"...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

Dec 7, 2010

Who We Owe

"Manning, a former army intelligence analyst in Iraq, faces up to 52 years in prison. He is currently being held in solitary confinement at a military base in Quantico, Virginia, where he is not allowed to see his parents or other outside visitors."

Source. (h/t WiC)

As I've stated elsewhere, I'm of mixed opinion about the efficacy of the Wikileaks data dumps. Al, Mr. Smith and Ethan have shown why the mixed opinion ought to be mixed, and how to temper an existential doubt with a modest appreciation for modest snubs to power - but the universe has never given me any reason to abandon cynicism (modern and ancient meanings, both) and I'm not about to start now.

All the same, I am a big fan of disobedience, for its own sake. It's a damned good habit, a human one, a necessary one. Get enough sleep, love lightly, eat well, play for joy, breathe deeply, do the job and leave it done, keep your promises, make few of them to start with, stay loyal to friends. Punch a motherfucker if he's got it coming. Raise your kids like they're going to outlive you and then hurt anyone who tries to get in the way of that.

Disobey anyone who wants to live your life, or tell you how to live it.

And defend those who make the choices which give you space to be your own person, on as many terms as you can make and keep.

Bradley Manning has done that. I can place my cynicism in limbo and type those words out with heart.

Bradly fucking Manning has done that for all of us, especially the ungrateful bastards who will lock him up or kill him if they can. They'll never know it, but he has offset the evil that they do, if only for a moment. A moment we owe him, in our memory.

And I don't care about his motives. As Richard spotlights, an act can be anarchistic and anti-power, even if the person does not claim the identity of anarchist. The act and its consequences have a distinction which separates them, especially as time leaves its impact on memory, from motive.

I don't care if the worst possible narrative about Bradley Manning proves true - that's he's a vengeful, resent consumed little twit. I sincerely doubt it, but it does not matter.

It does not matter.

I guess should tell you why, eh?

Because Bradley Manning may very well have given his life - and at least his liberty - to add a significant chapter to the Long Memory - our memory, our class history.

As an old friend I've never meant once said,

 "When I went to high school - that's about as far as I got - reading my US history text book, well, I got the history of the ruling class. I got the history of the generals and the industrialists and the presidents who didn't get caught. How about you? I got the history of the people who owned the wealth of the country, but none of the history of the people that created it. Y'know...so when I went out to get my first job, I went out armed with somebody else's class background. They never gave me any tools to understand or begin to control the condition of my labor. And that was deliberate, w'n'nt it? Huh. They didn't want me to know this. That's why this stuff isn't taught in the history books because we're not supposed to know it. You understand that. No...if I want the true history of where I came from as a member of the working class, I had to go to my elders. Many of them their best working years before pensions or social security. Gave their whole lives to the mines, to the wheat harvest, to the logging camps, to the railroad. Got nothin' for it...

...but they lived those lives that can never be lived again, and in the living of them, they gave me a history that is more profound, more beautiful, more passionate and ultimately more useful to me than the best damned history book I ever read...

...The long memory is the most radical idea in the country. It is the loss of that long memory which deprives our people of that connective flow of thoughts and events that clarifies our vision, not of where we’re going but where we want to go.”

~ Utah Phillips, The Long Memory, (with Ani DiFranco, and Rosalie Sorrels, combined)

Bradley Manning disobeyed. The act alone has value. A value we would do well to remember. On its own. On its own terms. On our fucking terms.

Very, very powerful people want to kill him for it.

I'm of the opinion that Bradley Manning is someone we owe.

And if we cannot save his life - and I think every possible effort in that direction, right up to conjuring a particularly nasty and bad ass Robin Hood out of myth and mythopoesis and teaming him up with the Furies, Nemesis and the human embodiment of every trickster god or goddess we've ever dreamed up, to break him free and break the heads of his captors - we had better goddamned remember him.

Because Bradley Manning is who we owe.


In that spirit (a reprise):


C-Nihilist said...

though it is beside the point of the post, we might also acknowledge that solitary confinement, extreme isolation, is psychological torture. Manning's mind is already being broken.

Jack Crow said...

I think it's directly on point, Montag. Thank you.

Ethan said...

I hadn't heard about the solitary confinement yet, jesus.

Thanks for writing this, Jack, it's extremely true.

Jack Crow said...


You're the one who really got me thinking about this in a way which allowed me to suspend my suspiciousness and cynicism - so credit where it is due.

And it is due.



Randal Graves said...

As the young people say, word.

davidly said...


zencomix said...

I learned a lot of history listening to Utah Phillips on the radio, but I hadn't heard that one yet. Thanks!

E7 said...

I hope he dies a painful death

Jack Crow said...

davidly, Randall, zencomix -

A pleasure.


You are not entitled to your opinion. It's yours. You can express it in any manner you wish. I'm not going to delete it - but your unstated sense of entitlement is noted, and rejected.

Fuck you.

E7 said...

