• All governments lie, but disaster lies in wait for countries whose officials smoke the same hashish they give out.

  • I.F. Stone

zaterdag 25 augustus 2012

U.S. Terrorism 3


'Waarom geweld verweven is met de Amerikaanse cultuur

   
President Lyndon B. Johnson meets with Martin Luther King, Jr. in the White House Cabinet Room
Source: Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum. Image Serial Number: A2134-2A.


America, he charges, was guilty of waging war on those who really made the American nation: Native Americans, African-Americans, the working-class, the poor, and women. American history, as Zinn saw it, was that of a history of "genocide: brutally and purposefully waged by our rulers in the name of progress. He claimed that these truths were buried “in a mass of other facts, as radioactive wastes are buried in containers in the earth.”
Ron Radosh on Howard Zinn in “America the Awful---Howard Zinn's History

Een opvallend detail in de geschiedenis van de VS is het taboe gedurende ruim een halve eeuw (1880-1940) op een wet tegen lynchen. [1] Lynchen is niets anders dan moord. In een rechtsstaat zou een verbod op moord overbodig moeten zijn, maar de buitengerechtelijke moord op zwarten werd door de Amerikaanse samenleving destijds gelegitimeerd. In een zich ontwikkelende samenleving is één van de belangrijkste tekenen van beschaving het toekennen van het monopolie op dodelijk geweld aan de overheid. Maar dankzij de wapenlobby gaat dat niet op voor de VS, specifiek voor de stand-your-ground law staten [2] [3] waar men legaal kan doden als men zich bedreigd voelt. Een Amerikaanse burger kan probleemloos een semiautomatisch wapen aanschaffen. Voorzien van een magazijn voor 100 patronen wordt elke schutter daarmee een potentiële massamoordenaar. Hoe kan men het primaat van de overheid verdedigen en tegelijk burgers toegang geven tot dit soort militaire wapens? Wat motiveert de activisten die ijveren voor het recht op wapenbezit?

Slachtingen zoals die in Aurora maken steevast sympathiebetuigingen voor de slachtoffers los, en analyses van de dader. De dader krijgt de schuld, de samenleving gaat vrijuit. Zo blijft een maatschappelijk debat over de Amerikaanse geweldscultuur uit. De vraag of sprake is van rituele sympathiebetuigingen of authentieke compassie blijft onbeantwoord. Dit type blindheid verklaart ook waarom Amerikanen probleemloos de twaalf doden van Aurora betreuren, maar tegelijk weinig compassie tonen voor de slachtoffers van het Amerikaanse antiterrorismebeleid. Het medeleven lijkt te zijn voorbehouden voor landgenoten. Buitenlands geweld, gepaard gaand met patriottische retoriek van de overheid, krijgt de steun van de bevolking. Denk aan de Israëlische aanval op Gaza begin 2009, de Irak-oorlog, de droneaanvallen, de oorlogen in Afghanistan en Libië. Geen woord van medeleven met deze talloze onschuldige slachtoffers van de Amerikaanse geweldscultuur.

Vanaf het prille begin van de VS zo’n 400 jaar geleden is oorlog en binnenlands geweld verweven met het leven van alledag en met de Amerikaanse cultuur. Geweld in allerlei vormen is volgens de gezaghebbende Amerikaanse historicus Richard Maxwell Brown terug te vinden “in vrijwel elk stadium en aspect van de onze nationale geschiedenis” en is “onderdeel van onze onverwerkte waardenstructuur”. Het is zelfs zo dat “het steeds weerkerend geweld dat teruggaat tot ons koloniaal verleden onze burgers een neiging tot geweld heeft bijgebracht”. [4] [5] Hoewel Amerika dus sinds lang voor 9/11 verslingerd is aan oorlog en geweld, cultiveerde het de afgelopen eeuw wel het valse zelfbeeld als vrijheidslievende natie, een beeld dat de Amerikaanse bevolking zich inmiddels integraal heeft toegeëigend.

Het vredelievende zelfbeeld ten spijt wordt Amerikaans patriottisme veeluit geuit in militaire/militaristische termen. Heel wat presidenten dankten hun verkiezing aan hun militaire carrière. Woodrow Wilson (1913-1921) was de eerste president die moralistische retoriek gebruikte om een nieuwe oorlog te rechtvaardigen. En in 1991 kondigde vader Bush de eerste Irak-oorlog aan met de woorden: "Wij, Amerikanen, hebben een unieke verantwoordelijkheid om het harde werk van de vrijheid te doen. En als we dat doen, dan functioneert die vrijheid ook”. Vanzelfsprekend lagen niet aan alle Amerikaanse oorlogen lage motieven ten grondslag. Ook werd de lancering van niet elke oorlog gehuld in egoïstische, moralistische retoriek. Wel staat vast dat Amerikanen weinig inzicht hebben in de omvangrijke rol die oorlogen hebben gespeeld in de Amerikaanse geschiedenis. Volgens historici hebben de oorlogen de Amerikanen wel geleerd te vechten, de verschillende bevolkingsgroepen bijeengebracht en de nationale economie een duw in de rug gegeven.

