"...it's not the training to be mean but the training to be kind that is used to keep us leashed best." ~ Black Dog Red

"In case you haven't recognized the trend: it proceeds action, dissent, speech." ~ davidly, on how wars get done

"...What sort of meager, unerotic existence must a man live to find himself moved to such ecstatic heights by the mundane sniping of a congressional budget fight. The fate of human existence does not hang in the balance. The gods are not arrayed on either side. Poseiden, earth-shaker, has regrettably set his sights on the poor fishermen of northern Japan and not on Washington, D.C. where his ire might do some good--I can think of no better spot for a little wetland reclamation project, if you know what I mean. The fight is neither revolution nor apocalypse; it is hardly even a fight. A lot of apparatchiks are moving a lot of phony numbers with more zeros than a century of soccer scores around, weaving a brittle chrysalis around a gross worm that, some time hence, will emerge, untransformed, still a worm." ~ IOZ

Apr 8, 2010

Not Courting At Versaille...

...Kevin Carson answers Sara Robinson with the definitive response:

"...I think the term Robinson’s actually looking for is 'seditious libel':  language that tends to defame, discredit, criticize, impugn, embarrass, challenge, or question the government, its policies, or its officials.  And that’s clearly the kind of language, coming from the Right, that Robinson treats as seditious in spirit.  In this, she puts herself in good company with previous enemies of sedition:  blue-nose, powdered-wig conservatives like John Adams, and the know-nothing Legionnaires and Red Squads who rounded up Wobblies and Socialists during the War Hysteria under Woodrow Wilson.  In both cases, they were guilty of calling into question the legitimacy of the state, using language that called it into disrepute, undermining the moral authority needed to carry out its policies, and in some cases directly impeding the execution of those policies....

...The problem with Robinson’s standard of seditious libel is, it hits me way too close to where I live on the Left.  See, I constantly engage–and the people I admire most on the Left have engaged–in casting doubt on the legitimacy and moral authority of the state.

For example:  if you read the books by William Blum and Noam Chomsky on the history of U.S.  foreign policy, it becomes pretty clear that the atrocities and crimes against humanity weren’t just 'mistakes' or 'excesses' that sometimes occurred in the execution of a policy whose primary goal was to promote peace and human freedom; the aims of the policies themselves were crimes against humanity.  The foreign policies of the U.S. government, throughout the 20th century and right up to today, were the policies of a class state–a state serving as executive committee of the corporate ruling class.  The wars of the U.S. government have all been fought in the primary interest of a corporate system of world order.  As Howard Zinn put it:  'there has always been, and is today, a profound conflict of interest between the government and the people of the United States.' 

Now if that doesn’t qualify as undermining the moral authority of the U.S. government, calling its legitimacy into question, I don’t know what does.

When Maj. Gen. Smedley Butler, USMC, ret., said he’d been a high-class muscle man, a racketeer, a global enforcer for American corporate interests, either he met Robinson’s standard for the 'moral equivalent of sedition,' or no one does.

And speaking of Zinn, his People’s History of the United States is packed from beginning to end with examples of how the U.S.  government has functioned, not as an instrument for 'all of us working together,'  not as an instrument of the 'national interest'  or  'general welfare,'  but as a class state whose main purpose has been to enable the people who own the country to feed off of those who live and work in it.

Glen Greenwald, writing of the recent video on WikiLeaks of American troops gleefully slaughtering civilians in Iraq, pointed out that the slaugher was 'not an aberration':  'it’s par for the course, standard operating procedure, what we do in wars, invasions, and occupation.  The only thing that’s rare about the Apache helicopter killings is that we know about it and are seeing what happened on video.'

And as with previous cases, in which 'bad apples' like William Calley or Lynndie England took the fall, the real criminals–the real monsters–are soft-spoken, unassuming men with manicured fingernails, sitting in tastefully appointed offices at the highest levels of power.  I don’t see how one can publicly acknowledge this without falling afoul of Robinson’s standard of seditious libel.

Because the fact of the matter is, the U.S. government has pursued evil ends, has served the desire of wicked men for unearned wealth, and left a monstrous trail of blood and devastation in so doing.  The U.S. government has lied and manipulated the American people into  war after war to meet manufactured foreign 'threats,' when the real 'threat' it had in mind was the threat to global corporate power.  It has overthrown democratically elected governments whose main crime was land reform.  It has backed military coups and military torturers, including the domino chain of coups Kissinger instigated in South America, and provided fraternal aid to terrorist death squads, with the blood of millions of innocent people on the hands of every American president since at least the mid-20th century.

When the U.S.  government acts on the side of wickedness, I cheerfully admit to being on the side of those who obstruct and thwart the execution of its criminal policies.  When the Wobblies organized West Coast longshoremen to obstruct the shipping of materiel  to Iraq, I cheered them on.  And if either Bush or Obama had launched a military attack on Iran or Venezuela, I’d have wished for Sunburn missiles to sink every carrier group involved to the bottom  of the ocean.

That’s the problem:  I don’t know of any standard of seditious libel, of undermining the legitimacy and moral authority of the United States government, that wouldn’t catch me, Chomsky, Zinn and Greenwald in the net, along with all those right-wingers.

We live under a class state, a system of class rule, and the machinery of the corporate state serves the interests of that class rule.  'Moderates' and 'centrists,' by definition, are those who accept that system as fundamentally legitimate in all its essentials, and just want to tinker around the edges of corporate rule without altering its fundamental nature.

I refuse to accept it as legitimate, or to play nice within the lines of acceptable discourse that Robinson draws.

If this be sedition, then make the most of it."

h/t Corrente for "Versailles" 


Let's recap:

1. Professional liberals, access journalists and Democratic Party operatives have no problem labeling a wide swath of the population, even members of their own veal pens, "extremist."

2. Prominent moderate, liberal and centrist courtiers have no interest in identifying abuses of power under Obama. As was the case for Republican partisans under Bush, and professional liberals before him under Clinton.

3. These folks do have a vested interest in conflating opposition to their power and/or access with "sedition" or "domestic terrorism," especially if petit bourgeois small holders and alienated wage laborers prefer right wing myths of national glory to sedately liberal ones.

4. President Barack Obama has publicly announced that he can kill American citizens on his own say so, so long as the intended victim's name is first entered into a list over which he has final approval (leaving alone, for now, the long standing policy of murdering brown people for even less).

5. Professional liberals of the courtier class are notoriously silent on the subject of Barack's lurch towards the Unified Executive, never mind  the merely unitary one. Benighted by our ignorance, they've taken the time to remind us instead that electioneering will get us Mo'betta Democrats, a bright shining recovery and, oh yah, there are really scary ne'er do wells raising a hoot for Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann.

6. They are, let us repeat, willing to remain silent about fiat executions but they cannot shut up about Sarah Palin's Alaskan PoMo Roadshow.

7. As has been the case with pollution control, health insurance and care reform, escalation in Afghanistan, the ending of rendition and torture, the closing of Gitmo, Israeli war crimes, continued occupation of Iraq, bailouts of Commons destroying banks - we can count on the The Courtiers to justify what Imperial Barack has done, so long as Barack is the one doing it.

So, do you think they'd come to our defense if we got labeled "domestic extremists"?

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