Friday, November 30, 2007

Lovesong, by Ted Hughes

* He loved her and she loved him.
His kisses sucked out her whole past and future or tried to He had no other appetite She bit him she gnawed him she sucked She wanted him complete inside her Safe and sure forever and ever Their little cries fluttered into the curtains Her eyes wanted nothing to get away Her looks nailed down his hands his wrists his elbows He gripped her hard so that life Should not drag her from that moment He wanted all future to cease He wanted to topple with his arms round her Off that moment's brink and into nothing Or everlasting or whatever there was Her embrace was an immense press To print him into her bones His smiles were the garrets of a fairy palace Where the real world would never come Her smiles were spider bites So he would lie still till she felt hungry His words were occupying armies Her laughs were an assassin's attempts His looks were bullets daggers of revenge His glances were ghosts in the corner with horrible secrets His whispers were whips and jackboots Her kisses were lawyers steadily writing His caresses were the last hooks of a castaway Her love-tricks were the grinding of locks And their deep cries crawled over the floors Like an animal dragging a great trap His promises were the surgeon's gag Her promises took the top off his skull She would get a brooch made of it His vows pulled out all her sinews He showed her how to make a love-knot Her vows put his eyes in formalin At the back of her secret drawer Their screams stuck in the wall Their heads fell apart into sleep like the two halves Of a lopped melon, but love is hard to stop In their entwined sleep they exchanged arms and legs In their dreams their brains took each other hostage In the morning they wore each other's face *

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Have They No Shame? by Amy Goodman

Posted on Nov 27, 2007

By Amy Goodman

Every Saturday, the president of the United States gives a radio address to the nation. It is followed by the Democratic response, usually given by a senator or representative. This past Saturday the Democrats chose retired Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez to give their response, the same general accused in at least three lawsuits in the U.S. and Europe of authorizing torture and cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment of prisoners in Iraq. This, combined with the Democrats’ endorsement of Attorney General Michael Mukasey despite his unwillingness to label waterboarding as torture, indicates that the Democrats are increasingly aligned with President Bush’s torture policies.

Sanchez headed the Army’s operations in Iraq from June 2003 to June 2004. In September 2003, Sanchez issued a memo authorizing numerous techniques, including “stress positions” and the use of “military working dogs” to exploit “Arab fear of dogs” during interrogations. He was in charge when the abuses at Abu Ghraib prison occurred.

Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski, who headed Abu Ghraib at the time, worked under Gen. Sanchez. She was demoted to colonel, the only military officer to be punished. She told me about another illegal practice, holding prisoners as so-called ghost detainees: “We were directed on several occasions through Gen. [Barbara] Fast or Gen. Sanchez. The instructions were originating at the Pentagon from Secretary Rumsfeld, and we were instructed to hold prisoners without assigning a prisoner number or putting them on the database, and that is contrary to the Geneva Conventions. We all knew it was contrary to the Geneva Conventions.” In addition to keeping prisoners off the database there were other abuses, she said, like prison temperatures reaching 120 to 140 degrees, dehydration and the order from Gen. Geoffrey Miller to treat prisoners “like dogs.”

And it’s not just about treatment of prisoners. In 2006, Karpinski testified at a mock trial, called the Bush Crimes Commission. She revealed that several female U.S. soldiers had died of dehydration by denying themselves water. They were afraid to go to the latrine at night to urinate, for fear of being raped by fellow soldiers: “Because the women, in fear of getting up in the hours of darkness to go out to the portolets or the latrines, were not drinking liquids after 3:00 or 4:00 in the afternoon. And in 120-degree heat or warmer, because there was no air conditioning at most of the facilities, they were dying from dehydration in their sleep. What [Sanchez’s deputy commanding general, Walter Wojdakowski] told the surgeon to do was, ‘Don’t brief those details anymore. And don’t say specifically that they’re women. You can provide that in a written report, but don’t brief it in the open anymore.’” Karpinski said Sanchez was at that briefing.

Former military interrogator Tony Lagouranis, author of “Fear Up Harsh,” described the use of dogs: “We were using dogs in the Mosul detention facility, which was at the Mosul airport. We would put the prisoner in a shipping container. We would keep him up all night with music and strobe lights, stress positions, and then we would bring in dogs. The prisoner was blindfolded, so he didn’t really understand what was going on, but we had the dog controlled. The dog would be barking and jumping on the prisoner, and the prisoner wouldn’t really understand what was going on.”

Reed Brody of Human Rights Watch elaborated on Sanchez: “For those three months of mayhem that were occurring right under his nose, he never stepped in. And, also, he misled Congress about it. He was asked twice at a congressional hearing whether he ever approved the use of guard dogs. This was before the memo came out. And both times he said he never approved it. [W]e finally got the actual memo, in which he approves ‘exploiting Arab fear of dogs.’ ” Brody dismissed the military report clearing Sanchez of any wrongdoing: “It’s just not credible for the Army to keep investigating itself and keep finding itself innocent.”

This is not about politics. This is about the moral compass of the nation. The Democrats may be celebrating a retired general who has turned on his commander in chief. But the public should take pause.

The Democrats had a chance to draw a line in the sand, to absolutely require Mukasey to denounce waterboarding before his elevation to attorney general. Now they have chosen as their spokesman a discredited general, linked to the most egregious abuses in Iraq. The Bush administration passed Sanchez over for a promotion, worried about reliving the Abu Ghraib scandal during the 2006 election year. Now it’s the Democrats who have resuscitated him. Have they no shame?

Amy Goodman is the host of “Democracy Now!,” a daily international TV/radio news hour airing on 500 stations in North America.

© 2007 Amy Goodman

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Bush’s Twenty-Billion Dollar Arms Sale to Saudi Arabia

The Zionist Power Configuration Defeats Big Oil, the Military Industrial Complex, the White House and the Pentagon

The debate on which forces determine US Middle East policy has cut across the usual political spectrum: On one side most neo-conservative and progressive writers, academics and journalists argue that the military-industrial complex and Big Oil interests are the most influential forces shaping US policy. On the other, a small group of conservative and leftist writers and a few academics have identified what some call the Israel or Zionist Lobby and others refer to the Zionist Power Configuration (ZPC) as the prevailing influence in deciding US strategic policies in the Middle East.

While the debate rages over who and what interests got us into the Iraq war and the escalating confrontation with Iran, there is no better test of conflicting positions than the proposed US sale of $20 billion dollars of military equipment to Saudi Arabia.

The Pentagon led by Secretary of Defense Robert Gates agreed to the sale; it was backed by President Bush, Vice President Cheney and at least tacitly by the entire executive branch, including the National Security Council. All of the biggest US, European and Asian multi-national petroleum companies, refiners and importers were in favor of upgrading the military defensive capacity of the world’s biggest oil producer since hundreds of billions in commercial and financial profits are transacted there every year. The US Middle East Command (CENTCOM) with major air bases and strategic logistic support systems in Saudi Arabia could not but support Saudi acquisition of a defensive high-tech air reconnaissance system.

Saudi Arabia is the most reliable and biggest single supplier of petroleum to the US world-wide. Saudi Arabia has been a staunch ally of the US — more like a client state — in all the US military and surrogate wars and interventions from the co-financing of anti-Soviet Muslim fundamentalist in Afghanistan, the attack on Yugoslavia and support of break-away Bosnia and Kosovo, to the two Gulf Wars and present confrontation with Iran, to its opposition of each and every Arab nationalist or leftist regime over the past 60 years. From the perspective of US imperial interests, dominance and influence in Asia, the Balkans and especially the Middle East, one would think that a military sale worth $20 billion dollars to the Saudi monarchy would be automatically and overwhelmingly approved by the US Congress.

This is especially the case because a $20 billion dollar sale will generate thousands of new jobs and will lessen the huge trade deficit. At the recent OPEC meeting, the Saudis strongly opposed dumping hundreds of billions of depreciating dollars they currently hold as foreign reserves — or even discussing the matter.

There is no greater contrast from the point of view of costs-benefit in comparing Saudi Arabia to Israel. The latter is subsidized by the US, having been gifted over $120 billion dollars over the last 30 years, while it competes, as the second largest arms exporter, with the US-military industrial complex thus costing American jobs, and it supplies absolutely no strategic materials to the US economy. Indeed, Israel has direct access to the most up-to-date US funded military technology, which it then sells to its clients. This is in stark contrast to Saudi Arabia’s servile relation with the US. Israel has constantly demanded and received US support and financing for its wars, its illegal colonization of Palestinian land, and it has unwavering US support for its repudiation of international law and numerous violations of United Nations mandates. While Saudi Arabia supports the US economy and is a strategic supplier of petroleum, Israel drains the US economy and secures its petroleum from it. Beginning in early 2007, the entire ZPC mobilized to block the US arms and military technology sales to Saudi Arabia. Zionist pressure was so intense and its control over Congress was so evident to the White House and Pentagon that Defense Secretary Gates did not even try to counter the ZPC’s campaign in the US Congress. Instead he went straight to the ZPC’s control center in Israel and not with empty hands. He pleaded with Israel to call of its American attack dogs in exchange for a ‘donation’ of over $30 billion dollars in US military handouts to Israel over the next ten years. Olmert accepted Gates offer: The US had paid the price but still the ZPC did not turn over their hostage Congress. President Bush and Secretary Gates were convinced that Israel would muzzle the Presidents of the Major American Jewish Organizations to allow the Saudi sale to go through. This did not happen. Why should it? President Bush could not withdraw the well-publicized pay-off to Israel; it was already in the legislative books. He could not retaliate; the ZPC-controlled Congress would oppose any and all counter measures.

So Bush and Gates went ahead and sent the bill to Congress authorizing the $20 billion sales to Saudi Arabia, a trillion dollar economy with a two-bit military wholly dependent on its US military protector.

Immediately the ZPC rounded up its automatic 190 members of the House of Representatives to sign a letter opposing the sale. The ZPC formulated the position embodied in the letter and oversaw its draft with the collaboration of its co-religionists in Congress. Zionist Congress members Shelley Berkeley and Anthony Weiner teamed up with Michael Ferguson. The Zion-Cons claimed justifiably that they could mobilize over three quarters of the Congress on any issue affecting Israel’s ‘security’. Zionist lawmakers claimed, “the sale would undermine Israel’s superiority in the region”. Every major independent military think tank would dispute this argument since Israel is the only nuclear power in the region, has the biggest and most technologically sophisticated air force and missile system, while Saudi Arabia and all the Gulf States have trouble even controlling local ground level bomb throwers.

There are two likely outcomes both demonstrating categorically that it is the ZPC that dictates US policies in the Middle East:

The military sales will not fly.

The military sale will be approved on conditions that Israel is privy to all its details and can modify or omit any part of the agreement.

The ZPC was even able to strong arm the Congress-people who have made a lifelong career out of aggressively promoting the interests of Big Oil (BO) and the Military Industrial Complex (MIC) to switch sides and vote against the sale of weapons to Saudi Arabia — BO’s strategic partner and the MIC’s best overseas customer. Congress members from BO states like Texas and states with large military industries like California endorsed the ZPC letter prejudicing their constituents and big campaign financers. The feeble ‘lobbying’ by BO and the MIC in favor of the White House were crushed by the ZPC Congressional juggernaut.

The major trade unions of the AFL-CIO, like the steel workers, machinists, oil and chemical workers, electrical workers — whose members’ jobs were at stake, did not protest, let alone challenge the ZPC, demonstrating the high degree of Zionist influence over the trade union bosses. The obvious point is that the Congress and the ZFL-CIO are both Zionist colonized institutions.

The issue is not whether the US should or should not sell arms to Saudi Arabia (I oppose all arms sales and the MIC and BO around the world). The fundamental issue is whether we, the citizens, the elected representatives and the trade unionists in the United States, can be free of foreign colonization to decide the issue. The issue is whether we are or can be a free and independent nation or a subject of a tiny powerful elite acting for a foreign power.

The narrative on the US proposed multi-billion dollar arms sales to a wealthy third rate military power demonstrates once again that Israeli interests have priority over US trade, jobs and geopolitical interests. Secondly the narrative confirms that the Israeli state dictates US political relations in the Middle East through its US conduit: the ZPC. Finally it refutes the Zionist geo-politicians and ‘oil’ and ‘military experts’ who cover up for the ZPC by falsely blaming Big Oil for policies they oppose because it prejudices their strategic partnership.

By blackmail and deceit, the Israelis got their additional $30 billion dollars over the next ten years and they double-crossed ‘their’ president by unleashing their Fifth Column to block his military sales to the Saudis. And if Bush dares a complaint, he will be added to the list of ‘anti-Semites’ — the only honorable list in his entire 8 years in office.

James Petras, a former Professor of Sociology at Binghamton University, New York, owns a 50-year membership in the class struggle, is an adviser to the landless and jobless in Brazil and Argentina, and is co-author of Globalization Unmasked (Zed Books). His latest book is The Power of Israel in the United States (Clarity Press, 2006). His forthcoming book is Rulers and Ruled (Bankers, Zionists and Militants (Clarity Press, Atlanta). He can be reached at: Read other articles by James, or visit James's website.


"PRONOIA IS THE ANTIDOTE FOR PARANOIA: How the Whole World Is Conspiring to Shower You with Blessings" is available for sale at To read news and features from the book, go here: Here's an excerpt: BRAINSCRAMBLING Relax. Put yourself in a comfortable position. Breathe deeply. Let the tension stream out of your head and neck and shoulders. Imagine that your worries are flowing out of you into the good earth below. Say "ahhhhh" in your softest tone. Dissolve the constricted energy in your chest and belly and pelvis, and let it trickle away. Allow the stress in your legs and feet to evaporate. With each breath, send out a wave of love to your entire body. Relax even more deeply. Become aware that all of the disquiet within you is departing. Your knots are unraveling. Your congestion is dissipating. Now close your eyes and imagine that it's a bright and warm summer day at the beach. You're sitting in a cozy chair. The sky is a deep, infinite blue. A balmy breeze caresses your cheeks. Your body feels strong and serene. You're in harmony with the flow of life. Look around you. See the sparkling white sand. Feel the gentle waves swirl around your ankles. As you bask in this beauty and calm, imagine that you're reading the Wall Street Journal and listening to the soothingly riotous music of a klezmer polka band playing free-form jazz with a hip-hop beat. Nearby is a shopping mall you have recently bought and converted into a country club for poor people. A satellite phone and a wireless laptop are by your side because you must always be available to conduct late-breaking business deals, buy or sell stocks, or give spiritual advice. Amazing but true: You are both a billionaire and a wise counselor. This blend of wealth and sagacity has led you to become a philanthropic healer. Through cash donations and gifts of insight, you have helped thousands of people transform themselves into gorgeous geniuses skilled at expressing their souls' codes. Relax even more deeply. Tune in to the understanding that you are a furiously curious soul full of orgiastic compassion for everything alive. You are an ongoing experiment in lyrical logic, a slow explosion of uncanny delight, a sacred agent devoted to breaking the taboo against feeling crafty joy. Now say this: I have only barely imagined the blessings that await me. As interesting and as full as my life is, I'm ready for it to become even more so. With this declaration, you have given the future permission to transform you into a more awakened version of yourself than you ever knew was possible. Continue your cooperation with the glorious fate that's coming your way. Speak the following affirmations, which have been scientifically formulated to free you of all rigid beliefs that might cause stupidity: I kick my own ass and wash my own brain. I push my own buttons and trick my own pain. I burn my own flags and roast my own heroes. I mock my own fears and cheer my own zeroes. Nothing can stop me from teasing my shadow. I'm full of empty and backwards bravado. My wounds are tattoos that reveal my true beauty. I turn tragic to magic and make bliss my duty. I honor my faults till they become virtues. I play jokes on my nightmares till I'm sure they won't hurt you. I sing anarchist lullabies to lesbian trees and love songs with punch lines to anonymous seas. I won't accept gifts that infringe on my freedom I shun sacred places that stir up my boredom. I change my name daily, pretend to be nobody. I fight for the truth if it's majestically rowdy. I brag about what I can't do and don't know. I take off my clothes to those I oppose. I'm so far beyond lazy, I work like a god. I'm totally crazy; in fact that's my job. It's all true. You're completely wacko. Throbbingly, succulently, shimmeringly insane. And that's good news. This understanding frees you up to sing in the acid rain and cultivate global warming in your pants. You are in prime condition to study the difference between stupid insecurity and smart insecurity until you get it right. You realize beyond a doubt that everyone who believes in the devil is the devil. You feel a longing to stick out your tongue and cross your eyes and put on your most beautifully ugly face as you sneak up on yourself from behind and whisper "boo!" And you see the healthy wisdom of now and then inserting into your conversations the following quote, uttered by the Baron in the film The Adventures of Baron Munchausen: "Your reality, sir, is lies and balderdash, and I'm happy to say I have no grasp of it whatsoever." And congratulations. Every cell in your perfect animal body is beginning to purr with luminous gratitude for the enormity of the riches you endlessly receive. You are becoming aware that each of your heart's beats originates as a gift of love directly from the Goddess herself. Any residues of hatred that had been tainting your libido are leaving you for good. You are becoming telepathically linked to the world's entire host of secret teachers, pacifist warriors, philosopher clowns, and bodhisattvas disguised as convenience store clerks. In other words, you're on the verge of détente with your evil twin. And you're ready to submit to a multiple-choice test, which goes like this: How does it make you feel when I urge you to confess profound secrets to people who are not particularly interested? Does it make you want to: a. cultivate a healthy erotic desire for a person you'd normally never be attracted to in a million years; b. stop helping your friends glamorize their pain; c. imitate a hurricane in the act of extinguishing a forest fire; d. visualize Buddha or Mother Teresa at the moment of orgasm; e. steal something that's already yours. The right answer, of course, is any answer you thought was correct. Congratulations. You're even smarter than you knew. To seal your victory, repeat the following affirmation: "Stressed" is "desserts" spelled backward. Now remain here for a while in this state of supernatural relaxation. As you begin to return to normal waking consciousness, don't return to normal waking consciousness. Instead, practice feeling the confidence that you can invoke the scent of wild honey in a sunlit meadow any time you feel an urge to. In honor of your enhanced power to be yourself, I hereby reward you with a host of fresh titles. From now on you will be known as the Senior Vice President of Strawberry Fields and Hummingbirds, and the Deputy Director of Green Lights and Purple Hearts. Consider yourself, as well, to be the new Puzzle-Master Supreme, the Chief Custodian of Secret Weapons, and Field Commander of Free Lunches and Poetic Licenses.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Moral Primitivism Anyone? A Satirical Examination of an Apologia for Industrialized Torture

“Again, if PETA is putting something out, I will always have my doubts - they see things one way and one way only. Theirs. In many ways the activists in this country are terrorists of a kind….” [Excerpt from an email written by a heavily indoctrinated and reactionary US American]

By Jason Miller


For a year now I have been an ethical vegetarian. Last Thanksgiving, I made what I thought was an enlightened moral decision to stop eating meat and to severely restrict my egg and dairy consumption. However, an email recently hit my inbox that presents such a powerful argument justifying the wanton torture and slaughter of animals (so we can please our palates) that my moral sensibilities and capacity to reason have been utterly disarmed. Signed with a cryptic “JC,” this missive pummeled me with points I had not even considered when I made what I now rightly view as my ridiculous decision to go “meatless.”

In fact, rarely a day goes by that I don’t catch scent of the pungent aroma of the famous Kansas City barbeque I still crave—one can barely travel a mile or two in KC without finding oneself in olfactory range of restaurants that prepare extraordinarily delicious servings of non-human animal flesh. I fully admit that I miss devouring tender, succulent sauce-drenched ribs, burnt ends, sliced beef, brisket….As I write this, I’m salivating like one of Pavlov’s dogs tethered to the Cathedral Tower in Limerick on a Sunday morning….

What an extraordinary dilemma JC has created for me. At times I am still consumed by an almost overwhelming temptation to indulge myself in the consumption of one of my fellow animals. Feasting on sentient beings that had endured tortured, miserable existences (existences that were mere warm-ups for the sheer savagery that awaited them in the slaughterhouse) was one of my favorite pastimes.

So the question is, do I continue denying myself the sublime pleasure of dining on animal tissue in order to appease my conscience, or do I embrace JC’s brilliant justification of meat consumption and satiate my hunger with a thick rare burger drowned in Heinz?

Allow me to examine and dissect some of JC’s eloquent and illuminating conclusions:

JC: “I can’t be held responsible for how turkeys or any animals are slaughtered. I’m never going to give up meat or fish or fowl, as our diet does require us to have protein and other nutrients that we receive from these products and I and many others enjoy eating them.”

So forget the notion of the banality of evil. As a consumer, even if I eat meat I am absolved of ALL responsibility for the unimaginable horrors the producers inflict upon factory-farmed animals from “cradle to grave.”

For Christ’s sake! I’ve been subsisting for over a year without said “protein and other nutrients” from meat! I am a miracle of modern science!

And I find it nearly impossible to disagree with JC’s statement that “I and many others enjoy eating them.” (The “them” being animals of course— I would be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy eating meat). As I was growing up my mother frequently confronted me with the question, “If everyone else jumped off a bridge would you do it too?” Obviously the “correct” response was “no.” Sorry, Mom, but JC’s lemming logic is a hell of a lot more enticing than going against the grain and “doing the right thing.” Screw that—I’ll have the porterhouse, please!

JC: “People have to eat and the bulk of their protein comes from animal sources. They have been doing it since the cave man and it isn’t going to stop anytime soon. Tofu just doesn’t cut it for most people as a meat substitute, nor those grotesque meat imitations made from veggie products and then shaped into meat like looking products.”

Now that is a truly impenetrable Maginot Line of reasoning. I can’t begin to argue with the assertion that people have to eat. And the bulk of my protein did indeed come from animal sources for about 39 years of my life. JC is a tough nut to crack! And to think I’ve actually been eating tofu and “those grotesque meat imitations made from veggie products and then shaped into meat like looking products.” I cannot imagine what I’ve been thinking. Hunks of blood-saturated animal flesh, fat, and muscle that at some point in the production process were commingled with various organs, hooves, fur, and shit–forget those “grotesque meat imitations.” I can really wrap my appetite around mutilated and raw animal parts that quickly rot if they aren’t refrigerated.

Sorry Bossy, Wilbur and feathered friends. Since we human animals don’t find “meat like looking products” to be delectable, we’re going to continue confining you in dark, cramped quarters throughout your rueful lives, pumping you full of a toxic stew of antibiotics and growth hormones, causing you to grow so rapidly that you become crippled, performing surgery on you with no anesthetic, ripping out your teeth and clipping off your beaks so that when you go insane from the conditions we keep you under you can attack your fellow victims without damaging our product, loading you into severely over-crowded trucks in which you will do without food or water for several days, and ultimately hanging you by your hind legs, slitting your throats, crushing your skulls, and boiling you to death.

Besides, consuming animal flesh worked well for Neanderthals and a mere 50,000 years have passed. Don’t rush us into making changes.

JC: “All the people that chose to eat vegetarian style to attempt to make a statement, can do so, but their numbers will never increase enough to make a difference in the amount of animals that are slaughtered. Its supply and demand and it appears that the demand is still there. I think a more riveting point in considering limiting human consumption of some of these products is to be more careful about the meat/fowl/fish one eats is because of all the contamination w/ e.coli, salmonella & mercury. That to me, is the real concern.”

She’s right. Every last one of us who “eat vegetarian style” just wants “to make a statement.” It has NOTHING to do with ethics, moral or conscience. We’re just showing off, carving out a niche and making a name for ourselves. And there are so damn few of us that the immutable laws of capitalism (which all good libertarians from Texas KNOW were handed down to Moses along with the Ten Commandments) will inevitably prevail. It is God’s will that we adhere to the law of supply and demand as the chief guiding principle of humanity. So when JC so astutely observes, “it appears the demand is still there,” who are we humble herbivores to argue?

And what self-respecting speciesist inflated with the hubris of humanity’s inherent right to subjugate and exploit “lesser” beings wouldn’t agree with this gem from JC?

“I think a more riveting point in considering limiting human consumption of some of these products is to be more careful about the meat/fowl/fish one eats is because of all the contamination w/ e.coli, salmonella & mercury. That to me, is the real concern.”

Fuck the non-human animals. Humans are the REAL concern. Why didn’t I think of that before I wasted 12 months of prime meat-eating time? Keep brutalizing the cows, pigs and chickens. Just take care not to get sick when you eat them.

JC: “This is not one plight that I’m going to worry about - especially since itis an American tradition. If people want to eat plain lasagne for T-day or just a green bean casserole for any holiday they can certainly do so, but it isn’t something that I would personally choose to do.”

Inflicting unconscionable pain and abuse upon non-human animals so that we can eat them is an “American tradition.” JC is right! And you don’t fuck with traditions, especially American ones. Like bombing smaller countries into the Stone Age. Manifest destinying our way across the North American continent. Installing and supporting ruthless dictators who adhere to the Washington Consensus. Wielding our economic power like a cudgel to beat sovereign nations into submission. Lynching. Jim Crow. Slavery. Native American genocide. Just to name a few.

And I have to admit that there is something fundamentally flawed with anyone who would “want to eat plain lasagna for T-day or just a green bean casserole for any holiday.” That is just plain un-American. Let’s start carving that bird!

JC: “Again, if PETA is putting something out, I will always have my doubts - they see things one way and one way only. Theirs. In many ways the activists in this country are terrorists of a kind. They think they are more civilized in their behavior but they try to terrorize people “by educating them” to the extreme conditions some animals face and are unable to be reasoned with at all. Its their way or the highway.”

“If PETA is putting something out, I will always have my doubts - they see things one way and one way only.” Amen to that, JC. Simply examine their name. Can you imagine a more arrogant, rigid group than the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals? Thanks to JC’s email, I too am beginning to harbor many doubts about them. Where the hell do Ingrid Newkirk and her band of “terrorists of a kind” get off thinking they are “more civilized in their behavior?” As human beings, don’t we have the God-given right of dominion, which would mean we can abuse animals whenever we damn well please? And PETA members, don’t you dare terrorize us with your knowledge. The reality is that we enjoy eating the flesh of dead animals and the more ignorant of their pain we remain, the better. So PETA, you can take OUR way or the highway. I think you know where the meat-eating population wants you to shove your ethics. We’re broiling pork chops tonight!

So for a year now I have engaged in this rotten behavior known as vegetarianism. I have been depriving my body of protein, have been eating “grotesque” meat substitutes for no reason, have been violating sacred American traditions, have been “making a statement,” have been engaging in a form of elitism, and have been a “terrorist of a kind.” Somebody stop this bus! I want off!

Mea culpa!

And just how many pounds of meat must I consume before I am once again practicing the “American Way of Life” and reveling in its “non-negotiable” splendor?

Jason Miller is a recovering US American middle class suburbanite who strives to remain intellectually free. He is Cyrano’s Journal Online’s associate editor ( and publishes Thomas Paine’s Corner within Cyrano’s at You can reach him at

Scientific findings on global consciousness at the Sedona Creative Life Center on Nov 30

Dr. Roger Nelson, Director of the Global Consciousness Project will speak at the Sedona Creative Life Center, 333 Schnebly Hill Road, Friday, November 30, 2007 from 7-9pm. Admission: $15.

Sedona, AZ - Dr. Roger Nelson, Director of the Princeton Global Consciousness Project presents An Epiphany of Scientific Findings on Global Consciousness at the Sedona Creative Life Center, 333 Schnebly Hill Road, Friday, November 30, 7-9 PM. Admission: $15.

Find out what scientists are discovering about how we can collectively empower global consciousness to heal the world and transform reality.

Dr. Nelson’s professional degrees are in experimental cognitive psychology, with a special focus on the lesser known aspects of perception. His primary work in design and analysis is supplemented by a background in physics, statistical methods, and multi-media production.

Until his retirement in 2002, he served as the coordinator of experimental work in the Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research (PEAR) lab, directed by Robert Jahn in the department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, School of Engineering/Applied Science, Princeton University.

Dr. Rogers gives most of his time to the Global Consciousness Project (GCP), which he directs. The GCP is an international, multi-laboratory collaboration (independent from the PEAR program) that maintains a network of random event generators (REGs) around the world that send data continuously over the internet to a server in Princeton, NJ. The purpose is to examine subtle correlations that reflect the presence and activity of consciousness in the world.

GCP says it has learned that when millions of us share intentions and emotions created by powerful global events, such as the funerals of Princess Diana and Mother Teresa, the network shows correlations that can be interpreted as evidence for a growing global consciousness. It suggests we have the capability and responsibility for conscious evolution. We make the world we live in.

Don’t miss this opportunity to hear Dr. Nelson discuss his involvement in PEAR and the various projects in which he was involved.

