*edit, September 29, 2013 – I added Chris Hedges’s talk about the subject of his book Empire Of Illusion at the bottom of the post just now. I have yet to read the book, which I own. The video below is lengthy and gives me a good idea what the book will look like. I can’t find much to disagree with in Hedges’s talks. I was amused to hear him mention mafia capitalism (quoting someone else), a term I use all the time but don’t hear or see others using, although Chomsky essentially says the same thing when describing how capitalism works and how leaders who protect it behave. The central point, or a central point, made by Chris in his talk in the video below is about how we can’t turn to our leaders, in any sphere and not just politics, for help in fighting the forces of fascism, for they’ve switched sides.
An excerpt from the above linked-to article, by Michelle Chen, follows:
United Nations workers spend their time on the front lines of the global struggle for human rights, but now they are battling for rights in their own workplace. The UN has come under fire for union-busting, and the labor standoff could undermine its ability to uphold the rights of others around the globe.
All summer, the United Nations’ staff unions have been clashing with management over a new policy aimed at curtailing the staff’s collective bargaining rights. The Staff Coordinating Council, the union leading the opposition campaign, contends that the loss of this negotiating power, enacted by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, would deal an unprecedented blow to the union’s power to negotiate contracts and working conditions.
The dismantling of union power, in turn, may signal a gradual shift away from democracy and toward neoliberalism throughout the institution often hailed as the world’s watchdog.
My online response to the above linked-to article follows:
I just finished [reading] another article on this website, namely “Off the Rails.” It strikes me that Ban Ki-Moon looks just like Edward Burkhardt and vice versa. In Ban’s case, His corporatist thinking and behavior is even scarier than that capitalist, bloodspiller Burkhardt’s.
This won’t stop. How do you get back lost democracy when you need democracy to get it? If organizations and institutions – labor, business, governmental, all – can’t be reformed because they’ve come to be run by unprincipled corporatists, upon whom the godless corporatocracy depends for it’s continued existence, who we can’t remove once their bad intentions and inclinations become clear…
The people have to accomplish all of their reforms (if revolution isn’t on and while we are waiting for a higher power to act) with an unwavering eye toward putting in place mechanisms that will allow ‘the people’, irregardless of any authority, to remove leaders. Presidents, judges, CEOs, police chiefs, Generals have all become terrorists serving a minority of psychopathic parasites, the 1%, for gain or perceived gain and we can only wring our hands and perhaps cry out in anger in frustration, which, perversely, brings the abusers pleasure. That visible pain equals their glory.
The democracy is as missing as the justice and compassion and equality. And the three are connected.
More on Edward Burkhardt will be found further down in my post.
We haven’t just lost democracy. It’s so missing we don’t notice it. “The appearance of normality lulls us into a false hope and submission,” said Chris Hedges. Sure, We notice it here and there and often enough. But it’s bigger than one place or situation. When uncle Sam can do a repeat of Iraq, in regard to the current Syria crisis, complete with lies about weapons of mass destruction and the whole nine yards, expecting to get it’s way, What’s that say? Part of the story told by the Obama admin, and those willing to support it, is that Bashar al-Assad violated international law when he – ‘allegedly’, still – used chemical weapons against his people. But, as lawyer Robert Weiss pointed out [in a discussion about the US government’s apparent complicity in the murder of one it’s citizens before American presidents started doing it openly], Assad had been violating international law for two and a half years before the chemical weapons event and it didn’t bother Obama.
“…the Assad regime engaged in multitudinous violations of international law for two-and-a-half years. Right? I mean, they bombed. They sent artillery rockets into civilian areas, which is a cardinal violation of international law. And nobody really mentioned the fact that these were international law violations. And then come the chemical weapons, and everybody is saying, “Oh, my god, you know, now they’ve violated international law.” What were they doing before? Complying with international law? Surely not.” – Peter Weiss
Indeed. Assad can’t hold a candle to the American admin’s disinterest in the rule of law.
