Tag Archives: democracy

Media, Mergers, Capitalism, and Popular Democracy:

Or, Why AOL Is, Apparently, Perfect for Huff-Po and, Decidedly, Horrible for Majority Rule

UNIT TWO: What in the World Is AOL Anyway?

Chapter One–The Scientific, Technical, and Social Roots of Online America

Herein, readers will continue the mediated journey through modern media that began with a historical and contextual background a couple of weeks ago. From the general overview that initiated the series, folks will today start examining the ‘Origins of the Internet’ from the carnage of WWII and its evolution, from the dawn of the Cold War to the 1980’s.

INTRODUCTORY MATERIAL

Today’s text introduces Unit Two of this five Unit series. This initial chapter of Unit Two leads on to three sibling sections that will, in as thorough and incisive a fashion as this humble correspondent can manage in a relatively short space, explicate what constitutes the corporate entity that has ‘branded’ itself AOL and considers itself the epitome of America in its online guise.
Where we left off, big-business media was mushrooming up from the cow paddies of routine politics. How exactly did America Online, as of now not yet done with its third decade, emanate from the historical and political economic background of modern times? The purpose of this quite lengthy section is to manage a tale-of-the-tape that offers an intelligible, and relatively complete, response to this inquiry.
Like so much of what citizens now consider this virtual age, the roots of AOL lie in the way that the conflagrations of the 1940’s responded to the deflationary death spiral of the 1930’s. In 1945, at the dawn of a new epoch that shined with a nuclear glow, as the Cold War heated up, and nearly everyone still breathing wondered where to bury a hundred million or so corpses and how to avoid the next tally from being higher still, the captains of capital looked forward to an unstoppable ‘thousand-year-reich’ of commodities and markets that only lasted a “glorious thirty” years, with everything antithetical hidden behind ‘iron curtains’ of one sort or another.
These leading lights of the ruling class foresaw an age of ubiquitous convergence. Communication and computation and observation would yield, in every sector of the economy, times when markets would work as their proponents had always promised, even as they continued to seek the institutional succor of government instead. This new age would not eschew governance so much as it would make the public sphere subservient to corporate, which is to say commercial and imperial, mastery.

 

 

ANTEDILUVIAN BEGINNINGS ON THE ‘ENDLESS FRONTIER’

The observer might not easily see the connection between AOL and a project named the ‘Manhattan Engineering District,’ but Vannevar Bush joins the two like a rivet connects discrete plates on an aircraft carrier. Not only did this MIT wizard unite the industrial and financial powers-that-be behind publicly-funded science, but he also insisted on the durability of this formula after the war. In the event, he also succeeded in promulgating institutionalized funding and management models that followed corporate guidelines and priorities.

In essence, Bush is the technical and intellectual father of the Military Industrial Complex. His Science: the Endless Frontier links markets and profits and prosperity and power-politics and empire and innovation as a set of relationships that nations sunder at their peril.
What is more, he both, on the one hand, very precisely conceived of the world wide web and many of its technical attributes as an aspect of this industrial militarization of politics and, on the other hand, proffered a guidebook–almost a recipe–for their initiation and growth. In “As We May Think,” also written just after WWII ended, Bush envisions personal computing, Wikipedia, hands-free 24/7 virtual connectivity, and a swirling constant interchange that many feel is still a possibility if the World Wide Web survives a corporate takeover.

Moreover, this meme still resonates powerfully. The term, ‘meme,’ is itself something like Bush’s name for his concept.

“Consider a future device for individual use, which is a sort of mechanized private file and library. It needs a name, and to coin one at random, ‘memex’ will do. A memex is a device in which an individual stores all his books, records, and communications, and which is mechanized so that it may be consulted with exceeding speed and flexibility. It is an enlarged intimate supplement to his memory.” No wonder entire symposia keep flowering that orbit around Bush’s now long-ago article in Atlantic Magazine.
Equally applicable as connective tissue between such trendy(or declasse, as the case may be) eventualities as today’s AOL and the inception of the war machine is the fashion in which Bush’s ideas have become almost biblical in their expression of the current canon. The American empire, American well-being, the very essence of the American way, in such thinking, are inseparable from the uninterrupted perpetuation of an ever expanding plethora of the hot new way, an endless frontier of endless frontiers.
Needless to say, whether one appreciates the artfulness with which its principals have undertaken the task, America Online–with former Secretary of Defense and general corporate booster Alexander Haig leading the charge to invest–has depicted itself as the quick-and-easy path to such innovativeness. When that way of conceiving things began to seem positively fuddy-duddy, AOL, driven by the relentless necessity of monetizing something, cast around for ways of reinventing itself as ‘trendier-than-thou.’
That such an evolution, in a society under the sway of finance and industrial monopoly, inherently revolves around opportunistic cash-outs and market wedges, not to mention a tendency to sweep up the competition and the newest confabulation simultaneously, should come as no surprise. Indeed, all manner of analysis recognizes such ineluctable expressions of capital’s conceptualization of virtuality.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Chair in Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Washington very recently confirmed this contemporary relevance of dear Uncle Vannevar. In a brief essay entitled, “An Endless Frontier Postponed,” the author warns that a lack of consciousness about the union of academia, capital, and government makes possible an ideological commitment to sundering this troika, which in this SOP POV threatens any hope of continuing political-economic predominance by the United States.
And indeed, this is now one popular trope. A much less common thread is that the collective financing and support for the internet means that it should actually operate according to common goals, and under democratic guidance. This is what Michael Zweig means when he suggests that “being charitable to the poor” means far less that “arranging that they have power, one obvious element of which is media potency. Whatever the unfolding of this dialectic, that the taxes of working people funded the creation and evolution of the World-Wide-Web is incontrovertible fact.

MA-&-PA KETTLE FINANCE THE INFRASTRUCTURE AND SUPERSTRUCTURE AND PROTOCOLS OF THE WORLD-WIDE-WEB

Multiple intersecting timelines play key parts in the manifestation of virtual life that so characterizes the present pass that many people can no longer conceive an ‘unwired’ existence. Computers, military and academic laboratories, telecommunications, printing and publishing all have an arc of expansion that, as one, has yielded the montage of interfaces and devices and distracted human beings who meander over the earth today, both actually and electronically, both as flesh-and-blood and as avatars.
The recognition of this interrelated interdependence is critical to any rational understanding of a phenomenon such as AOL, or its swallowing of Arianna Huffington’s self-styled bastion of progressivism. Neither could have been more than a foggy, opiated pipe-dream but for the work performed on the public dime, as it were. NASA, the nuclear-weapons-lab complexes, major research universities, and the corporate vanguard, without exception either were direct chain-of-command elements of the State, or, in any event, they would have withered and blown-away without government dollars.
Thus, MIT researchers came up with the first video game while doing missile and other military research; Bell labs invented push-button telecommunication techniques in part as a result of decades of walkie-talkie military deals; the Advanced Research Project Agency(ARPA) was a Department of Defense response to Sputnik–soon yielding the first generation WWW through ARPANet; under the purview of government contracts, the American Standard Code for Information Interchange(ASCII) grew out of Bell labs and American National Standards Institute efforts–and still underlies the basic coding on which AOL, et al. depend to this day.
Almost without exception, the nodes and methods of the web, of being an American online, as it were, only happened because tax-dollars financed them. Even in such ‘venture-capital’-worshipping materials as Piero Scaruffi’s A History of Silicon Valley, again and and again and again, over and over, “almost without exception,” the hand of the government appears as central to this amazing transformation toward virtuality that typifies life today.

Immediately prior to the assumption of an institutional form more or less recognizable as the direct predecessor of America Online, additional important developments took place on the nascent internet, as of 1972 controlled by DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. The first e-mail, for instance, sallied forth in 1971 as a result of one investigator’s efforts that sought to make military research communication more efficient. Though it did not modulate in chipper tones, “You’ve got mail!,” that cheery quip emanated from State-funded efforts.
Shortly thereafter, big improvements in FORTRAN, the machine language developed for military and scientific purposes, happened, followed shortly by Bell Lab’s first issuing of the much more intuitive C-programming language. Soon afterward, Xerox’s DOD-funded Palo Alto Research Center, on its way to inventing “the office of the future,” created the Ethernet, many standards of which continue in force to the present moment.
Throughout the mid 1970’s, with the formation of Apple Computer and Microsoft and more, many of AOL’s predecessors availed themselves of the possibilities for private gain from public investment, even as the general economy reeled from one stagflationary whipping post to another. In 1978, the first Bulletin Board System came into being; the BBS model was important in various early attempts to cash-in on what social support for computing and networks had created, not to mention underpinning AOL’s ultimate success.
As with the rest, these BBS outgrowths trace their roots back to public inputs. File serving, downloading, the very protocols that allow a network to engage and remain operational, are the result of socialized inputs and relationships.

“Due to its prominent role, the history of TCP is impossible to describe without going back to the early days of the protocol suite as a whole. In the early 1970s, what we know of today as the global Internet was a small research internetwork called the ARPAnet, named for the United States Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA or ARPA). This network used a technology called the Network Control Protocol (NCP) to allow hosts to connect to each other. …Due to limitations in the NCP, development began on a new protocol that would be better suited to a growing internetwork. … called the Internet Transmission Control Program (TCP). Like its predecessor NCP, TCP was responsible for basically everything that was needed to allow applications to run on an internetwork.”

William Gibson

Thirty-odd years of conceptual, practical, and often secret trial-and-error research, uniformly either conducted by or financed through U.S. dollars, laid the foundations for our ‘virtual’ world. In the years that witnessed the emergence of a company that would soon become America Online, this “information age” was just beginning. ‘Cyberspace’ and ‘virtual reality’ were merely phrases not yet on the lips of novelist William Gibson.

Steve Jobs and Bill Gates were just launching their inaugural efforts. They had both availed themselves of these decades of effort ‘on the government dime,’ so to speak. William Von Meister was interested in music and video games and had a way with words and money; he needed a bigger playing field, however, if his little operations were to become behemonth.

A CONCLUDING TRANSITION

In other words, America Online did not emerge randomly. Nor did it occur as a result of individuals, rugged or colorful or otherwise, working separately and ‘individually.’ Nor was it in any way a primary result of ‘natural’ bourgeois inventiveness.
On the contrary, the growth stemmed from fields prepared by social stewards, using common treasure. The concrete components uniformly resulted from or depended on government-financed research. Every single stop on the ultimate information highway was only possible because of collective efforts that invoked federal financing.
John Hopkins’ Stuart Leslie, in his article, “The Biggest ‘Angel’ of Them All: the Military in the Making of Silicon Valley,” makes this argument dispositively. The ‘marketplace’ is no freer than a Soviet Five Year Plan, or, at the least, it is ‘freer’ in a different way; moreover, we might imagine other ways to ‘free’ things up.
This can lead to some interesting conclusions. They are factual, no more a ‘matter of opinion’ than the determination that United States Treasury dollars are necessary to run the Department of Defense.
Here’s one such deduction. Not only would the astounding wealth ‘created’ by the ‘free-market’-touting boosters at AOL have been inconceivable without social backing of the most extensive sort, but also, the smaller but still substantial sums that now line Arianna Huffington’s purses are only available for her accountants to count because of the taxes of everyday Americans, such as the bloggers on the site who will never make a dime from the deal.

A Democratic, Grassroots Media Requires Media Analysis: Mediated Communication, Media Literacy, Missing Links:

PREFACE

This humble correspondent has just had the opportunity to make a Power-Point presentation to a hundred or so ‘progressive’ senior citizens.  The topic, Understanding the Origins of the Internet, and the questions that it engendered, led to a recognition that folks generally might benefit from some orientation in thinking about the problems and prospects of creating a democratic media from the ground up.

“How can we ferret out what is true and accurate?” 

“How can we overrule such powerful institutions as the Supreme Court?” 

“If both parties offer nothing but doom and gloom for us, what are we supposed to do?”

These were a few of the questions posed by audience members.

The words of Thomas Jefferson resonate two hundred years later in response to these inquiries.

”I know no safe depositary of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power.”

Even old James Madison, whose Federalist Paper Number Ten envisioned the two-party system as a way of keeping majority-rule at bay, proffers inspiring thoughts in this regard.  ”A popular Government, without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a Prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy; or, perhaps both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance: And a people who mean to be their own Governors, must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.”

The deduction to which these ideas logically lead is that we have no choice but to educate ourselves nor any choice but to follow up our learning with action that is ‘of the people, by the people, and for the people.’  Paulo Freire sums up, generally, the tasks at hand.  “Human existence cannot be silent, nor can it be nourished by false words, but only by true words, with which men transform the world.”

