Friday, July 13, 2012

die Weiße Rose

If everyone waits until the other man makes a start, the messengers of avenging Nemesis will come steadily closer. (From Leaflet 1 by The White Rose)
On this day, July 13, in 1943, two members of The White Rose were convicted and beheaded.  Here is a clip from a dramatization of their subversive campaign to fight the Nazis, The Final Days.

I don't know about you, but ever since I learned of the Holocaust I have wondered throughout my life what I would have done had I been caught up in that time and place.  Would I have been brave and acted upon my convictions for what is just and good - or would I have done what most people did, and pretended to myself that even the most repulsive crimes against humanity weren't happening?

Do we have the same sort of moral challenge today, disguised as a benign dictatorship?  If fascism is simply defined as government being controlled by corporations, then that is the United States of America today.  If that is true, is it enough to be a clicktavist?

In a column at truthdig, Time to Get Crazy, Chris Hedges confronts this topic by exploring the uncompromising nobility of Crazy Horse.  He begins:
Native Americans’ resistance to the westward expansion of Europeans took two forms. One was violence. The other was accommodation. Neither worked. Their land was stolen, their communities were decimated, their women and children were gunned down and the environment was ravaged. There was no legal recourse. There was no justice. There never is for the oppressed. And as we face similar forces of predatory, unchecked corporate power intent on ruthless exploitation and stripping us of legal and physical protection, we must confront how we will respond. 
The ideologues of rapacious capitalism, like members of a primitive cult, chant the false mantra that natural resources and expansion are infinite. They dismiss calls for equitable distribution as unnecessary. They say that all will soon share in the “expanding” wealth, which in fact is swiftly diminishing. And as the whole demented project unravels, the elites flee like roaches to their sanctuaries. At the very end, it all will come down like a house of cards. 
Civilizations in the final stages of decay are dominated by elites out of touch with reality. Societies strain harder and harder to sustain the decadent opulence of the ruling class, even as it destroys the foundations of productivity and wealth. Karl Marx was correct when he called unregulated capitalism “a machine for demolishing limits.” This failure to impose limits cannibalizes natural resources and human communities. This time, the difference is that when we go the whole planet will go with us. Catastrophic climate change is inevitable. Arctic ice is in terminal decline. There will soon be so much heat trapped in the atmosphere that any attempt to scale back carbon emissions will make no difference. Droughts. Floods. Heat waves. Killer hurricanes and tornados. Power outages. Freak weather. Rising sea levels. Crop destruction. Food shortages. Plagues. 
ExxonMobil, BP and the coal and natural gas companies—like the colonial buffalo hunters who left thousands of carcasses rotting in the sun after stripping away the hides, and in some cases carrying away only the tongues—will never impose rational limits on themselves. They will exploit, like the hustlers before them who eliminated the animals that sustained the native peoples of the Great Plains, until there is nothing left to exploit. Collective suicide is never factored into quarterly profit reports. Forget all those virtuous words they taught you in school about our system of government. The real words to describe American power are “plunder,” “fraud,” “criminality,” “deceit,” “murder” and “repression.”
I recommend the whole essay which delves more into history, and ends, "Legend says that his bones turned to rocks and his joints to flint.  His ferocity of spirit remains a guiding light for all who seek lives of defiance".

Without vouching for its entire veracity, following is a post from The Unknown Journal titled "The Kochs, Their Nazi Past, Oil and the Foundation of the Right".  Is this just common knowledge, commonly ignored?  It was written in 2010, so it's a little out of date, and since then, the worst imaginings of the author have materialized.  Everything that follows up to the Moveon film clip at the end, is quoted from the Unknown Journal blog:
~ by Unknown [update:  unsubstantiated portions have been removed]:

The New York Times on Charles and David:
“Koch Industries began with oil in the 1930s and now also spews an array of industrial products,  from Dixie cups to Lycra,  not unlike DuPont’s portfolio of paint and plastics.  Sometimes the biological DNA persists as well.  The Koch brothers’ father,  Fred,  was among the select group chosen to serve on the Birch Society’s top governing body.  In a recorded 1963 speech that survives in a University of Michigan archive,  he can be heard warning of   “a takeover”  of America in which Communists would  “infiltrate the highest offices of government in the U.S. until the president is a Communist, unknown to the rest of us”.  That rant could be delivered as is at any Tea Party rally today.

