Tag Archive: War

May 17 2017

All able-bodied children and grandchildren of members of Congress – A Sing Along –

Fortunate Son Trump Has to Decide: 50,000 Troops to Afghanistan? Eli Lake, Bloomberg A new Afghanistan war strategy approved last month by President Donald Trump’s top military and national security advisers would require at least 50,000 U.S. forces to stop the advance of the Taliban and save the government in Kabul, according to a classified …

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Jul 15 2015

Deja Vu indeed.

I made the mistake of turning on the TV today. I should have known better.

Found a bunch of idiots parroting war monger McCain’s Wet Start I mean wet dream.

Bomb Iran song (from John McCain’s “joke”)

Uploaded on Apr 20, 2007

Parody of “Barbara Ann” taken from John McCain’s Bomb Iran “joke”, by Alex Arrowsmith.

Bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb Iran

Oh Bomb Iran, after Pakistan

Bomb Iran

You got me hiding in my bunker

Crying for my children

Bomb Iran

Went to Iraq, and the Communist Bloc

Didnt like that so Ill bomb around the clock

Ill Bomb Iran, after Pakistan

Bomb Iran

You got me hiding in my bunker

Crying for my children

Bomb Iran

Bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb Iran

Oh Bomb Iran, after Pakistan

Bomb Iran

You got me hiding in my bunker

Crying for my children

Bomb Iran

Tried Little Kim

Tried Chavez

Tried Mahmoud

But I knew he wouldn’t do

Bomb Iran, after Pakistan

Bomb Iran

You got me hiding in my bunker

Crying for my children

Bomb Iran

Bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb Iran

Oh Bomb Iran, after Pakistan

Bomb Iran

You got me hiding in my bunker

Crying for my children

Bomb Iran

Bomb Iran

Bomb Iran

Bomb Iran

Mar 31 2015

TBC: Morning Musing 3.31.15

I have 4 articles for your perusal this morning!

First, on the big bigoted stupid in Indiana:

The Big Lie The Media Tells About Indiana’s New ‘Religious Freedom’ Law

It’s not true.

The Indiana law differs substantially from the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act, signed by President Clinton in 1993, and all other state RFRAs.

There are several important differences in the Indiana bill but the most striking is Section 9. Under that section, a “person” (which under the law includes not only an individual but also any organization, partnership, LLC, corporation, company, firm, church, religious society, or other entity) whose “exercise of religion has been substantially burdened, or is likely to be substantially burdened” can use the law as “a claim or defense… regardless of whether the state or any other governmental entity is a party to the proceeding.”

Jump!

Feb 13 2015

Obama’s Blank Check for His Neverending War

In an effort to get approval for a war that has been going on for the last six months, President Barack Obama sent a request to Congress for authorization for the use of force (AUMF) in connection with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. There are some in congress, on both sides of the aisle in both houses, feel that this is just another blank check for the perpetual war against terror. During a panel hearing, Representative Alan Grayson (D-FL) asked some very pointed questions about the language in the letter. The panel members were former Ambassador James Franklin Jeffrey, Rick Brennan, a senior political scientist at the RAND Corporation, and Dr. Dafna Hochman Rand, former staff member on Obama’s National Security Council.

GRAYSON: Thank you. Section 2C of the president’s draft authorization for the use of military force reads as follows: The authority granted in subsection A does not authorize the use of US armed forces in enduring offensive ground combat operations. Ambassador Jeffrey, what does ‘enduring’ mean?

JEFFREY: My answer would be a somewhat sarcastic one. Whatever the executive at the time defines enduring as, and I have a real problem with that.

GRAYSON: Dr. Brennan?

Brennan: I have real problems with that also. Not only because it’s… I don’t know what it means. I can just see the lawyers fighting over the meaning of this. But more importantly, if you’re looking at committing forces for something that you are saying is either vital, or important interest of the United States, and you get in the middle of a battle, and all of a sudden are you on offense, or are you on defense? What happens if neighbors cause problems? Wars never end the way that they were envisioned. And so I think that that’s maybe a terrible mistake to put in the AUMF.

