Saturday, June 04, 2016

The Donald: God's Gift to the Establishment

Trump: The Greatest Gift to the Establishment

by Nick Bernabe - AntiMedia

June 4, 2016

ANTIMEDIA Op-Ed — “It can’t be. Donald Trump is an outsider! Washington hates him!”

I can already predict the comments on this article before I even begin to make my case.

And that’s exactly what the establishment wants.

It doesn’t want you to ingest new information and perhaps change your point of view; it wants you to be loyal to The Party, regardless of which one of the two monoliths it hopes you belong to.

There’s a reason the political establishment is made up of two parties, and for that reason Donald Trump is the greatest gift to that establishment in recent memory.

Before you report this post as spam or react emotionally by accusing me of being a shill for Hillary Clinton, please see my other works, which have taken an equally (if not more) critical look at her awful record of war crimes, deceit, lies, and manipulation. You see, it actually is possible to oppose Trump and Hillary; I’m living proof. With that out of the way, allow me to make my case.

Divide and Conquer: how the establishment preserves the status quo

Trump is running against the status quo, right? Not exactly. He’s working for it, and whether this is being done intentionally or not is of no consequence. It’s no secret Trump is the most polarizing politician in recent memory. But the groundwork for Trump’s ability to tap into the disgruntled American psyche was laid a long time ago.

Bill Clinton was a nation-builder who got the United States tangled in foreign conflicts, helped perpetuate mass incarceration, and implemented the disastrous NAFTA trade agreement that decimated American manufacturing. Though George W. Bush ran against those policies, he simply made them worse by wrongly invading Iraq, then overseeing the housing bubble and subsequent financial crisis.

Obama ran against the wars and Wall Street only to bail out the big banks once elected. He continued the war in Afghanistan, renewed the war in Iraq, and started several new ones all over the Middle East. He also joined a couple more unwinnable civil wars.

Trump will run against all of that, and since Hillary was part of the Obama administration, that makes her an easy target. Every four to eight years it’s the other guy’s fault. I mean, they’re both right; Republican and Democratic policies are detrimental to our freedom and prosperity, but that point is completely missed by the loyal partisans who make up America’s voting populace.

This ebb and flow of disastrous Republican policy to disastrous Democratic policy — and back again — is how the status quo holds onto its power. By pitting everyday Americans against each other based on Party loyalty, the populace is neutralized due to its internal fighting. Meanwhile, the parties themselves — save for a few social policies — are practically identical in their practices and only differ in name and rhetoric. One party is eviscerated while the other one seizes power, only to see that cycle reverse itself each election season.

But how can I claim Donald Trump is helping this duopoly of doom dominate?

Trump is running against the Republican party and the establishment, right?

Well, rhetorically speaking, yes, he is. But politicians say the darndest things. Trump is the Republican party now — he’s their standard-bearer. Trump is simply the culmination of years of the Republican party’s misleading anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant rhetoric finally paying off, though perhaps in a more abrasive way than party leaders had hoped. Trump is merely saying what a large proportion of American demographics have been led to believe through years of right-wing political and media rhetoric. Trump took their most extreme talking points and made them mainstream, and it’s this emergence into the mainstream that has turned 2016 into the most polarizing politicking year since the 1960s. And this plays right into the hands of the establishment.

Trump’s misleading scapegoating of (insert minority here) is creating a culture of divisiveness that may be impossible to repair. White people, who have fallen for this Nazi-like rhetoric of blaming the “other” people for very real economic problems, are now solidified under Trump. With every anti-Trump protest — especially the ones that turn violent like last night in San Jose — CA, his base grows more loyal and afraid of minorities. With every protest, they grow more affectionate of this strong-man who claims he will protect them if elected. Meanwhile, every time Trump blames Mexicans or Muslims for the United States’ problems, American minorities grow more afraid of what might happen to them if he’s elected.

Not only is Trump driving the Republican-Democrat divide, he’s also driving racial demographics apart — further splintering the already fractured American populace. Trump’s rhetoric alone has left Republican voter rolls flush with white nationalists and Democratic rolls overflowing with minorities willing to vote for Hillary for no other reason but to stop Trump.

Trump has grown the Republican party with his candidacy, attracting the fearful to his messaging. He’s also drawn a loyal base of opposition that is visible at every campaign stop. People hate both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump so much they will literally vote for one to deny the other the presidency. And as Americans, nearly all of whom have a common interest in prosperity, security, a better life, and a better standard of living, equally divide themselves against one another, the Parties relish in it — all of it. The Democrats get to whip up their base against Trump’s radical rhetoric, and the Republicans get to do the same against minorities, religious groups, and Hillary’s criminally dishonest past. Trump serves the establishment by having become the wedge used to separate American society, leaving them to fight amongst themselves while the true “powers that be” and policies they put in place come away unscathed.

Vote all you want, but as long as the conversation is centered around who can stop Trump or who can beat Hillary, the country is in for a long hard disappointment by this time next year — when we realize (again) politicians make promises that are almost never kept. Even worse than do-nothing politicians getting elected, a culture of fear is incubating where whites and non-whites glare at each other in distrust or hate simply because they’ve been captured by the political rhetoric of the status quo that thrives on division. Trump’s divisive, hate-inspiring campaign is setting the stage for decades of safety for the political establishment. The last thing the oligarchs want is unity among disgruntled population that just might just set their gaze on them instead of each other.

This article (Trump Is the Greatest Gift to the Establishment in Modern American Politics) is an opinion editorial (OP-ED). The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the views of Anti-Media. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Nick Bernabe and Anti-Media Radio airs weeknights at 11pm Eastern/8pm Pacific. If you spot a typo, email

Passing: The Greatest

Muhammad Ali Dies


Friday, June 03, 2016

Double Damned: The Alternative to System Collapse is Collapse

The Structure Of Collapse: 2016-2019

by  Charles Hugh-Smith - OfTwoMinds blog

June 2, 2016
Leaders face a no-win dilemma: any change of course will crash the system, but maintaining the current course will also crash the system.

The end-state of unsustainable systems is collapse. Though collapse may appear to be sudden and chaotic, we can discern key structures that guide the processes of collapse.

Though the subject is complex enough to justify an entire shelf of books, these six dynamics are sufficient to illuminate the inevitable collapse of the status quo.

1. Doing more of what has failed spectacularly. The leaders of the status quo inevitably keep doing more of what worked in the past, even when it no longer works. Indeed, the failure only increases the leadership’s push to new extremes of what has failed spectacularly. At some point, this single-minded pursuit of failed policies speeds the system’s collapse.

2. Emergency measures become permanent policies. The status quo’s leaders expect the system to right itself once emergency measures stabilize a crisis. But broken systems cannot right themselves, and so the leadership is forced to make temporary emergency measures (such as lowering interest rates to zero) permanent policy. This increases the fragility of the system, as any attempt to end the emergency measures triggers a system-threatening crisis.

3. Diminishing returns on status quo solutions. Back when the economic tree was loaded with low-hanging fruit, solutions such as lowering interest rates had a large multiplier effect. But as the tree is stripped of fruit, the returns on these solutions diminish to zero.

4. Declining social mobility. As the economic pie shrinks, the privileged maintain or increase their share, and the slice left to the disenfranchised shrinks. As the privileged take care of their own class, there are fewer slots open for talented outsiders. The status quo is slowly starved of talent and the ranks of those opposed to the status quo swell with those denied access to the top rungs of the social mobility ladder.

5. The social order loses cohesion and shared purpose as the social-economic classes pull apart. The top of the wealth/power pyramid no longer serves in the armed forces, and withdraws from contact with the lower classes. Lacking a unifying social purpose, each class pursues its self-interests to the detriment of the nation and society as a whole.

