"...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

Mar 22, 2011

As Long As the Victims Ask For It

What's with the vogue and ill-thought argument that, as long as some Libyans want the US to drop bombs, it's good or okay for a vulgar death state to do exactly that? Do the people making this argument not fucking understand that the imperial death state does things only towards and for its own ends, and in a way which guarantees a maximum of damage and injury to those whom it purports to protect?

Were Vietnam, Grenada, the Falklands, Iraq One, the Iraqi No Fly Zone, Belgrade, Kosovo, Somalia, the Sudan, Eritrea, Pakistan, Yemen, Iraq Two, Angola, Gaza, the West Bank, Syria, Bahrain, Lebanon, Iran, Cambodia, Laos, Panama, Haiti, Guatemala, Colombia or Paraguay not good enough examples of bad intent for you?

You utterly fucking misunderstand the import of Saddam Hussein? Or Qadaffi in the Eighties?

Or Milosevic?

You think that because some local fuckwit is a bad person and because he does harm to "his own people" that the death state's bombs distinguish between the sort of moral distinctions which are usually only available to comfortably numb residents of the Core?

The people running the show care about (a) their wealth, (b) their power, (c) their ability to protect their wealth, (d) keeping their power, and all of its attendant privileges, (e) securing their wealth and power for their offspring, (f) incarcerating, delegitimizing, injuring, using, demonizing and ultimately discarding those who don't have that wealth and power. Also, killing them, when it suits their purposes.

But, hey, keep arguing that as long as the victims of one thug are asking for help from another thug, that what we should do is "listen." That'll change things. Surely, it will. I see a bright future right around the corner, now. It all makes sense.

PS - Those who rule appreciate the back up, too. I'm sure a few of them even giggle a bit when one of the help goes all house slave and makes their case for them...

PSS - You know those people to whom we're supposed to lend our ears? They're the fucking tribe of the deposed king of Libya. Good job, lefties. Good to see you throw in your moral concern for a bunch of monarchist, traditionalist zealots who'd just love to be client princes for the western extraction corporations.

I'm also sure you'll conveniently forget to parse this shit when it comes to their track record on women...

41 comments:

Charles F. Oxtrot said...

Yessir.

(f) is perhaps the one more people need to heed. Sadly a lot of Americans seek to climb into the lap of power so that they too may wield (a) through (f), but for "nobler" ends.

Arthur Silber has their number, when he tells his readers to not trust anyone who seeks such power over others.

RealityZone said...

Libya is a geopolitical choke point for the West.
This is as much about Afri/Com as it is about anything.
The Neoliberal Interventionists are now at the helm.
If America swallows this war.
Then once again we will deserve everything that we get.

Big Bad Bald Bastard said...

I hate Qadafi as much as anyone (lost a high school friend in the Lockerbie bombing), but I don't think this whole thing has been thought through (worse yet, it probably has been thought through, but once again it's about the petroleum).

It's Iraq redux.

fwoan said...

What ever happen to lefties screaming about the right to self-determination. The left-leaning individuals whom I have seen supporting this parade of death seem to have lost this concept somewhere.

Instead they think we'll hand them their revolution on a platter, ha!

Jack Crow said...

When Marius and Sulla invaded this exact region, so many centuries ago - they arrived as "liberators."

Nothing has changed.

Anyone who expects expeditionary or imperial army, wielded in force by a conquering government, to leave goodness and freedom in its wake is smoking the strong stuff.

*

Charles, RZ, BBB - it's fucking perverse. People who can conjure up a decent critique of patriarchy, government, the Spectacle, George Bush's wars, etc have overnight gone gaga (or, Gaga) for Obama's own version of the "crushed babies in incubators" ploy. And Obama isn't even trying to sell it the way Poppy Bush did. Poppy invested millions in the sell. Barry Pendragon couldn't even be bothered to fly home from Rio. That's how much contempt he and his kind have for the people they rule.

