Posts tagged ‘capitalism’

8 April, 2012

Capitalism is the new religion, money is the new God


text of image: Capitalism is the new religion, money is the new God


text of image:
When I feed the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor are hungry, they call me a communist. — Dom Helder Camara

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27 September, 2011

#OccupyWallStreet: a vegan perspective

To those who are fighting for justice, for anyone or any living being – I’ll stand with you.

And to those who think that I, have no right to comment on their fight and that vegans are irrelevant….

“Capitalism? Slavery? Genocide? Sitcoms? Guns? War? Pollution? Addiction? NAFTA? Thigh-Master? This is your fucking white-history, my “friend.”
So why don’t we start making a history worth being proud of and start fighting the real fucking enemy: the white male capitalist supremacist.”
–Propagandhi–

Once upon a time, in an anti-capitalist forum, far far away….
There was a recent discussion on an anti-capitalist forum, sparked by a digitally-altered picture of a burning Wall Street©$ office building with posters giving their opinions.

Some said burning the rich was the ultimate expression of anti-capitalism.

A couple of anti-capitalist vegans commented but these vegans were quickly, shunted off to one side, mocked as a niche issue, for the dilettantes and PeTA-wannabes and eating-disorder girls, meanwhile leave the heavy political issues to hard-core men-folk, Praise Marx and all that.

Capitalism:

“Advocates of capitalism are very apt to appeal to the sacred principles of liberty, which are embodied in one maxim:

The fortunate must not be restrained in the exercise of tyranny over the unfortunate.”
Bertrand Russell
(philosopher)

A lot of insults and name-calling ensued. Until…. gradually the vegans began making their opinions known on the subject.

The opinion of these vegans was this:

Not only is Veganism as expression of anti-capitalist ideas, it is perhaps the most effective of all anti-capitalist direct actions.

It is a complete rejection of the exploitation and ownership of all living beings, not just the human ones.
So, why hold Capitalism responsible?
The capitalist business ethic is based on one of exploitation – the earth, animals and humans. How much you can dig up, chop down, saturate with poison, slaughter – it’s all good, as long as you are making a profit.

How much pollution you create is irrelevant, fill those oceans and lakes with plastic, chemicals, oil, toxin – but make a profit.

Chop down all the trees and plow the fields – but make a profit.

Want to frack prime food-producing land and contaminate the drinking water of communities? sure go ahead – but make a profit.

Blow the tops of mountains, and dig huge strip mines? why not – but make a profit.

Want to build a private toll-road where a childrens playground / rainforest / Indigenous community is – sure, says governments – not only will we give you the land, but will you pay you taxpayers money if you don’t make enough profit!

Your life has NO VALUE other than that of a consumer – don’t believe me? Ask Ford

In 1977 the Ford car, the PINTO, had a design flaw which meant gas/petrol tanks were more likely to explode if hit in collisions. The cost of repairing this flaw was $11. Ford made the decision that it would be cheaper to let people die and fight off any lawsuits than correct the problem.

Capitalism does not care about feeding the starving, healing the sick, educating the children, providing care to the elderly, ensuring a safe working environment for the working classes, providing a safe, clean, non-deadly environment for communities – NO, the only goal of capitalism is to make money.

And if I was an owner, banker, investor, shareholder, I would be annoyed if the company did anything other make money, by any means necessary, regardless of social cost.

Capitalism has made all living things on the planet, and the planet itself fair game. Animals are property, the air is property, the water that falls from the sky is property (Bolivia has privatised the rain, the water that falls on your own property does not belong to you).

Monsanto is gaining an increasing share in the seed market. You don’t own the food you grow on your property. Want to save some seeds to plant future gardens? Nope, that is a crime.

Capitalism even own the genes in your body – Myriad Genetics owns your genes and mine.

(Who did they buy my genes from? How did anyone think they had the rights to sell your genes? What are they doing with the ownership of our genes?)

Think that is absurd, that a private company that you’ve probably never heard of owns your body parts?

Just ask a cow or a chicken.

Only after the last tree has been cut down, Only after the last river has been poisoned, Only after the last fish has been caught, Only then will you find that money cannot be eaten.

Ok, capitalism is evil, but that’s got nothing to do with VEGANS, has it?
Once you start talking about crashing the system, bringing down the banksters and gangsters of Wall Street, breaking the chains slave-wages or no wages while mega-corporations take their tax payer bail outs and take their factories offshore, the anti-capitalists are all for it.

They may even shout slogans like tax the rich, burn the rich or f-ck the system.

Yah, I’m down for that (say the VEGANS)
– how about we end the enslavement of 10s of millions of living beings who are sold like cattle, made to work non-stop producing more and more, without decent working conditions, for no pay, and when they are no longer useful, murdered.

Hell Yes! (say the rebels)

Then let’s all GO VEGAN!

. . .

Say what?

And, it is at this point that the Leninist-Trotsky-Marxists chime in – Now, you’re taking it too far, don’t you care about the exploitation of people? go hug a tree and weave some baskets in your hemp clothing, while us real anti-capitalists overthrow the system

Audi automobile with the license plate

Image via Wikipedia

Then they consume animal products…… contributing $Money to the exact same system they claim to want to over throw.

The vegans get side-lined, their issues are deemed irrelevant, when really, vegans should be seen as an ally of those fighting for justice, fairness and equal rights.

As can often happen, when fighting to achieve social change, those who fight off the dominate group, then turn around and apply that dominance against others – feminists who ignored issues of race (see the writings of Audre Lorde or bell hooks – Feminist Class Struggle, or anti-war movements resulted in men doing the thinking and women making the coffee and cakes (see the writings of Robin Morgan), or marriage equality activists who are dreadful racists (a certain Australian celebrity supports gays marriage but also supports racism).

Examples of this can be seen among anti-capitalist, who themselves enslave animals or pay others do so on their behalf. Hopefully this attitude is dying out.

To me, begin vegan is about ending the commodification of animals. It is about the end of a process which has seen the reproductive systems of cows and chickens morphed into a factory farm, where the more cruel you are the higher your profits.  It is about ending the enslavement, ownership, and exploitation of those who are just a little bit different from us.

This extract from a Mother Jones article shows how the business model of factory farming impacts on more than just the lives and deaths of animals.

