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This is an Update from Suzanne Taylor and the Making Sense of These Times website: http://www.theconversation.org.  Thank you for your interest.


William Blum is an astute critic and a straight talker who makes it into the editorial pages of the New York Times. I like his insights into misconceptions that hold us trapped in this reality which just came around in his latest Anti-Empire Report: http://members.aol.com/bblum6/aer31.htm. This is the meatiest part of that mailing.

Some things you need to know before the World Ends

March 22, 2006

by William Blum

"Mit der Dummheit k鄝pfen G飆ter selbst vergebens." Friedrich Schiller
"With stupidity, even the gods struggle in vain."

...Inasmuch as I can not see violent revolution succeeding in the United States (something deep inside tells me that we couldn't quite match the government's firepower, not to mention their viciousness), I can offer no solution to stopping the imperial monster other than increasing the number of those in the opposition until it reaches a critical mass; at which point ... I can't predict the form the explosion will take.

I'm speaking here of education, and in my writing and in my public talks I like to emphasize certain points which try to deal with the underlying intellectual misconceptions and emotional "hangups" I think Americans have which stand in the way of their seeing through the bullshit; this education can also take the form of demonstrations or acts of civil disobedience, whatever might produce a thaw in a frozen mind. Briefly, here are the main points:

(1) US foreign policy does not "mean well". It's not that American leaders have miscalculated, or blundered, causing great suffering, as in Iraq, while having noble intentions. Rather, while pursuing their imperial goals they simply do not care about the welfare of the foreign peoples who are o要 the receiving end of the bombing and the torture, and we should not let them get away with claiming such intentions.

(2) The United States is not concerned with this thing called "democracy", no matter how many times George W. uses the word each time he opens his mouth. In the past 60 years, the US has attempted to overthrow literally dozens of democratically-elected governments, sometimes successfully, sometimes not, and grossly interfered in as many democratic elections in every corner of the world. The question is: What do the Busheviks mean by "democracy"? The last thing they have in mind is any kind of economic democracy, the closing of the gap between the desperate poor and those for whom too much is not enough. The first thing they have in mind is making sure the target country has the political, financial and legal mechanisms in place to make it hospitable to corporate globalization.

(3) Anti-American terrorists are not motivated by hatred or envy of freedom or democracy, or by American wealth, secular government, or culture. They are motivated by decades of awful things done to their homelands by US foreign policy. It works the same all over the world. In the period of the 1950s to the 1980s in Latin America, in response to a long string of Washington's dreadful policies, there were countless acts of terrorism against US diplomatic and military targets as well as the offices of US corporations. The US bombing, invasion, occupation and torture in Iraq and Afghanistan have created thousands of new anti-American terrorists. We'll be hearing from them for a terribly long time.

(4) The United States is not actually against terrorism per se, o要ly those terrorists who are not allies of the empire. There is a lengthy and infamous history of support for numerous anti-Castro terrorists, even when their terrorist acts were committed in the United States. At this moment, Luis Posada Carriles remains protected by the US government, though he masterminded the blowing up of a Cuban airplane that killed 73 people and his extradition has been requested by Venezuela. He's but o要e of hundreds of anti-Castro terrorists who've been given haven in the United States over the years. The United States has also provided close support of terrorists in Kosovo, Bosnia, Iran and elsewhere, including those with known connections to al Qaeda, to further imperial goals more important than fighting terrorism.

(5) Iraq was not any kind of a threat to the United States. Of the never-ending lies concerning Iraq, this is the most insidious, the necessary foundation for all the other lies. This is the supposed justification for the preemptive invasion, for what the Nuremberg Tribunal called a war of aggression. Absent such a threat, it didn't matter if Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, it didn't matter if the intelligence was right or wrong about this or that, or whether the Democrats also believed the lies. All that mattered was the Bush administration's claim that Iraq was an imminent threat to wreak some kind of great havoc upon America. But think about that. What possible reason could Saddam Hussein have had for attacking the United States other than an irresistible desire for mass national suicide?

(6) There was never any such animal as the International Communist Conspiracy. There were, as there still are, people living in misery, rising up in protest against their condition, against an oppressive government, a government usually supported by the United States.

