|now 454kb [~10% deleted] orig 65kb zog |
The Boycott Begins-November 23rd, 2007.
Happy Holidays. This will be my final message to all of those thousands who have signed up at www.weAreNotBuyingIt.org since last January. Since beginning this project I have been alternately disheartened by the fractured manner in which the 'opposition' has been working to oust the Bush Administration and end the war, and filled with hope by the hundreds upon hundreds of messages and conversations I have had with concerned people around the globe.
I understand now that even if the 'leadership' of our progressive, liberal and libertarian organizations cannot set aside their personal differences and agree on a coordinated set of actions then at the very least the 'membership' is more than ready to take whatever steps are necessary to not only bring Bush and Co. to justice and end this horrific travesty of a war-but to fundamentally reform the economic, political and social systems that have brought us to this point.
We are ready to put our money where our hearts are and to take action every day to erode the base of support for the policies that appall us. We are not doing it by making contributions to non-profits or trying to buy a candidate, we are doing it by drawing down our economic activity to the point where there will be no more 'business as usual'. And it all starts this Friday. Black Friday 2007 marks the beginning of a change in the behavior of what Madison Avenue calls 'consumers' and what we call human beings.
The message has spread and it has taken on a life of its own. In Austin a 70 year old grandmother has made signs saying "Boycott Bush" and is working with her community to stop corporate greed and at the same time support Ron Paul. In Santa Rosa California a group of students and retired people are protesting in front of the local mall, handing out homemade flyers and holding signs promoting an old-fashioned greed free Christmas season:
Subject: Sonoma County "No Buy Day" action - Friday, 11/23
Q: How to Hack the Holidays...? A: It's Festivus for the Rest of Us!
Here's another helpful hint: it's about the spirit, ambiance, and embraces of the season, but it's not about the stuff. Not shopping not only eliminates a big source of stress that makes most people crazy and cranky, it is good for the planet and a good way of removing power from the corporations that are fueling and profiting from the resource wars that are the hallmark of the empire of overconsumption--which is to say that opting out of the shopocalypse is a great way of promoting "peace on Earth."
You know holiday shopping is offensive and wasteful. You know Christmas "wish lists" and "gift exchanges" degrade the concept of giving. You know Christmas marketing is a scam, benefiting manufacturers, stores, and huge corporations, while driving individuals into debt. You know this annual consumer frenzy wreaks havoc on the environment, filling landfills with useless packaging and discarded gifts.
You are not alone. Together, we can RESIST CHRISTMAS!
We are awake, we are communicating and we are taking action by doing with less, doing without and promoting a positive, safe and healthy holiday season. It is wonderful to see the message spreading from mind to mind, group to group. My work here is done. I do wish all of you a wonderful season and would remind you to spread the message far and wide. I have included a number of essays, lectures and articles with this e-mail that you can use freely to promote this action through your e-mail list and social networking contacts.
Visit the website at www.wearenotbuyingit.org for more information and join our completely non-corporate social network at www.wearenotbuyingit.ning.org to share information about how you are working personally to organize in your community.
Thank you for all that you have done and all that you will do in the future-together we can end the war and bring Bush and Co to justice, together we can rebuild America into a force for peace and healing throughout the world.
Happy Holidays & Goodbye
Can you imagine just saying NO?
We all know what the problems are. We all can see that protests and letters, elections and phone calls and every other form of grass roots or net roots activism has so far produced absolutely nothing, in terms of movement towards peace or impeachment.
Yet there is a tool still left that we can use and if we stand firmly together for just a little more than a month we may well be able to bring the system to its knees. Are you ready to try it? Are you prepared to REALLY strike a blow for freedom and aim at the heart of corporate control?
Since early in 2005 I have been constantly in communication with a host of economists, political scientists, psychologists, sociologists and journalists. People who have held high positions within Banking and industry have lent me their ears and offered their advice and insight. Ordinary run of the mill citizens of the world from Biloxi, Canberra, Glascow, Paris, New York and hundreds upon hundreds of communities in between have flooded me with ideas and suggestions about how to not only bring the Administration to justice and end the war, but how to change the very basis of our civilization and pave the way for a new age of peace, prosperity and community for our grandchildren to inherit.
I have had some trepidation in proposing this solution and promoting it as vigorously as I could. In fact it scares me a little the potential we have together to stop the world from turning and to take back the power from those "malefactor of great wealth" who run our corporations and governments. It scares me because there is a little uncertainty in what will fill the place of the devil we know. It scares me because I, like most people, like to know what to expect. I like a sense of certainty and security but am I willing to trade not only freedom but hope for that security? My answer is no. No, because I know that the future, should we lose this fight, is characterized just as Orwell predicted, by the image of a boot stomping on a human face�.forever.
So what do we do?
Do Not Participate!