GRAYSON: Dr. Rand?

Rand: Enduring, in my mind, specifies an open-endedness, it specifies lack of clarity on the particular objective at hand.

GRAYSON: Dr. Rand, is two weeks enduring?

RAND: I would leave that to the lawyers to determine exactly.

GRAYSON: So, your answer is you don’t know, right? How about two months?

RAND: I don’t know. Again, I think it would depend on the particular objective, enduring in my mind is not having a particular military objective in mind.

GRAYSON: So you don’t really know what it means. Is that a fair statement?

RAND: Enduring in my mind means open ended.

GRAYSON: Alright, section five of the draft of the authorization of the use of military force reads as follows: In this resolution the term associated persons or forces means individuals and organizations fighting for, on behalf of, or alongside ISIL, or any closely-related successor entity in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners. Ambassador Jeffrey, what does “alongside ISIL” mean?

JEFFREY: I didn’t draft this thing. But,

GRAYSON: Nor did I.

JEFFREY: Nor did you, but I would have put that in there if I had been drafting it, and the reason is, I think they went back to 2001, of course this is the authorization we’re still using, along with the 2002 one for this campaign, and these things morph. For example, we’ve had a debate over whether ISIS is really a element of Al Qaeda; it certainly was when I knew it as Al Qaeda in Iraq in 2010 to 2012, and these semantic arguments confuse us and confuse our people on the ground, in trying to deal with these folks. You’ll know it when you see it if it’s an ISIS or it’s an ally of ISIS.

GRAYSON: How about the Free Syrian Army, are they fighting alongside ISIL in Syria?

Jeffrey: No, they’re not fighting alongside ISIL, in fact often they’re fighting against ISIL, and ISIL against them in particular.

GRAYSON: What about Assad, is he fighting for or against? It’s kind of hard to tell without a scorecard, isn’t it?Jeffrey: It sure is.

GRAYSON: Yeah. What about you Dr. Brennan, can you tell me what “alongside ISIL” means?

Brennan: No, I really couldn’t. I think that what, you know, it might be… the 9/11 Commission uses the phrase “radical islamist organizations” and I think maybe if we went to a wording like that, it includes all those 52 groups that adhere to this type of ideology, that threaten the United States. But we’re putting ourselves in boxes and as you said Sen… Congressman, I’m trying to understand what that means, what the limits are… who we’re dealing with, it’s very confusing.

GRAYSON: Dr. Rand.

RAND: Well, first of all, I believe that the confusion is probably a function of the fact that this is an unclassified document, so it’s not going to specify exactly which groups are considered associates; that would be for a classified setting. But second, as I said in the testimony, the nature of the alliances within ISIL are changing and are fluid, and those who are targeting, the military experts, know exactly who is a derivative, or an associate, or an ally of ISIS at any given moment.

GRAYSON: Why are you so confident of that? It seems to me that it’s a matter of terminology, not a matter of ascertainable fact.

RAND: Based on my public service. I’ve seen some of the lawyers (?) and some of the methodologies, and-(cut off)

GRAYSON: Okay. Here’s the $64 billion question for you, Ambassador Jeffrey, and if we have time, for you others. If you can’t tell us, you three experts can’t tell us what these words mean, what does that tell us? Ambassador Jeffrey.

JEFFREY: That it’s very difficult to be using a tool basically designed to declare war or something like war on a nation-state, which has a fixed definition, against a group that morphs, that changes its name, that has allies, and other things. Do we not fight it? We have to fight it. Are we having a hard time defining it? You bet.

GRAYSON: Dr. Brennan?

BRENNAN: I’d agree with the ambassador. I think the issue we that need to be looking at is trying to broaden terminology and understand that it is a tenet, or organizations and groups that adhere to this ideology, and make it broad enough that if one pops up in a different country that is doing the same thing, that is a sister of this organization, the President has the authority to act.