For more information on the GCP, visit:

Monday, November 26, 2007

Nights of Rage: On the recent revolts in France

Original title: Le notti della collera: Sulle recenti sommosse di Francia by Filippo Argenti Translated by Barbara Stefanelli There is something knocking and knocking impatiently at our door. Sooner or later we will have to open… Many stay hidden, not only the cowards, but also those who are too calm or too refined. They do not want to get involved. But they are involved as the stream continuously drags them and their blinkers are useless. Even language fails miserably, language inherited from the old world, with its old sacrifices, its old images, and its embellishment of another era. Nothing is as it was before; old words fall on one another because they can cling to nothing new. There are heights that no joke, no witticism and no wisdom can reach. The bourgeois era is coming to an end. No one knows what is coming. Many have a dark premonition and so they are mocked. The masses also have a dark sensation about it but they are unable to express themselves and are (still) suppressed. The Old and the New, the insoluble opposition between what is and what will be, are gently fighting each other, and armed to the teeth they throw themselves against each other. A seaquake is hitting the earth. It is not just economics; it is not just a question of eating, drinking and making money. It is not just a matter of how wealth will be distributed, of who will work and who will be exploited. No, what is at stake is different: it is everything. -Kurt Tucholsky, Weltbühne, March 11 1920. INTRODUCTION This booklet is a modest contribution to understanding the recent revolts in France. Needless to say, it is not sociological or, in a nobler sense, theoretical insight. Revolts can only be understood by those who have the same needs as the rebels, that is to say by those who feel they are part of the revolt. After a brief chronology, in fact, the pages that follow pose the question of how the events of November in France concern all of us, and also try to give a possible answer. We would like to highlight a few points in this short introduction. If we take a quick look at the various revolutionary theories circulated in France, Italy and in the USA in recent years, we can see how these revolts were not at all unexpected or unpredictable. Some comrades are talking of civil war, of explosions that are difficult to identify with the places where capital concentrates and controls the exploited and of their total exposition to merchandise. Not by chance have the nineteenth century theses on the barbarians, on the collapse of any common logos of the exploited, and the ambivalence of the concept of nihilism, etc., been revised. Certain concepts express, even if in an embryonic and confused way, needs that go beyond the individual. In this sense, there exits a direct relation between these revolts and revolutionary theory. It is a kind of dialogue from a distance. According to French comrades, any attempt at a direct encounter has so far failed. Common hostility to the police or practical solidarity to the arrested has not been enough. Evidently these revolts are in themselves a theoretical suggestion, a reflection on the world. But what do they tell us? Certainly not that the insurgents want to manage this world, control production and technology from below. They do not tell us about hard-working multitudes nor of ‘Zapatista marches’ carried out by intellectual labourers for a democratic Europe. The flames in France have destroyed all social democratic illusions of integrating the poor into the society of capital. Walter Benjamin asked himself how in 1830 the Paris rioters shot at town clocks, in different parts of the city and without coordinating the action; for our part we cannot fail to reflect on why wild youths of today are burning cars. In fact, what does the car represent in contemporary society? We leave the question unanswered. If the claim of putting forward great revolutionary analyses that explain everything and that the proletarians only have to apply diligently has now disappeared, it is time that revolutionary action itself was conceived in a totally different way. Instead of the mission of taking the flag to where the first fire breaks out and the first barricade is erected, there is now the chance to put up barricades or start fires elsewhere, as an extension of the revolt, not as its political direction. In fact, the lamentations of those on the side of the insurgents who complain about the lack of any political programme are quite pathetic. To extend the revolt, however, does not mean to put oneself at the level of existing practises and multiply them (cars are burning, so we are going to burn them too), but it means deciding what must be struck, and how, to uphold the universal significance of the revolt. At the same time, to transform the angry youths of the suburbs into the new revolutionary subjects would be equally pathetic. It would be great to think that the students in struggle against precarity had taken the baton from the insurgents of November. It is not quite like that. Even if there were lots of slogans for freedom for the rebels held in jail since November (most of them underage) in the demos and meetings of March and April, actual encounters have been very few. And there have been not a few problems. During the demo in Paris on March 23, for example, a few hundred ‘youths of the suburbs’ attacked students, stole money and mobile phones, beat them and insulted them. Moreover they also attacked those fleeing from police in the middle of fighting and police attacks. These facts cannot be ignored. Territorial identities, attachment to commodities, contempt for ‘privileged’ students, etc. are effects of the problems that new social conflicts will carry with them as inheritance of a rotten society. No ideology of revolt will erase them. In order to examine the relation between the riots of November and the movements that appeared all over France against the CPE (contract of first employment) it is necessary to intertwine tales, testimonies and texts. That is why we decided to prepare two different pamphlets. If we want to avoid journalistic simplification and ambivalent rhetoric we have to grasp the living element of the experiences of struggle. For the time being we are simply offering an outline of the facts. First of all we want to clarify one banal point: the expression ‘people of the suburbs’ does not mean a thing. First, because the Paris suburbs alone have over 9 million inhabitants (and the day millions of inhabitants revolt, it will be quite another story!). Then, the cités (roughly: whole housing estates with their yards and squares) within the boundaries of the big cities were also involved in the riots. Many ‘youths of the suburbs’ study in the cities (both in the lycées, which are secondary schools, and the universities, which are much more attended in France than they are in Italy). In this sense, a great number of young and not so young people who took part in the demos, blockades and fighting in March and April were the same as those who set the French nights on fire during the autumn. According to reliable assessments, the insurgents in November were 50,000, whereas a few million people participated in the movement ‘against the CPE’. Many ‘youths of the suburbs’ in fact had a pacific attitude, while other ‘more privileged’ young people resolutely raised the level of the fighting. Statistics that explain revolts on the basis of income are a matter for sociologists. In some provincial towns (Rennes for example) the encounter between students and the so-called casseurs was quite effective from a strategic point of view, which caused Sarkozy and his men to be extremely concerned. In Paris a lot less. Obviously there are precise reasons for that. Many ‘youths of the suburbs’ find it hard to reach the demos in the capital: if they are not stopped before boarding the trains of the hinterland (Rer), they are beaten by anti-riot cops as soon as they get out of the tube. If they manage to reach the demos they are kept out by the security services of the unions, cheered by many of the students. It is petrol on the fire. Furthermore, the ones belonging to the younger groups, who are not so expert as regards direct fighting with the police, are isolated during looting and fires, and consequently they are easily arrested. Of course this does not justify their indiscriminate hatred towards the other demonstrators, but it is evidence of different social situations and ways of life. Those who experience suffocating controls by the anticrime brigade, which often end up in beatings in the streets or at police stations, find it quite strange to see marches going on with police escorting them everywhere... In other words, without ourselves falling into simplification and bearing in mind some remarkable exceptions, we can say that at present in France certain wild youths are facing practically alone a kind of struggle never seen before (since November, as well as the arson, a number of violent thefts have occurred, with gangs of youths attacking security vans with baseball clubs, …). For the revolutionaries who publicly stand on the side of revolt against the side of the State it is not so easy to be up to the situation, even in a movement of struggle that proves as radical as that of the latest months. An example will clarify this. At first the struggle was centred on the CPE, but it soon became aware that precarity does not depend on a specific contract; on the contrary it is the product of a whole social system, and cannot be reformed. Even if the movement were to finally win its specific objective (as everybody knows the government retracted the bill in question), it knew that it was still on the defensive. The step beyond was not so easy. The main slogan of the movement, which was proposed first timidly and then almost officially (that is through motions voted at the students’ meetings) became: let’s block everything. So was it. Stations, roads, universities, bus garages, and motorways: the flow of men and goods was massively interrupted, amid an atmosphere of popular complicity. Those who were not ready for fighting the police found their mode of action in the barricades, following the joyful complementarity of actions that characterizes all real movements. The angriest, however, those whose day to day existence is a life sentence between police and iron gates, concrete buildings and shopping centres, regardless of the CPE, don’t just want to block everything but also tout niquer (destroy everything). Revolutionary rhetoric, stingy with courage and sterile in organisational capacity, has practically abandoned them. There need to be many more experiences, many more fires and a lot more looting. But the road is open. This booklet and the coming one (‘Nights of Rage’ will be followed by ‘Days of Refusal’) are a small contribution so that these experiences are adopted, discussed, and spread in Italy. What’s happening in France today is a sort of ‘weapon mill’ with which to sharpen our ideas and practices, in the night as well as in the day. May 2006 Nights of Rage First night: October 27-281 Two teenagers, Ziad, 17 years old, and Bouna, 15 years old, are electrocuted and die after taking shelter in a power station while fleeing police in Clichy-sous-Bois (Seine-Saint-Denise). Another youth, Metin, is seriously wounded. At first police, the prefect and the home secretary deny that the youths were being chased. A second official version released later states that the youths were probably committing a theft in a yard and were therefore escaping. This version is not confirmed by the surviving boy who, according to the investigators, ‘does not remember anything’. The local investigating magistrate claims that the youths ‘were not criminals’ as their police records were clean. Later he also confirms that they were running away from a routine identification and therefore they were not committing any theft. The escape, which also involved other boys, was due to the fact that some of them did not have identity documents, including Metin (who was waiting for his status to be recognized). As the news spreads, ‘uncontrolled gangs of dozens of youths’ (to quote the words of fire brigade officials) give vent to their rage. They pelt firemen, who have come in aid of the electrocuted youths, with stones; then they destroy a few bus stops, set fire to 23 cars (including police cars and council vehicles) and skips, attack a commercial store, a school, a post office and the city hall. 300 police officers try to deal with the youths’ rage for a few hours. Second night: October 28-29 About 400 youths fight with police by throwing Molotovs and stones in Chêne-Pointu (where Ziad and Bouna lived). Shots are fired at a CRS vehicle (French anti-riot brigade). During the night a dozen policemen and a journalist are wounded and about thirty cars and many skips are burnt. 19 people are stopped, 14 of whom are held in custody. The police union ask for more power, on the pretext of shots fired at police. Sarkozy announces that all police cars will be equipped with video cameras. Third night: October 29-30 On Saturday October 29 500 inhabitants of Clichy-sous-Bois organise a silent march in memory of the two electrocuted teenagers. Some demonstrators wear white t-shirts with the names of the two victims and the words ‘dead for nothing’. In the night skips and cars are set fire to but no fights with the police occur. A dozen youths carrying hammers and petrol cans are stopped. Fourth night: October 29-30 Objects are thrown against police in the Forestière area. The CRS shoot a teargas cannister inside a mosque where a group of women are praying. As they leave the mosque, the latter are abused by the policemen: ‘Go home bitches and look after your children’. A Muslim resident in Clichy claims: ‘If this had happened in a synagogue they would have said it was a scandal’. As a result of the fighting, 6 policemen are wounded and 11 people are stopped. Fifth night: October 31 - November 1 On October 31 the two dead boys’ parents refuse to meet home secretary Sarkozy, who had called the youths of the suburbs ‘scum’. The same day three youths (one French, a Moroccan without documents and a refugee from Cote d’Ivoire), who had been stopped the previous days in Clichy-sous-Bois, face summary trial and are sentenced to 8 months, two of which to be spent in jail, on charges of assaulting police. Another 5 youths are arrested and awaiting trial. ‘You are locking us up without any evidence’, they scream as they hear the news of their arrest. Groups of adults organise rigorously Muslim (Le Monde) social service units, in order to try to avert further violence. The rebels have no intention of following their suggestions as they trick them and manage to attack police with stones and Molotovs. More cars are set on fire and skips set alight: the fire brigade and police are punctually welcomed with stones from the surrounding streets and estates when they turn up. Police then shoot teargas and flash-balls (rubber bullets). The metropolitan police garage in Montfermeil, close to Clichy-sous-Bois, is also set fire to and more fires occur in other parts of the region resulting in a total of one hundred burnt out cars. Sixth night: November 1-2 The revolt spreads all over France. 228 cars are set on fire throughout the country, most of which in the Seine-Saint-Denis area where many police cars and fire engines are also burnt. According to the government, this is the result of ‘a normal day’s urban violence’. In other departments involved in the revolt direct battles with police are quite rare. The strategy of the rebels, in fact, consists in forming small groups that move rapidly and light fires, avoiding frontal battles with police. Home secretary Sarkozy claims: ‘We won’t be soft with those who disobey the law so that we can better help all the others’ (Le Parisien). Seventh night: November 2-3 Roughly 400 vehicles are set on fire all over France. In the suburbs of Paris not only are cars set alight but there are fights with police and attacks on a police station, a commercial store and a prête-a-porter shop. A few cars are burnt just outside the palace of the prefecture in Bobigny. In other departments (Hauts-de-Seine and Aulnay-sous-Bois, both in the north) Molotovs are hurled at police stations. Three journalists of France 2, the State television, have to abandon their car in flames in front of dozens of rebels: soon it is only a burnt out wreck. A few police officers are wounded; a fireman suffers second-degree burns as he is hit in the face by a Molotov bottle. A Renault car showroom, a few schools and a bank (in Sevran) are also set fire to. Gunshots are fired at the CRS and the police in La Courneuve and Saint-Denis. Furthermore in La Courneuve Molotov bottles are launched against the site of Eurocopter, whereas in Clichy-sous-Bois a fire station is attacked. A regional railway line (Rer) is disrupted owing to continuous hurling of stones at the train. Sarkozy declares that this violence ‘is not at all spontaneous’, on the contrary ‘it is perfectly planned. We are trying to understand who is behind it’. Eighth night: November 3-4 Roughly 900 vehicles are set on fire all over France, 519 of which in Ile-de-France (an area in Paris) and 250 in the department of Seine-Saint-Denis alone. Five policemen are wounded by hurled objects. Seven cars are also burnt in the centre of Paris. All in all direct fights with police do not occur. Le Nouvel Observateur states that owing to fights and arrests that occurred the previous days the ‘scum’ have chosen to act outside their territory. The same paper acknowledges that symbols of authority are mainly hit, along with some private interests. In fact many buildings of public authority are hit, especially schools, council buildings and police stations (with Molotovs in various areas). In Val d’Oise, where 105 cars are burnt, a supermarket is also looted. In Seine-Saint-Denis a sports shop is looted. Public transport is suspended in many areas for security reasons. A massive fire broke out in a carpet depot in Aulnay-sous-Bois. Other depots are set on fire in a number of areas. A few Molotovs are hurled at the court building in Bobigny. Gunshots are fired at vehicles of the CRS in Neuilly-sur-Marne. The communist mayor of Stains witnesses his car being set on fire while talking to a group of youths. Many buses are also set on fire: in Trappes (Yvelines) 27 buses are destroyed in a fire that is started in a bus garage. In the night about 250 people are stopped by police all over France. In Sevran a disabled woman is injured during an attack on a RATP bus. Prefect Cordet claims: ‘Large gangs are disappearing as violence is now being perpetrated by a great number of small groups that move very quickly’. Home secretary Sarkozy declares that the government is determined to adopt a tough attitude. Marine Le Pen, Jean Marie Le Pen’s daughter and vice-president of the neo fascist party Front National, asks the government to adopt emergency measures. Philippe De Villiers asks the premier ‘to strengthen the reaction of the government towards what appears to be an ethnic civil war’. Ninth night: November 4-5 754 vehicles are set on fire during the night and 203 people are stopped by police all over France. During the afternoon a great number of cars are burnt in an underground parking area in Bobigny: many of these cars belonged to the court situated in the area. A bus garage is set on fire in Aisne: two vehicles are completely destroyed and another two are seriously damaged. Other attacks against Renault car shops occur. A Molotov is hurled at a police station in Paris (in Place des Fêtes, XIX arrondissement). A court is ransacked and set on fire in Ile-de-France. A great number of schools are also destroyed and set fire to. A massive fire flares up in a textile depot in Aubervilliers; a car shop and a supermarket are burned in Montreuil; a nursery school is set on fire in La Courneuve. In Seine-Maritime unknown people stop a bus and set it on fire after letting all the passengers out. A few hundred citizens organise demos for the end of violence. During the night the Paris area is controlled by a helicopter equipped with spotlight and video camera; a further 2,300 officers are mobilized besides those already on duty. Attorney magistrate of Paris Ives Bot declares to Europe 1 that the ‘violence is organised’. Romano Prodi claims that similar explosions of violence will also soon occur in Italy. Tenth night: November 5-6 1,295 vehicles are set on fire, 741 of which in Ile-de-France, and 312 people are stopped by police. Objects (stones, bike wheels and trolleys) are hurled at police from buildings in Yvelines. There is an attempt to set fire to a council oil depot. The windows of a McDonald’s store are destroyed by a car used as battering ram in Corbeil-Essonne. The store is eventually set on fire. In Grigny, south of Paris, about 200 rioters engage in fights with police and a few pump-gun shots are fired against officers: dozens of policemen are injured, 2 quite seriously. In Evreux, Normandy, about 60 vehicles are burnt in the night as well as a commercial store, a post office, the council hall and two schools; officers are injured during the fight. Still in Grigny two schools are set on fire. In Noisy-le-Grand (Seine-Saint-Denis) a big school and many cars are also burnt. Sabotage and fire occur in electrical plants belonging to EDF in Grand Vallauris (Maritime Alps department). A Korean journalist of TV Kbs is assaulted in Aubervilliers. 13 cars are also set on fire in the III, XIII, XIX and XX arrondissement in Paris; 30 people are stopped, 11 of whom are ‘caught in the act of making incendiary devices’. Fires also break out in areas of France that have so far been relatively calm (Bretagne, Alsace, Lorraine, Auvergne, Limousin and Cote d’Azur): it is mainly burning of cars caused by launching of Molotov bottles by small fast groups that act in spite of the presence of numerous helicopters. Bus garages are burned in various areas. Even if direct fighting with police does not often occur, the latter are punctually targeted with stones when they pass. Incendiary bottles are also hurled at police and the fire brigade in Loire. Two policemen are injured following the explosion of a skip hit by a gas cannister in Grenoble. About 150 Molotov bottles are found in a depot in Evry. Eleventh night: November 6-7 It is the climax of the revolt: 1,408 cars are set on fire, 395 people are stopped by police (83 have been arrested since the beginning of the riots), and a great number of officers are injured. ‘It is a new kind of urban guerrilla, which moves very rapidly and sets fire, destroys, attacks, avoiding direct fighting with police and able to use all modern means of communication’ (Libération). The first fights occur in a ‘hot area’ in Toulouse, where rioters fight against police. A Molotov bottle is hurled at the electoral site of MP Pierre Lellouche in Paris. A great number of cars are burnt in Rouen where a car is also used as battering ram against a police station; the same method is used against a police station in Perpignan. A nursery school is set fire to in Saint-Etienne where public transport is interrupted owing to the numerous attacks. The site of a TV station in Asnière-sur-Seine (Haute-de-Seine) is destroyed by fire in the night. Fires also break out in Lyon (where three nights of fighting had occurred before the revolt started as an Arab youth was beaten by police), Lille, Orléans, Nice, Bordeaux, Strasburg, etc. A 13 month old child is injured in the head in Colombes following an attack on a bus. In Rosny-sous-Bois a juvenile recreation centre is attacked; a motorbike shop is also attacked in Aubervilliers, as well as a nursery school in Saint-Maurice, a treasury office in Trappes and a pharmaceutical depot in Sur. Molotov bottles are hurled at a church in Sète, without causing serious damage. A 61-year-old man dies after being assaulted as he attempts to secure his car. The French Committee of Islamic Organisations launches a ‘fatwa’ that condemns the violence under way. The major of Raincy (Seine-Saint-Denis) organises civilian security units to patrol the town. Justice secretary Pascal Clement declares: ‘It was just urban violence until last weekend. Now it is a real uprising’. The home secretary announces that majors and attorneys will be allowed to impose curfews and that an emergency law that was applied in Algeria on April 3 1955 (when the country was a French colony) will be restored. Sarkozy also announces that massive searches will be carried out wherever the presence of weapons is suspected. De Villiers claims that the army should intervene and that all immigrants should be arrested. Meantime three ‘bloggers’ are arrested (two from Paris and a minor from Aix-en-Provence) accused of instigating attacks against the police through the internet. Twelfth night: November 7-8 1,173 cars are set on fire, 12 policemen are injured, 330 people are stopped by police and 226 French towns are involved in riots. Again public buildings, schools and buses set fire to; two Italian journalists are attacked in Clichy-sous-Bois. Rioters stop a bus in Toulouse, let all the passengers out and set fire to the vehicle. The paper Hal reporter del popolo spreads the news that a boy is seriously injured in one hand after attempting to throw back a tear gas cannister. All in all riots are diminishing in the Paris area but continue in the provinces. Muslim organisations vent their anger against violence once again. In a few areas it is forbidden to sell petrol and gas bottles to minors. A bus explodes in Bordeaux after being targeted with Molotovs. In Lyon the underground night traffic is interrupted owing to various incidents and the continuous launching of molotovs on to the tracks, whereas nine buses parked in a depot are destroyed. A 53 year old man is injured after being hit by a handle thrown from a building. Michel Gaudin, general director of the national police, declares that rioters are animated by a true ‘anti-institutional will’. Small episodes of urban guerrilla actions occur in Brussels (where some cars are set on fire) and Luxemburg. In the night between November 7 and November 8 three cars are set on fire and the window of a shop is destroyed in the Cagliari area (Sardinia, Italy), where a few cars had already been set on fire a few days before. Thirteenth night: November 8-9 During a parliamentary question time Sarkozy declares that he demands of all attorneys that ‘any foreigner, no matter if regular or irregular, who has been sentenced be deported, including those with stay permits. When one has the honour of having a stay permit the minimum one might do is not be arrested for provoking urban violence’. The same day a bill imposing a state of emergency in France ‘starting from November 9 2005’ is made known. It establishes that: -people and vehicles are forbidden to circulate in certain streets at certain times; -security areas are created where rules of behaviour are imposed; -living in certain departments is forbidden; -seditious meetings are forbidden; -certain people are to be put under house arrest; -searches are allowed in the day as well as in the night; -radio stations, movies, theatrical plays and the press must be controlled; -any kind of weapon and munitions must be handed in police stations. In the evening home secretary Sarkozy sends a telegram to the attorneys asking them to deport all foreigners who have been stopped during the episodes of urban violence, including those with stay permits. 120 youths are involved in the measure, almost all of them with regular papers. Various human rights associations, the Communist party and the Green party unanimously denounce this sort of double condemnation (deportation of regular foreigners owing to other charges). The home secretary replies that it is not double condemnation, but simple deportation, that is to say direct deportation of people without them being sentenced(!). In 1994 first a high court then the State council had refused the measure taken by former home secretary Pasqua against two Algerians involved in riots in Lyon. The home secretary mobilises 11,500 policemen (1,000 more than the previous night). As a result, attacks diminish considerably: only 617 cars set on fire and 280 people stopped by police (about 1,830 people have been arrested since the beginning of the riots, and about one hundred have been tried summarily). Schools are devastated by fire in La Courneuve and in Villeneuve-d’Ascq (in the north). Two shops are looted then set on fire in Arras, where a business and a recreational centre are also set on fire. The site of a local paper is attacked and set on fire in Grasse. A few Russian journalists are assaulted in Lyon, where the tube transport is still interrupted owing to an incendiary attack occurred in the previous nights. Night traffic is also still interrupted in other towns, including Grenoble. In the suburbs of Toulouse molotov bottles and stones are hurled at police. In Lille the town council hall is attacked. An attempt to loot a superstore in Marseille fails. Rapper Magyd Cherfi depicts the rebels as ‘desperate youths who believe in nothing’. 17 cars are set on fire in various towns in Belgium. 11 cars are also burnt in Germany (Berlin and Cologne), whereas molotovs are hurled at a school in Altenburg. Cars are also set on fire in Lisbon. In Montréal (Canada) dozens of anarchists organise a demo outside the French consulate in solidarity to the French rioters. Fourteenth night: November 9-10 Magistrates launch an investigation for ‘attempted murder’ following the hurling of rubber bullets at police in Grigny. A great number of summary court procedures are carried out on November 9. 482 cars are set on fire in 152 different towns and 203 people are stopped by police (the total arises at 2,033 since the beginning of the riots). In Sens a police officer and a fireman are injured after being hit by stones. A police station, three schools and a council hall are targeted with incendiary attacks. Only 6 departments apply the curfew. A few incidents occur in Paris. The interruption of the night underground transport is reconfirmed in Lyon until Sunday. Magistrates forbid the selling and transportation of petrol cans in Bordeaux. Similar measures are taken in Loiret (Orléans) and Marseille. Toulouse, Lille, Marseille and Strasbourg are the towns most involved in incidents. The French national police impose the ban on any public demonstration in Paris from 10am on Saturday November 10 to 10pm the following day. It is feared that violence might occur in the city centre during the weekend. Riots also occur in the suburbs of Brussels and other Belgian towns, still without direct fighting against police. Fifteenth night: November 10-11 As incidents continue to diminish in number, 463 cars are set on fire (111 of which in Ile-de-France) and 201 people are stopped by police. A few police cars parked inside the fences of the court are set on fire in Bordeaux. A policeman is arrested and another 4 are investigated and charged with abuse of violence towards a man in La Courneuve. 8 policemen in total are put under investigation following some documentaries on France 2. On Thursday November 10 another man (the fourth) is arrested for inciting violence through the internet: he risks from 1 to 7 year’s imprisonment. Transportation and selling of petrol cans is also forbidden in Paris. On Thursday Jean-Marie Le Pen, president of the Front National, ironically thanks premier Villepin and home secretary Sarkozy for proposing the same slogans and measures he himself put forward. Intervening in a TV program on France 2, Sarkozy declares that distinction must be made between the unfortunate youths of the suburbs and the ‘scum’ that are responsible for the incidents (and therefore he once again repeats his controversial statement). He also claims that ‘children of African immigrants pose more problems that those of Swedish, Danish or Hungarian immigrants because their culture, social origins and polygamy create more difficulties’. About 400 anarchists attack the French Institute in Athens (Greece) in solidarity to the rebels of the French banlieues: the windows of the building are smashed to pieces and a slogan is left on the walls: ‘Those who sow armies reap social war in Paris, Athens and everywhere’. The windows of the local French Institute are also destroyed by stones in Saloniki, and leaflets are left on the spot, which say that ‘the insurgents are right’. 6 cars are set on fire in Belgium where other ‘isolated incidents’ occur, including attempts to set fire to schools. Sixteenth night: November 11-12 502 cars are set on fire (86 of which in Ile-de-France) and 206 people are held by police (2,440 in total since the beginning of the riots). The number of incendiary attacks diminishes considerably as very few towns see more than five or six fires. The hottest points are in Lille, Lyon. Strasbourg and Toulouse. In Saint-Quentin (Aisne) a policeman is seriously injured (second degree burns) following the explosion of an incendiary device that has been placed on the rear seat of a car. The car is eventually set on fire. Six molotov bottles are thrown into the yard of a police station in Maison-Alfort (Val-de-Marne). Two incendiary devices are hurled at a mosque in Carpentras (Vaucluse). Two shops are set on fire in Yvelines and a nursery school in Seine-et-Marne. A helicopter prevents a school in Sevran from being set on fire, and 9 people are taken in. In Amiens (Somme), where the curfew is imposed, a few electric plants of the EDF are sabotaged and eventually fighting with police takes place. The fire brigade are welcomed with a hail of stones in Alsace; the young perpetrators of the attack disappear as soon as the police arrive. In the afternoon dozens of youths battle with police in the centre of Lyon (Bellecour square): a few shops are damaged, and 11 people are arrested. On the spot witnesses declare that the fighting was clearly provoked by the police. In Ousse-des-Bois (Pau) a restaurant is attacked, looted and set on fire; as usual, when the fire brigade arrive they are welcomed with stones. In Angoulême three people attempt to set fire to an electric plant of the EDF; police chasing them are targeted by stones thrown from the roofs of surrounding houses. In Lyon a scooter set on fire close to a cash machine causes serious damage to the latter. Sixth night of disorder in Belgium: 15 cars are set on fire, 8 of which in Brussels, for a total of 60 cars burnt there since the beginning of the riots. Police maintain that these are isolated episodes. In the afternoon and during the night a dozen skips are set on fire in Bologna (Italy) where slogans are written on the walls: ‘Bologna like Paris’ and ‘Revolt is necessity, solidarity to the casseurs from Paris’. Actions in solidarity to the French rioters also occur in Istanbul where a demo in support to the ‘legitimate struggle’ of the inhabitants of the French suburbs is organised by the Federation for fundamental rights outside the consulate. A demo outside the French consulate is also organised in Barcelona where, even though no incident occurs, 5 people are arrested as the demo finishes. They are accused of disturbing public order and resisting public officials. One of the demonstrators writes on Indymedia: ‘All this just for having expressed their solidarity in a pacific way. It seems that the state of emergency is also being applied on the pavements outside French consulates’. Seventeenth night: November 12-13 ‘Normality’ is slowly restored: only 374 cars are set on fire (76 of which in Ile-de-France) and 212 people are stopped by police. In the evening Sarkozy, who has reconfirmed that all foreigners (be they regular or not) involved in the riot are to be deported, goes to the Champs Elisées: he is welcome by demonstrations of protest. But he boasts: ‘There were also people clapping their hands’. During the night about 12,000 policemen are mobilised all over France. In La Courneuve an officer is injured by a bowl launched from a building. A school is set on fire and a car is used as a battering ram against a recreation centre for the elderly in Carpentras (Vaucluse). Massive fires are started in the suburbs of Toulouse, including one at a Hi-fi shop and its depot. A ban on people meeting is also imposed in Lyon. A mosque is attacked with a Molotov bottle that does not explode. Violence also occurs in Toulouse and Strasburg. No incidents occur in Paris, where 3,000 police officers have been mobilised. About thirty towns are still under curfew. Seventh night of violence in Belgium: dozens of cars are set on fire. In Brussels several streets around the centre are blocked after clashes with police break out, barricades are erected and skips are set on fire. Dozens of people are arrested and a number of police cars are damaged. 90 vehicles have been set on fire in Belgium over the last seven days. Belgian authorities still maintain that these are isolated episodes. In Rotterdam (Holland) a few cars are also destroyed and set on fire. About one hundred anarchists demonstrate outside the French embassy in Athens in solidarity to the French rioters. Again in the Greek capital two car showrooms (Mercedes and Citroen) are attacked during the night with Molotovs and twenty cars are burned. Eighteenth night: November 13-14 The number of incidents continues to diminish: 271 cars are set on fire, 62 of which in Ile-de-France, and 112 people are stopped by police; 5 officers are injured, two of them following a well-known practice: explosion of a gas bottle placed in a skip, which eventually catches fire. A burning vehicle is hurled at a nursery school in Toulouse causing damage to part of the building. In Lyon about 15 cars are set on fire, a school is also set fire to and another is attacked with a car as a battering ram. Incidents also occur in Strasbourg. The French government decides to extend the state of emergency for another 3 months. News is spread at 12.39pm about police carrying out 8 operations in different banlieus to identify and arrest the authors of the violence. As a result 503 people are arrested (107 minors and 486 people of age). Since the beginning of the riots 2,652 people have been stopped by police, 375 have been summarily tried and 213 have been kept into custody awaiting trial. Another 622 people are immediately called to court, 112 of whom must return. 120 foreigners, some with regular documents some without, risk deportation. Magistrates open new investigations that lead to further arrests. On a few occasions the imams contribute to individuating those allegedly responsible for violence and incidents. Here are a few examples of sentences inflicted on people. In Toulouse: 5-month sentence for setting a skip on fire; 3-month sentence for showing one’s bottom to the police; 2 months for insulting public officials, that is to say for having been with the one who showed his bottom. In Lyon: 2 months for sitting in a bar where two minors had taken refuge following clashes with police; 2 months are inflicted on a young man who had been sitting on a bench during clashes with police; 3 months for setting rubbish on fire; 2 months for throwing stones; 4 months for creating a false alarm about a bomb in the airport. Nineteenth night: November 14-15 215 cars are set on fire (60 of which in Ile-de-France) and 42 people are stopped by police. An officer is injured. 3 molotov devices are hurled at a mosque in Saint- Chamond (Loire). A recreation centre is set on fire in Bruges whereas a few cars are burnt in Paris. Twentieth night: November 15-16 163 cars are set on fire (of which 27 in Ile-de-France) and 50 people are stopped by police. ‘an almost normal situation’ comments Sarkozy. A policeman is injured while attempting to intervene against a group of youths who are hurling bottles filled with acid at the city hall in Pont-Evêque (Isère). In Grenoble a school and an educational centre are set on fire respectively in Grenoble and in Chalons-en-Champagne (Marne). In Drome a battering ram car is hurled at a police station and Molotovs are thrown against a church. Garages are set on fire in the Rodano and Marna areas. An ambush is laid for police and fire brigade in Point-a-Pitre (isle of La Reunion): after setting fire to a few cars, behind which barricades have been erected, unknown people fire gunshots at police, who respond by shooting in turn (no news about wounded). In total 126 policemen are injured and 2,888 people are stopped by police, of which 593 are arrested (107 the minors, many among the people stopped by police and then released are to appear in the court). 8,973 vehicles are set on fire. Twenty-first night: November 16-17 98 cars are set on fire and 33 people are stopped by police, mainly because they were caught carrying incendiary devices or had violated the curfew. Less than 100 vehicles set on fire all over France is considered normal (about 90 cars are normally set on fire every night). Premier Villepin claims that ‘there exists a real threat of terrorism against France’ and therefore ‘surveillance must be permanent’. And this is not another story. 1 This chronology does not intend to give an objective account of events that occurred in France during the revolt of the ‘scum’ between the end of October and the first weeks of November 2005; not only because of the sources that have been used (newspapers, press agencies, police reports, websites, and ’blogs’ on the internet, which sometimes are real collections of collective memory), but also and mainly because the sense of a chronology lies not so much in the presentation o f past events as in the lines that such events can trace in the present. A few similar explosions of rage that occurred in the Nineties From when the death penalty was abolished in France in 1981 up until 2001 there have been 175 cases of death directly or indirectly provoked by the State police. On a number of occasions this sort of senseless death ignited explosions of anger against the abuse police inflict every day. Such explosions are testimonies of the brutality of a whole social system… October 6-9 1990. Thomas Claudio dies after his motorbike is hit by a police car that is chasing him. Police presents the crime as ‘an accident’. Violent fighting against police breaks out, shops and commercial stores are looted and set on fire. August 31, September 3 1995. Clashes between police and youths explode in Nanterre (cité de Fontanelle) after a 25-year-old man of North African origin dies after being accidentally hit by a concrete mixer while rushing to the place where his brother was being arrested. May 25-26 1996. Dozens of youths loot commercial stores and set fire to vehicles in Saint-Jean in Château Roux after a youth dies of car accident caused by a police chase. November 1996. In Rabaterie (St Pierre des Corps, Tours) 23-year-old Mohamed Boucetta dies after being shot in the head. As the murderer is freed thanks to Le Pen’s personal intervention, a revolt lasting 15 days breaks out with clashes and fires of cars, shops and public buildings. December 12-21 1997. Clashes between police and youths occur in Dammarie-les-Lys (banlieues of Melun, Seine-et-Marne), where a sixteen year old boy of North African origin killed by police at a roadblock in Fontainebleau used to live. Not one policeman is arrested following the murder nor is any trial held. December 13-16 1998. As 17-year-old Habib is killed by a cop while attempting to steal a car, and violent fighting occurs between police and youths in Mirail area (Toulouse). More than one hundred vehicles are set on fire. Three years later the cop killer, who had been free since then, is sentenced to 3 years on bail. September 12-22 2000. In two areas of Essonne, in Grande Borne in Grigny and in Tarterets in Corbeil-Essonnes clashes with police occur as a 19-year-old man is killed while attempting to go through a roadblock in Combs-la-Ville (Seine-et-Marne) after stealing a motorbike. July 4-6 2001. Incidents break out in Borny in Metz as two local youths die following a car accident. October 13-14 2001. Urban violence explodes in Thonon-les-Baines (Haute Savoie) as four men die ‘accidentally’ while attempting to avoid being identified by police. December 26-31 2001. Clashes with police occur in Vitry-de-Seine (Val-de-Marne) after a young man is killed while attempting to rob a bank in Neuilly-sur-Marne (Seine-Saint-Denis). January 3-7 2002. Dozens of cars are set on fire in Mureaux (Yvelines) as 17-year-old Moussa dies after being shot in the head by police while trying to avoid a roadblock. February 25-26 2002. As a man dies of overdose inside the yard of a police station in Evreux, groups of masked youths fight with police, set cars on fire and devastate shop windows. October 18-19 2001. A seventeen year old boy drowns after diving into a river in an attempt to escape police who surprised him during an attempted robbery. Dozens of youths armed with baseball batons attack police in Hautepierre (Strasbourg) and set cars on fire. 25 cars are burnt, 3 firemen are injured, a school is devastated by an explosive device and council’s structures are also set on fire. March 3 2003. Riots break out as a thief dies while attempting to escape police. January 12-14 2004. A 17-year-old boy dies after falling from a stolen motorbike while being chased by police. Clashes between youths and policemen break out, dozens of cars are set on fire and a battering ram car is hurled at a police station. Temporary results -9,19 cars are set on fire (figure provided by the French home secretary). -Dozens of public buildings and commercial stores are looted or destroyed; a great number of police stations are attacked; a mosque, a church and a synagogue are also attacked. -About 300 towns are involved in the uprisings. -Curfew has been imposed in 25 departments. -3 dead: Ziad and Bouna, electrocuted on October 27, and a 61-year-old man assaulted near his house on November 7. -An unknown number of civilians are injured. -About 12,000 police officers are mobilised, 126 of which are injured. 8 officers are under investigation, accused of committing horrendous violence during the clashes. -Insurance claims are predicted to be about 200 million euros. The EU maintains it will offer 50 million euros. -2,921 people are stopped by police (one third of which are minors, the youngest being 10 years old) and 590 are arrested (107 of whom minors). 375 people of age are sentenced without bail. Arrests in the act of committing crime are very rare as people are generally arrested during police raids. Acquittals are also very rare as the lawyers’ defendants are appointed by the court. -About another 1,540 suspects are stopped, questioned and arrested in the days immediately following the end of the riots: about 4,500 people in total are involved in investigations, more than a quarter of whom after the end of the riots. -In the first days of December 786 people are still under arrest, 83 of whom are foreigners. -On December 4 Sarkozy announces the deportation of the first seven foreigners. The Scum Not all revolts take you by surprise. Of course there is no Nostradamus to predict their specific moments of explosion, but the fact that revolts happen can only surprise those who have no idea about the dismal world we are compelled to live in. It is not because you know that such revolts occur frequently in France with the same practices and rituals (hundreds of cars are set on fire all over France on the last day of the year)1 . Revolts are the inevitable product of the current social system. When a revolt breaks out you can’t ask yourself ‘how could it happen?’ but rather ‘how is it possible that it doesn’t happen everywhere, all the time?’. But each time a revolt breaks out the first operation that takes place is an attempt to categorise it. One wonders who the rebels are, where they come from and what they want. The research soon starts on names, identities, and right categories: they are foreigners, immigrants… no! They are French… yes, French, but second generation French, second class French, sons or nephews of immigrants, outcasts, excluded… Some are disappointed because the theory of Islamic fundamentalism doesn’t work: obviously these people are not the ones who go to the mosque (in fact appeals made by imams have proved useless). Rightwing papers (for example Le Figaro) try to create improbable amalgams for public stigmatisation, by chance, they write about Palestinian-style Intifada, Islamic fundamentalism, terrorism, etc. These falsifications, however, don’t seem to work as every struggle is capable of showing itself in its own irreducible peculiarity. Sociological categories are mobilised to define, identify and circumscribe, in short, to keep the revolt within certain conceptual limits. Once an identity is given to the rioters – the most used is that of social outcasts, a new name for the underclass – the range of theories for intervention can put forward: from police and emergency measures to social and welfare-orientated actions. They are the two faces of the security syndrome: public security and social security, in other words the punch and the lending hand. In short, the stick and the carrot. All this shows clearly the fact that if subversion and revolt are direct consequences of the system of dominion, their abolition can only happen through the abolition of dominion, that is to say through subversion. However to identify the ‘scum’, maybe giving it a more politically correct definition, implies a number of things. To identify a phenomenon with convenient categories means first of all to circumscribe it, and to circumscribe it means to stem it. On the one hand the limits are erected to present the revolt and its causes as incidental disorders brought about by a system that in spite of everything (misery, war, pollution, total commodification and progressive devastation of the whole world and the life of each and every one) must be preserved, maybe by introducing some providential intervention along with the announcement of the state of emergency. But, as it is well known, this exception is now the rule, which also involves exclusion, impoverishment, social alienation, that this to say the generalised dispossession of life. It is not a question of an incidental phenomenon, be it local or global. Poverty, precariousness of life in the western society, urban structures in the metropoli all over the world (from Los Angeles to Bogotá, from Alger to Paris), attempts at closing the borders of fortress Europe are only a few examples of this structural fracture. The game of the stick and the carrot, alongside police and judicial repression with the announcement of social action in favour of the suburbs, might take in some people, but certainly not those who experience social emargination on their skin, or those who know that new explosions are ready to break out just around any corner, and, most importantly, those who feel an irrepressible potential for revolt pulsating inside them. And it is exactly the magnetic force of rebellion that is the main target of the process of identification. In fact, the process of identification, besides presenting the structural phenomenon of the present social order as if it were incidental, aims at separating and dividing the outcasts from all the others – at the same time separating these others from themselves and their active potential. In other words, outcasts have an atavistic right to revolt as anger, desperation and a feeling of injustice belong expressly to them. But you, who are privileged in spite of everything and who enjoy part of the welfare guaranteed by the society, what do you want? In the ghettos in towns, the banlieues of Paris and the suburbs of the world, life is uprooted, empty, encircled in the space of social, material and existential alienation, and full of desperation and metaphysical boredom. But not your life! Your life is rich and enjoyable, full of possibilities and perspectives, wellbeing and passion. Your life? Our life? Excuse me, what are we talking about? As a matter of fact the line of oppression, and with it the rift of rebellion, concerns everybody. The binary logic of opposition interprets reality so grossly that it cannot understand the present development of the revolts underway and the explosions that are yet to come. To separate the youths of the suburbs from all the others, then distinguish the violent and irreducible ones who cannot be tamed from those who must be protected from their contamination, means to separate any potential for rebellion from whatever might make it explode. This is the logic behind all emergency interventions. Moreover, to accept this ideological division means a weakening of any practical perspective. Like all revolts, the French one also speaks to everybody. Its action inevitably affects our potential movements. After all, it is not so important to know who they are, but rather who we are and what we can do. As a permanent state of exception exists whether it is officially proclaimed or not, the first practical lesson to be learned concerns the realization of an effective state of exception through the explosion of destructive actions, their fast spreading and the refusal of all delegation. Some complain about the alleged lack of direction or revolutionary class awareness, and so they take a distance because they cannot see any political perspectives or results; then they talk about barbaric phenomena without any project, which would be the result of a ‘passive putrefaction of the oldest strata of the old society’. Some also propose themselves as conscious organizers of revolts (those to come, of course). But instead of giving lessons on how to behave and act there is a lot to be learned from the French riots. There is a tactical and practical awareness in the rebellion of the ‘scum’ that is notoriously unknown among the most refined revolutionary consciences, often too conscious to be practical. If the French rioters did not make a step towards revolution (yes, but who is a revolutionary today?), at least in their own way they put their active possibilities to the test. Without waiting for a guide to teach what to do, on the contrary they effectively realized their way of how to do; they made their anger explode in an impressive series of fires without delegating it to anyone. The explosion of a vital force that has been repressed for too long is an angry deflagration that ignores any form of delegation and cannot ever repent. Phenomenology of angry nihilism Anger is the expression of strength that has been repressed for too long, offended and abused, the anger of those who suddenly understand that they are ‘too young to go rotten’. Its primary manifestation opens up a horizon characterised by universal destruction. As you are in a blind rage you look around you searching for something to destroy, to hurl at a wall or to break with your own hands; the body is felt to be a damaging instrument. Anything can be destroyed! Anger, therefore, manifests itself as a nihilist horizon. As they can desire nothing for themselves, these second-class lives decide to desire that this nothing be realized (as nothing). But nihilism, this disturbing guest, presents itself in different forms. The less evident is the most widespread, but it is also the most popular: it is the subtle nihilism of the authoritarian management of the existent that pervades everything. It annihilates life and takes away its strength in order to lead it to the preformed structures of order and discipline, production and consumerism, resignation and cynicism. The current social system is nihilist and the citizens who submit to it are also unconsciously nihilist as they accept various forms of voluntary slavery and drag their lives on without passion every day. As they have absorbed the lesson of economy and the imaginary of the value of consumables, their life is based on calculations of costs and benefits, on the separation between means and ends and on resignation to the current misery in the illusory hope that it will be better tomorrow. The nihilist operation of dominion articulates itself in two complementary movements: on the one hand it despoils, alienates and robs, on the other it dresses up, creates illusions and blinds people. But the emptiness upon which this twofold operation stands and finds its substance becomes evident when the second movement (the false satisfaction of illusions) does not work any more: when school, work and the institutions of the spectacular civilized society no longer grip existences that, as a consequence, remain in the proclaimed metastasis of their alienation. When such metastasis shows itself blindingly, when it inflicts inhuman senseless death, it can explode in angry nihilism : as they perceive the nullity that surrounds them and erodes their life, nameless individuals decide to give it back to its nothing. Angry nihilism wants exactly nothing and realizes perfectly how everything surrounding it has only to be swallowed up in its vacuity. The explosion of angry nihilism, which frees and explodes bad passions, can also be seen as pure fun generated by a nausea for the existent; but that is exactly how it turns into destructive euphoria. Following the era of cynicism, opportunism and fear, in the present generalised proletarianisation of the life of each and every one, what struggles are possible? We are sorry to disappoint the indefatigable officers of human progress, but these struggles also involve the total destruction of what surrounds us. Once upon a time someone said: ‘Nihilists…make just one more effort to be revolutionaries’: it’s a short step from wanting nothing to wanting everything. But we also say: ‘Revolutionaries…make just one more effort to be nihilists’ – it takes a bit of courage to be up to one’s rage. But where will all this take us? Did not you realise? It will take us nowhere… And anyway, where do you think you are going, all of you? ‘S’ io fossi foco arderei lo mondo’ The destructive euphoria of angry nihilism finds its main form of expression in the element that most represents anger: fire. Molotovs and incendiary devices are like arrows, with which symbols and structures of power and of the system are targeted: police stations, town halls, courts, banks, shops, commercial centres, schools and cars. Some of these targets touch many people’s civil conscience deeply. Why are schools set on fire, given that they could bring about the emancipation and integration of the socially alienated? Is it not true that education for everyone was an important conquest for humanity and its progress? Maybe; but if it is also true, and how you could deny it, that schools look more and more like prisons (both prisons and schools being part of the generalized prison-society), we should silence our conscience and look at a phenomenon that is beautiful like a school in flames. After all, the school system is based on a removal of meaning – in other words, schools are instruments for life or rather for work, which in turn is an instrument for life – and therefore schools have no meaning in themselves as they constantly refer to a meaning that is yet to come. In this way, as the future is denied and consists in dragging on between boredom and desperation, schools are losing their false pedagogic value. When instruments are in no way useful they become fetishes, and fetishes are only worth burning, possibly during fights with kids screaming ‘tonight is my future’. Civil conscience also has something to say about cars: why to set fire to the neighbours’ cars if the latter share the same state of emergency as the rioters? First of all, most of the burned cars belonged directly or indirectly to institutions, secondly the ‘scum’ does not come from nowhere, but lives in a specific territory that does not represent any homogeneous human reality. On the one hand the rioters of the banlieues know they can count on the support and active solidarity of many inhabitants of the area (without such solidarity twenty nights of riots in a row would not have been possible), on the other they also know very well whom the cars set to fire belong to, and certainly the latter are not those of the rioters’ direct or indirect accomplices. In the banlieus, like everywhere else, there stand zealous supporters of orders and dialogue, informers and profiteers, collaborators and various kinds of vile characters, as well as those who do not share in practice the unequivocal and clear position of the rioters. The youths of the banlieues do not tolerate any form of neutrality, dialogue or compromise with the institutions [which is to represent a major problem during the anti-CPE movement in March and April 2006, especially in Paris]. In other words, neighbours are not always friends or accomplices. Moreover revolts are not carried out at a symbolic level but at the concrete one of the struggle and the field of battle. Cars are set on fire not only because it is obviously a pleasure to see fires burning but also and mainly following a strategic and territorial view, that is to say by being in the territory through the struggle. It is only in the perspective of real conflict (and not in its representation or sociological translation) that the value of this practice can be understood. Setting fire to cars is quite an effective means of building barricades rapidly and it is also a useful way to draw police to a specified area, where they can be hit by stones and Molotovs and from where rioters can escape easily, only to find each other elsewhere and start the game again (a dynamic that was largely employed in the sabotage of public lighting power plants which opened the nights of rage). The fact that these considerations have not been taken into account by many is quite astonishing. The most important point to be considered, however, is the importance of the territory as battlefield for all of today’s conflicts and those to come. In a society based on the circulation of money, information, people and goods, management of the territory is one of the most important operations carried out by power. For example, it is the way traffic circulation is set out that is slowly killing us with its poison, especially in metropolitan areas where urban spaces are reduced to alienating transit and service zones. It is an asymmetric, dehumanising and murderous reality that is killing life, where territories are being made more and more aseptic and impenetrable to those who, be it for needs related to the system or of out of individual choice, cannot be reduced to merchandise (and are therefore marginalized, locked up or deported). At the same time, territory and traffic have become vital strategic factors in current and future struggles, with the spreading of practices such as road blocks and sabotage, the invention of new ways of living in the territory and the destruction of everything that is to all effects uninhabitable. Of course we do not know if the destroyers of cars are aware of that. We do not know if we are overestimating their rage. What is certain is that behind their destructive negative attitude there stands a positive attitude relating to their way of living and making human relations, which besides continuously reinventing language and gestures, brings about complicity and solidarity during the riots. It is a positive attitude that cannot be reduced to the representation set out by the forces of the enemy field, for whom, consequently, they are nothing but vandals, dumbness and senseless gesticulation. We are not elaborating a tedious neo-realist embellished image of the underclass. What we are trying to do is, once again, ask ourselves if it is possible to live in spaces and territory in a different way so as to encounter new accomplices and occasions of struggle to be exploded with due joy and radicality. March 2006 Notes 1. Following a well-established habit that is unique in Europe, on New Year’s Eve 2005 425 vehicles are set to fire all over France, 330 in 2004, 324 in 2003 and 379 in 2002. Clichy-sous-Bois, Aulnay and La Courneuve are the towns most involved in this phenomenon. Furthermore on New Year’s Eve 2004 a blackout in a locality in Sevran allows rioters to set an ambush for police, who are targeted by stones hurled from the roofs of the surrounding buildings. We can say that the New Year is a real celebration in France. Hypotheses not to be rejected ‘Philippe de Villiers has asked