How the Meat Industry Turned Abuse into a Business Model

Abuse of animals is routine. Entire ecosystems get trashed, as is the case of the Chesapeake Bay—once one of the globe’s most productive fisheries, brought to near-ruin by runoff from a stunning concentration of factory chicken farms. Family farmers are literally turned into serfs as they scale up to meet the industry’s demands. And we all face the menace of the antibiotic-resistant pathogens now brewing up on animal factory farms, which now consume 80 percent of antibiotics used in the United States (both to make livestock grow faster and keep them alive in cramped, filthy conditions).

Meanwhile, the industry can be expected to vigorously fight any attempt to curtail its abusive practices. Market power extends to the political sphere—the meat lobby is one of those powerful D.C. players that—like oil and banking—has the cash to maintain friendships on both sides of the political aisle.

And to think, some people say vegans don’t care about people!

If you consume any animal products, you have in effect, paid someone to kill on your behalf.

An animal is not a thing to be owned, murdered, enslaved, and yet, every day, millions and millions of animals are murdered and enslaved….. also by those who claim to be anti-capitalist.

They want to tear down the corporations that enslave people, yet own other beings, and at no point see a disconnect between the two. In fact, when this disconnect is pointed out to them, they deny it even more emphatically.

Some people speak lovely, angry words of revolution, of overthrowing the system, ending capitalism, no more ownership, but shove animal products into that same mouth, without a pause to consider their inconsistency, between what they say and what they do.

None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free. ~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

How non-conformists are these anti-globalism activists, as they blog using their Apple ipads™®©$, drinking Starbucks™®©$ Mocha Frappuccino™®©$, wearing their Nike™®©$ and Adidas™®©$, and eating their McDonalds BigMac™®©$

If you think that you’re an anti-capitalist rebel, but eat animal products, you are enslaving animals. Yeh, way to be a rebel.

You think you are rejecting over-consumption while you consume the carcasses of a once-living, breathing animal whose entire life has been abject slavery and misery.

To those occupying Wall Street, I support you.

The conspicuously wealthy turn up urging the character building values of the privation of the poor.
John Kenneth Galbraith 

So what does the Occupation of Wall Street hope to achieve

Although the website https://occupywallst.org has issued a list of demands – a constitution  if you will, many of these demands are state issues or federal issues that probably won’t be achieved by the occupation.

However, if it provides an outlet for the anger people are feeling about the inequities in a society where 1% of the population own more wealth than the other 99%. Then who does it hurt.

The fact that this occupation has received very little coverage from mainstream media, is an example of what these protesters are up against. The media themselves being a corporation who benefit from an apathetic population whose only function is consumption.

And who knows, this might be an outlet needed to avoid London style riots.

Or, it might just raise awareness that people are not alone, they do have the power, and it might be start of a larger movement.

If you have something you would like to add, or if you disagree, leave a comment or find me on twitter @redglitterx

27 January, 2011

Cheese: The Other White Meat (why cheese eaters are problematic for vegans)

If you are a vegetarian, and would like to be vegan, my question for you is… what are you waiting for?

Vegetarians know the reality of where there food comes from – or rather WHO their food use to be, and it does not seem to bother them.

A lot of vegans, probably have at some point meet someone who says that they are “almost vegan” or “90% vegan – except for cheese”, or,

They may say something like – “oh I could Never be vegan, I love cheese too much” or maybe they do actually call themselves Vegan, yet has an occasional slip up, if they are at a party, and someone offers them some cheese, then they might “cheat” on their vegan diet

I met a “vegan” recently, who lectured me about how I was a “fake vegan” because I didn’t hate on ALF – animal liberation front – yet, this same person didn’t know that their morning protein shake made with whey wasn’t actually vegan.

Oh how I laughed!

Dairy is not benign, dairy involves huge amounts of cruelty and exploitation and DEATH.

And then these cheese-eaters pat themselves on the back, thinking that Vegan is just a different form of Vegetarian. I mean, we all love animals, right? It’s not like the animal has to DIE or anything, right?

Oh, but I never buy cheese myself! they protest. If someone offers it to me, or there is a pizza, or I’m hungry, or [insert excuse here]. That would be like someone saying “oh but I don’t smoke, I never buy cigarettes myself, I mean, if someone offers me one, or I get them off a friend when I’m at the pub after a late night, but, no, I’m not a smoker or anything”.

How is this any different? Just because you don’t buy it, does that mean it stops being cheese?

Here is my opinion… You know those old sayings “Milk – is liquid Meat” or “There is veal floating invisibly in every bottle of milk” or “Meat is murder, milk is rape” … vegans (by that I mean actual vegans, not faux cheeseatarian vegans) chose to not consume dairy in all its forms, because…

nothing could taste so good that it justifies rape and torture and slavery and murder.




That is what it comes down to:

If you consume dairy this is what you support

This PeTA video, shows the reality of the Land O’ Lakes dairy factory in Pennsylvania USA.

This is not an exception.



And don’t kid yourself – if you consume dairy products, and you haven’t personally met the cow, there is a very good chance that what you are eating came from cows just like this portrayed in the video.

And just why is that cow generously giving us her milk? Well she isn’t. Milk is meant for baby cows… it is baby food, for HER babies.

Like any mammal, she produces milk only to feed her babies.

Which means, she is forced to become pregnant against her will in order to create the baby that will get her body producing the milk.

And if people are stealing her milk (the cow doesn’t GIVE away anything), then there are babies out there, that are not drinking it.

So, what happens to those baby cows, which are surplus to requirements – if they survive the high infant mortality rate, they get sold into slavery, and become either milk cows or veal calves or pet food.

Pet food? Seriously, imagine telling that to a baby – your life is nothing, you are worth more to me dead.

or, Some may be shipped off to cosmetics companies to be turned into face creams or diet pills, because in some markets, it is illegal to use cows that are older than 30-months old in order to reduce the risk of spreading Mad Cow Disease (BSE – bovine spongiform encephalopathy).

Beauty products that are stuffed full with animal products are not beautiful. Nope, I do not want to be slapping dead calf on my face.

And this is a side effect of societies cheese-addiction.

Not much of a life, is it?

Then, what happens when the dairy cow gets too old?

After years of slavery, of being treated like a machine….

