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Archive for September, 2010

Links!

I found this article about changing the framework of our debate towards left-wing vs. the corporations to be fascinating. Via The Agonist.

Hopefully Ecuador can keep the wolves at bay with this move.

Arnold Schwarzenegger made the speech of his lifetime the other night at the Commonwealth Club in California. I can’t find a transcript, so here’s a link to the video Keith Olbermann showed. God, that was amazing, it’s sort of weird, right? Favorite line:

“They are creating a shell argument that this is about saving jobs. Does anyone really believe that these companies, out of the goodness of their black oil hearts, are spending millions and millions of dollars to protect our jobs? It’s not about jobs at all. It’s about their ability to pollute and thus protect their profits.”
Matt Taibi talks shit about the Tea Party. Yeah, man.
I think this is slightly old, but please read it: the eight most toxic energy projects on the planet. Terrifying, and important.
And, if there’s one reason to get out and vote in November, I think it’s this. It’s scary out there.

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Not the Normal 100th

100! Whatever. Here are some words.

Most of the horrors we are forced to live with have been caused by respectable — even great — men who themselves most often have clean hands….if you are a god you can kill from afar, and if you kill from afar you can maintain in your own mind the objectivity necessary to believe that those you are killing are objects, or, better, you can think of them not at all.”

– Derrick Jensen

..the poor of the world are not causal products of human history. No. Poverty results from the actions of other human beings.”

– Jon Sobrino

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Words

So I’ll be trying to do a poem/quotation/excerpt thing on as regular a basis as possible. I should have gotten something out of all the fucking books I’ve read, amiright? So here’s the first.

The Nobodies: nobody’s children, owners of nothing. The nobodies: the no ones, the nobodied, running like rabbits, dying through life, screwed every which way.

Who don’t speak languages, but dialects.

Who don’t have religions, but superstitions.

Who don’t create art, but handicrafts.

Who don’t have culture, but folklore.

Who are not human beings, but human resources.

Who do not have faces, but arms.

Who do not have names, but numbers.

Who do not appear in the history of the world, but in the police blotter of the local paper.

The nobodies, who are not worth the bullet that kills them.”

-Eduardo Galeano

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An Excerpt

I recently finished reading Derrick Jensen’s The Culture of Make-Believe. It was intense.

Towards the end of the book he extensively quoted from the testimony of a German engineer at the Nuremburg Trials, which Jensen read as a young man in William L. Shirer’s The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. Jensen wrote that this testimony, this scene, has stayed with him over the decades. I can understand why. In a world full of so many constructed horrors, and living in a culture with so many obscene trivialities (a phrase from his book Endgame, and both the phrase and the book are excellent), this is a terrible, grim, heart-breaking testimony. So I’m going to copy it down here.

The people who had got off the trucks – men, women, and children of all ages – had to undress upon order of an S.S. man, who carried a riding or dog whip. They had to put down their clothes in fixed places, sorted according to shoes, top clothing, and underclothing. I saw a heap of shoes of about 800 or 1,000 pairs, great piles of under-linen and clothing.

“Without screaming or weeping, these people undressed, stood around in family groups, kissed each other, said farewells and waited for a sign from another S.S. man, who stood near the pit, also with a whip in his hand. During the fifteen minutes that I stood near the pit I heard no complaint or plea for mercy…

“An old woman with snow-white hair was holding a one-year-old child in her arms and singing to it and tickling it. The child was cooing with delight. The parents were looking on with tears in their eyes. The father was holding the hand of a boy about 10 years old and speaking to him softly: the boy was fighting his tears. The father pointed to the sky, stroked his head and seemed to explain something to him.

“At that moment the S.S. man at the pit shouted something to his comrade. The latter counted off about twenty persons and instructed them to go behind the earth mound… I well remember a girl, slim with black hair, who, as she passed close to me, pointed to herself and said ‘twenty-three years old.’

“I walked around the mound and found myself confronted by a tremendous grave. People were closely wedged together and lying on top of each other so that only their heads were visible. Nearly all had blood running over their shoulders from their heads. Some of the people were still moving. Some were lifting their arms and turning their heads to show that they were still alive. The pit was nearly two-thirds full. I estimated that it contained about a thousand people. I looked for the man who did the shooting. He was an S.S. man who sat at the narrow edge of the pit, his feet dangling into the pit. He had a tommy gun on his knees, and was smoking a cigarette.

