24 September 2016

Time to Deprogram From the Cult of National Unity (commentary)

Kevin Carson at C4SS

People don’t like seeing their gods blasphemed, and the backlash against Colin Kaepernick’s refusal to stand for the national anthem has revealed the completely religious nature of American patriotism.

Tomi Lahren, whose views on racial matters are about what you’d expect from a “conservative commentator” on Glenn Beck’s TheBlaze, has been on a nonstop outrage jag ever since Kaepernick’s stance made the news. As the protest movement of variously sitting, kneeling and raising fists during the national anthem has spread, Kate Upton has joined Lahren’s social media campaign to make football games a safe space for hyper-sensitive patriots. The complaints, predictably, reached fever pitch on 9/11. Upton responded to the decision of several Dolphins to kneel during the anthem by chiding: “You should be proud to be an American. Especially on 9/11 when we should support each other.” The most egregious comments though, which get right to the heart of the national unity cult, came from Lahren: “We aren’t white & black, we are red, white & blue.” “[W[e are Americans and we stand together.”

Howard Zinn ably deconstructed this idea that our common identity as Americans is somehow more important than race or class differences:

“[Our present leaders] bombard us with phrases like ‘national interest,’ ‘national security,’ and ‘national defense’ as if all of these concepts applied equally to all of us, colored or white, rich or poor, as if General Motors and Halliburton have the same interests as the rest of us, as if George Bush has the same interest as the young man or woman he sends to war.

Link: Time to Deprogram From the Cult of National Unity

“Surely, in the history of lies told to the population, this is the biggest lie. In the history of secrets, withheld from the American people, this is the biggest secret: that there are classes with different interests in this country. To ignore that — not to know that the history of our country is a history of slaveowner against slave, landlord against tenant, corporation against worker, rich against poor — is to render us helpless before all the lesser lies told to us by people in power.”

The cult of national unity is an old one, and it exists for a reason. It dovetails with, and reinforces, a number of other patriotic American myths. Among them is the myth of “American Exceptionalism” — i.e., that America is the uniquely “indispensible nation” in promoting “peace and freedom” around the world, and is entitled to maintain military forces larger than the rest of the world combined, and unilaterally define as a “threat” or “aggressor” any country that defies American dictates, because of this beneficent role.

Another myth associated with the cult of national unity is the American Dream. We see this in the belief by the majority of Americans that they are “middle class.” The myth encourages Americans to believe that wealth is just a matter of hard work and ingenuity, and to identify with the “53%” of “taxpayers” and “makers vs. takers” against class warriors like Occupy, in the belief that someday they too may hit it big.

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It also commonly appears in conjunction with the cult of The Troops as guarantors of “our freedoms,” as illustrated by Upton’s Instagram comments on 9/11. The anthem, she said, “represents honoring the many brave men and women who sacrifice and have sacrificed their lives each and every single day to protect our freedom.”

All this despite the hard realities that America’s wars have been overwhelmingly fought to secure capitalist access to the land, natural resources and markets of the world, and the rich get the great majority of their wealth by extracting rents from the rest of us with the help of the state.

America is “exceptional” among the developed Western nations in that it is the world’s biggest settler state, created by European colonists supplanting and exterminating the indigenous population on a continental scale, and in the role that slavery played in building our economy. It is exceptional, probably not unrelated to the previous fact, in the size of its prison system and the way its culture glorifies police and soldiers. It is “exceptional” only to the extent to which its people have been successfully inculcated with myths of a “Shining City on a Hill” and a “Classless Society.” These myths obscure the criminal reality of America’s role in the world; America’s reality is hidden behind the official idealistic facade.

Thanks to this whole complex of quasi-official ideologies, America has attained the unique status of global enforcer of class rule. It is equally unique in concealing the very existence of class conflict from a significant part of its domestic population.

Fortunately, as evidenced by the rise of Occupy and Black Lives Matter, and the protest movement inspired by Kaepernick himself, the spell of this patriotic cult is wearing off. Power, ultimately, depends on consent. And consent depends on deception and ignorance. Once people begin to see through its legitimizing ideologies, the system of power is doomed.