He goes on:

“To exist, humanly, is to name the world, to change it.  Once named, the world, in its turn, reappears to the namers as a different problem that requires of them a new naming.  Men are not built in silence, but in word, in work, in action-reflection.

The ‘words and work and action-reflection’ that common citizens need is not happening.  One reason for this is that even the most ‘progressive’ mediated communication is failing to engage people in such a way as to impart actual knowledge, which is only possible to obtain through historical, political-economic, and social assessments that begin at the beginning, deal with paradox-and-complexity, and follow the money.

The natural result of such real, ‘popular education’ can only be radical, meaningful critiques that in turn facilitate something like a ‘revolt of the commons.’  This essay begins a process of examining the failings of so-called ‘liberal media.’  A year-and-a-half ago, a purported champion of people’s reporting joined forces with one of the largest and most reactionary media powerhouses.  A correct comprehension of this merger has yet to emerge, even after more than eighteen months.  As this humble correspondent’s grandmother was wont to say, “It’s never too late: where there’s life there’s hope.”

INTRODUCTION

In this first of a multi-part series—today’s intro, a final component many weeks hence, plus at least four or five segments in between that examine the ‘meat-and-potatoes’ of the Huff-Po/AOL conjunction–giving credit where credit is due is a good way to start.  Arianna Huffington‘s How to Overthrow the Government  performs a valuable service for anybody who both believes in popular empowerment and has an inkling that the rule-of-the-rich has gone too far.  The book offers at least a modicum of clear and apt guidance to those who would foment or fuel an uprising from below.

The likes of this humble correspondent would vociferously suggest that ‘the book doesn’t go nearly far enough.’  Less charitable, and equally historically and socio-economically aware, critics have argued that, analytically and conceptually, the volume is at best irritatingly cautious and generally vapid.  Nevertheless, the work offers some useful advice to those who want to return socially democratic political action to the grassroots.  At least it conceives of public engagement as a necessary predecessor of political change.

That said, last year’s merger of Huffington Post and America Online is an entirely different kettle of fish.  Many honestly and erstwhile ‘progressive’ and ‘leftist’ commentators celebrated this joining, or at least, gave it a ‘wait-and-see’ nod.

The only certain thing is that the writers and participants who built Huffington Post won’t see a slender cent from among the thirty billion pennies, or billion and a half pennies in stock, that changed hands in that bargain.  Several already wealthy people, whose political and ‘strategic’ leadership had, for better or worse, guided the site, have, on the other hand made out like proverbial bandits.

The idea that this $315 million wedding, much to the benefit of Ms. Huffington’s coffers, might also represent ‘progress’ or be in the best interest of the ‘left’ arguably has much more to say about the deficiencies that attend the language of political description in the United States than it does with any rationally defensible consideration about promoting the needs of common people.  The notion that this is in the popular interest also speaks volumes about the lack of class leadership among working people, who prove willing all too often to rely on the likes of a rich globe-trotting fashion moll with the opportunistic instincts of a coyote.

‘Liberals’ also cozy up to hyper-imperialists such as Hilary Clinton, or so some would say; ‘progressives‘ commonly make common cause with Barack-the-Magnificent, whose wars will soon eclipse those of his predecessor; the ‘left’ is a hodgepodge collection of folks who a lot of times are trying to avoid the label that is at least honestly descriptive, that of socialist, or social-democrat.

This humble correspondent considers himself ‘progressive,’ and he’ll only squirm and grit his teeth at the nearly meaningless moniker of ‘leftist.’  However, he is avowedly and unabashedly socialistic in his approach and his analytical proclivities.  He has no problem noticing an obvious fact: without some sort of struggle for social and economic democracy, the worlds working people face further devastation and possible annihilation.

And in this vein, the marriage of the modern defense and imperial establishment, in the form of America Online, with a fetishized, paltry, petty-bourgeois liberalism, in the form of Huffington Post, accomplishes a perfect union from the perspective of ‘free-market’, ‘free-enterprise’ fraud-mongers.  As such, the following prediction makes sense: it will continue to turn out as it already has—at best a lukewarm hodgepodge.  Thus, for working people, for those who care about more than political labels and actually worry about substance, it will be at best a disastrous misallocation of allegiance and resources.

One way or another, the lack of class leadership, and the explicit embrace of both imperial ideation and bourgeois marketing and markets, will mean at best ‘friendly’ misleadership for the average people of the planet, who are suffering one body-blow after another to any hope that a ‘middle-class’ life will be even a credible fantasy.  One would have to acknowledge, at least as a possibility, that the time for a media of the people, by the people, and for the people is long overdue.

Such an admission ought then to portend a serious effort in such a direction.  Whether folks are, even now, ready to admit the obvious–‘But mommy, the king has nothing on!!’–and whether, even now, such an acknowledgment will yield the radical, populist upsurge that recognition ought to call forth, remains to be seen.

For this humble correspondent, the remainder of the present introduction merely contextualizes, all too quickly, the historical and conceptual undergirding of the media marriage that transpired at the start of 2011.  A four-piece unit on AOL’s background follows over the next few weeks, more or less.  Then, a three-chapter unit appears about Arianna Huffington and her love-child at Huff-Po.  A long single take on the merger itself will appear at that juncture, to complete the substantive units of this series.  Finally, a conclusion will then show up that, in the light of the insights and ideation of the intervening reporting and analysis, returns to some of the issues raised in today’s introductory paragraphs

BACKGROUND SYNOPSIS: the News-Media-Context From Which this ‘New-Media’-Deal Devolved

People who fancy themselves media-literate, or even who believe that following the news is important, have a duty to understand how in the world the media that we take for granted has transmogrified to become the apparent digital phantasmagoria that it is today.  This is neither the time nor the place to go into copious detail.  On the other hand, readers may rest assured that more detail will be forthcoming.

For now, this humble correspondent proposes that people consider one simple fact: media springs from the rich dirt of politics like magic mushrooms pop up from cow dung.  Ever since the creation of the secret, and sacred, codes that underlay the first written forms, publication has been a battlefield; the priestly and royal control–extended imperiously–always met a challenge from below, in the form of vernacular articulations of one sort or another.

Need one consider such arcane interpretations of such facts as Derrida’s “The Mystical Foundations of Authority?”  Or perhaps a more straightforward recollection, that law–the legitimation of force in favor of some stated ‘State,’ heretofore unheard of without social class divisions–is nothing without the capacity to record and annotate it, would serve as a ‘wake-up call’ about media’s social reality.  No matter what, from the ‘dawn of history,’ or text, as it were, the connection between writing and rule is unbreakable.

In any event, much more recently, since Gutenberg, for instance, every communication medium’s technological development and social deployment has entailed this combative dialectic.  The Bible may have been Johann’s first big project, but not too long afterward, the press itself helped Martin Luther affix his challenge to various posting places.

 

‘Martyrs-of-the-book’ died at fiery stakes, fueled in part by the materials that they created.  The English crown disallowed all but ‘licensed’ printers in similar fashion as the F.C.C. only permits safely-establishment and oligopolistic voices to have their portion of the broadcast spectrum today.  And even though the eviscerated First Amendment still exists, as a text, the quip is more apt than ever: “freedom of the press only applies if you own one.”

In essence, this all describes a pattern that has, quite plausibly, come to stand for a central trait of capitalist evolution.  Put most simply, “ruling classes today ‘manage’ people through a combination of ‘public-relations,’ propaganda, distraction, and repression.”

A more nuanced statement of this point is possible.  It might look something like this: “Key struggles over meaning, knowledge, and power all intersect with and emanate from controlling, first, the technologies and labor that compile recorded speech, and, second, the media for presenting those now extremely varied recordings; advantages in this contest, almost universally in the form of successful–or replicable–networks and paradigms that reach expanding ‘publics,’ serve to influence, and often to determine, social, political, and economic outcomes.

For all of its frequent flaws of glaring bourgeois bias, Paul Starr’s The Creation of the Media: Political Origins of Modern Communications offers pupils of these matters a relatively elegant empirical bedrock for supporting the above conclusion.  From the concomitant downfall of strict censorship and the censorious Stuarts; to the simultaneous libertine upsurge of colonial textuality—newsy, pugilistic, and both globally and locally aware; to the persistent rebellion that pamphleteering and ‘correspondence societies’ helped to launch and sustain; to the dialectically intertwined manifestation of knowledge, distribution, and publication forms that have seesawed their way through American history, this characterization of mediation seems, at least, reasonable.

The nearly universal initiation, co-optation, or capture of news-and-publishing outlets by the rising bourgeoisie took many forms.  However, this humble correspondent would insist that folks apprehend the undeniable veracity of the proposition that we have not come to today’s seemingly unstoppable effusion of hyper-monopoly in any other fashion than step-by-step, following original inclinations to their logical and predictable ends.

This is corroborated whether one adopts a biographical approach–from Horace Greely’s faux-Horatio-Alger-garnering of capitalist backing, to Hearst’s gold-mining, and gold-digging, parentage, and beyond, to the Luces, the Paleys and so forth and so on–to ascertaining information networks, or whether one prefers to examine the way that business and regulatory structures favor particular organization forms over others, or whether one chooses different, more intellectual and ideational formulations.  The history of media in America is, practically speaking–‘Citizen-Kane’ gossipy details notwithstanding, indistinguishable from the history of capitalism in America.

Advertising and marketing and propaganda together confirm thisPower-politics and the specifics of character assassination and the sway of secrecy demonstrate this.  The opportunistic inclusion or exclusion of access to ‘legitimate’ or ‘unacceptable’ publics combine with criminal and civil media law again and again to prove this.

Forthcoming investigation will delve more deeply into the political-economic and historical background that underpins the current media conundrums that afflict citizens.  The point of both this explication and what is to come is simple: in the realm of AOL’s conjunction with Huff-Po, such a conceptual, historical, and political-economic framework is critical to any understanding that is richer and deeper than either a ‘follow-the-yellow-brick-road’ optimism or a ‘lions-and-tigers-and-bears’ sense of panic.

 

SOME FINAL WORDS: The Only Media-Coup That Can Promote Democracy

The Grateful Dead’s “New Speedway Boogie” could easily serve as an anthem for the present pass.  It’s threatening lilt and gutsy force match the sensibilities of the current moment as well as anything outside the realm of rap.

“Please don’t dominate the rap, Jack, if you’ve got nothing new to say.

If you’ll please stomp back up the track, this train’s got to run today. …

I don’t know but I been told,

It’s hard to run with the weight of gold.

On the other hand, I done heard it said,

It’s just as hard with the weight of lead.

Who can deny, who can deny, it’s not just a change in style.

One step’s done, and another’s begun.

And I wonder how many miles. …

You can’t overlook the lack, Jack, of any other highway to ride.

It’s got no signs or dividing lines, and very few rules to guide

Now I don’t know but I’ve been told,

If the horse don’t pull, you got to carry that load.

Now, I don’t know whose back’s that strong.

Maybe find out before too long.

One way or another, one way or another, one way or another

This darkness got to give.

One way or another, one way or another, one way or another,

This darkness got to give”

            One way of responding to such energy is to flee in terror.  Another approach, however, is to recognize that, in times of “one way or another,” “Which Side Are You On?” and so forth, coalition is a necessary response to the inevitability of schism and polarization.

But before anything akin to coalition can even become a faint possibility, people need to wake up.  They need to turn off the TV’s that poison them with fear and loathing and fill their minds with misinformation or nonsense and their hearts with envy or despondency.  Like the denizens of ‘Dead Prez,’ they need to admit that we’ve been “telling lies to our children” and begin to correct them and atone for them.

One way or another, the only salvation for a popular democracy is a media that actually remains under popular control.  And that will never happen at Huffington Post, at Nation of Change, at Op-Ed News, or at most other ‘left-media’ outlets as currently constituted.

This humble correspondent has long promulgated the idea that People’s Information Networks might serve as a conceptual model for actual progress in relation to gaining grassroots power in the information sphere.  While future articles will further explore this idea, a few pointers now are apt to mention.

In this vein, this humble correspondent ends with some simple suggestions.  Let’s get together and call for a People’s Media Congress.  A People Power Congress shouldn’t be far behind.  People Power Seminars need to begin as soon as readers finish this sentence.

What are all of these things, exactly?  Well, let’s start talking about it. A grassroots, participatory, community-based uprising has to be better than what’s happening now.

As a Congressional candidate and acquaintance of this humble correspondent has stated the matter, “The time has come to take a stand.”  Oblivion beckons otherwise.