GRAYSON: Dr. Brennan, I think you just described a blank check, which I’m not willing to give to the President or anybody else. But thank you for your time.

H/T John Amato at Crooks and Liars

Nov 10 2014

Mr. Obama’s Bipartisan “Achievements”

There has been a lot of talk, now that the elections are over and the legislature has fallen into the hands of Republicans about what this will mean for President Obama’s agenda and the Democratic agenda generally. This election season my inbox was full of Democratic politicians begging for money to foreclose the possibility of voters choosing the wrong party at the polls, yours probably was, too.

A persistent theme in these begging emails that I was getting was that the (evil) obstructionist Republicans have gummed up our system of government and the Democrats (the good guys) can’t get anything done in order to enact Mr. Obama’s agenda.

Looking at the accomplishments of Mr. Obama and the governing elites, this narrative, of course, is utter rubbish. The government is working. Mr. Obama and the Republicans have been cooperating all along. Great bipartisan advances and accomplishments are indeed being made.

So, what can we expect of this new aggregation of powers? Probably more of what it created before. Hence, let us review the accomplishments that these allegedly competing forces have created together…

Mr. Obama’s bipartisan accomplishments


Two-tiered justice system, rewards for criminal bankers

Mr. Obama’s bipartisan efforts have kept the criminal banksters who crashed and looted our economy free, under-regulated, still dominating the political system, even larger than they were when they were “too big to fail” and paying the largest bonuses since their criminal activities crashed the economy. Mr. Obama’s efforts to prosecute financial frauds were even wimpier and less effective that George W. Bush’s.  Mr. Obama’s much ballyhooed relief program for homeowners injured by the criminal bankster’s behavior failed miserably; some Democrats claim that Obama sabotaged the program behind the scenes. The result of Mr. Obama’s efforts has been to fuel a new era of Wall Street wealth while screwing average citizens:

They didn’t just blow up finance, they oversaw the swiftest transfer of wealth to the very top the world has ever seen. They screwed workers out of their jobs, they screwed homeowners out of their houses, they screwed retirees out of their pensions, and they screwed municipalities out of their revenues and assets.

Financiers are forcing schools, parks, pools, fire departments, senior citizen centers, and libraries to shut down. They are forcing national governments to auction off their cultural heritage to the highest bidder. Everything must go in firesales at prices rigged by twenty-something traders at the biggest and most corrupt institutions the world has ever known.

And since they’ve bought the politicians, the policy-makers, and the courts, no one will stop it.

Austerity, benefitting the 1% at the expense of the rest of us

Mr. Obama’s bipartisan efforts (his budgets, the sequester) have imposed the austerity that enriches the 1% at the expense of the rest of us.  On Mr. Obama’s watch, taxes on the rich have decreased, shifting their burden onto everybody else. Mr. Obama was so intent on cutting social security benefits for older folks that the Progressive Change Committee characterized his dropping a particularly nasty proposal to cut benefits by miscalculating the effect of inflation on beneficiaries from his 2015 budget, a “huge progressive victory.” It’s a sad day when progressives consider it a “huge victory” when the depredations of an allegedly, progressive, liberal president and his partners in congress are diminished. You’d think that progressives would get excited about, um, progress rather than lack of regress. The economy delivered to us by Mr. Obama and his Republican colleagues took a lot of wrangling, but as one analyst put it:

Obama is the first President in post-war history (and maybe all of history) whose economy gave more money to the top 10% than the entire value of all productivity gains in his Presidency.  Even George W. Bush didn’t manage that.

Now that’s an accomplishment!

Not to be forgotten as well are Mr. Obama’s actions to crack down on those outraged by the bankster criminals and the impunity Mr. Obama created for those that crashed our economy.

Jul 21 2014

Freedom, Money & Control

Money is violence

Our system of money visits violence on people.