Kevin Carson

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23 September 2016

Criminal US govt should "pardon" themselves, not Snowden

The Blog

Whistleblower Edward Snowden deserves a medal, not a pardon, Garrison Director Thomas Knapp wrote on 16 September.

Meanwhile, Presidents Bush and Obama should face trial, alongside the top "operational ringleaders" in one of the greatest crimes against the American people - the warrantless surveillance program used by the National Security Agency (NSA) to protect the regime.

Edward Snowden "performed a public service of inestimable value by exposing the crimes, the criminals, and the techniques of the largest espionage ring in human history", Knapp wrote. Of the American regime's leaders, he wrote:
If these characters weren’t (with good reason) convinced of their own immunity to justice, they’d be shutting down their unprecedented warrantless search operations and finding ways to preemptively pardon each other ahead of something like a new Nuremburg Tribunal,  instead of continuing to denigrate and persecute the man who exposed their vile deeds.
Knapp recommended Snowden should be selected for a Medal of Honor, Presidential Medal of Freedom, or a Congressional Gold Medal.

Link: @Snowden: Give That Man a Medal, Not a “Pardon”

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21 September 2016

Owen Smith inflames Labour Party divisions: socialist paper

The Blog

A socialist paper has warned against the disaster that would follow if alternative leader Owen Smith were to defy all odds and defeat Jeremy Corbyn's popular leadership of the UK's Labour Party.

Socialist tabloid The Morning Star tackled Smith's threatening statements that much of the Labour Party membership should be expelled for their participation in grassroots activist organizations like Momentum.

Smith controversially described Momentum members as parasites using Labour as a "host", a remark slammed by The Morning Star in its Monday 19 editorial. Tony Blair admirer Owen Smith "could refrain from threatening the mass expulsion of members of Momentum or insulting the thousands of loyal Labour Party members who comprise its membership as “parasites.”" the daily stated.

The paper predicted Smith "might create a superficially less divided party" if he were to win, but fail to address "the millions who have made it abundantly clear that they are sick of the status quo." Smith threatens to reduce Corbyn's Labour to an "out-of-touch Establishment party with no answers" that will fail to attract any new voters.

Link: Smith Is No Unity-Builder

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20 September 2016

"Liberals" side with neocons against Russia?

The Blog

Writing at the C4SS website, Kevin Carson recently criticized pro-US imperialist sentiments of journalists alleging ties between presidential candidate Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin

After explaining that he is not backing Donald Trump (he actually encourages voters to pick Clinton) or Putin in any way, Carson makes an argument as follows.

Self-proclaimed liberals in the US suffer from unfounded "assumptions" shared with vicious conservative ideologues when it comes to the US's place in the world. Their belief seems to be that whenever the US uses violence, it is instantly justified, and whenever someone uses violence against US interests, they are committing some form of aggression.

Whatever Russian President Vladimir Putin may have done, Carson believes, the US regime was already committing unique acts of aggression against the world and deserves a greater portion of our criticism.

In fact, Putin's foreign policy actions (not to comment on his domestic politics, which are indeed right-wing and authoritarian as Carson describes) are simply adequate measures against US aggression:
As for Putin’s aggression, it takes a unique set of blinders to call his 2008 altercation with Georgia, or his recent intervention in eastern Ukraine and occupation of the Crimea as aggression, while portraying as purely “defensive” the eastward expansion of NATO and the installation of a right-populist (and arguably neo-Nazi) regime in the Ukraine that is every bit as authoritarian as Putin’s.
The aggressive behavior of Western journalists towards Russia and other apparent enemies of the West is especially criticized by Carson, who alludes to Noam Chomsky's analysis of media control.

Carson wrote, "cable news, the wire services and major newspapers of record are every bit as slavishly subservient to the foreign policies of the American state as are the official media organs of any totalitarian regime".

When reporting on international relations, most journalists work backwards from the assumption that their country's foreign policy is correct, no matter how conflicted or catastrophic it has been. This is especially evident in current Western coverage of the Syrian Civil War. Despite the West's lack of access to any effective contacts in Syria, it insists the government of Bashar al-Assad is responsible for all the violence and denies its own role in killing thousands of people.

Link: Putin-Trump Outrage Reveals Shared Imperialist Mindset

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