enquiry into the nature of thought and the source of conflict in the world

From: In early 1993, the ratitor came upon some audio tapes of Krishnamurti, and soon afterwards of David Bohm. What these people were talking about made an impact within as nothing else previously. What they explored throughout their lives was the very ground of being. Their enquiries have made a deep impression on this one. current enquiries regarding what is the meaning of all this? . . . . . . to look at myself without any formula -- can one do that? Otherwise you can't learn about yourself obviously. If I say, I am jealous, the very verbalization of that fact, or of that feeling, has already conditioned it. Right? Therefore I cannot see anything further in it. . . . Now the question is: can the mind be free of this egocentric activity? Right? That is really the question, not whether it is so or not. Which means can the mind stand alone, uninfluenced? Alone, being alone does not mean isolation. Sir, look: when one rejects completely all the absurdities of nationality, the absurdities of propaganda, of religious propaganda, rejects conclusions of any kind, actually, not theoretically, completely put aside, has understood very deeply the question of pleasure and fear, and division--the `me' and `not me'--is there any form of the self at all? J. Krishnamurti, Observing Without the "Me" Brockwood Park, First Public Talk, September 5, 1970 * Krishnamurti & David Bohm - The Future of ... THE FUTURE OF HUMANITY is a dialogue between J. Krishnamurti

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Voltairine De’Cleyre on God and Marriage


I just found a truly excellent article on Voltarine De’Cleyre, one of my favorite modern Anarchist writers. I’ll copy the whole thing here, but I just wanted to pull out one of the quotes and highlight it:

“[T]hat is rape, where a man forces himself sexually upon a woman whether he is licensed by the marriage law to do it or not. And that is the vilest tyranny where a man compels a woman he says he loves, to endure the agony of bearing children that she does not want, and for whom, as is the rule rather than the exception, they cannot properly provide. It is worse than any other human oppression; it is fairly God-like! To the sexual tyrant there is not parallel upon earth; one must go to the skies to find a fiend who thrusts life upon his children only to starve and curse and outcast and damn them!”

- Voltairine De’Cleyre

I love this quote on so many levels, for what it says about the institution of marriage as it existed in her time, as a reminder why we should be so utterly and irreconcilably hostile to those who seek to use religious conviction to return us to that time, and as an indictment of the “morality” that those same religious zealots preach.

Anyway, that’s enough from me, here’s the article in full as promised:

Priestess of Pity and Vengeance

chapter 3 of EXTREME VIRTUE: TRUTH AND LEADERSHIP IN FIVE GREAT AMERICAN LIVES (emma goldman, voltairine de cleyre, barry goldwater, john fire lame deer, malcolm x) By Crispin Sartwell original article is at:

If Joan of Arc were to be reincarnated as an American atheist, she’d be Voltairine de Cleyre. De Cleyre is an almost forgotten figure, but she committed her life to a vision of human liberation, a vision which encompassed even the man who tried to kill her. She was an incandescent writer and an original thinker, though she also lived much of her life in despair to the point of suicide. De Cleyre and Emma Goldman in their own time were often mentioned in the same breath as the two great women of American anarchism. They had much in common. Both were celebrated speakers and writers. Both mounted scathing critiques of sexual oppression and the institution of marriage. They were active in the same circles and on the same issues, though de Cleyre was centered in Philadelphia, Goldman in New York.

But Goldman and de Cleyre were opposite poles of the same world. Where Goldman was a communist anarchist, de Cleyre was an individualist, at least early in her career. Where Goldman was an immigrant, de Cleyre grew up in rural Michigan. Where Goldman drew on the work of European thinkers such as Kropotkin and Bakunin, de Cleyre associated her thought with Americans such as Paine, Jefferson, Emerson, and the individualist writer Benjamin Tucker. Where Goldman was given to the free expression of desire, de Cleyre spent much of her youth in a nunnery and even after she rejected organized religion she remained quite a severe ascetic. And where Goldman was almost pathologically social, de Cleyre was fundamentally solitary.

They knew each other and admired each other from the soapbox and in print, though their relationship was not untainted by rivalry. Each thought the other ugly, and said so. Goldman wrote that “physical beauty and feminine attraction were witheld from her, their lack made more apparent by ill-health and her abhorrence of artifice.” This is rather an odd assessment since many of her contemporaries described Voltai (as she was known to friends and family) as pretty, a view that is borne out by pictures. De Cleyre for her part called Emma a “fishwife,” accused her of “billingsgate” (talking abusively) (A 135) and thought her vulgar and decadent. They hated each other’s boyfriends as well; De Cleyre despised Emma’s notorious Ben Reitman, probably in part because of his continual sexual advances toward her and anyone else who got within range. And de Cleyre’s lover Samuel Gordon was a follower of Johann Most and supported him in his condemnation of Berkman’s attack on Frick. When Most repudiated her lover and collaborator Alexander Berkman, Emma horsewhipped Most in public, and you will understand why she refused to allow De Cleyre to visit her in jail if she brought Gordon.

But they also grudgingly admired and publicly defended one another. In 1894, Emma was arrested for telling a crowd “Ask for work; if they do not give you work ask for bread; if they do not give you bread then take bread.” De Cleyre delivered a speech in her defense which is one of the most astonishing documents in American letters. And after De Cleyre’s death in 1912, Emma published an extremely moving eulogy in Mother Earth, which, though it contains the quoted observations about Voltai’s appearance, is full also of praise for her work and her personality.


Voltairine de Cleyre was born in Leslie, Michigan on 17 November 1866. Her mother’s father had been an active abolitionist. She was named by her father, who was a “freethinker” (i.e. an atheist) after Voltaire. The family was very poor and through most of Voltai’s girlhood the de Claires (later Voltai changed the spelling of her name for unknown reasons) barely subsisted. Her sister Addie said that at Christmas, “We wanted, as all children do, to give our parents and each other something, but spending money was an unknown quantity with us.” She recalls that one year Voltai made a little box for her mother and a case for Addie’s crochet-hook out of cardboard (A 21).

Paul Avrich, the great chronicler of American anarchism, wrote in his biography An American Anarchist that “Voltairine de Cleyre grew up to be an intelligent and pretty child, with long brown hair, blue eyes, and interesting, unusual features. She had a passionate love of nature and animals. But, already displaying the qualities that were to trouble her personal relations in later life, she was headstrong and emotional. She was ‘a very wayward girl,’ says Addie, ‘often very rude to those who loved her best.’ Her eyes could be warm or ‘cold as ice.’ When only four, her ‘indignation was boundless’ when she was refused admission to the primary school in St. Johns because she was under age.’ She had already taught herself to read, says Addie, ‘and could read a newspaper at four!’” (A 24). She was admitted to the school the next year and continued until she was twelve.

Possibly because he could not afford to keep her and possibly because he was returning to his lapsed Catholicism, her father placed her in the Convent of Our Lady of Port Huron in Ontario when she was thirteen. She was there, omitting escape attempts, from September 1880 to December 1883. Though she received a decent education, particularly in music (which she loved and taught her whole life) and though she grew close to some of the nuns, it is obvious that her experience in the convent was part of her journey toward extreme anti-authoritarianism. But as well as rebelling against it, she also internalized the convent’s modesty and asceticism. Most pictures of her in later life show her in plain, high-necked garb that could almost be a habit. And her life of extreme frugality and devotion to her calling mirrored that of the nuns who helped raise her. She was often referred to by her acquaintances in religious terms as a priestess (the journalist Leonard D. Abbott called her the “priestess of pity and vengeance” (A 245)) or as the bride of her cause.

She never attended college, but was thoroughly self-educated. After she left the convent, she embarked on the career that supported her, though in poverty, throughout the rest of her life: offering private lessons in English, music, penmanship, and other subjects. In immediate response, by her own account, to her treatment at the convent, where she was often punished for misbehavior and the frank statement of her opinions, she became a freethinker and began to contribute to atheist periodicals and to lecture on Tom Paine and other subjects around the Midwest. In November 1887 she told a Michigan audience this: “I spent four years in a convent, and I have seen the watchwords of their machinations. I have seen bright intellects . . . loaded down with chains, made abject, prostrate nonentitites. I have seen frank, generous dispositions made morose, sullen, and deceitful, and I have seen rose-leaf cheeks turn to a sickly pallor, and glad eyes lose their brightness, and elastic youth lose its vitality and go down to an early grave murdered - murdered by the church” (A 40-41). As a lecturer, despite the firmness of her words, she seemed very self-contained. Where Goldman, Most, and many others breathed fire, Voltai did a slow burn. One of her listeners said “The even delivery, the subdued enthusiasm of her voice, the abundance of information, thought and argument, and the logical sequence of the same made a deep impression on me” (Jay Fox, quoted in A 42).

Like Goldman and so many others, she was converted from a vague socialism to anarchism by the execution of the Haymarket leaders in 1887. When, at 19, she read the news of the explosion that led to that executions - an explosion to which the anarchist leaders were never convincingly connected - she declared that the anarchists ought to be hanged. She berated herself for the rest of her life for that single thought, and spoke every year on the anniversary of the executions. But while Goldman gravitated toward Kropotkin’s communist anarchism, De Cleyre moved toward the individualist anarchism associated with Josiah Warren, Thoreau, and Benjamin Tucker and began to contribute to the latter’s journal, Liberty. The main practical disagreement between communist and individualist anarchists concerns the institution of property. Communists such as Goldman and Berkman held it to be antithetical to human freedom, whereas individualists such as Warren and Tucker considered it essential. Both, however, were critics of rapacious capitalism and shared a vision of voluntary social arrangements. Later, De Cleyre stepped up her critique of capitalism and called herself an “anarchist without adjectives.” She held that any attempt to dictate the future development of politics or economy was itself incompatible with anarchism. As many voluntary systems ought to be tried as there were people who wanted to live in them. Goldman to her credit also realized that something like this was the only position consistent with anarchism. But for De Cleyre, the origin of a social liberation had to be a personal transformation: for her, ultimately, the liberation of a people had to proceed through a liberation of each person, and the primordial scene of enslavement and freedom was within the human self.