Economic sanctions are an obvious example:

In case you’re not video enabled, here’s a transcript of a portion of the conversation between 60 Minutes’ Leslie Stahl and Bill Clinton’s Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright on May 12, 1996:

Lesley Stahl on U.S. sanctions against Iraq: “We have heard that a half million children have died. I mean, that’s more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?”

Secretary of State Madeleine Albright: “I think this is a very hard choice, but the price–we think the price is worth it.”

What Stahl and the ghastly gasbag Albright are discussing are the economic sanctions imposed on Iraq allegedly in order to compel Saddam Hussein to withdraw from Kuwait and pay reparations, but more likely the unstated plan was to induce the people of Iraq to rise up and overthrow Saddam.

Economic sanctions are the weaponization of money. Government talking heads call this “soft power,” because apparently arranging for the slow, wasting death by starvation and disease of hundreds of thousands of children is a lot nicer than bombing them or sending soldiers to terrify and shoot them.

Richard Nixon’s Secretary of Agriculture, Earl Butz had a particular gift for expressing the barely repressed beliefs of the most reprehensible people in the country.  According to Wikiquote, Butz said two memorable things while Secretary, one was the tasteless, racist joke that got him fired, the other was the following:

Food is a tool. It is a weapon in the U.S. negotiating kit.”

In one of the most brutal examples of the use of this technique, the Israeli government, with the complicity of the US government have for years kept the Palestinians’ economy in Gaza “on the brink of collapse.” As the Israelis kept the economy from performing, they made a “calorie count” to “put Gaza on a diet.” Israel’s sanctions and periodic bombings of Gaza have largely destroyed Gaza’s water infrastructure and “hundreds of thousands of people are now without water.”

The people of Gaza were guilty of “voting while Muslim,” and had chosen the wrong party (Hamas) at the polls. Hence the starvation diet and economic warfare:

There can be no doubt that the diet devised for Gaza – much like Israel’s blockade in general – was intended as a form of collective punishment, one directed at every man, woman and child. The goal, according to the Israeli defense ministry, was to wage “economic warfare” that would generate a political crisis, leading to a popular uprising against Hamas.

While these are shocking, overt uses of the power of economic systems, there are more subtle and refined means of using economic power to coerce and subjugate peoples that are often brought to bear. Economic sanctions, by depriving people of their means of survival through the manipulation of money and goods is a means of an elite asserting control over a population. While these techniques are used as a tool of foreign policy or in tandem with wartime goals, this is far from the only situation under which these techniques are used by elites.

Jul 19 2014

Stop Listening to Morons

Surface To Air Missiles Kill People

I know I’m a silly and naive hippie. Very Serious People know the importance of arming the rebels, and the rebels of the rebels, and of the governments fighting the rebels, and of the random people who might just be good guys today but who knows about tomorrow, because it’s what we know how to do and our friends get rich in the process.

But, you know, weapons kill people. That’s what they’re for.

Atrios

We need to stop arming morons but most of all we need to stop listening to them.

In the wake of the tragic crash of Malaysian Air Flight 17 yesterday that took the lives of 290, there is a lot of ranting and finger wagging among war hawk conservatives who believe this tragedy could have been averted of we had just given the new Ukrainian government weapons. Considering the clear possibility that the plane was taken down by a Russian made Soviet era surface to air missile, the logic of these neo-cons is baffling. The US backing, arming and training rebels and rogue governments hasn’t worked very well in the past and isn’t working out very well today in either the Middle East or Latin  and South America

Charlie Pierce thinks we should stop listening to morons, in particular a couple of our elected morons, who have never seen a war they didn’t like or a terrorist under every rock, want more weapons and more war. Sen. John “Bomb, Bomb, Bomb Iran” McCain (R-AZ):

“It’s just been cowardly,” McCain said. “It’s a cowardly administration that we failed to give the Ukrainians weapons with which to defend themselves.” He speculated that the Russian separatists who allegedly shot down the plane “may not even have occupied and had access to these weapons, which apparently they got at an airfield,” [..]

