Progressive Calendar 04.22.11
From: David Shove (
Date: Fri, 22 Apr 2011 01:42:47 -0700 (PDT)
              P R O G R E S S I V E   C A L E N D A R   04.22.11

1. Palestine vigil   4.22 4:15pm
2. Climate refugees  4.22 7:30pm

3. CUAPB             4.23 1:30pm
4. Northtown vigil   4.23 2pm
5. Working democracy 4.23 7pm

6. Euthanasia/AM950  4.24 9am
7. Art/action        4.24 12noon
8. Stillwater vigil  4.24 1pm
9. Easter recess     4.24

10. Shawn Rohrbach - The time I bought my friend an e-book
11. Noam Chomsky   - Is the world too big to fail?

--------1 of 11--------

From: Eric Angell <eric-angell [at]>
Subject: Palestine vigil 4.22 4:15pm

The weekly vigil for the liberation of Palestine continues at the
intersection of Snelling and Summit Aves in St. Paul. The Friday demo
starts at 4:15 and ends around 5:30. There are usually extra signs

--------2 of 11--------

From: Wanda Ballentine <wsb70 [at]>
Subject: Climate refugees 4.22 7:30pm

Friday, April 22, 2011 7:30 PM
The Minneapolis Center of Light 2548 Pleasant Ave Minneapolis, MN 55404

This Friday we will screen and discuss<>
Climate Refugees, a documentary written and directed by Michael P. Nash,
explores the effects of climate change on our world and its citizens. Who
are climate refugees? They are people who are displaced because of the
changes in their communities due to global warming. These effects are seen
as desertification, increased droughts and rising sea levels, as well as
extreme weather and earth changes like tornadoes, mass flooding,
hurricanes, and record intensity earthquakes. The problem is causing mass
migration of people, border conflicts, and lack of food, water, and
hygienic conditions. The issue of climate refugees is now considered a
national security issue; yet another reason to take climate change

--------3 of 11--------

From: Michelle Gross <mgresist [at]>
Subject: CUAPB 4.23 1:30pm

Meetings: Every Saturday at 1:30 p.m. at Walker Church, 3104 16th Avenue

Communities United Against Police Brutality
3100 16th Avenue S
Minneapolis, MN 55407
Hotline 612-874-STOP (7867)

--------4 of 11--------

From: Vanka485 [at]
Subject: Northtown vigil 4.23 2pm

Peace vigil at Northtown (Old Hwy 10 & University Av), every Saturday

--------5 of 11--------

From: ed
Subject: Working democracy 4.23 7pm

Against capitalism, for socialism, Marx, et al. Roundtable discussion.
How do we get from the bad society we're in, to a much better one?

Mayday bookstore, West Bank, Cedar Av by Washinton Av bridge

--------6 of 11--------

From: Minnesota Atheists <web [at]>
Subject: Euthanasia 4.24 9am

Sunday, April 24, 9:00am-10:00am  Atheists Talk Radio
AM 950 KTNF in the Twin Cities or stream live at

Guest:  Eric MacDonald, Anglican priest turned atheist discusses
Euthanasia and how religions deny even dignity of choosing when to die.
Mike Haubrich ( hosts.
Contact us during the show with questions or comments at (952) 946-6205
or radio [at]

--------7 of 11--------

From: MARS Collective <radspacetc [at]>
Subject: Art/action 4.24 12noon

Sunday, April 24th, 2011 12-5pm
Sisters' Camelot - 2310 Snelling Ave., Minneapolis MN 55404
(between Coastal Seafoods and the LRT trail)

Join the Beehive Design Collective <>, Root
Force <>, and local artists and activists in a day of
discussion and workshops designed to develop and utilize our talents for
creating a better world.

With panelists from various backgrounds including both visual and
performance art, and workshop topics from direct action skills to
bannermaking to street theater, we seek to connect artists with relevant
political struggles and help activists and organizers engage their issues
in creative ways.

Mayday in the Twin Cities will be a perfect opportunity to exercise our
new skills - either in the Powderhorn Park parade and festival, the
International Workers' Day immigrant rights march in St.
Paul<>, or other events - and build
movements that are creative, effective, and inspiring.

Schedule of Events:
Noon-2: Panel discussion: Art that takes action
2-4:30: Workshops include:
   - Stencil, banner and sign making
   - Direct action/creative blockading (with Root Force)
   - Street Theater (with a member of the Unseen Ghost Brigade)
   - Screenprinting 101
   - KIDshop (with a member of the Beehive Collective)
4:30-5: Closing Presentation

Sponsored by the MARS Collective -
Come for all or part of the afternoon - hope to see you there!

