Volume , Number 0
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Stephen R. Shalom
Organizing The Military
Gay & Lesbian Community Notes
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Bigger & More Repressive Government
T he right wing speaks regularly about the menace of “big government” and the importance of shrinking “the beast,” but they include in government only its civil functions, not the military establishment or police, which are put in a separate category. This is based on their view that “government” must be considered bad, whereas the military and police are good. Thus government in its usual meaning didn’t shrink under Reagan and isn’t being down-sized under Bush-2 because the increase in military and police outlays more than offsets any cutbacks in civilian state expenditures. Furthermore, to the dismay of the right wing, important parts of civil society outlays are mandatory and may even expand under prior law. While right-wing regimes have been able to diminish entitlements for the weakest members of society, they have not yet mustered the political power to destroy Social Security and have only begun to undermine Medicare. But their intentions here are clear and, with a reelection of Bush-2, enough diversion by war and repression in the name of fighting terrorism, and a satisfactory obfuscation of the issues with the help of the corporate media, the Bush cabal and right-wing might actually pull off shrinking “the beast” (i.e., spending on the civil society).
Meanwhile, military and police expenditures will grow by leaps and bounds to serve five ends. First, military outlays facilitate the projection of power abroad to the advantage of transnational companies. The U.S. corporate elite is pleased to have the overwhelming military power of their country in the post-Soviet world used for their benefit. Some of the elite might prefer a less aggressive and unilateralist imperialism, but many are happy and supportive and the great majority of the business community approves the Bush-2 administration.
Second, the military outlays directly benefit numerous arms contractors, the Pentagon, and a great many workers, all of whom lobby for a growing military budget and are pleased with Bush-2’s wars, which generate new business. The military-industrial complex (MIC) is very powerful and has spread its largesse over many states for strategic political reasons. MIC power is reflected in the fact that the huge and sharply rising military budget is regularly passed without serious debate in the Congress or the mainstream press and Bush and Gore competed only in protestations of devotion to a growing military budget. When the federal government, under budget pressure, forces cutbacks in government expenditures, demanding efficiency improvements to offset revenue shortfalls, such cuts and demands are never imposed on the MIC.
Third, the pro-Israel lobby supports aggressive policies abroad, as this results in strengthened ties with the Israeli military, greater support for hardline Israeli leaders and policies, and a willingness to overlook small matters like the illegal large-scale dispossession and ethnic cleansing of people in an occupied territory. This lobby power is closely linked to the integration of the military establishment of the United States and Israel. Israeli activist and analyst Jeff Halper points out, “Israel’s sophisticated military hardware and military software are very important in weapons development in the United States. Israel has become the main subcontractor of American arms.” Given that in Israel “there are no ethical or moral constraints [in selling arms]…you have a high tech, military expert rogue state…. For the most part, Israel is the subcontractor for American arms to the ‘Third World.’ There is no terrible regime—Colombia, Guatemala, Uruguay, Argentina and Chile during the time of the colonels, Burma, Taiwan, Zaire, Liberia, Congo, Sierra Leone—there is not one that does not have a major military connection to Israel…. So this is the missing piece… Israel is a key member of the empire” (interview with Halper by Jon Elmer, “Israel and the Empire,” www.fromOccupiedPalestine.org, September 20, 2003).
Fifth, since a counterrevolutionary right-wing program is going to elicit serious and growing internal protest, large and properly trained cadres of police and ample prison space are necessary complements to control that other “beast”—the people—in the word usage of Alexander Hamilton. Just as the United States trained Latin American military and police in methods of fighting against “populism” in their countries, by this means helping to produce a “favorable climate of investment” by bringing into power National Security States, so a large, well-trained, and ruthless police is needed in the home country as it pushes a right-wing agenda that is contrary to the interests of a vast majority. Hence the right-wing approval of a hefty budget for the police as well as military establishment. These are both needed to help protect “freedom”—that is, the unconstrained ability of the strong to dominate, with business free to operate without government restraint, and the masses induced to serve their masters quietly and without protest.