6. Strapped for cash as tax revenues decline, the state borrows more money and devalues its currency as a means of maintaining the illusion that it can fulfill all its promises. As the purchasing power of the currency declines, people lose faith in the state’s currency. Once faith is lost, the value of the currency declines rapidly and the state’s insolvency is revealed.

Each of these dynamics is easily visible in the global status quo.

As an example of doing more of what has failed spectacularly, consider how financialization inevitably inflates speculative bubbles, which eventually crash with devastating consequences. But since the status quo is dependent on financialization for its income, the only possible response is to increase debt and speculation—the causes of the bubble and its collapse—to inflate another bubble. In other words, do more of what failed spectacularly.

This process of doing more of what failed spectacularly appears sustainable for a time, but this superficial success masks the underlying dynamic of diminishing returns: each reflation of the failed system requires greater commitments of capital and debt. Financialization is pushed to new unprecedented extremes, as nothing less will generate the desired bubble.

Rising costs narrow the maneuvering room left to system managers. The central bank’s suppression of interest rates is an example. As the economy falters, central banks lower interest rates and increase the credit available to the financial system.

This stimulus works well in the first downturn, but less well in the second and not at all in the third, for the simple reason that interest rates have been dropped to zero and credit has been increased to near-infinite.

The last desperate push to do more of what failed spectacularly is for central banks to lower interest rates to below-zero: it costs depositors money to leave their cash in the bank. This last-ditch policy is now firmly entrenched in Europe, and many expect it to spread around the world as central banks have exhausted less extreme policies.

The status quo’s primary imperative is self-preservation, and this imperative drives the falsification of data to sell the public on the idea that prosperity is still rising and the elites are doing an excellent job of managing the economy.

Since real reform would threaten those at the top of the wealth/power pyramid, fake reforms and fake economic data become the order of the day.

Leaders face a no-win dilemma: any change of course will crash the system, but maintaining the current course will also crash the system.

Welcome to 2016-2019.

This essay was drawn from my new book
Why Our Status Quo Failed and Is Beyond Reform.

Coup Bossa Nova: Brazil's Rogue's Rebellion

A Very Brazilian Coup

by Conn Hallinan - CounterPunch

June 3, 2016

On one level, the impeachment of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff seems like vintage commedia dell’arte.

For instance, the lower house speaker who brought the charges, Eduardo Cunha, had to step down because he has $16 million stashed in secret Swiss and U.S. bank accounts.

The man who replaced Cunha, Waldir Maranhao, is implicated in the corruption scandal around the huge state-owned oil company, Petrobras.

The former vice-president and now interim president, Michel Temer, has been convicted of election fraud, and has also been caught up in the Petrobras investigation. So is Senate president Renan Calheiros, who’s also dodging tax evasion charges.

In fact, over half the legislature is currently under investigation for corruption of some kind.

But there’s nothing comedic about what the fall of Rousseff and her left-leaning Workers Party will mean for the 35 million Brazilians who’ve been lifted out of poverty over the past decade, or for the 40 million newly minted members of the middle class — that’s one-fifth of Brazil’s 200 million people.

While it was the current downturn in the world’s seventh largest economy that helped light the impeachment fuse, the crisis is rooted in the nature of Brazil’s elites, its deeply flawed political institutions, and the not-so-dead hand of its 1964-1985 military dictatorship.

A Lurch to the Right

Given that the charges against Rousseff don’t involve personal corruption, or even constitute a crime — if juggling books before an election were illegal, virtually every politician on the planet would end up in the docket — it’s hard to see the impeachment as anything other than a political coup. Even the center-right Economist, long a critic of Rousseff, writes that “in the absence of proof of criminality, impeachment is unwarranted” — and “looks like a pretext for ousting an unpopular president.”

That suspicion is reinforced by the actions of the new president.

Temer represents the center-right Brazilian Democratic Movement Party (PMDB), which until recently was in alliance with Rousseff’s Workers Party. As soon as Rousseff was impeached by the Senate and suspended from office for 180 days, Temer made a sharp turn to the right on the economy, appointing a cabinet of ministers straight out of Brazils’ dark years of dictatorship: all white, all male, and with the key portfolios in the hands of Brazil’s historic elites. This comes in a country where just short of 51 percent of Brazilians describe themselves as black or mixed.

At least six of those ministers, moreover, have been implicated in the Petrobras scandal.

Temer announced a program to “reform” labor laws and pensions, using code words for anti-union legislation and pension cuts. His new finance minister, Henrique Meirelles, a former central bank head who once led BankBoston in the United States, announced that while programs for the poor “which don’t cost the budget that much” would be maintained — like the highly popular and successful Bolsa Familia, which raised tens of millions out of poverty through small cash grants — other Workers Party initiatives would go under the knife.

The new government is already pushing legislation that would roll back laws protecting the environment and indigenous people, and has appointed ministers with terrible track records in both areas.

For instance, one of the largest soybean farmers in Brazil, Blairo Maggi, was appointed agriculture minister. Maggi has overseen the destruction of vast areas of the Amazon to make way for soybean crops. Temer’s initial appointment for science minister was an evangelical Protestant minister who doesn’t believe in evolution. Temer also folded the culture ministry into the ministry of education, sparking sit-ins and demonstrations by artists, filmmakers, and musicians.

Corruption and Incoherence

Brazil has long been a country with sharp divisions between wealth and poverty, and its elites have a history of using violence and intimidation to get their way. Brazil’s northeast is dominated by oligarchs who backed the 1964 military coup and manipulated the post-dictatorship constitution.

Political power is heavily weighted toward rural areas dominated by powerful agricultural interests. The three poorest regions of the country where these interests dominate, accounting for only two-fifths of the population, control three-quarters of the seats in the Senate.

As historian Perry Anderson puts it, Brazil’s political system was designed “to neutralize the possibility that democracy might lead to the formation of any popular will that could threaten the enormities of Brazilian inequality.”

Brazil’s legislature is splintered into 35 different parties, many of them without any particular political philosophy. The legislature is elected on the basis of proportional representation, but with an added twist: There’s an “open list” system in which voters can choose any candidate, many of them standing on the same ticket.

The key to winning elections in Brazil, then, is name recognition, and the key to that is lots and lots of money. Most of that money comes from Brazil’s elites, like the oligarchs in the country’s northeast.

Because of the plethora of parties, forming a government is tricky. What normally happens is that one of the larger parties ropes in several smaller parties by giving them ministries. Not only does this encourage corruption — each party knows it needs to raise lots of money for elections — but also results in political incoherence.

When the Workers Party was elected in 2002, it was unwilling to dilute its programs by bringing ideological opponents into a cabinet — yet the party still needed partners. The solution was cash payouts to legislators, a scheme titled mensalao (“monthly payoffs”) that was uncovered in 2005. Once the payoffs were revealed, the party had little choice but to fall back on the old system of handing out ministries in exchange for votes. That’s how Temer and the PMBD entered the scene.

With the reputation of the popular former president Lula da Silva and his Workers Party dented by the payoff scheme, the right saw an opportunity to rid themselves of the left. But Silva’s resilient popularity and the success of his anti-poverty programs made the party pretty much unassailable at the ballot box. Silva won another landslide election in 2006, and his successor Rousseff was elected twice in 2010 and 2014.

A Very Brazilian Coup

In short, the elites could not win elections. But they could still pull off a very Brazilian coup.

First, they hammered at the fact that some Workers Party leaders had been involved in corruption and others implicated in the Petrobras bribery scheme. Rousseff herself headed up Petrobras before being elected president. While she’s never been personally linked to any of the corruption, it did happen on her watch.

Petrobras is the fourth largest company in the world. It’s building tankers, offshore platforms, and refineries. That expansion has opened huge opportunities for graft, and the level of bribery involved could exceed $3 billion. Nine construction companies are implicated in the scandal, as well as more than 50 politicians, legislators, and state governors, from the PMDB as well as the Workers Party.