To paraphrase Einstein you cannot simultaneously change a corrupt system while at the same time perpetuating it. Every time we buy a product or service that profits a corporate shareholder we tighten the chains that bind us to the machine. By striking back through non-participation we weaken those chains and make it more and more difficult for those who hold the reigns of power to maintain their control.
We all know that the Christmas season has come to mean not charity and goodwill towards all humanity, but rather a media fueled corporate feeding frenzy where our good intentions are exploited to make the rich and powerful even richer and more powerful. So this year lets simply observe an Old Fashioned Christmas. Presents may be hand made or purchased used and fixed up. We could spend more money buying locally grown food and having feasts with our family and friends rather than diving into the madness of malls and box stores. Give your time and good intentions to charity. Feed, clothe and house those who are poor and incapable of fending for themselves. Let the kindness and compassion that lies locked within you shine through and build community with neighbors you may have never even said hello to. In everything you do spread the wealth and the benefit to those who truly need it and starve the system in any way you can.
"Did we have an impact in economic terms? The short answer is yes, though the economists and retailers were not aware of our campaign they did become cognizant of the effect. The following news articles illustrate that the professionals were aware of an anomaly in April, though they could only reach for explanations that they expected to account for the drop off in growth during that month. It is impossible to tell with any degree of accuracy how much of the $1.157 Billion in lost anticipated revenue was a result of the boycott, though we do know that for the week of the boycott itself (April 15th-22nd) revenues were down by approximately $740 Million. (all estimates are based on an average of retail sales over the course of the previous quarter at $350 Billion per month). This ripple in the economic waters has caused a bit of speculation in regards to the Federal Reserve's stand on interest rates and other potential moves by regulators and industry to prepare for a loss of consumer confidence.
It is that elusive phrase "consumer confidence" that provides us with the target to aim at when we consider the use of economic force in pursuit of a political or social agenda. We cannot predict with any great accuracy what the domino effect of a truly organized economic resistance would be, but we can say with some certainty that each sector of the financial world would suffer some ill effect and the majority shareholders would feel nervous enough to either change their positions drastically or, if they were aware enough of the link between the economic action and the move for impeachment and peace, encourage their political connections to negotiate and meet our demands. Bear in mind that 2/3 of the economy is based on consumer spending and any effect we have that slows the constant expansion of economic indicators, or better yet reverses that decades long trend even for a short time, will be seen as a serious threat. No matter how you slice it, even if the actual impact of this opening salvo was only half of $740 Million, that represents a significant amount of economic force wielded by only a few people."
By the time the Christmas shopping season arrives we should be able, by working together and spreading the word, to garner a far more significant number of people willing to participate in an Old Fashioned Christmas. Together we may be able to do something marvelous, something magnificent and even magical. Together we may truly be capable of unleashing the power of the true spirit of Christmas across the world. A spirit of love and peace, charity and goodwill that can sweep aside the darkness and fill our hearts and communities with light and joy.
I thank you again for the genuine human compassion that you have shown and for your desire to make a better world for the children of the future. I have included a few graphics and other tools for you to use as you see fit and I have created a public social network where we can all create a home page, share materials and generally touch base as this proposal takes wings and begins to fly. Visit us at www.wearenotbuyingit.ning.com.
A Time for Conscience
We are in a time of extremism, permanent war, and unilateral power managed by a small cabal of people in the US government. These power elites have been in operation for decades and are set on nothing less than the total US military domination of the world.
In October, Congress legalized torture and stripped habeas corpus rights (the right to due process and to challenge your detention) from anyone the President deems to have "materially contributed to hostilities against the United States." This means you or anyone else could be locked up indefinitely without charges and without any legal recourse to secure release.
The UK Lancet medical journal reports that over 650,000 civilian deaths have occurred because of our invasion of Iraq. Over a quarter million of these deaths were the direct results of US aerial bombings. Nearly 3000 American service personnel have died in this war against a country that posed no threat to us. Yet the war goes on with no end in sight. How many more must die, how many more tortured, how many more imprisoned before our moral consciences wither to nothingness?
Of the 80,000 Arabs and Muslim nationals who were required to register after 911, the 8,000 brought in for FBI interviews, and the 5,000 locked up in "preventive detention," none have been convicted of a terrorist crime.
There are words to describe these terrible things: war crimes and tyranny. Yet, like 'Good Germans" we watch in the hope that the country couldn't possibly get any worse.
Many people have been trying to understand why the Democratic Party has been so futile and even worse, complicit, in the face of war crimes and tyranny. The Democrats have been given an unmistakable mandate by the November 2006 elections to get the U.S. out of Iraq and to hold the White House accountable. Yet the Democratic Party leadership continues to speak softly and admonish those who call for impeachment � the people's action for wrongful government.
