it’s loose gravel underfoot
remember one thing
and then the thing you wanted to forget
the bitter wind
chafes his cheeks
collar raised and
he steps toward the abyss
This is the official video from Occupy Wall Street to thank supporters. It was approved by consensus through the New York City General Assembly last week.
A curse upon each king who leads his state,
No matter what his plea, to this foul game,
And may it end his wicked dynasty,
And may he die in exile and black shame.
If there is vengeance in the Heaven of Heavens,
What punishment could Heaven devise for these
Who fill the rivers of the world with dead,
And turn their murderers loose on all the seas!
Put back the clock of time a thousand years,
And make our Europe, once the world’s proud Queen,
A shrieking strumpet, furious fratricide,
Eater of entrails, wallowing obscene
In pits where millions foam and rave and bark,
Mad dogs and idiots, thrice drunk with strife;
While Science towers above;–a witch, red-winged:
Science we looked to for the light of life,
Curse me the men who make and sell iron ships
Who walk the floor in thought, that they may find
Each powder prompt, each steel with fearful edge,
Each deadliest device against mankind.
Curse me the sleek lords with their plumes and spurs,
May Heaven give their land to peasant spades,
Give them the brand of Cain, for their pride’s sake,
And felon’s stripes for medals and for braids.
Curse me the fiddling, twiddling diplomats,
Haggling here, plotting and hatching there,
Who make the kind world but their game of cards,
Till millions die at turning of a hair.
What punishment will Heaven devise for these
Who win by others’ sweat and hardihood,
Who make men into stinking vultures’ meat,
Saying to evil still “Be thou my good”?
Ah, he who starts a million souls toward death
Should burn in utmost hell a million years!
–Mothers of men go on the destined wrack
To give them life, with anguish and with tears:–
Are all those childbed sorrows sneered away?
Yea, fools laugh at the humble christenings,
And cradle-joys are mocked of the fat lords:
These mothers’ sons made dead men for the Kings!
All in the name of this or that grim flag,
No angel-flags in all the rag-array–
Banners the demons love, and all Hell sings
And plays wild harps. Those flags march forth to-day!
– Vachel Lindsay (1915)
From Our House To Yours:
May This Holiday Season Find You Happy, Healthy, Secure and Free
Best Wishes for the New Year
This past week saw the formal end of a war that lasted more than eight years, resulted in more than 150,000 deaths and countless more injuries, and cost trillions of dollars. I find myself struggling with ambivalence in its wake.
I am thankful, of course, that the last of our troops have finally left Iraq and that they will now be able to come home to their loved ones. I am grateful to all who served. I am hopeful that we may not see another struggle like this in my lifetime.
I am, at the same time, mindful of the continuing war in Afghanistan, frightened by the sabre rattling over Iran, and frustrated at our seeming inability to find better ways to resolve conflicts in the game of nations.
Last year, the United States spent $687,105,000,000 (and change) on the military. That is, by far, that largest military budget of any nation on Earth. It is more than 40% of all military spending on the planet. It is more than was spent by all of the other nations ranking in the top 15 of military budgets combined. It is more than six times what China (number two in military expenditures) spent. It represents nearly 5% of our Gross Domestic Product, and constitutes well over half of our federal budget.
As staggering as those figures may seem, they do not include expenses that are not part of the formal Pentagon budget. When you include related spending that is not under the Department of Defense (such as foreign arms deals, the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Department of Homeland Security, defense-related costs at the Department of Energy, FBI Counterterrorism efforts, interest on debt incurred for wars, etc.) the total price tag balloons to more than $1 trillion dollars annually. By some estimates, the figure is close to $1.5 trillion.
China spends less than $75 per capita on the military each year. The United States spends more than $2100 per capita each year on the DoD budget alone. Add in the other defense-related expenses listed above, and we’re crowding five grand per year in military spending for every man, woman and child in the country.
By conservative estimates, the United States now has active duty military personnel on the ground in more than 100 countries around the globe, and maintains more than 650 bases on foreign soil.
Abraham Maslow said “If you only have a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.” America seems cursed with the hammer of military might…
Though the current situation may seem overwhelmingly daunting to people who care about peace and justice, and we may be tempted to think of it as a remote and inaccessible problem, in truth it is not.
Today I pray for an end to the war in Afghanistan. I pray for an end to violence as an accepted solution to conflict on God’s good Earth. Especially in this Season of Christmas to come, I will pray that humankind will open our hearts to the Spirit of the Prince of Peace.
Prayers, however, will not be enough. We need to take away the hammer, or at least put some new tools in the box.
If the events of this past year have taught us anything, they have taught us that the power of ordinary people who come together, resolute in solidarity, seeking justice, is greater than any other power on Earth.
War is over, if you want it.
If you are involved in an organization that practices peace and advocates for it, or if you have other resources to recommend, please leave a comment or email me with a link and I’ll consider posting it here.
Bastardised Libertarianism Makes “Freedom” an Instrument of Oppression. [George Monbiot, The Guardian] – Modern libertarianism is the disguise adopted by those who wish to exploit without restraint. It pretends that only the state intrudes on our liberties. It ignores the role of banks, corporations and the rich in making us less free.
Read the full article here.
When someone says the word “Anarchist” what images come to your mind? Are they cartoonish little guys in black fedoras and trench coats carrying bombs? Is the one “fact” you remember about Anarchists from your high school world history classes that one of them was “to blame for the First World War?”
Entire volumes have been written in an attempt to explain what Anarchism is, how it developed and why it may still be relevant today. At its center, though, is the longing for freedom and for solidarity within the working class.
Nathan Schneider has written an excellent essay for The Nation, exploring what Anarchist roots have brought to the Occupy movement.
At its core, anarchism isn’t simply a negative political philosophy, or an excuse for window-breaking, as most people tend to assume it is. Even while calling for an end to the rule of coercive states backed by military bases, prison industries and subjugation, anarchists and other autonomists try to build a culture in which people can take care of themselves and each other through healthy, sustainable communities.
Schneider outlines some of the limitations that these roots seem to have placed on the Occupy movement, and the frustrations that a stubborn commitment to consensus has caused for traditional political leaders and groups. He cautions us to recognize what the movement is not (and will never be), but also points to what it has already done. “They’ve reminded us that politics is not a matter of choosing among what we’re offered but of fighting for what we and others actually need‚ not to mention what we hope for.”
Read Nathan Scneider’s Essay: Thank You Anarchists [The Nation]
Learn More About Anarchism: AK Press
A Definitive History of Anarchism: Black Flame: The Revolutionary Class Politics of Anarchism and Syndicalism, Michael Schmidt and Lucien van der Walt
Forensic Examiner Found No Match of Cables on Manning’s Laptop to WikiLeaks’. [Threat Level | Wired.com] – FT. MEADE, Maryland – A day after a government forensic expert testified that he’d found thousands of diplomatic cables on the Army computer of suspected WikiLeaks source Bradley Manning, he was forced to admit under cross-examination that none of the cables he compared to the ones WikiLeaks released matched.