Rousseff’s biggest mistake was to run on an anti-austerity platform in 2014 and then reverse course after she was elected, putting the brakes on spending. The economy was already troubled and austerity made it worse. The 2005 bribery scheme lost the Workers Party some of the middle class, and the 2014 austerity alienated some of the party’s working class supporters.

But it was most likely Rousseff’s decision to green light the Petrobras corruption investigation that spurred her enemies to strike before the probe could pull down scores of political leaders and wealthy construction owners. Temer’s own anti-corruption minister was recently caught on tape plotting to use the impeachment to derail the investigation, an event that led to his resignation.

Certainly the campaign aimed at Rousseff was well orchestrated. Brazil’s media — dominated by a few elite families — led the charge. According to Reporters Without Borders, the role of the media was “partisan,” its anti-Rousseff agenda “barely veiled.” Judge Sergio Moro, a key figure in the Petrobras investigation, illegally leaked wiretap intercepts that put Silva and Rousseff in a bad light.

Given the makeup of the Brazilian Senate, it’s likely that Rousseff will be convicted and removed as president. It also appears that Temer, who enjoys almost no popular support, will try to roll back many of the programs that successfully narrowed the gap between rich and poor.

On the Ropes

The stakes are high, and not just for democracy.

Brazil’s economy is in trouble, shrinking 3.7 percent last year. Commodity prices are down worldwide, in large part because of the downturn of China’s economy. Brazil’s debt is rising, though it’s still half that of Italy. And unemployment is low, at least compared to the indebted countries of Europe.

A return to the austerity policies that destroyed economies all across the southern cone during the 1980s and ‘90s — and which are decimating parts of Europe today — would be a disaster. The worst thing one can do in a recession is curb spending, which stalls out economies and puts countries into a debt spiral.

For now, the Workers Party is on the ropes, but hardly down and out. It has 500,000 members, and the new government will find it very difficult to take things away from people now that they’ve gotten used to having them. Some 35 million people are unlikely to return to their previous poverty without a fight.

One of Temer’s first acts was to put up 100,000 billboards all over the country with the slogan: “Don’t speak of crisis; work!” That sounds a lot like “shut up.” Yet Brazilians aren’t noted for being quiet, particularly if the government instituting painful cuts is unelected.

The pressure for new elections is sure to grow, although the current government will do anything it can to avoid them. Sooner or later there will be a reckoning.
Conn Hallinan can be read at
More articles by:Conn Hallinan

Thursday, June 02, 2016

Remembering Resistance: The Battle of the Beanfield a Generation Later

It’s Now 31 Years Since the Battle of the Beanfield: Where is the Spirit of Dissent in the UK Today?

by Andy Worthington

June 1.16

31 years ago, the British state, under Margaret Thatcher, committed one of its most violent acts against its own citizens, at the Battle of the Beanfield, when a group of travellers — men, women and children — who were driving to Stonehenge from Savernake Forest to establish what would have been the 12th annual Stonehenge Free Festival were set upon by tooled-up police from six counties, and the Ministry of Defence.

The travellers were outnumbered three to one, while the police were at the height of their use as a paramilitary force by Margaret Thatcher.

Buy my book The Battle of the Beanfield.
Also available: Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion.

The year before, the police had crushed the miners at Orgreave (promoting calls this year for an official inquiry after the belated triumph of victims’ families against the police at the Hillsborough Inquest), and the assault on the travelling community had started shortly after, when a group of travellers were harried from a festival in the north of England. Some of this group joined up with other travellers, festival-goers and green activists at Molesworth, in Cambridgeshire, the planned location for Britain’s second cruise missile base, where a peace camp was set up, following the example of the Women’s peace camp at Greenham Common, set up in opposition to the first cruise missile base. The Molesworth camp was, in turn, shut down by the largest peacetime mobilisation of troops, in February 1985, and for the next four months the travellers were harassed until June 1, when the Battle of the Beanfield took place.

The Beanfield was a horrible example of state violence, with both short-term and long-term implications. Severe damage was done to Britain’s traveller community, who had been seeking to create an alternative culture of free festivals from May to October every year, and who, as Molesworth showed, were not just hedonists, but also had ecological and anti-nuclear aims.

I had attended the last two Stonehenge Free Festivals, and what I experienced had been an astonishing eye-opener, an alternative society that evidently continued the counter-cultural ambitions of the 1960s and 1970s, but that, by the 1980s, had run up against the intolerance of Thatcher’s vision of a new Britain, where dissenters — the “enemy within,” as she called the miners — were crushed, so that corporate capitalism could prevail unchallenged.

The Beanfield did not stamp out dissent, although it paved the way for the notion of the criminalisation of dissent to take hold, which led to repressive laws being passed that clamped down on the freedom of assembly so that it now appears to be some sort of ancient dream, and the police eventually worked out a form of crowd control — kettling — that effectively shuts down unwanted protest.

Nevertheless, following the Beanfield, the government of Margaret Thatcher, and, later, of John Major, was ambushed by the rave scene, when, every weekend, millions of ecstasy-fuelled young people partied in fields and in warehouses across the nation, and by the road protest movement, which saw creative protestors living in trees to stop road expansion programmes (a uniquely British development that does not appear to have been replicated anywhere else). This is turn led to an urban offshoot, Reclaim the Streets, that joyfully took back public spaces — roads — in a way that is now almost unimaginable.

The beginning of the end, after the creative chaos of the Major years, was, I think, the election in 1997 of Tony Blair, who, as I generally describe it, hit us all with a psychic cosh, removing our freedom through a mixture of repression and brainwashing — the former building on the laws passed by the Tories, and taking advantage of the new opportunities for repression and a message of permanent fear that was enabled by the 9/11 attacks (after a few years of serious dissent from the anti-globalisation movement), and the latter through a message of greed and materialism that infected the culture as a whole, and, it seems, significantly changed the way far too many people think.

Below, via YouTube, I’m posting ‘Operation Solstice’, the 1991 documentary the Battle of the Beanfield, and the subsequent trial, in a version that co-director Gareth Morris produced for the 30th anniversary of the Battle of the Beanfield last year:

Every year, the Beanfield anniversary reminds me how much has been lost, and while I’m aware that this is, in part, because I’m becoming older, nothing has yet persuaded me that the current culture — selfish, self-obsessed, materialistic and corporate-enslaved, and with an almost inescapable obsession with suppressing anything that resembles a viable counter-culture by pricing it out or buying it up — has much about it worth celebrating.

We may have grown up to overcome much of the dysfunction that fuelled a lot of the iconoclasm of the ’70s — which has to be a good thing, of course — but in many ways that has left us, in general, quiescent, prone to believe the lies told us by new age-saturated charlatans in PR and marketing, who have convinced us that there is no such things as righteous anger (there is), and unable to fight back against those who have taken advantage of the lack of opposition to feather their own obscenely greedy nests, at the expense of the domestic poor, the globally exploited and impoverished, and, of course, the environment.

To my mind, whatever victories have been achieved in our superficially clever, insatiably greedy society, with its promise of billions of everything — from food, to clothes, to gadgets, to all the treats we’re told we deserve because we’re worth it, because we’re special — are offset by catastrophic climate change, by the greatest refugee crisis of our lifetimes, and by the self-obsessed miserable, isolationist whingeing of an aging population of people who, far from being deprived of anything, are, materially, the most fortunate generation in human history.

As I mark this sad anniversary for the 31st time, I have a dream — of the revival of a vibrant counter-culture — to tear down the dull complacency of the materialistic mainstream, with its smug empty triumphalism, and its cold, cold heart.