Readers might want to stay tuned and remember the words of Bette Davis.  “Fasten your seat-belts; it’s going to be a bumpy night.”

 

Accessories–Before, During, and After the Fact

From Dr. Boyce Watkins, "Facts You May Not Know About the Troy Davis Case"

A fascination with, aversion toward, and utter confusion about the United States are all paradoxically possible at the same point in time.  To an extent, these seemingly incompatible feelings accompany the imperial position of hegemony that the U.S.A. currently occupies.  In this context, what happens in the U.S., particularly when lives are at stake and oppression appears irresistible, deserves the world’s compassionate attention.  Legal matters, especially when capital punishment is at issue, are typical of this sort of important development that mandates a closer look.

Though I’m not an attorney, as a wordsmith I know that a fascination with language and meaning is a lawyer’s stock in trade.  A while back, contemplating the term ‘accessory,’ in its criminal legal sense, seemed particularly apt in regard to the State of Georgia, where until recently I resided in the Southern U.S.  A wide-ranging and authoritative definition of ‘accessory’ shows up  in Black’s Law Dictionary and multiple other sources: “one who is not the chief actor in the offense, nor present at its performance, but in some way concerned therein, either before or after the act committed; one who aids, abets, commands, or counsels another in the commission of a crime.  Accessory after the fact–person who, knowing a felony to have been committed by another, receives, relieves, comforts or assists the felon, in order to enable him to escape from punishment, or the like.   Accessory before the fact–one who orders, counsels, encourages, or otherwise aids and abets another to commit a felony and who is not present at the commission of the offense.   Accessory during the fact–one who stands by without interfering or giving such help as may be in his power to prevent the commission of a criminal offense.”

Inasmuch as any Georgia resident, who is not actively protesting the pending execution of Troy Anthony Davis, either is or ought to be aware of this coming killing, such a one is quite likely about to become every sort of accessory to this still young man’s judicial murder, which, if Davis is innocent, is at the very least a negligent homicide.  Let me be completely clear: this means that not only would Governor Nathan Deal and most of the State’s legislature be culpable for what is as likely as not a major felony, it would mean that the several million Peach State occupants who are doing nothing would also be chargeable, in that their silence and inattention, or, in far too many cases of misguided vengefulness, their active support and direction, provided aid and comfort to the actual executioners.

    Undoubtedly, someone viciously killed Mark Allen MacPhail on August 19, 1989.  Just as obviously, a Savannah, Georgia jury convicted Troy Davis of that brutal murder in August, 1991.  Lacking physical evidence that Mr. Davis was the killer, however, or any circumstantial evidence other than his presence at the scene, where off-duty officer MacPhail was attempting to break up a parking lot melee, Chatham County prosecutors relied on the testimony of nine eyewitnesses to make the charges against Troy Anthony Davis stick.

Today, seven of those nine observers take back their testimony, admitting that they cannot state with any certainty who pulled the trigger and slayed an honest cop doing good work.  Several recanting witnesses speak of blatant police misconduct, including threats of imprisonment if they did not implicate Troy Davis.

Mark Allen MacPhail’s death is a fact; that someone gutlessly murdered him is a fact; Troy Anthony Davis’ conviction for that soulless crime is a fact.  But we should make no mistake: given copious other facts that are now at hand, including and in addition to the recantation of over three quarters of the eyewitnesses who formed the sole basis for the State’s pinning this act on Mr. Davis in the first place, his actual guilt is at best one possibility among many others to account for the cretinous and hateful destruction of Officer MacPhail’s life.

Thus, at the very least, a significant possibility exists, a possibility that any reasonable person would acknowledge adds up to a “reasonable doubt” that was unavailable to jurors in Savannah in August, 1991, that Mr. Davis, an innocent man, has served over twenty years in prison, almost all 240 of those months on death row, for something that he did not do.  Moreover, of course, all Georgians who do not insist that he receive clemency are in one way or another playing a role in a murder of Troy Anthony Davis that will be, if he is guiltless, at least as sinister and cruel and stupid as the killing for which he may unjustly soon lose his life.

In a word, passively or actively, millions of Georgians are about to become accessories before, during, and after the fact to a homicide that even those who count themselves staunch advocates of capital punishment can only claim is possibly, or at most probably, a justifiable taking of human life.  Obviously, these millions of ‘accessories’ will never face justice for their acts.  Procedural layers of contemporary law protect them as seamlessly as a kevlar vest would fend off a BB gun.

  Perhaps those who bother to read this missive will take comfort in their legal blamelessness, even as Troy Anthony Davis suffocates on a ‘cocktail’ of lethal poisons administered by agents of the Georgia citizenry.  Nevertheless, to execute a blameless bystander for a horrifying homicide merely compounds the crime; not only does no one responsible face justice, but also all of those who impassively watch the new killing become morally bankrupt, whatever escape clauses permit them to evade proper criminal blame.

I for one refuse to stand with the murderers, and I pray for an upwelling and outpouring of support to the same effect.  I’m not a particularly religious person, but if Troy Anthony Davis dies at the hands of Georgia’s criminal authorities on September 21 or the days that follow, then the vast majority of my former home-State’s citizenry deserve a common epithet delivered to the guilty: “May God have mercy on their souls.”

The equinox this year, in the event of Troy’s wanton execution, will portend an endless night of gruesome injustice.  What must result from that, sooner or later, is a fulfillment, whatever particular ‘war of attrition’ comes as

comeuppance for the arrogance of vicious murder by which Georgia operates, of Abraham Lincoln’s inquiry in his Second Inaugural.

“‘Woe unto the world because of offenses; for it must needs be that offenses come, but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh. If we shall suppose that American slavery(or Troy Davis’ murder by acts of omission and commission by Georgia’s people) is one of those offenses which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives … this terrible war as the woe due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to Him?  Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away.  Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash(or the hypodermic) shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said ‘the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.'”

   Why should someone who is not a U.S. citizen care about this?  One might just as easily pose the question of a resident of Maine, or California, who looks askance on the bigotry and brutality so characteristic of oxymoronic “Southern justice.”  The answer depends on the individual in question.  Does he or she complain about imperious American actions?  Or does he or she long for a world with more of a balanced distribution of power?  For the resident of other states: do they ever deplore that a cretin like George Bush stole the Presidency?  Do they ever wish for fairer criminal justic policies, a rejection of fascistic laws such as the U.S.A. Patriot Act, or a general diminution of the power of the ‘prison-industrial-complex?’

For non U.S. citizens or non Georgia residents who never ponder issues such as these, or who feel in fact that everything is more or less hunky-dory on the planet earth, the answer to the initial question about why some should care is simple.  “They needn’t care a bit about Mr. Davis’ murder by the State and the accessory status of Georgia’s citizenry.”

But for anyone else, anyone who knows, with Hamlet, that “something is rotten” indeed in the State-of-Everything-on-Earth, the answer to the first interrogatory above is simple, but not quite so easy.  To them, a concerned observer might suggest, “people who want significant reform need viewpoints that proffer something to fight the powers-that-be.  Being able to note, with complete accuracy, that most Georgians are culpable for an innocent man’s murder, because they are too vicious, lazy, bigoted, or ignorant to be other than criminal accessories to such a crime, sounds to me like ammunition in the battle about what kind of future we hope to fashion for our progeny.”

When I investigated this story in 2004, I uncovered evidence that the Savannah Police know precisely what they’re doing.  Executing an innocent man, while the killer is on their payroll is part of Departmental protocol somehow.  In any event, that’s my story, and I’m sticking to it, with an update that is more concerned with my work on the case, and actions available to those who oppose murdering innocent men, due out early next week.

Understanding 9/11 & Acting on That Insight/PART THREE

In two previous installments, this humble correspondent has provided, first of all, an overall contextualization of how to think about this tenth anniversary.  Secondly, an oh-so-rudimentary–and yet lengthy and too-involved for many readers–examination has appeared here of the inception of the epoch that 9/11arguaby  brought to an end.  The previous post ranged back-and-forth from that sixty-six year old anniversary.

As was the case in Part Two, this humble correspondent’s lens chooses not to home-in on what members of the British general-staff first labeled the ‘Mid-East’.  That John Foster Dulles, not yet head of the State Department, and his brother, Allen Dulles, not yet head of the CIA were crucial to the popularization of the term in the U.S., is useful info.  But such bon mots, and the analysis which flows from them, are not present here.  This does not stem from lack of capacity to tell that part of the tale, nor from a belief that such narrative is unimportant.

Others, however, have covered that ground, as has this humble correspondent in a different context.  In fact, reviewing ‘leftist’ and ‘progressive’ attempts to tell the tale of 9/11, the focus is often more or less exclusively on Israel, Saudi Arabia, and so forth.  This direly imperils the attempt to know what is happening in relation to 9/11; the American empire spans the globe, and ‘changing Mid-East policy,’ reducing our ‘greed for oil,’ and other laudable reforms are no more enough to forestall future carnage than cutting out a lung cancer is an adequate response to a tumorous invasion that has metastasized to brain and liver and bones.

Thus, today, readers will encounter another pair of summations.  The first investigates, again with lightning speed, a significant ‘bump-in-the-road’ that followed by a few decades the ‘ides-of-September’ beginning of our age.  Miraculously enough, this occurrence also took place on September eleventh, though the vast majority of Americans are as ignorant of this dual conjunction of late Summer tragedy as they are of the Federalist Papers, the history of World War One, or any other matter, no matter how crucially relevant to their lives, that is unlikely to be popular in People Magazine, Facebook, or the sports and fashion newscape.

The second element of today’s posting confronts readers with the here-and-now.  As noted in Part One, Earth’s sojourners are headed toward dock at a definable bend of the river, a passage that does not have a pretty ending.  This portion of the series looks at those ends, dealing with plausible, arguably likely, results that will become increasingly inevitable in the lee of 9/11–which, in turn, represents the unfolding of a new chapter in world history–results that might manifest very differently were engaged and capacitated groups of citizens to show up to contend for power.

BODY #2–Adjusting to Contrariety and Contraction, Trying to Finance Miracles on the Installment Plan, Falling Back on the Old Standard–‘Divide & Conquer’

As noted on Sunday, USA elites’ expectations of an extended reign went smoothly enough for a quarter century.  As the Vietnamese intervention unraveled, however, at a cost of plus-or-minus a million butchered Asians, challenges to unilateral imposition of United States proclivities cropped up on every continent.

As one might expect in looking into any complicated phenomenon, this ‘falling-apart’ of one way of doing business had many components.  One could pick and choose among dozens of eventualities, or more, that help to explicate how things worked out as they did, why certain choices seemed attractive or even inevitable.  For purposes of this series, the focus falls on events in the Western hemisphere early in September, 1973.

Imperial Impunity in a State of Denial


Rebellions in Central America had long been heating up, regardless of the self-congratulation that typified U.S. agents’ beliefs about ‘successes’ in undercover operations–murder and mayhem, incorporated–in Guatemala and elsewhere over the years.  At the same time, further South, Chile had evinced the temerity to elect a socialist, Salvador Allende, who preached that he needn’t overthrow capitalism since he had won an election that allowed him to establish a constitutional socialist agenda.

Financiers and industrialists found the idea nauseating that, not only could a daring and savvy revolutionary fighter, such as Fidel Castro, once in a while win a bout with the mightiest nation on earth, but that elections themselves–which were so firmly under control stateside–might soon produce similar effects as had emanated from armed conflict.  In the course of 1973, these upper-crust malcontents made common cause with the higher strata of Chile’s military, which felt similar discontent at the developing radicalism of Chilean society.

In the event, roughly twenty-eight years after the conclusion of the slaughter of WWII, which in turn left the U.S. master of the whole world, the boards of directors and top bureaucrats of government secretariats–who, by the way, were almost to a man(or an occasional woman)exactly the same people–had little choice, in their view of the priorities in play, but to unleash a brutal unhinging of Salvador Allende and his companeras y companeros.   Senor Allende and many others faced summary execution on that day, 9/11/1973.

This gruesome torture and homicidal mania ultimately killed in excess of ten thousand, possibly many more, solidifying the idea in popular thinking  of the ‘desaparicidos,’ those who have simply vanished from the world.  Alberto Bolano, the masterful Chilean novelist and poet, writes about them, pushed from planes, taken on terminal jaunts into deserts and jungles, bundled up and trundled away to eliminate messy evidence of murder.  Thus, the ‘masters-of-the-universe’ in charge of America began a new chapter with thuggish killing many times greater than what took place a decade ago in New York and Washington.