In 1889, Voltairine moved to Philadelphia, where she lived and taught and spoke and organized, largely in the Jewish immigrant community, until 1910. She had several lovers over the years, and in 1890 bore one of them, James Elliott, a son. She had no interest in raising the boy, whose name was Harry, and he was cared for by Elliott’s family. As Avrich puts it, “Moody and irritable, in chronic illness [, poverty], and desperate need of privacy, she could not face the task of raising a child” (A 72). Through this period, she was much in demand on the lecture circuit, and she toured the country and later England, though lecturing left her so exhausted and in so much pain that she had to take to her bed afterwards. (It is not clear what exactly her illnesses were, though it is apparent that they were extremely serious from a young age and caused her death at age 45.) And she contributed poems, stories and essays to many publications, notably Goldman and Berkman’s Mother Earth, which in 1914 published her Selected Works under Berkman’s editorship. That book is a bit hard to obtain, in part because the U.S. government seized it upon publication. Of all American anarchists, native born or immigrant, and with the exception of Thoreau, Voltairine de Cleyre is certainly the most distinguished writer; nevertheless, she is more or less completely out of print.

In March 1902, in an expression of the anti-anarchist mania that followed President McKinley’s assassination by a young European anarchist, Senator Joseph Hawley announced that he would give a thousand dollars to have a shot at an anarchist. De Cleyre’s response: “You may by merely paying your carfare to my home (address below) shoot at me for nothing. I will not resist. I will stand straight before you at any distance you wish me to, and you may shoot, in the presence of witnesses. Does not your American commercial instinct seize upon this as a bargain? But if payment of the $1,000 is a necessary part of your proposition, then when I have given you the shot, I will give the money to the propaganda of the idea of a free society in which there shall be neither assassins nor presidents, beggars nor senators” (A 136). Indeed, such flashes of humor, even in the context of extremely serious matters and De Cleyre’s extremely depressive personality, are characteristic of her writing and in particular of her correspondence.

On 19 December of that same year, Voltairine de Cleyre was shot three times at point-blank range. The would-be assassin was not Senator Hawley, but a former student of hers named Herman Helcher, who declared to the police that he loved Voltairine and that she had broken his heart, despite the fact that it had been several years since they had seen one another. Helcher laid in wait for de Cleyre in a building that she passed daily on her way to give lessons. As she boarded a streetcar, he pulled at her sleeve. When she turned, he shot her in the chest. The bullet spun her around, and then he put two more bullets into her back. She managed to run a block before another of her pupils, a doctor, found her. She was expected to die, but as she wrote later to a friend, “I believe that outside of the actual physical pain of the first three days, my friends suffered more than I did. I don’t know what kind of curious constitution I am blessed with, but some way I settled down to the coldest kind of mental attitude in which the chief characteristic was an unshakable determination not to die” (V to Maggie Duff, A 171).

As we ponder de Cleyre’s response to the shooting, we need to keep in mind that she had early on renounced violence, though she came late in her career to endorse “direct action,” largely as a result of her support of revolutionary anarchists in Mexico. But she had also expressed sympathy with anarchist assassins such as Bresci and Czolgosz, saying (as had Goldman) that their actions, while regrettable, were understandable under the circumstances, and that poverty and oppression ever led to violence. And de Cleyre had criticized the legal and penal system in extreme terms on many occasions. So she refused to identify her assailant or participate in any way in his trial. In fact she sent an appeal on his behalf to the journal Free Society:

Dear Comrades,

I write to appeal to you on behalf of the unfortunate child (for in intellect he has never he has never been more than a child) who made the assault upon me. He is friendless, he is in prison, he is sick - had he not been sick in the brain he never would have done this thing.

Nothing can be done to relieve him until a lawyer is secured, and for that money is needed. I know it is hard to ask, for our comrades are always giving more than they can afford. But I think this is a case where all Anarchists are concerned that the world may learn our ideas concerning the treatment of so-called “criminals,” and that they will therefore be willing to make even unusual sacrifices.

What this poor half-crazed boy needs is not the silence and cruelty of a prison, but the kindness, care, and sympathy which heal.

These have all been given to me, in unstinted quantity. I can never express the heart of my gratitude for it all. Be as ready to help the other who is perhaps the greater sufferer.

With love to all,

Voltairine de Cleyre

Philadelphia, 807 Fairmount Avenue (A 177)

This letter puts into practice in the clearest way the thoughts contained in one of De Cleyre’s strongest essays. Titled “Crime and Punishment,” it is not an abstract treatment of issues in penology and jurisprudence, but a philosophy of life based in passionate empathy.

A great ethical teacher once wrote words like unto these: “I have within me the capacity of every crime.” [She is attributing this thought to Emerson, though it is an ancient insight, and was explored famously by Montaigne.]

Few, reading them, believe that he meant what he said. Most take it as the sententious utterance of one who, in an abandonment of generosity, wished to say something large and leveling. But I think he meant exactly what he said. I think that with all his purity Emerson had within him the turbid stream of passion and desire; for all his hard-cut granite features he knew the instincts of the weakling and the slave; and for all the sweetness, the tenderness, and the nobility of his nature, he had the tiger and the jackal in his soul. I think that within every bit of human flesh and spirit that has ever crossed the enigma bridge of life, from the prehistoric racial morning until now, all crime and all virtue were germinal. (SW 177)

Thus, de Cleyre came to a politics of punishment through empathy with transgressors, and to empathy with transgressors through self-scrutiny. Throughout her life, she subjected herself to withering self-examination (indeed too withering; it drove her to attempt suicide). But in a way that only great saints and exemplars ever have, she let her understanding of herself inform totally her understanding of others, even of those she most deeply despised. “Ask yourself, each of you, whether you are quite sure that you have feeling enough, understanding enough, and have you suffered enough, to be able to weigh and measure out another’s man’s life or liberty, no matter what he has done?” (SW 199). That attitude led to great self-loathing and great charity. She was herself the poor she was trying to feed; she was the criminal she was trying to free. And just as truly, she was the industrialist she was trying to overthrow; she was the president or priest whose doctrine she was dedicated to refuting and whose power she was dedicated to destroying.

For de Cleyre, then, anarchism was more than a political doctrine; it was an approach to ethics and hence to jurisprudence. One was to leave others free not only to live as they liked but to believe and to be as they liked, and the limits of judgment and of justice were precisely fixed by the limits of empathy. Anarchism thus transcended any moral system: it opened the possibility of people inventing and living according to whatever values seemed right to them. On her view, one takes responsibility for oneself, and leaves the question of the responsibility of others for themselves to themselves. This view connects de Cleyre with the American libertarian tradition of Josiah Warren and Lysander Spooner, but she develops the thought much more directly out of her own continual charitable and teaching work with the poor, and out of her acute sensibility of suffering.

[T]he difference between us, the Anarchists, who preach self-government and none else, and Moralists who in times past and present have asked for individual responsibility, is this, that while the have always framed creeds and codes for the purpose of holding others to account, we draw the line upon ourselves. Set the standard as high as you will; live to it as near as you can; and if you fail, try yourself, judge yourself, condemn yourself if you choose. Teach and persuade you neighbor if you can; consider and compare his conduct if you please; speak your mind if you desire; but if he fails to reach your standard or his own, try him not, judge him not, condemn him not. He lies beyond your sphere; you cannot know the temptation nor the inward battle nor the weight of circumstances upon him. You do not know how long he fought before he failed. Therefore you cannot be just. Let him alone. (SW 179)

She adds: “awakening will come when suddenly one day there breaks upon [every person] with realizing force the sense of the unison of life, the irrevocable relationship of the saint to the sinner, the judge to the criminal; that all personalities are intertwined and rushing upon doom together” (SW 201). De Cleyre’s ethics was not based upon abstract principles, though there is a metaphysics underlying it: an Emersonian metaphysics of the connection of all things. But the metaphysics itself is given in and articulated out of an extremely profound, life-transfiguring experience of that connection which has its origin in self-reflection. And this idea that together we are “rushing upon doom” tempers de Cleyre’s politics with an existentialist sense of the finitude and even the futility of human life: she resolves to do good in the face of absurdity, to love even in the darkness, to love even the darkness itself.

Helcher’s bullets were never removed from de Cleyre’s’s body, and they contributed to a downward spiral in physical and emotional health, and an ever-darkening outlook on the world. Voltairine de Cleyre died on 20 June 1912.

Darkness and Liberation

Emma Goldman and Voltairine de Cleyre were anarchists for different reasons and in different ways. For Emma, anarchism promised a flowering of life and creativity. She viewed life as a force which could fill all things if it were liberated. De Cleyre, on the other hand, found life a continual trial, and even toyed with the idea that its universal extinction was preferable to its continuation. Her anarchism was driven by her extremely intense experience of and empathy for suffering. To Alexander Berkman she wrote: “In the last analysis it is life itself I hate, not a fat bourgeois. Life, life this fiendish thing which brings millions of little creatures forth mercilessly, only to hunger, pain, madness. There is not a day when the sufferings of the little waif animals in the street does not create in one a bitter rage against life” (A 206).

And thus where Goldman turned always toward life as experience - toward art, sexuality, liberation of human potential - de Cleyre turned away in pity and in disgust and in depression. But she also continuously returned. Despite immense physical and emotional problems, she devoted herself to the relief of suffering wherever it might be found. Where Emma imagined a beautiful ideal, and never stopped aspiring to it even in the most difficult circumstances, de Cleyre had a dark realism and little hope for anarchism or any other ideal. Of all things, she was most acutely aware of the suffering that surrounded her; she made of it her own suffering. She habitually rescued animals and human beings from the street. After a particularly brutal quarrel with Gordon in the 1890s, they both swallowed poison, though they both survived. And de Cleyre tried to commit suicide on at leasdt one other occasion. By the end of her life she continued her political work by sheer force of will. “I am not sure of anything,” she wrote to Berkman on 24 June 1910. “I am not sure that liberty is good. I am not sure that progress exists. I do not feel able to theorize or philosophize or preach at all. . . . I can see no use in doing anything. Everything turns bitter in my mouth and ashes in my hands. . . . All my tastes are dying” (A, 215). And to another correspondent around the same time: “I have nothing - nothing to say. I would like to finish my life in silence” (A 216). She was continuously, grindingly ill in body and spirit, and in the last years of her life experienced terrible headaches and continual roaring noises in her ears.

This perhaps makes Voltairine de Cleyre out to be an unremittingly depressed and depressing figure. But against this infinitely dark background, Voltairine de Cleyre’s writing and her commitment are incandescent. When she wrote of the suffering of others and the means to achieve its surcease, she wrote with total passion. And in dedicating her life to hope even in the face of overwhelming continual hopelessness, she displayed a heroic overcoming not only of the circumstances that surrounded her, but of herself. Many people who suffer suicidal depression of the sort she faced throughout her life turn inexorably inward; the sufferings of others and indeed the external world quite in general, come to seem unreal; action becomes impossible.

But Voltai de Cleyre used her reflection on her own suffering and her intense desire for a liberation from it as a tool to understand all that suffers, as a connection to the world’s suffering, as a motivation for its remediation. So intense were her connections to all things that suffered that she lived much of her life in utter despair. But so intense was it, too, that in the face of that despair she made beautiful language and demonstrated amazing generosity. She died at age 45 and death must have come as a relief, something that in some sense she had sought all her life. But that life was made all the more alive by its morbidity. There is a kind of existential nobility that despairs and fights anyway, that defies God or indeed any authority even as it acknowledges that it can’t win and even that it is impossible to know what victory means or whether it is desirable. But it pursues liberation anyway, acknowledges and shapes the absurdity of life. Voltairine de Cleyre acknowledged our finitude, our impotence, the inevitability of our failure, our pain, and our death. And even as she did so she kept fighting to alleviate these conditions. That resolution to hope in the face of hopelessness, that song on the edge of the abyss, marks a courage greater even than that of the idealist.

De Cleyre’s prose is paradigmatically American. She is in many ways a florid romantic, but driving the poetical gesture there is muscle. It is hard to quote her briefly, in part because when she’s pouring, her sentences are extremely long, and in part because her figures of speech take a very long time to unfold. But when you examine her rhetoric, you also find that she is remarkably plain-spoken, and even in at her most poetic and passionate she is utterly direct. Here is a passage from her essay on Goldman. Recall that Goldman had been arrested for urging the poor to “take bread.”

I do not give you that advice. Not because I do not think that bread belongs to you, not because I do not think you would be morally right in taking it, . . . not that I do not think one little bit of sensitive human flesh is worth all the property rights in New York City; not that I think the world will ever be saved by the sheep’s virtue of going patiently to the shambles; not that I do not believe the expropriation of the possessing classes inevitable, and that that expropriation will begin by such acts as Emma Goldman advised, viz.: the taking possession of wealth already produced; not that I think you owe any consideration to the conspirators of Wall Street . . . not that I would have you forget the consideration they have shown to you; that they advised lead for strikers, strychnine for tramps, bread and water as good enough for working people; . . . not that I would have you forget the single dinner at Delmonico’s which . . . cost ten thousand dollars! Would I have you forget that the wine in the glasses was your children’s blood? It must be a rare drink - children blood! . . . If, therefore, I do not give the advice which Emma Goldman gave, let not the authorities suppose it is because I have any more respect for their constitution and their law than she has, or that I regard them as having any rights in the matter.

No. My reasons for giving that advice are two. First, if I were giving advice at all I would say: “My friends, that bread belongs to you. It is you who toiled and sweat in the sun to sow and reap the wheat, it is you who stood by the thresher, and breathed the chaff-filled atmosphere in the mills, while it was ground to flour; it is you who went into the eternal night of the mine and risked drowning, fire-damp, explosion, and cave-in, to get the fuel for the fire that baked it. . . . My second reason for not repeating Emma Goldman’s words is that I, as an anarchist, have no right to advise another to do anything involving a risk to himself; nor would I give a fillip for an action done by the advice of some one else, unless it is accompanied by a well-argued, well-settled conviction on the part of the person acting, that it really is the best thing to do. Anarchism, to me, means not only the denial of authority, not only a new economy, but a revision of the principles of morality. It means the development of the individual as well as the assertion of the individual. It means self-responsibility, and not leader worship. I say it is your business to decide whether you will starve and freeze in sight of food and clothing . . . And in saying this I mean to cast no reflection whatever upon Miss Goldman for doing otherwise. She and I hold many differing views on both Economy and Morals; and that she is honest in hers she has proven better than I have proven mine. Miss Goldman is a communist; I am an individualist. She wishes to destroy the right of property; I wish to assert it. . . . But whether she or I be right, or both of us be wrong, of one thing I am sure: the spirit which animates Emma Goldman is the only one which will emancipate the slave from his slavery, the tyrant from his tyranny - the spirit which is willing to dare and suffer. (7-10)

De Cleyre was certainly a spirit willing to dare and suffer, and though she lived in want and pain, she spoke and wrote with a courage that was total.

One interesting theme of this speech is de Cleyre’s ambivalent relation to the idea of “leadership,” whether Goldman’s, her own, or anyone else’s. She certainly could not, comformably to her own ethics, tell people what to do, even were they willing to follow her. Her leadership, then, was not rabble-rousing or even large-scale organizing. Rather, she reached people one at a time in a kind of ministry and when she spoke she took care that the autonomy of each member of her audience was respected in her words and in her delivery. She led, of course, by example, by her purity of purpose, by her deep dedication to helping specific people to survive and thrive. And she led by the inspiring vision given in her writings. But she refused to seize the sort of power that those writings were dedicated to critiquing. In that sense, she provides an alternative model of leadership that is highly personal and self-consciously respects the autonomy of those over whom it is exercised.

Her essay “Sex Slavery” is one of her most impassioned. And the feminism she puts forward in it is strikingly modern, though it also takes up and pushes forward an existing tradition. She compares marriage (as it stood in the late nineteenth century) to chattel slavery. And she traces its origin to God and the state. “[T]hat is rape, where a man forces himself sexually upon a woman whether he is licensed by the marriage law to do it or not. And that is the vilest tyranny where a man compels a woman he says he loves, to endure the agony of bearing children that she does not want, and for whom, as is the rule rather than the exception, they cannot properly provide. It is worse than any other human oppression; it is fairly God-like! To the sexual tyrant there is not parallel upon earth; one must go to the skies to find a fiend who thrusts life upon his children only to starve and curse and outcast and damn them!” (SW 345). This is de Cleyre at her blasphemous best, thundering against oppression in a way reminiscent of Malcolm X. “At Macon in the sixth century . . . the fathers of the Church met and proposed the decision of the question, ‘Has woman a soul?’ Having ascertained that the permission to own a nonentity wasn’t going to injure any of their parsnips, a small majority vote decided this momentous question in our favor. . . . The question of souls is old - we demand our bodies, now” (SW 350). And she goes on to assert that women’s bodies are entrapped by restrictive and “modest” clothing, by limitations on such activities as team sports and horsemanship, and above all by the domination of their sexuality by men. And typically, she finishes by proposing liberty, and by saying that no one can see what sorts of relations might be possible in the future between the sexes, but that all the possibilities are permissible as long as they are voluntary.


Despite her extreme tendency toward heresy, there remained throughout de Cleyre’s life a yearning toward transcendence. It would seem, indeed, to be a yearning for God, though of course we must acknowledge her self-declared atheism. This certainly is the key to understanding her asceticism, her apparent vow of poverty and dedication to self-sacrifice, self-abnegation, and perhaps self-destruction. De Cleyre wanted to erase herself into pure generosity and hence pure emptiness. There is a kind of an American Platonism lurking in her renunciation of the beyond and in her love of nature and its transcendence. In a short story titled “The Chain Gang,” which is reminiscent of some of the contemporary essays of W.E.B. Du Bois, de Cleyre displays her lifelong association with music and relates it to what is certainly a religious experience.

When you hear that an untaught child is able, he knows not how, to do the works of the magicians of mathematics, has it never seemed to you that suddenly all books were swept away, and there before you stood a superb, sphinx-like creation, Mathematics itself, posing problems to men whose eyes are cast down, and all at once, out of whim, incorporating itself in the wide-eyed, mysterious child? Have you ever felt that all the works of the masters were swept aside in the burst of a singing voice, unconscious that it sings, and that Music itself, a master-presence, has entered the throat and sung?

The essay/story then describes the way the song “incorporates” itself in black men working on a Georgia chain gang.

But wide beyond the limits of high man and his little scorn, the great sweet old Music-Soul, the chords of the World, smote through the black man’s fibre in the days of the making of men; and it sings, it sings . . . through all the voices of the Chain Gang. And never one so low that it does not fill . . . and bursts out singing things always new and new and new. (SW 414-15)

She always viewed suffering as a call to transcendence, as perhaps the only road to transcendence of the self. Only one who is deep in soul-darkness and self-loathing seeks both immersion in pain and its overcoming through its intensification. And only someone with that power of self-overcoming really understands from inside the expressions of transcendence by which oppressed people transform pain into art. That was the origin of the blues that de Cleyre heard, and, more, celebrated and embodied.

Her philosophy is eclectic and finally quite original; she was the opposite of an ideologue, and it is to the credit of Alexander Berkman - an ideologue if ever there was one - that he could edit her writings and try to disseminate them. But her philosophy is also characteristically American. I would, again, call her metaphysics transcendental in the Emersonian vein. Whereas the philosophy of, let us say, Hegel, denigrates the physical world or sees it as a mere shadow of the Idea, Emerson and de Cleyre seek the transcendent in the immanent, and find it. And thus her ethics emerges directly from her metaphysics; it is an ethics that makes use of what Emerson would call the “oversoul,” the sense in which or the level at which we are all connected in one cycle of life and suffering and death and transcendence. Here is how she begins her wonderful essay “The Dominant Idea”:

In everything that lives, if one looks searchingly, is limned the shadow line of an idea - an idea, dead or living, sometimes stronger when dead, with rigid, unswerving lines that mark the living embodiment with the stern, immobile cast of the non-living. Daily we move among these unyielding shadows, less piercable, more enduring than granite, with the blackness of ages in them, dominating living, changing bodies, with dead, unchanging souls. And we meet, also, living souls dominating dying bodies - living ideas regnant over decay and death. Do not imagine that I speak of human life alone. The stamp of persistent or of shifting Will is visible in the grass-blade rooted in its clod of earth, as in the gossamer web of being that floats and swims far over our heads in the free world of air. (SW 81)

In de Cleyre’s metaphysics, then, the beauty and truth of the eternal, the will that is the source of the cosmos, is inside the world and indeed inside us: or indeed is the world and is us. If our suffering distances us from it by enclosing us within ourselves, it also issues a call for its own amelioration through connection, through concrete acts of charity. And so charity or the relief of suffering brings us to a kind of truth; it lets us see the modes of connection that constitute the human community and the world. And from this immanent transcendence, Voltairine rejects materialism and determinism, and holds that one can incorporate an idea in oneself, that one can live toward an ideal, that even in death one is free and connected to the ideas that animate all nature. This is very much related to the sort of ethics developed a century later by Iris Murdoch that associates goodness with truth, and truth with an overcoming of ego. And Murdoch’s ethics is in turn related to Platonism and to various religious traditions, in particular that of the Bhagavad-gita.

The philosophy that de Cleyre then articulates - both optimistic and intensely realistic - is an original version of the American pragmatism then being articulated by William James and soon to be elaborated in very much the way Voltai does, by John Dewey. De Cleyre:

[A]gainst the accepted formula of modern Materialism, “Men are what circumstances make them,” I set the opposing declaration, “Circumstances are what men make them”; and I contend that both these things are true to the point where the combating powers are equalized, or one is overthrown. In other words, my conception of mind, or character, is not that of a powerless reflection of a momentary condition of stuff and form, but an active modifying agent, reacting on its environment and transforming circumstances, sometimes greatly, sometimes, though not often, entirely. (SW 82-83)

Here and in many other places, de Cleyre’s philosophy and her writing find a pitch of synthesis, originality, and lucidity which certainly no contemporary anarchist ever reached, and which indeed is rare in any context. Because of the relation of immanence and transcendence in her philosophy, this meliorism becomes a declaration that the world itself can become an arena of transcendence through concrete human action, in particular through a transformation of social conditions.

Compatibly with this philosophy, throughout de Cleyre’s writing you will find the most prosaic and practical observations interrupted by flashes of poetry and radical intuition. I conclude with this long quotation from her essay “Anarchism,” in which she pauses in her discussion of various economic models to deliver a sublime account of the human self in general and in particular of her self.

Ah, once to stand unflinchingly on the brink of that dark gulf of passions and desires, once at last to send a bold, straight-driven gaze down into the volcanic Me, once, and in that once, and in that once forever, to throw off the command to cover and flee from the knowledge of that abyss, - nay, to dare it to hiss and seethe if it will, and make us writhe and shiver with its force! Once and forever to realize that one is not a bundle of well-regulated little reasons bound up in the front room of the brain to be sermonized and held in order with copy-book maxims or moved and stopped by a syllogism, but a bottomless, bottomless depth of all strange sensations, a rocking sea of feeling wherever sweep strong storms of unaccountable hate and rage, invisible contortions of disappointment, low ebbs of meanness, quakings and shudderings of love that drives to madness and will not be controlled, hungerings and moanings and sobbings that smite upon the inner ear, now first bent to listen, as if all the sadness of the sea and the wailing of the great pine forests of the North had met to weep together there in that silence audible to you alone. To look down upon that, to know the blackness, the midnight, the dead ages in oneself, to feel the jungle and the beast within, - and the swamp and the slime, and the desolate desert of the heart’s despair - to see, to know, to feel to the uttermost, - and then to look at one’s fellow, sitting across from one in the street-car, so decorous, so well got up, so nicely combed and brushed and oiled and to wonder what lies beneath that commonplace exterior, - to picture the cavern in him which somewhere far below has a narrow gallery running into your own - to imagine the pain that racks him to the finger-tips perhaps while he wears that placid ironed-shirt-front countenance - to conceive how he too shudders at himself and writhes and flees from the lava of his heart and aches in his prison-house not daring to see himself - to draw back respectfully from the Self-gate of the plainest, most unpromising creature, even from the most debased criminal in oneself - to spare all condemnation (how much more trial and sentence) because one knows the stuff of which man is made and recoils at nothing since all is in himself, - this is what Anarchism may mean to you. It means that to me.

And then, to turn cloudward, starward, skyward, and let the dreams rush over one - no longer awed by outside powers of any order - recognizing nothing superior to oneself - painting, painting endless pictures, creating unheard symphonies that sing dream sounds to you alone, extending sympathies to the dumb brutes as equal brothers, kissing the flowers as one did when a child, letting oneself go free, go free beyond the bounds of what fear and custom call the “possible,” - this too Anarchism may mean to you, if you dare apply it so. And if you do some day, - if sitting at your work-bench, you see a vision of surpassing glory, some picture of that golden time when there shall be no prisons on the earth, nor hunger, nor houselessness, nor accusation, nor judgment, and hearts open as printed leaves, and candid as fearlessness, if then you look across at your low-browed neighbor, who sweats and smells and curses at his toil, - remember that as you do not know his depth neither do you know his height. He too might dream if the yoke of custom and law and dogma were broken from him. Even now you know not what blind, bound, motionless chrysalis is working there to prepare its winged thing. (SW 113-15)


Paul Avrich, An American Anarchist: The Life of Voltairine De Cleyre (Princeton NJ: Princeton University Press, 1978) (A).

Alexander Berkman, ed., Selected Works of Voltairine de Cleyre (New York: Mother Earth Publishing Association, 1914) (SW).

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Don't Ask, Don't Wank...military porn fugitive

Violet Blue, Special to SF Gate I didn’t ask to become a military porn fugitive. And yes, maybe I've watched "Blowjob Impossible" a few too many times to be truly objective. A while back, my longtime friend Tara (not her real name) was dating a guy who was set for his second deployment to Iraq. She was getting ready to go visit him at a base before he left; he was in charge of a group that was about to see some very heavy duty action. Before she left, she asked if I had any porn she could smuggle onto the base for the guys. She told me, “They really need it, and it would make them so happy." Eager to support our troops, I happily obliged. I hit up all my local connections at porn stores and gathered a pile of donation magazines; the kind with real porn in them, like Leg Show, Black Tail, Juggs and Taboo. I met her at Muddy Waters on Valencia Street to make the exchange; she was late as she’d been caught up on BART trains delayed, ironically, by an anti-war protest taking place downtown. I asked her if that was weird, and she replied smiling, “No! I might protest a bit myself before heading home." I knew Tara wasn’t kidding. She followed up with me a few weeks later, telling me how much the guys appreciated the porn – they whooped and cheered as it was distributed, and were even more exuberant when they found out it was handpicked by a girl. I had no idea I’d participated in the breaking of any laws. But I had. And I’d do it again in a red-hot, Barely Legal second. Porn -- the oft-ridiculous caricature of human sexuality, and most basic sex toy that there is -- is considered by officials as dangerous to our service people as drugs. The Military Honor and Decency Act of 1996 prohibits stores on military bases from selling "sexually explicit material." It defines that as film or printed matter "the dominant theme of which depicts or describes nudity" or sexual activities "in a lascivious way." Challenged as a First Amendment violation, the law was upheld by a U.S. appeals court in 2002. In Iraq, service people are subject toGeneral Order Number 1a (GO-1a) put into effect December 19, 2000:The regulations prohibit conduct “prejudicial to the maintenance of good order and discipline of all forces."GO-1a prohibits a lot of things, such as "controlled substances and drug paraphernalia", gambling, selling or defacing artifacts and national treasures, entry into a Mosque without permission and much more. Including porn. GO-1a expressly prohibits our soldiers from -- or "protects" them from, "Introduction, possession, transfer, sale, creation or display of any pornographic or sexually explicitphotograph, video tapes, movie, drawing, book, magazine, or similar representations." Sure -- go sweat your life into your fatigues guarding a checkpoint that might deliver you a suicide bomber, but get caught with a DVD of "Shaving Ryan's Privates" and you're in trouble. And not the kind that involves shaving anyone's privates, not for fun anyway. The laws are nearly ten years old, so what's the fuss, Miss Evil Porn Crusader? Well, according to USA Today,the US Military is currently "under fire" for not banning every conceivable kind of porn out there. According to the piece, “Dozens of religious and anti-pornography groups have complained to Congress and Defense Secretary Robert Gates that a Pentagon board set up to review magazines and films is allowing sales of material that Congress intended to ban. "They're saying 'we're not selling stuff that's sexually explicit' … and we say it's pornography," says Donald Wildmon, head of the American Family Association, a Christian anti-pornography group. A letter-writing campaign launched Friday by opponents of the policy aims to convince Congress to "get the Pentagon to obey the law," he adds." What, exactly, are their anti-porn panties in a collective bunch about if hardcore porn is already banned? Specifically, "Playboy", "Penthouse" and all kinds of other "all-American" adult entertainment. The sponsor of 1996's Decency ActRep. Roscoe Bartlett, R-Mdadds cryptically in the USA Today piece"the military is skirting Congress' intent" and notes "the material also could contribute to a hostile environment for female military personnel." I wonder, what exactly is he suggesting about our servicemen? I'll agree that porn can most certainly be used to create a hostile environment for all genders and orientations, but that's a matter of soldiers' (and officers') conduct; not the porn itself. Porn can't "make" anyone do anything they didn't already want to, and people who rape — and act abusively — will do so, no matter the catalyst or tools they use. "Saturday Night Beaver" is not a gateway drug, nor is it bad for morale. Connecting with explicit human sexuality, as lame (or as delicious) as porn can be, is what keeps us from being machines, killing, defending, or otherwise. Not to mention that enjoying it should be one of the rights they're dying for. And do these guys think that our servicewomen don’t want porn? It's a pretty entertaining notion to think that our servicemen might be at risk for a hostile environment if military women could only get their hands on a DVD copy of "Rambone". It's interesting to note that the loudest protests againstGO-1a have come from The Humane Society and other animal companion organizations.GO-1a(.pdf via also prohibits soldiers from keeping animals. In fact,in 2005 soldiers confirmed that the US government hired contractors to shoot dogs and cats to carry out this grim set of "good order and discipline" laws. And I'll make the same argument for porn that the Humane Society has made for allowing soldiers to have companions, "But Americans, be they in Baghdad, Beaufort, Billings, or Boston, all know the same truth. The bond between humans and animals does not compromise character or morale. It enhances them." So while the bond between a serviceperson andSummer Cummings' massive mammaries -- orRocco Siffredi's lethal weapon -- may be fleeting, it's no less valid for morale. Soldiers need to take care of themselves, and wanking is an important part of that. The Pentagon may have stood by Playboy this round, but they dumped 67% of the titles available to service people. I don’t think it's a question of "why does the Pentagon hate the military" but instead, why do conservative groups get to ban our soldiers from the little taste of stateside sex they can get their hands on? True, I may have seen "Top Buns" too many times. But I know this: masturbation to porn is a healthy form of self-pleasure. And denying it is not. Our soldiers are risking everything for a variety of very confusing and conflicting values. Not everyone is going to agree with their urge to fap to "Clear and Present Dildo", but as Americans, isn’t it their right? ---- Violet Blue is author and editor of nearly two dozen sexual health books and erotica collections. She is a professional sex educator, lecturer, podcaster, blogger, vlogger, porn/erotica reviewer and machine artist. She has written for outlets ranging from to O, The Oprah Magazine. Violet is also a fetish model, a member of Survival Research Labs, an author at Metblogs San Francisco; girl friday contributor at, a San Francisco native and a Forbes Web Celeb. Her tech site is Techyum; her audio and e-books are at Digita Publications. For more information and links to Web sites discussed in Open Source Sex, go to Violet Blue's Web site,

Eighth wonder of the world? The stunning temples secretly carved out below ground by 'paranormal' eccentric

by HAZEL COURTENEY Nestling in the foothills of the Alps in northern Italy, 30 miles from the ancient city of Turin, lies the valley of Valchiusella. Peppered with medieval villages, the hillside scenery is certainly picturesque.