--------8 of 11--------

From: scot b <earthmannow [at]>
Subject: Stillwater vigil 4.24 1pm

A weekly Vigil for Peace Every Sunday, at the Stillwater bridge from 1- 2
p.m.  Come after Church or after brunch ! All are invited to join in song
and witness to the human desire for peace in our world. Signs need to be
positive.  Sponsored by the St. Croix Valley Peacemakers.

If you have a United Nations flag or a United States flag please bring it.
Be sure to dress for the weather . For more information go to

For more information you could call 651 275 0247 or 651 999 - 9560

--------9 of 11--------

From: ed
Subject: Easter recess

Easter recess. A weekend of almost no progressive political events except
the constant weekly ones. Meanwhile I doubt the Koch Bros Inc are letting
up their never-ending campaign of by and for evil. One might conclude that
god and his only begotten stone-rolling son are easter recessing in Koch's
camp this weekend.

--------10 of 11--------

The Time I Bought My Friend an E-book
A Very Modern Adventure
by Shawn Rohrbach
Dissident Voice
April 21st, 2011

I bought a print copy of a new novel recommended by my book club. I
remembered my friend had purchased an electronic book reader, so I bought
an electronic copy of the same novel for him, and.

I reminded him that one electronic book selling company two years ago
decided to take a book back from its customers, and without their
permission, it had entered their e-readers and simply taken the book back.
My friend says he is not worried because they swore they would never do
this again, but admitted the technology to do this not only still exists,
but is even better today. I told him my copy is on the large book shelf in
my office at home. If any book seller decides to come and take one of my
copies back, they will answer to my twenty gauge shot gun.

We went to a funky coffee shop to start reading and I spilled coffee on my
copy of the novel and it dirtied the cover. The hot coffee hit my friend.s
leg and he spilled his coffee on his e-reader and it short circuited and

He bought another e-book reader and we went to our book club, each with
our respective copies of the new novel. I dropped my book quite by
accident from a third story balcony during the meeting. I did it for
dramatic effect to make a point about a poorly constructed character. I
went outside and picked it up and it read just fine. My friend had had a
few glasses of book club wine and as I was retrieving my print copy, he
leaned too far over the railing and dropped his from the same height and
we went outside again and picked up the pieces.

He bought another e-book reader. We went on a month long trip into an area
that has no electricity. I brought ten books, and yes their weight was
noticeable. Knowing his battery would probably run down on the e-reader he
bought to replace the other two that were destroyed with coffee and being
dropped, he also bought a portable solar battery charger and it weighed
more than three times the weight of my ten books and cost $700.

Flying back to civilization, I was reading the last few pages of the novel
in preparation for our next book club meeting as the plane prepared to
take off. The steward came and told my friend to turn his e-book reading
device off. And it had to stay off until the captain said he could turn it
on. And he meant business the third time he told my friend to turn it off.
We were delayed on the runway for an hour, and the captain did not allow
electronic devices until we were up into the air.

When we got back to San Diego we were waiting for our luggage and my
friend was proudly reading his copy of the novel as we waited. He enjoyed
the nice compliments from other people and the flirting from the beautiful
young lady at his side. She was really interested in a guy who had one of
those new e-reading things. She paid no attention to me as I read my
dirty, battered copy of the same novel. I had even used one of those
expensive body washes. My friend saw his bag and asked her to hold the
e-book reading device for him and she did, proceeding to disappear into
the crowd with it, along with his two hundred books.

My friend is totally committed to e-books and bought another e-book
reading device. Another friend said he had a copy of a book so great it
would change his life. My friend asked for a copy, and the friend sent one
to him. Unfortunately it was in the wrong format and his e-book reading
device would not display the life changing book. The author had self
published and did not pay to have it formatted for this e-book reading
device. Feeling sorry, I bought my friend a print copy of the book.

I asked my friend if his young boy likes books and he said he did. I
bought him an e-copy of a children.s book and he went home excited to read
the book to his boy. His boy looked at him like he was crazy and went into
his bedroom and brought out a large stack of oversized children.s books
and told him to read from those because they had big pictures.