De Amerikaanse historicus Howard Zinn geeft een goed overzicht van de Amerikaanse oorlogen en de rol welke die speelden in de ontwikkeling van het land. [6] Na de Indiaanse aanval van 1622 in Jamestown zouden tot 1890 nog een groot aantal oorlogen met Indianen volgen die veel grondgebied opleverden. Van belang waren voorts de onafhankelijkheidsoorlogen met Engeland. De oorlog met Mexico leverde in 1848 het gehele zuidwesten op, waaronder Californië, Arizona, New Mexico, en delen van Utah en Wyoming. De uitbouw overzee begon met de Spaans-Amerikaanse oorlog en de Filippijnse Opstand (1898-1902), wat de controle over de Filippijnen, Cuba en Puerto Rico opleverde. Dan komen de Wereldoorlogen, de Koreaanse oorlog en de langste en kostbaarste oorlog uit de Amerikaanse geschiedenis: Vietnam. Tussendoor waren er honderden “militaire acties”, zoals Indochina, het Caraïbisch gebied, Centraal-Amerika en de Varkensbaai-invasie van Cuba. Tijdens de Koude Oorlog voerde de VS tal van acties uit vanuit zijn overzeese bases. Tenslotte de eerste Golfoorlog, voormalig Joegoslavië, Afghanistan, Irak en vandaag het beleg van Iran en de indirecte militaire tussenkomst in Syrië.

Amerikaanse historici buigen zich wel over de militaire aspecten van de oorlogen, maar gaan voorbij aan de effecten op de samenleving. Een mogelijk verband tussen oorlog en geweld in de samenleving blijft onontgonnen gebied, een lacune die vooral opvalt in de geschiedenisboeken. De meeste Amerikaanse historici zijn niet bereid de realiteit onder ogen te zien: geweld en de Amerikaanse cultuur zijn onlosmakelijk met elkaar verweven. Prominente historici hebben dat jaren geleden al ingezien. [7] Zo schreef tweevoudig Pulitzer Prize laureaat, historicus Richard Hofstadter: "Geweld in Amerika komt buitengewoon veel voor. Het is in onze geschiedenis een alledaags en bestendig fenomeen dat haaks staat op de manier waarop wij onze nationale waarden afschilderen.” Voor Stanford University professor Lawrence Friedman “komt het Amerikaans geweld diep vanuit de Amerikaanse persoonlijkheid … [het] kan geen toeval zijn, en al evenmin genetisch. De specifieke feiten van de Amerikaanse samenleving zitten er voor iets tussen … misdaad is misschien de prijs … van de vrijheid … [maar] Amerikaans geweld blijft een historische puzzel”.

Volgens één van de historici vielen in de periode 1622-1900 tenminste 753.000 autochtone Amerikaanse Indianen slachtoffer aan oorlogsvoering en genocide in wat vandaag de Verenigde Staten van Amerika is. In dezelfde periode zou dat aantal voor Afrikaanse Amerikanen op tenminste 750.000 liggen. Andere vormen van binnenlands collectief geweld zouden minder dan 20.000 slachtoffers hebben gekost. Hoe afschuwelijk deze cijfers ook zijn, zij verbleken in vergelijking met de belangrijkste vorm van Amerikaans geweld die historici tot voor kort routinematig hebben genegeerd: intermenselijk geweld. In 1997 vergeleken de hoogleraren Franklin Zimring en Gordon Hawkins criminaliteitscijfers in de G-7 landen (Canada, Groot-Brittannië, Frankrijk, Duitsland, Italië, Japan en de VS) tussen de zestiger en negentiger jaren van de vorige eeuw. De conclusie was: "De omvang van het dodelijk geweld in de VS duidt op een derde-wereld fenomeen in een eerste-wereld land". In de 20e eeuw werden meer Amerikanen gedood door andere Amerikanen dan omkwamen in de Amerikaans-Spaanse oorlog, de beide Wereldoorlogen, de Korea oorlog en de Vietnam oorlog bij elkaar.

Richard Hofstadter stelt dat Amerikanen zich niet verdiepen in geweld omdat hun wordt voorgehouden dat zij een “uitverkoren volk” zijn waaraan alle ellende die andere samenlevingen ondergaan voorbijgaat. Hen wordt een veel te positief beeld van Amerika voorgespiegeld. De “mythe van de onschuld” of “van het nieuwe Eden”, aldus Hofstadter. Dat overheden zich geen zorgen maakten over geweld komt ook omdat dat niet tegen hen was gericht. Het geweld vond plaats tussen burgers: zwart-blank, blank-Indiaan, Protestant-Katholiek of Aziaat-Latino. Het ontbreken van een gewelddadige revolutionaire traditie in Amerika is de belangrijkste reden waarom Amerikanen nooit zijn ontwapend, terwijl in Europa het omgekeerde geldt. Zo ontstond het selectief geheugen - of het historische geheugenverlies - over geweld. Maar Amerikaanse historici hebben wel degelijk een verband aangetoond tussen cultuur en geweld. Mogelijk worden we nu geconfronteerd met een ander bijproduct van de Amerikaanse neiging tot geweld: een zoveelste oorlog (Iran, Syrië, ...) zonder dat men zich daar vooraf ernstige vragen bij stelt. Dat is nu eenmaal de American Way.