Cows that have been bred for maximum milk production, are unable to sustain the weight of their udders, which may be infected with mastitis, then what?

Is there a pension plan, and she goes off to a farm in the country to wander the hills and pastures and frolic in the clover… hell no, if she survives a couple of years of relentless torture in the dairy factory, she is shipped off to slaughter as soon as the milk production begins to slow up.

Thanks for the all milk, my dear, and don’t let the barn door hit you on the way out.




And then there is RENNET
Unless the label states “non animal rennet” – that cheese the vegan is eating, it isn’t even vegetarian.

Rennet is an enzyme used in cheese making, that is naturally present in the stomach of calves in order to digest the milk they are drinking.

Animal Rennet is taken from the lining of calves stomachs, and is often a by-product of the veal industry.

So when Vegetarians justify their continued animal consumption because “the animal doesn’t have to die”, What exactly do they mean? The baby cows that don’t survive to adulthood, the veal calves, the petfood calves or the cosmetics calves, the sick and dying milk cows, the retired cows who are sent to slaughter at 4 or 5 years old instead of well into their 20s which is the natural life expectancy of a cow.

Yummy.

This isn’t even going to go near the substances actually in the milk – pus, blood, leukemia cells, bovine growth hormone, anti-biotics, pesticides, herbicides, possibility of BSE prions, excessive amounts of protein and lots and lots of saturated fat.

Cheese eaters – what is the difference between that and eating meat for all the misery the production of milk entails.



And don’t get me started on vegans who eat HONEY……

Further reading
IVU: What’s wrong with dairy products?
Describing Some of the things wrong with dairy.

Vegina >> dairy is a feminist issue.
A look at dairy from a feminist perspective

NEGOTIATION IS OVER – Conklin’s Sadism
Yet another example of what is standard business practice for dairy, at an Ohio dairy factory.

“Jack LaLanne Said We Don’t Need Meat And Dairy” (vegetarianstar.com)




Del and RedGlitter
Feedback welcome

EDITTED TO ADD: There had been a MFA (Mercy for Animals) video in this piece, somehow it has been removed, and the link has been removed, without my knowledge. Even the text surrounding the video.

Is wordpress censoring vegan blogs now?

4 September, 2010

Meat Kills

Meat Kills: Consolidated


Warning: Slight Graphic Imagery.

A spoken-word track by Consolidated, called MEAT KILLS from their Friendly Fa$cism (1991) album, is nearly 20 years old, but still as important today.

Consolidated: Adam Sherburne, Mark Pistel, Philip Steir


This is what is being said. Reprinted here, is in no way meant to impinge on their copyright, or suggest that they endorse this blog, its authors, or its themes. They are here, only to make clear the words being spoken on the video clip over the sounds of the slaughter house.


Meat Kills

The driving force behind the destruction of the tropical rain forests is the American meat habit. The rain forests are cleared then planted with grass for grazing livestock to create hamburger for fast food restaurants.

More than half of all the water used in the United States is used for raising animals for food. 25 gallons of water is needed to produce a pound of wheat. 2500 gallons of water is needed to produce a pound of meat.

Dependence on foreign oil is one of the principle reasons for US intervention in the Persian Gulf. The length of time the world’s oil reserves would last if all human beings ate a meat-based diet would be approximately 13 years. The length of time the world’s oil reserves would last if all human beings ate a plant based diet would be approximately 260 years.

Feedlots and slaughterhouses are both major polluters of rivers and streams. Filling them with poisonous residues and animal wastes. 250,000 pounds of animal excrement is produced every second in the US and there are no sewage systems to treat the wastes.

In 1989, over 40% of the world’s grain harvest was fed to animals going to slaughter. If the same grain was fed directly to human beings, there would be more than enough grain to feed the entire world. Over 20 million people will die as a result of malnutrition this year.

In third third world private and government money has gone to developing cash crops for export while food production for the poor majority is neglected. 80% of the corn grown in the US is fed to animals raised for food rather than going to hungry people.

On a purely vegetarian diet the world can support a population many times its present size. On a meat based diet the current world population could not be sustained.

Cattle ranching has always competed with wildlife. Coyotes and wolves would not be shot and poisoned by ranchers if people did not eat steaks and lamb chops. Destroying the rain forests to raise cattle is causing millions of birds, monkeys, snakes and other species to lose their homes and lives.

In the US this year alone thirty seven and a half million cattle, eighty five and a half million
pigs, five and a half million sheep, two hundred forty two million turkeys, four billion one hundred forty seven million chickens will be murdered for the taste of their flesh.

Pain, frustration, stress, fear, abuse, neglect, and deprivation are realities of the raising of animals in today’s factory farms. Animals are artificially inseminated, fed growth hormones, overcrowded, chained and caged.

Raising livestock for profit is a competitive business and being humane means costs will go up. These animals are kicked, prodded, electro-shocked, dragged, and finally transported to their deaths.

A vegetarian diet promotes superior health, endurance, and longevity.

Animal products have 3 nutritional disadvantages. They contain too much protein, too much fat, and no fibre.

Do not believe the protein myth. It was based on a study done by the meat and dairy industries to rats, animals who need 1000 times more protein in their diet than humans.


Feedback welcome.

8 May, 2010

Is Vegan Enough? Food that oppresses people

Since 8 May is both World Fair Trade Day and International Boycott Proctor & Gamble Day, I thought I would take a quick look at an issue that combines both those topics.

Thinking about the people who produce the food we consume, can change the way we look at it. It is not just a one more consumer product, it can be someone’s life.

Taking a look at one product, Coffee, which is vegan, but is it good for people, Third World (* ) communities or the environment. And if it is bad for the environment, it isn’t good for animals.

How does Fair Trade coffee relate to P&G, one of the largest producers of consumer products, cleaning products, personal care products, and pseudo-chip-in-a-can products….?

Four companies – Nestlé, Procter & Gamble, Kraft and Sara Lee purchase over 40% of the world’s coffee beans, which gives them a large control of the industry. Dictating terms and conditions. These companies are also involved in animal experimentation and cruelty to animals via their dairy and meat products. These four big multinationals get to set the prices paid for the raw coffee beans to over 20 million sellers, forcing the prices down, and paying as little as possible.

