Category Archives: USA

Why bother about climate when Jesus is coming anyway?

The threat to the world posed by U.S. climate policy, as it is now established by the president, cuts even deeper than usually discussed. According to polls, almost half the U.S. population (40 percent) expects Jesus to return to the earth – in their lifetime – to bring all true believers to Paradise and destroy everything else. This mind-blowing conviction is held also by many members of Congress and other powerful individuals.

(Imagine half a billion Chinese seriously convinced that a Holy Dragon is coming down from the sky in a near future, salvaging all faithful communists and killing everybody else, before trashing the whole world. We would naturally consider them complete lunatics.)

If the believers in the Second Coming possess even a touch of rationality (which we thus hopefully may question) they cannot possibly care about global warming or any other conceivable catastrophe. They can live in the happy anticipation of their own near entrance into Paradise, safe in the thought that nothing can be done to rescue the infidels and the world anyway.

Why this creepy superstition, haunting almost half of U.S. voters, isn’t addressed more, or at all, is a matter of speculation. Does the establishment assume that people really don’t believe what they say they believe? It would be a risky assumption. These believers are obviously the people who constitutes the basis of G.O.P. voters, thus enabling the present state of affairs.

A more plausible speculation is that the establishment has no objections at all to religious stupidity. As a strategy in the class war it is just suitable that the masses are kept in faithful ignorance: “Suffer your meager fate on earth while the rich and powerful robs you blind, and you’ll be rewarded in heaven (‘you’ll get pie in the sky when you die’)”.

This strategy has been operative in holding back popular uprisings in Europe and elsewhere. In the U.S. it has even been successful in suppressing the development of peaceful worker’s movements.

When we look at the Middle Ages in retrospect it is more than obvious that religion and the church was a branch of the power exerted by the elite. People were convinced by the priests that God’s rules weren’t possible to change by humans. Thus, all kinds of insubordination were pointless.

That’s the root of the animosity between religion and socialism, and why the prelates hated popular movements working for enlightenment, equality and worker’s solidarity. Europeans solved this by shoving religion out of politics through worker’s struggle. U.S. has this act of maturity left to do. Let’s hope they do it before a final climate catastrophe hits us all.

Violence breeds violence. When will we finally learn that?

“Our thoughts are with the victims and their relatives. Just as they are with the millions of victims that western terrorism is responsible for, by unlawful use of force and wars of aggression.

Since the terrorist deeds hitting us are, beyond reasonable doubt, induced and provoked by our violence, there is a self-evident way to counteract them: stop our own crimes.

We should instead try the Chinese – peaceful – way to conquer the world: by aid, trade and investments.”

I posted those words on the NYTimes Readers Comments to an article about the Manchester attack, with to date not one “Recommend” from readers. On the other end of the list, with almost 700 Recommends, one finds the following sentences:

“When my son heard about this horror, he looked at me and said ‘Why, Mommy? Why would somebody do such a thing?”

“in the end I just said, ‘I don’t actually know. I don’t know why.'”

“we all so desperately want this to stop and we don’t know how to make it end.”

One can’t blame this woman since she is misinformed by our media like most of us. But on the other hand it should’t take much imagination to picture oneself in the same situation as a fellow human being in the Middle East, in countries torn apart by the merciless war machine hitting them from “the free world”. And if thinking alone doesn’t work, the Internet is abundant with testimony from the suffering people.

Take the interview with the Yemeni boy in his lower teens who had lived in the U.S. and moved back to his village, where he managed to convince his countrymen that America was a fair country. Then came a drone-strike killing innocent people, and all his efforts were in vain. They then naturally hated the U.S. and lived in constant fear of the drones, praising cloudy days because drones can’t fly then.

Or take the bombed wedding parties (at least eight such U.S. bombings since 2001, according to The Nation), together killing more people than all terrorist attacks in Europe in the same time-span. The human beings we threaten with immediate death are more eligible to “don’t know how to make it end” than we are. The only response some of them can think of is terrorism (they are in other words just as vindictive as many U.S. citizens after 9/11). These are just minor examples, the number of killed in Iraq alone exceeds one million by now.

It seems impossible that their terrorism will achieve any productive goal whatsoever. It will just induce even more atrocities from “the free world”, provoking further terrorism, in a never-ending loop. Contrary to what the woman above thinks, there is a simple way to break this loop: stop our violence!

Europeans and their offshoots in America have for 500 years dominated the world with military power. We have killed millions and millions of poor, innocent people through the centuries (besides shortening the lives of hundreds of millions through economic suppression.) Violence has worked as far as the western well-being is concerned. For those at the wrong end of the club it has been detrimental in all aspects. The new terrorism by the oppressed is a clear sign that our violence doesn’t work the way it used to.