Below, as a bonus, I’m posting, also via YouTube, ‘Life in the Fast Lane – The No M11 Story’ by Operation Solstice co-director Neil Goodwin and Mayyasa Al-Malazi, about the road protest movement:

For more on the Beanfield, see my 2009 article for the Guardian, Remember the Battle of the Beanfield, and my accompanying article, In the Guardian: Remembering the Battle of the Beanfield, which provides excerpts from The Battle of the Beanfield. Also see The Battle of the Beanfield 25th Anniversary: An Interview with Phil Shakesby, aka Phil the Beer, a prominent traveller who died six years ago, Remember the Battle of the Beanfield: It’s the 27th Anniversary Today of Thatcher’s Brutal Suppression of Traveller Society, Radio: On Eve of Summer Solstice at Stonehenge, Andy Worthington Discusses the Battle of the Beanfield and Dissent in the UK, It’s 28 Years Since Margaret Thatcher Crushed Travellers at the Battle of the Beanfield, Back in Print: The Battle of the Beanfield, Marking Margaret Thatcher’s Destruction of Britain’s Travellers, It’s 29 Years Since the Battle of the Beanfield, and the World Has Changed Immeasurably and It’s 30 Years Since Margaret Thatcher Trashed the Travellers’ Movement at the Battle of the Beanfield.

For reflections on Stonehenge and the summer solstice, see Stonehenge and the summer solstice: past and present, It’s 25 Years Since The Last Stonehenge Free Festival, Stonehenge Summer Solstice 2010: Remembering the Battle of the Beanfield, RIP Sid Rawle, Land Reformer, Free Festival Pioneer, Stonehenge Stalwart, Happy Summer Solstice to the Revellers at Stonehenge — Is it Really 27 Years Since the Last Free Festival?, Stonehenge and the Summer Solstice: On the 28th Anniversary of the Last Free Festival, Check Out “Festivals Britannia”, Memories of Youth and the Need for Dissent on the 29th Anniversary of the last Stonehenge Free Festival, 30 Years On from the Last Stonehenge Free Festival, Where is the Spirit of Dissent? and Stonehenge and the Summer Solstice, 30 Years After the Battle of the Beanfield.

Also see my article on Margaret Thatcher’s death, “Kindness is Better than Greed”: Photos, and a Response to Margaret Thatcher on the Day of Her Funeral.

Andy Worthington is a freelance investigative journalist, activist, author, photographer, film-maker and singer-songwriter (the lead singer and main songwriter for the London-based band The Four Fathers, whose debut album, ‘Love and War,’ is available for download or on CD via Bandcamp — also see here). He is the co-founder of the Close Guantánamo campaign (and the Countdown to Close Guantánamo initiative, launched in January 2016), the co-director of We Stand With Shaker, which called for the release from Guantánamo of Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in the prison (finally freed on October 30, 2015), and the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by the University of Chicago Press in the US, and available from Amazon, including a Kindle edition — click on the following for the US and the UK) and of two other books: Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion and The Battle of the Beanfield. He is also the co-director (with Polly Nash) of the documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (available on DVD here — or here for the US).

To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to Andy’s RSS feed — and he can also be found on Facebook (and here), Twitter, Flickr and YouTube. Also see the six-part definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, and The Complete Guantánamo Files, an ongoing, 70-part, million-word series drawing on files released by WikiLeaks in April 2011. Also see the definitive Guantánamo habeas list, the full military commissions list, and the chronological list of all Andy’s articles.

Please also consider joining the Close Guantánamo campaign, and, if you appreciate Andy’s work, feel free to make a donation.

The End of America's Political Acquiescence: Just Saying "No More!"

Bernie, The Donald, and the Sins of Liberalism: An American Version of Class Struggle

by Steve Fraser  - TomDispatch

June 2, 2016

Arising from the shadows of the American repressed, Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump have been sending chills through the corridors of establishment power. Who would have thunk it? 
Two men, both outliers, though in starkly different ways, seem to be leading rebellions against the masters of our fate in both parties; this, after decades in which even imagining such a possibility would have been seen as naïve at best, delusional at worst. 
Their larger-than-life presence on the national stage may be the most improbable political development of the last American half-century. It suggests that we are entering a new phase in our public life.

A year ago, in my book The Age of Acquiescence, I attempted to resolve a mystery hinted at in its subtitle: "The rise and fall of American resistance to organized wealth and power." 
Simply stated, that mystery was: Why do people rebel at certain moments and acquiesce in others?

Resisting all the hurts, insults, threats to material well-being, exclusions, degradations, systematic inequalities, over-lordship, indignities, and powerlessness that are the essence of everyday life for millions would seem natural enough, even inescapable, if not inevitable. Why put up with all that?

Historically speaking, however, the impulse to give in has proven no less natural. After all, to resist is often to risk yourself, your means of livelihood, and your way of life. To rise up means to silence those intimidating internal voices warning that the overlords have the right to rule by virtue of their wisdom, wealth, and everything that immemorial custom decrees. Fear naturally closes in.

In our context, then, why at certain historical moments have Americans shown a striking ability to rise up, at other times to submit?

Tomgram: Steve Fraser, How the Age of Acquiescence Came to an End

[Note for TomDispatch Readers: We have a special offer today. A new book by TomDispatch regular Steve Fraser, whom we consider one of the cannier observers of the American scene, is just out: The Limousine Liberal: How an Incendiary Image United the Right and Fractured America. It’s a blazing account of the subject we may most need to understand these days, the rise of the populist right, and it's done through the history of a single slogan. As Barbara Ehrenreich has aptly put it, Fraser's book “is necessary background reading for anyone seeking to understand -- or just endure -- 2016.” I second that. Any TD reader willing to donate $100 or more ($125 if you live outside the United States) can get a signed, personalized copy of it with our thanks for helping keep this site’s voice strong in this strange moment. Just check our donation page for the details. Tom]

Someday, these may be seen as the decades when the United States started hollowing out. First, good working-class jobs fled the country, while the “rust” spread through belts of industrial production, towns emptied, and the good times headed elsewhere. Then, infrastructure -- from bridges and highways to subways and dams -- began to fray. More recently, something else hollowed out, too: American politics. That may seem less than obvious in a season in which the political process has become a 24/7 media obsession. But think again. One of the country’s two parties managed to cough up 17 of the strangest candidates ever paraded on a stage, evidence of an organization that had clearly stumbled off a cliff, even as its voters elevated the P.T. Barnum of the twenty-first century to presidential status. The other party was so dead in the water that, as its leading candidate for the presidency, it could only cough up a former first lady and secretary of state who had lost her previous presidential run ignominiously and was dragging a caravan of rotten baggage behind her -- oh, yes, and one forgettable governor, as well as a senator who proclaimed himself a “democratic socialist,” but not (until late the other night) a capital "D" Democrat. And if that isn’t the definition of a political organization that seems to be rusting from the inside out, what is?

When it comes to hollow, don’t forget the election news, which has been inflated to monstrous proportions even as it’s emptied of content. Donald Trump, the man who creates endless news cycles out of the gossamer of insults and half-thoughts, has been the perfect vehicle for such a process, which is being mined for gold by the media equivalent of the 1%. Take the great debate-to-be that, for a single day’s news cycle, grabbed the headlines, the one that talk-show host Jimmy Kimmel suggested to The Donald. He accepted on the spot, followed with alacrity by his prospective opponent Bernie Sanders, only to promptly extinguish the possibility in another blast of headlines, news reports, and talking heads a day or so later. In doing so, Trump used the “i” word -- “inappropriate” -- to declare the proposal out of bounds. The man for whom nothing is inappropriate issued a statement so name-callingly eloquent that it might have come from any sixth grade classroom. It began: “Based on the fact that the Democratic nominating process is totally rigged and Crooked Hillary Clinton and Deborah Wasserman Schultz will not allow Bernie Sanders to win, and now that I am the presumptive Republican nominee, it seems inappropriate that I would debate the second-place finisher.”