I honestly cannot fathom the naivete of the several arguments (sartwell, bady, JRB, Crooked Timber, TPM, Maddow, BJuice, and it goes on) for toleration or active support of "humanitarian intervention" in Libya. Do these otherwise bright folk not understand how ridiculous their positions are?

Do they actually believe the end result of NATO bombs will be a popular revolution freed up to continue on its course? That it will honor the wishes of people who want to be free? That any amount of listening to them will persuade the "largest purveyor of violence" in history to experience a profound social metanoia, and convert itself overnight into a sainted benefactor?

The moment a country with a bourse capitol sends in its soldiers, you can fucking be sure it ain't in it to make life easier for revolutionaries.

Any persons who think otherwise has got some real thinkwork ahead of them...

Jack Crow said...

fwoan,

I was writing my last reply as you posted yours, but thank you very much for making succinctly a point a made in the key of verbose:

"revolution on a platter"

Charles F. Oxtrot said...

Jack, I think for some people's psyche, the appeal to/pull of anything that might resemble helping someone in distress, that is overwhelming every other consideration.

Friends of mine who think that way express shock or horror that I would suggest staying out of Libyan affairs. It doesn't matter that I ask them "well practically speaking, where are you going to draw the line?" because they don't want to talk about that, they just want to support something.

Same thing happened after Katrina. People were giving hunks of e-money to any cause just to feel like they were doing something, and a lot of money just went to pay some snake's rent on his $3k/month condo, or his $600 monthly nut on his Beemer. They can't be bothered to discern whether something is truly helping others... just call it "humanitarian" and heart strings are pulled, empathies flood over dam walls, etc.

Let's not forget Medea Benjamin stumping for intervention in Afghanistan to "protect women's rights." Nice leadout there, "Medea."

Incidentally, this is why post-war, we're going to have a booming "Green economy" because people will want desperately to do something.

Prius + Obama sticker... Deadhead sticker on a Cadillac.

drip said...

You know Jack, what I really don't get is why does anyone think that they can drop a bomb and only kill bad people. I'm hoping Sartwell has the balls to admit he was wrong, Lady Poverty seems genuinely torn, as for Bady and the rest, well, what do you expect? They actually believe that they know what is best. They have no idea. None.

RealityZone said...

After all is said, done, and revealed.
This will be shown as one more "color revolution" instigated by the West.
Election time is right around the corner.
O can not win on the economy, or Afghanistan.
Their thinking might be that another "humanitarian aid" proxy war might just do it for them.

I remember that incubator story.
It was the Kuwaiti Ambassadors daughter who sold it.

This is Shillary's proxy war.
She fought hard and long for the NFZ.
They did well by getting cover from the Saudi led Arab League.
It was a great head fake.
I am sure we winked and nodded when they said that they would pull out at any time.

Why in the FUCK ARE THE Saudi's still in Bahrain???

Anonymous said...

sartwell, bady, JRB, Crooked Timber, TPM, Maddow, BJuice, and it goes on

surprised to see sartwell and JRB amongst that riff-raff but sadly. . .

Bady is the worst. The most odiously paternalistic privileged white boy always making such a point of how he listens to the darkies, at least when they believe the same shit he does. CAN'T STAND HIM!!!

At least the rest don't pretend.

Anonymous said...

jrb has said so much good stuff...i was shocked at his post.

maybe out there, but the libya onslaught is a "good" distraction from japan as well

JM said...

CFT:
Charlie Davis has worked with Madea too:
http://charliedavis.blogspot.com/2011/03/cut-aid-for-poor-people-not-israel.html

Happy Jack said...

I'd disagree that it's the victims asking for it. More like the potential future rulers doing the pleading. Just like the Iraqi National Congress. How many of them were killed?

Iraq-Allawi. Egypt-Suleiman. Libya-Abd-Al-Jalil/Younis. The US is all about the People Power. That is, the people we back have tasted power in the previous regime.

