Now, I bow to no one in my appreciation of female beauty and fancy clobber but I could not wrench the phantom of those children from my mind, in this moment I felt the integration; that the price of this decadence was their degradation. That these are not dislocated ideas but the two extremes are absolutely interdependent. The price of privilege is poverty. David Cameron said in his conference speech that profit is “not a dirty word”. Profit is the most profane word we have. In its pursuit we have forgotten that while individual interests are being met, we as a whole are being annihilated. The reality, when not fragmented through the corrupting lens of elitism, is we are all on one planet.
To have such suffering adjacent to such excess is akin to marvelling at an incomparable beauty, whose face is the radiant epitome of celestial symmetry, and ignoring, half a yard lower down, her abdomen, cancerous, weeping and carbuncled. “Keep looking at the face, put a handbag over those tumours. Strike a pose. Come on, Vogue.”
Suffering of this magnitude affects us all. We have become prisoners of comfort in the absence of meaning. A people without a unifying myth. Joseph Campbell, the comparative mythologist, says our global problems are all due to the lack of relevant myths. That we are trying to sustain social cohesion using redundant ideologies devised for a population that lived in deserts millennia ago. What does it matter if 2,000 years ago Christ died on the cross and was resurrected if we are not constantly resurrected to the truth, anew, moment to moment? How is his transcendence relevant if we do not resurrect our consciousness from the deceased, moribund mind of our obsolete ideologies and align with our conditions?
The model of pre-Christian man has fulfilled its simian objectives. We have survived, we have created agriculture and cities. Now this version of man must be sacrificed that we can evolve beyond the reaches of the ape. These stories contain great clues to our survival when we release ourselves from literalism and superstition. What are ideologies other than a guide for life? Throughout paganism one finds stories that integrate our species with our environment to the benefit of both. The function and benefits of these belief matrixes have been lost, with good reason. They were socialist, egalitarian and integrated. If like the Celtic people we revered the rivers we would prioritise this sacred knowledge and curtail the attempts of any that sought to pollute the rivers. If like the Nordic people we believed the souls of our ancestors lived in the trees, this connection would make mass deforestation anathema. If like the native people of America we believed God was in the soil what would our intuitive response be to the implementation of fracking?
Video I shot in 2011 of a lecture by Chris Seefer, an attorney at Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd LLP — the law firm responsible for collecting the “mountain of evidence” of a massive ratings agencies scandal, as documented in Matt Taibbi’s brutal article The Last Mystery of the Financial Crisis.
“You could not have done better if you had gone to central casting and had a professional scriptwriter. He’s on the nerdy side of attractive, sensible-sounding and relaxed, articulate, and able to deliver key points in a compact, mass market friendly manner.” — Yves Smith
I was surprised that the existence/extent of our surveillance state was a surprise. Didn’t everybody know that? But the way the Guardian/Greenwald have played this so far is wonderful. The prosecution of whistleblowers is in many ways a much greater threat to our freedom than the spying. It seems completely inescapable that private data will be collected by both corporations and governments so long as the server space & energy exists to do so cheaply. But it’s what’s done with the data that’s scary, especially the lack of consequences for abusers of data. Whistleblowers are a crucial line of defense against abuse. This is true not just of surveillance but also financial & environmental regulation, for example. Consistently we’ve been prosecuting the whistleblowers instead of the criminals, accelerating the cycle of corruption and decay in government and society.
For Edward Snowden to publicly reveal himself at the height of media attention on the story, is a masterful shift of the story away from “privacy” and towards “importance & vulnerability of the little guy who speaks out against the system.” Whereas police brutality was arguably a distraction from Occupy’s message of income inequality, I hope whistleblower prosecution usurps the surveillance debate. Which isn’t to say that surveillance isn’t a huge issue. It deserves the spotlight, or even better, full sun. But we can’t make any traction on that issue, or financial crimes, or unsafe power plants, etc., if we keep ignoring & imprisoning whistleblowers.
In this video Snowden is a perfectly-cast hero for the whistleblower plight. If a more confident America in 1964 got Mario Savio speaking truth to power, then for 2013, with our “rockstars” being Facebook developers (or some such nonsense), Snowden is perfect: white, male, nerdy, calm, non-threatening, attractive enough to look good on camera, “self-made” high school drop out who went on to a lucrative upper-middle class career thanks to his skills. Basically, how the archetypal Redditor imagines himself to be.
So we finally have a narrative to make rally around whistleblower protection. Exquisitely played PR, Mr. Greenwald. What Cindy Sheehan was to the anti-war movement, perhaps Edward Snowden will be to whistleblowers. Of course, that means the counter-PR will ferocious. So far Snowden appears to have more foresight than Manning and more humility than (and hopefully none of the rapiness of) Assange. So it remains to be seen how they’ll go about destroying him in the court of public opinion. I am relieved that he seems to have gone into this with his eyes open, fully aware of what he is sacrificing. He deserves our gratitude and admiration. The battle ahead will be nasty indeed.