And when farmers and communities are not getting a living wage from their crops, this leads to an increasing vicious cycle of local poverty, deforestation to grow more crops, habitat and biodiversity destruction and national debt.

Third World poverty – forced by the World Bank to grow crops for exports to pay back exorbitant debts, often racked up by despots but paid back by peasants. Coffee, tea, sugar, cocoa, when many poor countries are producing these “staples” the price for these commodities drops. These countries are making less and less, but growing these crops is often a condition of their loans. For whose benefit is this? These are not crops the local people can live on. Yes they might be vegan, but the human suffering is huge. The environmental devastation via massive land clearing and monoculture crops is also huge.

The leading coffee producers and exporters in order

Brazil, Vietnam, Colombia ,Indonesia, Ethiopia, India, Mexico, Guatemala, Peru, Honduras, Uganda, Ivory Coast, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Papua New Guinea, Ecuador, Thailand, Tanzania, Dominican Republic, Kenya, Venezuela, Cameroon, Philippines, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Central African Republic, Burundi, Madagascar, Haiti, Rwanda, Guinea, Cuba, Togo, Bolivia, Zambia, Angola, Panama, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Ghana, Jamaica, Sri Lanka, Malawi

With some exceptions, such as Brazil and India, these countries are among the poorest in the world. The local populations often live in intense poverty.

Absent from the list are first world countries.

Zimbabwe is the number one poorest country in the world, yet it is one of the worlds largest exporters of coffee. Also in the top 10 poorest countries of the world and the top coffee producers/exports are Democratic Republic of the Congo (2nd), Burundi (3rd), Central African Republic (7th).

Kinder Gentler Nation

51 percent of Guatemalans live in poverty. 15 percent live in extreme poverty, meaning they don’t have enough money to put food on their tables on a daily basis.

The World Bank, does not represent the world, is it dominated by the UK and USA, represents the interests of the richest countries in the world. Third world nations become the farm and quarry of the First world.

This informative article from the conservative think-tank the Cato Institute, point out how the world bank is crushing their world countries – The World Bank Vs. the World Poorby James Bovard

The World Bank is helping Third World governments cripple their economies, maul their environments, and oppress their people. … The bank’s handouts to governments for agricultural projects often work out badly. One of the bank’s West African projects to promote coffee and cacao production failed partly because of “soil unsuitability.” The bank encouraged farmers to grow crops that were unsuited for their soil. With friends like the World Bank, African farmers don’t need enemies.

The pursuit of profits in coffee cultivation is causing catastrophes for local farmers and communities, deforestation, and land degradation. None of which are good for animals.

Then comes the addition of milk and sugar….

* or the more common term today being “developing” countries, but I question whether countries like Zimbabwe are developing or if they are going backwards. the other term favoured is ‘Global South’, meaning the poorest countries of the world – ha! take that Australia and New Zealand



Agri-colonisation is an issue covered here: Sugar Shortage – Marion Nestle and G20 countries practice ‘agri-colonialism’ in developing countries from a different perspective.




Some great articles that touch on these issues:

Futile Democracy: The guinea-pig Nation

According to Waldon Bello, a senior analyst at “Focus on the Global South”, a program of Chulalongkorn University’s Social Research Institute:

“At the time of decolonization in the 1960s, Africa was not just self-sufficient in food but was actually a net food exporter, its exports averaging 1.3 million tons a year between 1966-70. Today, the continent imports 25% of its food, with almost every country being a net food importer. Hunger and famine have become recurrent phenomena, with the last three years alone seeing food emergencies break out in the Horn of Africa, the Sahel, Southern Africa, and Central Africa.

Wat-er Mess (or, Why Society is Once Again Seriously Screwed)The amount of water required to make a single cup of coffee, 140 litres is required.


WORLD FAIR TRADE DAY on 8th May 2010
we will be at Union Square’s Greenmarket! Come & meet us there! Volunteers needed! (Event Website)


Feedback welcome.

13 October, 2009

‘Rethink Afghanistan’, a tool for anti-war activists

WORKERS WORLD MOVIE REVIEW

“Older men declare war. But it is youth that must fight and die.”
– Herbert Hoover


Vodpod videos no longer available.

‘Rethink Afghanistan,’ a tool for anti-war activists



By John Catalinotto
Published Oct 12, 2009 10:41 PM

“Rethink Afghanistan,” a documentary directed by Robert Greenwald, is available as a DVD or online in six parts at rethinkafghanistan.com. It opened Oct. 1 in a limited number of U.S. theaters.

Afghan toddlers made internal refugees by U.S. bombing raids standing barefoot in cold mud, eventually to die from malnutrition and exposure; Afghan women in political protest calling their fate worse now in war than under Taliban rule; Afghan women keening over their lost children, brothers and spouses; relatives, neighbors, homes and domestic animals blown apart. These pictures bring the reality of war for the Afghan people home to U.S. audiences.

This compelling documentary’s strongest feature is that it allows the Afghans to speak for themselves to an audience in the United States. Afghanistan is a poor, mostly rural country. Today its intelligent and capable spokespeople engaged in political struggle reflect Afghanistan’s thousand-year tradition of refusing to bow to foreign rulers.

The movie also uses testimony from the heads of think tanks, former U.S. officials, including ex-CIA operatives, spokespeople for nongovernmental organizations, and a few honest reporters to expose the complete disconnect among the U.S. government’s pretexts for occupying Afghanistan—stopping “terrorism,” helping women’s rights, helping Afghanistan develop—and the results of that occupation.

It makes these arguments just as the Obama administration’s debate over Afghanistan policies is reaching a crossroads.

The Brave New Foundation and director Robert Greenwald (“Walmart: The High Cost of Low Price,” “Outfoxed” and “Iraq for Sale”) have made this documentary easily available to anyone opposing the occupation or escalation of the war in Afghanistan. While “Rethink Afghanistan” is unlikely to break into the country’s movie complexes, its producers open every Internet door to encourage use of the movie at low or no cost. Through YouTube, blogs, organized screenings of the DVDs, followed by discussions, activists are free to take advantage of the movie.

Brave New Foundation urges spreading the facts and analysis shown in “Rethink Afghanistan” to a broad sector of the population, who they encourage to petition the Obama administration and Congress with enough force to halt further escalation of—and perhaps to end—the assault on Afghanistan.