Yes, People are not impressed and not buying it. But if Obama wants to invade, he won’t let public opinion stop him – permanently. We miss something important, anyway, if we think that our objections to the undemocratic things our leaders are doing means that everything’s okay. It rarely stops them from doing those things. (Some – Amy Goodman, Noam Chomsky – on the Left, who dislike the idea that we can’t use the Devil’s tools to attack the Devil, try valiantly to make it seem as though loud, but powerless, voices can move political mountains. And so they take any tiny pause in imperialists’ rampage, if it’s accompanied by a degree of public disapproval, to be the result of that disapproval and justification for the idea that electoral politics is the solution.)
And if it does back off, It’s usually not a permanent stand down. Look at the situation in regard to reports about UN blue helmets raping and exploiting those who they’re supposed to protect, everywhere, and the UN’s response, sometimes non-existent and sometimes overwrought. And there are a lot of them. As I started researching for this post, despite what seems to be a real effort to hide a lot (As much as there is available online, You don’t realize how much is hidden until you know about things that you can’t see, or can hardly see, online! Check out Jane Holl Lute’s entry in Wikipedia. We’ll look at her further down, but in the Wikipedia entry, a handy link to her time in the UN is missing. Can’t have someone very involved with companies, and organizations, invovled in killing linked to organizations supposedly very involved in protecting lives now, Can we?), I kept leapfrogging from article to article and link to link back through the years to 1992-1993 and Cambodia. Mostly, The UN was missing in action. It’s leadership would complain, rightly, that member states supplying forces were responsible for oversight and discipline of it’s soldiers and that those states didn’t allow it to do much more than request that the problem soldiers be retrieved. (Although my eyes did fall on one document that seemed to suggest that the UN had a little more authority than that.)
Which doesn’t tell us whether highly placed UN officials give a crap.
Which is why my research was so startling. Discern intentions and so much else is revealed. As I landed on article after article talking about rapes and worse by UN blue helmets in the DRC and elsewhere, not to mention higher officers who were complicit through knowing about criminality and ignoring it and/or busy committing their own unspeakable crimes, I found also information, namely articles and press coverage, about criminality and suspected criminality of UN officials such as Ruud Lubbers and Jane Holl Lute. – Kofi Annan gets a qualified pass, efforts by the Right to smear him notwithstanding. He’s not innocent. You can’t be an American president and head of the bloodspilling corporatocracy and be innocent. And there’s no logical reason to suppose that someone who heads up an organization that mirrors that wild beast in form and behavior (Look at the list of countries where peacekeeping did ‘not’ happen and ask why?) is innocent. Kofi was a cog, as we all are. God may forgive him, but we can’t because we have no way to do so, even if we do understand how individuals can look very different than the institutions which they are a part of. All cogs have to answer one question: Do you resist?
If there is a higher power, then resistance isn’t futile. It might not help you, or society, in this life. But in the new world…
Those ones were or are happy to have places in the mafia capitalist sun, which you only get by playing nice with the wild beast of corporatocracy.
When the outcry from investigating bodies was greatest and the abuses were as rampant as ever, and Kofi Annan made his famous remark about the blue helmets’ abusiveness being “an ugly stain” on the UN, after which he thundered about zero tolerance yadda, yadda (while not being given actual support – a change in law that would give the UN greater freedom to deal with blue helmet crimes – from member states supplying peacekeepers), there was Jane Holl Lute, the UN’s assistant secretary-general for peacekeeping, saying things like (I’m trying to find the statement again so I can link to it, but I’m having a hard time) We have to remind the blue helmets why they’re there. As I said, It’s all about intentions. What does she mean and what force can her pleas have once we learn what she is up to and who assists her?
Because Jane Lute has the ‘right’ political views (a willingness to overlook others’ criminality and lack of professionalism/ possession of a gangster approach), like her one-time colleague, Ruud Lubbers, the former UN High Commissioner For Refugees, who resigned from that post when his promiscuous behavior crossed lines once too many times, she found doors opened. See Matthew Russell Lee’s article titled “At UN, Jane “Lockheed” Lute to Head PBC, Spain Eyed for Safety, How Will Irish Legal Chief Compare?” Ruud Lubbers is an admirer of Margaret Thatcher. Remember her? And may she rot in pieces. She, like the criminal Boris Yeltsin, got the idea – never disliked by defense contractors – to start a war in order to distract citizens from clamoring for solutions to their real problems and in order to boost her own ratings, something, sadly, that seems to work in this upside down world, at least for a time.
