities in Western China. So there would have been no veto. But the U.S. preferred not to have authorization, just as the U.S. preferred not to ask for extradition.

                            - What would motivate the U.S. to do this?

                            My speculation is that the U.S. does not want to establish the principle that it has to defer to some higher authority before carrying out the use of violence. It's a very natural position on the part of a powerful state; in fact, I think it's probably close to universal. If a state is powerful enough, it wants to establish the principle that it can act without authorization. In fact, that's official U.S. policy, announced very clearly by Clinton and Madeleine Albright: The U.S. will act multilaterally when possible, unilaterally when deemed necessary.

                            I don't suggest that the United States is different from any other country in this respect. Andorra would do it too, if they could get away with it. But unless you're a powerful state, you can't get away with it.

                            - Why do you think that the attack on Sept. 11 was not an armed attack on our country?

                            First of all, the United States itself does not claim it was an armed attack. It claims it was an act of terrorism, which is not an armed attack. An armed attack is an act of war. So nobody claims that it was an armed attack. But post-Sept. 11 there is no armed attack. The only thing coming close was the anthrax scare but that's apparently domestic.

                            - You have to currently be under attack and you don't think we are?

                            Yes, armed attack is ongoing, overwhelming attack. But my opinion doesn't really matter. If the U.S. believed it was under armed attack, it could go to the Security Council under that principle. The U.S. doesn't want to. The fact of the matter is it's not under armed attack and nobody claims it is.

                            - Is there anything about the Islamic threat -- we've heard so much about their hatred of the West -- that requires our intervention and use of force?

                            I tend to agree with radical rags like the Wall Street Journal on this. Right after the Sept. 11 bombing, to its credit, the Journal was the first and almost the only newspaper -- the Christian Science Monitor did it too -- to have a look at what opinion was really like in the Islamic world. The Journal turned to the people it's concerned with: wealthy Muslims. They had an article -- I think it was called "Moneyed Muslims" -- that evaluated the attitudes of very pro-Western, pro-American elements in the Islamic world: bankers, international lawyers, people who worked for multinational corporations. [The article] asked them what they thought of the United States.

                            They expressed their attitude ... they're very strongly in favor of major U..S. policies -- in fact they're part of them. But they were opposed to the United States because of its systematic opposition to democracy in the Islamic world, its undermining of democratic elements, its support for oppressive, corrupt and brutal regimes. They're strongly opposed to its policy of severely harming the civilian population of Iraq while strengthening Saddam Hussein. And they remember, even if we choose not to, that the United States supported him through the worst atrocities. Of course, they oppose the decisive U.S. support for what has been a harsh and brutal military occupation for 35 years in the Palestinian territories. They oppose all those policies and that's very widespread, not only in the Islamic world but in much of the Third World.

                            Take Latin America. There were international Gallup polls taken after Sept. 11. The question was: Should military force be used when everyone understands that that military force is going to severely harm civilians? Support was not very high, even in Europe. But in Latin America it was particularly low.. The latest figures I've seen come from Envio, the research journal of the Jesuit University in Managua. According to them, figures ranged from a high of 11 percent in Venezuela and Colombia to a low of 2 percent in Mexico. Well, Latin America has experience with U.S. power.

                            - But you don't think that the threat from the extremists in the Islamic world justifies our use of force?

                            The threat is terrible. In fact, the people who the Wall Street Journal was interviewing hate these guys. They're their main enemies. People like Osama bin Laden are aiming at them.

                            - I want to be clear: Are you saying that because we're guilty of abuses against the Islamic world and elsewhere, the use of U.S. force to disable these violent extremists is not justified?

                            I thought Michael Howard's proposal was quite reasonable and that could very well have involved the use of force. If you have criminal atrocities, it is legitimate to use force to apprehend those who are guilty and give them a fair trial. Incidentally, notice that nobody, including you and me, believes that that principle should apply to us. So we're all hopelessly immoral, including me. None of us believes that that principle should have been applied to the people who were condemned by the world court.

                            - You endorse a criminal pursuit of bin Laden and his cohorts -- but why don't you don't believe that the war in Afghanistan is justified in the wake of Sept. 11?