“First, give the Ukrainians weapons to defend themselves and regain their territory. Second of all, move some of our troops in to areas that are being threatened by Vladimir Putin, in other countries like the Baltics and others. Move missile defense into the places where we got out of, like the Czech Republic and Poland and other places. And impose the harshest possible sanctions on Vladimir Putin and Russia. And that’s just for openers.”

This from the man who wanted to arm the Syrian rebels who were affiliated with Al Qaeda, some of whom are now trying to overthrow the American backed Iraqi government. John, please, just please, retire.

And of course the call for throwing more weapons into the mix wouldn’t be complete without some good ol’ fear mongering for Rep. Peter King (R-NY)

“[W]e need more leadership from the president,” King, a member of the House Homeland Security Committee, said on MSNBC. “He gave this a passing reference in his speech in Delaware, then went on to tell Joe Biden jokes and take the usual shots at Republicans – which is fair game, but not on this day – and then to go to New York and go to two fundraisers. I mean, I can’t imagine [former Presidents Dwight] Eisenhower or [John F.] Kennedy or [Ronald] Reagan doing that.”

Ronnie Reagan? Seriously. The man who slept through the downing of Korean Air Lines Flight 007 over the Kamchatka Peninsula by Soviet forces in 1983 and took three days to make a statement? Pete, get a grip

More of what Charlie said about arming morons:

I often refer to the scene featuring the great character actor Philip Bosco, as a judge in the small upstate New York town that is the setting for the vastly underrated Paul Newman movie Nobody’s Fool. Newman is before the judge because he has punched a local cop — played by the late Philip Seymour Hoffman — and, in response, the cop had fired off a warning shot that frightened an old woman a few blocks over. Bosco listens to the story and then addresses the police chief. “You know my views on arming morons,” Bosco says. “If you arm one, you have to arm them all. Otherwise, it isn’t good sport.”

It is becoming plain that the atrocity visited on the Malaysian jetliner is a direct result of arming morons. The New York Times obtained audiotape, allegedly from the people who shot down the plane, and these guys sound like they shouldn’t be trusted with a lemon zester, let alone a surface-to-air missile. And it is quite plain that the one thing this situation doesn’t need is to arm more morons, or to have another superpower come bungling in. Either by accident or by design — and Josh Marshall is right to point out that, if it’s the former, that’s infinitely worse — Vladimir Putin is responsible for a horrendous crime, and one that weakens his international standing. The only thing that would bail him out would be a flood of American arms to our own set of morons. The only thing that would bail him out would be if we all started listening to John McCain again.

We do know that the separatists in Eastern Ukraine have been armed by the Russians and have taken credit for bring down other planes over the last several weeks. If this is true, the culpability for this tragic loss of lives lies directly at the feet of Vladimir Putin, he alone has the power to stop this. Like Putin, the US needs to stop arming morons and stop listening to them as well.

Nov 24 2013

Anti-Capitalist Meetup: “If You Meet The Buddha On The Road, Kill Him” by Annieli

All things appear and disappear because of the concurrence of causes and conditions. Nothing ever exists entirely alone; everything is in relation to everything else. -The Buddha

Marx: “constant revolutionizing of production uninterrupted disturbance of all social conditions, everlasting uncertainty and agitation distinguish the bourgeois epoch from all precious ones. all fixed, fast frozen relations, with their train of ancient prejudices and opinions are swept away, all new-formed ones become antiquated before they can ossify. All that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned, and man is at last compelled to face with sober senses, his real conditions of life, and his relations with his kind.”