[1] Robert Pierce Forbes (alias: cwhig): “The violence lobby
[5] Stan van Houcke: “Arie Elshout van de Volkskrant 20
[7] Ira Leonard: “Violence is the American Way

Against Nuclear Weapons

File:Japanese-atomic-bomb-victims-47.jpg

'2012 World Conference against Atomic and Hydrogen Bombs
Posted: 17 Aug 2012 12:11 AM PDT
Declaration of the International Meeting

Throughout the world, people are taking actions demanding their freedom and dignity, opposing social inequality and poverty, and for an end to war and occupation. In Japan, which has suffered the tragedies of Hiroshima, Nagasaki and Bikini, actions of citizens demanding zero nuclear power plants are developing on an unprecedented scale since the outbreak of the Fukushima Daiichi NPP accident, to the level of shaking the entire nation. The voices of the citizens are changing the course of the future of countries and the world.

The call for “No More Hibakusha, No More Hiroshimas and Nagasakis” is heard around the world in this development. The intense desire of the civil society, expressed by signatures collected on streets, in workplaces and campuses, is meeting positive responses in the international politics.

The present situation calls for a drastic strengthening of peace movement and public support. The NPT Review Conference in 2010 reached an agreement to achieve the “peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons”. The focus now is on the implementation of this agreement. With the start of the preparatory process for the next NPT Review Conference in 2015, many non-nuclear-weapon states governments are resolved to move the situation forward. Sixteen nations, including Non-Aligned and New Agenda Coalition states as well as NATO members, together made an appeal for a ban on nuclear weapons, focusing on the humanitarian dimension of the use of nuclear weapons. It is time now that the civil society, local governments, the United Nations and national governments should join forces to open a door of a “world without nuclear weapons”.

The use of nuclear weapons can never be justified for any reason whatsoever. One nuclear bomb, if used, would cause catastrophic consequences, which the Hibakusha called a “hell on earth”. It is a crime against humanity and civilization. The disasters of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, where people could not live as humans or die as humans, continue to warn the human race of that. The serious consequence of the nuclear power plant accident also shows how inhumane it is to use nuclear energy for military purpose. Nuclear weapons and humans cannot coexist. Retaining such weapons is morally unacceptable.

Inhuman and immoral as they are, nuclear weapons are to be banned by law and eliminated. We call for the start of negotiations for a nuclear weapons convention, to establish the rule of law. In the UN General Assembly, 130 countries voted in support of the resolution for it, and the NPT Review Conference in 2010 called on all countries to make “special effort” to establish a “framework” to create a “world without nuclear weapons”. The agreement should be honored and implemented.

With public opinion for a total ban on nuclear weapons growing, there is a strong resistance to maintain nuclear arsenals. Some nuclear powers and their allies insist on their “nuclear deterrence” and maintain their nuclear alliance and “nuclear umbrella” . The highly expensive modernization of nuclear weapons continues. In no sense does nuclear arsenal guarantee peace or security. They should face up to the reality that the nuclear deterrence policy has actually helped nuclear proliferation accelerate. Only when nuclear deterrence doctrines are overcome, can the “peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons” be achieved. Peace movements and public support will play the key role here. It is important that an international conference on a nuclear weapon-free zone in the Middle East, as set out by the NPT Review Conference, should achieve a good success. We support the call for the signing of the protocol of the South East Asian Nuclear Weapon-Free Zone Treaty by the nuclear weapon states. We oppose NATO’s nuclear doctrine and interventionism and demand the withdrawal of tactical nuclear weapons from Europe. We support the denuclearization of Korean Peninsula.

Lasting peace and security cannot be achieved by force. We oppose the use or threat to use forces and demand the resolution of all conflicts by diplomatic and peaceful means. We support a world order of peace based on the UN Charter and other instruments of international law. We oppose foreign military bases and demand their withdrawal. In solidarity with the effort for independent and democratic changes in the Middle East countries, we call for a peaceful solution of the problem in Syria without outside military intervention. We demand a peaceful and diplomatic solution on the problems on Iran.

In order for the Japanese government to take actions commensurate to the only A-bombed country, the role of the Japanese peace movement is becoming ever more important. We extend our support and solidarity to the movements for the abrogation of the Japan-US “secret nuclear arrangements”, which allow nuclear weapons to be brought into Japanese territories; for the strict observance of the “Three Non-Nuclear Principles”; for establishing a nuclear weapon-free Japan; the opposition by the people of Okinawa and other communities involving local authorities to the deployment of the dangerous US new transportation aircraft Osprey and to the deployment or port calls of US nuclear-powered warships; the movement demanding the removal of the Futenma base in Okinawa and other US military bases in Japan and for defending and having fully operated Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution.