                            The war in Afghanistan targets Afghan civilians, and openly. The British defense minister put it very clearly in a front-page article in the New York Times. He said we are going to attack the Afghans until they finally realize that they better overthrow their government. That's a virtual definition of international terrorism.

                            - Can you give an example of a situation where military force is justified?

                            Force was justified when Japan bombed Pearl Harbor and Germany declared war against us. If you try to think of the last 50 years, have there been military interventions which really did bring massive atrocities to an end? There are actually two cases, both in the 1970s. In 1971, India invaded what was then East Pakistan and put an end to horrendous atrocities. In 1979, Vietnam invaded Cambodia in self-defense and drove out the Khmer Rouge and terminated their atrocities. Why aren't those called humanitarian interventions? Why isn't the 1970s called the decade of humanitarian intervention when there really were two cases that ended massive atrocities? There's a simple reason for that: The interventions were carried out by the wrong parties -- not the United States. And secondly, the U.S. strenuously opposed both of the interventions and punished those who carried them out. If we're honest, we would say yes, there were two humanitarian interventions in the last 50 years.

                            - So you do think that violence can bring peace?

                            Yes, the Second World War brought peace. I was a child, but I did support the war at the time, and in retrospect, still do.

                            - Do you not think that we're under the same sort of threat now?

                            We, under a threat? No, nothing remotely like it. We're under the threat of a criminal conspiracy which ought to be dealt with like a criminal conspiracy, pretty much the way Michael Howard said. We're probably under a bio-terror threat. Whatever the anthrax story was, I don't take it lightly and I think that's a serious threat.

                            - What can or should be done about someone like Saddam Hussein, someone who has access to weapons of mass destruction?

                            Not only weapons of mass destruction but here it's exactly the way Clinton, Bush, Blair and everyone else says. He not only is a monster but his is the only existing country that used weapons of mass destruction, namely chemical warfare, against its own population. All that's missing in that description is three words: with our support.

                            - Does that mean we should not go after him now?

                            Wait a minute. That's not a small point. He carried out a huge a massacre of his own population with our support. The U.S. continued, as did Britain, to support him right through the worst atrocities, turning against him when he disobeyed orders. That doesn't make him less of a monster. But we should tell the truth. We should not conceal those three words which everyone else in the world knows.

                            - What should we say?

                            We should say, "Yeah, we supported him in his worst atrocities; now we don't like him anymore and what should we do about him?" And, yeah, that's a problem. My own feeling, to tell you the truth, is that there was a great opportunity to get rid of Saddam Hussein in March 1991. There was a massive Shiite uprising in the south led by rebelling Iraqi generals. The U.S. had total command of the region at the time. [The Iraqi generals] didn't ask for U.S. support but they asked for access to captured Iraqi equipment and they asked the United States to prevent Saddam from using his air force to attack the rebels. The U.S. refused. It allowed Saddam Hussein to use military helicopters and other forces to crush the rebellion. You can read it in the New York Times. It was more important to maintain stability -- that was the word that was used -- or as the diplomatic correspondent of the New York Times put it, the best of all worlds for the United States would have been for an iron-fisted military junta to seize power and rule in Iraq the way Saddam Hussein did. But since we couldn't get that, we'd have to accept him. That was the main opportunity of getting rid of him. Since then it hasn't been so simple. The forces of resistance were crushed with our help, after the war. Since then, there's a question of whether the Iraqi Democratic opposition forces could mount some means of overthrowing this monster. That's a tricky business. The worst way of doing it is to undermine opposition to him. That's exactly what the sanctions do. Everyone who observed the sanctions has concluded -- including the humanitarian administrators, Dennis Halliday and Hans von Sponeck, who know more about it than anyone else -- that the sanctions have severely harmed the civilian population and strengthened Saddam Hussein.. People under severe sanctions and trying to survive are not going to carry out any action against an armed military force.

                            - Do you think that U.S. foreign policy always narrowly serves our national self-interest?

                            No, I don't think it's national self-interest. That's a term of propaganda. It implies that it's in the interest of the nation. No state acts in the interest of the nation. They usually act in the interest of powerful internal groups that dominate policy. Again, that's a historical truism. I don't think Nazi Germany was acting in the interest of the German people. In the case of the United States, we know who the planners are and where they come from, and yes, I think they usually act in their own interest. It's not very surprising.