W. Kasper said...

"I honestly cannot fathom the naivete of the several arguments (sartwell, bady, JRB, Crooked Timber, TPM, Maddow, BJuice, and it goes on) for toleration or active support of "humanitarian intervention" in Libya. Do these otherwise bright folk not understand how ridiculous their positions are?"

- Yes, yes and yes. Do these people think it's fucking Iron Man with his built-in 'bad guy' sensor, or something? Really does seem like a case of too many movies, where the cavalry arrives at the last moment to help the "little guy". Stargate featuring Will Smith as president.

Death toll just fucking doubled overnight - well done, "humanitarian interventionists"! DON'T THEY EVER FUCKING LEARN?

Jack Crow said...

Confession: I'm not comfortable with my own approach. I prefer to assume good intentions, despite my passionate and polemical inclinations.

It's just difficult to reconcile the observable data with the conclusions at which others have arrived.

I'm capable of tremendous error and inconsistency, so there's that. But, I try to avoid lazy or sloppy logic, even especially when I'm excising formal terms from my arguments out of preference for the profane.

And the logic in favor of intervention is just sloppy. It assumes as invariable several conditions which are anything but:

1. That the various capitalist states have an identity with their ruled populations, so that the actions undertaken by the agents of those states can and do represent the individual and collective desires of their subject populations.

2. That an average subject of government, especially one not specifically protected by special clause or function, can assume a royal identity with that government and the greater state it represents, such that the same everyday person uses "we" and "our" to describe the choices and policies of those who act against his or her real interests.

3. That the publicly declared intentions of states and governments (especially those governed by factions in competition for control of dwindling resources in a closed system) have a one to one identity with the actual goals and desired outcomes of those ruling factions.

4. That power which is in every way predatory, punitive, regressive, reactionary, exclusive and elitist - and which derives its authentic motives from ruling class interests - can be trusted to undertake armed or legal conflict for the benefit of the classes of persons whom it must necessarily rule.

Jack Crow said...

Happy Jack,

I was being somewhat facetious with the term "victim," but it still works even understood straight.

Wayne,

I don't know what the thinking is, but I cannot help but believe that it gives hope primacy over observation.

JM,

I'm not sure that Charles Davis is responsible for Ms. Benjamin's personal politics.

I helped to elect a person who contributed a lot of language to the REAL ID act, and used contacts in his staff for the good of my employers. Not every person associated with me and my crimes against good sense and decency is culpable for my formerly mercenary choices.

Anonymous (I'm assuming you're the same poster; if wrong, I apologize):

JRB's position surprised me. It's why I wrote the original. I think I understand his voluntarist and communitarian approach to decision making enough to get a glimpse of his intent, though I lack his apparent faith in fair play and sincerity of the involved parties.

As for bady - I find him clever and often enough amusing, but that's not necessarily an endorsement. Oxtrot and I have big disagreements, for all that we tend towards mutual respect - and I would never refer to Oxtrot as clever. He's far too blunt and forthright to merit that sort of disapprobation.

RZ,

No doubt. And that's sad. Because the people in rebellion for their liberty will be the first to suffer.

drip,

I once had a regular who'd done four straight tours in Iraq. He was a heavy drinker, and we let him tie them on in violation of company policy and state law, because it was so obvious that he was never going to forgive himself for what he'd one. He was older, heading to Iraq the first time when he was already 19 years into a career stretch. His wife left him. His daughter was severely injured while he was in Mosul. He was fucked up over all that he couldn't control - despite the incredible power he had over the lives of others. Life and death power. He could never get his head out of his own way, tied heavily into the belief in the rightness of nation and service, but too knowing and experienced to be able to name a single conflict in which he was killing for peace or justice or freedom or country. He knew the score, which made his faith all the harder to bear.

He would describe counseling kids after their first kill, and bearing his own complicity poorly because he knew he should have been telling them to run as far as they could, and to never ever kill again, but he couldn't get the colony out of his head, either to run himself or to encourage others to do so. So, he lied to them and sent them back to do more evil in the name of an imaginary good.