U.S. activists, civil libertarians, and minority communities are well aware of the fact that the Bush administration has been putting in place a repressive apparatus, complete with a legal and judicial underpinning to give it sanction. They are also aware of the increasing use of repressive tactics as the government confronts growing protest. One of the many ironies of the New World Order is the way in which the leaders of the Free World increasingly meet in remote places out of the reach of their citizenry, like Doha/Qatar, and how within each country larger and larger areas are blocked off to prevent protesters from getting within leadership or TV audience sight. (In a famous Ron Cobb cartoon of 1967 that could by updated for widespread application today, we see President Lyndon Johnson on a podium addressing “Mah Fellow Americans,” with only a sea of police in sight around and before him.) In the same undemocratic mold, agreements like NAFTA are prepared in secret and without public participation, just as WTO decisions are made in non-public meetings by unelected bureaucrats, all in the pursuit of “freedom” as defined above, which is actually reducing freedom in its common-sense and traditional meaning. The New York Times rarely if ever mentions this ironical divergence between claimed interest in freedom and complementary tactics of undemocratic decision-making and repressive and freedom-threatening treatment of protests from below.
The future of repression looks frighteningly bright. The Patriot Act was a major step in removing constitutional protections of privacy, trial by jury, habeas corpus, and indirectly the rights of free speech and assembly. (It should be noted, however, that as in so many areas, Bill Clinton’s Anti-Terrorism and Effective Penalty Act of 1996 led the march now being advanced by Ashcroft and Bush, permitting the use of federal troops against the civilian population, thereby nullifying the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 and allowing the selective suspension of habeas corpus protections.) The judiciary has been restructured by Republican aggressiveness and Democratic weakness into an increasingly repression-supportive collective and the prospect of years more of Bush-2 court appointments is scary. Both Scalia and Rehnquist have indicated that legal protections of citizens rights are in abeyance in wartime. The evidence from Miami and other protest sites is that “preventive” police actions in violation of the law at many levels (illegal use of force, illegal arrests, mistreatment, plus, of course, denial of the constitutional rights to free speech and assembly) are becoming better organized, better armed, and more ruthless; designed to discourage as well as disrupt protests.
The Bush party is advancing the repression agenda as fast as is feasible—witness the temporarily aborted Patriot Act II, with its enlarged and vague definition of terrorism and support for terrorism and its proposal for executive authority to deprive those guilty of terrorism, or supporting it, of their citizenship. There are no apparent limits to what Bush-Ashcroft will do in moving this country toward a fascist state if they can get away with it. Sadly, there is a strong possibility that in the not-too-distant future this country will suffer another serious terrorist event, which would provide a ready basis for a new SuperPatriot Act that would effectively nullify the Constitution. General Tommy Franks has recently suggested this nullification as a likely outcome of such a terrorist act and, as noted, the Bush war against terrorism has been well designed to elicit a terrorist response. The election of a Democrat in 2004 might slow the momentum toward a more repressive state, although in the face of major terrorist acts this would not be certain under a Lieberman or Clark administration.
The mainstream media have done their bit for the Bush program. First, they allowed him to come away unscathed from his horrendous 9/11 security failure and to position himself as a protector of U.S. security. Second they have allowed him to undermine U.S. security by a series of illegal wars and essentially unconditional support for Sharon and accelerated ethnic cleansing in Palestine without serious criticism. Third, they allowed him to brazenly lie his way into the invasion-occupation of Iraq, failing to challenge his lies, and in fact functioning as agents of war propaganda. Their service here, and failure as public servants, may be read from the pre-invasion majority belief that Saddam Hussein was an “immediate threat” to the United States and that he was personally involved in the 9/11 attacks. Fourth, their criticism of the Ashcroft- Bush campaign to weaken constitutional protec- tions has been extremely low- key, where it exists at all, and has been easily offset in its effects on the public by their conduiting Bush fear propa ganda.
Finally, the media have effectively become part of the Bush reelection campaign by giving his pronouncements excessive and uncritical attention and by failing to focus on his overall macro-economic performance—service to his donors by his tax, environmental, and Iraq contracting policies, and his assault on the Constitution at home and international law abroad. In a dramatic case, the New York Times (and many other papers, and TV) gave huge front-page coverage on November 28 to Bush’s quickie visit to Iraq to have his picture taken eating turkey with “our warriors.” This photo-op stunt was designed to counter the image of Bush as the man who said “bring ’em on” from Washington, DC and who had failed to give enough attention to the returning body bags. The media made this propaganda stunt work, just as they had done for warrior Bush’s landing on the USS A braham Lincoln to announce “mission accomplished.”
Edward S. Herman is an economist and media critic.