The accident of the Fukushima Daiichi NPP has brought the danger of nuclear power plant into clear view. The procurement of the energy sources for sustainable development, without relying on NPP and without thus leaving the danger to the future generations is the necessity. We work for the eradication of the nuclear damage stemming from each stage of the nuclear fuel cycle. Noting the link between nuclear weapons and nuclear power plants, we oppose the reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel, the accumulation of plutonium and the military use of nuclear energy. We express our solidarity with the idea for a nuclear-free world.

We propose the following actions worldwide:
– Let us build up international opinion demanding the start of negotiations for a nuclear weapons convention by collecting signatures in support of the “Appeal for a Total Ban on Nuclear Weapons” and many other actions. Let us develop campaigns in different countries and regions in demand for the removal of nuclear weapons and for nuclear free zones.

– Let us further develop our effort to make known to the public the consequences of the A-bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki through A-bomb photo exhibitions. The truth on the suffering from the A-bombs renders every excuse on nuclear weapons meaningless. Let us strengthen support and solidarity with the Hibakusha, from which the World Conference against A and H Bombs and its movement started. Struggling against cover-up or underestimation of the effects of nuclear damage, we will strengthen solidarity with all nuclear victims. Let us work in solidarity with the movements for support of the victims of Agent Orange and other war atrocities.

– We will develop solidarity with a broad range of movements for a shift from nuclear power to renewable energy resources. No more nuclear victims of any kind is a shared desire of the movements against nuclear weapons and for zero nuclear power plants. Let us keep building these movements to open the way to a future with no more nuclear damage.

We oppose disparity of wealth and growing social inequality. Hands in hands with all people who stand for freedom, democracy and demilitarization, working against hunger, poverty, unemployment, illiteracy and for the resolution of social injustices, drastic cuts in military spending and armament, for the improvement of social welfare, human rights, protection of global environment, overcoming of patriarchal structure and for the rights and equal social status of women, let us open a door to a nuclear weapon-free, peaceful and just world.
With the Hibakusha, and with the young generation who bear the future, let us make strides forward.

August 4, 2012
International Meeting
2012 World Conference against A & H Bombs
=============================================
World Conference against A & H Bombs
Organizing Committee
2-4-4 Yushima, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 113-8464 JAPAN
phone: +81-3-5842-6034
fax: +81-3-5842-6033
Email: intl@antiatom.org
URL: http://www.antiatom.org

The post 2012 World Conference against Atomic and Hydrogen Bombs appeared first on Pressenza.'

Dignity


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Why Our Politicians Can't Stop Lying