So committed is my friend to his e-reader he insists on teaching his boy
how to read on it. The boy has taken to it and my friend left his e-reader
at home. After playing in the muddy sand box, and before washing his
hands, the boy opened a book to read and ran his fingers across the screen
to flip through the pages. Seeing the screen was muddy and scratched, the
boy decided to wash it in the bath tub, but my friend came home just in

I packed up two boxes of books I weeded out of my library and drove to the
local public library and left them in the foyer where people donate books,
including the new novel which I had finished and did not much like. My
friend was moved by this and asked the librarian how he could donate
copies of e-books to people. The librarian thanked him for his generous
offer and said she would accept the copies for the library, but she knew
most people who pick through the donated books in the foyer cannot afford
an e-reader and she didn.t know how to even offer the books. Not deterred,
my friend advertised on Craigslist offering copies of his e-books to
people who could not afford to buy them. He got four hundred emails and
spent two days sorting out the ones he thought were legitimate and also
deleting the pornographic pictures people sent to him. I told him to
forward a few of the pictures to me.

Shawn Rohrbach is a writer living and working in San Diego California, and
Baja California, Mexico. You can email him at: shawn.rohrbach [at]

--------11 of 11--------

Is the world too big to fail?
The Contours of Global Order
by Noam Chomsky
Thursday, April 21, 2011 by

The democracy uprising in the Arab world has been a spectacular display of
courage, dedication, and commitment by popular forces - coinciding,
fortuitously, with a remarkable uprising of tens of thousands in support
of working people and democracy in Madison, Wisconsin, and other U.S.
cities. If the trajectories of revolt in Cairo and Madison intersected,
however, they were headed in opposite directions: in Cairo toward gaining
elementary rights denied by the dictatorship, in Madison towards defending
rights that had been won in long and hard struggles and are now under
severe attack.

Each is a microcosm of tendencies in global society, following varied
courses. There are sure to be far-reaching consequences of what is taking
place both in the decaying industrial heartland of the richest and most
powerful country in human history, and in what President Dwight Eisenhower
called "the most strategically important area in the world" - "a
stupendous source of strategic power" and "probably the richest economic
prize in the world in the field of foreign investment," in the words of
the State Department in the 1940s, a prize that the U.S. intended to keep
for itself and its allies in the unfolding New World Order of that day.

Despite all the changes since, there is every reason to suppose that
today's policy-makers basically adhere to the judgment of President
Franklin Delano Roosevelt's influential advisor A.A. Berle that control of
the incomparable energy reserves of the Middle East would yield
"substantial control of the world." And correspondingly, that loss of
control would threaten the project of global dominance that was clearly
articulated during World War II, and that has been sustained in the face
of major changes in world order since that day.

>From the outset of the war in 1939, Washington anticipated that it would
end with the U.S. in a position of overwhelming power. High-level State
Department officials and foreign policy specialists met through the
wartime years to lay out plans for the postwar world. They delineated a
"Grand Area" that the U.S. was to dominate, including the Western
hemisphere, the Far East, and the former British empire, with its Middle
East energy resources. As Russia began to grind down Nazi armies after
Stalingrad, Grand Area goals extended to as much of Eurasia as possible,
at least its economic core in Western Europe. Within the Grand Area, the
U.S. would maintain "unquestioned power," with "military and economic
supremacy," while ensuring the "limitation of any exercise of sovereignty"
by states that might interfere with its global designs. The careful
wartime plans were soon implemented.

It was always recognized that Europe might choose to follow an independent
course. NATO was partially intended to counter this threat. As soon as the
official pretext for NATO dissolved in 1989, NATO was expanded to the East
in violation of verbal pledges to Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. It has
since become a U.S.-run intervention force, with far-ranging scope,
spelled out by NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, who informed
a NATO conference that "NATO troops have to guard pipelines that transport
oil and gas that is directed for the West," and more generally to protect
sea routes used by tankers and other "crucial infrastructure" of the
energy system.

Grand Area doctrines clearly license military intervention at will. That
conclusion was articulated clearly by the Clinton administration, which
declared that the U.S. has the right to use military force to ensure
"uninhibited access to key markets, energy supplies, and strategic
resources," and must maintain huge military forces "forward deployed" in
Europe and Asia "in order to shape people's opinions about us" and "to
shape events that will affect our livelihood and our security."

The same principles governed the invasion of Iraq. As the U.S. failure to
impose its will in Iraq was becoming unmistakable, the actual goals of the
invasion could no longer be concealed behind pretty rhetoric. In November
2007, the White House issued a Declaration of Principles demanding that
U.S. forces must remain indefinitely in Iraq and committing Iraq to
privilege American investors. Two months later, President Bush informed
Congress that he would reject legislation that might limit the permanent
stationing of U.S. Armed Forces in Iraq or "United States control of the
oil resources of Iraq" - demands that the U.S. had to abandon shortly
after in the face of Iraqi resistance.