China has demonstrated a way forward, we just have to achieve the same cultural and rational level as them. It should be easy: see and learn! A new era is dawning, as long as we can prevent the lunatics from incinerating the globe into nuclear ashes, or clean the planet from human beings through a climate catastrophe.

And yes! We can!

Media has created their own favorite enemy – Trump

It’s almost entertaining to experience the western media frenzy about the lies and deceptions by their main enemy Donald Trump. The man has the guts to stand up against Media! That’s not just a breach of etiquette but a challenge against a power that is not used to being challenged. At least not by politicians.

Corporate media is (or perhaps used to be) the conductor for the charades called US presidential elections, in which two candidates who mainly agrees on all important issues, differing only on superficialities, perform a media show devoid of substance. It is thus a matter of life and death for election campaigns to be on good terms with media, not least in order to stay clear of public scandals, something that’s usually crucial for the outcome.

This betrayal of real democracy by media is not limited to elections, and certainly not to the United States. Corporate media is constantly making politics a shallow spectacle in which the most important issues are put aside, paving the way for empty rhetoric, personal image and style, thus defining the boundaries for what’s fit for politicians to say. This is spiced with brainless propaganda to defame the official enemy states and their leadership. By this the hacks have been elevated to power, in a way (or in their own eyes) above politicians.

It goes without saying that search for truth is not a media hallmark, as is not high ethical standards overall. In the ambition to gain deniability media mostly avoid outright lies. But more efficient than straight lies are insinuations, spreading of rumors and, above all, suppressing and censoring important facts that are detrimental for the prescribed ideology.

Up comes then this self-sufficient man who breaks all rules and challenges the media right on. Journalists and reporters don’t see that he just holds up a distorting mirror in which they may look at themselves (and laugh in despair). After betraying the ordinary US citizens for decades by withholding the truth about a system that consequently has worked to deteriorate living conditions for the majority, with the goal of funneling obscene wealth to a tiny minority, the media and the entire establishment has lost every shred of credibility.

And they created Donald Trump (just as mini-Trumps have multiplied in most of Europe and elsewhere.) By downgrading truth, reason and rationality in treating politics, media has opened a highway for the absurd parts of the Trump ideology. Citizens are lured to promote a semi-fascist to power, a man who will start by depriving millions of his voters of their health insurance (and give that money to the rich) and presumably go on in the same direction.

We have seen it all before, and that one ended in a global war with 50 million people killed. When will they ever learn…

Dedication to achieve an unsustainable world

Making Scott Pruitt head of the Environmental Protection Agency is equivalent to making Sam Harris an Archbishop.

This willful ignorance, bordering to devoted stupidity, is a threat to the whole world (giving me the right to opinions in these Swedish postcards). But is the difference between extreme right-wing populism and ordinary right-wing politics a difference in kind or just in grade?

There can be no doubt that the last 35 years of neoliberalism, aimed specifically at enriching a miniscule minority at the expense of the large majority of ordinary employees, have paved the way thoroughly for any kind of revolt. That this revolt in the US took the shape of right-wing populism is certainly not surprising. The same tendencies are apparent in Europe too.

The entire US establishment in politics and media (including the liberals) has done everything to obscure the real reasons behind people’s grievances, and overlook the neoliberal mechanisms. This establishment has not given the people any comprehensible explanations, thus opening the floodgates for the stupid answers from extreme right-wing outlets: “your problems stem from others taking your money: the government, the immigrants, the lazy, the liberals – let’s get rid of them”.

The complacency against this fascist-leaning propaganda is nothing but logical. If I were a multi-billionaire I would gladly give room for such ideas, rather than tolerating progressive thought, which really would be a threat to my wealth. In the US it seems as if the established liberals in politics and media feel equally threatened by the real progressives. (It took some conspiratorial actions by DNC to keep Bernie Sanders away from power.)

United States harbor the most cultured people with the sharpest brains, and in politics they usually are dissidents. As such they are effectively barred from communication with the bulk of the population. It’s nothing surprising about that either, as those with economic power owns and controls the “free” media. But the progressive movements behind the scene are lively and bright. As seen by the Sanders successful case the possibilities for enlightened and organized young people to break through the iron curtain erected by the handymen for the economic power are encouraging.

Maybe we first must endure La politique du pire, as the French say, meaning that we are forced to let horrendous politics destroy everything before something entirely new can emerge from the rubble. That optimism in the long run makes it perhaps easier to live through the day ahead without crumbling from all the absurdities.