I agree with Jane Lute completely. We need to remember what’s it’s all about. (Unfortunately, I don’t think that that will inspire rapist and criminal blue helmets to quit their evil.) And since actions speak louder than words, when they’re not in perfect agreement, Let’s think on Lute’s politics, alliances and behavior. I’m sure that it wasn’t for no reason that she was tapped by Barack Obama for the position of Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security in 2009. (I see three interesting facts, laid out here, that together suggests part of the reason. One fact involves a company that Lute went out of her way to help, namely a company that funnels $3 million per election cycle to both Democrats and Republicans.)
The blue helmets are no more being sent wherever they’re sent to help victims of imperialism and terrorism than armies, police forces and security organizations are for the protection of the people and no more than laws enacted by corporatocracy governments are meant to protect citizens. As Chomsky notes, national security laws are meant to protect (captured) governments from the people. From the November 30, 2010 episode of Democracy Now titled “Noam Chomsky: WikiLeaks Cables Reveal “Profound Hatred for Democracy on the Part of Our Political Leadership”,” the following:
AMY GOODMAN: So, what are your thoughts today, as — for example, we just played this clip of New York Republican Congress member Peter King, who says WikiLeaks should be declared a foreign terrorist organization?
NOAM CHOMSKY: I think that’s outlandish. The materials — we should understand — and the Pentagon Papers is another case in point — that one of the major reasons for government secrecy is to protect the government from its own population.
The people are the enemy, not because they chose to be, but because a minority of capitalist parasites who believe in inequality (conveniently) and exploitation find that to be the best way for their political allies to approach ‘national security’ and it’s supporting ideology.
Jane Lute is a caring person. Successful business requires carefulness and patience – and good connections. What was in it for her when she put in a $250 million ‘no bid’ proposal for defense contractor Lockheed Martin, who, after getting it and underperforming, as Matthew Russell Lee (of Inner City Press, which seems to have all the relevant details) reports, lands (in August 2008) the post of Assistant Secretary General for the UN’s Peacebuilding Support Office? Open doors everywhere in the military industrial complex where there’s money to be made, would, I think, be the answer. Jane Lute’s path wound it’s way to her new company called Council on CyberSecurity. I will activate one of the links in the following excerpt of Matthew’s report:
On August 7 it was confirmed that Jane Holl Lute, who actively pushed for Lockheed Martin to be given $250 million on a “sole source” basis to build peacekeeping camps in Darfur, will be the new ASG for Peace-building. This should present many opportunities, what with the Peacebuilding Fund — coincidentially, a $250 million fund, video here — and projects already in Burundi, Sierra Leone, Guinea-Bissau, Central African Republic and Cote d’Ivoire. Lockheed’s Pacific Architects & Engineers subsidiary, before flaming out in Darfur, was found by the UN to have over-billed in the Congo, and is reputed to have provided services to Charles Taylor and others of his ilk. In the PBC’s portfolio there will be many such chances.
I’ve been jumping around for hours trying to stitch together when Lute became this and that and found this most helpful entry by someone from the Peacebuilding Support Office (PSO) named ‘hsonner’. I will bold the acronyms and underline their full names when provided. As much as I appreciate the watchdog, ICP’s, reports, the author assumes a level of knowledge on the part of the reader that this reader doesn’t possess. I will hopefully save you, dear reader of my blog, from more work than you may be prepared for, with this. One acronym not explained below is PBC. That’s simply Peacebuilding Commission:
New Head of PBSO
Submitted by hsonner on Sat, 08/09/2008 – 04:10.
Jane Holl Lute of the United States has been appointed as the new Assistant Secretary-General (ASG) for Peacebuilding Support. She will succeed Carolyn McAskie who has led the Peacebuilding Support Office (PBSO) since its creation in 2006.
Announcing the appointment on 7 August, the Secretary-General expressed his gratitude for outgoing ASG Ms. McAskie’s leadership and contributions to the establishment of the peacebuilding architecture since the creation of the PBSO.