And oh, yes, among the undoubted casualties of the hollowing-out process: the Democratic Party's version of liberalism, which has in recent years become the credo of the other party of the 1%. Today, TomDispatch regular Steve Fraser, who has covered the rise of a new Gilded Age in America (and the fall of just about everything else) from The Street to the streets, considers the fate of liberalism in a potential new era of right- and left-wing populism. Think of this post as a launching pad as well for his new book, The Limousine Liberal: How an Incendiary Image United the Right and Fractured America, a striking history of the 1% and the rest of us, all summed up in a single political image. Tom 

Bernie, The Donald, and the Sins of Liberalism: An American Version of Class Struggle

by Steve Fraser

Why at certain historical moments have Americans shown a striking ability to rise up, at other times to submit?
To answer that question, I explored those years in the first gilded age of the nineteenth century when millions of Americans took to the streets to protest, often in the face of the armed might of the state, and the period in the latter part of the twentieth century and the first years of this one when the label “the age of acquiescence” seemed eminently reasonable -- until, in 2016, it suddenly didn’t.

So consider this essay a postscript to that work, my perhaps belated realization that the age of acquiescence has indeed come to an end. Millions are now, of course, feeling the Bern and cheering The Donald. Maybe I should have paid more attention to the first signs of what was to come as I was finishing my book: the Tea Party on the right, and on the left Occupy Wall Street, strikes by low-wage workers, minimum and living wage movements, electoral victories for urban progressives, a surge of environmental activism, and the eruption of the Black Lives Matter movement just on the eve of publication.

But when you live for so long in the shade of acquiescence where hope goes to die or at least grows sickly, you miss such things. After all, if history has a logic, it can remain so deeply hidden as to be indecipherable... until it bites. So, for example, if someone had X-rayed American society in 1932, in the depth of the Great Depression, that image would have revealed a body politic overrun with despair, cynicism, fatalism, and fear -- in a word, acquiescence, a mood that had shadowed the land since “black Tuesday” and the collapse of the stock market in 1929.

Yet that same X-ray taken in 1934, just two years later, would have revealed a firestorm of mass strikes, general strikes, sit-down strikes, rent strikes, seizures of shuttered coal mines and utilities by people who were cold and lightless, marches of the unemployed, and a general urge to unseat the ancien régime; in a word, rebellion. In this way, the equilibrium of a society can shift phases in the blink of an eye and without apparent warning (although in hindsight historians and others will explore all the reasons everybody should have seen it coming).

Liberalism vs. Liberalism

Anticipated or not, a new age of rebellion has begun, one that threatens the status quo from the left and the right. Perhaps its most shocking aspect: people are up in arms against liberalism.

That makes no sense, right? How can it, when come November the queen of liberalism will face off against the billionaire standard bearer of Republicanism? In the end, the same old same old, yes? Liberal vs. conservative.

Well, not really. If you think of Hillary as the “limousine liberal” of this election season and The Donald as the right-wing “populist in pinstripes,” and consider how each of them shimmied their way to the top of the heap and who they had to fend off to get there, a different picture emerges. Clinton inherits the mantle of a liberalism that has hollowed out the American economy and metastasized the national security state. It has confined the remnants of any genuine egalitarianism to the attic of the Democratic Party so as to protect the vested interests of the oligarchy that runs things. That elite has no quarrel with racial and gender equality as long as they don’t damage the bottom line, which is after all the defining characteristic of the limousine liberalism Hillary champions. Trump channels the hostility generated by that neoliberal indifference to the well-being of working people and its scarcely concealed cultural contempt for heartland America into a racially inflected anti-establishmentarianism. Meanwhile, Bernie Sanders targets Clintonian liberalism from the other shore. Liberalism is, in other words, besieged.

The Sixties Take on Liberalism

How odd! For decades “progressives” have found themselves defending the achievements of liberal reform from the pitiless assault of an ascendant conservatism. It’s hard to remember that the liberal vs. conservative equation didn’t always apply (and so may not again).

Go back half a century to the 1960s, however, and the battlefield seems not dissimilar to today’s terrain. That was a period when the Vietnam antiwar movement indicted liberalism for its imperialism in the name of democracy, while the civil rights and black power movements called it out for its political alliance with segregationists in the South.

In those years, the New Left set up outposts in urban badlands where liberalism’s boast about the U.S. being an “affluent society” seemed like a cruel joke. Students occupied campus buildings to say no to the bureaucratization of higher education and the university’s servitude to another liberal offspring, the military-industrial complex. Women severed the knot tying the liberal ideal of the nuclear family to its gendered hierarchy. The counterculture exhibited its contempt for liberalism’s sense of propriety in a thousand ways. No hairstyle conventions, marriage contracts, sexual inhibitions, career ambitions, religious orthodoxies, clothing protocols, racial taboos, or chemical prohibitions escaped unscathed.

Liberalism adjusted, however. It has since taken credit for most of the reforms associated with that time. Civil rights laws, the war on poverty (including Medicare and Medicaid), women’s rights, affirmative action, and the erasure of cultural discrimination are now a de rigueur part of the CVs of Democratic presidents and the party’s top politicians, those running the mainstream media, the chairmen of leading liberal foundations, Ivy League college presidents, high-end Protestant theologians and clerics, and so many others who proudly display the banner of liberalism. And they do deserve some of the credit. They may have genuinely felt that “Bern” of yesteryear, the one crying out for equal rights before the law.

More importantly, those liberal elites were wise enough or malleable enough, or both, to surf the waves of rebellion of that time. Wisdom and flexibility, however, are only part of the answer to this riddle: Why did mid-twentieth century liberalism manage to reform itself instead of cracking up under the pressure of that sixties moment? The deeper explanation may be that the uprisings of those years assaulted liberalism -- but largely on behalf of liberalism. Explicitly at times, as in the Port Huron Statement, that founding document of the ur-New Left group, Students for a Democratic Society, at other times by implication, the rebellions of that moment demanded that the liberal order live up to its own sacred credo of liberty, equality, and the pursuit of happiness.

The demand to open the system up became the heart and soul of the next phase of liberalism, of the urge to empower the free individual. Today, we might recognize this as the classic Clintonista desire to let all-comers join “the race to the top.”

Looking back, it’s been customary to treat the sixties as an era of youth rebellion. While more than that, it certainly could be understood, in part, as an American version of fathers and sons (not to speak of mothers and daughters). An older generation had created the New Deal order, itself an act of historic rebellion. As it happened, that creation didn’t fit well with a Democratic Party whose southern wing, embedded in the segregationist former Confederacy, rested on Jim Crow laws and beliefs. Nor did New Deal social welfare reforms that presumed a male breadwinner/head of household, while excluding underclasses, especially (but not only) those of the wrong complexion from its protections, square with a yearning for equality.

Moreover, the New Deal saved a capitalist economy laid low in the Great Depression by installing a new political economy of mass consumption. While a wondrous material accomplishment, that was also a socially disabling development, nourishing a culture of status-seeking individualism and so undermining the sense of social solidarity that had made the New Deal possible. Finally, in the Cold War years, it became clear that prosperity and democracy at home depended on an imperial relationship with the rest of the world and the garrisoning of the planet. In the famed phrase of Life Magazine publisher Henry Luce, an “American Century” was born.

Uprisings against that ossifying version of New Deal liberalism made the sixties “The Sixties.” Political emotions were at a fever pitch as rebels faced off against a liberal “establishment.” Matters sometimes became so overheated they threatened to melt the surface of public life. And yet here was a question that, no matter the temperature, was tough to raise at the time: What if liberalism wasn’t the problem? Admittedly, that thought was in the air then, raised not just by new and old lefties, but by Martin Luther King who famously enunciated his second thoughts about capitalism, poverty, race, and war in speeches like “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence.”