The Bush White House represents a convergence of two tendencies � radical know-nothing religious zealotry and imperialist empire. The clamping down on the borders, the militarizing of the police and the creation of a spy state, the public-order policies that criminalize the mere presence of groups of youth, minorities, and immigrants and the repression of legitimate forms of political protest are not designed to prevent terrorism. This rapidly evolving police state is designed primarily to both repress and coerce domestic and international populations who would challenge this American Empire.
As we travel and speak on impeachment around the country the most asked question is, "what can we do?" Letter writing, protesting, organizing are all good things. However, we say it is now time for the American people to act with conscience in a larger way. Of the 100 largest economic entities in the world, 51 were transnational corporations. Wal-Mart is larger, in economic terms, than 182 countries. After 9/11 Bush told us that the best thing was to go quietly shopping. We can collectively say no to being quiet by saying no to shopping. We propose that Americans take a holiday break and stop all corporate shopping, delay major purchases, stay out of shopping malls, and avoid national chain stores. People of conscience can send a message to corporate America and Congress to end the war in Iraq and move forward immediately on the impeachment of Bush and Cheney.
The political leadership of this country has not been willing to halt the military predations of Bush and Cheney. We the people must now act in as many ways as possible. As the World Can't Wait people have said: "If not us, who? If not now, when?"
Peter Phillips is a Professor of Sociology at Sonoma State University and director of Project Censored. Dennis Loo is an Associate Professor of Sociology at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. They are co-editors of Impeach the President: The Case Against Bush and Cheney. For more on the National Shopping Boycott see: http://www.wearenotbuyingit.org
Lecture on Refusal, the Transpersonal Dimension of Progressive Action-
9/21/2007 Sonoma County, California
Rev. Lew Brown
So here we are, on the eve of destruction. Once again the human species finds itself divided and in conflict. Not even a basic sense of unity or purpose can be found among the nations of the world. On the grand scale we have the specters of war and famine, disease and untimely death stalking the ancient lands of the Middle East and mother Africa. Ignorance has been passed on from generation to generation and now we once again have billions who have grown up with erroneous assumptions about what it means to be a human being, assumptions taken at face value and codified into moral imperatives that give license to kill at will.
Once again but will it be this way forever? Will our species ever find itself at odds with its place in the natural order? Will the constructs of culture: religion, nationality, race and all of the other labels we are given that identify and diversify us ever dissolve before the light of reason, or be blown away by the warm wind of compassion?
Look. For just once look around you. If you live in the western world, so prideful of what it believes to be 'civilization' you may be able to see the truth. The awful truth that all of the efforts and intentions of the people who have come before us have led to a system of waste and corruption, that those who sought to conquer the world have left us lives of meaningless work and intractable conflict.
We are being consumed and transformed into something far removed from a human being. Our essential dignity has been stripped away in the name of the common good. Our benevolent nature and healing relationship to this planet have been obscured, obfuscated, by the false teachings of the past. Our lives, in the western world, are truly meaningless. We wake up, go to work for some corporation or the other, devote our precious life force to making somebody else rich at the expense of ourselves and our 'customers'. We marry and have children who we then raise in the same way that we were raised and who carry forward any errors we received from our teachers, parents or social leaders. We die and leave behind memories that will fade within a generation and the work we spent our lives engaged in, those innumerable days and hours of toil, the deadlines and commitments that seemed so important but leave us no legacy. To dust we return and to dust go all of our efforts.
Perhaps some sense of discomfort rises within us from time to time. Perhaps a story on the news captures our imagination and brings up feelings of fear or anger, sadness or despair. Sometimes we just try to ignore those feelings and go about our daily lives secure in the illusion of stability that surrounds us. Perhaps we react with anger and direct our outrage at whatever target we are given by those who profit richly from our control: immigrants, terrorists, child molesters, drug dealers or any other group of people that have been defined as acceptable for us to hate.
Same as it ever was. Same as it was in Rome when the empire fought the Celts. Same as it was in Egypt when an entire people were enslaved for the benefit of the Pharoh. Same as it was in Greece, same as it was in ancient Persia, same as it was in China�same as it has ever been since the ice last thawed and our people were scattered around the globe-disconnected from our roots and divorced from our heritage.
Can we not see it? Have we not the heart to understand that this life we are living is a brutal and dark shadow of the potential we possess? We, all of humanity, are bigger than this. We are bigger than nationality and religion, we are bigger than race or creed, we are more powerful than history and capable of far more than simple survival. We are the caretakers of all life on this planet and the harbingers of a true civilization. Our uncertain destiny is beyond description and the lives and natures of our great great grandchildren can be so far removed from the bestiality that we consider to be advanced that they will be as indistinguishable from us as we are from angels.