Ms. Holl Lute joined the UN in 2003 as Assistant Secretary-General in the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) and spearheaded the creation of the Department of Field Support (DFS) as Officer-in-Charge during its startup period from 2007 until May 2008. Her previous experiences will help her to ensure that the PBSO can continue to address the challenges of bringing together a wide spectrum of actors within the UN system, the Secretary-General said.
The ASG for Peacebuilding Support is tasked with convening various development, security, political, humanitarian and human rights actors in support of the PBC. The Secretary-General said that Ms. Holl Lute’s background will also help her in managing the growth of the Peacebuilding Fund (PBF) and supporting UN efforts in assisting countries emerging from conflict.
Before joining the UN, Ms. Holl Lute was Executive Vice-President and Chief Operating Officer of the United Nations Foundation and the Better World Fund, which were created by the philanthropist Ted Turner to support the work of the UN. She has also held positions at the Carnegie Commission on Preventing Deadly Conflict, and at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars as a public policy fellow.
* “Sex and the UN: when peacemakers become predators” by The Independent, January 11, 2005
* “Peacekeepers gone wild: How much more abuse will the UN ignore in Congo?” by Gerald Caplan, Globe and Mail, August 3, 2012
* “In Darfur, Lockheed is Late and Poor Performer, UN Admits of No-Bid Contract” by Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press, July 23, 2008
An excerpt from the above linked-to article by Matthew Lee follows:
** Both UN Peacekeeping and its Procurement Division, as well as Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, have been under fire since October 2007, when the no-bid contact with Lockheed was announced. At first, the UN Spokesperson said that Lockheed had been selected through a competitive process, then retracted the claim. It was said that the contract would be made public, but that has still not taken place. **
And I think that that tells us something about the anti-union policy adopted by Ban Ki-Moon. He seems to not be well intentioned. It’s really quite revealing though. So much of what United Nations members, naturally, would say that their organization is about – and one should remember that it’s various agencies do do good work and are staffed by many genuinely caring persons – just doesn’t jibe with much that takes place under UN auspices. But that’s not mysterious. The United Nations is only a reflection of the wild beast of corporatocracy from which it springs. It’s just not that surprising that under corporatocracy and the mafia capitalism that it embraces, in which the strong eat the weak and law and order are seen by ‘leaders’ as a means of controlling the abused, exploited masses, you would have a global security organization such as the UN showing the characteristics of a predator. Essentially, as others note, the UN is a creature of the United States, the most powerful and violent nation on earth. Ronald Reagan illustrates the point. He joked about 108 nations that just disagreed with his decision to attack tiny, defenseless Grenada, and said that it didn’t even bother his breakfast. Every member of the United Nations can vote ‘yes’ on some matter and it wouldn’t matter because if uncle Sam votes ‘no’, then ‘no’ stands. Democracy Now not long ago looked at the plague of rapes among the US military. It’s only a reflection of the embrace by the world, and America, with gusto, of the ‘riches for the strongest’ paradigm, or operating principle. Even victims (of every sort) embrace this paradigm, trying desperately to win in an evil game in which there has to be losers. Winning is everything. How you do it doesn’t matter so much, which isn’t to say that sometimes you don’t need to manipulate or manufacture consent. Then you do so.
“…Some scholars have suggested that certain kinds of aggression are useful and perhaps even essential. Konrad Lorenz, for example, has argued that aggression is “an essential part of the life-preserving organization of instincts.” Basing his arguments on his observation of nonhumans, he sees aggressiveness as being of prime evolutionary importance…
“With these data [from observations of behavior of nonhumans] in mind, many observers urge caution in attempting to control aggression in humans, suggesting that, as in lower animals, aggression is necessary for survival…
“…It is possible to achieve mastery of a problem or a skill without hurting another person or even without attempting to conquer. It is possible to reduce human violence without reducing curiosity or desire to solve problems. This is a difficult distinction for us to grasp, because the western mind – and perhaps the American mind in particular – has been trained to equate success with victory, to equate doing well with beating someone.” -page 166 of “The Social Animal” by Elliot Aronson
From a transcript of a speech given by Noam Chomsky in 1991 at a benefit for The Middle East Children’s Alliance (president, Barbara Lubin) and KPFA radio (manager, Pat Scott) titled “The New World Order,” the following excerpt:
See what tendencies are developing and accelerating, everything from homelessness to Third World standards of malnutrition to the decline of educational standards, and so on. It’s perfectly clear that the Bush Administration hasn’t a thought in their heads about what to do about these things. If you look at domestic programs, take the choice, crime, energy, wealth, health, education, highways, whatever you pick, you discover that they’re vacuous. They have no programs. That being the case, it’s necessary the domestic population has to be kept from looking at, kept from paying attention to it. It has to be diverted to something else.