Most of the rebels of that moment, however, clung to the ancestral faith. In the end, they were convinced that once equilibrium was restored, a more modern liberalism, shorn of its imperfections, could become a safe haven by excluding nobody. Indicted in those years for its hypocrisy and bad faith, it would be cleansed.

Thanks to those mass rebellions and the persistent if less fiery efforts that followed for decades, the hypocrisy of exclusion, whether of blacks, women, gays, or others, would indeed largely be ended. Or so it seemed. The liberalism inherited from the New Deal had been cleansed -- not entirely to be sure and not without fierce resistance, but then again, nothing’s perfect, is it? End of hypocrisy. End of story.

The Missing Link

Yet at the dawning of the new millennium a paradox began to emerge. Liberal society had proved compatible with justice for all and an equal shot at the end zone. Strangely, however, in its ensuing glorious new world, the one Bill Clinton presided over, liberty, justice, and equality all seemed to be on short rations.

If not the liberal order, then something else was spoiling things. After all, the everyday lives of so many ordinary Americans were increasingly constrained by economic anxiety and a vertiginous sense of social freefall. They experienced feelings of being shut out and scorned, of suffering from a hard-to-define political disenfranchisement, of being surveilled at work (if they had it) and probably elsewhere if not, of fearing the future rather than hoping for what it might bring their way.

Brave and audacious as they were, rarely had the rebel movements of the fabled sixties or those that followed explicitly challenged the underlying distribution of property and power in American society. And yet if liberalism had proved compatible enough with liberty, equality, and democracy, capitalism was another matter.

The liberal elite that took credit for opening up that race to the top had also at times presided over a neoliberal capitalism which had, for decades, been damaging the lives of working people of all colors. (Indeed, nowadays Hillary expends a lot of effort trying to live down the legacy of mass incarceration bequeathed by her husband.) But Republicans have more than shared in this; they have, in fact, often taken the lead in implanting a market- and finance-driven economic system that has produced a few “winners” and legions of losers. Both parties heralded a deregulated marketplace, global free trade, the outsourcing of manufacturing and other industries, the privatization of public services, and the shrink-wrapping of the social safety net. All of these together gutted towns and cities as well as whole regions (think: Rust Belt America) and ways of life.

In the process, the New Deal Democratic Party’s tradition of resisting economic exploitation and inequality vaporized, while the “new Democrats” of the Clinton era and beyond, as well as many in the boardrooms of the Fortune 500 and in hedge-fund America, continued to champion equal rights for all. They excoriated conservative attempts to rollback protections against racial, gender, and sexual discrimination; but the one thing they didn’t do -- none of them -- was disturb the equanimity of the 1%.

And what does freedom and equality amount to in the face of that? For some who could -- thanks to those breakthroughs -- participate in the “race to the top,” it amounted to a lot. For many millions more, however, who have either been riding the down escalator or already lived near or at the bottom of society, it has been a mockery, a hollow promise, something (as George Carlin once noted) we still call the American Dream because “you have to be asleep to believe in it.”

Given their hand in abetting this painful dilemma, the new Democrats seemed made for the already existing sobriquet -- a kind of curse invented by the populist right -- “limousine liberal.” An emblem of hypocrisy, it was conceived and first used in 1969 not by the left but by figures in that then-nascent right-wing movement. The image of a silk-stocking crowd to-the-manner born, bred and educated to rule, networked into the circuits of power and wealth, professing a concern for the downtrodden but not about to surrender any privileges to alleviate their plight (yet prepared to demand that everyone else pony up) has lodged at the heart of American politics ever since. In our time, it has been the magnetic North of right-wing populism.

Class Struggle, American Style

In 1969, President Richard Nixon invoked the “silent majority” to do battle with those who would soon come to be known as “limousine liberals.” He hoped to mobilize a broad swath of the white working class and lower middle class for the Republican Party. This group had been the loyalists of the New Deal Democratic Party, but were then feeling increasingly abandoned by it and disturbed by the rebelliousness of the era.

In the decades that followed, the limousine liberal would prove a perfect piñata for absorbing their resentments about racial upheaval, as well as de-industrialization and decline, and their grief over the fading away of the “traditional family” and its supposed moral certitudes. In this way, the Republican Party won a substantial white working-class vote. It’s clear enough in retrospect that this confrontation between the silent majority and limousine liberalism was always a form of American class struggle.

Nixon proved something of a political genius and his gambit worked stunningly well... until, of course, in our own moment it didn’t. Following his lead, the Republican high command soon understood that waving the red flag of “limousine liberalism” excited passions and elicited votes. They never, however, had the slightest intention of doing anything to truly address the deteriorating circumstances of that silent majority. The party’s leading figures were far too committed to defending the interests of corporate America and the upper classes.

Their gestures, the red meat they tossed to their followers in the “culture wars,” only increased the passions of the era until, in the aftermath of the 2007 financial meltdown and Great Recession, they exploded in a fashion the Republican elite had no way to deal with. What began as their creature, formed in cynicism and out of the festering jealousies and dark feelings of Nixon himself over the way the liberal establishment had held him in contempt, ended up turning on its fabricators.

A “silent majority” would no longer remain conveniently silent. The Tea Party howled about every kind of political establishment in bed with Wall Street, crony capitalists, cultural and sexual deviants, free-traders who scarcely blinked at the jobs they incinerated, anti-taxers who had never met a tax shelter they didn’t love, and decriers of big government who lived off state subsidies. In a zip code far, far away, a privileged sliver of Americans who had gamed the system, who had indeed made gaming the system into the system, looked down on the mass of the previously credulous, now outraged, incredulously.

In the process, the Republican Party was dismembered and it was The Donald who magically rode that Trump Tower escalator down to the ground floor to pick up the pieces. His irreverence for established authority worked. His racist and misogynist phobias worked. His billions worked for millions who had grown infatuated with all the celebrated Wall Street conquistadors of the second Gilded Age. His way of gingerly tiptoeing around Social Security worked with those whose neediness and emotional logic was captured by the person who memorably told a Republican congressman, “Keep your government hands off my Medicare.” Most of all, his muscle-flexing bombast worked for millions fed up with demoralization, paralysis, and powerlessness. They felt The Donald.

In the face-off between right-wing populism and neoliberalism, Tea Party legions and Trumpists now find Fortune 500 CEOs morally obnoxious and an economic threat, grow irate at Federal Reserve bail-outs, and are fired up by the multiple crises set off by global free trade and the treaties that go with it. And underlying such positions is a fantasy of an older capitalism, one friendlier to the way they think America used to be. They might be called anti-capitalists on behalf of capitalism.

Others -- often their neighbors in communities emptying of good jobs and seemingly under assault -- are feeling the Bern. This represents yet another attack on neoliberalism of the limousine variety. Bernie Sanders proudly classifies himself as a socialist, even if his programmatic ideas echo a mildly left version of the New Deal. Yet even to utter the verboten word “socialism” in public, no less insistently run on it and get away with it, exciting the fervent commitment of millions, is stunning -- in fact, beyond imagining in any recent America.

The Sanders campaign had made its stand against the liberalism of the Clinton elite. It has resonated so deeply because the candidate, with all his grandfatherly charisma and integrity, repeatedly insists that Americans should look beneath the surface of a liberal capitalism that is economically and ethically bankrupt and running a political confidence game, even as it condescends to “the forgotten man.”