Z Magazine Archive
AnnouncementsLABOR - May 1 is May Day. Workers of the world will celebrate the 124th anniversary of International Worker’s Day. Born out of a call for an 8-hour workday in the United States, this day is an opportunity for all workers to show their solidarity with one another, as well as to renew the call for labor rights.
FARM CONFERENCE - The Farm Conference on Community and Sustainability will be held May 24-26 in Summertown, TN, in partnership with the Fellowship of Intentional Communities. Tour green homes, see sustainable food production, learn about solar installations, alternative education, midwifery, and more.
Contact: Douglas@thefarmcommunity.com; http://www.thefarmcommunity.com/.
PALESTINE - The Conference of the Palestinian Shatat in North American will be held June 3-5 in Vancouver. The conference will examine the future of the Palestinian liberation movement.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.palestinianconference.org/.
LABOR - The Pacific Northwest Labor History Association’s 45th annual conference will be held May 3-5, in Portland, OR. This year’s theme is Labor Under Attack: Learning from the Past and Preparing for the Future. A call for presentations, workshops and papers is currently underway.
Contact: PNLHA, 27920 68th Ave. East, Graham, WA 98338; 206-406-2604; PNLHA1@aol.com; http://www3.telus.net.
MARIJUANA - On the first Saturday of May marijuana legalization activists will hold informational and educational events, rallies and marches in over 300 cities around the world.
ECONOMICS - The Union For Radical Political Economics will hold its 39th annual conference May 9-11 in New York City.
RECLAIM THE DREAM - The 2013 Poor People’s Campaign & March from Baltimore to Washington D.C. will be May 11. Communities, schools and unions interested in participating are encouraged to contact the Baltimore People’s Assembly.
Contact: 410-500-2168; 410-218-4835; BaltimorePeoplesAssembly@gmail.com; Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Baltimore and the Baltimore Peoples Power Assembly, 2011 N. Charles St., Baltimore, MD 21218.
MOTHER’S DAY - The 17th Annual Mother’s Day Walk For Peace will be May 12th, in Dorchester, MA. The walk began in 1996 for families who had lost children to violence. The day has become a way for thousands of people to financially support the work of the Louis Brown Peace Institute.
Contact: http://www.ldbpeaceinstitute.org/; http://mothersdaywalk4peace.org/.
NATO 5 - An International Week of Solidarity with the NATO 5 has been called for May 16-21. Supports call on supporters to raise awareness of the NATO 5 and support funds for the defendants on the one-year anniversary of their preemptive arrests.
Contact: email@example.com; https://nato5support.wordpress.com.
MOUNTAINTOP - The 2013 Mountain Justice Summer Activist Training Camp will be held May 19-27 in Damascus, VA. It will be a week of workshops, field trips to view Mountain Top Removal coal mines, direct actions, and service project.
FEMINIST SCI-FI - The feminist science fiction convention WisCon 37 is scheduled for May 24-27 in Madison, WI.
Contact: WisCon, ? SF3, PO Box 1624, Madison, WI 53701; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.wiscon.info/.
ANARCHY FEST - A month-long Festival of Anarchy is scheduled for May in Montreal. The festival includes The Montreal Anarchist Bookfair (May 19-20).
Contact: http://www.anarchistbookfair.ca/; http://www.radicalmontreal.com/.
LABOR - The International Labor Rights Forum will present: Down the Supply Chain, Driving Corporate Accountability, on May 22 in Washington, DC. The Labor Rights Awards Ceremony and Reception will honor pioneers in supply chain worker organizing, working solidarity and international labor rights policy.
MULTICULTURE - The 26th annual National Conference on Race & Ethnicity in American Higher Education (NCORE) will take place May 28-June 1, in New Orleans.
Contact: SWCHRS, 3200 Marshall Avenue, Suite 290, Norman, OK 73072; 405-325-3694; email@example.com; www.ncore.ou.edu.
MEDIA - The 2013 Alliance for Community Media Annual Conference will be held May 29-31, in San Francisco, CA. Participants will include educators, community leaders, media professionals, journalists, nonprofit leaders, policymakers and students.
RADIO - The 38th Annual Community Radio Conference is schedule for May 29-June 1, in San Francisco, CA, with discussions and workshops.
Contact: 1101 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Suite 600, Washington, DC 20004; 202-756-2268; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.nfcb.org/.