Our hearts may sometimes ache at a sense of loss that we do not understand. That pain becomes an impetus to action. Some people engage in a raging destructiveness, an orgy of vices based in hopeless selfishness and greedy lust. Some people open their heart and minds and with compassion reach out to the world with a healing intent. Perhaps they want to save the whales, perhaps the outrages of war are an anathema to them, perhaps they wish to protect the children or promote the arts. All of these actions are piecemeal and vain attempts at redressing a wrong that is not symptomatic, but rather systemic.
The disease is our way of thinking. The disease is our assumptions about what life means, what god wants and what our proper role is on earth. Men of pride have gone to great lengths to soothe their lack of esteem, they have lied and propagated their lies through the creation of innumerable religions and sects. Yes our religions are based on lies. Didn't you know that? Joseph Smith was a liar and a con man, L. Ron Hubbard made it all up, so did Paul-well he actually plagiarized most of the story-you do know that right? Why do you think that Moses or Mohammed, or Smith or Hubbard were somehow special? Do you really think that you can trust the word of a man who , unobserved, claims to have received communion from God or its representatives? Can you trust someone who uses such a story to try to gain power over a people? Do you really believe that God likes torture and pain? That any offense can give you license to engage in bestial evil? That anything can trump the edict to not kill?
There is a god. There is an amazing and beneficent force within this universe that loves us all and that exists within each unit of matter and energy. There is indeed an all seeing and all hearing intelligence that infuses the entire universe-but it is not what we have been led to believe. Shall I tell you my story of going up the mountain to receive communion? Would you believe what I tell you in regards to gods will and wishes? Can I at least tell you that it is not happy with us-but that it has hope? Shall I pull aside the veil a bit for you who have eyes to see, and you who have ears to hear? Are you ready for the reality of this incredible universe?
No. There is no prophecy to be had from me-only this one fundamentally true fact that we must all understand unless we repeat the cycle of utter destruction in the days ahead. We must free the children of the future from the chains of the past. We are called to sacrifice all that we cherish, all of our precious illusions and desperate self-interest in order to break this cycle of torment. Our leaders will not do it for us, they rule in hell because they are not fit to serve heaven.
.../...Shame on the prideful and ignorant who have floated to the top.
New Tactics in the Drive for Impeachment and Peace-An Open Appeal for Coordinated Action By Large Progressive Organizations
Dear Organizers and Directors:
More than that, the war economy has put huge profits into the pockets of the largest oil and gas companies. The boards of directors, CEO's and major shareholders of companies as diverse as GE, Gulf Oil and McDonalds have seen their earnings skyrocket, at the expense of peace, prosperity and dignity for the people of the world. Beyond even the gross profiteering of the upper class in America, and truthfully around the world, the lingering questions and charges against the administration remain. Charges regarding the events surrounding 9/11, the 2000 and 2004 elections, Hurricane Katrina, torture and the outright assault on the Bill of Rights through "signing statements" and exercises in vastly expanded executive power have provoked an enormous grassroots movement. A movement calling for the impeachment of not just Bush and Cheney, but as prescribed by law, any and all elected or appointed officials who knowingly and willfully proposed and supported acts that could be defined as "high crimes and misdemeanors".
The 2006 elections were remarkable in that they produced an outpouring of grassroots activism from a new coalition of people, crossing ideological and party lines Liberals, Libertarians, Conservatives and those who describe themselves as Independent worked on the streets to overcome any election irregularities and provide a stunning sweep for the Democrats. The unifying theme of this activism was "End the War and Impeach the Administration". Apparently, the Democratic leadership did not hear the cry. Nancy Pelosi, the new Speaker of the House, stated unequivocally that impeachment was, "Off the table", as early as November. In response hundreds of thousands of people marched on Washington in January to demand that impeachment, and an end to the war, be moved not only back on the table but put on top of the in basket. All of this activity has been, so far, to no avail.
Dr. Peter Phillips, Dahr Jamail, Dennis Loo, Catherine Austin Fitts and I coordinated a successful pilot boycott in April of 2007, one which cost the economy over $300 million in just one week. As of this writing a nationwide non-organization of thousands are working to promote this concept in their own individual way, in their own communities. We are asking your organization to promote this boycott by making sure your members are informed:
Link to the boycott website at www.wearenotbuyingit.org and we will link back to your organization as well.
As one of the authors of "Impeach the President: The Case Against Bush and Cheney" and a public speaker and activist in Northern California I have become frustrated with the obvious political hardball being played in Washington. I know how important impeachment is, if for no other reason than to prevent the acts of this administration from gaining the weight of legal precedent. I also know that enough Democrats and Republicans have been compromised that it is going to take an enormous, historical amount of coordination in order to pull together the facets of the progressive opposition into a single unified and coordinated set of actions. It is my sincerest wish that you will join with us in promoting this next tactic and help us to bring together all of those who want to see peace and justice reign. For more information, you can write to me at: boycottacrossamerica@....