I can't help but think of him when I read these arguments.

Charles F. Oxtrot said...

Thanks for the kindness, Jack! The respect goes both ways.

Jack Crow said...

It was honestly meant, Charles. And gratefully received.

Jack Crow said...

So here's the thing, eh - John Cole has more defensible position than many noted anti-state, anarchist and leftist opinionmakers:

http://www.balloon-juice.com/2011/03/22/this-is-what-i-hoped-to-avoid/

drip said...

It's blegeristing JC;. it's just blawging. Let's try to persuade. Let's try to make them come to us. Always a pleasure to see a new post from you.

Jack Crow said...

Persuasion is not my strong suit, and by choice, drip. I'm a pugilist out of necessity. I spent too many years persuading people to ignore their own interests. I was a good and profitable boss, drip, because I was exceptionally skilled at preventing people from getting to the point where they "needed" discipline.

But, I'm taking the hint in the spirit you offer it.

And, thank you.

michael- said...

So what would you all have us do? Instead of pointing out the bullies from the rooftop, hit us all up with a few solutions then?

Is it better to let the rebels get crushed and their families punished?

I read a lot of name-calling and big talking and what 'not to do' speeches but not a whole lot of ideas about what 'to do'...

Anyone?

W. Kasper said...

Well, it's funny how the ruling class are oh-so-hands-off when it comes to reducing unemployment, protecting worker's rights, supplying services etc. - but when it comes to blowing up large amounts of people ('good' or 'bad' guys, as if they give a shit) THEY JUST GOTTA DO SOMETHING IN THE NAME OF 'HUMANITY'.

People have short memories - don't we remember the Iraqi 'dissidents' (businessmen scumbags) who were calling for 'regime change' in Iraq, or the similar kind still demanding the US bombs Cuba in the name of 'freedom'.

The way people talk about thislike it's stopping your neighbour beating his wife is just folksy moralising without any political nous. It's all about oil...

Jack Crow said...

michael,

What solutions could we possibly enact, here?

I imagine few of us can afford to kit out an expeditionary force or command the fear and obedience which death dealing sky robots and stealth bombers inspire.

So, what's within our actual purview?

Moral support? Isn't that just more of the same word magic, or as Cole complains, "post hoc pissing contests"?

Are you suggesting, kindly, that it's our responsibility to have a proper attitude? Because that's what we're cultivating here, no? Our attitudes towards the use of bombs by recently colonial powers in formerly colonial fiefs.

What would you have critics do? Ignore who is dropping the bombs, and what for, in the interest of taking a pure line on the aspirations of ill defined and nebulous "Libyans"?

Who are these Libyans to whom we ought to beam our thoughts of solidarity? Are they the monarchists in Benghazi? The Islamists around Sirte? The Qadaffi enforcers persuaded to defect by promise of concession money?

Or the "Libyan People" doing their finest impression of the "Iraqi People" in need of the same old Eurocentric, racist, colonial salvation from their selves?

Are you really asking us to buy into the tired "benighted savages" schtick which has been used since before Victoria sat the throne of empire?

michael- said...

What I’m asking is for us to begin cultivating something approaching a post-critical attitude. We already know the US empire operates based on in its own “national interests”, and we know that such interests are in fact only elite interests, but when do we move from mere criticism to generating ideas for praxis?

To be clear, I’m not asking us to mount our war (or anti-war) horses and swim to Libya, but I wonder if would be more appropriate to apply our righteous contempt and obviously superior moral dispositions to pointing out what ought to be happing, at the individual levels but also at the level of collective organized responses to international events (e.g., Arab revolutions, Japanese disasters, Hurricane Katrina, etc). Or is the solution to retreat into local isolationism and hyper-individualism?

Although I agree with your assessments the vast majority of the time I also strongly feel that there are discussions to be had about what can be done, or what ought we do as a networked force of citizens, or at least what we think the powers that be could possibly do, that would qualify as an appropriate response. Surely to do nothing re: international events is not the only clear choice?