Unlike the Marshall Berman book, the reality of human conflict today is not so much about modernism as it is modernizing in the pre-industrial context, the civilizing and evolving, uneven yet parallel, paths from primitive, pre-modern communism through feudal modes of production, many of which still operate today whether the American Taliban or their calabash cousins in South Central Asia. The Koch Brothers, as corporate despots, are no different in their ideological commitments to devoting their wealth to an Anti-Communist Christianity that memorializes a martyr like John Birch and promotes inequality and suffering from uneven economic development. It is not a stretch to compare sacralized warfare and sectarian violence where today’s Oath Keepers see themselves as displaced Zen-samurai or Ronin of the Tokugawa Era. For example the original film The 47 Ronin directed by Kenji Mizoguchi is released near to the date of the Pearl Harbor attack. and the 1998 film of the same name by John Frankenheimer with script by David Mamet refers directly to the same historical event. ” The popularity of the tale grew during the Meiji era of Japanese history, in which Japan underwent modernization, and the legend became subsumed within discourses of national heritage and identity.”

The connection or family resemblance of feudal despotism and a repressive political state apparatus that attempts to control reproductive rights or democratic representation is now mobilized by ideology and ideological institutions such as Religions, Governments, and Mass Media and are mobilized much like Pat Buchanan’s meme of a Culture War. Its bastardization into a variety of discourses about race, class, and gender occupy much of the time and space of DK. As a matter of making the analysis of contemporary events, especially those exhibiting false consciousness like acts of racism or other violence clearer, some variants of Marxist methodology can be useful beyond some inerrant textual applications of Marxological theories. Excuse the lapse into the technical but the recent histories of human conflict as well as conflict among humans and nature require methods that can help make even the simplest of practices more coherent under the “shock doctrine” of crisis capitalism. There is a fluid boundary between culture war and actual war much as there is between abstract and concrete violence.

Althusser explains that the SA (State Apparatus) functions predominantly by violence or repression and only secondarily by ideology. Similarly the ISAs (Ideological State Apparatuses) function predominantly by ideology but can include punishment or repression secondarily.

This diary begins with a consideration of a recent book on Buddhist Warfare, a topic which has interested others as representative of the apparent contradiction of perhaps more Western stereotypes about the peaceful resistance to authoritarianism by some Buddhisms (Tibet) and the hegemonic behavior of other Buddhist majority regimes (Myanmar/Burma) where punishment or repression seems anomolous to a population significantly Buddhist. There is no space here to discuss the complex sectarian struggles of global religions and the focus here is on the material justification of cultural violence in the context of this recent book edited by Jerryson and Juergensmeyer Buddhist Warfare OUP 2010. The ideology of any religion and its worldly sectarian practices can be considered as some Marxists did in the last century as Ideological State Apparatuses (ISA) in the case of the ambitions of early to mid 20th Century Japanese imperialism, Buddhism was manipulated to become an ISA in terms of forging a national will and an industrialized state to sacrifice for humans claiming the status of feudal deity-monarchs. In the cases of contemporary Thailand and Myanmar among others, the identity of Buddhism and a ruling class creates a complex set of contradiction for both Buddhist resistance movements and military-political elites no different structurally than many other regimes Marx described as an Asiatic mode of production, (AMP), and that Oriental Despotism reproduces itself structurally in many contemporary Asian corporatized ruling class economies that have many different oligarchic names such as Chaebol in South Korea, family-controlled corporate conglomerates. In Japan before World War II, large holding companies formed wealth groups, or zaibatsu, which dominated most industry. The zaibatsu were dissolved after the war, but keiretsu-large, modern industrial enterprise groupings-emerged. And the tensions between the imperatives for military and economic self-defense as well as the need for corporatist, oligarghic, yet familial expansion create more challenges for the many corresponding Buddhisms.

MSDF Hyuga, a contemporary Japanese aircraft carrier classified as a destroyer:

What is important for this brief narrative is the point of view reconciling the complexity of many Buddhisms within the context of such societies, the expansion of rationalized violence against a populace and the rationalizing discourse of remote killing. This is where the army does the killing so one’s own responsibility is intact. Drone warfare can represent the instrumental separation and distance possible and even resemble the Buddhist position or relative autonomy on just violence. In these cases, that group or even individual violence or exploitation are situated in a discourse of class struggle that has an ideological structure consistent with other capitalist and even pre-capitalist practices. There is some literature on the political economy of arbitrary seasonal regional violence in France in the late middle ages. This same discourse exists in the justification or rationalization of individual and group religious practices in military organizations working for governments that represent a separation of church and state. This is historically a relatively new term considering the number of theocratic regimes that do not recognize that formal or informal separation in contrast to democratic rules of law which attempt to keep public order in a republic despite the actions of corporate despots.