.../... Any help you can be in this effort is necessary and vastly important. Together we can finally bring together the millions of progressive voices in America into a single, rousing, chorus of resistance and help to change the course of history. Help now by reposting this bulletin to all of your contacts on MySpace, FaceBook or any other social network. Thank you for your efforts and may this Holiday Season bring us what we truly need, Peace on Earth and Goodwill to all.
Get your Rapture hats ready, kiddies! The sky is falling, and our wise gift of nuclear winter will propel us all into the loving arms of the all-knowing and all-everywhere G-d.
| Go to Original |
Canadian Terror Trial Kept Secret, Groups Say
Wednesday 21 November 2007
Five news organizations complain they are denied access to Guantanamo case.
Washington - Five news organizations complained Wednesday that they are being denied access to much of the military commission proceeding against a Canadian terror suspect.
Various arguments in the case of Omar Khadr at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, are apparently made via e-mail - a communications channel to which the public has no access - and issues apparently are being raised in closed sessions for which no transcripts or summaries are available, the news organizations, including The Associated Press, wrote in a filing.
In addition, the filing stated, the public is not permitted access to motions and other documents submitted by the parties and "even the existence of a motion is not currently disclosed in any publicly accessible way."
"The public is not permitted access to the 'Filings Inventory' of motions, requests for relief and other written records filed with the tribunal," the five organizations added.
The press recognizes the potential for national security issues and questions of personal safety, "but there have been no findings that these concerns require the wholesale denial of access to the pretrial proceedings in this case," said the five organizations.
Besides The AP, the organizations are The New York Times Co., Dow Jones & Company Inc., The Hearst Corp. and The McClatchy Company.
The Pentagon pointed to national security concerns.
"The review procedures by the military commissions court and trial parties may result in some reasonable delays in making the documents available to the general public," said Navy Cmdr. J.D. Gordon, a Defense Department spokesman.
Khadr is one of three Guantanamo detainees facing charges under the Military Commissions Act of 2006. The military plans to prosecute as many as 80 of the 305 men at Guantanamo.
The presiding judge, Army Col. Peter Brownback, has postponed a decision on whether Khadr can be tried by the military as an unlawful enemy combatant. Khadr has not entered a plea, and no trial date has been set.
First Military Commissions Since WWII
The military commissions, which will be conducted at Guantanamo Bay, are the first to be conducted since World War II. It is important that the proceeding in the Khadr case not only be fair but that it be perceived as fair, and that cannot happen unless the public is able to follow and understand the events as they transpire, the five news organizations said.
The Military Commissions Act and its regulations make clear that the public's right to access extends beyond an actual trial to all proceedings, the filing stated.
In addition, the news organizations argued, the First Amendment protects the press and the public from blocking their rights of access to information about the operation of their government.
A challenge to the military commission system is pending in the U.S. Supreme Court and lawyers for the detainees at Guantanamo Bay have asked the justices to guarantee they can challenge their indefinite confinement in U.S. civilian courts.
David Schulz, an attorney representing the news organizations, said he has had no response to a letter to Pentagon general counsel William Haynes over a month ago. The letter stressed the need for media access to a docket of military commission proceedings as well as motion papers and orders in cases, Schulz said in a declaration accompanying the filing to the office of military commissions.
Go to Original
The End of America? Naomi Wolf Thinks It Could Happen
By Don Hazen
Wednesday 21 November 2007
An interview with author Naomi Wolf, whose new book, "The End of America: Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot," may confirm your worries about democracy in America.
If you think we are living in scary times, your worst fears may be confirmed by reading Naomi Wolf's newest book, The End of America: Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot. In it, Wolf proves the old axiom that history does repeat itself. Or more accurately, history occurs in patterns, and in order to understand where our country is today and where it is headed, we need to read the history books.
Wolf began by diving into the early years leading up to fascist regimes, like the ones led by Hitler and Mussolini. And the patterns that she found in those, and others all over the world, made her hair stand on end. In "The End of America," she lays out the 10 steps that dictators (or aspiring dictators) take in order to shut down an open society. "Each of those ten steps is now under way in the United States today," she writes.
If we want an open society, she warns, we must pay attention and we must fight to protect democracy.
I met with Wolf to discuss what she learned while researching this book, how the American public has received her warnings, and what we can do to squelch the fascist narratives we are fed in this country each day.
Don Hazen: Let's take up a big question first - your fears about the upcoming U.S. presidential election and what the historical blue print about fascist takeovers shows in terms of elections.
Naomi Wolf: We would be naive given the historical patterns to have hope that there's going to be a transparent, accountable election in 2008. There are various ways the blueprint indicates how events are much more likely to play out. Historically, the months leading up to the national election are likely to be unstable.