(7) Conservatives, particularly of the neo-kind (far to the right o要 the political spectrum), and liberals (ever so slightly to the left of center) are not ideological polar opposites. Thus, watching a TV talk show o要 foreign policy with a conservative and a liberal is not necessarily getting a "balanced" viewpoint; a more appropriate balance to a conservative would be a left-wing radical or progressive. American liberals are typically closer to conservatives o要 foreign policy than they are to these groupings o要 the left, and the educational value of such "balanced" media can be more harmful than beneficial as far as seeing through the empire's motives and actions...

[William Blum left the State Department in 1967, abandoning his aspiration of becoming a Foreign Service Officer, because of his opposition to what the United States was doing in Vietnam. He then became o要e of the founders and editors of the Washington Free Press, the first "alternative" newspaper in the capital. Mr. Blum has been a freelance journalist in the United States, Europe and South America. William Blum is currently living in Washington, DC, using the Library of Congress and the National Archives to strike fear into the hearts of US government imperialists.]

I think an alignment of intelligent people like Blum could contribute to an escalation of "the number of those in the opposition until it reaches a critical mass." For people who haven't been with me long enough to hear me rant about this, pick up o要 The Twilight Club for a model from the last century, where shapers of thought united to do massive good in the world. The good that a contemporary version could contribute would be to think through our dead worldview which has us in dualistic hell. Let wise o要es amongst us come up with a new idea about who we are and what we're doing here that would serve us better.

Here are some tidbits about The Twilight Club
, some of whose members were Rudyard Kipling, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Charles Darwin, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Walt Whitman, Edwin Markham, Mark Twain, Andrew Carnegie, Thomas J. Watson, Rudyard Kipling, Cornelius Vanderbilt, Theodore Roosevelt, Calvin Coolidge, Louis Tiffany.

Their conviction was that world peace, harmony and unity would o要ly come about through the brotherhood of man. They were convinced that a persons moral creed could not remain as words and platitudes, but must be translated into action. Building o要 this idea, they formed The Poets Code of Ethics, intended as a worldwide moral code that related strictly to how people acted towards each other, the ethical nature of the code being based o要 the concept of service to others and to the world...

Andrew Carnegie strongly advocated the necessity of spreading the seeds of culture, morality and ethics. He promised to endow millions for educational purposesparticularly through building libraries. He also organized the Authors Club, providing a house o要 34th Street in New York, entirely free of charge providing that each member of the club agreed to write something every year that had a direct bearing o要 and reference to the moral code of ethics...

Out of this visionary effort came the Scout movement...As their meetings were rotated from house to house, they eventually named their group the Rotary Club, now the Rotary Club International, with millions of members all over the world devoted to service. Other service clubs followed, such as the Kiwanis and the Lions.

Others inspired by the Twilight Club vision, such as Edwin Markham and Sophie Irene Loeb, worked to bring about change in social conditions, such as the elimination of sweatshops, compulsory education and child labor laws. Eugene Grace, president of the Bethlehem Steel Company, and Adolph Ochs, owner of the New York Times, worked to establish advertising censorship. Thomas J. Watson and Walter Russell campaigned for the elimination of the caveat emptor practice of business, which eventually led to the establishment of the Better Business Bureaus.

After the war years, Thomas J. Watson, head of International Business Machines, became inspired by the ideals of the ethical movement organized by Herbert Spencer, wanting the business world to practice these principles. He offered to pay all expenses necessary for the club activities. He, Walter Russell and Edwin Markham decided to stress culture as well as ethics, since culture stems from the arts, for World War o要e had caused a drop in cultural growth and patronage of the arts. They decided to call this extension of the Twilight Club, The Society of Arts and Science. Taking leadership, Thomas J. Watson and Walter Russellwho lectured for twelve years to IBM employees o要 better business practicesworked with others, such as Francis Sisson, from the banking, business and legal world, to uplift the standards of industry, law and justice.

For more education to help flesh out the picture of our Iraq debacle, which feels like Greek tragedy when you put all the pieces together, I recommend a shocking piece from the New Yorker magazine: Deluded, by Steve Coll. This information, just coming to light about the state Saddam was in before the invasion, concerns a study which reveals "how the Iraq invasion, more than any other war in American history, was a construct of delusion. Frustratingly, however, we now understand much more about the textures of fantasy in Saddams palaces in early 2003 than we do about the self-delusions then prevalent in the West Wing."...

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