Trump is not a xenophobe, just a skilled demagogue

Let’s assume that Donald Trump’ s intelligence and knowledge are at least on an average level, or higher. Then one must conclude that he not for a minute can believe that illegal immigration is the root of 30 year’s stagnation or decline in living conditions for ordinary Americans. However, he is a master demagogue and knows what upset people the most. And he used that skill to manipulate the democratic system and win his first election.

We’ve been through this before in Europe and it ended no good. Trump’s tactics regarding foreign people are similar to those used by fascists then.

With some simplification one may say that neoliberalism has been the cradle in which today’s neo-fascism was nurtured. It goes like this: unfettered capitalism fails and creates crisis of all kinds. The result is stagnation for a majority and fabulous wealth for a few, while everything in the common sector crumbles.

It’s no mystery who gains and who suffers from this focus on privatizing everything and destroying the commons. Those who profit are calling all the shots, not least in the media, and will certainly not spend any energy informing the public about the real causalities. When people finally runs out of docility, up comes the right-wing populists with their popular but false answers.

Immigrants are the easy targets for populists. (We all have some innate xenophobe traits and it takes conscious thinking to repress them.) But people’s real grievances have of course only marginally to do with immigrants. That should be particularly obvious for US citizens with their rich country’s entire wealth created by immigrants. Still the Stranger Card pays off for populists – big!

Sweden is known for its open borders. With the surge in refugees arriving we had last year the largest percentage population growth since 1861. Is this from benevolence only? Hardly! This is where immigration is hurting ordinary people to some degree, namely in holding down worker’s wages, something the ruling property owners find most welcome (here they have a common interest with humanitarian liberals).

That’s not to say that immigrants and refugees are responsible for ordinary people’s problems. The main reason for these problems is instead a power-grab by the ruling elite, the capital owners, by which they have impounded most of the economic growth the last 30 years and funneled it to very few pockets (more pronounced so in USA than in EU, and even less so in Sweden).

But nor is it to say that immigration is problem-free for the society as a whole or above all for the newcomers. They are forced to live in quite meager circumstances, have difficulty learning a new language and finding jobs. The Social network in Sweden is not what it used to be and people are left to solve their own problems, not an easy task for individuals fleeing war zones and burdened by traumatic experiences. Desperation sometimes leads to riots with violence and counter violence between immigrants and right-wing groups, which adds to the aversion against immigrants and refugees.

Donald Trump knows quite well that the immigrants to US didn’t cause the depressing conditions for people during neoliberalism. He just uses them as a potent political weapon among his deceived constituency. He is probably also aware of the real reasons for people’s grievances. He just acts like the businessman he is: go full ahead and don’t bother about consequence beyond the next quarter, regardless of how dire they are.

On the other hand Trump has shown some insight into what created the current, giant refugee crisis, namely West’s unwarranted wars in the Middle East and North Africa. His expressed ambition to withdraw US from these wars is a hopeful sign (and a significant deviation from historic fascist practices). But on this issue he is at odds with strong forces in both parties and the outcome of that remains to be seen.

Democracy as a Glass Bead Game for “academics”

Today’s New York Times has a piece titled Democracy in America: How Is It Doing?, presenting a study that excels in political scientists’ most dear subjects: formalities and instrumentalities forming a rather shallow analysis, if one by democracy means people’s real power. It’s of course presented with much (insipid) statistics and graphics. The summary of the study is: “Democracy in the United states is strong, but showing some cracks”.

I submitted the following lines to the NYT Readers Comments’ section:

Really prudent and knowledgeable American thinkers, most prominently Noam Chomsky, argues convincingly that today’s USA is a plutocracy, not a democracy at all. He bases his view on the fact that the economic powerful simply are able buy political decisions that are gaining their interests. This power mostly overrides voters’ real influence on politics, something that has been demonstrated in numerous polls (such as on health care).

Citizens United stands for legalized corruption on a limitless scale, not really intelligible for many outside US. That should have been be none of our interests, were it not for US being a role model followed by other states, not least Sweden, with some years’ or decades’ delay. So, let’s unite across oceans and reclaim real democracy.

 

Fascism – an ideology a la mode

If there is no indisputable definition of fascism there are anyhow specific characterizations of the phenomenon. The basic one, at the same time the most despicable, is lack of empathy for other human beings (outside a closed circle). Among fascists, the reasons for living are instead Race, Honor, War, Blut und Boden and equivalent concepts. (Empathy is something that a fascist occasionally may feel for animals.)

In line with these characteristics it follows that fascists see as deadly enemies all democratic movements in favor of equality and solidarity, such as labor movements and other associations engaging ordinary human beings. Fascists embrace mainly people and things that are strictly theirs in some sense, such as their ego, their family, their clan, their nation.