What can I say, treason's a bitch. Your displeasure fills me with Christmas cheer.

Jack Crow said...


Thank you for the second demonstration of the above mentioned entitlement, such that you appropriate all the might of the state, and of power, into your own judgments, and declare an act treason - using words as magical devices to alter your perception - in order to slate your (likely temperamental and conditioned) bloodlust.

I assume e7 indicates rank, perhaps as a specialist sergeant?

If so, color me unsurprised, hero.

I type this without displeasure - fuck you, clown.

Landru said...

I tried to weigh in earlier, and I think I flubbed it. If this ends up being duplicative (and other comments have succeeded, so I think I flubbed), I apologize.

I don't agree with E7's sentiment about a painful death. But I don't disagree about what underlies it. Bradley Manning is a member of the military. I know nothing about his guilt or culpability, but if, in fact, he leaked, he did a crime and is rightly subject to the military justice system, such as it is. I'm not interested in the relative semantics (treason v. espionage v. bad kitty), but if he leaked, he did a crime. In either event, Bradley Manning is no more a hero than a soldier celebrated for killing a boatload of brown people.

Here's the interesting bit:

do the job and leave it done, keep your promises...

Disobey anyone who wants to live your life, or tell you how to live it.

Tough prescription for someone who chooses to join the military.

As always, I admire the sentiment about punching a motherfucker. I think we simply disagree on whether anyone, in this instance, has it coming.

E7's handle is, in effect, initials. You guessed entirely, comically wrong in every respect. In a perfectly related development, I guessed entirely wrong about his stand on this when the issue first came up over at bDr's joint. But with respect, I submit that you've got E7 wrong. As his brother likes to point out, we're all complicit in our own way.

None of which disentitles you to your sentiments, of course.

Jack Crow said...


I enjoy being tragically, comically wrong. I have kids who need to be reminded, regularly, that I'm capable of all manner of error.

That said, I can't rustle about any sympathy for the bloodlust, or for the argument that Manning deserves punishment just because at one point in his life he agreed to an unfair and damaging contractual relationship which depends entirely on his complicity in murder.

The prior agreement is not universally or unbreakable binding - and anyone who argues that a man should die because he violates a contract which rests upon duress and murder deserves every bit of calumny and venom I can manage.

Especially the venom, since it is a precise requital of evil for evil.



Landru said...

I'm sorry--I didn't mean to give the impression that I disapproved of your venom toward E7. My impression is that all three of us found that, at some level, entertaining, though I don't want to arrogate anyone's right to feel entertained or not. And as I noted, I certainly don't agree that anyone deserves a more particularly horrible death than anyone else.

We'll disagree on the contractual relationship between Manning and the state. I do feel pretty entitled to the opinion that, if he leaked (and especially if the WaPo story that you linked to is true as regards his actively seeking a connection to leak to), he's a pretty serious dumbass.

Jack Crow said...

I guess this is what I get for suspending my cynicism and writing a pre hoc memorial that almost approaches earnestness.

The reduction to entertainment.

On a less serious note, siblings sure can differ. My own (much younger) brothers are (a) a sardonically reactionary Catholic high school history teacher, (b) a closeted pagan war buff, and IT geek for a major internet corporation, and (c) an academic hipster capitalist at a ridiculously exclusive arts and music college, who owns property and a production company in Greater Boston and is about to marry someone (a really sweet girl) who decides who does and does not get into MIT.

Landru said...

Entertainment r good, mmkay? Unlike Landru, it's also not mutually exclusive with serious thought.

It would be erroneous to assume that E7's view on this narrow slice of topic is symmetrical with his overall perspective or his life, in much the same way that it would be erroneous to assume that my view on the propriety of the application of state power is symmetrical with my view on the behavior of individuals within the existing military apparatus. Not that I'm claiming you assumed anything about me.

And that said, let us join hands and celebrate at least a piece of the notion that all families are dysfunctional. Including the joy that is our chosen bloggy family, however loose it may be.

Ask bDr about war buffery sometime. He might have a story to tell you about a friend. Happy Pearl Harbor Day.

Jack Crow said...

Landru, I don't care about e7's symmetry or asymmetry of emotional and philosophical cause and effect.

I care about this: "I hope he dies a painful death."

happy happy to you, anyway

Landru said...

Fair nuff.

Anonymous said...

Thank you.

BDR said...

This discussion is exactly why I support Wikileaks.

almostinfamous said...

for e7, from the other wiki:

To avoid the abuses of the English law (including executions by Henry VIII of those who criticized his repeated marriages), treason was specifically defined in the United States Constitution, the only crime so defined. Article III Section 3 delineates treason as follows:
Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.
The Congress shall have Power to declare the Punishment of Treason, but no Attainder of Treason shall work Corruption of Blood, or Forfeiture except during the Life of the Person attainted.

so from my amateur reading, even granting that Mr manning has committed a 'crime', the charge would probably not be one of 'treason' unless of course they waterboard a confession out of him.