Getting to the bottom of an eternal question.
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One of the odder consequences of the tangle of distortions, deceptions and fabrications that prepared the way for the US declaration of war on Iraq in 2003 has been a renewed scrutiny of the many flavors and uses of mendacity in political life. Some of these investigations have been narrowly focused on enumerating the many damaging fibs perpetrated by President George W. Bush and his foreign policy team to manufacture public consent for a war they knew to be a hard sell on evidence alone. But others have taken the form of reflections on lying itself—as much to parse its varied modern guises as to reconsider its effects. A few years ago, television comedian Stephen Colbert began offering late-night cable audiences amusing, bitter lessons in “truthiness,” his term for a gut feeling about what constitutes truth in the absence of any real logic or proof. As Martin Jay points out in his erudite The Virtues of Mendacity, Colbert’s neologism was intended to capture the particular spirit of our times. In his brief Why Leaders Lie, John Mearsheimer has similarly extrapolated outward from specific cases, taking to heart Hannah Arendt’s famous maxim that “truthfulness has never been counted among the political virtues” and creating a veritable catalog of recent justifications for lying in office. According to Mearsheimer, a foreign policy expert, lying in interstate relations is actually considerably less prevalent, or dangerous, or even frowned upon, than might otherwise be assumed. More worrisome is when elected leaders spread falsehoods about international affairs and engage in fear-mongering on the home front, as happened during the Bush years. Such lies produce not only political debacles, Mearsheimer asserts, but also a culture of dishonesty in which trust in policy-makers and, potentially, democratic governance is undermined.
In a presidential election year such as the present one, however, we tend to fixate on deceptions of a different sort: the lies told by candidates rather than by those already securely in power, misrepresentations of self rather than of the world at large. And this year’s presidential aspirants have already provided a bumper crop for our consideration. In Newt Gingrich we had, for a few months, a prime example of the kind of political dishonesty that is easiest to expose: “serial hypocrisy” (as Ron Paul labeled it), or preaching one thing on the campaign trail and practicing another in private life. Exhibit A could be Gingrich on the stump earlier this year excoriating the profligacy of Freddie Mac, the very mortgage giant that had recently paid him handsomely for his work as a consulting “historian.” Exhibit B, in a shift from financial to libidinous hypocrisy, might well be Gingrich’s attempt as speaker of the House to impeach then-President Bill Clinton over sexual indiscretions committed in the White House—even as Gingrich was quietly cheating on wife No. 2 by sleeping with his own very junior staffer, soon to become wife No. 3.
Personal hypocrisy, though, is just one type of dishonesty common among politicians, and perhaps not the most worrisome. As David Runciman argues inPolitical Hypocrisy, there is a special kind of dishonesty associated with misrepresenting oneself entirely in one’s political capacity. Is there a better model of this type than the flip-flopping, shape-shifting Mitt Romney, who eagerly denies responsibility both for his past accomplishments and his past positions, thus leaving the public mystified as to who—if anyone—the politician might be, or which of his many contradictory statements count as true? Earlier this year, while moving hard to the right, Romney eagerly shed the positions he’d held as a former healthcare-reforming governor of Massachusetts. Lately he’s been busy reversing course, insisting that he’s always been in favor of government subsidies for student loans despite his earlier statements to the contrary, and arguing that he deserves a large share of the intellectual credit for bailing out the auto industry, despite having written a New York Times op-ed called “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt.”
Yet Runciman is careful not to suggest that hypocrisy is the particular vice of any one segment of the political spectrum. He describes a very similar set of lies that figured in the run-up to the 2008 presidential election, paying special attention to Hillary Clinton as an über-hypocrite—before praising her particular form of hypocrisy (having a totally phony public persona, but knowing it) over that of her husband (as a sincere and thus self-deceiving liar). Moreover, Runciman’s scorn for politicians passing off foregone political decisions as the result of personal agonizing—not to mention complex ethical problems as morally obvious—would seem made to fit President Obama’s recent calculated declarations on gay marriage.
The prevalence of deception may be the great irony of democratic politics. A foundational principle of liberal democracies such as the United States is that, unlike totalitarian states, they require transparency, accountability, and trust between representatives and the represented—not the webs of secrecy and lies characteristic of authoritarian regimes past or present. Or at least such has been the claim since the eighteenth century. Yet politicians and elected officials rank right up there with used-car salesmen in terms of the public’s confidence in their words, especially when boasting of their own honesty and integrity. And lying—meaning an intentional deception of one sort or other, whether through phrases, gestures, actions, or even inactions and silences—seems to be more prevalent in politics than in almost any other area of public life, with the possible exception of advertising. Both the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street started from the premise that politics has become, a few exceptional figures to the contrary, one big, immoral con. This is a sentiment with deep roots in the well-documented corruptions of the Vietnam War and the Watergate era, and even deeper roots in the suspicions about power written into America’s original political creed. We may well know rationally that fraudulent language and behavior are no more prevalent in contemporary America than anywhere else or at any other time; Machiavelli, after all, wrote the book on successful political lying in sixteenth-century Florence. Overt mendacity may actually be harder to get away with now than in the past given the rise in scrutiny of public figures. But as Runciman points out, political hypocrisy is often identified today—especially by hypocrites around the world—as a peculiarly modern American vice.
* * *