The director makes listening to a succession of “talking heads” more palatable by mixing them with images of Afghanistan and by cutting back and forth to the different analysts and experts, so the movie has more the appearance of a snappy question and answer session or even a debate than a lecture.

With a few exceptions like Pakistani Marxist Tarik Ali, those interviewed started—or appeared to start—from the premise that the U.S. went into Afghanistan with honest intentions—to eliminate al-Qaeda and remove the Taliban from government with the objective of “stopping terrorism,” even of “extending democracy” or “improving women’s rights.”

Most then show how the U.S. occupation has operated against achieving any of these goals, that the Taliban has nothing to do with al-Qaeda, and that the invasion, occupation and expansion of the war is a tragic and fabulously costly mistake that is leading to disaster for the Afghans, for the Obama administration and for the people of the United States.

Since only a small portion of the U.S. population is consciously anti-imperialist, this approach probably makes the documentary more accessible to most viewers. On the other hand, anti-imperialists cannot count on the movie to expose the following central truth: U.S. intervention in Afghanistan is based on expanding U.S. imperialism’s geopolitical interests. Anti-imperialist activists must themselves expose the role of U.S.-based giant capitalist banks and multinational corporations on a world scale, along with the narrower interests of the military-industrial complex that thrives on war.

Those with high-speed Internet access at home or at the library can see this documentary for free in six parts. Individuals or organizations can buy the DVD at a moderate price, and may use it to organize meetings and discussions. Greenwald and the Brave New Foundation should be congratulated for making the film accessible.

Those who understand the class basis of the war and the war drive of imperialism will have to add their own analysis. They can expose the reality that this disaster is not simply a tragic “mistake” but the consequence of the capitalist drive for profits worldwide.


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Feedback welcome.

4 August, 2009

The Problem Is Civil Obedience – Howard Zinn


For more on Howard Zinn, this is his A People’s History of American Empire by Howard Zinn narrated by Viggo Mortensen

The Problem is Civil Obedience

by Howard Zinn, 1970
from the Zinn Reader, Seven Stories Press
emphasis added, original format


[By the latter part of May, 1970, feelings about the war in Vietnam had become almost unbearably intense. In Boston, about a hundred of us decided to sit down at the Boston Army Base and block the road used by buses carrying draftees off to military duty. We were not so daft that we thought we were stopping the flow of soldiers to Vietnam; it was a symbolic act, a statement, a piece of guerrilla theater. We were all arrested and charged, in the quaint language of an old statute, with “sauntering and loitering” in such a way as to obstruct traffic. Eight of us refused to plead guilty, insisting on trial by jury, hoping we could persuade the members of the jury that ours was a justified act of civil disobedience. We did not persuade them. We were found guilty, chose jail instead of paying a fine, but the judge, apparently reluctant to have us in jail, gave us forty-eight hours to change our minds, after which we should show up in court to either pay the fine or be jailed. In the meantime, I had been invited to go to Johns Hopkins University to debate with the philosopher Charles Frankel on the issue of civil disobedience. I decided it would be hypocritical for me, an advocate of civil disobedience, to submit dutifully to the court and thereby skip out on an opportunity to speak to hundreds of students about civil disobedience. So, on the day I was supposed to show up in court in Boston I flew to Baltimore and that evening debated with Charles Frankel. Returning to Boston I decided to meet my morning class, but two detectives were waiting for me, and I was hustled before the court and then spent a couple of days in jail. What follows is the transcript of my opening statement in the debate at Johns Hopkins. It was included in a book published by Johns Hopkins Press in 1972, entitled Violence: The Crisis of American Confidence.]

I start from the supposition that the world is topsy-turvy, that things are all wrong, that the wrong people are in jail and the wrong people are out of jail, that the wrong people are in power and the wrong people are out of power, that the wealth is distributed in this country and the world in such a way as not simply to require small reform but to require a drastic reallocation of wealth. I start from the supposition that we don’t have to say too much about this because all we have to do is think about the state of the world today and realize that things are all upside down. Daniel Berrigan is in jail-A Catholic priest, a poet who opposes the war-and J. Edgar Hoover is free, you see. David Dellinger, who has opposed war ever since he was this high and who has used all of his energy and passion against it, is in danger of going to jail. The men who are responsible for the My Lai massacre are not on trial; they are in Washington serving various functions, primary and subordinate, that have to do with the unleashing of massacres, which surprise them when they occur. At Kent State University four students were killed by the National Guard and students were indicted. In every city in this country, when demonstrations take place, the protesters, whether they have demonstrated or not, whatever they have done, are assaulted and clubbed by police, and then they are arrested for assaulting a police officer.

Now, I have been studying very closely what happens every day in the courts in Boston, Massachusetts. You would be astounded-maybe you wouldn’t, maybe you have been around, maybe you have lived, maybe you have thought, maybe you have been hit-at how the daily rounds of injustice make their way through this marvelous thing that we call due process. Well, that is my premise.

All you have to do is read the Soledad letters of George Jackson, who was sentenced to one year to life, of which he spent ten years, for a seventy-dollar robbery of a filling station. And then there is the U.S. Senator who is alleged to keep 185,000 dollars a year, or something like that, on the oil depletion allowance. One is theft; the other is legislation. something is wrong, something is terribly wrong when we ship 10,000 bombs full of nerve gas across the country, and drop them in somebody else’s swimming pool so as not to trouble our own. So you lose your perspective after a while. If you don’t think, if you just listen to TV and read scholarly things, you actually begin to think that things are not so bad, or that just little things are wrong. But you have to get a little detached, and then come back and look at the world, and you are horrified. So we have to start from that supposition-that things are really topsy-turvy.

And our topic is topsy-turvy: civil disobedience. As soon as you say the topic is civil disobedience, you are saying our problem is civil disobedience. That is not our problem…. Our problem is civil obedience. Our problem is the numbers of people all over the world who have obeyed the dictates of the leaders of their government and have gone to war, and millions have been killed because of this obedience. And our problem is that scene in All Quiet on the Western Front where the schoolboys march off dutifully in a line to war. Our problem is that people are obedient all over the world, in the face of poverty and starvation and stupidity, and war and cruelty. Our problem is that people are obedient while the jails are full of petty thieves, and all the while the grand thieves are running the country. That’s our problem. We recognize this for Nazi Germany. We know that the problem there was obedience, that the people obeyed Hitler. People obeyed; that was wrong. They should have challenged, and they should have resisted; and if we were only there, we would have showed them. Even in Stalin’s Russia we can understand that; people are obedient, all these herdlike people.