To a degree then, Trump and Sanders are competing for the same constituencies, which should surprise no one given how far the collateral damage of neoliberal capitalism has spread. Don’t forget that, in the Great Depression era as the Nazis grew more powerful, their party, the National Socialists, not only incorporated that word -- “socialism” -- but competed with the Socialist and Communist parties among the distressed workers of Germany for members and voters. There were even times (when they weren’t killing each other in the streets) that they held joint demonstrations.

Trump is, of course, a conscienceless demagogue, serial liar, and nihilist with a belief in nothing save himself. Sanders, on the other hand, means what he says. On the issue of economic justice, he has been a broken record for more than a quarter-century, even if no one beyond the boundaries of Vermont paid much attention until recently. He is now widely trusted and applauded for his views.

Hillary Clinton is broadly distrusted. Sanders has consistently outpolled her against potential Republican opponents for president because she is indeed a limousine liberal whose career has burned through trust at an astonishing rate. And more important than that, the rebellion that has carried Sanders aloft is not afraid to put capitalism in the dock. Trump is hardly about to do that, but the diseased state of the neoliberal status quo has made him, too, a force to be reckoned with. However you look at it, the age of acquiescence is passing away.

Steve Fraser, a TomDispatch regular, is the author of The Age of Acquiescence, among other works. His new book is The Limousine Liberal: How an Incendiary Image United the Right and Fractured America (Basic Books). He is the co-founder and co-editor of the American Empire Project.

Follow TomDispatch on Twitter and join us on Facebook. Check out the newest Dispatch Book, Nick Turse’s Next Time They’ll Come to Count the Dead, and Tom Engelhardt's latest book, Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World.

Copyright 2016 Steve Fraser

Wednesday, June 01, 2016

Killed in Captivity: The Sad Life and Death of Harambe

All the World’s a Stage: Thoughts on the Death of Harambe, the Cincinnati Zoo Gorilla

by Lee Hall - CounterPunch

June 1, 2016

It’s a SeaWorld moment for the Cincinnati Zoo. A gorilla named Harambe has been shot and killed.

And just as Blackfish—the film exposing everything wrong with using orcas for human observation and fun—reverberates beyond SeaWorld and challenges the existence of aquaria generally, so will Harambe force the public to rethink gorillas wherever we look at them.

Harambe’s life, we now must note, was marked by isolation from this gorilla’s own parents, and by alienation, transit and objectification.

And like the great killer whales, a zoo gorilla, alive or dead, has lost a lifetime, missing everything that makes a free life possible: viable habitat, and interactions with the living communities they’ve co-evolved with.

To redeem the wrong done to Harambe is impossible—as it was ever since the day, 17 years ago, Harambe was born between walls.

What did it take for us to notice? At the Cincinnati Zoo, a little kid slipped through fence and into the exhibit. Keepers shot the gorilla dead in the rush of panic, amidst the screams of spectators. As the zoo explained:

“The Zoo’s Dangerous Animal Response Team responded to the life-threatening situation and made the difficult decision to dispatch the gorilla (Harambe).

A captive animal such as Harambe will always be at risk of paying the ultimate price for a safety breach, though such a scenario is the fault of captivity itself. If we think it appropriate to hold conscious beings in exhibits for ticketholders in the first place, we have already made the assessment that their lives are not as valuable as ours.

We should know better. And nowhere, save possibly in the case of orcas, is the wrong more blatant. We’ve made cultural archetypes of the dangers visited upon us when we bring large beings into exhibits. King Kong, in New York to be displayed, died falling off a building, attention focused on the screaming Fay Wray. The audience was made to sympathize with Kong—or, rather, Kong’s humanlike emotions.

Whether Harambe, if not shot, could have related to the child will be debated in the flow of critiques of the Cincinnati Zoo. But whether a being has an anthropophagic nature or not hardly matters.

We perceive other animals as risky; indeed, an element of these exhibits’ allure is the natural force of the animal contained. Regardless of their supposed virtues, zoos permit the ticket-holders to act out dominance over other beings in a staged environment.

Let the Untamed Be

As I write, the zoo’s Gorilla World page still shows a bio of Harambe, along with the bios of several remaining gorillas. They, captive and unable to safely return to their lands, should not be exhibited, but should instead be offered private refuge. No captive breeding. No public viewing or cognitive research.

One of the Cincinnati Zoo’s survivors is Mondika—named, disturbingly, after an area in the Republic of Congo that habituates western lowland gorillas as research specimens and for ecotourism—thus making a zoo-like destination out of this being’s ancestral habitat.

At a U.S.-sponsored conference, Rwanda’s minister of Trade and Industry spoke of gorillas as a “common resource” of three countries including the Democratic Republic of Congo. Meanwhile, we advocates discuss the matter of whether non-human apes should actually be deemed persons and assigned rights of their own. The best we can do for them today, though, is to release them from the traps our laws have constructed for them. This includes undoing regulatory facilitation of the habituations and public displays of these beings. We need to get out of our own way and our dominion-loving minds to shield them—and their habitat—from the human gaze.

For if rights would mean anything real, at their core is the simple right to be let alone, to flourish on their terms.

Here it’s worth noting an 1890 Harvard Law Review article, The Right to Privacy. Troubled by the distress caused by intrusive reporters, authors Samuel Warren and Louis Brandeis proposed a new tort: the invasion of privacy.

Their aim was to shield the individual from “popular curiosity” and to respect the “inviolate personality” as “part of the more general right to the immunity of the person.” For Harambe and other primates of the other-than-human kind, there’s something to that.

And time, for gorillas and all primates, is of the essence, with around half of all communities of primates at risk of extinction spurred by human intrusions that include hunting, clear-cutting, and resource-guzzling animal agribusiness as well as tourism.

Our honest expression of responsibility for what we have done to Harambe needn’t be legally complicated, but it won’t be easy. What’s needed is a humanity capable of respecting the interests of other members of Earth’s biological community in simply being let alone, in flourishing in their habitats free from our intrusions and control. Such a paradigmatic shift will enable us to gain an authentic respect for the ethic beneath our outrage over Harambe’s death, and to grasp that we are actors within our biosphere, not spectators.
Lee Hall, a Widener University adjunct, holds an LL.M. in Environmental Law, and has authored the new book On Their Own Terms: Animal Liberation for the 21st Century. Follow Lee on Twitter: @Animal_Law
More articles by:Lee Hall

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Gorilla Radio with Chris Cook, Ken Boon, Mark Taliano, Janine Bandcroft June 1st 2016

This Week on GR

by C.L. Cook -

June 1, 2016

Hell and high water analogies aside, Site C proponent BC Hydro has taken a new tack in dealing with the ever-deafening chorus of objection to its ill-advised plans to dam again the Peace River.

Last week, reports emerged revealing Hydro has launched lawsuits aimed at its detractors; lawsuits it swears are not SLAPPs, the infamous Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation legislated against in many more enlightened jurisdictions across North America. It's a statement of which last-century journalist, the legendary Claud Cockburn, may well have observed:

"Never believe anything until it has been officially denied."

Listen. Hear.

Ken Boon is a Peace Valley farmer standing to lose his livelihood should Site C be built. He's also the president of the Peace Valley Landowners Association, and one of the six cited by the Crown corporation in its suit for, “intentional interference with economic relations by unlawful means.” What that interruptus means for Boon, and future protest in the province, is something the BC Civil Liberties Association says is of “grave concern” to it.

Ken Boon in the first half.

And; Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, and Ukraine too, the NATO crusade has lots to brag about, if smashing countries to remnant pieces is their measure for success. That these "victories" were all for the betterment of the people whose lives have been shattered doesn't go without saying - we're informed of the humaneness of NATO's necessary slaughters with such regularity some are beginning to wonder if they don't profess their goodliness too much.