The theory of the Asiatic mode of production, (AMP) was devised by Karl Marx around the early 1850s. The essence of the theory has been described as “[the] suggestion … that Asiatic societies were held in thrall by a despotic ruling clique, residing in central cities and directly expropriating surplus from largely autarkic and generally undifferentiated village communities.” The theory continues to arouse heated discussion among contemporary Marxists and non-Marxists alike. Some have rejected the whole concept on the grounds that the socio-economic formations of pre-capitalist Asia did not differ enough from those of feudal Europe to warrant special designation. Aside from Marx, Friedrich Engels was also an enthusiastic commentator on the AMP. They both focused on the socio-economic base of AMP society.

Marx and Engels were trying to reconcile why development was uneven in the East Asian context, partially to explain European colonialism and the creation of spheres on influence based on new forms of extractible exchange in the form of mobile surplus value, in this case, opium as a medium of exchange value.



Opium Godown (Storehouse) in Patna, Bihar (c. 1814)

“China, one of those faltering Asian empires, which one after the other fell prey to the entrepreneurial spirit of the European race, was so weak, so much collapsed, that it did not even have the strength to go through the crisis of a people’s revolution, so that an acute indignation has turned into a chronic and probably incurable disease, an empire, so much decomposed, that it was almost unable to rule its own people or to offer resistance to the foreign aggressors”.

Asiatic mode of production

This is a controversial contribution to Marxist theory, initially used to explain pre-slave and pre-feudal large earthwork constructions in China, India, the Euphrates and Nile river valleys (and named on this basis of the primary evidence coming from greater “Asia”). The Asiatic mode of production is said to be the initial form of class society, where a small group extracts social surplus through violence aimed at settled or unsettled band communities within a domain. Exploited labour is extracted as forced corvee labour during a slack period of the year (allowing for monumental construction such as the pyramids, ziggurats, ancient Indian communal baths or the Chinese Great Wall). Exploited labour is also extracted in the form of goods directly seized from the exploited communities. The primary property form of this mode is the direct religious possession of communities (villages, bands, hamlets) and all those within them. The ruling class of this society is generally a semi-theocratic aristocracy which claims to be the incarnation of gods on earth. The forces of production associated with this society include basic agricultural techniques, massive construction and storage of goods for social benefit (granaries).

Yet colonial extraction and power projected itself easily into East Asia in the 19th Century, partially because of the kinds of labor agreements made in parallel with native merchant capitalists as well as a hegemonic ensemble of colonizing projects, each bringing its own version of Orientalist (sic) value to Europe. Yet concurrently and administrative violence brought to a country has its relatively autonomous indigenous religion still operating as an ISA in parallel to missionary Christianity where spiritual volition could be retained.

Cetanā  is a Buddhist term commonly translated as “volition”, “directionality”, or “attraction”. It can be defined as a mental factor that moves or urges the mind in a particular direction, toward a specific object or goal

It is no stretch to see the use of religion in legitimating state violence as seen in the image of the Taliban demolishing sacred Buddhist sites as motivating or rationalizing the initial invasion into Afghanistan and its continued use on a more informally profane way in the conduct of the subsequent wars. These are moments of justifying/rationalizing violence against self or Other (preemptive violence prevents a greater sin). In some historical cases they are the reasons for oppressing rival sects or religions to this day.

Nov 14 2013

The Cost of War for Soldiers

In a three part interview that appropriately began on Veterans’ Day, journalist, author and photographer discussed her latest book They Were Soldiers: How the Wounded Return From America’s Wars-The Untold Story with Jaisal Noor, the Real News Network producer.