But it is deep underground, buried into the ancient rock, that the region's greatest wonders are concealed.

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Hall of the Earth: An amazing room built on the 'supernatural' visions of its creator

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Here, 100ft down and hidden from public view, lies an astonishing secret - one that has drawn comparisons with the fabled city of Atlantis and has been dubbed 'the Eighth Wonder of the World' by the Italian government.

For weaving their way underneath the hillside are nine ornate temples, on five levels, whose scale and opulence take the breath away.

Constructed like a three-dimensional book, narrating the history of humanity, they are linked by hundreds of metres of richly decorated tunnels and occupy almost 300,000 cubic feet - Big Ben is 15,000 cubic feet.

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light fantastic

Light fantastic: The giant glass dome of the Hall of Mirrors

Play time: Children look happy in the amazing surroundings

Few have been granted permission to see these marvels.

Indeed, the Italian government was not even aware of their existence until a few years ago.

But the 'Temples of Damanhur' are not the great legacy of some long-lost civilisation, they are the work of a 57-year-old former insurance broker from northern Italy who, inspired by a childhood vision, began digging into the rock.

It all began in the early Sixties when Oberto Airaudi was aged ten. From an early age, he claims to have experienced visions of what he believed to be a past life, in which there were amazing temples.

Around these he dreamed there lived a highly evolved community who enjoyed an idyllic existence in which all the people worked for the common good.

More bizarrely still, Oberto appeared to have had a supernatural ability: the gift of "remote viewing" - the ability to travel in his mind's eye to describe in detail the contents of any building.

"My goal was to recreate the temples from my visions," he says.

Oberto - who prefers to use the name 'Falco' - began by digging a trial hole under his parent's home to more fully understand the principals of excavation.

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Breathtaking: The miles of tunnels enable air to circulate


House of secrets: Below this house is the Damanhurian temple which is one of the largest temple complexes in the world

But it was only as he began a successful career as an insurance broker that he began to search for his perfect site.

In 1977, he selected a remote hillside where he felt the hard rock would sustain the structures he had in mind.

A house was built on the hillside and Falco moved in with several friends who shared his vision. Using hammers and picks, they began their dig to create the temples of Damanhur - named after the ancient subterranean Egyptian temple meaning City of Light - in August 1978.

As no planning permission had been granted, they decided to share their scheme only with like-minded people.

Volunteers, who flocked from around the world, worked in four-hour shifts for the next 16 years with no formal plans other than Falco's sketches and visions, funding their scheme by setting up small businesses to serve the local community.

By 1991, several of the nine chambers were almost complete with stunning murals, mosaics, statues, secret doors and stained glass windows. But time was running out on the secret.

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Hall of Spheres: Creator Oberto Airaudi based his creation on wonderful visions


Bright window: The window decorations have a church-stained window theme

The first time the police came it was over alleged tax evasion and still the temples lay undiscovered. But a year later the police swooped on the community demanding: "Show us these temples or we will dynamite the entire hillside."

Falco and his colleagues duly complied and opened the secret door to reveal what lay beneath.

Three policemen and the public prosecutor hesitantly entered, but as they stooped down to enter the first temple - named the Hall of the Earth - their jaws dropped.

Inside was a circular chamber measuring 8m in diameter.

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hall of mirrors

Hall of mirrors: The hall has a classical Greek feel

Egyptian wall paintings: Damanhurian art is greatly influenced by both Egyptian and Celtic sytles

A central sculpted column, depicting a three dimensional man and woman, supported a ceiling of intricately painted glass.

The astonished group walked on to find sculpted columns covered with gold leaf, more than 8m high.

Stunned by what they had found, the authorities decided to seize the temples on behalf of the government.

"By the time they had seen all of the chambers, we were told to continue with the artwork, but to cease further building, as we had not been granted planning permission," says Esperide Ananas, who has written a new book called Damanhur, Temples Of Humankind.

Retrospective permission was eventually granted and today the 'Damanhurians' even have their own university, schools, organic supermarkets, vineyards, farms, bakeries and award-winning eco homes.

They do not worship a spiritual leader, though their temples have become the focus for group meditation.

'They are to remind people that we are all capable of much more than we realise and that hidden treasures can be found within every one of us once you know how to access them,' says Falco.

Failing Senior Care System Burdening Families

Socialist Party USA- Nominee for U.S. Vice President, and candidate for nomination by the Peace and Freedom Party November 21, 2007 A recently released study has revealed that working class families are taking on a heavier financial burden to care for seniors and aging parents. The additional expenses most often require working class families to make additional financial sacrifices and to reduce most of the discretionary spending for the family. The report, which was conducted by the National Alliance for Caregivers, and Evercare, a division of the United Health Care Group, has urge the government to provide assistance to caregivers and families responsible for the care of seniors. The report also revealed a sharp increase within recent years that families are paying out-of-pocket to care for seniors. The average out-of-pocket cost for family members and caregivers is $5,500 a year, and additional expenses will take that average up to $8,728. Today, most seniors can not survive on the income they receive from social security or retirement pensions, and most seniors earn less than $1,500 monthly from social security and other pensions. Unfortunately, their small checks fall extremely short of being able to cover the most basic needs. Very often, family members and caregivers will need to cover the cost for housing, utilities, clothing, transportation, medical co-payments, and food expenses. Seniors without families often live in deep poverty. The Social Security Administration has aged like most American seniors, and at the age of 70 the social security system is also experiencing hard times due to willful neglect. Some estimate that the present social security system will be bankrupted in 35 years, under the present rules, and will not provide for America's aging population. Already the system is forcing millions of seniors to live at poverty levels. As the wealthy are relieved of social security taxes entirely after their first $95,000 in annual income, the burden falls entirely on lesser wage-earners. The workers who create the wealth of every billionaire receive no support in their later years from those they have enriched. The Democrats and Republicans have failed to enact any effective federal legislation that will protect the well-being and future of the aging working-class retirees. The two corporate parties have failed to introduce a national health care program and both parties have leaned toward increasing privatization of America's health care system. This is not a solution, but increase real societal costs and aggravates the problems. Both the Peace and Freedom Party and the Socialist Party USA have been advocates for working class people and seniors for decades. The platforms of both parties propose a basic income that would alleviate poverty and would provide for the basic needs of seniors and all working class people. Both parties advocate the adoption of a national healthcare plan that would cover all medical needs of the entire population, a lack that is shameful today, as all other industrialized countries have such programs. The war is still the number one issue in the 2008 Elections, but even as we work to bring this war to an end, it is essential that the country look at real solutions rather than illusory for-profit "solutions" to our basic problems: the crisis facing an aging working class, poverty, homelessness, the cost of living, low wages, inflation, the recession, and all the other results of an economic and political system ruled by profit, by the greed of the few, rather than by the real needs of the many. Even under capitalism, with an effective movement for change, the government can be forced to take care of seniors and relieve their families, friends and caregivers of the financial burden. Real long-term solutions require a mass movement to bring socialism and true democracy to America, and place the resources of our country in the hands of its working people. For more information search the web for: Stewart A. Alexander; Independent Voters Rejecting Democrats and Republicans. homepage: homepage:

Friday, November 23, 2007

She's All My Fancy Painted Him, by Lewis Carroll

She's all my fancy painted him (I make no idle boast); If he or you had lost a limb, Which would have suffered most? He said that you had been to her, And seen me here before; But, in another character, She was the same of yore. There was not one that spoke to us, Of all that thronged the street: So he sadly got into a 'bus, And pattered with his feet. They sent him word I had not gone (We know it to be true); If she should push the matter on, What would become of you? They gave her one, the gave me two, They gave us three or more; They all returned from him to you, Though they were mine before. If I or she should chance to be Involved in this affair, He trusts to you to set them free, Exactly as we were. It seemed to me that you had been (Before she had this fit) An obstacle, that came between Him, and ourselves, and it. Don't let him know she liked them best, For this must ever be A secret, kept from all the rest, Between yourself and me.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

I'm Thankful That I'm Not A Turkey

It is an important and popular fact that things are not always what they seem. For instance, on the planet Earth, man had always assumed that he was more intelligent than dolphins because he had achieved so much — the wheel, New York, wars, and so on — whilst all the dolphins had ever done was muck about in the water having a good time. But conversely, the dolphins had always believed that they were far more intelligent than man — for precisely the same reasons. -Douglas Adams

There’s a schizoid quality to our relationship with animals, in which sentiment and brutality exist side by side. Half the dogs in America will receive Christmas presents this year, yet few of us pause to consider the miserable life of the pig — an animal easily as intelligent as a dog — that becomes the Christmas ham. -Michael Pollan

When it comes to having a central nervous system and the ability to feel pain, hunger, and thirst, a rat is a pig is a dog is a boy. -Ingrid Newkirk

What, is the jay more precious than the lark because his feathers are more beautiful? -William Shakespeare

If one person is unkind to an animal, it is considered to be cruelty, but where a lot of people are unkind to animals, especially in the name of commerce, the cruelty is condoned and, once sums of money are at stake, will be defended to the last by otherwise intelligent people. -Ruth Harrison

If we cut up beasts simply because they cannot prevent us and because we are backing our own side in the struggle for existence, it is only logical to cut up imbeciles, criminals, enemies, or capitalists for the same reasons. -C.S. Lewis

As often as Herman had witnessed the slaughter of animals and fish, he always had the same thought: in their behavior toward creatures, all men were Nazis. -Isaac Bashevis Singer

The question is not “Can they reason?” Nor “Can they talk?” But “Can they suffer?” -Jeremy Bentham

God loved the birds and invented trees. Man loved the birds and invented cages. -Jacques Deval

The animals of the world exist for their own reasons. They were not made for humans any more than black people were made for white, or women created for men. -Alice Walker

The more we learn of the true nature of nonhuman animals, especially those with complex brains and corresponding complex social behavior, the more ethical concerns are raised regarding their use in the service of man — whether this be in entertainment, as “pets,” for food, in research laboratories, or any of the other uses to which we subject them. -Jane Goodall

When a man’s best friend is his dog, that dog has a problem. -Edward Abbey

Do fur-bearing animals feel joy and fear and sadness and excruciating pain and a sense of loss precisely as human beings do? I knew the answer, had known it all along but hidden it from myself. Yet a boy who spends his time wandering the woods — isn’t he expected to bring something back, to justify his wanderings? -Bill Hotchkiss

Human beings are the only animals of which I am thoroughly and cravenly afraid. -George Bernard Shaw

Humans — who enslave, castrate, experiment on, and fillet other animals — have had an understandable penchant for pretending animals do not feel pain. A sharp distinction between humans and “animals” is essential if we are to bend them to our will, wear them, eat them — without any disquieting tinges of guilt or regret. -Carl Sagan

It is just like man’s vanity and impertinence to call an animal dumb because it is dumb to his dull perceptions. -Mark Twain

Animals have two functions in today’s society: to be delicious and to fit well. -Greg Proops

Think occasionally of the suffering of which you spare yourself the sight. -Albert Schweitzer

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

NOLA Public Housing Demolitions Set for December: Call for National Support

by new orleans indymedia team Friday, Nov. 16, 2007 at 8:12 PM Many activists believe New Orleans is a test ground for the US Government to demolish public housing across the nation and replace it with "mixed-income" developments that would displace thousands of families. Pledge to come to New Orleans and resist this privatization of public housing! Many activists believe New Orleans is a test ground for the US Government to demolish public housing across the nation and replace it with "mixed-income" developments. According to HANO's contracts with developers, 82% of the pre-storm units would be lost in the development process. Yesterday the Housing Authority of New Orleans backed by the Department of Housing and Urban Development of the Federal Government told the federal judge hearing the public housing lawsuit that the demolition of all four complexes will start in mid-December. Judge Ivan Lemelle responded by saying he will not prevent the demolitions from occurring. The unilateral decision forced Bill Quigley and the rest of the lawyers representing some of the public housing resident plaintiffs to appeal to the US District Court of Appeals. The hearing on November 28 would delay any action until the appeal is heard in court. In a grassroots email campaign, People's Hurricane Relief Fund (PHRF) and Survivor's Village issued this call for national supporters to pledge that they will come to New Orleans to defend public housing with their bodies: "I Pledge" I believe in the fundamental human right to housing, and I will not be a witness to the denial of this right to the peoples of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. I therefore pledge myself to resist the denial of this right by all civil and humanitarian means available, including civil disobedience. I pledge to stand ready to take action against this imminent threat and to put myself on the line, either directly in New Orleans or in strategic locales throughout the US, in support of the demands and leadership of the peoples of New Orleans and their organizations in the struggle for housing and human rights. We ask that all those interested in coming to New Orleans to contact us before making the journey. We need to ensure that everyone coming is registered, properly orientated and trained in order to partake in this act of resistance in the manner determined by the local leaders and residents. Please contact us via email at, with the word "registration" in the subject line. Also, please include the following information: Name: Affinity Group/Organization (if applicable): Phone: Email: Have you ever received any training in civil disobedience? What skills/resources are you able to bring to New Orleans? All making this pledge must be advised of the following: 1. As of now we do not know exactly when the demolition orders will be given. We hope to have this information within at least 48 hours of the scheduled demolition to contact you and give you sufficient time to act (including travel for residents and allies coming in from out of town). 2. Given the limited timeframe and resources of the various organizations spearheading this fight back, access to the following will be limited: * Legal counsel and aid. All effort is and will be made to provide adequate legal support, but the reality is that it is limited at present. * Lodging and food. Again, given the uncertain timeline and limited resources, housing venues are presently limited, but all effort will be made to support all those making this bold pledge. For more information, please contact the Peoples' Hurricane Relief Fund (PHRF) at 504.301.0215 or or Survivors Village at 504.239.2907 or

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The difference between Libertarian and Anarchist

Monday, November 19, 2007

Love In the Asylum, by Dylan Thomas

A stranger has come To share my room in the house not right in the head, A girl mad as birds Bolting the night of the door with her arm her plume. Strait in the mazed bed She deludes the heaven-proof house with entering clouds Yet she deludes with walking the nightmarish room, At large as the dead, Or rides the imagined oceans of the male wards. She has come possessed Who admits the delusive light through the bouncing wall, Possessed by the skies She sleeps in the narrow trough yet she walks the dust Yet raves at her will On the madhouse boards worn thin by my walking tears. And taken by light in her arms at long and dear last I may without fail Suffer the first vision that set fire to the stars.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Does Height Matter in Politics?

[Thanks to pbtrue for the link] by Zach Kanin Dennis Kucinich is pretty short. So short that his website even says he is "not that short." And, when I called his office to ask if he would be interviewed for my book, no one ever called me back. If he were tall, would he be hiding from me, a relative unknown, writing a book no one will ever read, for almost no money? Still, he's about four inches taller than I am, which is why I'm allowed to talk about this stuff.

Statistically speaking, on the basis of height alone, he doesn't have a chance. Here is a list of candidates who have defeated a taller opponent to win the presidency, since the ubiquity of television, until the year 2000: Richard Nixon (5'11 ½) Jimmy Carter (5'9)

Two candidates. By 2000, the statistics (and statistics don't lie) were so daunting, that it was an impossibility that George W. Bush would defeat not one but two taller candidates, proving once and for all that he stole both elections. But we're not here to talk about the rape and murder of our nation. We're here to talk about something important: height discrimination.

Here is how most people think politics works: 1. Officials measure the candidates' heights. 2. The taller candidate wins. 3. The nation goes bankrupt. Wild dogs roam the once ornate office buildings of our cities' former financial districts. The wind rustles through the weeds that have sprouted up in long forgotten halls of industry. Somewhere, a cougar lies in wait for a band of nomads, going it alone in a wasteland of tattered dreams.

But, forget for a minute about whether a slight height difference confers an electoral advantage. Here is a list of candidates of below average height who have won their party's nomination since the ubiquity of television:

Michael Dukakis (5'8)

One candidate of below average height--and not even that far below average. Have you no shame, two political parties in America? At least the independents have crazy billionaire Ross Perot (5'7) and (potentially have) not-insane billionaire Mike Bloomberg (5'7). Anyways, here is a chart showing some interesting presidential heights.


Since height-ism, or "smallotry" (bigotry against small people), has made it so there are no short figures in U.S. Presidential politics, I am providing the following list of interesting short politicians, courtesy of my book, The Short Book. I think you will enjoy it. If you don't, buy ten copies of the book and burn them--to really stick it to me.

Mohandas (Mahatma) Gandhi--5'3--The greatest non-violent freedom fighter in history campaigned throughout his life for India's independence and for the rights of the lower classes. His height was of no concern to him, as he believed "the strength of the soul grows in proportion as you subdue the flesh."

Queen Victoria--5'0--Queen of England from 1837-1901, Victoria was the longest reigning monarch in that nation's history. As the story goes, for every inch of her height, she added another layer of petticoats, thus becoming the second person ever to be wider than she was tall. The first person was "Barrel-Belly" Saunderson (b. 1812), a woman I made up who was born the shape of a disproportionate barrel. Kim Jong Il--5'2--The North Korean dictator is 5'2 or 5'3 but he also wears 4- inch elevator shoes. This is without a doubt the least odd of his many eccentricities.

Haile Selassie I--5'4"--Rastafarians believe that this diminutive former Emperor of Ethiopia is literally God. Not bad for a short guy.

Barbara Boxer--4'11--The junior senator from California is the shortest member of the Senate, and stands on a portable platform known as the "Boxer Box" when she speaks at a lectern. She uses the "Boxer Flask" when things get too slow in subcommittee meetings. Those old guys can talk forever.

So that is just a few.

A question I get a lot, because I am an expert, and because I am unemployed and volunteer my time at a college political group's crisis hot-line, is: "What can I do if I am a short politician and hoping to win election?" Good question. Here are a few things that one prominent politician does to seem taller: Arnold Schwarzenegger is about 5'9-5'10, but he claims he is around 6'1-6'2. Luckily he is a movie star, and movie stars are known liars and agnostics. He uses movie star tricks to seem taller, such as wearing cowboy boots, upstaging his colleagues and opponents so he will be closer to the camera, and making his hair stand up an extra 2 inches. In staged photo ops, wires hanging from the ceiling hold up his hair, but in situations where he has to move around a lot, he has a person behind him blowing a fan directly at the back of his head to keep his hair flowing skyward. This was a trick he learned from Linda Hamilton in the Terminator movies.a

An Electoral Strategy for the Peace and Freedom Party

By David Wilcox

I moved to California last year after living in Vermont, where I had attended college. Only a few months after I left, Vermont became the first state ever to elect a self-described socialist to the U.S. Senate – Bernard “Bernie” Sanders. Previously, Sanders had served three terms as mayor of Burlington (Vermont’s largest city) and eight terms as Vermont’s sole member of the U.S. House of Representatives. Before he had won any elections, he repeatedly ran for state office with the Liberty Union Party in the 1970s. In 1976, he ran for governor and received 6 percent of the vote. It was his best total to date, but soon after he retired from politics. Everything changed, however, when he realized that his support was much greater in his home city. His 1976 campaign had polled 12 percent in Burlington, and reached 16 percent in some of the city’s working-class areas. He decided to enter the 1980 mayoral race in Burlington – and won by a 10-vote margin, unseating a conservative Democratic incumbent.

The moral of this introductory story is that in electoral politics (particularly if you’re outside the mainstream parties), you need to focus on where your support is strongest. One victory in a relatively minor election is worth a hundred valiant defeats in major elections. I believe that the Peace and Freedom Party has the opportunity to stage a breakthrough, if it will focus on where its support is strongest.

Imperial County is located in the southeastern corner of the state. It has the dubious distinction of being the only California county named after a corporation – the Imperial Land Company, which developed the Imperial Valley (also named after the company) early in the 20th century. At that time, the valley was virtually uninhabited desert; the entire area that is Imperial County today had only 158 residents in 1902, despite being nearly twice the size of the state of Delaware. (There was no such entity as Imperial County then; it would not be separated from San Diego County until 1907.) Despite its inhospitable climate, the Imperial Valley had fertile soil, and the Imperial Land Company led the effort to develop the valley by bringing in water from the Colorado River. They succeeded, but at the cost of producing one of the worst ecological disasters in American history. In 1905, a diversion channel of the Imperial Canal suffered a catastrophic rupture, and water poured into the below-sea-level valley until the rupture was finally healed in 1907. The result was the Salton Sea, which is kept filled today primarily with agricultural runoff. It should be noted that the irrigation infrastructure had been built quickly and cheaply; the diversion channel that ruptured had been built over the border in Mexico to escape U.S. regulations.

Recently, I was studying the records of the 2006 elections on the California Secretary of State website. Specifically, I was looking at the number of votes received by the Green and Peace and Freedom parties, out of interest in the amount of electoral support for the left in California. As a national party with much greater public visibility, the Green Party consistently out-polled the Peace and Freedom Party. In most of the state, that is. I soon realized that there was one county where the situation was reversed, and the Peace and Freedom Party consistently out-polled the Green Party. In Imperial County, the Peace and Freedom candidate beat the Green candidate in the races for Secretary of State, Controller, Treasurer, Attorney General, and Insurance Commissioner, as well as the U.S. Senate. (Exact vote totals can be found at In the race for Controller, Peace and Freedom candidate Elizabeth Cervantes Barron received almost triple the votes of Green candidate Laura Wells – over 7 percent of the total. In the city of Calexico on the border, Barron received 12 percent of the total. Only in the Governor and Lieutenant Governor races did the Green candidate prevail in Imperial County.

Digging a little deeper, I began to understand why this particular county would be unusually receptive to Peace and Freedom’s message. Imperial County has by far the highest percentage of Hispanic residents of any county in California. Over 72 percent of the county’s residents identified as Hispanic in the 2000 census. By 2005, this figure was estimated at over 75 percent. Hispanics, of course, tend more toward the left in politics; 70 percent of them voted Democratic in 2006, according to a CNN exit poll. Furthermore, Imperial County is poor; the per capita income is only $13,239. (In contrast, the per capita income in Marin County, California’s richest county, is $44,962.) It is possible that at least a ripple of the resurgence of socialism that has swept Latin America in the last decade has reached America through its immigrant population.

What will the Peace and Freedom Party do with this opportunity? It seems to me that work should begin immediately on establishing a party chapter in Imperial County (unless there is already one there), and resources should be focused there. We should search for Hispanic candidates to run there, and produce more Spanish-language literature. And we should look beyond just county offices; Imperial County, along with the eastern end of Riverside County, comprises the 80th district of the California State Assembly. Its seat is currently held by a Hispanic woman, Bonnie Garcia. She is a Republican and a friend of Gov. Schwarzenegger, and will be unable to seek another term in 2008 due to term limits.

Having written all of this, I should note that I have never been to Imperial County. However, the issues I have tried to raise in this short article have much broader implications. As the only ballot-listed left party in California calling for open borders, the Peace and Freedom Party is well-positioned to become the electoral voice of the movement for undocumented immigrants. Over a million people took to the streets of Los Angeles last year, and the mainstream politicians have been unable to pass even cosmetic reforms. The situation is ripe for a third party with an uncompromising pro-immigrant message to fill the void. Even if it occasionally hurt us, this stance would ultimately help us to build a base in the immigrant community, which would greatly strengthen us in the long term. Immigrants may not be able to vote, but they have plenty of friends, relatives and allies who do. If we can win the hearts and minds of California’s burgeoning Hispanic population, we can become a electorally viable third party and have a real impact on California politics.

How to justify a police-less society

I am working on this idea: Can a society such as America operate without police, or is an alternative to our current system better?

Clearly, the current system of having a dedicated force to police the people has serious consequences, from abuse of power to the enforcement of laws that are unjust or unnecessary.

So my question is, is it truly reasonable to say that people are responsible enough to exist in an urban environment without a police force, as it exists today in american cities? How could a police-less city be better, and is there a compromise? Is a compromise necessary?

If we left people to be responsible for their own actions, abuse would absolutely occur. But would the abuse be worse than the tasering, unnecessary force, and oppression that we deal with daily now?

I am wanting to get ideas and write them into a coherent story that people can read and question, so any comments or suggestions for reading are very welcome.

Add Your Own Comment

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Surfer dude stuns physicists with theory of everything

An impoverished surfer has drawn up a new theory of the universe, seen by some as the Holy Grail of physics, which has received rave reviews from scientists. Garrett Lisi, 39, has a doctorate but no university affiliation and spends most of the year surfing in Hawaii, where he has also been a hiking guide and bridge builder (when he slept in a jungle yurt). In winter, he heads to the mountains near Lake Tahoe, Nevada, where he snowboards. "Being poor sucks," Lisi says. "It's hard to figure out the secrets of the universe when you're trying to figure out where you and your girlfriend are going to sleep next month." Despite this unusual career path, his proposal is remarkable because, by the arcane standards of particle physics, it does not require highly complex mathematics. Even better, it does not require more than one dimension of time and three of space, when some rival theories need ten or even more spatial dimensions and other bizarre concepts. And it may even be possible to test his theory, which predicts a host of new particles, perhaps even using the new Large Hadron Collider atom smasher that will go into action near Geneva next year. Although the work of 39 year old Garrett Lisi still has a way to go to convince the establishment, let alone match the achievements of Albert Einstein, the two do have one thing in common: Einstein also began his great adventure in theoretical physics while outside the mainstream scientific establishment, working as a patent officer, though failed to achieve the Holy Grail, an overarching explanation to unite all the particles and forces of the cosmos. Now Lisi, currently in Nevada, has come up with a proposal to do this. Lee Smolin at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, describes Lisi's work as "fabulous". "It is one of the most compelling unification models I've seen in many, many years," he says. "Although he cultivates a bit of a surfer-guy image its clear he has put enormous effort and time into working the complexities of this structure out over several years," Prof Smolin tells The Telegraph. "Some incredibly beautiful stuff falls out of Lisi's theory," adds David Ritz Finkelstein at the Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta. "This must be more than coincidence and he really is touching on something profound." The new theory reported today in New Scientist has been laid out in an online paper entitled "An Exceptionally Simple Theory of Everything" by Lisi, who completed his doctorate in theoretical physics in 1999 at the University of California, San Diego. He has high hopes that his new theory could provide what he says is a "radical new explanation" for the three decade old Standard Model, which weaves together three of the four fundamental forces of nature: the electromagnetic force; the strong force, which binds quarks together in atomic nuclei; and the weak force, which controls radioactive decay. The reason for the excitement is that Lisi's model also takes account of gravity, a force that has only successfully been included by a rival and highly fashionable idea called string theory, one that proposes particles are made up of minute strings, which is highly complex and elegant but has lacked predictions by which to do experiments to see if it works. But some are taking a cooler view. Prof Marcus du Sautoy, of Oxford University and author of Finding Moonshine, told the Telegraph: "The proposal in this paper looks a long shot and there seem to be a lot things still to fill in." And a colleague Eric Weinstein in America added: "Lisi seems like a hell of a guy. I'd love to meet him. But my friend Lee Smolin is betting on a very very long shot." Lisi's inspiration lies in the most elegant and intricate shape known to mathematics, called E8 - a complex, eight-dimensional mathematical pattern with 248 points first found in 1887, but only fully understood by mathematicians this year after workings, that, if written out in tiny print, would cover an area the size of Manhattan. E8 encapsulates the symmetries of a geometric object that is 57-dimensional and is itself is 248-dimensional. Lisi says "I think our universe is this beautiful shape." What makes E8 so exciting is that Nature also seems to have embedded it at the heart of many bits of physics. One interpretation of why we have such a quirky list of fundamental particles is because they all result from different facets of the strange symmetries of E8. Lisi's breakthrough came when he noticed that some of the equations describing E8's structure matched his own. "My brain exploded with the implications and the beauty of the thing," he tells New Scientist. "I thought: 'Holy crap, that's it!'" What Lisi had realised was that he could find a way to place the various elementary particles and forces on E8's 248 points. What remained was 20 gaps which he filled with notional particles, for example those that some physicists predict to be associated with gravity. Physicists have long puzzled over why elementary particles appear to belong to families, but this arises naturally from the geometry of E8, he says. So far, all the interactions predicted by the complex geometrical relationships inside E8 match with observations in the real world. "How cool is that?" he says. The crucial test of Lisi's work will come only when he has made testable predictions. Lisi is now calculating the masses that the 20 new particles should have, in the hope that they may be spotted when the Large Hadron Collider starts up. "The theory is very young, and still in development," he told the Telegraph. "Right now, I'd assign a low (but not tiny) likelyhood to this prediction. "For comparison, I think the chances are higher that LHC will see some of these particles than it is that the LHC will see superparticles, extra dimensions, or micro black holes as predicted by string theory. I hope to get more (and different) predictions, with more confidence, out of this E8 Theory over the next year, before the LHC comes online."