Moralists tend to see every political lie, no matter how minor, as an ethical crime. Either it compromises the integrity of the individual in question, or it undermines democratic values and fosters a culture of deception and mistrust. As Mearsheimer points out, to accuse someone of lying in our contemporary ethical climate is so strong an allegation that euphemisms (think of “less than forthcoming” or “not entirely straightforward”) are often used to intimate that a person is being dishonest. Cynics, by contrast, are not flustered by the likes of Gingrich, Romney or Bill Clinton, seeing the lying politician as the embodiment of a fundamental truth about politics. Jay repeats the classic joke of the political realist: “How can you tell when a politician is lying? He moves his lips.” Then there are a few contrarian intellectuals—among them Mearsheimer, Runciman and Jay—who, despite their shared outrage at the Bush administration’s deceptive, top-down fearmongering, insist that not all types of lying are alike. Moreover, tolerance for a little political mendacity, especially of the right kind, may not be such a bad thing when you consider the alternative: a politics of coercive truth-telling and sincerity, of little red books, groupthink and purges.
To make the case, Runciman and Jay start from the position that there is nothing new under the sun. Indeed, they both offer extended histories not of lying in politics (which, as Mearsheimer points out, only comes to our attention when it fails to convince), but of high-minded reflections on lying in politics. In keeping with their contrarian approach, however, they also catalog the sheer variety of the kinds of lies, functions of lies and conceptions about lying before making a utilitarian case for the benefits of mendacity in certain circumstances. Their aim is to make this argument without falling back on the anti-democratic, Straussian position that each of them rejects (but that Jay alone explicates): the people don’t always know what’s in their best interests, and some lies from on high are actually perpetrated for the people’s own good, not the least of which is maintaining public order.
For Runciman, the best guide for distinguishing between harmful lies and useful mendacity is the Anglo-American liberal tradition—the strain of modern political thought seemingly most attached to the idea of politics as the realm of truth-telling and interpersonal trust. His singular claim is that many great figures in this tradition going back to Hobbes (though not to Locke) thought long and hard about a problem that persists to this day: how much lying can we tolerate—and when, what kinds and why? Or as he more cynically puts it: “What sorts of hypocrites [do] we want our politicians to be?” His survey of the great liberal thinkers of the past 350 years, including novelists, philosophers and politicians, is intended to provide nothing less than a “practical guide” (in the author’s words) for dealing with political hypocrisy in our own time.
In Runciman’s estimation, Hobbes, though in many ways not a liberal, arrived at “one of the central insights of modern politics” with its premium on equality: that “to rule in a modern state is by definition to play a kind of double role—that of the everyman who is also the only person with real power.” To Hobbes’s way of thinking, as long as this rule is understood and honored, occasional lying or public concealment of one’s true nature or motives should be an accepted aspect of political life, whether one is playing the role of sovereign or subject. More to the point, given the fundamental truth that politics—especially political language—is an inevitably hypocritical business, the only genuinely troubling form of hypocrisy is a political leader’s insistence upon his own unwavering sincerity, which amounts to the thinnest of lies about the nature of power.
But it is Bernard Mandeville, a creature of the first age of true party politics, who emerges as Runciman’s unlikely touchstone, in part because Mandeville was able to draw out the practical implications of Hobbes’s claims. Both by scrutinizing the sham moralizing of his Tory enemies in the power struggles of early eighteenth-century England and by looking back to Oliver Cromwell, that “vile, wicked Hypocrite, who, under the cloak of Sanctity broke through all Human and Divine laws to aggrandize himself,” Mandeville came to the conclusion that one can distinguish between more and less benign forms of hypocrisy. What deserves special censure is hypocrisy about hypocrisy—attacking the morals of one’s opponents while making a fetish of one’s own supposed virtue. The “second order” hypocrite, playing on the people’s desire for sincerity and knowingly and falsely painting himself as the only respectable man in a crooked world, soils the stables that he professes to have cleaned.
In Runciman’s telling, it was the leaders of the subsequent generation of revolutionaries in America who devoted themselves—with only partial success—to trying to work out what a successful injunction against hypocrisy (i.e., one that did not itself fall prey to hypocrisy) might be. But Runciman’s point is weakened by his startling statement that, owing to the contradictions created by slavery, “no event in modern political history has been so marked by the problem of hypocrisy as the American Revolution.” The ahistoricity of this claim serves to remind us that what counts as hypocrisy is always open to judgment and subject to change. Slaves, after all, were not the only group of people left out of equal-rights claims in the late eighteenth century, and plenty of committed revolutionaries, regrettably but honestly, spent little time worrying about their own political commitments in light of the continued existence of human bondage in Europe’s settler colonies.
Finally, after scrutinizing many of the nineteenth century’s patron saints of political honesty (here canonized as sages of acceptable and unavoidable forms of hypocrisy), Runciman arrives at the liberal anti-hypocrite par excellence, George Orwell. Should we be surprised that our greatest post-Bentham critic of the sort of platitudes and language games that mask the truth about power nevertheless saw that some aspects of hypocrisy were inevitable, especially in a democracy, and some not as dangerous as others? According to Runciman, even Orwell came to the conclusion, quite in keeping with Runciman’s own views, that a politics single-mindedly focused on anti-hypocrisy is not only self-defeating but a vice unto itself. Orwell’s great novel Nineteen Eighty-Four is here transformed into a picture of a world in which hypocrisy has become impossible because language has finally been emptied of all meaning. Indeed, in one of Runciman’s more intriguing formulations, fascism is redefined as imperialism that has shed its close relationship with hypocrisy and become honest about the workings of power, even as it perpetuates other lies.
Ever the consequentialist, Runciman cautions against worrying too much about any but the most potentially damaging varieties of deception. Yet he sidesteps a serious obstacle, which is that lies—and the extent of their damage—can generally only be identified in hindsight. Mainly, though, he advocates moving away from a politics of personality in which we insist above all on authenticity and sincerity of intention. Approvingly, he quotes the late political theorist Judith Shklar: “It is easier to dispose of an opponent’s character by exposing his hypocrisy than to show his political convictions are wrong.” This is a message worth dwelling upon every election season.
* * *