The same sort of scenario, though stretched over more years, happened in relation to Iran–which rid itself of Reza Pahlavi, the storied psycho whom Dulles and Dulles and BP put into place in Persia in ’54–ten years in the aftermath of Chile’s descent into the inferno.  This Southwest Asia imbroglio involved an equally obvious criminal conspiracy, in which President-elect Ronald Reagan–the ‘gipper’ himself–played a formative, “October Surprise,” role.

The Iran-Contra chicanery, a vile and vicious hoax that supplied drug-financed ordnance for the decimation of tens of thousands of Nicaraguans who had demonstrated the insolence of seeking a democracy to replace U.S. corporate henchmen and killers like Anastasio Somoza, involved the highest levels of multiple executive departments of the U.S. Government.  A few, like Oliver North, were convicted of felonies–though North’s ‘sentence’ was “a fine, community service, and probation, and some spent time in prison, though they now reap thousands per appearance on a lecture circuit that celebrates criminal conspiracy in the name of anti-communism.

The invasion of Panama continued this trend, albeit in a slightly different vein.  The removal of Manuel Noriega from power occurred after he threatened to unleash torrents of information about the hypocrisy, venality, and misrepresentation that underpinned both the War on Drugs and our relations with Latin America generally, without doubt clouded now by “corruptions of memory”.

While imperial servants thus throttled one monster of our own making, whose vision in some ways paralleled that of another favorite Frankenstein–Saddam Hussein–U.S. money and policy, funneled as usual through the CIA, gave birth to the slimy upper-class cabal that would inflict the poison of 9/11 twenty-two years later.  Of course, anyone who looks into the matter discerns the facts, yet Americans remain almost utterly ignorant: Osama Bin Laden was a highly-paid contract employee of the U.S., to spread depredation and death against Russia.

“Charlie Wilson’s War” is farcically evil in many of its conveyances, at the same time that the film does ‘spin’ a tale that makes self-serving selections of reality a part of the narrative.  Bin Laden was ‘our guy’ before he was the ‘bad guy.’  For his multi-billion dollar wages, this scion of a Bush-connected oil family saw fit to plot attacks on the house of the ‘hand that fed him.’

This quick accounting deserves a much deeper attention and a complete unveiling of the as-yet ‘classified’ materials that continue to hide big sections of what actually makes up our past.  And many other cases remain to tell, so soon as citizens insist on the real story of their lives.  Finding new ways to practice death-worship and new techniques for perfecting theft and corruption, however, could not forestall the economic wreckage of the 1970’s, which is another characteristic of the new phase of things, for which Salvador Allende and countless others paid with their lives.

Falling Profits, Rising Debts, Declining Fortunes, Increasing Joblessness, Oh My!

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting States, naturally, was in significant part a creature of corporate capital and imperial convenience, in which ‘developing countries’ like Kuwait and Saudi Arabia get far more credit for ‘independence’ than is their due.  Its oil-shock and the fiscal precipice that loomed ahead of what Americans received due encouragement to blame OPEC for, both followed from and furthered a deconstruction of many elements of the famed, and critically important  Bretton Woods agreements, among them Nixon’s ending of the gold standard.

This linking of economic decline and energy politics and massive deficit-spending has proved an unshakeable connection.  M. King Hubbert, ‘Mr. Peak Oil’ himself, early on saw this, although very few commentators, this humble correspondent excepted, note that he ended his life a devoted proponent of solar-energy and other legitimately renewable technologies.

The imposition of nuclear energy–and the continued budgeting of nuclear megadeath–thus has also shown up as a never-to-end aspect of this new age, never mind popular opposition, the potential for the end of human life on Earth as a result, and the unbearable expense of atomic technologies.  Anti-nuclear activists simply cannot explain such ‘nonsense’, since they eschew analyzing the historical and political-economic underpinnings of what they deplore; in similar fashion, they also fail to connect such matters with 9/11, preferring insularity and a narrow focus, no matter how impotent.

In the past forty years, every new ‘creation of wealth,’ about which stock-brokers and other financial accessories of a flailing capitalism crow constantly– the second half of the Reagan reign, under Bill Clinton until the dot.com implosion, and so on–has ineluctably caused a bursting bubble more nauseating and horrifying than the last one.  ‘Tea-Partiers’ and other reactionaries, Ron Paul included, importune about debt and ‘fiat currency’ and the evils of the Federal Reserve, completely missing that their parties and policies and leadership in the past has been at least equally as responsible as any Democrat has been for all such developments.

Capital’s travails extend to every single sector of the economy, from the most stolid to the most ‘innovative’.  Citizens intuit such contradictions and misrepresentation that are everywhere apparent.  Yet they have yet to develop their own capacity, as the working Americans who create all the wealth of the nation, to insist that a worker-friendly policy come to the fore.

As Pete Seeger and millions of adherents have intoned, in Ralph Chaplin’s International Workers of the World song of class solidarity, “It is we who plowed the prairies, built the cities where they trade, Dug the mines and built the workshops, endless miles of railroad laid.  Now we stand outcast and starving ‘mid the wonders we have made, But the union makes us strong.” In place of ‘solidarity forever,’ however, an initial chipping away at the rights of workers and the poor became an avalanche of crushing blows to workers’ perquisite.  The social effects of such developments were, of course, quite predictable.

Unraveling the Social Safety Net and Promoting Internecine Uproar

The War on Drugs is arguably the most successful criminal fraud  in history.  Quite logically, its initiation was exactly congruent both with the open decimation of popular politics in Chile and elsewhere and with the crashing of the vaunted ‘free market’ into repeated implosions of despondency, debt, and decline.

Additionally , the creation of a ‘black market’ that overwhelmingly victimized Blacks  and other poor and minority folks paralleled one case after another of attacking and beginning to dismantle FDR’s ‘New Deal’ policies.  Of course, some of them, for example labor’s right to organize, had already received death sentences, during the prior decades, in the form of ‘right-to-work’ amendments and so forth.

Liberal unemployment benefits and easily obtainable workmen’s compensation became increasingly dicey for many workers in many states.  America, more and more, began to resemble a debtor’s prison .

Moreover, welfare programs came under unparalleled attacks during each of the three Presidencies preceding 9/11.  In many ways, Bill Clinton’s handling of ‘welfare reform’ ended up being the most draconian.

These varied assaults on the viability of working class life–what many folks wrongheadedly and erroneously label ‘middle-class’ existence, which had remained a sine qua non of U.S. politics for four decades after the bruising battles of the 1930’s had occurred–picked up steam and began to eviscerate political support for the socially vulnerable.  At the same time, regulatory responses to structural problems of corporate profiteering–environmental agencies, ‘fairness’ laws of all types for ‘consumers,’ and ‘equal opportunity’ approaches to built-in inequality, became the norm.  Title VI, Title IX, and so forth helped to fuel an inescapable swamp of growing resentment between men and women, White and Black, immigrant and ‘native.’

Despite this threefold ruling-class response to the crises of the 1970’s, however, a return to Kennedy’s ‘Camelot’ or Ike’s ‘good old days’ never transpired.  Instead, as one crisis made way for a new inflationary miracle, each sickening pop of each new bubble led to precipices that apparently verged on unfathomable abysses.  And the people, rather than regularly and compliantly either shutting up or turning on each other, looked like they might find a basis for unity in a new sort of politics –spirituality, technology, and plain old class consciousness played a role here.

As the second millennium of the ‘current era’ came to a close, prospects had rarely appeared bleaker for the captain’s of capital and their cohorts in the manipulation of mass consciousness.  Of course, then the ‘unimaginable’ came to pass, just like in a movie of ‘evildoer terrorists’ who dared to assault the nicest folks on the planet.

Thus, a new groove seemed accessible to big business and its minions–the ‘homeland security’ spigot, a never-ending ‘war-on-terror,’ a blacklist flexible enough to encompass almost anybody who argued.  Those who refuse to recognize these actualities will have only themselves to blame if sufficient numbers survive to the new ‘dark ages’ that could easily loom ahead.  In many ways, such an imposed brutality might resemble Chile in the late 1970’s.

BODY #3–Revealing the iron Fist Inside the Velvet Glove, Preparing for a Dark Eternity

Interestingly enough, twenty-eight years to the day following one of history’s most-ignored mass-murders–carnage in the ‘Southern Cone’, American and United jets purportedly brought down the Twin Towers.  This heart-stopping drama, paradoxically and yet irresistibly, laid the basis for a reassertion of the most nakedly imperialistic elements of U.S. rule.

One can “deal in conspiracy facts,” in the vein of a Michael Ruppert.  His Crossing the Rubicon makes a prosecutor’s case for the notion that everything that transpired ten years ago was the result of a careful and well-thought out criminal enterprise.  ‘Malice aforethought’ is everywhere, in this view.

Or one can merely note how conveniently the prod–of planes that flew into buildings–“fit to a ‘t'” the needs and plans  of a ruling plutocracy steeped in blood and convinced of its own righteous omnipotence.  And people shouted their demands that the government respond to the victimization of Americans with a policy of retributive vengeance.  Either way, the track that ran on after 9/11 followed perfectly the course that the imperialists had long advocated.

Never mind that millions upon millions also protested the drive toward a ‘war without end.’  Corporate media, corporate government, and corporate enterprise blithely turned a mostly blind eye toward all who complained that ‘justice’ ought not to include serial killing of millions of innocents in the name of Americans who would never profit from the process like the capitalists who had designed and sought to implement such a program from the 1970’s on.  The components of this programmatic state-terror are starkly easy to view.

**National Security States and the Termination of ‘Freedom’**

The so-called Patriot Act just stands out as the easiest-to-see example of fascism in America resplendent.  ‘Homeland Security,’ the war on immigrants, and more have become a part of the log-rolling, money-making operations that defenestrate all pretense of ‘liberal’ bourgeois democracy.

**Instant Access to the National Treasury for Militarists, and Their Imprisonment-and-Pharmaceutical-Pacification Allies, and a Disenfranchisement of all Other Constituencies**

Operation Iraqi Liberation(O.I.L.)was too transparent even for an administration as filled with apparent morons as was that of Yale’s stupidest-ever graduate.  However, as the ‘hope’ that Barack-the-Magnificent embodied has proven to be the facade that thinkers such as this humble correspondent promised, anyone who cares to contemplate the matter can see that this dual process–everything for the ‘merchants of death,’ penury for everybody else–has continued and promises to be the sine qua non for many years to come, but for the rise of America’s ‘missing’ working class.

**Endless War and Guaranteed Bad Guys**

The ‘fall’ of communism, even as Hugo and Evo and Lula and Daniel joined Fidel in this hemisphere, and the Chinese showed themselves more astute as bourgeois producers than perhaps they had ever been as ‘Red’ levelers, necessitated a new locus of ‘evil.’  That Osama was ‘our creature’ from the get-go mattered not at all.  That the Iraqis were at odds with the Bin Laden racket was immaterial.  The ‘fix was in,’ and only a populist uprising that seemed like a worse wager than a drunken lotto-pick could turn the tide.

That this long-odds potential is real fits with many facts.  For the most part, though, all of these eventualities stand alone, alienated and isolated from each other.

Post-9/11/2001, Augusto Pinochet, another American darling mass-murderer, finally faced justice at the behest of Spain, which had undergone its own bout of bloodletting–For Whom the Bell Tolls anyone?–in a furious civil war that had at its heart the fascistic notion that pursuit of social democracy deserved a death-sentence.  Pinochet died before he had to confront a final accounting for the crimes that he committed as an accessory to the USA’s empire of blood.

Many Chileans do not remember 9/11 as do a likely majority of U.S. citizens.  One difference between the two groups is that the Chileanas and Chileanos are cognizant of what went down in 2001.  Would that we could say that even a significant fraction of North Americans were similarly aware about the ‘terrorist’ shit-storm, which the United States of America unleashed on thousands upon untold thousands of innocents, for the ‘crime’ of believing in social democracy.

Hundreds of cases like these exist.  Innumerable thousands of such stories go without adequate mediation.  Literally billions of residents of our lovely planet would be on the right side of a choice, were the dialog and democratic process to make such a choice in place.

The list of hopeful signs, separate and generally unconnected, is practically infinite.   Uniting them, in a mass movement for democracy and social justice, is the missing ingredient.  But that’s like saying when we have the butter and eggs and sugar and fixings to create the sweetest feed ever, flour is the missing ingredient for a cake.

Can we stand up, as in the song?  “They have taken untold millions that they never toiled to earn, But without our brain and muscle, not a single wheel can turn.  We can break their haughty power, gain our freedom when we learn That the union makes us strong.”