Mark Taliano is a Canadian writer, researcher, and activist who, after a career instructing the youth of the nation, has turned his attention to educating the rest of us. His articles can be found at Global Research, American Herald Tribune, IntrepidReport, and at Pacific Free Press, among other places. His latest article, 'US-NATO’s Fake “Humanitarian” “War on Terrorism”, Defiant Syria' is further indictment of the West's systemic warfare cloaked in the robes of peace.

Mark Taliano and fake humanitarians waging real wars in the second half.

And; Victoria Street Newz publisher emeritus and CFUV Radio broadcaster, Janine Bandcroft will join us from the field at the bottom of the hour to bring us news of some of the good things going on in and around our city in the coming week. But first, Ken Boon and Hydro SLAPPs back at the Site C resistance.

Chris Cook hosts Gorilla Radio, airing live every Wednesday, 1-2pm Pacific Time. In Victoria at 101.9FM, and on the internet at:  He also serves as a contributing editor to the web news site, Check out the GR blog at:
G-Radio is dedicated to social justice, the environment, community, and providing a forum for people and issues not covered in the corporate media.

A "Disconcerting' Moral Compass: Israel's Future/Now

Israel’s Future is Terrifying: Moshe Ya’alon and Israel’s Disconcerting ‘Morality’

by Ramzy Baroud  -

May 31, 2016

Israeli society is constantly swerving to the Right and, by doing so, the country’s entire political paradigm is redefined regularly.

Israel is now ‘ruled by the most extreme rightwing government in its history’ has grown from being an informed assessment to a dull cliché over the course of only a few years.

Former Defense Minister, Ya’alon,
regarded by some as an example of
"professionalism and morality."

In fact, that exact line was used in May 2015, when rightwing Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, formed his thin majority government of like-minded right-wingers, religious zealots and ultra-nationalists. The same sentiment, with almost the exact wording, is being infused again, as Netanyahu has expanded his coalition by bringing to the fold the ultra-nationalist, Avigdor Lieberman.

As of Wednesday May 25, Lieberman has also become Israel’s Defense Minister. Considering Lieberman’s rowdy and violent politics as demonstrated in his two terms as Foreign Minister (from 2009 to 2012 and, again, from 2013 to 2015), being a Defense Minister in Israel’s ‘most extreme rightwing government in history’ harbors all kind of terrifying prospects.

While many commentators rightly pointed to Lieberman’s past provocations and wild statements - for example, his 2015 statement threatening to behead Palestinian citizens of Israel with an axe if they are not fully loyal to Israel; advocating the ethnic cleansing of Palestinian citizens of Israel; his death ultimatum to former Palestinian Prime Minister, Ismail Haniya, and so on - his predecessor, Moshe Ya'alon, was spared much blame.

Worse, the former Defense Minister, Ya’alon, was regarded by some as an example of professionalism and morality. He is 'well-regarded', wrote William Booth in the Washington Post, compared to the 'polarizing maverick' Lieberman. But ‘well-regarded’ by whom? By Israeli society, the majority of whom support the cold-blooded murder of Palestinians?

Israel has adhered to its own definition of political terminology for a long time. Its early ‘socialism’ was a blend of communal living, facilitated by military onslaught and sustained by colonialism. Its current definition of ‘left’, ‘right’ and ‘center’ are also relative, only unique to Israel itself.

Thanks to Lieberman - the former Russian immigrant, club bouncer-turned-politician who is constantly rallying the roughly one million Israeli Russian Jews around his ever-violent political agenda - Ya’alon is now an example of level-headedness and morality.

Indeed, the quote that has been reproduced numerous times in the media is that of Ya’alon stating the reason behind his resignation is that he has lost confidence in ‘Netanyahu’s decision- making and morals’.

Morals? Let’s examine the evidence

Ya’alon took part in every major Israeli war since 1973, and his name was later associated with the most atrocious of Israeli wars and massacres, first in Lebanon and, later, in Gaza.

His ‘morality’ never dissuaded him from ordering some of the most unspeakable war crimes carried out against civilians, neither in Qana, Lebanon (1996) nor in Shujaya, Gaza (2014).

Ya’alon refused to cooperate with any international investigation conducted by the UN or any other monitoring group into his violent conduct. In 2005, he was sued in a US court by the survivors of the Qana massacre in which hundreds of civilians and UN peacekeepers were killed and wounded in Israeli military strikes in Lebanon. In that case, neither Israeli nor American morality prevailed, and justice is yet to be delivered.

Ya’alon, who received military training early in his career at the British Army's Camberley Staff College, continued to rise in rank within the army until 2002 when he was appointed Chief of Staff of the Israeli Defense Forces. He was in that post for nearly three years, as a result of which he ordered the assassination of hundreds of Palestinians and oversaw various massacres that were carried out by the Israeli army during the Second Intifada.

His post was terminated by the then Defense Minister, Shaul Mofaz, in 2005. In this case, too, it was immorality, not morality, that played a role in the conflict between him and his superiors. Ya’alon was - and remains - an ardent advocate for the illegal colonialization of Palestinian land. In 2005, he vehemently rejected the so-called redeployment from the Gaza Strip, in which a few thousands illegal settlers were relocated to Jewish colonies in the West Bank.

His war crimes caught up with him in New Zealand in 2006 - over the assassination of a Hamas commander, Saleh Shehade, together with 14 members of his family and other civilians. An arrest order was issued but revoked later, under heavy political pressure, allowing Ya’alon to escape the country.

He returned to the helm of the army in 2013, just in time to carry out the devastating war on Gaza in 2014, which killed 2,257 Palestinians in 51 days. The UN monitoring group, OCHA, estimated that over 70 percent of those killed were civilians, including 563 children.

The destruction of Shujaya, in particular, was a calculated strategy devised by Ya’alon himself. In a July 2013 meeting with UN Secretary-General, Ban-Ki-Moon, Ya’alon informed the UN chief that he would bomb the entire neighborhood in case of war. He did.

In May 2015, he was still unrepentant. Speaking at a conference in Jerusalem, he threatened to kill civilians in case of another war on Lebanon. “We are going to hurt Lebanese civilians to include kids of the family,” he said.

“We went through a very long deep discussion. We did it then, we did it in (the) Gaza Strip, we are going to do it in any round of hostilities in the future,” he said.

He also spoke implicitly of dropping a nuclear bomb on Iran.

He repeatedly gave the Israeli Occupation army the green light to carry out ‘shoot to kill’ policy against Palestinians to fight rising ‘tension’ in the Occupied Territories.

These are the words of Ya’alon during a visit to a military base in Gush Etzion in November 2014:

“It must be clear that anyone who comes to kill Jews must be eliminated. Any terrorist who raises a gun, knife or rock, tries to run over or otherwise attack Jews, must be put to death.”

Hundreds of Palestinians have been killed in recent months in Occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank. Many of those killed are stone-throwing children who are facing Israeli army vehicles along with thousands of trigger-happy Jewish settlers.

In his first public remarks since his resignation, Ya'alon accused a ‘vocal minority’ in Israel of targeting the country's "basic values", stating that the country's "moral compass" has been lost.

The odd thing is that many Israelis agree with Ya’alon. They see the man who has been accused of carrying out war crimes for most of his career as an example of morality and basic values.

While Lieberman has demonstrated to be a loose cannon and a political liability, Ya’alon has openly spoken of targeting children and repeatedly lived up to his promises.

When the likes of Ya’alon, a man with a blood-stained record becomes the face of morality in Israel, once can understand why the future of that country brings little hope, especially now that Lieberman has brought his Israel Our Home Party to Netanyahu’s terrifying nest of political parties.

Dr. Ramzy Baroud has been writing about the Middle East for over 20 years. He is an internationally-syndicated columnist, a media consultant, an author of several books and the founder of His books include “Searching Jenin”, “The Second Palestinian Intifada” and his latest “My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story”. His website is