Join the Rally and March on May Day for JOBS FOR ALL!
Join a large, visible presence advocating job creation and an end to unemployment:
JOBS FOR ALL
Dignified work at good union wages for everyone who wants a job.
TRABAJOS PARA TODOS
Trabajo digno con sueldos buenos de escala sindical para cualquiera que quiera un trabajo.
TUESDAY MAY 1
Mayday 2012 Rally & March
Union Square, NYC
Join us at the corner of Union Sq. West & 14th St.
(By the dry fountain)
We demand a democratically-controlled public works and public service program, with direct government employment, to create 25 million new jobs at good union wages. The new jobs will be to build the facilities and provide the services needed to meet the needs of the 99%, including in education, healthcare, housing, transportation, and clean energy. The program will be funded by raising taxes on the banks, corporations and the wealthiest 1%, and by ending all U.S. wars. Employment in the program will be open to all, including immigrants and persons formerly incarcerated.
Demandamos obras públicas y un programa de servicios públicos democráticamente controlados, con empleo directo del gobierno, para crear 25 millones de nuevos empleos con sueldos buenos de escala sindical. Los nuevos empleos serán para construir las instalaciones y proveer los servicios necesitados para satisfacer las necesidades del 99%, incluyendo en educación, cuidados de la salud, vivienda, transporte y energía limpia. El programa será financiado aumentando los impuestos a los bancos, las corporaciones y el 1% de los más ricos, y poniendo fin a todas las guerras por los Estados Unidos de América. Empleo en el programa estará disponible para todos, incluyendo a los inmigrantes y a las personas anteriormente encarceladas.
Last weekend I attended Left Forum and videoed a fantastic panel, The Struggle for Full Employment: Not a New Idea and Not a New Struggle, sponsored by the National Jobs for All Coalition.
“The Struggle for Full Employment: Not a New Idea and Not a New Struggle”
Left Forum 2012
Saturday, March 17, 5:00-6:40 PM, Room W401
The presentation explores New Deal job creation efforts and FDR’s Economic Bill of Rights that began with the right to a decent job. It discusses two major attempts to secure full employment, in the immediate post-World War II period and in the 1970s, the first ending in the defeat of full employment legislation and the second, in the failure to implement a watered-down full employment act. Full employment, the presentation shows, will take a fundamental break with neo-liberalism and a reorientation of power from big business and Wall Street to middle- and working-class people and will require the full-scale social movement that both earlier struggles lacked.
Chuck Bell: Vice Chair, National Jobs for All Coalition, co-author of “Shared Prosperity: The Drive For Decent Work” (2006). Twenty years of experience in consumer and health care advocacy, and community movements for jobs and economic justice.
Helen Ginsburg: Professor Emerita of Economics, Brooklyn College, CUNY., and co-founder of the National Jobs for All Coalition. Author of books and articles on employment policy and strategies.
Gertrude S. Goldberg: The New Deal and Social Welfare Professor of Social Policy Emerita, Adelphi University School of Social Work where she directed the Ph.D. program. Chair of the National Jobs for All Coalition. Co-chair of the Columbia Seminar on Full Employment, Social Welfare & Equity. Author/co-author and editor of six books and numerous book chapters and articles on social policy and employment.
Moderator: Sheila D. Collins, Professor of Political Science at William Paterson University and co-founder of the National Jobs for All Coalition.
Video by Rebecca Rojer, http://rrrojer.net
I just donated $50 to Rocky Anderson’s presidential campaign. I’ve already come public about my support of Rocky and unwillingness to keep voting for Dems but I just wanted to share this email from the Rocky campaign, because it’s so damn refreshing to hear something like this from a politician:
Thank you for your donation to our campaign. With your help, we will lead the United States forward on a healthy, just, and sustainable path.
We do not accept more than a total of $100 from any person. We are making the choice to emphasize the need to end the corrupting influence of money over our political system. We will rely on grassroots organizing and democratized means of communication to overthrow the dictatorship of selfish narrow interests, which, with the collusion of the two dominant parties, have been undermining the public interest.
This campaign stands for:
An immediate end to the on-going wars;
Essential health care coverage for all citizens;
Urgent international leadership by the U.S. to prevent the most catastrophic consequences of climate disruption;
Adequate revenues to balance the budget through fair taxation;
Treatment of substance abuse as a public health, rather than criminal justice, issue;
Control of the Federal Reserve by the Treasury Department and Congress;
A balanced budget (or a surplus) except in times of war or major recession;
An end to the legal concept of corporate “personhood;” a constitutional amendment to overrule Citizens United ;
An end to the corrupting impact of money in our electoral system;
Protection of U.S. jobs, through re-negotiation of trade agreements and jobs programs like WPA and CCC to improve our nation’s infrastructure and employ millions of Americans;
An end to the stranglehold on our government by the military-industrial complex.
United we can come together to put the public’s interest first.
One of the interviews I shot in Kansas City last month at the Autopsy of a Financial Crisis conference at UMKC: