Sunday, October 28, 2012

God Hates Labor Unions

At the Reclaiming "America" conference held at City University of New York yesterday, my friend Chip Berlet presented his paper God Hates Labor Unions: Christian Conservative Anti-Collectivism from the Civil War to the Tea Parties. While unable to attend the gathering, I think I can still say something about Chip's thesis.

To wit, anti-collectivism in the United States -- whether mobilized against indigenous communities, labor unions, or socialists -- is rooted in the Christian, white, male privilege that accompanied the founding of the American republic. That privilege -- dependent on slavery, genocide and murderous attacks on organized labor -- in essence derives from the Golden Age of conservatism. Attempting to re-establish the conditions of that privilege by rolling back civil rights and undermining human rights is the primary motivation for mobilizing resentment under the banner of the Tea Party.

While religious racism plays an important part in this mobilization, the misanthropic objective of crushing all attempts to establish strong communities capable of resisting white, Christian tyranny transcends racism; indeed, it is an apocalyptic vision that dooms all humanity.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

A Lawless Society

To be sure, I’m glad PEN and ACLU are fighting the US Government in the Supreme Court over National Security Agency spying on human rights activists, but I suffer no illusions that the NSA or FBI will cease spying on or harassing activists opposed to US domestic and foreign policy. With so much money to be made robbing the US Treasury and bombing other countries for their oil and minerals, the spying will go on, regardless of what the courts say. As the Indignados of Spain remarked, all they tell us are lies.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Communities of Resistance

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Hand of God

While theft of the public treasury is an agenda item Obama and Romney both support, how they would go about achieving that deserves greater attention. Given Romney's running mate Paul Ryan's close ties to the ultra-conservative Koch brothers and the Chilean fascist economist Jose Pinera, the Romney version of creating poverty adds another dimension to neo-liberal, free-market greed. Part of that dimension is the religious-based glee of inflicting punishment on the poor.

As Bruce Wilson reports, Romney's ties to Latin American financiers with links to government-backed death squads might help shed light on the Pinochet style privatization he and Ryan envision. As one of the most brutal of South American dictatorships to emerge under U.S.-backed state terrorism in the 1970s, Pinochet and Pinera, his Secretary of Labor and Social Security, invoked the Chicago School plan that plunged half the Chilean population into poverty, and terrorized everyone but the ruling elite.

While Romney and Ryan may see the hand of God in their vision, others see a brutal and feudal society of rape and ruin. Oddly, that doesn't seem to bother them. 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Lessons Learned

As an associate scholar of the Center for World Indigenous Studies, perhaps I'm too close to the center's chair Rudolph C. Ryser to do his recently published book Indigenous Nations and Modern States justice in a review. That said, I am also familiar enough with Rudy's nearly four decades of work at the forefront of the world indigenous peoples' movement to make a statement about what readers are likely to find between the covers of his treatise.

As the principal architect of the study of Fourth World geopolitics, Rudy has worked alongside such notable indigenous leaders as former National Congress of American Indians president Joe DeLaCruz and National Indian Brotherhood/Assembly of First Nations chief George Manuel. From the establishment of the World Council of Indigenous Peoples to its successor CWIS, Rudy has been a key participant in the development of indigenous human rights around the world, and helped lay the groundwork for related discussions and declarations at the United Nations and regional bodies on all continents.

Having recruited, nurtured and socialized activist scholars he's mentored through the center's various programs, Rudy has facilitated an awareness and commitment among indigenous young people far and wide, and now, the lessons he has learned are available in what promises to be one of the most important indigenous issues publications of all time. His book is available from the publisher in hard cover and e-book, as well as limited edition paperback from the center.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Blind Spots e-book

I just discovered that my 2003 memoir, Blind Spots, is now available as an e-book. Because the original publisher pulled it from their catalogue after receiving a threatening phone call from someone named in the book, I did not expect the first edition to resurface, but it apparently has.

(In response to its removal, immediately following the first press review in 2003, I opted in 2005 to self-publish a second edition elsewhere.)

Admittedly, the memoir would benefit from an index, which it does not include, but it nevertheless describes how the building and real estate industries in Washington state covertly conspired to undermine environmental and treaty protections by funding property rights field agents who organized anti-environmental, anti-Indian vigilantes to intimidate the industries' political opponents. While not, perhaps, an elegant account of the seven-year battle, it is at least accurate and based on eyewitness testimony and evidence collected from public records.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Democracy Doesn't Scale

In readings about indigenous governance, a recurring principle of harmonious social organization is that democracy doesn’t scale. American Indian tribes’ consistent rejection of the plenary power concept in U.S. law is partly based on their view that respectful relations and good governance cannot obtain when power is so distant and concentrated.

While not a new idea to the anti-globalization movement, the fact that American Indian experience with self-governance over long time frames led them to institutionalize limits on scale, as well as establish protocols for confederations and diplomacy that acknowledged this principle, lends a scientific validity to their claim. Given this principle, it is left to us to develop ways and means of transitioning to a more responsible system without neglecting the obligations incurred by the previous one–Indian treaties and Social Security being two primary examples.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Controlling the Narrative

As noted in this article about Indonesian security forces in West Papua, the use of fabricated evidence of terrorism is a strategic plan by federal forces to deny free expression to West Papuan freedom fighters. Similar to the fabrication of evidence against pro-democracy activists in the United States by federal anti-terrorism task forces, the U.S.-funded task forces in Indonesia know that denying essential freedoms is easier when the media narrative is in synch with government propaganda. When building and maintaining a police state, controlling the narrative through chicanery is just part of the job.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Tea Party True Colors

In Abridging the Vote, Devin Burghart and Leonard Zeskind document the concerted efforts within the Tea Party movement to suppress Black and Latino voting in North Carolina. Lest some be inclined to write North Carolina off as an aberration, the special report -- published by the Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights -- notes that the Tea Party affiliate True the Vote is actively organizing to intimidate non-white voters and elections officials in 30 states.

By aggressively challenging the voter registration, identity and eligibility of prospective voters, the Tea Party stormtroopers plan amounts to malicious harassment of a form we haven't seen in the South since the 1960s. Because of this Klan-like plan to make non-white citizens afraid to vote, equal rights in the United States could take a huge step backward--if we let it.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

FBI Witch Hunt

Last week was banned books week, and when I asked our local librarian about the colorful display of banned books with a poster of a librarian in a Che beret, she laughed, and said that was their idea of a hero.

Yesterday, Leah-Lynn Plante was sentenced to prison for refusing to answer questions before a grand jury in Seattle about books she and her anarchist friends read. As part of an FBI witch hunt against environmentalists who espouse a philosophy that we might be better off without government, Plante's incarceration in a federal detention center kind of proves their point.

Rather than listening to me, though, readers should read and listen to Leah-Lynn herself explain her principled stand. For those who wish to support her and other young people abused by the U.S. Department of Justice, links are included in this article.

Sunday, October 07, 2012

Liberal Fascism

In the United States, anarchists -- when they're not chaining themselves to banks -- tend to serve free soup in public parks or hold radical book fairs, but in Europe, they are often more aggressive. As Wrong Kind of Green reports, in France, some international anarchist groups are currently used by government intelligence agencies to, "sow confusion and chaos among the ranks of disaffected youth, inciting them to mindless, violent acts that serve the agenda of an ever-encroaching police state."

As useful idiots, some of these anarchists have even taken to threatening anti-war activists like Jean Bricmont. As perhaps the inevitably logical consequence of the legitimization of so-called humanitarian war -- promoted by government-controlled NGOs like Amnesty International USA -- the anti-democratic violence of some anarchists, duped by this Orwellian noopolitik, has ironically turned them into fascists. While this no doubt serves to vent their youthful indiscretion, it also serves to consolidate the tyrannical powers they ostensibly oppose.

As Wrong Kind of Green notes, "Due to the simple-mindedness of their beliefs and stupidity of their actions, Antifa tend to attract naïve and angry youths who turn up at demonstrations in black hoodies in order to provoke police crackdowns and sabotage any meaningful resistance to the current political order." As NATO, the EU and the US escalate invasions and destabilization campaigns against regimes opposed to the corporate neoliberal agenda worldwide, the use of manipulated resentment to curtail free expression will undoubtedly increase exponentially.

As observed in the article,

It is one of the most egregious propaganda achievements in recent history that those who expose the lies that trick the public into perceiving wars of aggression as humanitarian operations are denounced as “fascists”, while those who bang the drums of war are considered to be “left-wing” and “progressive”. This is the general pattern set by the French media complex and genuine anti-imperialist intellectuals have paid the price by being subjected to a veritable witch hunt for their theoretical heresies.

As Wrong Kind of Green warns, the censorship by the left liberal establishment is the path to a new form of totalitarianism.

As it happens, I wrote about the progressive fascist alliance I perceived in Democratic Party stalwarts four years ago, who at the time were engaged in red-baiting those who pointed out that Obama was a committed warmonger. The fact the attack on journalists who refused to drink the Obama kool-aid was initially conducted by an accolite of a noted anti-fascist blogger made the situation all the more surreal.

Then again, the self-admission by the cult spear-carrier that she considered style more important than substance should have been a clue. As it turns out, using that criteria, Obama was the logical choice.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Lesson in Civic Courage

As reported in the 23 September edition of The Daily World, Quinault Indian Nation -- located on the central coast of Washington state -- is leading the challenge against IRS rules that illegally seek to tax tribal cultural practices of sharing tribal wealth with members in need. Once known as potlatch, sharing as a communal cultural practice, along with singing and dancing, was outlawed by the U.S. Government between the 1880s and 1950s.

Viewed as a key way of destroying indigenous communities in Washington and British Columbia, both Canada and the US sentenced Indian offenders to prison. Now, in the 21st century, the U.S. Treasury Department has again set out to destroy Indian tribes by banning sharing through the coercive method of taxation. While this aggression by the IRS is in clear violation of the U.S. Constitution and international law, Treasury knows full well that taxing tribal wealth is one way of usurping tribal governance on reservations, and thus preventing tribes from taxing corporations that have long ripped them off, extracting resources on reservations without paying a fair share.

As a form of intimidation, this latest exercise of coercion by the IRS has instilled fear in many American Indian tribes; the refusal to be intimidated, demonstrated last week by the Quinault and the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians -- an organization of 52 tribal governments -- is a lesson in civic courage we should all applaud.

Monday, October 01, 2012

Amnesty Coup

Twenty years ago, after CBS 60 Minutes reported on industry-sponsored, government-supported terrorism against environmentalists in the US, one of the industry-financed field agents was quoted in High Country News as saying his job was to decide, "who to threaten, who to bribe."

I was reminded of this candid remark when reading the report at Wrong Kind of Green on the U.S. State Department coup at Amnesty International USA--a hostile takeover that placed former Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Organizations at the State Department, Suzanne Nossel, at the helm. Having been installed as AI USA executive director in January, Nossel has expressed identical views about how to promote US imperial interests. As an experienced advocate for neoliberal coercion to achieve American hegemony, she has taken an aggressive pro-war stance over the last decade, including the US invasion of Iraq and the NATO bombing of Libya. When working as a Hillary wanabe at State, Nossel fought hard at the UN Human Rights Council as an apologist for Zionist crimes against humanity in Palestine.

As a junior achiever of note, Nossel is perhaps not a surprising choice to head the coup at Amnesty; she -- like Condoleeza Rice -- paid her dues as a lackey to the rich and powerful, and is following the game plan they set out for her. What we need to ask in light of the coup is, what purpose will big international NGOs serve when they are all working for government and industry?