In my opinion we are well past issues of “colonialism” and should eschew categorical thinking that privileges nationalist schemas. I’m interested on what is happening on a species level – and how we can mobilize individual wills and collective force towards healthier outcomes at the same time

Brian M said...

Michael: Myself I would like every person to have a sparkly, colorful pony which they can ride ride ride into the sky.

In the mean time, expressing cathartic rage as the machine in which we are all a part, while "useless" makes sense.

michael- said...

Brian,

I think you unwittingly express my point quite nicely: it's far easier (lazier?) to shit on things than to create something useful. Catharsis is precisely the mechanism with which “the machine” ensures that we remain complacent. All sound no fury.

It seems much easier for you to fantasize about flying ponies than to formulate strategies. Isn’t there a way to move towards something that doesn’t fall on either side of the false poles of utopia and resignation?

michael- said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
michael- said...

I am all for rage, critique and calling out elites for the muthafuckers they are, but I'm also (more and more these days) about looking for solutions, strategies and being part of conversations that 'imagine' worlds where humanism and pragmatism open up healthier horizons for being in the world.

Charles F. Oxtrot said...

I get your point, Michael. I agree with this:

I wonder if would be more appropriate to apply our righteous contempt and obviously superior moral dispositions to pointing out what ought to be happing, at the individual levels but also at the level of collective organized responses to international events (e.g., Arab revolutions, Japanese disasters, Hurricane Katrina, etc). Or is the solution to retreat into local isolationism and hyper-individualism?

I agree with that for sure.

I think even the most passionate of those who seek change must recognize the need to vent.

After which --and I hope we don't spend too much time venting-- we should be drawn toward constructive criticism.

But the venting is a natural part of grieving. It has to happen.

Jack Crow said...

More later, michael, but I simply don't accept your artificial either/or. It's not either come up with something positive, or shut up about things outside of one's control.

You are making the same logical and category error of JRB, especially in assuming that "Libyans" are a complete entity with identifiable interests.

scott said...

I'm all for coming up with constructive strategies, I just don't like being presented with a strawman's set of two choices (righteous killing vs. heartless inaction) in dealing with the problems of other peoples. I don't like violence and think we resort to it way too quickly in order to "do something" about these problems. I want to "do something" too, but I resist being lectured that death is the answer. If Michael and other folks like him want to have a more open-ended discussion, I'm all for that - I'd rather come up with ways to resist, together, than to fight over how noble we are.

michael- said...

Charles,

'venting as grieving' i can understand. i even appreciate that. i vent quite frequently. If i didn't i would cry myself into a coma reflecting on the world we live in.

But what comes after? How do we grow out of venting and towards mobilization?

I use to counsel and facilitate support groups for people who had suffered terrible and tragic losses, and I came to detect a pattern or process that most traumatized people seem to go through when healing: first they get angry, then they grieve, then they reflect, then they accept and then change. Those who don't move through this process get "stuck" and pathologize their experiences into negative patterns of thought and/or behavior. Often those who get stuck, and begin to develop real maladaptive reactions, do so at the grieving stage. They just want to grieve and vent, and vent and grieve. And if they are not assisted in moving forward in the process they eventually suck the life/energy out of the group and distort the healing dynamic. By dwelling on the negatives (the things they can't change) they often became unable to recognize the positives (the things they can change or that are good in their lives) and move forward.

SO what I'm saying is that there is a time for grieving and venting (and we have good reason to do so), but there is also a time for processing and taking what we know and seeking out ways to engage and make changes in our lives and in our political actions/conversations/support.

Again, I always appreciate much of what you say on this blog Charles, and I very nearly agree with all of what Jack writes, but I want to suggest that it might also be productive to sometimes move the strict criticism towards at some kind of discussion of nuance, grey areas, and positive strategies (strategies, in this case, I argue, for perhaps supporting the rebels towards "regime change" in Libya).