But America is different. That is what we’ve all been brought up on. From the time we are this high and I still hear it resounding in Mr. Frankel’s statement-you tick off, one, two, three, four, five lovely things .~ about America that we don’t want disturbed very much. But if we have learned anything in the past ten years, it is that these lovely things about America were never lovely. We have been expansionist and aggressive and mean to other people from the beginning. And we’ve been aggressive and mean to people in this country, and we’ve allocated the wealth of this country in a very unjust way. We’ve never had justice in the courts for the poor people, for black people, for radicals. Now how can we boast that America is a very special place? It is not that special. It really isn’t.

Well, that is our topic, that is our problem: civil obedience. Law is very important. We are talking about obedience to law-law, this marvelous invention of modern times, which we attribute to Western civilization, and which we talk about proudly. The rule of law, oh, how wonderful, all these courses in Western civilization all over the land. Remember those bad old days when people were exploited by feudalism? Everything was terrible in the Middle Ages-but now we have Western civilization, the rule of law. The rule of law has regularized and maximized the injustice that existed before the rule of law, that is what the rule of law has done. Let us start looking at the rule of law realistically, not with that metaphysical complacency with which we always examined it before.

When in all the nations of the world the rule of law is the darling of the leaders and the plague of the people, we ought to begin to recognize this. We have to transcend these national boundaries in our thinking. Nixon and Brezhnev have much more in common with one another than – we have with Nixon. J. Edgar Hoover has far more in common with the head of the Soviet secret police than he has with us. It’s the international dedication to law and order that binds the leaders of all countries in a comradely bond. That’s why we are always surprised when they get together — they smile, they shake hands, they smoke cigars, they really like one another no matter what they say. It’s like the Republican and Democratic parties, who claim that it’s going to make a terrible difference if one or the other wins, yet they are all the same. Basically, it is us against them.

Yossarian was right, remember, in Catch-22? He had been accused of giving aid and comfort to the enemy, which nobody should ever be accused of, and Yossarian said to his friend Clevinger: “The enemy is whoever is going to get you killed, whichever side they are on.” But that didn’t sink in, so he said to Clevinger: “Now you remember that, or one of these days you’ll be dead.” And remember? Clevinger, after a while, was dead. And we must remember that our enemies are not divided along national lines, that enemies are not just people who speak different languages and occupy different territories. Enemies are people who want to get us killed.

We are asked, “What if everyone disobeyed the law?” But a better question is, “What if everyone obeyed the law?” And the answer to that question is much easier to come by, because we have a lot of empirical evidence about what happens if everyone obeys the law, or if even most people obey the law. What happens is what has happened, what is happening. Why do people revere the law? And we all do; even I have to fight it, for it was put into my bones at an early age when I was a Cub Scout. One reason we revere the law is its ambivalence. In the modern world we deal with phrases and words that have multiple meanings, like “national security.” Oh, yes, we must do this for national security! Well, what does that mean? Whose national security? Where? When? Why? We don’t bother to answer those questions, or even to ask them.

The law conceals many things. The law is the Bill of Rights. ;’~ fact, that is what we think of when we develop our reverence for the law. The law is something that protects us; the law is our right-the law is the Constitution. Bill of Rights Day, essay contests sponsored by the American Legion on our Bill of Rights, that is the law. And that is good.

But there is another part of the law that doesn’t get ballyhooed- the legislation that has gone through month after month, year after year, from the beginning of the Republic, which allocates the resources of the country in such a way as to leave some people very rich and other people very poor, and still others scrambling like mad for what little is left. That is the law. If you go to law school you will see this. You can quantify it by counting the big, heavy law books that people carry around with them and see how many law books you count that say “Constitutional Rights” on them and how many that say “Property,” “Contracts,” “Torts,” “Corporation Law.” That is what the law is mostly about. The law is the oil depletion allowance-although we don’t have Oil Depletion Allowance Day, we don’t have essays written on behalf of the oil depletion allowance. So there are parts of the law that are publicized and played up to us-oh, this is the law, the Bill of Rights. And there are other parts of the law that just do their quiet work, and nobody says anything about them.

It started way back. When the Bill of Rights was first passed, remember, in the first administration of Washington? Great thing. Bill of Rights passed! Big ballyhoo. At the same time Hamilton’s economic pro gram was passed. Nice, quiet, money to the rich-I’m simplifying it a little, but not too much. Hamilton’s economic program started it off. You can draw a straight line from Hamilton’s economic program to the oil depletion allowance to the tax write-offs for corporations. All the way through-that is the history. The Bill of Rights publicized; economic legislation unpublicized.

You know the enforcement of different parts of the law is as important as the publicity attached to the different parts of the law. The Bill of Rights, is it enforced? Not very well. You’ll find that freedom of speech in constitutional law is a very difficult, ambiguous, troubled concept. Nobody really knows when you can get up and speak and when you can’t. Just check all of the Supreme Court decisions. Talk about predictability in a system-you can’t predict what will happen to you when you get up on the street corner and speak. See if you can tell the difference between the Terminiello case and the Feiner case, and see if you can figure out what is going to happen. By the way, there is one part of the law that is not very vague, and that involves the right to distribute leaflets on the street. The Supreme Court has been very clear on that. In decision after decision we are affirmed an absolute right to distribute leaflets on the street. Try it. Just go out on the street and start distributing leaflets. And a policeman comes up to you and he says, “Get out of here.” And you say, “Aha! Do you know Marsh v. Alabama, 1946?” That is the reality of the Bill of Rights. That’s the reality of the Constitution, that part of the law which is portrayed to us as a beautiful and marvelous thing. And seven years after the Bill of Rights was passed, which said that “Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech,” Congress made a law abridging the freedom of speech. Remember? The Sedition Act of 1798.