                            - Do you think foreign interventions might ever be driven by a mixed bag of motivations?

                            Sure, every atrocity in history, including Hitler's invasions and the Japanese conquests, was a mixed bag. Take Italy's invasion of Ethiopia, look at the rhetoric. They were going to Christianize and uplift the natives and end slavery and bring liberty and freedom to the benighted Africans. Certainly the U.S. State Department believed it; they approved of it. It's always a mixed bag.

                            - Is it your position that we're driven by imperial designs?

                            No more than any other country. It happens that the U.S. is overwhelmingly the most powerful country in the world and has been for 50 years, so of course its reach is far greater. Luxembourg might be driven by the same goals but can't do much about it.


                            • #15
                              Are you above the average for your society? Are you in the top 5% who really make big money? I guess most people will say no. Do you really think that letting the top 5% get away with it actually helps you, in any way?

                              It is quite natural to harbour a dream that you might one day be in that elite, or your children might. It is quite natural because those that are in that 5% WANT you to aspire to it. Aspire to it BUT not achieve it, that is for their children, not yours.

                              I remember a parable about two working class men and their sons watching a Rolls Royce drive past:-

                              The American father says "Look son, one day you will buy one of those for your old dad!"

                              The English father says "Look son, we'll take that off that ******* one day."

                              This story is usually told by people who want you to think like the American. Oh no. Wealth only has meaning in relative terms. The American father is looking forward to the envious looks of his neighbours far more than the comfortable ride. That is not an attitude to aspire to.

                              The American Dream is a fallacy. It is simply not possible for a planet of more than 6,000,000,000 people, growing faster than you can count, to behave in the way that Americans have come to expect. The Earth cannot take the strain. It is not possible for everybody to strive to attain whatever they fancy and the net result be an improved life for everybody.

                              The American Dream is an illusion.

                              Freedom cannot be infinite. If one man can do whatever he wants the result is misery for others, although usually other people far away, unseen, in geographic or social space. The American Dream is that freedom can be infinite, you can attain whatever you want and nobody will have to pay a price for it. In the American Dream everybody can be richer than average and nobody lives in poverty unless they deserve it.

                              It is a nonsense.

                              However it can appear to work for millions of people at a time, and most of the people you meet. The universal richness of the world around you is an illusion. Most of the space in every town is given over to housing the rich, not because there are a lot of them but because they own more land and property. In most shops a large proportion of the space is given over to selling luxury goods. Why? Because there is more choice for the rich. Looking along the range of products gives a strong illusion that most people buy expensive items, the reality is that in virtually every product range the single cheapest items outsell the most expensive 90% of the products on display. This truth is very far from self-evident, it takes you several months to appreciate. In a town nearby there is a showroom selling Aston Martins, Ferraris and Rolls Royces, and another selling Fords, if you just drive or walk past you miss the reality that one sells cars considerably more often than the other.

                              The dream is that everybody can be rich, but the reality is a lot more bitter for the vast majority of people. If you read this page you are rich, richer than the vast majority of people on this planet who cannot afford the technology that you are using. The dream says that through hard work and effort everybody can achieve success, everybody can be rich and famous and happy. The reality is that the world is too small to slake the thirst for wealth of a single person who subscribes to this dream. The dream of wealth is everywhere, not just America. Half the players in any lottery know they will win the jackpot. The dream of wealth is more pervasive in America than other countries because it has more to hide. There has to be a huge series of interlocking myths to account for the barbarity of American history. The reality is genocide, theft and wholesale corruption, using the earth as if it was the personal possession of a single person to be used and abused with no repercussions. America is the land of pioneers. Nobody has a more warped sense of reality than a pioneer. Pioneers have no sense of historical perspective or their part in the bigger picture. For a pioneer the long term is next year.

                              The old wives tale says that it is dangerous to wake a sleep-walker but the world cannot stand by any longer as America walks on asleep to the dangers of population growth, resource depletion and excess consumption against a backdrop of massive and growing inequality.

                              IT IS TIME FOR AMERICA TO AWAKE FROM HER DREAM.