“We need a spiritual revolution”: A conversation with Daniel Pinchbeck

Note: this is the un-expurgated transcript of a conversation between writers Anu Bonobo and Daniel Pinchbeck, author of 2012: The Return Of Quetzacoatl and Breaking Open The Head. It transpired over email in February 2007 and will be published in the Summer 2007 edition of Fifth Estate.

Later this summer, Pinchbeck and Bonobo will finally meet at Transformus the southeast regional burn in Western North Carolina

Anu: What would you say to a person who knew Daniel before you broke open your head and heard from Quetzacoatl—especially if s/he suggested you'd "gone New Age" on us, trading the fanciful fantasy for the rigorous intellectualism of your past? Daniel: I don’t have the slightest doubt that I am far more “rigorous” in my thinking (or what you term “intellectualism”) than I was in my earlier incarnation as a New York journalist and lit mag editor. In fact, what I suspect that I have accomplished in the last years, above all, was a critically important task of thinking—a philosophical mission. In the introduction to Breaking Open the Head, I quote the French philosopher Lyotard: “Being prepared to think what thought is not prepared to think is what deserves the name of thinking.” That is exactly what I have done.

My best and oldest friends know that I have always been a skeptic and rationalist, with no interest in “New Age” fuzziness. Psychedelics were the best path for me, because they had an objective and empirical correlate – you experience an immediate transformation of consciousness due to the activity of a chemical agent. It would have been much more difficult for me, personally, to trust the slower and subtler modulations of interior states caused by meditation.

Anu: But in a sense, don't you think the whole idea of 2012, of a major shift, of unprecedented and epochal social and spiritual transformation is in fact what the "New Age" was supposed to be about all along? Or do you share the idea that New Age can only be seen as pejorative, as in fuzzy thinking peddled along with trinkets by thoughtless hucksters?

Daniel: Yes, the New Age has pointed toward a new age. However, the thinking behind it has tended to be fuzzy and narcissistic. I think my work brings a harder edge, a crystallization, to ideas formerly considered New Age. Quetzalcoatl as a symbol represents the meeting of bird and snake—Heaven and Earth, spirit and matter, and the integration of mystical, intuitive wisdom with rational, empirical knowledge systems. That is the difficult feat that must be completed to bring a new form of consciousness into being. The whole “spiritual abundance” mentality of The Secret, Chopra etc has created an unappealing culture based on “spiritual materialism”—we should be thinking sufficiency, not abundance. Anu: If we want, to borrow some words from your book, breakthrough instead of breakdown, don't we hold out some hope that we'll get out of the prison cell and, as your book and a Joni Mitchell lyric implies, back to the garden? Daniel: I don’t think it is about going “back to the garden” but forward to a new state of being that will be the garden but at a higher octave of realization. I see the psychic evolution as crucially important, pointing toward a more psychic state of being—

we may do global psychic works to put the climate system back together, like the Hopi raindance on a mega-scale. Anu: Do you "believe" in 2012? Or is your work more in the realm of a speculative mythology of the future?

Daniel: I don’t “believe” in 2012, or in anything really. I consider “belief” to be the enemy of knowledge – or, as Carl Jung said, “I believe only what I know.” As I write in the introduction to 2012, my work offers a thought experiment and hypothesis. My hypothesis proposes that indigenous knowledge systems have a validity that has been entirely missed by our modern rational-empirical mode of cognition, which we have come to consider the only valid form of knowing. European culture forfeited the intuitive and mystical forms of knowing and being in the race to construct material and technological civilization. We went out of our way to exterminate the witches and to destroy any vestiges of shamanic authority because these posed a threat to our value system and paradigm. For the same reason, psychedelics—the visionary sacraments of indigenous cultures around the world—were demonized, and subjected to various forms of repression, both legal and cultural, including ridicule. As I note in Breaking Open the Head, repression does not just repress something – it represses the memory of why that repression was necessary in the first place.

From the research on my first book, I learned through direct experiential investigation that the shamanic knowledge system had legitimacy and validity, that there were other dimensions and realms of consciousness which had a bearing upon this one. I experienced numerous occult episodes, extraordinary synchronicities, telepathic confirmations, and I also recorded many stories from other people that confirmed these types of events. Once I had recognized that the shamanic reality had validity, I was forced to accept that our civilization had enormous gaps in its knowledge system, and that we would need to understand what we had lost. I was forced, logically and rationally, to take indigenous knowledge systems seriously. Therefore, I had to pay careful attention to the prophecies that many tribal cultures, such as the Hopi, are holding about this current time. The Classical Maya represented the full flowering of Mesoamerican civilization. From the Toltecs to the Mayans, more than a thousand years was spent in constructing a model of time and space that took into account accurate astronomical measurements, and recognized harmonic and synchronistic cycles in our development. I offer the hypothesis that the Maya were “wizard scientists” who used non-ordinary states, psychic energy concentrated in ritual, and astronomy to construct a thorough cosmology, that included a careful prediction of when a shift in “World Ages” would take place.

We don’t know what they knew about this shift in “World Ages”—they calculated it, but didn’t predict what was to come, as far as we know. My work on 2012 supports the thesis that they were positing a planetary transformation, a massive shift in human consciousness, and the movement into a new realization of being on the Earth. I have backed up this thesis by exploring the work of many Western and European thinkers, including Jean Gebser, Rudolf Steiner, Carl Jung, Walter Benjamin, Heidegger, and F David Peat. Anu: Are people preparing for 2012 like they did for Y2K? Daniel: I hope not. I never had the slightest interest in Y2K. It felt like an obvious scam. However it did at least indicate how overdependent we are on artificial technology with no relation to the biosphere.

If we were intelligent and possessed of foresight, we would be preparing for an imminent transition that could, in its immediate effects, be quite traumatic, perhaps cataclysmic. We would be storing food and fuel, creating strong local communities, investing in off-the-grid energy systems, developing barter systems and local currencies to take us off the economic grid, and growing our own food using permaculture and organic methods.

Just some facts and figures: Within 30 years, 25% of all mammalian species will be extinct. Within 40 years, there will be no tropical forests left on the Earth and ocean fisheries will entirely collapse. The human sperm count has been declining one percent a year for the last 50 years due to hormone-disrupting chemicals such as plastics and pesticides. Climate change continues to spike—spring flowers bloomed in December in Central Park.

Unless there is a massive ecological U-turn and a parallel transformation of human consciousness and human practices within the next few years, it is quite possible that we will not continue on this planet. At the moment, humanity is like a person in a locked room who has a limited amount of oxygen left—all of our psychic energy should be going to make a few air holes!

The progressive, Left, ecological and liberal intelligentsia is going to have find a way to collaborate, to overcome the individuation crisis that keeps us in our separate boxes. We need to find a way to use the media to spread a new planetary paradigm, and I also personally believe that we need a spiritual revolution in this country – a return to the Transcendentalist impulse of Emerson. Despite its increasing financial collapse, the US still controls the planetary media, the mass-cultural dream machine, so a complete turn-around in the message we are beaming across the planet could change everything very quickly.

Anu: By invoking Y2k, I wasn't necessarily just thinking about a consumer frenzy geared towards stockpiling and hoarding. In your conclusion to 2012, though, you do suggest specific kinds of grassroots infrastructure that might sprout up before the shit hits the fan—such as “localized organic food production, alternative energy, conflict-resolution projects, complementary currencies, and so on.” I mean, some people went rural and joined intentional communities just before 2000. And some stayed. So if people begin to behave more cooperatively and live more sustainable lives in the years between now and then, perhaps energized by their own visions concerning 2012, wouldn't that be a form of preparation worth promoting? Daniel: Yes. There is that grassroots level and then the system and support structures also need to be transformed. I have proposed that sophisticated social networks designed for knowledge sharing and resource sharing and precise use of limited resources could be important for this, in a transition. Anu: What do you think about the Millennial impulse and apocalyptic worrying in general—about the second coming of Christ and the left behind series, peak oil, global warming, The Revolution?

Daniel: My hypothesis is that this time is the Apocalypse—but that term has the literal meaning of “uncovering, revealing.” It is a time when all is revealed, uncovered, so that all can be known. In “2012”, I explore the Jungian perspective on the Apocalypse—Jung’s follower Edinger calls it the momentous event of “the coming of the Self” into conscious realization.

In a strange and unfortunate sense, the Fundamentalists recognize this time for what it is—but they have an atavistic relationship to the “God Image,” and to the archetypal process of the “Second Coming.” Christ didn’t “save our souls” through the Crucifixion—he provided a model of action for us to internalize and to follow, if we would care to save our own souls. Each of us has to do the very difficult work of incarnating the Self on our own. This is the last thing that the Ego wants—it will do have us do almost anything to avoid this work or stop it from happening. However, you discover it is a much better situation when the Ego finally gives up to allow for the archetypal process to take place. The Fundamentalists are still relating to the God-image as a jealous tyrant, and not incarnating the God-image, comprising light and dark, within their own being. Bush and Cheney, etc., do not want to integrate their shadow material, so they project it further and further. Our whole culture is based on denial of the shadow, and projection of it.

Peak Oil, Global Warming—they are unavoidable byproducts of the end game of the Capitalist ego trip.

As for The Revolution, I feel that any violent struggle will end in tragedy and defeat. I think that a mass subliminal shift in awareness is already taking place, and we might have a situation that is much more like the fall of the Berlin Wall, which was predicted by nobody. The humans under the thumb of that system had evolved beyond it, and nothing could stop that shift in consciousness. When we embody a positive understanding of the transformational process and offer that out to others, we help people overcome their own fear and resistance. Anu: How would you frame the relationship between political struggle and psychedelic mysticism? Daniel: I think the new element that will prove successful in the next few years is the integration of political and ecological activism with the spiritual vision that has been nurtured in many ways and by many people since the end of the 1960s. The exponential growth of interest in yoga and meditation is critically important, but only if those yogis and meditators can now reintegrate the knowledge they have gained into the politics of our present time, bringing a new resonance and frequency of consciousness into the age-old struggle for justice and peace. Anu: In a recent column you suggested the following: “If some elements of the 1960s are returning, they are doing so without the oppositional anger of the past. The open hand, offering friendship and reconciliation, has replaced the raised-fist symbol of old-style activism.” Do you really think this is true, especially among the poor of the global south? It seems like radicals in places like Mexico, Venezuela, and Argentina have actually chosen to mix the “old-style” as you call it with many visionary elements exemplified by the Zapatistas among others. What's your take on the need to mix this metaphor based on the context and what's being contested? Daniel: When I expressed that, I was really thinking of the US, where violent protests immediately feed the prison-industrial system with bigger budgets for newer and more horrific weapons, and also engender new anti-constitutional laws. For the most part, we are still in a slightly different situation than those protestors in the global south, whose rebellion is often based on literal survivalist needs. There is a point beyond which you cannot push people any further – but as long as you have enough cheap calories to go around, as in the US up to now, it is very difficult to reach that point. I feel we are at a tremendous moment, where a huge change in consciousness could spread like wildfire throughout many levels of US society, and expressions of extremist violence could backfire on activists, as they have in the past. I would like to see progressives learn new lessons of collaboration, and also turn their attention to utilizing the media and Internet social networks in a far more sophisticated and targeted manner. By the way, I have heard that the Zapatistas plot their actions according to the traditional Mayan Calendar.

Anu: Some people are frightened by the prospect of a major shift, and others are empowered by it. Some suggest we'll see fascism, and others envision an unfathomable outbreak of freedom. Are you betting on freedom? Daniel: We may get both for a while. I am reading Chris Hedges’ American Fascists. He believes the Dominionist Right is planning a takeover when another major crisis or series of crises hits. A phase of authoritarian madness may happen or not, but ultimately I do see freedom as the most compelling and plausible outcome. Anu: Your book and people it cites suggest that the species has outgrown the nation state, invoking concepts like “spiritual anarchy,” synarchy, non-hierarchical organization generally, and other overlapping visionary and utopian alternatives. This is what I've been looking for, planning for, and consciously trying to instigate for most of my adult life. But based on both the overwhelming hegemony of capitalism and its elites and the frustrating discord within our own communities of dissent, on most days I'm not too optimistic. Why do you invoke these alternatives at the end of your book and how do you view them? Daniel: A new realization of consciousness would naturally create new forms of social organization. The language we have is an inheritance that is probably inadequate. There is no doubt that Capitalism is unsustainable even in the short term now—so either we devour the planet and reach species burn-out, or we move into a sustainable model that will naturally incorporate elements of tribal culture—as indigenous people have created models of sustainability, and also nonhierarchic social organizations, social design based on fractals, communal decision-making structures that work, systems of subsistence agriculture that don’t poison the land, effective ceremonies for visionary and psychic purposes, etc. I see a global retribalization as the way to go, if we don’t want to go.

posted by Anu More from How?

Friday, November 16, 2007

Mad Tea Party

"I'll never go there again!" said Alice, as she picked her way through the wood. "It's the Stupidest tea-party I ever was at in all my life!"

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Max Rebel: Self Liberating Spirit


Self Liberating Spirit

Contemplation about liberation of humans from authority

Self-liberation : Individual freedom of all human beings is an indispensable condition for a just, peaceful and egalitarian harmony in their relations. At the present, only a tiny minority of people in the world is experiencing a life in the vicinity of what may be described as freedom to develop their natural capacity as humans and to realize their dreams. The absolute majority of us are not even close to a life in true freedom, which is only possible to achieve through understanding of its real essence, through elimination of authority and hierarchy, through self-liberation and watchful defense of its victories against ominous and omnipresent agents of social inequality.


1 Freedom

1.1 Relations and Environment

1.2 Power

1.3 Social Inequality

1.4 The Origins of Social Inequality

1.5 Reproduction of Social Inequality

1.6 Definition of Freedom

2 Unfreedom

2.1 Ideologies of Unfreedom

Belief in Authority







Fascism and Nazism






2.2 Institutions of Unfreedom

Capitalist System

Private Property






Exchange Rate



Emission of Money and Control of Its Total Amount, Circulation and Value

Interest Rate

The Money Culture


False Democracy

Political Parties

Statist Law





Educational System

Media of The Ruling Class




Trade Unions

The Rule of Proletariat


International Organizations

2.3 Mind Control

2.4 Future Institutions of Unfreedom

3 Liberation

3.1 Preface

3.2 Vision


The Individual, Interrelations and Social Justice

Organization and Decision Making

Voting For a Decision


Social Interactions


Freequal Economy

Communist Economy

Socialist Economy

Freegal Economy


Mass Media


3.3 Strategy



Open and Secret Actions





4 Self Liberating Spirit

5 Definitions and Explanations

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The woman who has 200 orgasms a day

Pretty Sarah Carmen is a 200-a-day orgasm girl who gets good, good, GOOD vibrations from almost anything. The rumble of a train on the tracks, the purr of a hairdryer, the rhythmic drone of a photo-copier are all enough to make her go oh oh oh, ahhhhh. She had FIVE orgasms during our 40-minute interview. But I can't take the credit—it was just talking about her sex life that set her off. Sarah, 24, suffers from Permanent Sexual Arousal Syndrome (PSAS), which increases blood flow to the sex organs. She said: "Sometimes I have so much sex to try to calm myself down I get bored of it. And men I sleep with don't seem to make as much effort because I climax so easily." As she chatted, Sarah became increasingly flustered. "Sorry, you'll have to excuse me for a minute. I'll be with you in a sec," she mumbled before letting out a long sigh...
Ah, the poor thing, I'd really like to help.


Just Not on the TV News - FAIR Study By Neil deMause and Steve Rendall The PDF version of the study is available here. According to the most recent U.S. Census Bureau data, 37 million Americans—one in eight—lived below the federal poverty line in 2005, defined as an annual income of $19,971 for a family of four. Yet poverty touches a far greater share of the population over the course of their lives: A 1997 study by University of Michigan economist Rebecca Blank found that one-third of all U.S. residents will experience government-defined poverty within a 13-year period. The poorest age group is children, with more than one in six living in official poverty at any given time. Moreover, the poverty line itself, which hasn’t been changed in almost four decades except to account for inflation, has been widely criticized as an antiquated measure of actual levels of need. Mark Greenberg, director of the Task Force on Poverty at the Center for American Progress, wrote in the American Prospect in April 2007: Studies of a minimally decent standard of living routinely find that the typical cost is twice as high as the poverty line or higher. Ninety million Americans—nearly one-third of the nation—have household incomes below twice the poverty line, a figure far larger than the official number of 37 million in poverty. * * Soulfully Gay, by Joe Perez In the foreword to Soulfully Gay, Ken Wilber writes: "Joe Perez’s book is perhaps the most astonishing, brilliant, and courageous look at the interface between individual belief and cultural values that has been written in our time. By a homosexual, or a heterosexual, or any other sexual I am aware of." * Self Liberating Spirit - Contemplation about liberation of humans from authority, by Max Rebel Social power can be useful and positive only when there is an egalitarian balance between the social powers of all members of the society. Capitalism and the contemporary version of democracy, which I would like to call false democracy, encourage continuous and cruel battle for increasing ones own social power and wealth relative to, and at the expense of, the social power and wealth of the others. In a false democracy, where people give up their own rights and powers to some elected authoritarian careerist creatures, who then control, exploit, oppress and murder them for the benefit of the rich and powerful, the whole culture is focused on competing, winning and dominating. The ones who manage to achieve more power by manipulating, exploiting and destroying others, are considered to be more worthy people, and they get credit, acknowledgement, admiration, yes, they are the heroes of false democracy. The situation in the economy, the state and the religious organizations is not better either: the capitalists and their agents, the bureaucrats and the clergy, are rewarding people who can trample on fellow human beings for climbing up the ladder of power. Our culture is hierarchic, it works as an incubator for breeding out creatures who are dreaming of and fighting for power above others, and weak zombies who slavishly accept their own misfortune and willingly present their bodies and minds for regular, devastating and unending abuse by the ones who have got more power. ...

Random Seth Quote

"In the dreaming state the characteristics of the reasoning mind become altered, and from a waking viewpoint it might seem distorted in its activity. What actually happens, however, is that in the dreaming state you are presented with certain kinds of immediate knowledge It often appears out of context in usual terms. It is not organized according to the frameworks understood by the reasonings portions of your mind, and so to some extent in dreams you encounter large amounts of information that you cannot categorize." Dreams, Evolution and Value Fulfillment, Volume 1 Session 908, Page 276

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


I work hard... but I still dream of our Utopia.. I can see the currency fluttering around in my mind's eye: Bills that bare not an image of a monarch nor president, but a rough sketch of Van Gogh's severed earlobe. Under that, it says 'this is neither legal, nor tender.' What we demand is eye contact. Sometimes I think the four chambers of our hearts are microcosms of the four seasons. And sometimes I sleep. -Vita

Monday, November 12, 2007

Dolphins save surfer from becoming shark’s bait

A pod of bottlenose dolphins helped protect the severely injured boarder By Mike Celizic Nov. 8, 2007 Surfer Todd Endris needed a miracle. The shark — a monster great white that came out of nowhere — had hit him three times, peeling the skin off his back and mauling his right leg to the bone. That’s when a pod of bottlenose dolphins intervened, forming a protective ring around Endris, allowing him to get to shore, where quick first aid provided by a friend saved his life. “Truly a miracle,” Endris told TODAY’s Natalie Morales on Thursday. The attack occurred on Tuesday, Aug. 28, just before 11 a.m. at Marina State Park off Monterey, Calif., where the 24-year-old owner of Monterey Aquarium Services had gone with friends for a day of the sport they love. Nearly four months later, Endris, who is still undergoing physical therapy to repair muscle damage suffered during the attack, is back in the water and on his board in the same spot where he almost lost his life. “[It] came out of nowhere. There’s no warning at all. Maybe I saw him a quarter second before it hit me. But no warning. It was just a giant shark,” Endris said. “It just shows you what a perfect predator they really are.” The shark, estimated at 12 to 15 feet long, hit him first as Endris was sitting on his surfboard, but couldn’t get its monster jaws around both surfer and surfboard. “The second time, he came down and clamped on my torso — sandwiched my board and my torso in his mouth,” Endris said. That attack shredded his back, literally peeling the skin back, he said, “like a banana peel.” But because Endris’ stomach was pressed to the surfboard, his intestines and internal organs were protected. The third time, the shark tried to swallow Endris’ right leg, and he said that was actually a good thing, because the shark’s grip anchored him while he kicked the beast in the head and snout with his left leg until it let go. The dolphins, which had been cavorting in the surf all along, showed up then. They circled him, keeping the shark at bay, and enabled Endris to get back on his board and catch a wave to the shore. Our finned friends No one knows why dolphins protect humans, but stories of the marine mammals rescuing humans go back to ancient Greece, according to the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society. A year ago in New Zealand, the group reports, four lifeguards were saved from sharks in the same way Endris was — by dolphins forming a protective ring. Though horribly wounded, Endris said he didn’t think he was going to die. “Actually, it never crossed my mind,” he told Morales. It did, though, cross the minds of others on the beach, including some lifeguards who told his friend, Brian Simpson, that Endris wasn’t going to make it. Simpson is an X-ray technician in a hospital trauma center, and he’d seen badly injured people before. He had seen Endris coming in and knew he was hurt. “I was expecting him to have leg injuries,” he told Morales. “It was a lot worse than I was expecting.” Blood was pumping out of the leg, which had been bitten to the bone, and Endris, who lost half his blood, was ashen white. To stop the blood loss, Simpson used his surf leash as a tourniquet, which probably saved his life. “Thanks to this guy,” Endris said, referring to Simpson, who sat next to him in the TODAY studio, “once I got to the beach, he was calming me down and keeping me from losing more blood by telling me to slow my breathing and really just be calm. They wouldn’t let me look at my wounds at all, which really helped. A medivac helicopter took him to a hospital, where a surgeon had to first figure out what went where before putting him back together. “It was like putting together a jigsaw puzzle,” Endris said. Six weeks later, he was well enough to go surfing again, and the place he went was back to Marina State Park. It wasn’t easy to go back in the water. “You really have to face your fears,” he told Morales. “I’m a surfer at heart, and that’s not something I can give up real easily. It was hard. But it was something you have to do.” The shark went on its way, protected inside the waters of the park, which is a marine wildlife refuge. Endris wouldn’t want it any other way. “I wouldn’t want to go after the shark anyway,” he said. “We’re in his realm, not the other way around.” International Shark Attack Research Foundation: Learn more about the organization and their work to prevent shark attacks by visiting this site.