What classically happens is either there will be a period of provocation, and we have a history of this in the United States - agitators who are dressed as or act like activist voter registration workers, anti-war marchers ... but who engage in actual violence, torch property, assault police officers. And that scares people. People are much less likely to vote for change when they're scared, and it gives them the excuse to crack down.
In addition, I'm concerned about the 2007 Defense Authorization Act, which makes it much easier for the president to declare martial law.
DH: Are you saying that they keep on adding coercive laws for no apparent reason?
NW: Yes. Why amend the law so systematically? Why do you need to make martial law easier? Another thing historical blueprints underscore is the hyped threat; intelligence will be spun or exaggerated, and sometimes there are faked documents like Plan Z with Pinochet in Chile.
DH: Plan Z?
NW:Yes, Plan Z. Pinochet, when he was overthrowing the Democratic government of Chile, told Chilean citizens that there was going to be a terrible terrorist attack, with armed insurgents. Now there were real insurgents, there was a real threat, but then he produces what he called Plan Z, which were fake papers claiming that these terrorists were going to assassinate all these military leaders at once.
And this petrified Chileans so much that they didn't stand up to fight for their democracy. So it's common to take a real threat and hype it. And close to an election it's very common to invoke a hype threat and scare people so much that they will not want to have a transparent election.
Americans have this very wrong idea about what a closed society looks like. Many despots make it a point to try to hold the elections, but they're corrupted elections. Corrupted elections take place all over the world in closed societies. Ninety-nine percent of Austrians voted yes for the annexation by Germany, because the SA were standing outside the voting booths, intimidating the voters and people counting the vote. So you can mess with the process.
One current warning sign is the e-mails that the White House is not yielding about the attorney general scandal. The emails are likely to show that there were plans afoot to purge all of the attorneys at once, like overnight. And then to let the country deal with the shock.
Now that's something that Goebbels did in 1933 in April, overnight. He fired everyone, focusing on lawyers and judges who were not a supporter of the regime. So you can still have elections ... in an outcome like that. If that had happened, if the bloggers and others actually hadn't helped to identify the U.S. attorney scandal, and they had been successful and fired them all, our election situation would be different.
Basically we'd still have an election, but it is possible the outcome would be predetermined because it's the U.S. attorneys that monitor what voting rights groups do, what is legal and who can decide the outcome of elections.
DH: Well there's a lot of activity currently in terms of the Justice Department aimed at purging voters ... reducing voter rolls ... that's an ongoing battle to try to keep voters eligible. Conservatives are always trying to reduce the electorate. By the way, are you familiar with Naomi Klein's book The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism?
NW: Yes, and it all makes a lot of sense. And its certainly historically true. We're in this post-9/11 period when there is a lot of potential for these kind of "shock therapy" things to happen, but virtually everything ... has happened previously in history in patterns. It's just the blueprint. It's not rocket science.
I could tell last fall when a law was passed expanding the definition of terrorists to include animal rights activists, that people who look more like you and me would start to be called terrorists, which is a classic tactic in what I call a fascist expansion.
DH: Don't look at me - I'm not a vegetarian. Just kidding.
NW: (Laughs) Right. It's also predictive ... according to the blueprint, that the state starts to torture people that most of us don't identity with, because they're brown, Muslim, people on an island. They're called an enemy.
That there will be a progressive blurring of the line, and six months, two years later, you're going to see it spread to others. ... According to the blueprint, we're right on schedule that this kid recently got tasered in Florida, I gather, for asking questions.
There was a study by people who pioneered tasers, and the state legislature supported it; a Republican legislator put pressure on the provost, who put pressure on the university, and then the police at this university implemented the taser use. So unfortunately, it's likely that we're going to see more demonstrators, typical society leaders, in a call to restore "public order," leading up to the election. You put all those cases together ...
DH: I want to shift gears a bit and ask you to talk about what the response to the book, what kind of people have heard you speak, and what kind of reactions have they had?
NW: I'm really gratified by the response to the book. I have found, with the book's publication, though I'm not following everything that's been written about it, that most of America gets it - people across the political spectrum.
All kinds of people, including very mainstream people. Republican people. Progressive. Libertarian. Very moderate people. Very conservative people. They are basically saying to me, "Thank you for confirming our fears and showing us how these things fit together, and what we can do about them."
DH: I'm also interested in your process of deciding that you were comfortable in using words like "fascism," "Nazism," "Hitler," "Mussolini." Michael Ratner talks about it in the jacket of your book, when he writes: "Most Americans reject outright any comparisons of post-9/11 America with the fascism and totalitarianism of Nazi Germany or Pinochet's Chile. Sadly, what Wolf calls the echoes between those societies and America today are too compelling." At some point you must have come to this turning point in terms of the language - how far am I going to go, how am I going to talk about this? Was it a difficult decision?