Jay does not disagree with Runciman’s view of political lying, though he is more sanguine about liberal institutions as safety valves. His aim is also to move away from moral absolutism in the realm of political life and its epistemology without compromising democratic ideals. But the route he takes to arrive at this position is different from Runciman’s. Jay, an intellectual historian, iconoclastically organizes his book around varying concepts of “the political” rather than a chronological parade of major thinkers. He also looks to a more heterogeneous collection of historical voices, from Plato and Aristotle to Immanuel Kant and Benjamin Constant, to Carl Schmitt, Leo Strauss and Hannah Arendt. Indeed, it is the ideas of Arendt, who doesn’t fit neatly into the liberal tradition, that Jay principally (but by no means uncritically) draws upon for his historical as well as normative conclusions about lying in politics.
Jay, like Arendt, starts from a broad and distinctive reading of the past. Not for him Runciman’s limited focus on English political thought or Mearsheimer’s on events from recent years alone. Instead, Jay begins by trying to explain the obsessive concern with publicity, sincerity and the “zeal for truthfulness” (in Arendt’s words) that has characterized Western modernity since the late eighteenth century. The historian Perez Zagorin may have been correct in claiming that Europe’s early modern era could properly be labeled the Age of Dissimulation, given its chief architects’ fixation on various kinds of deception and secrecy. Even the Enlightenment had a complex, tactical relationship to truth. Consider the case (though Jay does not) of the great eighteenth-century atheist, the Baron d’Holbach, breathlessly exposing the lie of Christianity and the falsity of God at the same time that he, in a decade-long act of subterfuge, smuggled a stream of heretical manuscripts out of France and published them under phony names with deliberately misleading places of publication. But according to Jay, all of that dissembling came to an end, at least as an accepted, necessary part of public life, with the Age of Revolutions.
In the American case, Puritanism, with its fixation on moral surveillance and its strident anti-Catholicism, produced the first sustained attack on the politics of deception. The rejection of an aristocratic culture of refined politeness in favor of “plain speech” marked the second. The politics of the revolutionary era made a virtue out of “ruthless sincerity” and directness. The new nation’s Constitution needed to be not only a public document but also explicit and easily comprehensible. Great American leaders, from Washington to Lincoln, had to be paragons of personal honesty.
In France, too, the mood changed. Even without any Puritan impetus, eighteenth-century revolutionaries turned against a seemingly hyperfeminine and baroque court culture in which dissimulation and intrigue reigned. What replaced it in private and public life alike, Jay explains, was a Rousseauian transparency and an austere, seemingly masculine, anti-rhetorical pose. This was a shift whose significance Edmund Burke, with his elegiac dismay at the end of all “pleasing illusions” in French political culture, was among the first to recognize. (Runciman’s quick dismissal of Burke for his “loss of judgment” on this subject seems oddly misplaced.) A Rousseau-like commitment to honesty in its many forms has endured to become a hallmark of modern democracy, where, as Jay notes, quoting La Rochefoucauld, “Hypocrisy is the homage vice pays to virtue.”
Jay sees our contemporary attachment to political “science” and technocracy as one more (doomed) effort to isolate the absolute, unvarnished truth and put it in the service of a pure democratic politics. He might also have looked to the enduring populist attachment to answers derived from the people’s common sense. Both promise today, in different ways, to solve the problem of phoniness and deception in politics once and for all. Yet the political lie has not only endured but prospered. So what is to be done? Jay thinks the classical liberal intellectual tradition, with its insistence on the ideal of rational consensus, holds few answers. He is more warmly disposed toward those theoretical stances that acknowledge the various fictions at the core of each and every political vision. That category includes the strain of recent thought that sees politics itself as a form of theater in which masking and a certain amount of dissimulation and hypocrisy are vital, whether in forming coalitions or simply in preserving the illusion of representation. Precedents extend all the way back to Hobbes’s great insight about the king’s double act as the ruler and as one of the people. Mainly, though, Jay sides with modern republicans like Arendt who, while denouncing certain kinds of lying, found a way to make principled defenses of others.
Jay follows Arendt closely in stressing the potential value of lying from below—that is, prevarication on the part of private individuals in an effort to resist the inquisitorial authority of the church or state, whether it be the Baron d’Holbach evading the censors of the Old Regime or citizens today challenging various democratically endorsed surveillance techniques. In fact, from this perspective, lying can sometimes look like a way to encourage a better future. And like Runciman (though based on different political premises), Jay ultimately emphasizes the value of pluralism of opinion, debate and rhetoric, even at its most misleading, over the search for perfect truthfulness. Robespierre’s lethal efforts to eradicate the boundaries around private life and to annihilate even the smallest trace of doublespeak or two-facedness stand here as the chief warning to anyone eager to crusade against political lies in the service of democracy. There must remain some things we can be disingenuous about, namely the impulses of our hearts. Put differently, falsehoods need their space, too—despite utopian aspirations to the contrary. Otherwise, we get the Reign of Terror. This is a central message of Arendt’s On Revolution (1963).
Yet beyond repeating this cautionary tale, Jay does not offer much in the way of hope. And what optimism he does retain in his fascinating history of politics’ enduring struggle with lying turns out to be very much of a piece with conventional liberalism. To his way of thinking, the best strategy for exposing the most damaging kinds of untruth is to sustain a free press, an independent court system and the open academic culture of our universities—and to try to simply live with the rest. But Runciman, the explicit champion of liberalism, is probably correct in saying that in a climate of round-the-clock news reporting, with its vicious circle of lying and “gotcha” coverage, journalists are often the willing purveyors of hypocrisy. The realist in Mearsheimer also suggests that any democratic state trying to live up to its exalted morals but eager to engage in an “ambitious foreign policy”—that is to say, the United States—is also likely soon to be ratcheting up its fearmongering, cover-ups, spin and public lying. All we can do, in his estimation, is to hope that we can eventually vote the worst offenders out of office. It seems that “truthiness,” serial hypocrisy and their close cousins are the price that must be paid for democracy.
Sophia Rosenfeld, who teaches history at the University of Virginia, is the author of Common Sense: A Political History.'