BRADLEY MANNING - On June 1, a rally will be held at Fort Meade in support of Bradley Manning.
BIKES - Bikes Not Bombs is holding its 24th annual Bike-A-Thon and Green Roots Festival in Boston, MA on June 3, with several bike rides scheduled, music, exhibitors and more.
Contact: Bikes Not Bombs, 284 Amory St., Jamaica Plain, MA 02130; 617-522-0222; email@example.com; www.bikesnotbombs.org.
LEFT FORUM - The 2013 Left Forum will be held June 7-9, at Pace University in New York City.
Contact: 365 Fifth Avenue, CUNY Graduated Center, ? Sociology Dept., New York, NY 10016; http://www.leftforum.org/.
VEGAN FEST - Mad City Vegan Fest will be held in Madison, WI, June 8. The annual event features food, speakers, and exhibitors.
Contact: 122 State Street, Suite 405 B, Madison, WI 53701; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://veganfest.org/.
ADC CONFERENCE - The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) holds its annual conference June 13-16, in Washington, DC, with panel discussions and workshops on civil rights, media and other topics.
Contact: 1990 M Street, Suite 610, Washington, DC, 20036; 202-244-2990; email@example.com http://convention.adc.org/.
CUBA/SOCIALISM - A Cuban-North American Dialog on Socialist Renewal and Global Capitalist Crisis will be held in Havana, Cuba, June 16-30. There will be a 5 day Seminar at University of Havana, plus visits to a cooperative, urban garden, community development project, social research centers, and educational & medical institutions.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.globaljusticecenter.org/.
NETROOTS - The 8th Annual Netroots Nation conference will take place June 20-23 in San Jose, CA. The event features panels, trainings, networking, screenings, and keynotes.
Contact: 164 Robles Way, #276, Vallejo, CA 94591; email@example.com; http://www.netrootsnation.org/.
MEDIA - The 15th annual Allied Media Conference will be held June 20-23, in Detroit.
Contact: 4126 Third Street, Detroit, MI 48201; http://alliedmedia.org/.
GRASSROOTS - The United We Stand Festival will be hosted by Free & Equal, June 22 in Little Rock, Arkansas. The festival aims to reform the electoral process throughout the U.S.
SOCIALISM - The Socialism 2013 Conference is scheduled for June 27-30 in Chicago, featuring talks and panel discussions.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.socialismconference.org.
LITERACY - The National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE) will hold its conference July 12-13 in Los Angeles under the heading, Intersections: Teaching and Learning Across Media.
Contact: 10 Laurel Hill Drive, Cherry Hill, NJ 08003; http://namle.net/conference/.
IWW - The North American Work People’s College will take place July 12-16 at Mesaba Co-op Park in northern Minnesota. The event will bring together Wobblies from branches across the continent to learn new skills and build One Big Union.
PEACESTOCK - On July 13th, the 11th Annual Peacestock: A Gathering for Peace, will take place at Windbeam Farm in Hager City, WI. The event is a mixture of music, speakers and community for peace. Sponsored by Veterans for Peace.
Contact: Bill Habedank, 1913 Grandview Ave., Red Wing, MN 55066; 651-388-7733; email@example.com; http://www.peacestockvfp.org.
CHILDREN’S DEFENSE - July 15-19, join clergy, seminarians, Christian educators, young adult leaders and other faith-based advocates for children at CDF Haley Farm in Clinton, Tennessee, for five days of spiritual renewal, networking, movement building workshops, and continuing education about the urgent needs of children at the 19th annual Proctor Institute for Child Advocacy Ministry.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.childrensdefense.org.
ACTIVIST CAMP - Youth Empowered Action (YEA) Camp will have sessions in July and August in Ben Lomond, CA; Portland, OR; Charlton, MA. YEA Camp is designed for activists 12-17 years old who want to make a difference in the world.
Contact: email@example.com; http://yeacamp.org/.
LA RAZA - The annual National Council of La Raza (NCLR) Conference is scheduled for July 18-19 in New Orleans, with workshops, presentations and panel discussions.
Contact: NCLR Headquarters Office, Raul Yzaguirre Building, 1126 16th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036; 202-785-1670; www.nclr.org.
LABOR - The Eastern Conference For Workplace Democracy: Growing Our Cooperatives, Growing Our Communities, will be held at Drexel University in Philadelphia, PA, July 26-28.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://east.usworker.coop/.