NW: It was hard emotionally but it was unavoidable intellectually. The book actually got started with the influence of a holocaust survivor - a dear friend, who's the daughter of two holocaust survivors from Germany. She basically forced me to start reading history.
Not the end or outcome. She was talking about the early years and the effects on rights groups, gay rights groups, and sexuality forums and architecture, At first I didn't even want to draw conclusions, but my hair was just standing on edge.
When I saw that, then I went and read other history books, and looked at Stalin and Hitler, a real "innovator." I thought, if people want an open society, they need to pay attention.
You see the same things happening again and again and again. And historically people were really mislead and just reading kind of teaches us the blueprint. People use the same approach all over the world because it works. This is what they do.
Now we've just seen it in Burma. It is like clock work: monks in the street ... and because I know the blueprint, how long before they start curtailing free assembly, shooting monks, and cutting off that communication? And two days later ... you know what happened.
So intellectually I couldn't avoid using the language. Now in terms of the word "fascist," it's a very conservative usage in the book. I used the dictionary definition. There are many definitions of fascism. And even fascists disagree with other fascists. It's kind of like the Germans thought the Italian fascists weren't butch enough.
DH: So the Italians were wussier fascists than the Germans?
NW: Exactly. It gets better. The definition is pretty straightforward: "When the state uses violence against the individual to oppose democratic society." And that's what we're seeing.
And then looking back at Italy and Germany, which were the two great examples of modern constitutional democracies that were illegally closed by people that were elected ... duly elected ... most Americans don't remember. Mussolini, a National Socialist, came to power entirely legally. And they used the law to shut down the law. So that's what I call a fascist shift.
DH: So let's talk about what could happen here. Is America in denial? Or is avoidance an attitude that seemed to be present in all historical examples? That people assume it's not going to happen to them. Does the Americans' denial at this point run parallel with the denial of Germans and Italians? Or do we have our own version of denial here?
NW: That's a really great question; both are true. It's really instructive to read memoirs and journals from Germany. People writing, "This can't last ... we surely will come to our senses"; "they can't gain any ground in the next election ... you know, we're a civilized country"; "this is ridiculous, they're a bunch of thugs; no one takes them seriously."
History is particularly instructive in the early days of the fascist shifts in Germany and Italy, when things were really pretty normal. People go about their business, just like we're doing now. It's not like goose stepping columns of soldiers are everywhere. It looks like ordinary life. Celebrities, gossip columns, fashion, before getting caught up in a snare. People kept going to movies, worrying about feeding the cat. (laughs) Even while you watch the sort of inevitable unfold.
DH: And now in America?
NW: Right. So in some ways it is human nature to be in denial ... but Americans have our own special version, which is profoundly dangerous. Europeans know democracies are fragile, and they could close. They had closed. Bismarckian Germany was not a democracy.
But here we're walking around ... we usually have that sense that somehow our air will sustain us, even when no one else's air does. And we don't have to do anything about it. We have this like bubble, that somehow democracy will just take care of us, and we don't have to fight to protect democracy.
They can mow down democracies all over the world, but somehow we'll be just fine. But what's so ironic about that is that the Founding Fathers drafted the Bill of Rights in fear. They knew that you had to have checks and balances, because it's human nature to abuse power, no matter who you are. They knew the damage that the army could do breaking into your home. ... they knew that democracy is fragile, and the default is tyranny. They knew that. And that's why they created the system of checks and balances.
DH: In your book, on page 36, you write in terms of the political environment we are in: "But we are not wracked by rioting in the streets or a major depression here in America. That is why the success that the Bush administration has had in invoking Islamofascism is so insidious. We have been willing to trade our key freedoms for a promised state of security in spite of our living conditions of overwhelming stability, security, affluence and social order."
How and why has it been so easy here in the U.S. in terms of taking away liberties?
NW: I assume you mean how did it succeed even though we don't have Bolsheviks rioting in the street? Yes. I mean it is incredible looking back, but in a way it's not. I mean 9/11 was a complete left brain shock. If we had had wars at home, experienced the kind of violence at home that other countries have, we would not have gone into shock ... not have been willing to trade in our heritage in exchange for a manipulated false sense of security.
DH: Most people were not affected directly by 9/11 except traumatically by seeing it on the screen.
NW: Yes, but you can't undercredit the incredible sophistication of the way the Bush administration manipulates fear. For example, the sleeper cells narrative, which is Stalin's narrative, was totally made up.
And I give lots of examples in the book of alleged sleeper cells that never turned out to be the creepy, scary, nightmare scenario that the White House claimed they would be.
DH: In the book you say that fascists have great skills at changing public opinion.
NW: That's correct. That's exactly right. They've been very skillful at creating extremely terrifying narratives. And this is why looking at Goebbels is so instructive. Our leaders have been busy creating footage and sound bites that can be petrifying, and as a result, some of us live in a state of existential fear.