So the Bill of Rights was not enforced. Hamilton’s program was enforced, because when the whisky farmers went out and rebelled you remember, in 1794 in Pennsylvania, Hamilton himself got on his horse and went out there to suppress the rebellion to make sure that the revenue tax was enforced. And you can trace the story right down to the present day, what laws are enforced, what laws are not enforced. So you have to be careful when you say, “I’m for the law, I revere the law.” What part of the law are you talking about? I’m not against all law. But I think we ought to begin to make very important distinctions about what laws do what things to what people.

And there are other problems with the law. It’s a strange thing, we think that law brings order. Law doesn’t. How do we know that law does not bring order? Look around us. We live under the rules of law. Notice how much order we have? People say we have to worry about civil disobedience because it will lead to anarchy. Take a look at the present world in which the rule of law obtains. This is the closest to what is called anarchy in the popular mind-confusion, chaos, international banditry. The only order that is really worth anything does not come through the enforcement … of law, it comes through the establishment of a society which is just and in which harmonious relationships are established and in which you need a minimum of regulation to create decent sets of arrangements among people. But the order based on law and on the force of law is the order of the totalitarian state, and it inevitably leads either to total injustice or to rebellion-eventually, in other words, to very great disorder.

We all grow up with the notion that the law is holy. They asked Daniel Berrigan‘s mother what she thought of her son’s breaking the law. He burned draft records-one of the most violent acts of this century- to protest the war, for which he was sentenced to prison, as criminals should be. They asked his mother who is in her eighties, what she thought of her son’s breaking the law. And she looked straight into the interviewer’s face, and she said, “It’s not God’s law.” Now we forget that. There is nothing sacred about the law. Think of who makes laws. The law is not made by God, it is made by Strom Thurmond. If you have any notion about the sanctity and loveliness and reverence for the law, look at the legislators around the country who make the laws. Sit in on the sessions of the state legislatures. Sit in on Congress, for these are the people who make the laws which we are then supposed to revere.

All of this is done with such propriety as to fool us. This is the problem. In the old days, things were confused; you didn’t know. Now you know. It is all down there in the books. Now we go through due process. Now the same things happen as happened before, except that we’ve gone through the right procedures. In Boston a policeman walked into a hospital ward and fired five times at a black man who had snapped a towel at his arm-and killed him. A hearing was held. The judge decided that the policeman was justified because if he didn’t do it, he would lose the respect of his fellow officers. Well, that is what is known as due process-that is, the guy didn’t get away with it. We went through the proper procedures, and everything was set up. The decorum, the propriety of the law fools us.

The nation then, was founded on disrespect for the law, and then came the Constitution and the notion of stability which Madison and Hamilton liked. But then we found in certain crucial times in our history that the legal framework did not suffice, and in order to end slavery we had to go outside the legal framework, as we had to do at the time of the American Revolution or the Civil War. The union had to go outside the legal framework in order to establish certain rights in the 1930s. And in this time, which may be more critical than the Revolution or the Civil War, the problems are so horrendous as to require us to go outside the legal framework in order to make a statement, to resist, to begin to establish the kind of institutions and relationships which a decent society should have. No, not just tearing things down; building things up. But even if you build things up that you are not supposed to build up-you try to build up a people’s park, that’s not tearing down a system; you are building something up, but you are doing it illegally-the militia comes in and drives you out. That is the form that civil disobedience is going to take more and more, people trying to build a new society in the midst of the old.

But what about voting and elections? Civil disobedience-we don’t need that much of it, we are told, because we can go through the electoral system. And by now we should have learned, but maybe we haven’t, for we grew up with the notion that the voting booth is a sacred place, almost like a confessional. You walk into the voting booth and you come out and they snap your picture and then put it in the papers with a beatific smile on your face. You’ve just voted; that is democracy. But if you even read what the political scientists say-although who can?-about the voting process, you find that the voting process is a sham. Totalitarian states love voting. You get people to the polls and they register their approval. I know there is a difference-they have one party and we have two parties. We have one more party than they have, you see.

What we are trying to do, I assume, is really to get back to the principles and aims and spirit of the Declaration of Independence. This spirit is resistance to illegitimate authority and to forces that deprive people of their life and liberty and right to pursue happiness, and therefore under these conditions, it urges the right to alter or abolish their current form of government-and the stress had been on abolish. But to establish the principles of the Declaration of Independence, we are going to need to go outside the law, to stop obeying the laws that demand killing or that allocate wealth the way it has been done, or that put people in jail for petty technical offenses and keep other people out of jail for enormous crimes. My hope is that this kind of spirit will take place not just in this country but in other countries because they all need it. People in all countries need the spirit of disobedience to the state, which is not a metaphysical thing but a thing of force and wealth. And we need a kind of declaration of interdependence among people in all countries of the world who are striving for the same thing.


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20 April, 2009

Your friendly neighbourhood anarchist


“There are no such things as superior forms of struggle. Revolt needs everything: papers and books, arms and explosives… The only interesting question is how to combine them.”
At Daggers Drawn



“Attack is the refusal of mediation, pacification, sacrifice, accommodation, and compromise in struggle. It is through acting and learning to act, not propaganda, that we will open the path to insurrection, although analysis and discussion have a role in clarifying how to act. Waiting only teaches waiting; in acting one learns to act.”
-“Insurrectionary Anarchy: Organizing for Attack,” in Do or Die #10


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23 March, 2009

Women in struggle and solidarity

Socialist origins of International Women’s Day

Women in struggle and solidarity

By Kathy Durkin
Published Mar 19, 2009 8:31 PM

On International Women’s Day this year, we express our solidarity with our heroic sisters in Gaza who have endured the horrific U.S.-backed Israeli siege and who are standing up with courage and resilience. We hail our Palestinian sisters in the occupied West Bank who face the Israeli Defense Forces and hostile settlements daily. We hail our sisters in Iraq, Afghanistan and everywhere who face U.S. war and occupation.

International Working Women’s Day was founded in 1910 by European women socialists as a coordinated global day of protest and solidarity among women workers. They were inspired by the 1908 New York City march of immigrant women workers for their economic and political rights, and the three-month garment strike there a year later, by mainly women immigrants, and they felt the ferment by women workers in their own countries.

In solidarity with our immigrant sisters, we embrace our Haitian sisters who face deportation; our Latina sisters who daily face the terror of deportation, jail, separation from their children and abuse; and our Muslim and Arab sisters who face bigotry and so much more.