vrijdag 24 augustus 2012

Oil 63

Het echte verhaal:

http://www.oilcrashmovie.com/film.html

A Crude Awakening

The Oil Crash
A 90 minute documentary on the planet's dwindling oil resources
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OilCrash, produced and directed by award-winning European journalists and filmmakers BasilGelpke and Ray McCormack, tells the story of how our civilization’s addiction to oil puts it on a collision course with geology. Compelling, intelligent, and highly entertaining, the film visits with the world’s top experts and comes to a startling, but logical conclusion – our industrial society, built on cheap and readily available oil, must be completely re-imagined and overhauled.
The idea that the world’s oil supplies have peaked, or will soon, is gaining mainstream currency.  Robert B. Semple, Jr., associate editor of the New York Times editorial board, writes in the paper’s March 1, 2006, online edition:
 “The Age of Oil — 100-plus years of astonishing economic growth made possible by cheap, abundant oil — could be ending without our really being aware of it. Oil is a finite commodity. At some point even the vast reservoirs of Saudi Arabia will run dry. But before that happens there will come a day when oil production ‘peaks,’ when demand overtakes supply (and never looks back), resulting in large and possibly catastrophic price increases that could make today's $60-a-barrel oil look like chump change. Unless, of course, we begin to develop substitutes for oil. Or begin to live more abstemiously. Or both. The concept of peak oil has not been widely written about. But people are talking about it now. It deserves a careful look — largely because it is almost certainly correct.”
Semple concludes: “These [are] not doomsday scenarios from conspiracy theorists, but hard scientific facts backed by serious research.”
You needn’t be a conspiracy theorist to see a connection between America’s current obsessions with the Middle East and national security, and the world’s looming oil crisis.  The frenzied search for alternative sources of energy now being pursued by the largest multinational energy corporations makes it clear they also believe a crisis is fast approaching. Each day’s headlines, whether the subject is Iraq or South America, sheds new light on the issue.



Producer Basil Gelpke explains: “Suddenly, seemingly unconnected news about Katrina and Rita hitting the Gulf Coast’s oil refineries; the ongoing war in Iraq; the nuclear ambitions of Iran; the populist politics of Hugo Chavez in Venezuela; the appalling corruption in most oil producing countries; the de facto nationalization of Yukos in Russia; the steep rise in costs of everything oil-related; and even increasing share prices of companies involved in solar, wind and nuclear energy all pointed in the same direction.  Oil is running out, and nobody is ready for the cataclysm that is bound to follow.”
The film includes in-depth, thought-provoking interviews with Colin Campbell, Matt Simmons, Roscoe Bartlett, David Goodstein, Matt Savinar, Terry Lynn Karl, Fadhil Chalabi, Robert Ebel and many others.  Shot on location at oil fields in Azerbaijan, Venezuela, the Middle East and Texas, with original music by Daniel Schnyder and Philip Glass, the film provides not only questions, but possible solutions to the most perplexing and important economic, environmental and public policy issue of our time.
One year ago, in a report commissioned by the U.S. Department of Energy, Robert L. Hirsch challenged the notion that the free market can solve the onrushing emergency:
"The world has never faced a problem like Peak Oil. Without massive mitigation more than a decade before the fact, the problem will be pervasive and will not be temporary. Previous energy transitions (wood to coal and coal to oil) were gradual and evolutionary; oil peaking will be abrupt and revolutionary."

zurich Film prizefilmfest_tahoefilmfest_galwayfilmfest_bergenfilmfest_palmbeachcatalan_filmfestcolorado_filmfest

Zionisten Bril

Ik stel voor dat fanatieke zionisten een bril gaan dragen waardoor ze niet meer kunnen zien wie een jood is en wie een Palestijn of in het algemeen een niet-jood.

'Voor vijf euro bant de bril verleiding uit
Gerrit-Jan Kleinjan − 14/08/12, 13:00
© EPA. Ultra-orthodoxe Joden kijken door een verrekijker tijdens de viering van het einde van Siyum Hashas, de periode van 7,5 jaar waarin iedere dag een bladzijde van de Talmoed wordt bestudeerd.
De aanblik van een aantrekkelijke vrouw is onweerstaanbaar, zo vinden veel mannen. Maar een misstap is zo gezet en daarom hebben ultraorthodoxe joodse mannen sinds kort een nieuw gadget. In Israël zijn speciale brillen op de markt gekomen die het zicht niet verbeteren, maar juist belemmeren. Voordeel: de kans op feminiene verleidingen wordt drastisch gereduceerd.
De glazen van het hulpmiddel zijn beplakt met twee halfdoorzichtige stickers. De brillenstickers voor de zeer gelovige mannen, die op straat te herkennen zijn aan hun pijpekrullen, hoofddeksels en lange zwarte jassen, zijn zo gemaakt, dat het zicht vanaf ongeveer drie meter vertroebelt. Wandelen kan dus wel min of meer veilig, maar autorijden is niet mogelijk met het geval. Een complete set (inclusief montuur, glazen en velletje met twee stickers) is voor een bedrag van omgerekend vijf euro te verkrijgen.'