An organized solidarity, based on thorough and persistent analyses of the realities of this Earth, beckons citizen-workers to save their own lives, the futures of their children, and the possibility of a human community.  Truly, we have only to lose the chains of false consciousness that our ‘superiors’ yank with such legerdemain in enslaving us.

Understanding 9/11 & Acting on That Insight/PART TWO

The first piece of this four-part series offered both a call for collective responsibility and a selective summary of doubts and criticisms of the ‘standard’ responses to 9/11.  Today’s material begins, regarding the horrors of ten years ago, the analysis that is consistently missing from most accounts of the event.

While this humble correspondent is fully capable of accomplishing such a project in an exhaustively thorough fashion, present-day ‘attention-deficit’ readers howl at such a prospect.  “Just stick with the basics, keep it simple, and give us ‘the executive summary.'”  Therefore, what follows remains in every sense a brief, a precis, an overview.

Nevertheless, because the delving here will never fit in a Facebook quip, or prove congruent with Twitter protocols, many readers–the vast majority, in fact–will still cavil that what follows wallows in too much detail and expects folks to partake of too much complexity.  As my mother was fond of saying, “More’s the pity:” such readers deserve the crushing cretins whom their willful ignorance and cavalier inattention bring forth.

Paradoxically, and hilariously really, some of the same critics who moan about the difficulty of engaging this topic in anything other than an utterly superficial way, will look at bits and pieces of what unfolds below and they will shout righteously, “This is way too simplistic!  The reality is a lot more complex.”


To this sort of critique, one can only reply, “Well, duh.”  The present process seeks to walk the line between complete over-simplification and paralyzing analytical detail.  It will thus suffer the conundrums of trying to dig through too much, too quickly.

Other commentators might grumble, “There’s not much about the Palestinians or the Saudis or Afghanistan here; you just can’t leave those things out!”  This humble correspondent begs to differ.  He asks that would-be pupils like him, who insist on a thorough capacity to apprehend our world, read on and see for themselves if the explanatory nexus provided below seems reasonable.

To those happy readers who welcome the challenge that always attends grappling with reality–whether they find my thinking totally off-base, mainly wrong-headed, often insightful, or generally correct–the next step ought to be easy.  Let us continue talking about these matters, with the notion uppermost that citizen participation can only emanate from the learning curve that accompanies dialog.

So saying, the first of three analytical sections appears below. Today’s element deals with the broader historical context and immediate aftermath of what this humble correspondent argues was, sixty-six years ago, the onset of the modern period of time.  It consists of two sub-sections, one looking backward and the other forward, from 1945.

BODY #1–The Genesis and Early Functioning of America’s Plutocratic Predominance

The ides of September, 1945, in some real sense centered on the deck of the Battleship Missouri, marking there both a culmination and an outset.  The Japanese surrender, a version of which the country’s leadership had proffered through the Soviet Union earlier in the Summer, had not precluded the U.S. decision, five weeks earlier, to vaporize plus or minus 200,000 civilians–with many more tens of thousands long-term casualties–at Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  However, excluding the Soviets from the peace process, learning operationally how a new weapon performed, and demonstrating far and wide precisely the extent of American potency and ruthlessness were apparently adequate counterweights to the murder of several hundred thousand civilians.

Through a Glass Darkly

This event acts as a window on several previous periods of history.  Through its panes, the observer sees a clear ‘chain-of-title’ that connects this single greatest-act-of-homicide-ever with the origination of one version of the United States.  This is true even though such a development was, at the start, a future, domineering in design and imperious in attitude, about which George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Paine and many others had warned.

“Conquest is not in our principles.  It is inconsistent with government,” Jefferson wrote to a diplomat in Spain in 1790.  Perhaps naive, clearly  not spoken in the context of a modern-day peacenik, this thinking nevertheless repeatedly typified the nation’s second President.  That this vision now appears nonsensical does not negate the actuality that a program based on peace and mutuality was once the stated goal of leading Americans, who in these thoughts reflected common people.

Through the contradictions inherent in these thinkers’ ideation, and to fulfill the needs of a slaveocracy and merchant elite that equated trade with territorial expansion and military capacity, not to mention that the entire national prospectus depended on a continental-sized theft, the USA embarked on a different course from that highlighted in the ideas of high-minded ‘founding fathers.  The War With Mexico and the extermination of indigenous Americans allowed the nascent ‘manifest destiny’ of the U.S. to flex muscles as yet unable to rule the globe.

Thoreau’s On Civil Disobedience was merely one piece of a significant anti-war and anti-slavery dissent that confronted the move to dominate North America.  This is a tension from which today’s polarization around issues of war and peace is a lineal descendant.

In turn, the Civil War gave the first opportunity to join total war with industry and finance and government, as the North spilled theretofore unparalleled buckets of blood to quash secession and change the platform upon which White supremacy operated, from slavery to Jim-Crow-apartheid.  This iron-triangle–business, money, and the State–has reemerged again and again following the War Between the States, to become the underlying SOP of the U.S. economy and polity for the past seventy years or so.

This dynamic industrial capacity, seeking outlets around the world, countered a depressed economy in the 1890’s by ‘liberating’ Cuba and the Philippines and more, only to inaugurate tyrannical butchery with an American flavor that rivaled or surpassed Spain’s repression.  All of this transpired in the name of ‘opening doors’ to trade and helping benighted populations develop.


World War One, after the next period of fiscal panic, served as the fulcrum point for the supremacy of American industry and finance, as the European bloodletting, financed and supplied by the USA, left the continent in a shambles of upheaval and revolution.  The invasion of the Soviet Union in its infancy was a part of this process too, a “secret war against Bolshevism” precisely aligned with our present day ‘war on terror.’  Though Wilson booted any potential for U.S. world leadership, as J.M. Keynes documents in The Economic Consequences of the Peace, and the League of Nations did not fit with an ever arrogant and exceptionalist ruling-class political culture here, the war and many American leaders then did foresee the coming ‘American Century’ and more.

This is an excellent point in the flow of this series to make an important analytical point.  This essay has not presented much at all about the so-called ‘Mid-East.’  Surely the early U.S. interest in the “shores of Tripoli;” the consistent identification with the way that England’s empire filled the ‘void’ caused by the complete collapse of Ottoman rule, particularly in Iraq, but also in Egypt and elsewhere; the way that the ‘House of Bush’ and the ‘House of Saud’ have relational roots over eighty years old; and multiple other events and developments in and around the Eastern Mediterranean are of crucial consequence in explaining 9/11.

Well, of course that is true.  However, the nearly exclusive emphasis on such aspects of anglo-American and capitalist colonialism, ‘neo-colonialism,’ and so forth is a dangerous mistake, or worse.  The most thorough telling of these tales will never account for the phenomenon of imperialism as a whole; nor or they essential to an accounting of that complex reality of empire.

Instead, they are in the nature of a fetish.  Since those who would look only at these matters–too much ‘favoritism’ for Israel, too much ‘greed’ about oil, not enough ‘balance’ in relation to Palestine and democratic nationalism, and on and on and on–cannot, or do not desire to, explicate a robust account of U.S. imperialism, they substitute what seems a tasty treat in place of the intellectually nutritious diet that is actually essential to conceptual health and fitness about an event like 9/11.

For a robust understanding, one needs a broader view, a more honestly political-economic and world-historical assessment.  A two-time Congressional Medal of Honor recipient, who rose to become the general who headed the United States Marine Corps for nearly a decade, offers citizens grist for folks who desire a deeper and broader concept.

Smedley Butler left the Marine Corps as the Great Depression unfolded.  The narrative that defined his life ensued.  And War Is a Racket shows the sort of depth and breadth that analysts desperately need, though Butler’s story remains one of the little-known keys to American history.

In the book, he spoke what had become his watchwords: “I Was a Gangster for Capitalism.”  Not coincidentally, he spent the last years of his life promoting a wide-ranging and thorough comprehension of capitalist empire, as he watched and spoke about the coming conflagration of 1939-1945.

In this vein, World War Two consolidated  the ‘wasted opportunities’ for totalitarian plutocracy that had evaporated at Versailles.  The ‘Science State,’ in which megadeath and technical knowhow wed, came to a triumphant and ecocidal fruition in the Manhattan Project, which has served as a model ever since for what Dwight Eisenhower warned could easily become a dictatorial “military industrial complex.”

Giving Birth to the Current Context

In addition to its function as a way of revealing the past, the end of WWII also operated as a midwife which assisted in the birth of the modern age, which America’s rulers saw as the beginning of their own ‘thousand year Reich.’  Eric Barnouw, whose Tube of Plenty examines the origins of television in part as an exercise in empire, is one of dozens of thinkers who review and explicate the connection between WWII’s completion and the rise of a USA ‘superpower’ bent on world domination.

As in the previous section, this humble correspondent is not focusing on Southwest Asia and Northern Africa.  The formation of the State of Israel, in which the U.S. played critical parts, the Suez-war, the invasion of Lebanon, and the ‘strategic partnership’ with Israel all contain important information about U.S. empire.

But they are no more the a satisfactory causal and investigative background for comprehending 9/11 than seeing a tumorous mass is a usefully comprehensive way to understand cancer.  The remainder of this section and this series seeks to proffer that adequate analytical background for understanding 9/11 as a natural expression of a ‘racket,’ run by the USA, in which occasional ‘gangland wars’ exact tragic tolls on the majority of citizens, whose lives in a sense depend on their manifesting a fuller knowledge of their world and its causes.

To begin, therefore, the centrality of secrecy in an erstwhile ‘open’ society over and over again showed up as a clear component of this hegemonic America.  In the formation of the Atomic Energy Commission, the Central Intelligence Agency, and the execution of the Rosenbergs for the crime of assisting the inevitable rise of the Soviets as a nuclear force, for example, the arrogation of knowledge to those with ‘clearance‘ became de rigeur.

The suppression of protest and any ideological deviation from the falsely-labeled ‘free market,’ especially if such dissent or divergence honestly supported social democracy, appeared repeatedly as well.  From the vicious depredations of the House Un-American Activities Committee to the crimes of impunity committed by the FBI in its Cointelpro operations to the totalitarian machinations of the ‘Patriot’ Act, an overarching, invasive attack against dissent has transpired in which subterfuge, subversion, and sabotage have been hallmarks of ‘the American way’ of government.

The deployment of innumerable agencies of murder in the guise of ‘foreign aid,’ ‘free information,’ and sophisticated ‘dirty tricks,’ hidden behind various covers, also characterized this period of time.  While any honest study must admit to this American inclination, what William Appleman Williams called The Tragedy of American Diplomacy, the overall ignorance about this palpable proclivity continues to astound those with even a sliver of knowledge.

Guatemala was one of the first to fall to American hit-men and thuggery. ‘Sanitized’ versions of original ‘intelligence’ plans are now accessible.  That such blithe employment of homicidal conspiracy to advance the interests of business, for example United Fruit, led to tens or hundreds of thousands of later killings, seldom becomes a part of the ongoing discussion.

Practically simultaneous with the skullduggery on the Central American isthmus, British Petroleum and the CIA joined hands to install a psychotic killer in Tehran, in place of an elected President who believed Iran’s border with Russia made economic ties useful and necessary.  Of course, any critique of contemporary Iran makes zero sense without the contextualization of this point.  Equally obvious should be the connection between condemnations of ‘terrorism’ so steeped in hypocrisy that they would be laughable if attempted by a child.

Among the dozens of additional instances of such murderous, yet hidden, imperial trickery, none caused more carnage or involved greater complications than did the quagmire of death that the United States plowed into in Southeast Asia.  The Pentagon Papers, as voluminous in its day as Wikileaks is now, is merely the tip of a large iceberg that demonstrates the imperial purpose of U.S. mayhem(v) inflicted on the Vietnamese.

In what might well have been the piece de resistance of cloak-and-dagger politics, had Fidel Castro been more like Salvador Allende, whom this series will discuss on the morrow, the U.S.’s ongoing attempts to unseat socialism in Cuba might have been another ‘masterful’ lesson in the art of mass homicide, instead of representing a prime failing of U.S. policy.  In passing, the fanatical obsession with ridding the world of one of its heroes has also suggested the threat-level that American business perceives in any attempt to brook its gaming of the Earth.

The tiny slice presented here of the evil and terror that have typified U.S. foreign policy makes a point about a period of time.  After WWII, the U.S. conducted such operations with an aplomb that befitted a nation with no rival that could even begin to demonstrate the same resources and reach.