One thing, this is classic in situations like this, one thing you can do is try to divert the attention of the population to conflicts with much weaker enemies. Now, of course, in order to make this work, you have to turn these much weaker enemies, at least in the propaganda system, you have to portray them as huge monsters who are about ready to wipe us out. You first have to terrorize the domestic population. Make them frightened. Then when you destroy the much weaker enemy you can arouse jingoist hysteria. And a lot of that has been carried right through the Reagan/Bush years: Grenada, Libya, international terrorism, Panama, now Iraq. In each case, huge chimera were made, a great monster about to destroy us, but finally we got in there just in time and saved ourselves. We can heave a sigh of relief.
This was even done in the case of Grenada, first try. Grenada, you remember, was a monstrous superpower [laughter] that had major influence over the world nutmeg trade [laughter] and was literally portrayed as a threat to our existence. As the United States proceeded to liberate us from this threat the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General More, intoning away in somber sounds on the radio about how, in the event of a Russian attack on Western Europe, Grenada would interdict the supply lines between the Caribbean and Western Europe and without oil from the region our leaders would be lost. And it was reinforced and magnified. Sober scholars called upon by the media, not to explain in the same profound fury, I forget what they were called, great stores of weapons found on Grenada afterwards showing that we got there in time before they were about to do something really serious. But we made it. And as Ronald Reagan put it, we were “standing tall” and had overcome the Vietnam syndrome with this glorious victory.
The day I started this blog post, I was perusing the web, including The Toronto Star, which I go to often (being a resident of Toronto as I am), and I came across a couple of articles that my brain automatically tied to the topic of this post. One was about a Supreme Court decision about the rightness of forcing people, here in Canada, to pledge allegiance to the Queen of England. Another had to do with the popularity of mixed martial arts and I’m not just talking about males and I’m not just talking about watching it. Parents are taking their kids to gyms to learn this stuff for crying out loud. Okay. We are all going to become buff, fearless and formidable… in order to deal with the many, many bad asses out there who might make the mistake of viewing us as victims. But if everyone’s combat trained? The class war, again, is ignored and parents let their kids down here. They are consuming digital media in huge volumes (and, as Eben Moglen notes, it’s actually consuming them), consuming all manner of crap for their bodies and minds and becoming useless to those fighting the class war. They even end up fighting against those fighting for them because they have become stupid and full of propaganda. They have become very busy, energized idiots or zombies. And they, and the corruption of the liberal class and all leadership – UN, military, corporate, political, educational, family, labor, religious, judicial, police, media, arts – everywhere, are the 1%’s secret weapon. The 1% of the 99% can’t effectively fight the powerful, resource rich, unscrupulous 1% while their fellow 99 percenters are munching on their shoulders like zombies instead of fighting with them.
* “Mandatory citizenship oath to the Queen ruled constitutional” by The Canadian Press, Toronto Star, Friday, September 20, 2013
An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:
A push by three prospective Canadian citizens to strike down the portion of the citizenship oath which swears allegiance to Queen Elizabeth II was dismissed Friday by an Ontario court…
Peter Rosenthal, a lawyer for the applicants, called the decision “flawed.” He said the oath can be interpreted as swearing personal allegiance to the Queen.
“Many people would take the oath literally,” Rosenthal said. “The judge inappropriately failed to recognize that.”
Rosenthal said he would urge his clients to appeal.
The three permanent residents had also argued the oath violated their religious and equality rights. Justice Morgan disagreed on both counts.
What an asshole judge he is. He will tell us what we think and believe. Isn’t that nice?! And this was a relatively innocuous judgment. Judges have become terrorists in robes! Think of the innocents, like Omar Khadr and Chelsea Manning, who are locked away partly because the judiciary, along with everything else, has been captured by powerful, special capitalist interests that view the people as the enemy. Light is darkness and darkness is light. Oppression is freedom and fascism is democracy.