Transcript can be read here



Transcript can be read here



Transcript can be read here

They Didn’t Know What They Were Getting Into: The Cost of War American-Style

by Ann Jones, TomDispatch

   The last time I saw American soldiers in Afghanistan, they were silent. Knocked out by gunfire and explosions that left them grievously injured, as well as drugs administered by medics in the field, they were carried from medevac helicopters into a base hospital to be plugged into machines that would measure how much life they had left to save. They were bloody.  They were missing pieces of themselves. They were quiet.

   It’s that silence I remember from the time I spent in trauma hospitals among the wounded and the dying and the dead. It was almost as if they had fled their own bodies, abandoning that bloodied flesh upon the gurneys to surgeons ready to have a go at salvation. Later, sometimes much later, they might return to inhabit whatever the doctors had managed to salvage.  They might take up those bodies or what was left of them and make them walk again, or run, or even ski.  They might dress themselves, get a job, or conceive a child. But what I remember is the first days when they were swept up and dropped into the hospital so deathly still.

   They were so unlike themselves. Or rather, unlike the American soldiers I had first seen in that country. Then, fired up by 9/11, they moved with the aggressive confidence of men high on their macho training and their own advance publicity.

Aug 30 2013

Where the F*** are our priorities?

Apparently they’re somewhere up Miley Cyrus’s ass, which is where I wouldn’t mind being right now.  Yes, I’m a pig.  Sue me for having a penis and a hetero orientation.

But seriously, where the FUCK are our priorities?  Barry Obama — the fascist who by most honest accounts is even crazier, more totalitarian, more pro-corporate, and demonstrably worse than Dick Cheney — is preparing to wage an unauthorized war against Syria, repeating what he did to Libya (itself carried out in violation of the Constitution).  Our own government is spying on, literally, every single communication it can vacuum up into its databases without so much as a shred of due process.  The dictator of the United States executes American citizens who haven’t even been charged with, let alone convicted of, any crime at all, nothing warranting the death penalty.  Those who expose crimes by our government are imprisoned, tortured, prosecuted in kangaroo trials, forced into hiding in foreign countries, or some combination thereof.  The planet is heating up.  Corporations have uncontested control over our daily lives.  People are starving, dying of thirst, forced to endure extreme poverty while the wealthy get fatter and fatter.

But our overwhelming obsession right now is some twenty-year-old hottie grinding up against a no-talent male diva dressed up like he raided Michael Keaton’s wardrobe from the film Beetlejuice.  That same no-talent male diva, by the way, sang a song about “blurred lines” of sexual consent, which was also released to a video featuring naked women prancing around acting like mere sex objects.  No wonder Matt Walsh was going apeshit.  While most critics were bashing some dumb kid barely out of high school, they were ignoring the supposedly grown man (who’s married with kids of his own, by the way) whose own antics really were a lot worse than anything Miley Cyrus could do on her most Lady Gaga-esque day.

What the FUCK, people?

Are people’s priorities really this skewed?  Is there nothing left of American culture but vapid, shallow obsessions with matters that, in a sane world, wouldn’t even merit mention on the nightly news?  Chris Matthews bitches about how unqualified he thinks Anthony Weiner is to be mayor of New York City for trading dirty pictures with his mistress over the cellular phone, even as he ignores the likes of Newt Gingrich, Rush Limbaugh, David Vitter, and Larry Craig, all of whom have been caught cheating on their wives, and yet never do I hear Matthews declaring that for this they ought to drop out of politics altogether.  Then again, Matthews embodies everything that is wrong with American journalism today: shallow, vapid, craven, and sucking up to power regardless of how criminal those in power are.

While the world goes to hell in a hand basket, more people are talking about Miley Cyrus, the no-talent daughter of a no-talent country singer whose sole claim to fame was standing around in an open flannel shirt twanging a guitar repeating “achy breaky heart” as though that qualifies as music.

Am I the only goddamned grownup left in this country?  No.  But days like today, I feel like I am.

 

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