Last week the Kochs were shoved unwillingly into the spotlight by the most comprehensive journalistic portrait of them yet,  written by Jane Mayer of The New Yorker.  Her article caused a stir among those in Manhattan’s liberal elite who didn’t know that David Koch,  widely celebrated for his cultural philanthropy,  is not merely another rich conservative Republican but the founder of the Americans for Prosperity Foundation,  which,  as Mayer writes with some understatement,  “has worked closely with the Tea Party since the movement’s inception”.   To New Yorkers who associate the David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center with the New York City Ballet, it’s startling to learn that the Texas branch of that foundation’s political arm,  known simply as Americans for Prosperity,  gave its Blogger of the Year Award to an activist who had called President Obama  “cokehead in chief.”
The John Birch Society
The foundation is financed via the oil and gas fortunes of Fred G. Koch,  a founding member of the John Birch Society.  Koch  ”wrote admiringly of Benito Mussolini’s suppression of Communists in Italy, and disparagingly of the American civil-rights movement.
The depth of influence the Koch’s exert over the US conservative agenda
Sons Charles G. Koch and David H. Koch run the company as well as Koch Family Foundations,  one of the largest single sources of funding for conservative organizations in the United States.  Organizations and think tanks supported by the foundation include Citizens for a Sound Economy,  the libertarian Cato Institute,  Reason Magazine,  the Manhattan Institute,  the Heartland Institute  and the Democratic Leadership Council.  David H. Koch ran for president on the Libertarian Party ticket in 1980.  Author Thomas Frank wrote in  ”What’s the Matter with Kansas?”  that  ”Koch money flowed through Triad Management Services”,  an advisory service to conservative donors groups and candidates,  for the 1996 Senate campaign of Sam Brownback.  Other sources only hint at a connection of Koch family members and Triad.
Koch outspends Exxon on climate and clean energy disinformation
Although Koch intentionally stays out of the public eye,  it is now playing a quiet but dominant role in a high-profile national policy debate on global warming.  Koch Industries has become a financial kingpin of climate science denial and clean energy opposition.  This private,  out-of-sight corporation is now a partner to Exxon Mobil,  the American Petroleum Institute and other donors that support organizations and front-groups opposing progressive clean energy and climate policy.  In fact,  Koch has out-spent Exxon Mobil in funding these groups in recent years.
Another example of Republican ties to Koch Industries
(…) If convicted,  the company faced fines of up to $352 million,  plus possible jail time for company executives. After George W. Bush became president,  however,  the U.S. Justice Department dropped 88 of the charges.  Two days before the trial,  John Ashcroft settled for a plea bargain,  in which Koch pled guilty to falsifying documents.  All major charges were dropped,  and Koch and Ashcroft settled the lawsuit for a fraction of that amount.  Koch had contributed $800,000 to the Bush election campaign and other Republican candidates.

“Neoconservatism… originated in the 1970s as a movement of anti-Soviet liberals and social democrats in the tradition of Truman,  Kennedy,  Johnson,  Humphrey and Henry (‘Scoop’) Jackson,  many of whom preferred to call themselves ‘paleoliberals.’  [After the end of the Cold War]… many ‘paleoliberals’ drifted back to the Democratic center…  Today’s neocons are a shrunken remnant of the original broad neocon coalition.  Nevertheless,  the origins of their ideology on the left are still apparent.  The fact that most of the younger neocons were never on the left is irrelevant;  they are the intellectual  (and, in the case of William Kristol and John Podhoretz, the literal)  heirs of older ex-leftists.”