Fascism started, and is responsible for, the Second World War. It’s equally true, but nowadays repressed, that the Soviet Union carried by far the heaviest burden to defeat the worst and strongest of the monstrous fascist war machines. Soviet was then considered by many to be a workers’ state, and workers’ unions thus gained a strong position in most of Europe the years after the war.

This period have been called a Golden Age in industrialized countries. Economies flourished with high growth; income distribution was fairly equal (very much so by today’s standards), welfare measures were carried through and ordinary working families could acquire a comfortable life. Fascists were practically non-existent during these optimistic years (we had a few hibernating Nazis in Sweden, but they were commonly regarded as complete dimwits).

The backlash came in the late 1970s, when the capitalist class finally managed to regain political and ideological hegemony by using its economic power. In the name of neoliberalism, they could enable a strong reaction against wage workers’ acquired rights. Pitched as globalism, the new march backwards became international. One instrument of this redistribution of production results to the very rich was deregulation of the financial markets, resulting in repeated financial crashes hitting poor people the hardest.

With this capitalist reaction the groundwork for resurrection of fascism was laid. We had been through it once before in near history and should have learned, but those in real power doesn’t want us to learn. They obviously prefer fascism before progressive development that really deals with people’s grievances. The right wing paves the way for right wing extremism. Their most important objective is to keep progressives away from power.

A more polite term for right-wing extremism is populism, and both have kinship with fascism. The connections are illustrated in a recent article in New York Times dealing with the ideological preferences in the head of Stephen K. Bannon, the chief strategist in the most powerful administration in the world. He is said to be influenced by, or at least open to, the world of Julius Evola, an extreme traditionalist that inspired Mussolini and now is openly hailed by Alt-right leaders.

Evola himself broke with the Italian Fascists “because he considered them overly tame and corrupted by compromise. Instead he preferred the Nazi SS officers, seeing in them something closer to a mythic ideal. They also shared his anti-Semitism.” (Evola is called an influential “thinker” which is an odd epithet for a man who conspicuously prefer feeling ahead of thinking.)

Evola was Anti everything enlightened, rational, modern, liberal, progressive and humanitarian one can think of. An American scholar has described his ideal order to be based on “hierarchy, caste, monarchy, race, myth, religion and ritual”. This points a straight way back to the heart of medieval darkness. A way that Stephen K. Bannon, on the face of it, at least not entirely abstain from recommending.

All while our media are outraged by silly scandals, alleged leaks, fake news (including their own) and above all: The Russians. There is something rotten in the state of affairs, but it’s more dire than the headlines in our newspapers suggest.

The really hazardous side of Trump

When I was younger one could occasionally pick up the innocent notion here that everyone should be eligible to vote for the President of the United States, since the US had such an impact on the whole world. Naiveties like that are mostly gone nowadays, but in one respect they ought to be revived. And that’s about environmental issues.

US is the worst per capita polluter in the world, by a long shot. One emission that is harmful for everyone on earth is carbon dioxide. Alongside nuclear war, climate catastrophe is the greatest threat to survival of the human species. We’re not talking of some people, or even millions of people being exterminated, it’s literarily the entire human species that is at stake.

Global warming is accelerating at a terrifying pace with its deleterious effects measured almost day by day. Our grandchildren will experience changes in global weather never seen by mankind, most of those highly unfavorable. And that’s just the beginning.

In these dire straits a man elected President of the United States declares that he will do the outmost to enhance this treat to the human species, thereby supported by a Congress filled with likeminded climate deniers. To the latter’s defense one should admit that many of them believe Jesus to come back to earth and rescue them personally in a near future, leaving the rest to destruction. For them it’s at least logical to flout the end of humanity. They have rescued themselves by living an impeccable Christian life (voting for every immoral war possible).

To really underscore his fateful ambitions the President appoints a certain Scott Pruitt to be the new head of the Environmental Protection Agency, a man who according to his own website is “a leading advocate against the EPA’s activist agenda.” This was already prepared for when a man named Myrion Ebell, a really dedicated climate denier, in September 2016 was appointed a member of the transition team, responsible for the EPA.

This is certainly a world that it takes a Jonathan Swift to describe and ridicule in a novel. Kafka would not be credible enough.

The lukewarm war, threatening to become hot

One can’t stop wondering about the deep irrationality and inconsistency that the human species is capable of. I had a friend once who was very emotional and loved his children beyond everything. If they had died, he probably would have lost all reason for living himself. At the same time, he was a raving right-wing apologist, warmongering fiercely against our standard enemies. Never did he connect the two discrepancies and realize that his sons could be among those killed in the war he acted as to facilitate.