We thank our sisters at Chicago’s Republic Windows and Doors, who heroically took risks by occupying their factory. By their actions, they aided all workers facing layoffs and plant closings, and played a leading role in the national fightback.

The historic socialist and working-class essence of International Women’s Day remains, despite capitalist government and media cover-ups of its real nature. Its history is rife with struggle and solidarity. It has been celebrated by socialist countries and parties, national liberation, anti-imperialist and anti-corporate movements on many continents.

Capitalist crisis impacts women

International Women’s Day and global solidarity among women workers has taken on new meaning in this age of capitalist globalization. The gargantuan, worldwide economic crisis is impacting working-class and oppressed women greatly.

Globalized capitalism is not kind to women. Over 100 million women have been forced to leave their homelands to search for employment as international migrant workers. They face terrible working conditions, are frequently denied pay, subjected to physical and sexual abuse, and often lack economic or human rights or legal protection. Women are 90 percent of the world’s domestic workers; many are migrant workers. Even children have been drafted into domestic work.

Women perform two-thirds of the world’s work, yet earn only one-tenth of its income and own one percent of its property. Women are 75 percent of the 1.3 billion people who subsist on less than one dollar a day. Most of the world’s 800 million poor and hungry are women and children, although women produce 60 percent of the world’s food supply. Poor children are increasingly at risk for starvation due to exorbitant food prices.

Sexual trafficking of women and children has intensified. The global market garners $42 billion annually for profiteers who exploit women and children, including those from Eastern Europe, where jobs and social protections were lost and poverty grew after the fall of socialism.

The crisis of violence against women, which is rooted in class society, property ownership and patriarchal relations, is exacerbated by global corporations, which, in their drive for higher profits, superexploit women’s labor while mistreating women and disregarding human rights for all workers.

As the world financial crisis unfolds, a new United Nations study estimates that up to 22 million women worldwide will lose their jobs, with children hard hit. Women workers are likely to have lower-paying, part-time or temporary jobs, with few benefits, little job protection and meager, if any, resources or property.

However, working women, including migrant workers, are fighting for their rights worldwide, aided by women’s, human rights’ and community groups, trade unions, progressive organizations and governments, and revolutionary parties.

Imperialism and globalized capitalist private ownership are at the root of women’s economic inequality worldwide. This cries out for a socialist solution—with public ownership of industries, where production is for human need, not profit, where society guarantees jobs, health care, education, housing and nutritious food for all, and where all wealth and resources are shared worldwide.

World’s women need socialism

Cuba, despite a U.S. blockade, has shown by its living example that socialism can provide the basis for women’s equality. Under the Federation of Cuban Women’s leadership, women have made great strides.

This historic day’s founder was Clara Zetkin, a leader in the German Social-Democratic Party and head of the International Women’s Secretariat. Her party, which in 1910 had 82,000 women members, supported women’s rights, including universal suffrage and the right to organize politically as women. European women were then pouring into the workforce, where they held low-paid, horrific jobs. They were joining unions and socialist parties at a time when socialist ideas were burgeoning.

Zetkin proposed—to an International Socialist Women’s Conference, in August 1910 at the Worker’s Assembly Hall in Copenhagen, Denmark—that an International Working Women’s Day be set aside annually to recognize the worldwide struggle of women workers and build solidarity. More than 100 women from 17 countries, representing trade unions, women’s organizations and clubs and European socialist parties, unanimously voted for Zetkin’s proposal. It said in part, “In agreement with the class-conscious political and trade union organizations of the [working class] in each country, the socialist women in all countries shall organize a Women’s Day every year.” (www.leftwrite.wordpress.com)

Zetkin, a political strategist, likely saw organizing for this special day as a crucial step in building an anti-capitalist movement and hoped that a yearly coordinated multicountry protest on the same day for the same demands would strengthen it and make it more powerful and would also strengthen ties between women in different countries.

Zetkin aimed to foster cooperation between women in unions, women’s organizations and socialist parties so they would unite and fight jointly. This collaboration would not only raise class and socialist consciousness, as Zetkin hoped, but it could also win the most political women workers to a socialist perspective and organization and push forward the class struggle.

One year later, Zetkin’s strategy took hold. More than one million women poured into the streets in four European countries on March 19—then IWD—to demand jobs and an end to discrimination. Russian revolutionary Alexandra Kollontai said the first “Working Women’s Day was one seething, trembling sea of women. … certainly the first show of militancy [in Europe] by working women.” (www.leftwrite.wordpress.com)

In the pre-war years, International Women’s Day saw European women protesting the looming World War I. A 1917 strike begun on IWD by Russian women garment workers demanding “bread and peace” led to the czar’s ouster, which opened the gates to the workers’ revolution. In 1921, the Soviet Union was the first government to legalize women’s equality.

Some of Zetkin’s issues still resonate today: the struggles against imperialist war and high food prices and for better conditions for women and children.

There are also many different issues and struggles today for women worldwide. The history of colonialism, imperialism and national oppression, with the deliberate underdevelopment of continents, theft of land and resources, superexploitation of the global work force, and the propagation of all forms of oppression and bigotry, greatly broaden the demands from those raised at the 1910 Copenhagen conference.

An international socialist women’s conference today would first extend invitations to women from Asia, Africa, the Middle East, Latin America and the Caribbean—those whose countries have been oppressed by U.S. imperialism, militarism and economic oppression. It would address their issues as well as those of working and oppressed women within the U.S. It would demand an end to racism, anti-immigrant attitudes, sexism, homophobia and all forms of bigotry.

Clara Zetkin was absolutely right about these key points: international solidarity among working women is essential and so is the urgent need for women to organize to get rid of capitalism and fight for socialism.

Adapted from a talk at a WW Forum on March 13.

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23 March, 2009

Putting A Price On Life

In fact, 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 large sums of money are at stake, will be defended to the last by otherwise intelligent people.”
Ruth Harrison
author of Animal Machines

The life of an animal is valuable, because it was born, and is a unique being, alive and with feeling. It should not be about what we can take from that animal, whether eaten or hunted or worn.

Most humans put a higher price on the dead, slaughtered body of an animal than they value the living being.

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