In Tunisia and Egypt, the recent popular uprisings have won impressive
victories, but as the Carnegie Endowment reported, while names have
changed, the regimes remain: "A change in ruling elites and system of
governance is still a distant goal." The report discusses internal
barriers to democracy, but ignores the external ones, which as always are

The U.S. and its Western allies are sure to do whatever they can to
prevent authentic democracy in the Arab world. To understand why, it is
only necessary to look at the studies of Arab opinion conducted by U.S.
polling agencies. Though barely reported, they are certainly known to
planners. They reveal that by overwhelming majorities, Arabs regard the
U.S. and Israel as the major threats they face: the U.S. is so regarded by
90% of Egyptians, in the region generally by over 75%. Some Arabs regard
Iran as a threat: 10%. Opposition to U.S. policy is so strong that a
majority believes that security would be improved if Iran had nuclear
weapons - in Egypt, 80%. Other figures are similar. If public opinion
were to influence policy, the U.S. not only would not control the region,
but would be expelled from it, along with its allies, undermining
fundamental principles of global dominance.

The Invisible Hand of Power

Support for democracy is the province of ideologists and propagandists. In
the real world, elite dislike of democracy is the norm. The evidence is
overwhelming that democracy is supported insofar as it contributes to
social and economic objectives, a conclusion reluctantly conceded by the
more serious scholarship.

Elite contempt for democracy was revealed dramatically in the reaction to
the WikiLeaks exposures. Those that received most attention, with euphoric
commentary, were cables reporting that Arabs support the U.S. stand on
Iran. The reference was to the ruling dictators. The attitudes of the
public were unmentioned. The guiding principle was articulated clearly by
Carnegie Endowment Middle East specialist Marwan Muasher, formerly a high
official of the Jordanian government: "There is nothing wrong, everything
is under control." In short, if the dictators support us, what else could

The Muasher doctrine is rational and venerable. To mention just one case
that is highly relevant today, in internal discussion in 1958, president
Eisenhower expressed concern about "the campaign of hatred" against us in
the Arab world, not by governments, but by the people. The National
Security Council (NSC) explained that there is a perception in the Arab
world that the U.S. supports dictatorships and blocks democracy and
development so as to ensure control over the resources of the region.
Furthermore, the perception is basically accurate, the NSC concluded, and
that is what we should be doing, relying on the Muasher doctrine. Pentagon
studies conducted after 9/11 confirmed that the same holds today.

It is normal for the victors to consign history to the trash can, and for
victims to take it seriously. Perhaps a few brief observations on this
important matter may be useful. Today is not the first occasion when Egypt
and the U.S. are facing similar problems, and moving in opposite
directions. That was also true in the early nineteenth century.

Economic historians have argued that Egypt was well-placed to undertake
rapid economic development at the same time that the U.S. was. Both had
rich agriculture, including cotton, the fuel of the early industrial
- though unlike Egypt, the U.S. had to develop cotton
production and a work force by conquest, extermination, and slavery, with
consequences that are evident right now in the reservations for the
survivors and the prisons that have rapidly expanded since the Reagan
years to house the superfluous population left by deindustrialization.

One fundamental difference was that the U.S. had gained independence and
was therefore free to ignore the prescriptions of economic theory,
delivered at the time by Adam Smith in terms rather like those preached to
developing societies today. Smith urged the liberated colonies to produce
primary products for export and to import superior British manufactures,
and certainly not to attempt to monopolize crucial goods, particularly
cotton. Any other path, Smith warned, "would retard instead of
accelerating the further increase in the value of their annual produce,
and would obstruct instead of promoting the progress of their country
towards real wealth and greatness."

Having gained their independence, the colonies were free to ignore his
advice and to follow England's course of independent state-guided
development, with high tariffs to protect industry from British exports,
first textiles, later steel and others, and to adopt numerous other
devices to accelerate industrial development. The independent Republic
also sought to gain a monopoly of cotton so as to "place all other nations
at our feet," particularly the British enemy, as the Jacksonian presidents
announced when conquering Texas and half of Mexico.