Sunday, November 11, 2007


The kind-of left embarrasses with age

From: Last week Robert Scheer created a stir. Sadly, that wasn't a good thing. Scheer took part in a public debate that could have come and went with a few groans; however, he elected to post the debate (video and transcript) at his website Truthdig. You have to wonder why? Why? At an event sponsored by The Nation (naturally), Scheer attempted to tear into Ralph Nader. Maybe he was hoping Katrina vanden Heuvel would dole out some funds? Maybe he thought it would make for a lively evening? Maybe he's grown more conservative than many suspected? Maybe he was just having a bad night? Let's all hope it was the latter. Truthdig is a website that Scheer started up, after The Los Angeles Times decided they no longer needed to print a column by a retired member of their staff -- Scheer retired from the paper in 1993, he was fired in 2005, with Zuade Kaufman who likes to talk about the need for "alternative models." Judging by the debate, "alternative models" does not include political ones. "Robert Scheer Debates Ralph Nader" is the title, Google it or go to Truthdig and look it up (November 5, 2007), we're not linking to it. Scheer opens with a phoney comparison -- possible foreshadowing? -- where he notes that as a Democrat running for the US House he once got approximately 43% of the vote but he didn't do as well as a third party candidate (Peace and Freedom Party) when running for the California Senate. Somehow that's supposed to be illuminating. What it's supposed to tell is anyone's guess? Ballot access and money matter. So, for the record, do the way districts are drawn and the district he got 43% of the vote in has always been solidly Democratic. In fact, 43% of the vote may strike some as embarrassing. In fact, since it's the solidly Democratic district that Barbara Lee now represents, it may cause a historical panic for some as they try to figure out how a Republican managed to carry it? No Republican carried it. It's oranges and apples. While the third party candidate was a general election, the 43% turnout was a primary -- a Democratic primary. He doesn't explain that in the debate but to do so would undercut his points. Here's the reality, as a Democrat against that generation's illegal war, he ran in a Democratic primary and only got 43% of the vote. As a candidate in a general election, a third party candidate in 1970, he got less than 2% of the vote. No surprise. Ballot access and money matter. Scheer seems to be arguing that he put himself on the outs when he ran as a third-party candidate? The same could be said when he ran as a losing candidate on the Democratic ticket in a primary. He then feels the need to apparently demonstrate he's not just a Democratic Party Machine, he likes others. Why, he argues, he likes Ike. In fact, he wore "I Like Ike" as a button, as a child, and ranks it as among "the bravest things I ever did". Were that true, Scheer would have had a very sad life. Like Hillary Clinton's young Barry Goldwater phase, Scheer's young Eisenhower phase is something to turn into a joke, not to brag about. He goes on to inform that there are no longer Republican moderates -- a shock to many Republican moderates who no doubt feel they are under siege enough as it is without Scheer announcing their extension -- and that he doesn't think the country's "likely to get a third party" which is a prediction no one can really make. It's also a prediction that Whigs and their supporters once made as well. And when's the last time anyone voted for that party? (It no longer exists.) That prediction, he assures the audience, is his "only reference to Ralph's campaign," a self-imposed rule he quickly breaks. The Democratic Party is the only agent for change, he insists. He will attack third parties throughout and he will break his self-imposed rule throughout. He will so to such an extent that the biggest complaints on this from members of The Common Ills community came not from Greens, independents or third party members, but from Democrats. Self-identified lifelong Democrat Lynda summed it up best in the roundtable that ran in Friday's gina & krista round-robin, by explaining, "I wouldn't tolerate that kind of discrimination launched at anyone and I was insulted, as a Democrat, that Scheer's foaming at the mouth embarrassment didn't lead to his being pulled off the stage. I kept thinking, 'Oh God, someone's going to have to Old Yeller out back and shoot him.'" Scheer, in Lynda's analogy, is Old Yeller. Dementia apparently set in when he felt the need to declare the following: And I think of The Nation and I say, let's take the Weekly Standard. The Weekly Standard did not marginalize itself. When Bush came in, The Weekly Standard said, "OK, we're now going to be the conscience of this administration. We're going to help guide this administration. We're going to work within; we’re going to rally our forces." And they've been enormously effective, as have the New York conservatives. The Nation is right now the leading progressive organization in this country. Not just a news organization; it’s the leading institution in the United States on the left. No question. And it seems to me that moving into this next period, particularly, I would like to see the Democrats win, and I would like to see The Nation, and people in this room, take a responsible attitude towards that shift in power. And not marginalize themselves. If those are Scheer's honest opinions, he is a hack. We're not even talking a partisan hack, we mean a journalistic hack. The Los Angeles Times should have canned his ass decades prior if that is Scheer's honest opinion of journalism. (A) The Nation is not "just a news organization" -- it's not a news organization at all. It's an opinion journal. That's what it was created as and that is what it remains. Yes, there are the occasional news stories each year, a small number of them, but it has never presented itself as a news organization (Victor Navasky's recent book on his life in journalism made it clear that he saw it as an opinion-journal). That someone who worked for a daily paper could be so uninformed as to what a news organization is goes to a very serious problem with Scheer's grasp of reality. (B) It's not the leading institution of the left. Leaving aside that it's not all that left and never has been (look at it's history which includes racism being endorsed -- despite the fact that it started as an abolition outlet), it's circulation is dropping, though no one's supposed to notice. (C) Though its independence is worthy of question today, it is still not The Weekly Standard nor should it ever be. Leaving aside right/left issues, The Nation has not attempted (in the past) to set itself up as the friendly-advisor to the White House. To do so would be death for the publication, see The New Republic(an). Scheer sounded like a raving loony as he went on and on about "news organization" and other nonsense. Anyone with any respect for the concept (if not the practice) of journalism should have been embarrassed that Scheer wasn't escorted from the stage as he made a perfect fool of himself. We should also note that when you pass 70-years-of-age, your usage of "bro" should cease under court-order. In fact, we'd rule that after 32, you should be court-ordered to step away from the lingo unless using it for humor. One community member on the disaster cruise said she feared, after he tossed out "bro," that he was about to start rapping. She also asked that this statement by Scheer be noted: By the way, I consider it shameful that The Nation would have this cruise and not have one panel on the Iraq war. We are at war. You know. We are in a war that is sapping the treasury, will prevent us from pursuing a progressive agenda in the future, every time we try to get money for anything, we’ll hear about the trillion that had already been wasted. "At last," she says, "I thought the magazine was going to be called out. But, like [Katrina] vanden Heuvel, he made it all about pushing his economic programs. There was no concern over the dying and I'm talking about Iraqis who are being slaughtered. We were all talking about that at my table after and how this was just sad." Yes, Robert Scheer, the greatest tragedy of the illegal war is the economics. Screw the people (of all nations), it's the economics. It also bears noting that in the US administrations always are willing to go into debt over wars. The war debt doesn't prevent progressive spending. In war or out, the US government always finds a way to avoid spending on progressive programs. Let's not lie and say that if the illegal war wasn't going on and sucking up so much money, this money would be going to help the people because that's honestly not the way it's gone in decades with administration after administration -- both of the two main parties -- attempting to eliminate the New Deal safety nets. Scheer can't stop reliving the 2000 election (in a paranoid fantasy type of way) or the 2004 election long enough to face reality. The Supreme Court justices! Guantanamo! He insists both were pushed through by a Republican administration as a result of the 2000 and 2004 election. The fact that Congress had a hand in that and much more is overstepped and ignored. Get real. When Ralph Nader points out basic realities, Scheer who insists he doesn't want to name call, labels Nader a "a demagogue." Since this is not "ancient times," the Webster's definition which applies is, "a leader who makes use of popular prejudices and false claims and promises in order to gain power." Oh, Bobby. After lobbying that charges at Nader, Scheer then wants to insist that "we can all be civil." We? Nader was civil. Scheer's the one got us wondering how Old Yeller ended up with rabies. The spittle just seems to leak from Scheer's mouth with one embarrassment after another cascading out with it. Having presented himself as a progressive, having claimed that Democrats (well, that Nation cruise travelers and possibly all Americans) need to support progressive candidates, he then offers up this bit of 'wisdom': "If we find some moderates we should back them." Wow. Hold those feet to the fire, Bobby, or at least hold 'em near the Duraflame to get 'em nice and cozy. Scheer, in perhaps a typo or a Freudian slip, asks Nader if he thinks Al Gore would have invaded ("evaded" shows the transcript) Iraq had he been president? It's a nice little myth (based on Gore's last minute actions as the war drums pounded) that Gore wouldn't have gone to war with Iraq had he been declared president by the Supreme Court (the people had declared him president) but in February 2002, Gore declared: Even if we give first priority to the destruction of terrorist networks, and even if we succeed, there are still governments that could bring us great harm. And there is a clear case that one of these governments in particular represents a virulent threat in a class by itself: Iraq. As far as I am concerned, a final reckoning with that government should be on the table. To my way of thinking, the real question is not the principle of the thing, but of making sure that this time we will finish the matter on our terms. But finishing it on our terms means more than a change of regime in Iraq. It means thinking through the consequences of action there on our other vital interests, including the survival in office of Pakistan's leader; avoiding a huge escalation of violence in the Middle East; provision for the security and interests of Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the Gulf States; having a workable plan for preventing the disintegration of Iraq into chaos; and sustaining critically important support within the present coalition. That really doesn't make a strong case for Gore as an opponent of going to war with Iraq. He later (before the illegal war broke out) made different statements. That doesn't change what he said in 2002. No one knows what Gore would have done. But the world of hypotheticals is all you can inhabit when you broken free from the gravitational pull of reality. Which is why he makes an issue out of the Supreme Court while ignoring Congress' own role in the process. Even worse, at one point he declares, "We have a Supreme Court now thanks to these Republican appointees that has absolutely no concern of civil liberties, separation of powers, any kind of accountability." Uh, exactly how many nominees (which Congress approved, but forget that for a minute) does Scheer think Bush had? The reality answer is two. They replaced a 'moderate' (right-wing, but less so on some issues) and an ultra-conservative. We're really just talking about one less extreme right-winger that has become a Justice under the Bully Boy (with Congressional approval). If the makeup of the Court is a concern (and we think it is), that goes far beyond Bully Boy and goes to, as Nader points out, a Democratically controlled Senate that confirmed Clarence Thomas among others. In fact, the Senate has been Democratically controlled for the bulk the current Court. Repeatedly he forgets his self-imposed rules of civility and not bringing up Nader's run for the presidency in 2000 and 2004 (is Scheer no longer aware that those were not Nader's only runs?). The most extreme example may be found in this 'charming' moment by Scheer: If there was a serious alternative that was emerging, that had come out of your campaign, that we could rally around, then one could say, "OK, that's a way to go." But it doesn't exist. All that we have left after your two campaigns is Ralph Nader. Having already called Nader a demagogue one might have thought that Scheer couldn't go any lower. One would have been wrong. Of those participating in the writing edition of this piece only one (Jess, who is a Green) voted for Nader; however, it is very clear to all of us that Nader's campaigns had accomplishments and since Scheer's leaving the area of "Who won the title!" to speak of impact, someone needs to tell him he's no longer insulting, he's flat-out wrong. And sounding like a dottering fool. Such as his long-winded ramble (which appears to include an endorsement of Republicans he previously claimed didn't exist and may or may not include a slam at Rocky Anderson but does include his gratitude for being able to vote, by God!) which includes this, "The fact is we have a process underway, and I don't want this to be yet another Nation discussion that marginalizes us and puts us outside what is really happening out there." Victor Navasky and others understood (though Katrina vanden Heuvel -- who loves the camera in what is, sadly, a one-sided love affair -- doesn't appear to grasp it) that The Nation doesn't exist to offer conventional wisdom or be a cheerleader, it exists to put ideas out there, to plant seeds that will grow. The seed Scheer apparently wanted to plant was that he was one of Bill Clinton's biggest critics. A statement he repeats over and over throughout the debate. Scheer has no logic to display. He repeatedly doubles back and undercuts his own point, he offers flawed examples and he really destroys his own image. He also endorses Ralph Nader's run for president in 2008. After all that nonsense, he does just that in this passage: For example the deal breaker, I think people in this room should make it very clear that they would not accept Hillary Clinton as a candidate if she continues to her current position supporting the war. I have written columns saying that. I have said, I’m on the record as saying, I will not vote for Hillary Clinton if she has the position that she has now. I have said it. I’ll even vote for Ralph Nader, I'll even write in Ralph Nader, if Hillary Clinton is the candidate and she still takes the current position on the war. But that's difference from saying there isn’t room to organize, to operate, that there are not good candidates out there are. So Nader should run, in 2008, if Hillary is the Democratic nominee? That's what Robert Scheer ends up saying. The Republicans are so bad, he tells us earlier, that he's "frightened to death" by their "unholy alliance" (he references that twice), that he sees it as "the enemy camp" and he thinks what they have "done is truly frightening." If Hillary is so frightening to Scheer that he's willing to write-in a candidate he wouldn't otherwise suppport on the ballot, logic dictates that Nader declare and start running immediately. We're not offended that he's endorsing Nader for president. We just see this as a bit laughable considering his comments about Nader and third parties, his comments about Republicans and his non-stop talk about all rallying behind the Democrats. Hillary's the breaking point? For Scheer, that's the breaking point? Why is that? Most to the left of the center who don't care for Hillary pin it off on their dislike for the triangulation of her husband's presidency. But that's apparently not a problem to Scheer who insists, "to me [Bill] Clinton looks pretty damn good. I would sleep a lot better if Clinton were president, I'm sorry. I'm not going to lie about it. The man had some sense of proportion--some sense of accountability." If Bill Clinton were president, you'd sleep better? You'd feel "pretty damn good." Exactly what is about Hillary that frightens you because all we're really left with is gender. Don't bring up the Iran resolution. If you're comfortable cheerleading Barack Obama ("I thought Obama opened up some important distance between himself and Hillary when he said that he would negotiate within the whole list of people." -- being only one of Scheer's more embarrassing drippings) who didn't care enough about the legislation to show up to vote (he's claimed that he didn't get enough notice, Senate staffers have made it clear publicly that this is not true), you really are nothing but a hack. We didn't think we were going to write that. We wanted to. But C.I. knows Scheer and offered to skip out on this feature. We wanted a group effort or nothing. C.I. asked, "Can we use a word other than 'hack'? I'm not comfortable calling him a 'hack.'" If you'll notice the term "journalistic hack" was already used. C.I.'s suggestion. C.I. had missed that passage until Dona pointed it out and it's hackery, pure hackery, and C.I. had no problem proposing that term when it came to journalism. As we go over and over the transcript, there's really no denying, by anyone, what a hack Robert Scheer is in the debate. Betty Wood, friend of Kimberly Wilder (On The Wilder Side), offered us this take on the debate: Ralph Nader is one of the most influential people of the century for a reason. He has a long history of seeing problems well before others see them. He analyzes the systemic source of the problem, finds a solution for it, and does the follow through to see a solution in place. He is frequently decades ahead of the main stream. Nader sees the larger systemic problem of the military/industrial/Congressional complex that Eisenhour warned us of and is trying to get the rest of us to see the need for the solution of this larger problem. Just playing musical chairs in the White House or Congress with the same party-with-two-names players isn't the solution. More fundamental changes are needed. One start would be for more political parties that aren't beholden to the corporations. Most of us recognise this but the Democrat apologists have a hard time breaking the cord. I hope that Mr. Scheer starts to listen and really hear what Mr. Nader is saying. She's far kinder than we are. That's something we saw reflected in The Common Ills community, Greens were less shocked, less surprised and less angry about Scheer. Not because they care less but because they put up with this crap all the time. For Betty Wood or community members belonging to a third party, this isn't uncommon. Jess notes that, as a Green, he's grown to expect it. We appreciate the fact that they endure this nonsense repeatedly and go on. We applaud that. But we're grossly offended. The community was polled as to whether or not to pull Truthdig from the links at The Common Ills and they voted ("Yes," "No," "No opinion," "Leave it up to C.I.") by 53% to leave it up to C.I. (37% voted for it to be pulled, 10% voted no opinion, no one argued for it to remain). There was no decision made. C.I. brought it up throughout the writing of this edition. We can announce it is being pulled. (A) Because the "news organization" comments are insulting. (B) Because of the remarks. On the latter, Truthdig promotes itself as a left outlet, not at a Democratic one. That's false advertising. Scheer, editor of the site, makes it clear that it's just another Democratic cheerleading site. Nothing more. Nothing less. Sheer's logic may twist and turn, but he gets his agenda across very clearly. When we heard about the debate (the community member who took part in the cruise wrote about the debate at length -- including comments regarding vanden Heuvel's public and private reactions -- in the round-robin), we were embarrassed but assumed that it was something put on for entertainment purposes. After all, what does the bulk of the magazine offer these days except entertainment? But when Scheer elected to post the debate at Truthdig he sent a message, intended or not. *It's really sad. One of his old friends went extreme right, Scheer appears to have opted for the less extreme age-makeover and headed for the center. For those needing to hear arguments of why you need to vote for any Democratic in the world (except Hillary Clinton) and needing to read the writings of the pedophile (Scheer posts Pig's writings at Truthdig regularly -- maybe in homage to those 'extinct' 'moderate' Republicans?), Truthdig is the site for you. If you're interested in reality, happy hunting elsewhere.* -------- *Note: We are finishing up this edition. C.I. had no participation in the last paragraph -- C.I. was busy on the phone to a member of The Los Angeles Times' editorial board apologizing for ripping into him about Scheer's firing all those years ago -- and we don't have time to run this by. Posted by Third Estate Sunday Review at Sunday, November 11, 2007

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Injuries sustained in World War I.. War... stupid then... stupid now A MILITARY HISTORY TIMELINE OF WAR AND CONFLICT ACROSS THE GLOBE

Happy Trails, Melly 7/07 - 11/07

Poem For Cats

And God asked the feline spirit Are you ready to come home? Oh, yes, quite so, replied the precious soul And, as a cat, you know I am most able To decide anything for myself.

Are you coming then? asked God. Soon, replied the whiskered angel But I must come slowly For my human friends are troubled For you see, they need me, quite certainly.

But don't they understand? asked God That you'll never leave them? That your souls are intertwined. For all eternity? That nothing is created or destroyed? It just is....forever and ever and ever.

Eventually they will understand, Replied the glorious cat For I will whisper into their hearts That I am always with them I just am....forever and ever and ever.

Author Unknown

Friday, November 09, 2007


Twenty Four Years, by Dylan Thomas

Twenty-four years remind the tears of my eyes. (Bury the dead for fear that they walk to the grave in labour.) In the groin of the natural doorway I crouched like a tailor Sewing a shroud for a journey By the light of the meat-eating sun. Dressed to die, the sensual strut begun, With my red veins full of money, In the final direction of the elementary town I advance as long as forever is.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Digital Dharma featured entree in "Literary Lunch"

An interview with me about Digital Dharma was the "main entree" in Heather Lee Schroeder's column Literary Lunch in the Madison (WI) Capital Times Newspaper of October 25th. All forms of communication technology have the capacity for good or evil, and the power to transform them into either one rests squarely in the hands of the humans who control them. How technology is employed becomes a reflection of the human psyche, Vedro said. For the complete article, click here.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Rob Breszny Newsletter

"PRONOIA IS THE ANTIDOTE FOR PARANOIA: How the Whole World Is Conspiring to Shower You with Blessings" is available for sale at To read news and features from the book, go here: Here's an excerpt: YOUR LIFE WILL SUCK If you choose to become a practitioner of pronoia, your life will suck. It has to suck. Let me explain. As you cultivate the arts of gathering and redistributing the blessings that the universe is always conspiring to send your way, your life will suck in the best senses of the word. First, your life will suck in the same way that you use a straw to compel a thick milk shake to disobey gravity and squirt into your mouth. Metaphorical translation: You'll work hard to pull toward you the resources you need, perhaps even exerting yourself with a force that goes against the natural flow. Your pronoiac life will suck in a second way: like a powerful vacuum cleaner that inhales dirt from the floor and makes it disappear. You will have a sixth sense about getting rid of messes that are contaminating your clarity. Here's a third interpretation: Once you commit yourself to the art of pronoia, you will most likely develop an unusually dynamic form of receptivity. Whether you're a man or woman, you'll be like a macho male with a willful intention to be like a welcoming female. As a result, you'll be regularly sucked into succulent opportunities you would never have come upon if you had let your pop nihilistic conditioning continue to dominate you. Your openness to uplifting adventures will make it easier for serendipitous miracles to find you and draw you in. Let's take one more poetic leap of faith as we meditate on the metaphor. As you devote yourself to the art of making yourself available to the world's mysterious flood of blessings, your life will suck in the way that movements of the mouth and lips and tongue during close encounters with intimate partners stimulate pleasurable feelings. ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Youth Orchestra of Venezuela's Poor Wows the World

The studios and rehearsal halls of Boston's New England Conservatory are far from the nucleos scattered throughout Venezuela – some of them converted factories or prisons where underprivileged children as young as 2 learn Beethoven and Brahms.

So the Conservatory's longstanding relationship with the Venezuelan music system might seem unlikely, until you look beneath the surface.

"Venezuela is a land of music, a land of inspiration," says Mark Churchill, dean of Preparatory and Continuing Education at the school. "The Venezuelans are striving for the same values in classical music as are people at the conservatory. It's a natural joining of forces."

For the past year, Mr. Churchill has been preparing for next week's 2-1/2 day visit from the Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra, the crowning jewel of the Venezuelan system (or El Sistema, as it is commonly called). The 200-member orchestra's dazzling reputation has preceded its first major tour of the United States, which includes performances tonight at the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles and at New York's Carnegie Hall on Nov. 12.

No less an illustrious figure than Sir Simon Rattle of the Berlin Philharmonic has called the Venezuelan system the most important thing happening anywhere for the future of classical music, and its wild-haired director, Gustavo Dudamel – who was tapped for the directorship of the Los Angeles Philharmonic starting in 2009 – the most gifted young conductor he has come across.

The SBYO's arrival in Boston is a landmark event both for the young orchestra itself, and for the NEC, which will benefit from an influx of raw musical energy. "You just don't know what [the orchestra] is about until you come face to face with it," says Churchill.

Churchill encountered the group in 2000 when he was looking to start a hemisphere-wide youth orchestra. He found a natural partner in José Antonio Abreu, the organist, economist, and politician who founded El Sistema in 1975 out of a desire to bring classical music to the country's poorest children. From the 11 children who attended the first meeting in a Caracas parking garage to gradually growing numbers at subsequent rehearsals, the system today boasts some 250,000 members, who study in nearly 250 nucleos and play in scores of orchestras organized by members' ages. Besides teaching its young members music, the program has also served as a family for many, giving them hope and a sense of accomplishment.

"Very early on, the members are equipped with excellent values and a feeling of accomplishment and solidarity by being so extraordinarily involved in music," says Igor Lanz, executive director of the foundation that oversees El Sistema. "They are prepared to be better citizens for society."

A common purpose

Since 2001, there have been short-term student and teacher exchanges between the conservatory and Venezuela, and around 250 students with the conservatory's Youth Philharmonic Orchestra (a group for musicians up to 18 years of age) have traveled to Venezuela to play. Those who have taken part say their Venezuelan peers have much to teach them.

"The way the Venezuelans play music is exactly how I always thought it should be played," says Joshua Weilerstein, a violinist at the New England Conservatory who was invited to join the Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra's current tour after two previous trips to Venezuela. "I think American musicians are incredibly enthusiastic, but there isn't a desperation about the way we play. [The Venezuelans] play as if their lives depend on every note. There's complete passion."

There is also a sense of collectivism and common purpose that might be sacrificed in an emphasis on individual training. "In Venezuela, the most important thing is the orchestra," Mr. Dudamel told The Independent in September. "You create a community, a shared objective."

Why the Venezuelan program, a seemingly obvious model for many places, is not better-known in this country might come down to politics. The administration of current president Hugo Chávez funds most of its $29 million annual budget, and Mr. Chávez, moved by the success of the program in Europe, has pledged to expand it.

With relations between the US and the Chávez administration often tense – and given Chávez's avowed anti-Americanism – shunning the US in favor of European venues might have been more expedient. But Churchill believes that "music will transcend" political discord and "be a model for harmonious relations."

'Freshness, excitement, and energy'

The US tour has given the SBYO the chance to raise its profile in some of the country's most prestigious venues: the Walt Disney Hall, Davies Hall in San Francisco, Symphony Hall in Boston, and Carnegie Hall. Additionally, in Los Angeles, the orchestra's visit coincides with the announcement of a plan to create a program modeled on El Sistema. In Boston, conservatory students and their Venezuelan counterparts will perform in mixed chamber groups for Boston schools and in a larger joint concert at the conservatory's Jordan Hall.

The brief visit will also join two distinct approaches to musicmaking, one that's been refined over the course of 140 years and another that is younger, less structured, and more spontaneous.

"The conservatory has a really strong tradition that has value anywhere," says Aristides Rivas, a 28-year-old cellist who grew up in El Sistema and who now teaches at the conservatory. "In Venezuela, we don't have that, but what Venezuela does have is freshness, excitement, and energy, which can sometimes be overlooked in a more traditional approach. The end result can only be greater enjoyment of music on both sides."

A documentary about Venezuela's music education system can be found here:

Monday, November 05, 2007

Robert Scheer Debates Ralph Nader Posted on Nov 5, 2007

Truthdig Editor Robert Scheer goes head to head with progressive icon Ralph Nader, who denies the charge that he has been a spoiler and challenges the value of the Democratic Party. Special thanks to The Nation.

Click here to listen to the debate.


V “Good evening, London. Allow me first to apologize for this interruption. I do, like many of you, appreciate the comforts of everyday routine—the security of the familiar, the tranquility of repetition. I enjoy them as much as any bloke. But in the spirit of commemoration, thereby those important events of the past usually associated with someone’s death or the end of some awful bloody struggle, a celebration of a nice holiday, I thought we could mark this November the 5th, a day that is sadly no longer remembered, by taking some time out of our daily lives to sit down and have a little chat. There are of course those who do not want us to speak. I suspect even now, orders are being shouted into telephones, and men with guns will soon be on their way. Why? Because while the truncheon may be used in lieu of conversation, words will always retain their power. Words offer the means to meaning, and for those who will listen, the enunciation of truth. And the truth is, there is something terribly wrong with this country, isn’t there? Cruelty and injustice, intolerance and oppression. And where once you had the freedom to object, to think and speak as you saw fit, you now have censors and systems of surveillance coercing your conformity and soliciting your submission. How did this happen? Who’s to blame? Well certainly there are those more responsible than others, and they will be held accountable, but again truth be told, if you’re looking for the guilty, you need only look into a mirror. I know why you did it. I know you were afraid. Who wouldn’t be? War, terror, disease. There were a myriad of problems which conspired to corrupt your reason and rob you of your common sense. Fear got the best of you, and in your panic you turned to the now high chancellor, Adam Sutler. He promised you order, he promised you peace, and all he demanded in return was your silent, obedient consent. Last night I sought to end that silence. Last night I destroyed the Old Bailey, to remind this country of what it has forgotten. More than four hundred years ago a great citizen wished to embed the fifth of November forever in our memory. His hope was to remind the world that fairness, justice and freedom are more than words, they are perspectives. So if you’ve seen nothing, if the crimes of this government remain unknown to you then I would suggest you allow the fifth of November to pass unmarked. But if you see what I see, if you feel as I feel, and if you would seek as I seek, then I ask you to stand beside me one year from tonight, outside the gates of Parliament, and together we shall give them a fifth of November that shall never, ever, be forgot.” * Remember, remember the Fifth of November, The Gunpowder Treason and Plot, I know of no reason Why Gunpowder Treason Should ever be forgot. Guy Fawkes, Guy Fawkes, t'was his intent To blow up King and Parliament. Three-score barrels of powder below To prove old England's overthrow; By God's providence he was catch'd With a dark lantern and burning match. Holloa boys, holloa boys, let the bells ring. Holloa boys, holloa boys, God save the King!

(Traditionally the following verse was also sung, but it has fallen out of favour because of its content.)

A penny loaf to feed the Pope A farthing o' cheese to choke him. A pint of beer to rinse it down. A faggot of sticks to burn him. Burn him in a tub of tar. Burn him like a blazing star. Burn his body from his head. Then we'll say ol' Pope is dead. Hip hip hoorah! Hip hip hoorah hoorah! *

Remember, by John Lennon

Remember when you were young, How the hero was never hung, Always got away, Remember how the man, Used to leave you empty handed, Always, always let you down, If you ever change your mind, About leaving it all behind, Remember, remember today. Don't you worry, 'Bout what you've done, Don't feel sorry, 'Bout the way it's gone. Remember when you were small, How people seemed so tall, Always had their way, Do you remember your ma and pa, Just wishing for movie stardom Always, always playing a part, If you ever feel so sad, And the whole world is driving you mad, Remember, remember today. Don't feel sorry, 'Bout the way it's gone, Don't you worry, 'Bout what you've done, Remember, remember the fifth of November.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

The Body Politic and The Left

By Barbara Ehrenreich So the big question is not whether one votes for Clinton or not (I won't.) The big question is how to go about building a movement strong enough so that we never have to settle for a "friend" like this again. The State of the American Left There's a phantom limb attached to the body politic, where ordinarily a left wing would be found. It manifests itself with the occasional twitch: CEOs earning over 200 times as much as their subalterns? Sinking incomes for the working poor, topped off by drastic welfare and Food Stamps cuts? Something's very wrong here, the more liberal pundits mutter to themselves. Too bad there isn't a left any more --if only to remind us of what. Ordinarily, when media outlets like the New York Times report the absence of an American left, the correct response is: We only look dead because you buried us. Last spring, for example, that august newspaper reported a near-total lack of protest over the looming horror of welfare "reform," but it was a lack that had been greatly magnified by the Times own failure to report on any of the protests that did occur. FAIR (Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting) has doggedly documented the media's suppression and exclusion of the American left. In a political culture where a Michael Kinsley or a Bill Press can play a leftist on TV, where labor reporting is relegated to the business section of the news, where Hillary Clinton can be mistaken for a liberal -- it's easy enough to argue that the disappearance of the left is another of those clever special effects. But that argument only goes so far. As recently as five years ago, it was possible to discern an American left without recourse to a microscope. Recall, just as one measure of a detectable left, the mass demonstrations of the eighties -- pro-choice, pro-labor, pro-disarmament, and (in 1990 and 91) anti-war. Contrast these to some of the great assemblages of recent years: There was the Million Man March, in which black men solemnly "atoned" for their sins against the family. Or there was Marian Wright Edelman's "Stand With Children" demonstration, which decried drive-by shootings while remaining tactfully silent about the coming destruction of welfare. You don't have to be a forensic pathologist to realize that the death blow fell in roughly 1992. When Clinton was first elected, progressives argued that, sure, he was a scumball opportunist who had ascended from Arkansas still dripping with the Tyson chicken shit which flavors that state's waters. But we could influence him, even "hold him accountable." The great thing about opportunists, as opposed to genuine ideologues, is that they can be swayed, and, with enough pressure from the constituencies (feminist, minority, etc.) that had helped to elect him, Clinton would sway our way. To use the word beloved by departed socialist Michael Harrington, Clinton gave us an "opening." But it turned out to be a very narrow opening, accessible only to a few, and leading to an abrupt dead end. True, a number of people who could be construed as part of the broad American left were suddenly invited in and out of the cold. Maya Angelou got to read her celebration of diversity at the inauguration. Michael Lerner and Cornell West were invited to expound their views in the White House. Naomi Wolfe (who is despite her recent backsliding on abortion, a recognizeable feminist) was solicited for her ideas on how to appeal to women. Heather Booth, a leading socialist-feminist of the 70s, was hired to promote the Clinton health plan. Environmentalists, labor people, gays, and feminists all succombed to the notion that they had a friend -- albeit a notoriously unreliable one -- in the White House. As a lesbian elected official, who might have been speaking for any other progressive consitutuency, told the Progressive's Ruth Coniff: We never had access to a White House before in the entire history of the United States. No one would even let us in the door. Yes, he's screwed up on a couple of issues that matter a lot, but there is this feeling that we can go to the White House and talk about it ... That access ... is extremely important. The stupifying effects of "access" I saw the stupifying effects of "access" close up when, in early 1996, members of my welfare defense group, the Women's Committee of 100, were invited, along with leaders of other feminist groups, to meet with Leon Panetta in the White House. For a fleeting moment, we felt we had actually done something: Met with Panetta! In the White House! And he was really listening! How else to explain the self-abasement of progressives at the 1996 Democratic convention except by invoking the seductive powers of "access"? Sadistically, Clinton signed the Republican welfare bill ending a 60-year commitment to the indigent on the very eve of the convention. But no one on the "responsible" left went to Chicago to protest (the irresponsible left was represented by Dave Dellinger and Abbie Hoffman's son, who managed to provoke a few nostalgic arrests.) No one walked out of the convention; no one even used his or her podium op to threaten Clinton-Gore with some fire next time. Instead, our erstwhile progressive leaders indulged in the kind of gestures known in the animal world as rites of submission: Jesse Jackson recommended "smiling through the tears." Gloria Steinem weirdly credited Clinton's signing of the welfare bill with "bring[ing] the spotlight to this issue." Access is of course not a credible carrot to the average rank-and-file person-of-the-left, who is about as likely to lunch at the White House -- or speak at a convention -- as to fly without the aid of an airplane. But the sycophancy of the progressive leadership seeps down to the membership in the form of a cynical fatalism. When feminist leaders, for example, denounce Clinton in one breath and urge us to vote for him in the next, the message to women is: Why do anything? Clinton sucks, but we're bound to him in serf-like fealty by the threat of the dread Newt-Dole. But would a Newt-Dole -- or, if we could replay 92, a Bush-Newt -- really be such a bad thing for this country? Not if such a regime could help the left preserve a little muscle tone. Bush, as has been observed, would probably not have gotten away with the welfare bill. He would have faced a far more militant trade union resistance to NAFTA. And if he had tried to re-bomb poor old battered Baghdad just to gain a few percentage points in the polls, there might have been some running in the streets. At least, with a Republican president, there would be no worry about miffing the man in with the Oval office. What’s the bottom line? The irony -- and there is always an irony to make a bitter pill harder to swallow -- is that access without threats is about as potent in today's political world as a Dukakis bumper sticker. Leon Panetta might or might not have been listening to my friends' arguments about welfare, but what he and his colleagues were undoubtedly listening for is any hint that there would be a price to pay, in political terms, if Clinton signed the bill. It isn't the brilliance of the argument that impresses a hardened pol, but the risk of disruption and mass defections. Progressives who can be depended on to remain passively acquiescent and content with their crumbs of access don't have to be listened to at all. If our progressive leaders, the ones who ate humble pie in Chicago, can be said to have a strategy, it is to re-elect Clinton -- then slam him hard. Bob Borosage, co-director of Campaign for America's Future, says that after Clinton wins, "it's big fight time." But will we have any fight left in us? At the moment, the labor movement is pouring $35 million into the fall elections; feminist organizations are busy, as in 92, getting out the vote. Which is fine, except all this represents money and energy that is not going into union organizing or old-fashioned grass-roots feminist organizing. What we need is militant mass movements that can make the powerful sit up and pay attention. But what we seem to be working for, as usual, is a tiny sliver of gratitude from on high. The left will revive some time in the next four years only by overcoming the fantasy of access. We no more have a friend in the White House than we have a fairy godmother, and, even if we did, he would be responsive only to the extent that we could threaten him with the strength of our numbers. So the big question is not whether one votes for Clinton or not (I won't.) The big question is how to go about building a movement strong enough so that we never have to settle for a "friend" like this again.

It was 50 years ago that physician-scientist Wilhelm Reich

50 years after his death, supporters promote scientist's work By JERRY HARKAVY

November 3, 2007 RANGELEY, Maine

It was 50 years ago that physician-scientist Wilhelm Reich, best known for his discovery of a purported cosmic life force associated with sexual orgasm, died in federal prison, his books burned and his equipment destroyed by the government.

Ridiculed at the time, the European-born psychiatrist is today largely forgotten and his work on what he called orgone energy remains outside the scientific mainstream.

But a small number of scientists and other believers are working to advance his studies -- and resurrect his reputation.

"Personally, I think it's going to be a long time before all of his work is understood and recognized," said Reich's granddaughter, Renata Reich Moise, a nurse-midwife and artist in the coastal town of Hancock.