I'm just as cynical as anyone about what kind of puppet the US would support afterward, but at least for one moment there would be a chance (a very small opportunity) for Libyan people (rebels) to determine their own fates.

The actual alternative, in this case, would be to let the rebels get overpowered and slaughtered, perhaps resulting in their families getting subsequently abused by an emboldened psychotic dictator.

No perfect or even sane solutions here, but perhaps (just maybe) the lesser of two evils??? I could be wrong.

michael- said...

I don’t think it is about “shutting up” OR “putting up” Jack. That’s not my argument. I think it is about speaking up (which includes venting and criticizing) AND standing up (getting involved, changing ones lifestyle, having solution-focused discussions, etc).

And I don’t think I argued anywhere that “’Libyans’ are a complete entity with identifiable interests”. My original point was a request to look at the situation more complexly, so I am aware that Libyans are a diverse population like any other. When I’m talking about those who support Western intervention I’m talking about the “rebels” – those actually fighting the battles in the streets. In addition, I think there are many people within Libya who also support the rebels. Like all things human and large scale it’s a mixed bag.

But, like I ask above, what was the alternative? Watch as the uprising get crushed and the rebels brutalized? Any sort of military “intervention” in all cases is less than desirable, to put it mildly - but, in this case, what is the alternative? Can you answer that question Jack?

scott said...

I'm less impressed by Michael's arguments. We're back to "unless you support bombing, you're a bad person," and "the lesser of two evils." I don't think Jack has to answer any questions; the people asking for intervention have to answer the questions about why, for what, with what, with whom, and what happens after? From Obama on down, no one has done a very good job answering any of those questions, and since they're the ones inflicting violence as a matter of choice they have an obligation to explain these things. They don't, and their supporters seem to want to play a clever but evasive rhetorical game of "I know you are, but what am I?" to shift the obligation elsewhere. Weak.

Charles F. Oxtrot said...

Perhaps one might ask you, Michael:

What are you doing?

Jack Crow said...

Michael,

We are going to watch, regardless. Whether the US drops bombs or flowers.

That's a fact which those arguing for moral support for intervention refuse to state.

Those bombs will drop whether or not you or I have an opinion about them, the motives of those dropping, or the hopes and fears of people who are allegedly saved by bombs.

What you are asking for, in light of that solemn truth, is no better, and in fact many times worse, than the standard right wing "support the troops" mantra.

Magic thought beams have no power, michael. Our opinions have no weight.

Instead of arguing the correct moral attitude - and if we really, actually care about the victims of power - we could put our bodies into the mix.

You know - disrupt the operation of power at home. I think of that as an actual obligation.

As for worrying what ill defined and curiously opaque "Libyans" might think. They have as much say as you or I. As Richard of American Leftist argues convincingly in another discussion, at another digital locus, there is no inside and outside to this war. Libya is already a capitalist stomping ground. Like the the language of colonialism or not, the poison of it has already been administered.

It's already part of the capitalist demesne. Libya - the artificial national construct created by departing colonial powers, and sought as a prize by arriving neocolonial corporations - belongs to the Western world order.

This is not a humanitarian intervention. It's a police action.

michael- said...

Scott,

I’m glad I’m not trying to impress you then. I don’t know if you have a reading comprehension problem or not, but I never once argued for an “either/or” solution in the case of Libya, or anywhere else for that matter. That’s a binary you are imposing on me.

Rather, I ask an EXPLICITLY open question: “what is the alternative?”, in the hopes that someone, anyone will provide some sort idea as to what we ought to do instead of or beyond military support. Do you have an answer to that question Scott? Or are you simply a troll?

And the question about what to do or not to do is NOT just a question for interventionists – it a question we all must answer if we pretend to have a position on the situation.

Again, it’s easy to criticize Obama from the cheap seats. Arm-chair politics is easy. Put yourself in his position and ask yourself” ‘what would you do?’ Until you have an answer to that question you perspective is superfluous.

michael- said...