A comprehensive examination of like cases would provide a litany of death and destruction that would make the consequences of a pair of jets’ flying into a couple of skyscrapers seem like a drop of blood in a lake of gore.  This is a harsh assessment.  However, it is a conclusion well-supported by a truthful accounting of what began with the end of the last worldwide bloodbath, from which the United States of America emerged as global kingpin.

Thus, MacArthur’s triumph aboard the Missouri offers a way of looking backward to the origins of the military industrial complex, the national security state, and the Uranium economy, among other things.  These roots flourished in the soil of the British empire and matured in the identification of capital with “open-door” trade policies and a complete accession to the development of the maximum industrial-war-making capacity imaginable.

As well, the treaty provides a way of tracing the development of the terroristic subterfuge that came to mark U.S. policy for the next several decades. The formation of the CIA, the overthrow of multiple legitimate governments, the promotion of war and terror as part of the enterprise of freedom, these and other ‘dirty tricks’ flow ineluctably from the ink on the peace treaty with Japan.

For two decades or so, U.S. leaders seemed almost as “untouchable” as the lawmen in the T.V. show, whose ‘whatever-it-takes’ methodology for derailing bad guys also rationalized the anti-communist, pro-imperialist, faux-free-market, profiteering ventures of U.S. rulers.  As the 1960’s yielded the ’70’s, however, and defeats such as in Vietnam, assassinations and upheaval exploded in the streets, troubling signs of economic stagnation affected most economic enterprise, and challenges to U.S. supremacy seemingly emerged from every direction, a transition became irresistible.

Understanding 9/11 & Acting on That Insight/PART ONE

In this first installment of four pieces, the reader will encounter just a couple of points.  The first is an overview that presents a way of looking at the tenth September eleventh since 2001.  The second both follows up on the ‘pitch-for-democracy’ which appears in the Preface and introduces the inquiries that Part Two will examine tomorrow.

A note on process may be apt.  For the most part, readers will view here thinking and scope unlike what they’ve encountered elsewhere.  This is not ‘liberal.’  It is not ‘leftist.’  It is committed to democracy and social justice.

As such, it does not focus narrowly on such topics as the Middle East, discrimination against Muslims or other forms of bigotry, or on the ‘greed’ of U.S. elites for money and oil.  What it does do is provide a focus that actually explains the world now, proffering explanations, moreover, that suggest the possibility of doing something more about our problems than writing a check for another donation or voting for another hopeless electoral candidate.

Anyone with whom such articulation resonates should definitely read on.

PREFACE–Laying a Groundwork for Comprehension

Seven billion cousins share the Earth with each other, in aggregate a human race that has the knowledge, resources, and talents to fashion a peaceful, creative, sustainable existence on definitely the coolest planet for mammals within several light years in any direction.  This happy outcome, lasting creativity and peace, does not seem like a safe bet, however, as the tenth anniversary of the inception of the present period approaches amid memorialization and appeals to patriotism that make not the slightest attempt to comprehend either what happened a decade ago, or why vicious, suicidal madness unfolded as it did on a brilliant September day in 2001.

Such a lack of rigorous assessment–lightweight farces like the 9/11 Commission notwithstanding–an inability or unwillingness to ponder cause and effect, action and reaction, culpability and responsibility, portends a repetition, only on a much wider scale and with much more catastrophic impacts, of the brutal spectacle–the collapse of a pair of buildings that might easily symbolize modern civilization–that seemingly everyone recalls but very few are willing to analyze.  In fact, a reasonable observer, who is willing to investigate and dissect this matter, could frankly posit  that a calamitous human decline in the next few days or the next few decades is almost certain, unless policies and practices are forthcoming that differ in essence from what has been coming down the pike for a decade following nine-eleven and for many, many decades prior to that.

However, different policies and practices, axiomatically, cannot be the program of those who have been calling the tune for the past couple of centuries, the banking and industrial and royal families who have exercised effective hegemony since at least the days of Mssr. Bonaparte.  Standing in for any sort of transformative reflection, at the behest of this ruling class, is the overwhelming plethora of breast-beating, woe-is-me, vengeful, blaming, facile nonsense that fills the World Wide Web to bursting and even rivals the volume of solicitations in advertiser-driven media.

Suspicious citizens, of whom many more than a tiny few exist, are prone merely to grit their teeth and shrug at such thoughts.  “What can I do?” they respond, grimly determined to continue trying to make ends meet and hope for the best.

In the alternative, a small number of activists make cases for an accounting about the almost unbelievable phenomenon: two huge jets that succeed in flying into and knocking down two even more gargantuan skyscrapers.  Along with Joseph Conrad, who based his novel The Secret Agent on an actual instance of British/German cooperation in an agent provocateur’s ‘terrorist’ act in London, these ‘doubting Thomases’ suspect that rulers are fully capable of murder and deception in the service of their continued reign.  Thus, this cohort contends that a conspiracy underlay the events of ten year’s back.

On the other hand, a more substantial but still-small contingent contend, whether anyone can prove that purportedly friendly criminal masterminds orchestrated this mayhem, that simple opportunism can also account for the response of elites to this situation.  After all, everything that they had wanted for a quarter century or more–a strengthened ‘national-security state, with untrammeled access to anyone’s communication or other private matters; a free hand to assassinate, or to go to war against, ‘evil-doers'(never mind that many of these are current or former contract agents and employees); automatic increases in spending on death-technologies, all in the name of ‘defense’ and ‘anti-terrorism,’ when they and their fellow rulers are the only competent promulgators of war and organized horror; and so on and so forth, ad nauseum–suddenly became not just politically plausible but sociopolitically irresistible.  ‘How convenient!’

Whatever the case may be, though, in regard to the actualities of a few hours of hideous tragedy ten years ago, these stances–both ‘It’s a conspiracy,’ and ‘our rulers are opportunistic thugs’–cannot of themselves facilitate much progress away from the political results of the planes and the buildings that fell that day.  In fact, the only plausible source of that sort of transformation–from imperial plutocracy and its attendant carnage to something akin to a negotiated manifestation of social justice and social peace–is an activated democratic upsurge that replaces the powers that be.  In other words, the U.S. and the rest of the world have no choice, if we want human life to have a decent prospect of survival, but to become the democracies that we have often bragged that we already are.

While such a prospect clearly appears at best fantastical at this juncture–the legions of folk who are conscientious and principled and synchronized are nowhere on the horizon, except for perhaps in parts of India, Russia, Germany, Cuba, Venezuela, etc.–no other pathway is available that does not end in humanity’s likely decimation, or even elimination from the planet that we inhabit together, like a group of fractious children who have lethal toys with which to slaughter each other.  Every other route, save an empowered majority-rule, leads to dead ends and evisceration.

One rule of politics is to seek only what is possible.  Therefore, to pursue such a long-odds pathway, praying that a series of ‘get-a-clue’ moments will lead folks to stand up and take matters into their collective hands, seems to violate this maxim.

An equally important rule, however, is to recognize that necessity establishes the boundaries of possibility.  If only one method holds the slightest promise of fruition, then all thinking, agitation, and action must emphasize that approach, presuming the premise that matters will coalesce so as to make further steps down a democratic ‘yellow-brick-road’ tenable.

Without a grassroots resurgence, a coming to pass of people power on a global scale, humanity’s wreckage is practically a guaranteed development: thus, necessity dictates that such leadership from below occur, or we will richly deserve the horrors that are already in the pipeline, headed our way.  We have all the tools either to destroy or sustain this sacred orb that we occupy: our individual consciousnesses, and consciences, and our willingness to undertake collective negotiation and responsibility, will determine whether, on the one hand, a lovely future is plausible for our progeny, or, on the other hand, a wasteland is the inheritance that we leave to them.

INTRODUCTION–Joining Knowledge to Mass Participation

While no simple program or process will make popular democracy “as easy as one, two, three,” a three step-engagement tango is discernible that permits any citizen to think, creatively, analytically, and actively, about having a positive impact on the present pass that we face, of mayhem and misery at every turn.  Though merely a skeletal outline, a precis of a brief for how to proceed, this description nonetheless proffers an initial ground from which to embark in the direction of participatory practice.

The three steps are pretty simple to state, albeit much more difficult to carry out.  First, all citizens ought to ask what in the world is going on and find a way to begin to answer that question with satisfactory accuracy, insight, and acuity.  Second, each of the plus or minus five billion adult stakeholders alive now, should seek to puzzle out an explanation as to why things are transpiring as they are, explicating the current status of things with analysis and deduction that matches the known reality and relates the various pieces of the puzzle.  Third, as might characterize a family whose members give a damn about each other, this aggregation of scattered and disorganized citizen-owners of the Earth will have to begin to turn to each other, asking, “Given where things are, and why, what can we do together to alter the ecocidal course that lies ahead?”

Truly, Earth’s people are like passengers on a ferry, which, as many of the travelers surmise, is headed toward a gigantic waterfall, the attempt to navigate which will certainly destroy most of the folks on the boat.  If together we ticket-holders cannot avert our ferry’s course, to a different channel or across the stream to the opposite bank, then the boat, from which few or none of us will have the option to exit and survive, will arrive at its catastrophic destination.

These thoughts seem particularly apt as the tenth anniversary of the present period of empire Is upon us.  The crashing conflagration of that September morning, seemingly at once yesterday and part of some immeasurably distant past, crushed under the weight of a billion pounds of falling steel and concrete the hopes and dreams of all the years.

The infernos that victimized 2973 Americans on 9/11/2001  have yielded wars of attrition that, in sum, have killed easily as many as a million cousins.  And the scope and pace of this fiercely vengeful slaughter show little signs of slowing.  Even if this disproportion does not fairly quickly elicit a massive acceleration of the murderous chaos, something for which so many of us wait with bated breath–not, like our former President, in anticipation of a long expected apocalypse, but in trepidation and mortal terror of the point of no return for our species–in such a climate of righteous recrimination, no possibility will ever emerge for us to address any of the other half-dozen crises–including the climate crisis–that could drastically shorten or even eliminate the viability of Earth as our collective home.

What has been corporate media’s response  to this frightening series of cataclysms?  Have more than a tiny fraction of people sought to learn about and understand what has come to pass?  Professor Douglas Kellner is one who has addressed the propaganda nexus that predominates now.  His assessment that manipulation through a focus on the ‘spectacular,’ in service to preordained policy and ideological goals, meshes seamlessly with commercial media’s main output, both over the past ten years and for this anniversary.

Princeton’s philosophy professor, Harry Frankfurt has also spoken to this overall tendency toward falsity in service of deflection or hidden agendas.  In 2005, he wrote a delightfully brief and artful capsulization  of the intellectual swamp that continues to predominate contemporary dialog.

“One of the salient features of our culture is that there is so much bullshit.  Everyone knows this.  Each of us contributes his share.  But we tend to take the situation for granted.  Most people are rather confident of their ability to recognize bullshit and avoid being taken in by it.  So the phenomenon has not aroused much deliberate concern or attracted much sustained inquiry.”

So saying, ”what in the world is going on?”  While any attempt to answer such a query must either seem a religious undertaking or the work of one deranged, delusional, over his head, I intend to paint a picture that presents a portrait of the current moment that is neither primarily ‘spiritual’ nor utterly cracked.

To do this, I ask that readers think about three important dates: September 15, 1945; September 11, 1973; and September 11, 2001.  I might have chosen other interludes, either to add to or replace these three.  However, a rich tapestry is possible to weave from these three exemplars of Septembers past.

Faux Popular Democracy in Capitalism’s Mediation of Merger Mania Part 2

Or, Why AOL Is, Apparently, Perfect for Huff-Po and, Decidedly, Horrible for Majority Rule

UNIT TWO: What in the World Is AOL Anyway?

Chapter One–The Scientific, Technical, and Social Roots of Online America

ENIAC Computer by public domain


America Online

Today’s text introduces Unit Two of this five part series.   This initial chapter leads on to three sibling sections that will, in as thorough and incisive a fashion as this humble correspondent can manage in a relatively short space, explicate what constitutes the corporate entity that has ‘branded’ itself AOL and considers itself the epitome of America in its online guise.

Where we left off, media was mushrooming up from the cow paddies of routine politics.   How exactly did America Online, as of now not yet done with its third decade, emanate from the historical and political economic background of modern times?   The purpose of this quite lengthy section is to manage a tale-of-the-tape that offers an intelligible, and relatively complete, response to this inquiry.