For Egypt, a comparable course was barred by British power. Lord
Palmerston declared that "no ideas of fairness [toward Egypt] ought to
stand in the way of such great and paramount interests" of Britain as
preserving its economic and political hegemony, expressing his "hate" for
the "ignorant barbarian" Muhammed Ali who dared to seek an independent
course, and deploying Britain's fleet and financial power to terminate
Egypt's quest for independence and economic development.

After World War II, when the U.S. displaced Britain as global hegemon,
Washington adopted the same stand, making it clear that the U.S. would
provide no aid to Egypt unless it adhered to the standard rules for the
weak - which the U.S. continued to violate, imposing high tariffs to bar
Egyptian cotton and causing a debilitating dollar shortage. The usual
interpretation of market principles.

It is small wonder that the "campaign of hatred" against the U.S. that
concerned Eisenhower was based on the recognition that the U.S. supports
dictators and blocks democracy and development, as do its allies.

In Adam Smith's defense, it should be added that he recognized what would
happen if Britain followed the rules of sound economics, now called
"neoliberalism." He warned that if British manufacturers, merchants, and
investors turned abroad, they might profit but England would suffer. But
he felt that they would be guided by a home bias, so as if by an invisible
hand England would be spared the ravages of economic rationality.

The passage is hard to miss. It is the one occurrence of the famous phrase
"invisible hand" in The Wealth of Nations. The other leading founder of
classical economics, David Ricardo, drew similar conclusions, hoping that
home bias would lead men of property to "be satisfied with the low rate of
profits in their own country, rather than seek a more advantageous
employment for their wealth in foreign nations," feelings that, he added,
"I should be sorry to see weakened." Their predictions aside, the
instincts of the classical economists were sound.

The Iranian and Chinese "Threats"

The democracy uprising in the Arab world is sometimes compared to Eastern
Europe in 1989, but on dubious grounds. In 1989, the democracy uprising
was tolerated by the Russians, and supported by western power in accord
with standard doctrine: it plainly conformed to economic and strategic
objectives, and was therefore a noble achievement, greatly honored, unlike
the struggles at the same time "to defend the people's fundamental human
rights" in Central America, in the words of the assassinated Archbishop of
El Salvador, one of the hundreds of thousands of victims of the military
forces armed and trained by Washington. There was no Gorbachev in the West
throughout these horrendous years, and there is none today. And Western
power remains hostile to democracy in the Arab world for good reasons.

Grand Area doctrines continue to apply to contemporary crises and
confrontations. In Western policy-making circles and political commentary
the Iranian threat is considered to pose the greatest danger to world
order and hence must be the primary focus of U.S. foreign policy, with
Europe trailing along politely.

What exactly is the Iranian threat? An authoritative answer is provided by
the Pentagon and U.S. intelligence. Reporting on global security last
year, they make it clear that the threat is not military. Iran's military
spending is "relatively low compared to the rest of the region," they
conclude. Its military doctrine is strictly "defensive, designed to slow
an invasion and force a diplomatic solution to hostilities." Iran has only
"a limited capability to project force beyond its borders." With regard to
the nuclear option, "Iran's nuclear program and its willingness to keep
open the possibility of developing nuclear weapons is a central part of
its deterrent strategy." All quotes.

The brutal clerical regime is doubtless a threat to its own people, though
it hardly outranks U.S. allies in that regard. But the threat lies
elsewhere, and is ominous indeed. One element is Iran's potential
deterrent capacity, an illegitimate exercise of sovereignty that might
interfere with U.S. freedom of action in the region. It is glaringly
obvious why Iran would seek a deterrent capacity; a look at the military
bases and nuclear forces in the region suffices to explain.

Seven years ago, Israeli military historian Martin van Creveld wrote that
"The world has witnessed how the United States attacked Iraq for, as it
turned out, no reason at all. Had the Iranians not tried to build nuclear
weapons, they would be crazy," particularly when they are under constant
threat of attack in violation of the UN Charter. Whether they are doing so
remains an open question, but perhaps so.