* “MMA for kids: Teaching violence, or values?” by Paul Hunter, Toronto Star, Saturday, September 21, 2013
What caught my eye when I came across this was the letters MMA. I had just finished reading about Montreal, Maine & Atlantic or MM&A. The September 19 article, by Roger Bybee, on the In These Times website, is titled “Off the Rails: How a Lack of Oversight Doomed Lac-Megantic.” The guy who owns that sorry railroad company, a real rightwing loon named Edward Burkhardt, along with leaders in his industry, have nothing but disdain for anyone who doesn’t understand that there are those who lead in society and those who follow and those who lead essentially own those who follow, make the rules for everyone and can use those who follow for their own personal gain, whatever the cost to them. And the politicians back them up. That loops up to the top of the post actually.
The tools are many and they certainly include leadership at all levels of society. Those people are all here. They haven’t been physically raptured anywhere. In some respects they are perfectly normal and recognizable. Consider this excerpt from Peter Ludlow’s September 15th, New York Times article titled “The Banality Of Systemic Evil”:
A good illustration of this phenomenon appears in “Moral Mazes,” a book by the sociologist Robert Jackall that explored the ethics of decision making within several corporate bureaucracies. In it, Jackall made several observations that dovetailed with those of Arendt. The mid-level managers that he spoke with were not “evil” people in their everyday lives, but in the context of their jobs, they had a separate moral code altogether, what Jackall calls the “fundamental rules of corporate life”:
(1) You never go around your boss. (2) You tell your boss what he wants to hear, even when your boss claims that he wants dissenting views. (3) If your boss wants something dropped, you drop it. (4) You are sensitive to your boss’s wishes so that you anticipate what he wants; you don’t force him, in other words, to act as a boss. (5) Your job is not to report something that your boss does not want reported, but rather to cover it up. You do your job and you keep your mouth shut.
Jackall went through case after case in which managers violated this code and were drummed out of a business (for example, for reporting wrongdoing in the cleanup at the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant).
Think of Ban Ki-Moon when you read that above excerpt. Who do you think he thinks his boss is?
The ‘tools’ do indeed pull together with everyone else to make things work, as long as by ‘everyone’ we don’t mean absolutely everyone. They pull together around the 1% and their idea of a functioning democracy is one in which inequality is entrenched. Neoliberalism is ascendent. There’s an episode – one of my faves – of Star Trek Voyager in which a transporter malfunction, fusing future earth technology carried by the Doctor with Seven’s Borg tech, results in the creation of a super cyborg. The episode is called “Drone.” He ages and develops at a furious pace and starts to ask where’s he from. He discovers the Borg after which the crew of Voyager decides to tell him all the dirty details about that race. As the crew tries to imbue him with their values prior to his day of deciding which group he belongs in he asks Seven about her loyalties. She tells him that Voyager is her collective. CEOs like Jane Holl Lute and Edward Burkhardt and Ban Ki-Moon aren’t strange. They are recognizable. They pull together with others to make things work, but they’ve decided, freely, to pull together to make things work for only their class and in such a way that needless suffering has ensued and will ensue. But they possess free moral agency and the ability to easily know the ramifications of their embrace of social Darwinianism. Which doesn’t mean that there won’t be consequences for their choices and behavior, whether they choose to think about that or not.
Elites understand. Chomsky pointed out long ago that the first targets for indoctrination in developed societies like Canada and the US are those in society in leadership positions. Everyone follows the leaders. Take them out and the rank and file scramble. They’ve been ‘taken out’. They have been seduced/bullied into moral/intellectual failure. I also call it spiritual failure. With such a state of affairs extent, winning a democratic world is impossible. All we can do is keep democracy alive in our hearts and minds. Some of us also keep God alive in our hearts and minds. To each his/her own.
This video is long. I watched half of it before doing this post and then finished it afterward. It really is applicable. Probably any number of Chris’s talks would be. Anyway, Have a look but perhaps be prepared to have that look in parts and not all at once, unless you’re really awake and into all of this: