Tuesday, January 22, 2013

To Shrink-Wrap Our Brains

Now showing at Wrong Kind of Green is We: A Geopolitical Documentary, a free online video featuring Arundhati Roy recounting the numerous nine elevens that have brought the world crime and chaos through the association of the loyally corrupt. As Arundhati examines a world beyond America, she implores viewers to consider nationalism as a failure of the imagination, and to view globalization as an unaccountable project to shrink-wrap our brains.

Monday, January 21, 2013

PEN America Hypocrisy

When I first joined PEN America ten years ago, I was happy to pay my membership fee to support its work in advancing literature and defending free expression. But over the years, I've become disillusioned with the organization--partly due to its selective human rights agenda, and more recently due to its profound lack of judgment in choosing its new executive director.

As with far too many NGOs, PEN America has elected to wear blinders when it comes to human rights violations by the United States and its militarism projected through institutions like NATO and militarily dependent states like Israel. While I was disheartened by PEN International's former vice president Nadine Gordimer's bias when it came to Israel, the recent choice by PEN America's trustees to install the former U.S. State Department warmonger Suzanne Nossel as its new executive director is the final straw.

As an experienced advocate for neoliberal coercion to achieve American hegemony, Nossel 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 wannabe at State, Nossel fought hard at the UN Human Rights Council as an apologist for Zionist crimes against humanity in Palestine. If this is the best PEN America can do, then they can do without my support.

Monday, January 14, 2013

A Male-Dominated Space

Browse any public library's magazine racks, and you will be inundated with visual images that commodify women. These images for public consumption might be tame compared to pornography, but they send the same message.

While pornography is in theory regulated to exclude minors from ingesting the warped values that degrade women, video games now provide a venue for males of all ages to indulge in virtual abuse of females without the social sanction associated with strip clubs and brothels. In fact, the industry has become a hotbed of misogynistic culture, what media critic Anita Sarkeesian calls bluntly, "a male-dominated space."

In this video, Sarkeesian describes the culture of sexism in the American video gaming industry, and her experience with a cyber mob campaign by participants in this industry to silence her.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

The Narrative Form of Scapegoating

In this video, our friend Chip Berlet examines religious politics, secular values, dominionism and conspiracy theory in America. Included in his enlightening half-hour talk, Berlet recounts the Puritan heritage and the evolution of Christian fundamentalism that became the Christian Right. More importantly, Chip discusses how the toxic ideas of conservative evangelicals spreads throughout US society in the form of conspiracy theories as the narrative form of scapegoating.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Fighting Back

As Beverly Bell reports at Toward Freedom, sometimes we win, but only when we fight back.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Philanthropic Colonization

Writing at Wrong Kind of Green, Michael Barker examines social engineering by the capitalist elite via stolen wealth laundered through private foundations. As Barker notes, for billionaire capitalists like Bill Gates, the state is merely a tool to be harnessed for profit maximization, thus enabling a small power elite to shape global society for their own ends.

Perhaps most telling, says Barker, are the covert, anti-democratic campaigns funded by corporations like Gates' Microsoft aimed at protecting itself from anti-trust actions brought by the U.S. Government. By manipulating media and spying on journalists, Microsoft -- the source of Gates' philanthropic endeavors -- joins foundations like Ford and Rockefeller in undermining democracy worldwide. As these three titans of philanthropy lead the way in promoting genetically modified monoculture, by necessity removing governments and indigenous peoples that get in their way, one has to ask how it is that these plutocrats get away with it.

As Barker notes, the philanthropic colonization of civil society is a clear and present danger to democratic governance, and the first step in countering their insidious influence is for progressive activists to dissociate from their foundations. As Barker admits, creating democratic revenue streams won't be easy, but it is necessary in order to free ourselves from the corrosive social engineering of liberal elites.

Sunday, January 06, 2013

Power Plays

Writing at Wrong Kind of Green, Zig Zag examines the power plays at work within the indigenous uprising in Canada. As Indian Act Chiefs try to leverage the grassroots rebellion into benefits both holistic and opportunistic, the initial organizers -- operating outside established power structures -- argue for allowing the movement to flourish independently of mainstream protocols. As Zig Zag notes, the dependency of the Indian Act Chiefs on Ottawa limits their strategies precisely at a time when organizational capacities need to grow. While the dramatic acts and supportive words of some of the Chiefs has played a beneficial role, the Chiefs need to reassess their roles as managers of policy set by Ottawa, including allowing new leadership to emerge out of the social movement itself. As the source of vitality and inspiration critical to the uprising's success, limiting their imagination to fine-tuning colonialism just doesn't cut it.