But Iran's threat goes beyond deterrence. It is also seeking to expand its
influence in neighboring countries, the Pentagon and U.S. intelligence
emphasize, and in this way to "destabilize" the region (in the technical
terms of foreign policy discourse). The U.S. invasion and military
occupation of Iran's neighbors is "stabilization." Iran's efforts to
extend its influence to them are "destabilization," hence plainly

Such usage is routine. Thus the prominent foreign policy analyst James
Chace was properly using the term "stability" in its technical sense when
he explained that in order to achieve "stability" in Chile it was
necessary to "destabilize" the country (by overthrowing the elected
government of Salvador Allende and installing the dictatorship of General
Augusto Pinochet). Other concerns about Iran are equally interesting to
explore, but perhaps this is enough to reveal the guiding principles and
their status in imperial culture.  As Franklin Delano Roosevelt's planners
emphasized at the dawn of the contemporary world system, the U.S. cannot
tolerate "any exercise of sovereignty" that interferes with its global

The U.S. and Europe are united in punishing Iran for its threat to
stability, but it is useful to recall how isolated they are. The
nonaligned countries have vigorously supported Iran's right to enrich
uranium. In the region, Arab public opinion even strongly favors Iranian
nuclear weapons. The major regional power, Turkey, voted against the
latest U.S.-initiated sanctions motion in the Security Council, along with
Brazil, the most admired country of the South. Their disobedience led to
sharp censure, not for the first time: Turkey had been bitterly condemned
in 2003 when the government followed the will of 95% of the population and
refused to participate in the invasion of Iraq, thus demonstrating its
weak grasp of democracy, western-style.

After its Security Council misdeed last year, Turkey was warned by Obama's
top diplomat on European affairs, Philip Gordon, that it must "demonstrate
its commitment to partnership with the West." A scholar with the Council
on Foreign Relations asked, "How do we keep the Turks in their lane?" -
following orders like good democrats. Brazil's Lula was admonished in a
New York Times headline that his effort with Turkey to provide a solution
to the uranium enrichment issue outside of the framework of U.S. power was
a "Spot on Brazilian Leader's Legacy." In brief, do what we say, or else.

An interesting sidelight, effectively suppressed, is that the
Iran-Turkey-Brazil deal was approved in advance by Obama, presumably on
the assumption that it would fail, providing an ideological weapon against
Iran. When it succeeded, the approval turned to censure, and Washington
rammed through a Security Council resolution so weak that China readily
signed - and is now chastised for living up to the letter of the
resolution but not Washington's unilateral directives - in the current
issue of Foreign Affairs, for example.

While the U.S. can tolerate Turkish disobedience, though with dismay,
China is harder to ignore. The press warns that "China's investors and
traders are now filling a vacuum in Iran as businesses from many other
nations, especially in Europe, pull out," and in particular, is expanding
its dominant role in Iran's energy industries. Washington is reacting with
a touch of desperation. The State Department warned China that if it wants
to be accepted in the international community - a technical term
referring to the U.S. and whoever happens to agree with it - then it must
not "skirt and evade international responsibilities, [which] are clear":
namely, follow U.S. orders. China is unlikely to be impressed.

There is also much concern about the growing Chinese military threat. A
recent Pentagon study warned that China's military budget is approaching
"one-fifth of what the Pentagon spent to operate and carry out the wars in
Iraq and Afghanistan," a fraction of the U.S. military budget, of course.
China's expansion of military forces might "deny the ability of American
warships to operate in international waters off its coast," the New York
Times added.

Off the coast of China, that is; it has yet to be proposed that the U.S.
should eliminate military forces that deny the Caribbean to Chinese
warships. China's lack of understanding of rules of international civility
is illustrated further by its objections to plans for the advanced
nuclear-powered aircraft carrier George Washington to join naval exercises
a few miles off China's coast, with alleged capacity to strike Beijing.

In contrast, the West understands that such U.S. operations are all
undertaken to defend stability and its own security. The liberal New
Republic expresses its concern that "China sent ten warships through
international waters just off the Japanese island of Okinawa." That is
indeed a provocation - unlike the fact, unmentioned, that Washington has
converted the island into a major military base in defiance of vehement
protests by the people of Okinawa. That is not a provocation, on the
standard principle that we own the world.

Deep-seated imperial doctrine aside, there is good reason for China's
neighbors to be concerned about its growing military and commercial power.
And though Arab opinion supports an Iranian nuclear weapons program, we
certainly should not do so. The foreign policy literature is full of
proposals as to how to counter the threat. One obvious way is rarely
discussed: work to establish a nuclear-weapons-free zone (NWFZ) in the
region. The issue arose (again) at the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT)
conference at United Nations headquarters last May. Egypt, as chair of the
118 nations of the Non-Aligned Movement, called for negotiations on a
Middle East NWFZ, as had been agreed by the West, including the U.S., at
the 1995 review conference on the NPT.