In his semi-autobiographical book,  Neoconservatism: The Autobiography of an Idea, Irving Kristol cited a number of influences on his own thought,  including not only Max Shachtman and Leo Strauss but also the skeptical liberal literary critic Lionel Trilling.  The influence of Leo Strauss and his disciples on neoconservatism has generated some controversy,  with Lind asserting:

“For the neoconservatives,  religion is an instrument of promoting morality.  Religion becomes what Plato called a noble lie.  It is a myth which is told to the majority of the society by the philosophical elite in order to ensure social order…  In being a kind of secretive elitist approach,  Straussianism does resemble Marxism.  These ex-Marxists,  or in some cases ex-liberal Straussians,  could see themselves as a kind of Leninist group,   you know,  who have this covert vision which they want to use to effect change in history,  while concealing parts of it from people incapable of understanding it.”

William Kristol defends his father by noting that the criticism of an instrumental view of politics misses the point.  When the context is a discussion of religion in the public sphere in a secular nation,  religion is inevitably dealt with instrumentally.  Apart from that,  it should be born in mind that the majority of neoconservatives believe in the truth,  as well as the utility,  of religion.

"...And the left in America is faced with the result of 30 years on inaction, of refusing to get dirty.   Worse,  the left has to admit Obama so far is just a friendlier neoconservative.  We know his real politics are more left, but Obama seems to have abandoned his own ethic."

[END of post by Unknown]

Did co-opt the Occupation of Southampton for the thinly-veiled purpose of promoting the re-election of Barack Obama?  They certainly spent a lot of money - for an airplane, an SUV, and two tour buses to bring protesters from Union Square in New York City.  The film producers fed lines to the people they "interviewed" to repeat verbatim for the camera (except me - I declined).  But you can watch, and decide.

Update:  Ha, I googled to check the spelling of "clicktavist" and came upon a DailyKos post (Confessions of a Repentent Clicktavist) from 2010, with this comment by Tim DeChristopher (and we all know where Tim is right now):
So close 
I was so thrilled by the first half of this post.  With all that talk about not being wimps anymore, I really thought you were gonna say it. You made the case beautifully and passionately, and right when it came time to say changed the subject to other people who might deliver a slicker message for us. 
As long as we're looking for others to take the lead, we'll always be a bunch of wimpy bloggers. The "it" you needed to say was SACRIFICE.  That's what separates wimps from activists.  When they come to the conclusions in the first half of this post, wimps look to recruit muscle while activists commit to being that muscle. 
If our army is as big as it's going to get, that means the people in it are going to have to start fighting harder.  THAT MEANS US. There is no magic recipe that will make this easier. 
All those "real" activists you mentioned have something in common: they all went to jail. 
Whatever demographics we recruit, we're still gonna need people willing to fill the jails. The only reason farmers and grandmas are more effective than you is that they're doing civil disobedience instead of fucking blogging! It's the tactics, and we have just as much responsibility to use those tactics as anyone else.


  1. The Indians were often very successful, comparing the results of the last gasps in the late 19th century, to the entire extent of the contact period with the various European groups does not do them justice. You are comparing them to the most successful European group at the very end of the period. The Indians often reversed the colonial spread in the eastern half of the country. If they had not been so decimated by desease the results likely would have been much different.

    The Tea Party members, based on surveys, seem to be primarily concerned with Social Security and other elderly retirement issues. They tend to be rather selective in their cuts. Much of both the Tea Party and the Occupy movement strike me as being the newly disposesed middle class fighting over middle class entitlements.

  2. Russell, I'm hardly an expert on the history of Native Americans. I have read of course that disease was a huge problem. And whether there were reversals of the colonial spread or not, it certainly didn't end well for them. I don't think it does them an injustice to say so. They were overwhelmed by numbers, firepower, and an ideology that was racist.

    The Tea Party is ridiculously selective and I'm not sure it's a real group as opposed to compliant astroturf funded by the Kochs et al. As for Occupiers, there is definitely an element as you describe - people who are involved because our Empire is ending without any real understanding as to why it is inevitable. And they spend an inordinate amount of energy quibbling and squabbling over the scraps. However, I have met more than a few who have a very deep understanding of the ecological unsustainability and injustice intrinsic to industrial society...among them, Chris Hedges.

  3. Ozone alert!


  4. Whoops wrong link

  5. Thanks Catman! I'll get on it...Yikes there are so many, I can't stay on top!


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