In contrast, in England and Spain, where they were hit by the same bad guys we're fighting, they're going after terrorists, but the population isn't walking around in a state of existential anxiety.
Gordon Brown said it, "Fighting terror ... well, terror's a crime." You can't underplay how sophisticated the Bush team has been about manipulating our fears. And one reason we really can't ignore is our home-grown ignorance. We now have two generations of young people who don't know about civics. A study came out that showed that even Harvard freshmen really don't understand how our government works.
And so we really don't know what democracy is anymore. I had to do a lot of learning to write this book - I'm not a constitutional scholar. I'm just a citizen. And we've been kind of divorced from our democracy. We've let a pundit class take it over. Where the Founders wanted us to know what the First Amendment was and what the Second Amendment does for us.
So as a consequence we don't feel the kind of warning bell of "Oh, my God, arbitrary search and seizure! That's when they come into your house and take your stuff and scare your children! We can't have that!"
Because there's this class of politicians, scholars and pundits who do the Constitution for us, so we don't bother educating ourselves. It's hard to educate yourself now these days.
All of that plays into how easily we can be manipulated. We really don't read history in America, so we don't notice warning signals. We tend not to pay attention to the rest of the world or the past, so we don't know what the classic scenarios are.
DH: In terms of your personal narrative, the kinds of books you've written about feminism and gender like the Beauty Myth, Fire With Fire and Promiscuities ... this book seems pretty far a field. It seems like it would have to be a wrenching realization to lead you to read everything and produce the book. Was it traumatic?
NW: Well, I would say that it's been traumatic.
DH: Is it because you are out there on the front lines now?
NW: That's not the trauma. I feel like I'm living inside a consciousness of urgency and potential horrific consequences. And that is much more uncomfortable than living inside my prior being where I generally thought, "We're living in a democracy where there are some annoying people doing the wrong things" kind of mindset.
But I know that there's a "true consciousness" that we need to overcome the false consciousness. I know it's the right consciousness to get the facts. And I guess what's heartening is that a bunch of other people seem to be collectively entering this consciousness. They are saying: "My gosh, there is a real emergency here with very devastating stakes." That is traumatic but necessary.
It is a loss of innocence to see how easy it is to degrade democracy. I certainly walk around with kind of hyperawareness tuned into, for example, the toll in Guantanamo and those children in Iraq. It doesn't get covered well.
There's basically a concentration camp being established in Iraq with children in it. And no one appears to be digging in to it ...
DH: As we are coming to an end here, there are a couple of concepts I found particularly interesting in the book. One is when you talked about the "10 steps," or the "blueprint" that fascists have used time and time again to close down democracies. You say that that these factors, ingredients, are more than the sum of their parts, which suggests a kind of synergy, "each magnifies the power of the others and the whole," as you write.
You also write about the pendulum cliché, that we have this illusion through our history that the pendulum always swings back. But because of the permanent war on terrorism, that may not be true anymore. Can you say a little bit more about those two things, and how that might fit together?
NW: Well part of the illusion is created because it seems we are in two different countries, operating at home and abroad. For example, they can come at you, anyone and claim you're an enemy combatant. They rendered people in Italy ... they can render people all over the world. And they can put people like Jose Padilla in solitary confinement for three years, literally drive sane healthy people insane.
If the president can say, Well, "Don is an enemy combatant," there is nothing you can do. It's like "Tag, you're it!" To that extent we can not be innocent. And then someone is in jail for three years without being able to see their families or have easy access to a phone.
If they can do that, the pendulum can't swing, because after the first arrest, it generally goes in one direction, and according to the blueprint, the time has come for those first arrests. We're having this conversation now, before these arrests. But if tomorrow you read in the New York Times or the Washington Post that New York Times editor Bill Keller has been arrested, the staff will all be scared, others will get scared. And people don't understand that that's how democracy closes down. And when that happens first, it's the tipping point at which we think it's still a democracy.
DH: That is when the rules have changed?
NW: Yes, and people need to believe and realize that that kind of negotiation is pretty much over. And there's just the lag time, which is so dangerous, when people still think it's a democracy, even while the martial law steps have begun. And that's where we are at, unless we get it.
Because you know, Congress keeps saying, "Hello, we're Congress." You have to answer us when we ask for information. The president's like, "Sorry, I'm ignoring you!" It starts becoming thinking like an abused woman, like: "Surely he's going to do it right this time, surely he's not going to do it again." And he does.
Don Hazen is the executive editor of AlterNet.
napalmed by the luxury of hypocrisy--Hardball: What Did Bush Know and When Did He Know It? (Plame-gate
- ► 2008 (18)
- ▼ 11/18 - 11/25 (4)
- ► 2006 (159)