International support is so overwhelming that Obama formally agreed. It is
a fine idea, Washington informed the conference, but not now. Furthermore,
the U.S. made clear that Israel must be exempted: no proposal can call for
Israel's nuclear program to be placed under the auspices of the
International Atomic Energy Agency or for the release of information about
"Israeli nuclear facilities and activities." So much for this method of
dealing with the Iranian nuclear threat.

Privatizing the Planet

While Grand Area doctrine still prevails, the capacity to implement it has
declined. The peak of U.S. power was after World War II, when it had
literally half the world's wealth. But that naturally declined, as other
industrial economies recovered from the devastation of the war and
decolonization took its agonizing course. By the early 1970s, the U.S.
share of global wealth had declined to about 25%, and the industrial world
had become tripolar: North America, Europe, and East Asia (then

There was also a sharp change in the U.S. economy in the 1970s, towards
financialization and export of production. A variety of factors converged
to create a vicious cycle of radical concentration of wealth, primarily in
the top fraction of 1% of the population - mostly CEOs, hedge-fund
managers, and the like. That leads to the concentration of political
power, hence state policies to increase economic concentration: fiscal
policies, rules of corporate governance, deregulation, and much more.
Meanwhile the costs of electoral campaigns skyrocketed, driving the
parties into the pockets of concentrated capital, increasingly financial:
the Republicans reflexively, the Democrats - by now what used to be
moderate Republicans - not far behind.

Elections have become a charade, run by the public relations industry.
After his 2008 victory, Obama won an award from the industry for the best
marketing campaign of the year. Executives were euphoric. In the business
press they explained that they had been marketing candidates like other
commodities since Ronald Reagan, but 2008 was their greatest achievement
and would change the style in corporate boardrooms. The 2012 election is
expected to cost $2 billion, mostly in corporate funding. Small wonder
that Obama is selecting business leaders for top positions. The public is
angry and frustrated, but as long as the Muasher principle prevails, that
doesn't matter.

While wealth and power have narrowly concentrated, for most of the
population real incomes have stagnated and people have been getting by
with increased work hours, debt, and asset inflation, regularly destroyed
by the financial crises that began as the regulatory apparatus was
dismantled starting in the 1980s.

None of this is problematic for the very wealthy, who benefit from a
government insurance policy called "too big to fail." The banks and
investment firms can make risky transactions, with rich rewards, and when
the system inevitably crashes, they can run to the nanny state for a
taxpayer bailout, clutching their copies of Friedrich Hayek and Milton

That has been the regular process since the Reagan years, each crisis more
extreme than the last - for the public population, that is. Right now,
real unemployment is at Depression levels for much of the population,
while Goldman Sachs, one of the main architects of the current crisis, is
richer than ever. It has just quietly announced $17.5 billion in
compensation for last year, with CEO Lloyd Blankfein receiving a $12.6
million bonus while his base salary more than triples.

It wouldn't do to focus attention on such facts as these. Accordingly,
propaganda must seek to blame others, in the past few months, public
sector workers, their fat salaries, exorbitant pensions, and so on: all
fantasy, on the model of Reaganite imagery of black mothers being driven
in their limousines to pick up welfare checks - and other models that
need not be mentioned. We all must tighten our belts; almost all, that is.

Teachers are a particularly good target, as part of the deliberate effort
to destroy the public education system from kindergarten through the
universities by privatization - again, good for the wealthy, but a
disaster for the population, as well as the long-term health of the
economy, but that is one of the externalities that is put to the side
insofar as market principles prevail.

Another fine target, always, is immigrants. That has been true throughout
U.S. history, even more so at times of economic crisis, exacerbated now by
a sense that our country is being taken away from us: the white population
will soon become a minority. One can understand the anger of aggrieved
individuals, but the cruelty of the policy is shocking.

Who are the immigrants targeted? In Eastern Massachusetts, where I live,
many are Mayans fleeing genocide in the Guatemalan highlands carried out
by Reagan's favorite killers. Others are Mexican victims of Clinton's
NAFTA, one of those rare government agreements that managed to harm
working people in all three of the participating countries. As NAFTA was
rammed through Congress over popular objection in 1994, Clinton also
initiated the militarization of the U.S.-Mexican border, previously fairly
open. It was understood that Mexican campesinos cannot compete with highly
subsidized U.S. agribusiness, and that Mexican businesses would not
survive competition with U.S. multinationals, which must be granted
"national treatment" under the mislabeled free trade agreements, a
privilege granted only to corporate persons, not those of flesh and blood.
Not surprisingly, these measures led to a flood of desperate refugees, and
to rising anti-immigrant hysteria by the victims of state-corporate
policies at home.