And this man is just one among millions deceived in the same way. We are all prone to swallow even the most stupid propaganda and conjure up hatred against “enemies” who for some reason are considered suitable. Today the number one of these enemies is Russia. And that’s nothing new.

Through the centuries Russia has endured constant pressure from western powers, and numerous attempts by them to conquer the vast Eurasian land. Not that Russia ever has posed a significant threat westwards; it obviously must be conquered just because it exists (like mountaineers say about the next mountain top).

In the beginning of the 18th century Sweden’s king Charles XII was one who tried but was stopped already in Ukraine by Петр Великий. Charles ruined his country through endless wars, which he carried through mainly because that kind of life pleased him. The positive side of his catastrophic adventures was that Sweden became forever cured from all dreams of being a permanent great power in Europe. (Instead we eventually turned into a role model in peaceful achievements.)

We know the other attempts to conquer Russia in wars of aggression: France under Napoleon, Germany in WWI and Western powers in the civil war following the revolution. When Germany again in WWII steamrolled its war machine eastwards it was at least with a declared motive, stated in Generalplan Ost. According to the plan, more than half the population in occupied East were to be exterminated or deported, the remaining to be used as slave labor in the service of the Nazi empire. Executing the plan started without delay, and 14 million civilians were murdered by SS and their accomplices before the killers were stopped.

Lack of aggression, comparatively speaking, on the part of Russia against other countries can hardly be attributed to moral superiority, rather to military weakness. Occasionally they have tried, for instance when they occupied Manchuria in 1900, where they were punched in the nose by the Japanese.

During the first Cold War (which we now experience over again) the Soviet Union was pictured by us as the main aggressive power, threatening the whole world. And yes, they performed some horrible atrocities in eastern Europe such as in East Germany 1953 (55 killed), in Hungary 1956 (3 000 killed) and in Czechoslovakia 1968 (72 killed). We have these crimes in vivid memory, frequently reminded by our propaganda outlets.

The Soviets engaged in one major military operation during the post-war period – the war in Afghanistan. It may have been as close to R2P one can get, since the objective was to help the Afghan government, probably the best government that country has ever had. Nevertheless, the Russians simply proved that war mostly lead to disaster. US was provoked to create the Mujahidin to fight the Russians, the government was overthrown and ultimately the Taliban arrived at the scene. In the end the Soviet system collapsed.

For being the giant threat to the world one must say that Soviet Union was rather modest compared to the western world, led by USA. In almost perpetual wars – one more illegal and immoral than the other – millions and millions of people have been killed, mostly innocent civilians. That is something we more rarely are reminded of.

(To be continued…)

US Election – Swedish media

Since media here overflows with coverage of the circus called the US Presidential Election a postcard from Sweden can’t escape that issue. The fact that the charade is more farcical than usual doesn’t prevent our media from treating it with subservient sincerity, although every enlightened person knows that the outcome is irrelevant for the real policy executed by the next president. It’s just two factions of the same Business Party competing, and the only thing entertaining is the fight itself.

We all remember Barack Obama in 2008. In his victory speech – indeed a rhetoric masterpiece – he appeared as an almost socialist savior who intended to redress every injustice and restore peace in the world. And we know what happened. He kicked off his tenure by bailing out some of the richest crooks in the country with §700 billion and (thus) helped them evade prison sentences. He didn’t fill Guantanamo with new unwanted people, instead he sent drones to kill them in their homes on the other side of the globe (thereby ridiculing the Norwegian Peace Price Committee).

Such issues are handled with kid gloves by our media, eager to bolster Big Brother. Our apologetic and protective attitude towards USA is obnoxious to the brink of suffocation. To have at least some fresh air and rational critique one has to turn to the New York Times, then you’ll understand!

Despite numerous and daily articles and reports on the US election it’s telling how such a central concept in US policy as Citizens United is treated by our main media: namely not at all. Searching the archive of our most important paper yields a few hits where this democratic abnormity is mentioned in passing, without explanation. It’s as if they want to spare their audiences the insight that the leading democracy in the world is nothing of the sort, just a genuine plutocracy.

It’s true that two (what’s called) populist candidates, one to the right and one to the left, have advanced fairly far in the process this time, indicating that people’s voice has some relevance after all. But it was unavoidable that Bernie Sanders were to be outmaneuvered one way or the other (and that was secured by DNC itself). The infamous “pussy grabber” to the right has come a step further, though he seems to stop there. Should he become president – God and the world forbid – he will be forced to implement the basic Business Party policy with just some minor modification.

There is no alternative.

Except that there really is! Real alternatives!