Like so much of what citizens now consider this virtual age, the roots of AOL lie in the way that the conflagrations of the 1940’s responded to the deflationary death spiral of the 1930’s.   In 1945, at the dawn of a new epoch that shined with a nuclear glow, as the Cold War heated up, and nearly everyone still breathing wondered where to bury a hundred million or so corpses and how to avoid the next tally from being higher still, the captains of capital looked forward to an unstoppable ‘thousand-year-reich’ of commodities and markets that only lasted a “glorious thirty” years, with everything antithetical hidden behind ‘iron curtains’ of one sort or another.

These leading lights of the ruling class foresaw an age of ubiquitous convergence.   Communication and computation and observation would yield, in every sector of the economy, times when markets would work as their proponents had always promised, even as they continued to seek the institutional succor of government instead.   This new age would not eschew governance so much as it would make the public sphere subservient to corporate, which is to say commercial and imperial, mastery.

ANTEDILUVIAN BEGINNINGS ON THE ‘ENDLESS FRONTIER’

The observer might not easily see the connection between AOL and   a project named the ‘Manhattan Engineering District,’ but Vannevar Bush joins the two like a rivet connects discrete plates on an aircraft carrier.   Not only did this MIT wizard unite the industrial and financial powers-that-be behind publicly-funded science, but he also insisted on the durability of this formula after the war.   In the event, he also succeeded in promulgating institutionalized funding and management models that followed corporate guidelines and priorities.

Vannevar Bush by public domain


In essence, Bush is the technical and intellectual father of the Military Industrial Complex.   His Science: the Endless Frontier links markets and profits and prosperity and power-politics and empire and innovation as a set of relationships that nations sunder at their peril.

What is more, he both, on the one hand, very precisely conceived of the world wide web and many of its technical attributes as an aspect of this industrial militarization of politics and, on the other hand, proffered a guidebook–almost a recipe–for their initiation and growth.   In “As We May Think,” also written just after WWII ended, Bush envisions personal computing, Wikipedia, hands-free 24/7 virtual connectivity, and a swirling constant interchange that many feel is still a possibility if the World Wide Web survives a corporate takeover.

Moreover, this meme still resonates powerfully.   The term, ‘meme,’ is itself something like Bush’s name for his concept.

Consider a future device for individual use, which is a sort of mechanized private file and library.   It needs a name, and to coin one at random, ‘memex’ will do.   A memex is a device in which an individual stores all his books, records, and communications, and which is mechanized so that it may be consulted with exceeding speed and flexibility. It is an enlarged intimate supplement to his memory.

No wonder entire symposia keep flowering that orbit around Bush’s now long-ago article in Atlantic Magazine .

Equally applicable as connective tissue between such trendy(or declasse, as the case may be) eventualities as today’s AOL and the inception of the war machine is the fashion in which Bush’s ideas have become almost biblical in their expression of the current canon.   The American empire, American well-being, the very essence of the American way, in such thinking, are inseparable from the uninterrupted perpetuation of an ever expanding plethora of the hot new way, an endless frontier of endless frontiers.

Needless to say, whether one appreciates the artfulness with which its principals have undertaken the task, America Online–with former Secretary of Defense and general corporate booster Alexander Haig leading the charge to invest–has depicted itself as the quick-and-easy path to such innovativeness.   When that way of conceiving things began to seem positively fuddy-duddy, AOL, driven by the relentless necessity of monetizing something , cast around for ways of reinventing itself as ‘trendier-than-thou.’

That such an evolution, in a society under the sway of finance and industrial monopoly, inherently revolves around opportunistic cash-outs and market wedges, not to mention a tendency to sweep up the competition and the newest confabulation simultaneously, should come as no surprise.   Indeed, all manner of analysis recognizes such ineluctable expressions of capital’s conceptualization of virtuality.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Chair in Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Washington very recently confirmed this contemporary relevance of dear Uncle Vannevar.   In a brief essay entitled, “An Endless Frontier Postponed,” the author warns that a lack of consciousness about the union of academia, capital, and government makes possible an ideological commitment to sundering this troika, which in this SOP POV threatens any hope of continuing political-economic predominance by the United States.

And indeed, this is now one popular trope.   A much less common thread is that the collective financing and support for the internet means that it should actually operate according to common goals, and under democratic guidance.   This is what Michael Zweig means when he suggests that “being charitable to the poor” means far less that “arranging that they have power, one obvious element of which is media potency.   Whatever the unfolding of this dialectic, that the taxes of working people funded the creation and evolution of the World-Wide-Web is incontrovertible fact.

MA-&-PA KETTLE FINANCE THE INFRASTRUCTURE AND SUPERSTRUCTURE AND PROTOCOLS OF THE WORLD-WIDE-WEB

Multiple intersecting timelines play key parts in the manifestation of virtual life that so characterizes the present pass that many people can no longer conceive an ‘unwired’ existence.   Computers, military and academic laboratories, telecommunications, printing and publishing all have an arc of expansion that, as one, has yielded the montage of interfaces and devices and distracted human beings who meander over the earth today, both actually and electronically, both as flesh-and-blood and as avatars.

The recognition of this interrelated interdependence is critical to any rational understanding of a phenomenon such as AOL, or its swallowing of Arianna Huffington’s self-styled bastion of progressivism.   Neither could have been more than a foggy, opiated pipe-dream but for the work performed on the public dime, as it were.   NASA, the nuclear-weapons-lab complexes, major research universities, and the corporate vanguard, without exception either were direct chain-of-command elements of the State, or, in any event, they would have withered and blown-away without government dollars.

US Army Missile Squadron by public domain


Thus, MIT researchers came up with the first video game while doing missile and other military research; Bell labs invented push-button telecommunication techniques in part as a result of decades of walkie-talkie military deals; the Advanced Research Project Agency(ARPA) was a Department of Defense response to Sputnik–soon yielding the first generation WWW through ARPANet; under the purview of government contracts, the American Standard Code for Information Interchange(ASCII) grew out of Bell labs and American National Standards Institute efforts–and still underlies the basic coding on which AOL, et al. depend to this day.

Almost without exception, the nodes and methods of the web, of being an American online, as it were, only happened because tax-dollars financed them.   Even in such ‘venture-capital’-worshipping materials as Piero Scaruffi’s A History of Silicon Valley , again and and again and again, over and over, “almost without exception,” the hand of the government appears as central to this amazing transformation toward virtuality that typifies life today.

Immediately prior to the assumption of an institutional form more or less recognizable as the direct predecessor of America Online, additional important developments took place on the nascent internet, as of 1972 controlled by DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency .   The first e-mail, for instance, sallied forth in 1971 as a result of one investigator’s efforts that sought to make military research communication more efficient.   Though it did not modulate in chipper tones, “You’ve got mail!,” that cheery quip emanated from State-funded efforts.

Shortly thereafter, big improvements in FORTRAN, the machine language developed for military and scientific purposes, happened, followed shortly by Bell Lab’s first issuing of the much more intuitive C-programming language .   Soon afterward, Xerox’s DOD-funded Palo Alto Research Center, on its way to inventing “the office of the future,” created the Ethernet, many standards of which continue in force to the present moment.

Throughout the mid 1970’s, with the formation of Apple Computer and Microsoft and more, many of AOL’s predecessors availed themselves of the possibilities for private gain from public investment, even as the general economy reeled from one stagflationary whipping post to another. In 1978, the first Bulletin Board System came into being; the BBS model was important in various early attempts to cash-in on what social support for computing and networks had created, not to mention underpinning AOL’s ultimate success.

As with the rest, these BBS outgrowths trace their roots back to public inputs.   File serving, downloading, the very protocols that allow a network to engage and remain operational, are the result of socialized inputs and relationships.

Due to its prominent role, the history of TCP is impossible to describe without going back to the early days of the protocol suite as a whole.   In the early 1970s, what we know of today as the global Internet was a small research internetwork called the ARPAnet, named for the United States Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA or ARPA).   This network used a technology called the Network Control Protocol (NCP) to allow hosts to connect to each other. …Due to limitations in the NCP, development began on a new protocol that would be better suited to a growing internetwork. … called the Internet Transmission Control Program (TCP).   Like its predecessor NCP, TCP was responsible for basically everything that was needed to allow applications to run on an internetwork.

In other words, America Online did not emerge randomly.   Nor did it occur as a result of individuals, rugged or colorful or otherwise, working separately and ‘individually.’   Nor was it in any way a primary result of ‘natural’ bourgeois inventiveness.

On the contrary, the growth stemmed from fields prepared by social stewards, using common treasure.   The concrete components uniformly resulted from or depended on government-financed research.   Every single stop on the ultimate information highway was only possible because of collective efforts that invoked federal financing.

John Hopkins’ Stuart Leslie, in his article, “The Biggest ‘Angel’ of Them All: the Military in the Making of Silicon Valley,” makes this argument dispositively.   The ‘marketplace’ is no freer than a Soviet Five Year Plan, or, at the least, it is ‘freer’ in a different way; moreover, we might imagine other ways to ‘free’ things up.

This can lead to some interesting conclusions.   They are factual, no more a ‘matter of opinion’ than the determination that United States Treasury dollars are necessary to run the Department of Defense.

Here’s one such deduction.   Not only would the astounding wealth ‘created’ by the ‘free-market’-touting boosters at AOL have been inconceivable without social backing of the most extensive sort, but also, the smaller but still substantial sums that now line Arianna Huffington’s purses are only available for her accountants to count because of the taxes of everyday Americans, such as the bloggers on the site who will never make a dime from the deal.

Faux Popular Democracy in Capitalism’s Mediation of Merger Mania

Or, Why AOL Is a Perfect Huff-Po Partner That Is Horrible for Majority Rule

In this first of a five unit series—intro and conclusion plus three body parts–giving credit where credit is due is a good way to start.  Arianna Huffington’s How to Overthrow the Government performs a valuable service for anybody who both believes in popular empowerment and has an inkling that the rule-of-the-rich has gone too far.  The book offers at least a modicum of clear and apt guidance to those who would foment or fuel an uprising from below.

The likes of this humble correspondent would vociferously suggest that ‘the book doesn’t go nearly far enough.’  Less charitable, and equally historically and socio-economically aware, critics have argued that, analytically and conceptually, the volume is at best irritatingly cautious and generally vapid.  Nevertheless, the work offers some useful advice to those who want to return socially democratic political action to the grassroots.  At least it conceives of public engagement as a necessary predecessor of political change.

That said, the just-announced merger of Huffington Post and America Online is an entirely different kettle of fish.  Many honestly and erstwhile ‘progressive’ and ‘leftist’ commentators are celebrating this joining, or at least, giving it a ‘wait-and-see’ nod.

The only certain thing is that the writers and participants who have built Huffington Post won’t see a slender cent from among the thirty billion pennies, or billion and a half pennies in stock, that change hands in this bargain.  Several already wealthy people, whose political and ‘strategic’ leadership have, for better or worse, guided the site, will, on the other hand make out like proverbial bandits.

The idea that this $315 million conjunction, much to the benefit of Ms. Huffington’s coffers, might also represent ‘progress’ or be in the best interest of the ‘left’ arguably has much more to say about the deficiencies that attend the language of political description in the United States than it does with any rationally defensible consideration about promoting the needs of common people.  The notion that this is in the popular interest also speaks volumes about the lack of class leadership among working people, who prove willing all too often to rely on the likes of a rich globe-trotting fashion moll with the opportunistic instincts of a coyote.

‘Liberals’ also cozy up to hyper-imperialists such as Hilary Clinton, or so some would say; ‘progressives’ commonly make common cause with Barack-the-Magnificent, whose wars will soon eclipse those of his predecessor; the ‘left’ is a hodgepodge collection of folks who a lot of times are trying to avoid the label that is at least honestly descriptive, that of socialist, or social-democrat.

This humble correspondent considers himself ‘progressive,’ and he’ll only squirm and grit his teeth at the nearly meaningless moniker of ‘leftist.’  However, he is avowedly and unabashedly socialistic in his approach and his analytical proclivities.  He has no problem noticing an obvious fact: without some sort of struggle for social and economic democracy, the worlds working people face further devastation and possible annihilation.

And in this vein, the marriage of the modern defense and imperial establishment, in the form of America Online, with a fetishized, paltry, petty-bourgeois liberalism, in the form of Huffington Post, accomplishes a perfect union from the perspective of ‘free-market’, ‘free-enterprise’ fraud-mongers. As such, the following prediction makes sense: it will turn out to be a disaster for working people, for those who care about more than political labels and actually worry about substance.

One way or another, the lack of class leadership, and the explicit embrace of both imperial ideation and bourgeois marketing and markets, will mean at best ‘friendly’ misleadership for the average people of the planet who are suffering one body-blow after another to any hope that a ‘middle-class’ life will be even a credible fantasy.  One would have to acknowledge, at least as a possibility, that the time for a media of the people, by the people, and for the people is long overdue.