Much the same appears to be happening in Europe, where racism is probably
more rampant than in the U.S. One can only watch with wonder as Italy
complains about the flow of refugees from Libya, the scene of the first
post-World War I genocide, in the now-liberated East, at the hands of
Italy's Fascist government. Or when France, still today the main protector
of the brutal dictatorships in its former colonies, manages to overlook
its hideous atrocities in Africa, while French President Nicolas Sarkozy
warns grimly of the "flood of immigrants" and Marine Le Pen objects that
he is doing nothing to prevent it. I need not mention Belgium, which may
win the prize for what Adam Smith called "the savage injustice of the

The rise of neo-fascist parties in much of Europe would be a frightening
phenomenon even if we were not to recall what happened on the continent in
the recent past. Just imagine the reaction if Jews were being expelled
from France to misery and oppression, and then witness the non-reaction
when that is happening to Roma, also victims of the Holocaust and Europe's
most brutalized population.

In Hungary, the neo-fascist party Jobbik gained 17% of the vote in
national elections, perhaps unsurprising when three-quarters of the
population feels that they are worse off than under Communist rule. We
might be relieved that in Austria the ultra-right Jrg Haider won only 10%
of the vote in 2008 - were it not for the fact that the new Freedom
Party, outflanking him from the far right, won more than 17%. It is
chilling to recall that, in 1928, the Nazis won less than 3% of the vote
in Germany.

In England the British National Party and the English Defence League, on
the ultra-racist right, are major forces. (What is happening in Holland
you know all too well.) In Germany, Thilo Sarrazin's lament that
immigrants are destroying the country was a runaway best-seller, while
Chancellor Angela Merkel, though condemning the book, declared that
multiculturalism had "utterly failed": the Turks imported to do the dirty
work in Germany are failing to become blond and blue-eyed, true Aryans.

Those with a sense of irony may recall that Benjamin Franklin, one of the
leading figures of the Enlightenment, warned that the newly liberated
colonies should be wary of allowing Germans to immigrate, because they
were too swarthy; Swedes as well. Into the twentieth century, ludicrous
myths of Anglo-Saxon purity were common in the U.S., including among
presidents and other leading figures. Racism in the literary culture has
been a rank obscenity; far worse in practice, needless to say. It is much
easier to eradicate polio than this horrifying plague, which regularly
becomes more virulent in times of economic distress.

I do not want to end without mentioning another externality that is
dismissed in market systems: the fate of the species. Systemic risk in the
financial system can be remedied by the taxpayer, but no one will come to
the rescue if the environment is destroyed. That it must be destroyed is
close to an institutional imperative. Business leaders who are conducting
propaganda campaigns to convince the population that anthropogenic global
warming is a liberal hoax understand full well how grave is the threat,
but they must maximize short-term profit and market share. If they don't,
someone else will.

This vicious cycle could well turn out to be lethal. To see how grave the
danger is, simply have a look at the new Congress in the U.S., propelled
into power by business funding and propaganda. Almost all are climate
deniers. They have already begun to cut funding for measures that might
mitigate environmental catastrophe. Worse, some are true believers; for
example, the new head of a subcommittee on the environment who explained
that global warming cannot be a problem because God promised Noah that
there will not be another flood.

If such things were happening in some small and remote country, we might
laugh. Not when they are happening in the richest and most powerful
country in the world. And before we laugh, we might also bear in mind that
the current economic crisis is traceable in no small measure to the
fanatic faith in such dogmas as the efficient market hypothesis, and in
general to what Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz, 15 years ago, called the
"religion" that markets know best - which prevented the central bank and
the economics profession from taking notice of an $8 trillion housing
bubble that had no basis at all in economic fundamentals, and that
devastated the economy when it burst.

All of this, and much more, can proceed as long as the Muashar doctrine
prevails. As long as the general population is passive, apathetic,
diverted to consumerism or hatred of the vulnerable, then the powerful can
do as they please, and those who survive will be left to contemplate the

This piece is adapted from a talk given in Amsterdam in March.

Copyright 2011 Noam Chomsky
 Noam Chomsky is Institute Professor (retired) at MIT. He is the author of
many books and articles on international affairs and social-political
issues, and a long-time participant in activist movements. His most recent
books include: Failed States, What We Say Goes (with David Barsamian),
Hegemony or Survival, and the Essential Chomsky.


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