Charles,

That’s a fair question. I don't want to give you a self-indulgent list of my accomplishments or projects, but since you asked I can assure you I do practice what I preach: As a younger man I was active in numerous environmental and activist groups and present at several major demonstrations. I also haven’t worked for a “for-profit” organization in 12 years. I have designed and initiated several recognized community-based programs working with the homeless and youth at risk, I was a practicing mental health professional for 10 years, and I currently work as a public health specialist attempting to increase the capacity of education systems to affect human flourishing generally. In addition, I am currently part of a group of people who have developed a new regionally recognized political party that seeks to obviate the need for left/right partisanship by putting forth a policy program that revolves around specific regional interests as opposed to ideological values.

That’s some of what I’m doing.

Charles F. Oxtrot said...

That's a pretty fair list of activities.

Not to diminish them by any means, but a skeptical or cynical person could read that list and ask, "how did each effort actually play out; who was raised up, whose interests succeeded?"

I say this because a lot of people heard Obama was a "community organizer" in poorer communities, and hearing that idea or phrasing or reference point was enough to ensure he was "on their side" because he'd been a "community organizer."

Yet he was serving CIA front interests and corporate business interests, despite doing what he could ...uh, fairly?... call "community organizing." Maybe a soft, broad concept of "community" without specifying "the community of the already-powerful, already-rich, already-influential" as the community whose interests he furthered as an "organizer."

Not saying that's what your experience shows. Just saying, resume lists aren't all that concrete. There's a lot of meritocrats who have impressive resumes. And there's a lot of "public interest" entities and themes whose real interests are not what they seem.

***cough cough Carl Pope/Sierra Club cough cough***

***cough cough MoveOn.org cough cough***

Know what I mean?

This is why the essential point of power, whose power, whose interests is where I always look. Not the sheet metal. The undercarriage, the driveline, the engine.

michael- said...

Agreed. In fact, I completely agree with everything you wrote. Every word.

And I do put my body in the mix here at home Jack. I’m a social activist and I work in the trenches of the human condition every day. That is why I’m asking us to move our critique into a space of discussing alternatives.

At this point, however, I want to clarify my original point:

If we are going to be critics with any amount of sophistication then we better also have in our dossier something approaching an alternative to that which we are criticizing. In other words, instead of just venting or producing noise we critics should attempt to also point out enough practical alternatives (solutions) in order to make our negative declarations credible. If we can’t answer the question re: alternatives we only have a partial perspective on the situation.

I agree that the elites are going to do what they want to do, regardless of what we have to say, but I disagree that there are clear choices to be made, with simple effects to be seen. And if we sit back and content ourselves with being critics they elites will NEVER be forced to care about what we say. If we can offer nothing but noise and arm-chair commentary, why should anyone take what we say seriously? In fact, that is exactly what the power-brokers want us to do: blog until we pas out instead of having really affective conversations or getting off the CPU and actually doing something about the problem.

We don’t know what a post-Gaddafi Libya will look like in terms of political and economic opportunities for the people within its borders, but we do know what would have happened if the U.N would have stayed out of the fray.

We can’t go back and change the history of colonialism or capitalism. We can only move forward. And in this instance, I believe that military intervention a) prevents rebels from getting slaughtered, b) thereby emboldens the people (of various inclinations) to engage their national governments in new ways, and c) unfortunately opens up the social field for corporations and private interests to rush in and exploit should Libyan elites become entangled in current power structures. These facts exist simultaneously.

SO I concede your point about colonialism and capitalism, but also ask you to consider the alternatives moving forward.

And I don’t think (contrary to Scotts interpretation) that my piss poor “solution” is the only one, or close the best one. I’m still waiting for someone here to offer up an alternative one however.

What would you have any of us (including power brokers) do in the case of Libya then Jack? Or the case of Rwanda? Or the case of Darfur? Or the case of Germany 1940s?

Is the question of “intervention” simple in all these cases? Anyone?