Such an admission ought then to portend a serious effort in such a direction.  Whether folks are, even now, ready to admit the obvious–‘But mommy, the king has nothing on!!–and whether, even now, such an acknowledgment will yield the radical, populist upsurge that recognition ought to call forth, remains to be seen.

For this humble correspondent, the remainder of the present introduction merely contextualizes, all too quickly, the historical and conceptual nature of the media marriage that has just transpired.  A four-piece unit on AOL’s background follows over the next few weeks, more or less.  Then, a three-chapter unit appears about Arianna Huffington and her love-child at Huff-Po.  A long single take on the merger itself will appear at that juncture, to complete the third substantive unit of this five-part series.  Finally, a conclusion will show up that, in the light of the insights and ideation of the intervening reporting and analysis, returns to some of the issues raised in today’s introductory paragraphs

A Far-Too-Brief Background Precis of the News Media Context From Which this ‘New Media’ Deal Has Devolved

People who fancy themselves media-literate, or even who believe that following the news is important, have a duty to understand how in the world the media that we take for granted has transmogrified to become the apparent digital phantasmagoria that it is today.  This is neither the time nor the place to go into copious detail.  On the other hand, readers may rest assured that more detail will be forthcoming.

For now, this humble correspondent proposes that people consider one simple fact: media springs from the rich dirt of politics like magic mushrooms pop up from cow dung.  Ever since the creation of the secret, and sacred, codes that underlay the first written forms, publication has been a battlefield; the priestly and royal control–extended imperiously–always met a challenge from below, in the form of vernacular articulations of one sort or another.

Need one consider such arcane interpretations of such facts as Derrida‘s “The Mystical Foundations of Authority?”  Or perhaps a more straightforward recollection, that law–the legitimation of force in favor of some stated ‘State,’ heretofore unheard of without social class divisions–is nothing without the capacity to record and annotate it, would serve as a ‘wake-up call’ about media’s social reality.  No matter what, from the ‘dawn of history,’ or text, as it were, the connection between writing and rule is unbreakable.

In any event, much more recently, since Gutenberg, for instance, every communication medium’s technological development and social deployment has entailed this combative dialectic.  The Bible may have been Johann’s first big project, but not too long afterward, the press itself helped Martin Luther affix his challenge to various posting places.

Thus, a pattern emerged that has, quite plausibly, come to stand for a central trait of capitalist evolution.  Put most simply, defining struggles over meaning, knowledge, and power all intersected with and emanated from the powers of technology and labor that inhered in the conglomeration of recorded speech and the media for presenting it; advantages in this contest, almost universally in the form of successful–or replicable–networks and paradigms that reached expanding ‘publics,’ served to influence, and often to determine, social, political, and economic outcomes.

For all of its frequent flaws of glaring bourgeois bias, Paul Starr’s The Creation of the Media: Political Origins of Modern Communications offers pupils of these matters a relatively elegant empirical bedrock for supporting the above conclusion.  From the concomitant downfall of strict censorship and the censorious Stuarts, to the simultaneous libertine upsurge of colonial textuality–newsy and both globally and locally aware–and a persistent rebellion, to the dialectically intertwined manifestation of knowledge, distribution, and publication forms that have seesawed their way through American history, this characterization of mediation seems, at least, reasonable.

The nearly universal initiation, co-optation, or capture of news-and-publishing outlets by the rising bourgeoisie took many forms.  However, this humble correspondent would insist that folks apprehend the undeniable veracity of the proposition that we have not come to today’s seemingly unstoppable effusion of hyper-monopoly in any other fashion than step-by-step, following original inclinations to their logical and predictable ends.

This is corroborated whether one adopts a biographical approach–from Horace Greely’s faux-Horatio-Alger-garnering of capitalist backing, to Hearst’s gold-mining, and gold-digging, parentage, and beyond, to the Luces, the Paleys and so forth and so on–to ascertaining information networks, or whether one prefers to examine the way that business and regulatory structures favor particular organization forms over others, or whether one chooses different, more intellectual and ideational formulations.  The history of media in America is, practically speaking–‘Citizen-Kane’ gossipy details notwithstanding, indistinguishable from the history of capitalism in America.

Advertising and marketing and propaganda together confirm this.  Power-politics and the specifics of character assassination and the sway of secrecy demonstrate this.  The opportunistic inclusion or exclusion of access to ‘legitimate’ or ‘unacceptable’ publics combine with criminal and civil media law again and again to prove this.

Forthcoming investigation will delve more deeply into the political economic and historical background that underpins the current media conundrums that afflict citizens.  The point of both this explication and what is to come is simple: in the realm of AOL’s conjunction with Huff-Po, such a conceptual, historical, and political-economic framework is critical to any understanding that is richer and deeper than either a ‘follow-the-yellow-brick-road’ optimism or a ‘lions-and-tigers-and-bears’ sense of panic.

Readers might want to stay tuned and remember the words of Betty Davis.  “Fasten your seat-belts; it’s going to be a bumpy night.”

A Sizeable Dixie Rally for Working Class Solidarity

Georgia’s proportion of unionized workers is four percent, tied for forty-eighth and close to the bottom of the heap in the U.S., which is close to the bottom among nations that consider themselves ‘advanced’ in living standards, technology, and social conditions generally.   As a result, Georgia’s wage earners make less money, have fewer benefits, and generally confront lower living standards.  Few places on the continent would benefit more than the Peach State from a strong drive to increase trade-union representation.

Thus, the rally at Georgia’s state Capitol yesterday, called by the State’s AFL-CIO, the Atlanta Labor Council, and other organizations, was a heartening sign.   On the steps of Georgia’s capitol in Atlanta, in the shadow of Tom Watson’s commanding presence, five hundred or more union members, community activists, students, and various other citizens—a widely representative sample that split fifty-fifty between men and women, was roughly equally White as Black, with a smattering of Hispanic and Native American advocates—stood up and shouted “Stop the War on Workers. “  Peace groups, revolutionary proponents, and folks just generally angry at a system that rewards greed and privilege with money and perquisites while it squeezes everyone else out of any semblance of rights and benefits that groups like unions have fought hard to attain.

Throughout the United States, the courage and strength of thousands of workers in Wisconsin has given inspiration and leadership to wage-earners elsewhere.  At times, the messages of these stalwart souls, braving frigid conditions and, as often as not, a media blackout, or at least a diminution of their struggle and a distortion of their perspective in the press, is exactly what working people need to hear.  “This Land Is Your Land” rings true with class-conscious solidarity and an uncompromising sense of democracy that must guide those who want decent lives.

Those who attended this gathering today articulated these and other points powerfully.   “Don’t let this be a one time rally,” said one preacher near the end.  ”The people inside that building(the capitol) need to know that we’ll be back, we won’t leave, we’re not going away.”

Steve Henson, a progressive-Democratic State Senator, asked, “Why is it that all sorts of associations are OK to come and lobby us in the legislature, but lobbying for working people is not OK?”

Another legislator spoke of her five year old grandson ‘leading the way.’  He wanted to pack up to go and join the fight in Wisconsin.  She continued, factually, “If you can take a vacation; if you can take a sick day with pay; if you have a right to overtime pay; you have the labor movement to thank.”

In addition to the speakers at the front—a mix of union leaders, Democratic politicians, and religious and community activists—lively outbursts from the vociferous and boisterous crowd were constant, as if a massive labor beast, wild and fierce, were roaming the street.  “The people, united, will never be defeated!”  “Hey, hey!  Ho, ho!  Union busters got to go!!”

These and other chants and catcalls were directed across the intersection of Washington Street and Martin Luther King Drive to the at most one hundred Tea Party counter-protesters whose sole coherent message seemed to be ‘Leave Poor Governor Walker alone.’

One of the savviest local politicians in America, Billy Mitchell, capsulized the meaning of the gathering when he said, “You always get exactly the government that you deserve,” a take-off on Frederick Douglass’ famous take on power.  He continued, wry smile breaking out, “I promise you that the people inside this building are paying attention to you out here, and it will make a difference.”

A teacher’s representative, speaking of the 100,000+ American Association of Educators and American Federation of Teachers members in Wisconsin, was fierce in his call for action in Georgia.  “The time has come to take back America and democracy from the billionaire’s boy club.”  He was referring to the now incontrovertible behind-the-scenes manipulation of the Koch brothers, in Wisconsin and elsewhere, and a working class boycott of Koch Enterprises that is coming.

A militant Black woman’s voice rang out from the podium.  “A threat to justice in Ohio is a threat to justice in Georgia…and we have to remember that this is not about us, it’s about our children and our grandchildren, and if we want them to live decent lives, we have to stand up now.”

Another speaker vowed to follow through on this call.  “We have to stand up on the capitol steps of every state in the union; we’re gonna stand up and we’re gonna fight, and we’re gonna win.  Yes, we can!  Yes, we can!”  And the crowd roared its approval as it took up the chant in an electrifying shout into the sun-dappled Capitol building.

Karla Drenner, another Democrat who considers herself progressive, spoke of her own family union roots.  She continued, “Instead of sending jobs to China, we need to helping out the working people here.”  Her voice rising in shrill indignation, she vowed that nothing would stop the persistence of a united people.  “You will hear us in the governor’s mansion; you will hear us in the legislature; and you will hear us on the street, because we are not going to go away.”

From the sidewalk, one fired-up protester rallied his misguided cohorts across the street. “Worker power is democratic power!  Worker power is democracy.”

Another young teacher from the Northern Atlanta suburbs where many of the ‘Tea-Partiers’ keep their cupboards stocked with loot, lamented the implications of their message.  “Let’s go back to workin’ 80 hours a week; let’s go back to child labor, your ten year old can get a job.  That’s what they’re saying if they say get rid of unions.  They’re just completely misguided.”

Everywhere, in solidarity with the specifics of the fight in Wisconsin, the message was insistent.  “Kill that bill!  Kill that bill!  Kill that bill!” an unending litany of ‘we’ve had enough, we’re not going to take any more, we’re drawing a line in the sand.’

Across the street, meanwhile, the so-called ‘Tea-Party’ counter-protesters sang Sha-na-na.  Their message continues to back the reactionary idea that, at exactly the same time that working-class tax dollars give trillions to the hyper-rich, working people who are barely making ends meet should have even less of a livelihood available.  They sometimes also support the explicitly fascist notion that unions should not be legal, that labor should have few or no rights compared to money and property.

Matt Stoller wrote in a similar vein in his article, “The Liquidation of Society Versus the Global Labor Revival.”  His insights command attention from anyone who has a sense of self-preservation or hope for the future.

The Southeast Review of Media, Culture, and Politics does not practice a journalism built on the pretense of objectivity.  SERMCAP without qualification supports democratic and social justice as necessary components of a decent world.  This humble correspondent and his partner wore signs that vocalized this point of view at the rally.  One pair, modest sandwich board draped over THC’s shoulders, said, “The Problem Is Not Democrats Versus Republicans—Corporate Masters Own Them Both,” & “The Problem Is Organizing a Working-People’s-Power Party.”  The second duo offered these lines.  “The Current Crisis Affects Not Just Union Workers or Government Workers, but ALL Workers,” & “Big Business Disempowers All the World’s Working People by Dividing Them From Each Other—Solidarity is the Only Answer.”

SERMCAP insists that only through worker empowerment, involvement, and leadership can the faintest prayer of social equality come to pass.  Thus, the events in Wisconsin, and yesterday in Atlanta, like the recent outpouring of activism in the Middle East, are first steps only.  Without a more completely defined agenda, one that is both resolutely local and irrepressibly internationalist, one that puts working peoples’ rights and power at the forefront, one that sets aside all jingoistic nationalism and false patriotism, all of the rallies and songs and hopes of solidarity won’t amount to much that working people can take to the bank or put on the stove.

Given such a paradigm, the time has come for a grassroots sociopolitical movement that honestly contends for power.  The fake ‘two-party system’ doesn’t come close to achieving this possibility.  Working people not only deserve better, but they also will gain little or nothing unless they organize and strive to gain, for themselves, of themselves, and by themselves, a conscious leadership role in the manifestation of a transformed society, a society in which property and wealth cannot overturn the social and economic rights and needs of working people.

Hearst newspaper and sports quoteAs commercial outlets that purported to represent our communities drop like rats in a plague, people need to be clear that critically important news is constantly happening all around us; how can we organize ourselves to make sure that the loss of contemporary media, imperfect as it may be, does not turn into a permament decline in the quality of popularly available data?

Enquiring minds want to know…