Reich died on Nov. 3, 1957, in a federal prison in Lewisburg, Pa., where he was sent for ignoring an injunction obtained by the Food and Drug Administration that outlawed his orgone energy accumulator.

The 50th anniversary of his death is being marked by a major exhibition on Reich and his work that opens Nov. 15 at the Jewish Museum in Vienna, the city where he attended medical school, began his psychiatric practice and studied under Sigmund Freud.

In New Jersey, the American College of Orgonomy, which provides training and research support for physicians and others interested in Reich and his legacy, scheduled a conference and dinner to coincide with the anniversary.

Also this month, archives comprised of nearly 300 boxes of Reich's unpublished papers that were placed in storage at the Countway Library at Harvard Medical School will become available to researchers for the first time.

Before going to prison, Reich directed in his will that the scientific papers, journals and diaries only be opened 50 years after his death.

He also specified that his laboratory at the 175-acre site he dubbed Orgonon that overlooks Rangeley Lake be converted to a museum.

In Rangeley, where Reich spent his latter years, scientists and doctors from the U.S. and Europe gathered this summer for a conference that explored the prospects of seeking FDA approval for clinical trials of orgone accumulator blankets to treat burn victims.

Reich is described by the American Psychoanalytic Association as "one of the most brilliant, creative and controversial of the pioneering analysts." He was the first to focus on character analysis rather than neurotic symptoms. He linked a healthy sex life, which he called "orgastic potency," to emotional wellness, believing that failure to discharge sexual energy resulted in neurotic disorders.

His more controversial work came after he veered away from psychotherapy into laboratory experiments in Norway that led to the discovery of what he called "bions" -- basic life forms that gave off orgone energy.

After moving to the U.S. just before the start of World War II, he focused on isolating and collecting that energy and went on to test its effect on cancer.

His orgone accumulators eventually caught the attention of the FDA.

After an investigation, the agency branded the devices consisting of alternating metallic and nonmetallic materials a fraud and in 1954 sought an injunction in U.S. District Court in Portland. Reich refused to appear in court, triggering a default judgment and order that his books and accumulators be destroyed.

He was sentenced to two years in prison for contempt of court. He served only eight months before he died of a heart attack. In accordance with his wishes, Reich was entombed above ground at Orgonon, with a bronze bust of him perched above the tomb.

The Wilhelm Reich Museum, located in a modernistic fieldstone building atop a hill, has on display an orgone accumulator, which Reich believed could charge the body with essential life energy, heightening vitality and potentially helping to heal disease.

There is also a cloudbuster, a futuristic-looking device he designed to try to change the weather by altering concentrations of orgone energy in the atmosphere.

Critics seize on some of his more unconventional ideas in deriding him as a quack. But supporters say he was a brilliant man whose ideas warrant further exploration.

The FDA's injunction, supporters say, had a chilling effect on his work that persists even today. That's a shame, Moise said, because she believes there's merit in the orgone accumulator blanket, which her mother used in her medical practice.

Moise has tried it herself to heal burns.

"It's not crazy. It actually works," she said.

Even as the anniversary-related events rekindle memories of Reich and his theories, some of his supporters worry that they are in a race against time.

The challenge, they say, is to keep his work alive and advance it through new studies and experimentation at a time when Reich is not being taught in either medical schools or physics classes.

Kevin Hinchey, who is writing a book about Reich's work in the U.S., said most of the doctors and scientists who've taken an interest in Reich's life are baby boomers.

"If something dramatic isn't done to bring his work before the medical and scientific community, I really wonder what's going to happen when the baby boomers die. There's not a lot of younger people who are reading Reich."

On the Net:

Reich Museum:

American College of Orgonomy:

***** American College Of Orgonomy To Commemorate 50th Anniversary Of The Death Of Wilhelm Reich

Saturday, November 03, 2007

New York, the anarchists, and José Martí

By Wild Turkey Desire
Originally posted to on November 1st, 2007

[José Martí]

May they not bury me in darkness
to die like a traitor
I am good, and as a good man
I will die facing the sun.
-Part of Versos sencillos by José Martí

In November, We Remember

José Martí, the famous Cuban revolutionary and prolific writer whose published works fill 28 whole volumes, including - children stories, letters, poems, journalism, theater, translations, notes, and essays on a variety of subjects ranging from anarchists to white roses. Martí is often credited as the "father of modernism", especially in regards to Spanish-American literature. He was born in Old Habana, Cuba in 1853 and died in 1895 fighting against the Spanish in Cuba. When I lived in La Habana back in 2005, I would often find myself literally surrounded by him, walking along the streets, and the haunting spectacle of what he was to become. What follows, are my thoughts and research about Martí, specifically - his ten years in New York City, his views on capitalism and work, and his thoughts about the anarchists.

First, a brief history. At the age of 16, Martí was sent to prison for treason against the Spanish government, then in control of Cuba. He was soon exiled to Spain where he studied law and philosophy, but in the coming years he returned to Cuba, where he was again exiled to Spain. Eventually, in 1880 Martí found himself in New York City (NYC) writing journalism, translating articles, and working as joint consul for Uruguay, Paraguay, and Argentina in order to survive. His time in NYC proved to be critical- as he helped launch Cuba's third war of independence while there, by fund raising and organizing against the Spanish. Soon afterwards, as history has come to tell - Martí was killed near Palma Soriano, Cuba in the very first battle of the struggle for independence against Spain; as he charged into battle on a white horse, while he wore black overcoat. It seems that, in comparison to the sword, the pen was the mightiest for Martí, which is a point many critics make.

[A photo of a sculpture of Martí on a horse - Central Park, NYC; sculpture by Anna Hyatt Huntington in 1959]

Being clever is a good way to start being free

For me, this exploration of Martí began when I visited Habana, Cuba back in 2005 and ventured to one of the many used book shops. Book shops are interesting in Cuba, because there is often a somewhat limited selection amongst public sellers due to state censorship, but at the same time there is a plethora of old inexpensive books floating around, both above and underground - the most unusual little bookshops you can imagine with discounts on already inexpensive books.

Anyways, I spent a lot of time browsing these shelves, and most all of them had one thing in common - José Martí. Here I was a native New Yorker, living in La Habana, reading his accounts of the time he spent in NYC. One thing I learned quickly, was that he seems to be quite the controversial character, for example - Martí Noticias(USA) vs. Portal José Martí(Cuba). Plus, Fidel has pretty much put Martí in the Cuban constitution, while the USA beams Radio Martí, the million plus dollar radio station into Cuba. It's a cat and mouse game for them, as the USA beams it in, Cuba blocks it out, the frequencies change, and soon enough technology upgrades (kind of like the cold war of radio broadcasting/jamming).

So, what if one asks - if Martí were alive today, would he agree with the situation he would find inside present day Cuba? In my opinion, probably not, but that is a whole other essay. Interesting side note, thanks to all these new books and newspapers I collected while there, as I went to depart Cuba, waiting in the airport I was called over the loud speakers to report to security for questions and a search. It was funny because when I got there, the first and only question they asked me was why I had so many books and newspapers in my bag; I just told them the truth, I was a student and it was the Granma, they laughed and said I could go after that, but it still felt kind of strange being singled out like that. I only hoped that the same thing would not happen at the Canada/USA border when it came time to cross, but everything went smoothly after that.

[Book cover, Editoril de Ciencias, La Habana, 1997]

Well, back to the story. For fourteen years (1880-1894) Martí lived in the "gran manzana" (big apple) - New York City (NYC). During this time, Martí experienced first hand the desolation and brute force of American capitalism, especially in regards to race, poverty, and the worker. Who, according to Martí - each day struggled for eight hours of work, fair wages, and an overall better world. Slowly reading through his works, there is so much to come across and many areas that I found difficult to read because of the old Spanish and manner of his writing. No joke, at times I felt like I was reading Finnegans Wake - it can be challenging, but for those who dig deep there is some pretty good stuff to uncover.

I would like to examine two of his articles more closely: Grandes motines de obreros, alzamiento unanime a favor de ocho horas de trabajo…, published in NYC on the 16th of May, 1886 and Un drama terrible: Anarquia y represion… published on the 1st of January, 1888. In these two articles and others he explores the likes of Haymarket (see also: Haymarket Tragedy.) With these two different articles he helped inform and radicalize readers, not only in the USA, but throughout Latin America, and the world. In these two articles, he presents us with a very interesting look inside the events that helped spawn International Workers' Day (Mayday) and the International Day of anarchy (November 11th), while also helping understand how, so many across the the Americas and world, including the likes of Emma Goldman became inspired by these events. His appeal to anarchists can also be found in his his homage to Lucy Parsons written in New York, on the 17th of October, 1886(see also:Albert Parsons.)

In the first article “Grandes Motines de obreros…” he writes about the NYC anarchists struggling for a better day. He thought, that since the Civil War there had not been another moment in USA history so critical. He believed that, the blood stained flowers of May pointed out that there is no more serious problem, than the problem of heartless capitalists and work at this time in the USA. Martí thought that the situation seemed to suddenly appear in an uprising, somewhat spontaneous, even though he believed the problems to be deeply ingrained within the system.

[Forest Park, Illonois - USA, National Historic Landmark]

The workers in the US were uprising, demanding their rights, and undermining the capitalists oppression. For Martí, the streets always seemed to be filled with workers fighting against the capitalists and police, in spontaneous uprisings. In the first article, he wrote that, the anarchists were reading books about insurrection and then target practicing with guns in the streets of NYC almost every Sunday, while everyone else was at church. With this, in the first article Martí looks at a comparison between the anarchists and workers, differences he presumes - such as "peaceful" vs. "violent".

Martí states that he believes non-violence and actions within the law were most just. Interestingly enough, soon afterwards Martí picked up a gun to help fight against the Spanish in Cuba. I'm not really convinced that Martí really understands everything about anarchists, like thinking they're all "violent" or even his definition of "violence". On this note, I think Martí was in line with the demonstrations - but stopped at the point of NYC's gun slinging anarchists and others around the USA. However, interestingly enough, within the second article he changes his stance to be more favorable of the anarchists:

Martí’s first articles on the Chicago anarchists are in step with the North American press and the xenophobia it promoted: anarchist terror is the work of monstrous Eastern European immigrants who have brought the violent ways of the Old World to the New. The notion of “America” as a democratic alternative to barbarous “Europe” stands. After the execution of the anarchists, however, Martí does an about-face and re-writes his earlier account of events. He turns his rage on the political and justice system and softens his earlier critique of the anarchists. The U.S. is now as unjust and violent as despotic Europe.[1]

[Book cover, Editorial "Felix Varela", La Habana, 1997]

It goes on to say that:

In his initial reactions to Haymarket, Martí had celebrated the heroism of the police and demonized the European anarchists in terms similar to those found in the mainstream U.S. press. In “Un drama terrible,” however, he retells the story of what happened on May fourth in a way that was much more sympathetic to workers and anarchists. He indicts the police, the national media and the justice system for their lies and corruption. If before he had referred to the anarchists as beasts, now it was the Republic as a whole that has become savage like a wolf (795). Martí’s newfound solidarity with the working class, and his sympathetic representation of the anarchists he had previously rejected, results in a powerful identification with the working class, where a new community emerges out of the ruins of the Haymarket Affair.[1]
A saint once said, "for the revolutionary, there will be no rest until the tomb." In these times of struggle, millions have lost their lives and many more will, yet the battle will always rage on, in the hearts of us all:
When the trapdoors of the gallows were released on November 12, 1887, Albert Parsons had begun to say “Shall I be allowed to speak? O, men of America…” before his voice was cut short by the noose. Deeply moved by the injustice of Haymarket, José Martí continued to speak, in the name of the executed anarchists, for the poor and the hopeless, and for the Latin American republics threatened by U.S. foreign policy. Thus, the Haymarket affair underlines how Martí’s familiarity with, and critique of North American current events during the Gilded Age did in fact play a substantive role in maturing his views on labor and enabling his later critiques of colonialism.[1]

[Book Cover, Ocean Press, New York, 2004] Other articles by Martí about New York, you might like to read
La ciudad, el viaje y el circo - La vida neoyorkina - Los indios de Norteamerica - La diversion norteamericana - El problema industrial en los Estados Unidos - La escuela en Nueva York - El puente de Brooklyn - The Dedication of the Statue of Liberty
If you like this, you also might like:
The Limits of Analogy: José Martí and the Haymarket Martyrs by Christopher Conway - University of Texas—Arlington[1]
In November, We Remember: Emma Goldman & Upstate, NY!!! by Problema Goldman aka me

Friday, November 02, 2007

Best bottoms come from Balkans

[Thanks to Toni for this link]

Winner of the 2007 World Backside Championships Kristina Dimitrova of Bulgaria, shows off her backside...

BERLIN A Bulgarian woman and a Romanian man have the world's best-looking bottoms, according to the jury of a backside beauty contest sponsored by a lingerie firm, a company spokeswoman said Thursday.

Beyond a 10,000-euro (14,400-dollar) cash prize, Kristina Dimitrova, 19, and 24-year-old Andrei Andrei each won a modelling contract for the company's next international advertising campaign as well as a year-long insurance policy for their rear ends in case of injury.

Some 15,000 people from 29 countries responded to a call by the European company Triumph to post photos of their backsides on the Internet three months ago.

The site drew more than five million visitors, of whom 130,000 registered to pick their 10 favourite male and female bottoms from each country.

A total of 45 men and women qualified for the final contest in Munich before a seven-member jury including representatives from the fashion and fitness industries.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

How To Join The Illuminati


Those Poor Misunderstood Illuminati

The Illuminati, I’m prepared to say, are woefully misunderstood. How exactly it all happened, I’m not sure. But somewhere along the line, public perception of the mysterious group and Illuminism, the philosophical ideal behind it, got ridiculously entangled with just about every kind of conspiracy theory out there. Untangling all those strands is a project for another time, but what I’d like to do here is offer my own unique perspective on what the Illuminati were/are all about.

I’ve only recently come to this theoretical explanation of Illuminism, and I’m more than open to being corrected and further “enlightened” on the subject, but here goes. The points which fired off these connections for me come from the Wikipedia description of Minsky’s Society of Mind:

Society of Mind

The society of mind theory views the human mind and any other naturally evolved cognitive systems as a vast society of individually simple processes known as agents. These processes are the fundamental thinking entities from which minds are built, and together produce the many abilities we attribute to minds.

Compare to Jane Robert’s ‘Seth teachings’ about the mind:

“Each personality contains an inner civilization of the self which he yearns to govern … The ego rises from the civilization of the psyche just as a leader rises from the masses of the people; appointed, chosen, or taking control according to an inner politics first existing within the greater inner mind.”

Of Gods, Demons & Men

Mix into that some Jungian psychology, by way of Erich Von Neumann:

Originally, consciousness did not possess enough free libido to perform any activity - plowing, harvesting, hunting, waging war, etc - of its own “free will,” and was obliged to invoke the help of the god who “understood” these things. By means of ceremonial invocation, the ego activated the “help of the god” and thus conducted the flow of libido from the unconscious to the conscious system. The progressive development of consciousness assimilates the functional gods, who go on living as qualities and capacities of the conscious individual who plows, harvests, hunts and wages war as and when he pleases.

Throw in some Aleister Crowley for good measure:

The spirits of the Goetia are portions of the human brain.

Their seals therefore represent … methods of stimulating or regulating those particular spots, (through the eye).

And then there’s the Gurdjieff parable of The Horse, Carriage and Driver, of which this is a depiction of the disharmonious state of the ordinary mind {See also: Ruiz’ mitote mind}:

The state of drunkenness depicts the typical condition of our human minds. It stands for kind of imagining perception, which is based on sensory perception, past trauma, future expectations, the constant flow of mental images and how we identify ourselves by our job, relationships, possessions, monetary value etc. In our “drunkenness” we mechanically shift from one sub-personality to the next, reacting to perceived influence that affect the image of our personal sovereignty. We are under the illusion that we are masters of ourselves and of our destiny, when in fact these three basic components of our being are not at all in harmonious relationship with each other. Body, emotion, and mind are kept out of balance and unsynchronized as the illusion of control flip-flops form one component to another.

Multi-Agent Mind

So what trends are we seeing across these traditions? We are seeing a depiction of the human mind as being composed of a multitude of components, agents, segments, gods, sub-personalities, demons, drives, etc. In just about all the esoteric systems referenced above, the individual is lead through a process - usually symbolic - which enables them to gain control over these many - often conflicting - voices and impulses within the mind. Jung directly talked about this as well with a practice he called active imagination, wherein he would identify these individual impulses within his own mind, objectify them as character/entities, and then intentionally interact with them as though they were external to him.

The Jane Roberts quote is, I think, one of the best in this group for explaining how that concept bridges into the Illuminati. Again: “The ego rises from the civilization of the psyche just as a leader rises from the masses of the people; appointed, chosen, or taking control according to an inner politics first existing within the greater inner mind.

Inner Union

From what I have read of Illuminati philosophy and writings, they *seem* to be pointing to the same thing: an inner process whereby the individual’s mind is liberated from disharmony through the yoking (yoga) together of these warring groups. For the Illuminati, their symbolic container for this process was a striving against the control of centralized religion over the lives of men. The flowering of this trend among learned individuals who went through the process of Self-Actualization within approximately the context outlined above brought to us nothing less than the Age of Enlightenment, Natural Law, the Industrial Revolution, the Modern Age, and the founding of the United States of America {See also: Freemasonry}.

As a result, they actually seem to have set the clock back to principles which flourished in Ancient Greece, Rome and the Near East. From writings connected to the Illuminati (supposedly):

Natural Law Restored (Dr. Bronner’s Moral ABC)

Jesus Christ established no new religion; he would only set religion and reason in their ancient rights. For this purpose he would unite men in a common bond. He would fit them for this by spreading a just morality, by enlightening the understanding, and by assisting the mind to shake off all prejudices. He would teach all men, in the first place, to govern themselves. Rulers would then be needless, and equality and liberty would take place without any revolution, by the natural and gentle operation of reason and expediency.

It’s actually quite a beautiful, elegant philosophy - as I understand it, anyway. What I see as happening is something like this - and this is based solely on my own experiences and corresponding research I have done:

How It Works (Tentative Explanation)

  1. On account of cultural conditioning, the natural mind is thrown out of balance by growing up and “learning” and conforming to societal standards. Cultures whitewash authentic sense data with mental, physical and emotional habits which promote the healthy functioning of the social order, and bend the individual to fit within that particular system.
  2. In most (many? These are all just estimates…) cases, this results in a personality which is easily manipulable by whatever the dominant power is culturally. Cultural leaders can use symbols which human nervous systems have been imprinted with in order to motivate specific types of behavior. Depending on how well and judiciously that’s done, there may arise a conflict: the individual is not a happy, healthy, functioning member of society. They become alienated, listless, confused, disoriented, thrown out of intent/action harmony. Their mind enters into a state of chaos.
  3. The chaos and pain becomes so great or overwhelming that it must be beaten, or death may ensue {See: rockstar suicides}. Various esoteric systems exist to overcome this chaos. The simplest, most direct, and effective one I’ve seen is Miguel Ruiz’s Four Agreements. His system is all about analyzing the agreements and assumptions which govern our behavior, and seeing how they bring conflict into our lives, and writing with ourselves new agreements about how we can be {See also: Gathertogetherin musical, script-writing}
  4. As this process begins to work, the individual feels an extraordinary burst or explosion of creative energy. This has to do with the fact that much of our psychic energy is used to build and maintain walls between ourselves, our experiences, emotions, etc. When those walls are removed, the authentic human is revealed - illuminated, enlightened, whatever you want to call it.
  5. This state seems to be characterized by a higher-order functioning of the mind, organization and creative ability. This is where “genius” comes from: people who are able to make super-human leaps in knowledge and understanding, because the habitual routines of culture have been stripped away from their perceptions, so that they can see things as they actually are, and envision how they could become. This is also where prophets seem to come from - people who have a direct hotline to “God”.
  6. Also typical to this state of mind seems to be a leap to another level of interacting with people: you begin to withdraw your projections of what other people seem to be and allow them to simply be as they really are. You become 100x more honest, more effective, and better able to communicate. This makes you become completely up front about your expectations with other people, and leads you into areas like social contracts, agreements governing interactions between people, voluntary associations, etc. In other words, all the things that the United States was actually founded on: Illuminati and Freemasonic ideals that men can and should govern themselves, that they have the right to do that and that society exists as an agreement which we can amend as needed. Like I said, I think it’s a beautiful philosophy and I frankly don’t see what is supposed to be so damned scary and conspiratorial about it.

The take-away point I’m trying to make with all that: that one who has mastered oneself has achieved a harmonious union within their mind and inner experience, which they then bring to bear on their interactions with other people. The “virus” spreads from person to person by example, by effective and authentic communication, by teaching and by agreement. And before you know it, you have a whole bunch of sovereign individuals running around, making agreements with one another, creating cool projects and enhancing the experience of everyone their shared value community.

And if that’s what it means to be a member of the Illuminati, then totally sign me up - because that’s the way life should be as far as I can tell!

PS. While we’re at it, here’s an ad for a nice Illuminati-influence media adventure franchise, which is so overt and corny in its symbolism that it actually makes me a feel a little swell of ridiculous national pride:

No Borders Camp: Guide to Crossing Borders and Encounters with Law Enforcement

Your Rights at a Border Crossing: Hopefully, you already know your rights if stopped or questioned by the police. What you may not know is that slightly different rules apply at or near the border. First, some terminology. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is the branch of the Homeland Security Department that is in charge of enforcing U.S. trade and immigration laws, and the Border Patrol is the CBP's mobile law-enforcement arm. The CBP also has non-mobile law enforcement agents, whom you might encounter at places like airports. No Borders Camp: Suggestions for Crossing Borders and Encounters with Law Enforcement Below is a guide for activists dealing with border crossing and encounters with law enforcement during the Calexico / Mexicali No Borders Camp. It was partially pirated from an article that appeared in July in the Earth First! Journal. Before we get started, we should be clear that this was written specifically for crossing into the United States and dealing with U.S. law enforcement. An entirely different set of laws and conditions exist in Mexico. If you are crossing into or participating in activities in Mexico, the best advice we can give you is to be smart and follow the lead of our compañer@s down there. Finally, in the interests of full disclosure and covering our butts, we need to mention that we are not lawyers and these guidelines do not constitute legal advice. So use your own best judgment, eh? Your Rights at a Border Crossing: Hopefully, you already know your rights if stopped or questioned by the police. What you may not know is that slightly different rules apply at or near the border. First, some terminology. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is the branch of the Homeland Security Department that is in charge of enforcing U.S. trade and immigration laws, and the Border Patrol is the CBP's mobile law-enforcement arm. The CBP also has non-mobile law enforcement agents, whom you might encounter at places like airports. For the purposes of the law, an "entry point" is any place at which people may legally enter the U.S.-such as a border crossing or an international airport-regardless of how far that location is from the actual physical boundary. The only place where it is legal to enter the United States is a designated entry point. The "border" for the purposes of defining where a Border Patrol search may take place, refers to the actual physical boundary beyond which you are theoretically no longer in the U.S. CBP agents do not need a warrant to search you, your luggage or your vehicle at an entry point. You have no power to withhold consent for such a search. One exception to this may be when it comes to personal documents. Based on our conversations with lawyers, we believe that CBP has no right to read your papers. Of course, this may happen anyway. If it does, say “I do not consent to having my papers read”, and be careful what you bring with you! You are required to answer questions about your citizenship or migration status, and you should probably answer basic questions about where you went and what you’ve been up to. The key here is that CBP is only authorized to make sure that you are legally entitled to enter the U.S. and that you're not smuggling in any prohibited items. That means the feds are allowed to make sure that there are actually papers (not smuggled items) inside that briefcase, but for them to read those papers probably constitutes an invasion of privacy. Likewise, any particularly specific details (for example, questions about who you’ve been with or any protests you might have attended, and especially questions unrelated to your travel or luggage such as your political beliefs or activist history) fall into the category of "I would rather not answer, thanks"-just like if a cop asked you those questions during a traffic stop. Never forget that CBP can, and probably will, lie to you about what your rights are. When one activist expressed his reluctance to answer CBP's questions, he was threatened with not being allowed to enter the country. If you are a U.S. citizen this threat will not hold water. If you are a U.S. citizen, CBP cannot legally keep you out of the country. They can arrest you if you have broken the law, but that is the extent of their authority. This gets trickier for non-citizens. People who are not citizens and don't have green cards have the burden of showing that they are eligible to enter the U.S. So it is important that you answer questions, and make sure that all of your papers are in order and on your person before you go through an entry point. Anytime CBP has issues with a person, they will send the person to secondary inspection, and then possibly deferred inspections. Questioning can take hours, and may be rescheduled. To be clear, questions regarding the exercise of constitutional rights (religion, political opinion, etc) are inappropriate, but unfortunately they occur regularly. If you are prohibited from entering the United States, CBP will have to give you a reason. If this happens contact the No Borders Camp legal committee. You have the right to have an attorney with you if you are being questioned. This means that you can decline to answer questions without an attorney present. Beyond the obligatory answers already mentioned, you should treat questioning by CBP just like questioning by any other law enforcement agent. They most likely do not have to provide you an attorney, so you will have to ask to call someone from the legal team. Make sure you have important phone numbers on you at all times. Magic Words: “I’m going to remain silent, I want to speak with a lawyer.” So what happens if CBP starts asking you inappropriate questions? You refuse to answer, perhaps telling them that their questions are irrelevant or that the answers are none of their business. If CBP insists, you should politely request to speak to a lawyer. If they try to read your papers, politely object that they have no right and clearly state your lack of consent. Look at it this way: the worst they can do is arrest you, at which point you still have the right to remain silent and speak with a lawyer. And even this is pretty unlikely, as it's fairly standard police policy to stop questioning people once they have unequivocally refused to answer. So don't let them intimidate you! Your Rights Near the Physical Boundary: Near the physical boundary, your legal protections are even stronger than at an entry point. The Border Patrol is allowed to stop and question you at any permanent or semi-permanent highway checkpoint within 50 miles of the boundary, to determine if you are transporting contraband or undocumented migrants. They may not, however, search your vehicle unless they have probable cause (i.e., a good reason) to believe that you are breaking customs or immigration law. That means that when they ask if you mind opening your trunk, you can say, "Yes, I mind, and I'm not gonna do it." Likewise, you can refuse to answer the same irrelevant questions as at an entry point. If you're within 50 miles of the border but not at a checkpoint, the rules for Border Patrol are more stringent still. Just like police, la migra needs probable cause just to pull you over. Border Patrol officials have no special right to question or search you. Treat these stops like any stop by the police, keeping in mind that Border Patrol only has jurisdiction over customs and migration law-they can't write you a speeding ticket, although they might be able to detain you until a police officer arrives if they really want to. A Border Patrol checkpoint must be clearly posted in its approach. If you are stopped by the Border Patrol at any location that is not clearly posted, you should treat this like a regular traffic stop and act accordingly. Finally, within 50 miles of the border, the Border Patrol does not need a warrant to cross a private property line, (and certainly not to enter public property) but they do need a warrant to enter a residence. Preventive Security Procedures: Knowing your rights is all well and good, but we all know that illegal searches happen all the time. So here are a few tips for making that CBP search go as smoothly as possible: *Do not carry any papers related to actions that you or your comrades intend to or have participated in during the week of the camp. In the interest of a general security culture, it's always a good idea to deny them information. *Do not carry personal information such as the names and addresses of activist contacts. Do not carry personal correspondence. Do carry the number of the legal hotline! *If you are traveling with a laptop, consider crossing the battery separately or taking other measures, such as whole disk encryption, to make sure that the computer cannot be turned on and accessed by anyone but you. *Do not cross with photos, video or other materials that could be incriminating to yourself or others. If you want to release video, do so publicly, on the internet through the IMC. Do not allow the police to confiscate or gain prior access to your footage, especially if this could be used against somebody in court. [Never post potentially incriminating information about other people on the internet. You are handing the prosecutor the evidence they need to convict your comrades.] *Maybe this should go without saying, but for crying out loud, do not travel with contraband! You should assume that you will be subjected to intense scrutiny at any entry point, and carrying drugs or other prohibited items is like begging to be arrested. *Avoid traveling and crossing the border alone, because it makes you more emotionally vulnerable to police pressure tactics. If you must travel/cross alone, make sure that someone knows you are going and knows to start looking for you or to contact a lawyer if you do not get in touch by a prearranged time. Even if you never need to put this plan into effect, knowing that you have it will make you much calmer if the police start making threats. *Remember that you may be questioned on either end of your trip and that different laws apply in the U.S. and Mexico. It should be clear that the US government selectively shares information with other countries' security forces. You may be asked both very targeted questions and much more general or bizarre ones (have you ever been arrested? do you know anyone in Afghanistan?). *Keep in mind that it's illegal to lie to a federal official who is engaged in their duties. Who we are, what we are doing and our political orientation will be no secret during the week of the camp. Mexicali is a large city and there is a lot of traffic back and forth through the port of entry. It may be possible to blend in and avoid being identified as a no borders camper. But if questioned, "I don't want to answer" is a perfectly valid answer. *If you do choose to obscure what you are up to, you need to stick to your story no matter what. It's a common interrogation technique to keep asking the same question over and over, in the hopes of getting a suspect to change their story. Don't fall for this highly effective technique! Remember that a ridiculous story that is adhered to obstinately can be more powerful than a complicated truth (just look at the government's stories about Iraq and al-Qaida). And once you've backtracked on your story, you can be damn sure that the cops are not going to leave you alone-they're just gonna start digging harder. *Finally, be prepared for the police to play mind games with you. A few of the more common ones are: acting suspicious of everything you say; "good cop, bad cop"; claiming that they "already know everything" or can find out anyway; claiming that some piece of information is "not a big deal"; and asking you why you're acting so nervous or claiming that your own behavior caused them to be suspicious of you in the first place. Don't let them psych you out. Stay calm, stay silent-and above all, if you follow the advice above, you can be confident they won’t find any information from searching you!

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