“The people, completely naked, went down some steps and clambered over their heads of the people lying there to the place where the S.S. man directed them. They lay down in front of the dead or wounded people; some caressed those who were still alive and spoke to them in a low voice. Then I heard a series of shots. I looked into the pit and saw that the bodies were twitching or the heads lying already motionless on top of their bodies that lay beneath them. Blood was running from their necks.

“The next batch was approaching already. They went down into the pit, lined themselves up against the previous victims and were shot.”

I do not understand anymore. I’ve known of these horrors for years. We all know of those in the past, we make movies about them. But it happens still, it is happening all the time, it is happening right now. There are horrors at this moment – women raped in the Congo (where we get coltan for our cell phones), girls bought and raped by businessmen in Thailand, people slaughtered with chainsaws in Colombia, men kidnapped and made into slaves in Brazil, priests and their congregations burned alive in El Salvador, toddlers working and dying as bricklayer slaves in Pakistan. We know of people raising machetes, chasing them down now. We know of factory workers in China committing suicide, of machine guns casually lifted and spraying bullets now, of depleted uranium poured down from the skies and then babies are born in Iraq without faces.

I know who ‘benefits.’ I do. You do. These acts don’t happen because of a few bad apples. They happen because our civilization is insane. The rich and the powerful benefit more than anyone, and are the most culpable – they know it, they don’t care, and they will mow down anyone who gets in their way, including You and I. But still… what about people like us, who know, who hear witnesses, who turn away? What do we talk about? Sustainable farming? I suppose that’s better than nothing. But most of the people I know go to bars, watch football, discuss Mad Men, read Gawker, check out new restaurants, fly somewhere exotic every once in a while. The world is burning. We say if we elect Democrats it will improve. I believed this once. How could it ever get better when the fundamentals stay the same? Our culture can’t even admit we live on stolen land. It just keeps pillaging from others, albeit at different rates.

It’s not going to get better, and it is not going to change itself until the air is choked and we cannot breathe and things cannot grow and the machines which need energy to run sputter and fail.

I don’t want to talk anymore about adorable clothing, or whether women should change their last name, or about baseball players on steroids, or the skyrocketing costs of college. I don’t want to listen to witty banter or hear banal, superficial complaints. I don’t want to see movies rife with ennui or drink amazing wine. It comes to me with blood.

Tomorrow I have to go back to being me. Hell, I might even walk away from this and watch It’s Always Sunny. I’ll set my alarm clock and drive to work. I’ll play with the kids and go to the park. I’ll have a beer on the weekend and play badminton, and joke around with people I care about. I’ll wake up with this knowledge, and I’ll somehow have to integrate it into the way I live my life. Maybe one day we’ll do something that matters. But it doesn’t feel right. The suffering continues, I need a new cell phone, and the murder and rape in the Congo are far away. I can’t hear the screams, and those who even try to walk away from this culture are labeled nuts themselves (if not worse).

I don’t want to understand anymore. I can’t. It could be such a lovely, beautiful world. But it has been overrun by insanity.

All I want to do is stand beside those who comfort the dying while knowing the machine gun is coming to them momentarily. To stand with snow-white haired ladies who coo to babies, who fill their last moments with radiance, defying the men with cigarettes and guns. There is nothing, nothing else that matters.

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Here are some things I have been thinking about:

It is a really, really bad idea to have our political debate reduced to focusing on how insane the far right is. When we simply stare with our mouths hanging open, shocked, we don’t really make things better. The right wing is gaining traction because we’re too busy reacting, and trying to fight racist, world-destroying assholes with logic. It doesn’t work. Those bitches be crazy. They are suffering from an age-old disease, and they have no ability to relate meaningful to other people and the Earth. They are wetikos.

We need to not give them any attention. We need to focus on real issues. I am not interested in debating the stimulus, or health care, or even cap and trade. The Earth is being destroyed. That means there will be no place for people. We are collectively committing suicide. Well, not we. A small cadre of insane, greedy cannibals, who are supported by emotionally/mentally crippled individuals.

We need to not just ignore them, but urgently present our own narrative. For example, Jon Stewart (and I like the guy) should stop reacting to Glenn Beck. You know what is more depressingly hilarious then listening to insane individuals on Fox News? The fact that hundreds of species are going extinct everyday. I mean, that’s not hilarious at all, but the collective obliviousness and carelessness sort of is (well not really, but I’m sure there are good jokes to be made nonetheless). Or Keith Olbermann to any of these nutcases. Left-wing blogs to Sarah Palin. These people are nuts, and the best defense is a good offense. They know that, and it’s time we put that into action ourselves.

So that’s what I’m for. More real depressing stories, and less reactions to the depressing tantrums of stunted individuals. Let’s do it.

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