WOMEN/LYNNE STEWART- Radical Women is asking for support letters and cards to be sent to Lynne Stewart. Stewart is a civil rights attorney and political prisoner who is currently in jail. She has breast cancer and authorities have denied her request for transfer from her Texas prison to the New York City hospital where she received medical attention during a prior bout of breast cancer. Send messages and cards to: Lynne Stewart 53504-054, Federal Medical Center Carswell, P.O. Box 27137, Fort Worth, TX 76127.
Contact: 747 Polk Street, San Francisco, CA 94109; 415-864-1278; RadicalWomenUS@gmail.com; http://lynnestewart.org/; http://www.radicalwomen.org/.
HAITI/WOMEN - Haiti’s government is considering a legal reform measure that would prohibit and punish all sexual assault, including marital rape. MADRE and the International Campaign to Stop Rape & Gender Violence in Conflict are launching a petition to raise international support for this push to address violence against women in Haiti.
Contact: 121 West 27th Street, #301, New York, NY 10001; 212-627-0444; email@example.com; http://www.madre.org.
SYRIA/MIDDLE EAST - The Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA) is currently seeking funds to assist more than 200,000 refugees fleeing violence in Syria.
FOLK FESTIVAL - The Falcon Ridge Folk Festival will be held August 2-4, in the Berkshires, NY.
Contact: http://www.falconridgefolk.com/; firstname.lastname@example.org.
WAR RESISTERS - The War Resisters League will hold its 90th anniversary conference, Revolutionary Nonviolence: Building Bridges Across Generations and Communities, August 1-4, at Georgetown University. The event will focus on the U.S.’ long history of antimilitarism.
Contact: 339 Lafayette Street, New York, NY 10012; 212-228-0450; email@example.com; http://www.warresisters.org.
POPULAR ECONOMICS - The Center for Popular Economics is holding its 2013 Summer Institute August 4-9 at Hampshire College in Amherst, MA. No background in economics is needed for this intensive training. This year’s theme is, The Care Economy: Building a Just Economy with a Heart.
Contact: Center for Popular Economics, PO Box 785 Amherst, MA 01004; 413-545-0743; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.populareconomics.org.
VETERANS - Veterans for Peace is holding the 28th annual convention August 6-11 in Madison, WI. This year’s theme is, Power To The Peaceful.
DEMOCRACY - The Democracy Convention will take place August 7-11 in Madison, WI. The convention brings together nine conferences including topics such as media, education, defense, race, environment and others.
MEN - The 38th National Conference on Men & Masculinity: Forging Justice: Creating Safe, Equal and Accountable Communities, presented in partnership with HAVEN, will be held in Detroit, MI, August 8-10.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.nomas.org/.
OCCUPY - An Occupy National Gathering will be held in Kalamazoo, MI, August 21-25.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://occupynationalgathering.net/.
COMMUNITIES - The Communities Conference is a networking and learning opportunity for co-operative or communal lifestyles, with workshops, events and entertainment; scheduled for August 30-September 2 at the Twin Oaks Community in Louisa, Virginia.
LABOR DAY - The 29th annual Bread and Roses Festival, a celebration of the ethnic diversity and labor history of Lawrence, MA, will be held September 2, in honor of the 1912 Bread and Roses Strike. There will be music, dance, poetry, drama, ethnic food, historical demonstrations, walking & trolley tours.
Contact: PO Box 1137, Lawrence, MA 01842; 978-794-1655; http://www.breadandrosesheritage.org/.
OCCUPY WALL STREET - September 17 is the two-year anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Events are planned in New York City and worldwide.
TEACHERS - The 13th Annual Conference, “Teaching for Social Justice: The Politics of Pedagogy,” will be held October 12 in San Francisco, CA. The free event features workshops, resources, and free childcare.
Contact: 415-676-7844; email@example.com; http://www.t4sj.org/.
HAITI - International Action, which brings clean water and chlorinators to Haiti, seeks office space capable of housing up to six people and their office equipment.
Contact: Zach Bremer, Zbrehmer@haitiwater.org; 202-488-0735; http://www.haitiwater.org/.
MEDIA - The Union for Democratic Communications and Project Censored are sponsoring a joint conference on media democracy, media activism and social justice to be held November 1-3 at the University of San Francisco. Proposals for presentations, workshops and panels from activists and critical scholars are invited.