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

  • I.F. Stone

zaterdag 28 september 2013

American Weapons of Mass Destruction


The Rogue Empire
Chemical Weapons, Syria and American Exceptionalism
By Elizabeth O’Shea
September 27, 2013 "Information Clearing House - It may be that we have inched back from the precipice of war in Syria, if for no other reason than a hefty gust of sheer luck. Russia’s intervention and neutralisation of the escalating tension between the US and the Assad regime has saved Obama from near certain defeat in Congress, with the UK government already rebuked and the Security Council never a viable option. The project was going soak up significant political capital for Obama and the well is nearly already dry. This political lacuna, or hopefully ongoing calm, presents a useful moment for reflection on the way war is propagated.
There are, of course, plenty of obvious and practical reasons to oppose a military intervention into Syria. The first is that we know so very little about the chemical weapons attacks of late August: how they transpired, who was responsible, even how many people died.  The UN has only made limited findings and declined to apportion blame. It appears to be very difficult to work out who was responsible – a task that is unlikely to get easier. It is reasonable to think that even if Assad’s regime was responsible, it may be that both sides have chemical weapon capabilities.
We know about such capabilities partly because Britain kept the receipts. It is true: such an allegation is probably more spin than substance – the origins of the weapons have not been identified and the chemicals exported could be used for other purposes. But the brazen hypocrisy of the West in claiming to uphold principles it happily profits from violating never ceases to amaze.
Moreover, for even the more pragmatic amongst us, the lesser of two evils here is not clear cut. A direct attack on the Assad regime would necessarily result in a military and political advantage to oppositional forces. The beneficiaries of such a move include some nefarious characters, with little regard for human life or dignity.
Indeed the only certainty that arising from a military intervention into Syria is that nothing would be certain. A ‘limited and tailored’ intervention is a thinly disguised Pandora ’s Box. No fly zones can easily become regime change, the distinction marked by grainy phone camera footage of the extrajudicial killing of Muammar Gaddafi. Libya is the perfectly instructive example, yet it has also been conveniently banished from the public consciousness. Two years after the imposition of a no fly zone in very similar circumstances, enforced militarily by the US and NATO, the country remains an economic, political and social disaster.
And yet this ahistorical approach to international affairs persists, which sees the conflict in binary terms of intervention and abstention, certain death and saving lives. It is so typical, so repetitive; the serious lack of imagination matched only by the gravity of the lethal project being proposed. The hawks circle, their hopes are still soaring well above the vigilance of doves. ‘At some point,’ they claim, ‘pacifism becomes part of the machinery of death, and isolationism becomes a form of genocide.’ Quite literally then, war is peace.
Yet despite these familiar refrains, the prospect of a war in Syria is in fact remarkably different to those of recent memory. The factual and rhetorical justification already feels far more flimsy, the political classes in a number of countries remain fractured on the question generally and the vast majority of everyday people are steadfastly opposed to intervention. This is undoubtedly a step forward.
What is also laid bare in breathtaking terms by the advocates for war is how little regard they have for basic liberal democratic values. The US treats international law with disdain: it is a set of rules that applies to everyone but never to itself. Cheerleaders for the diplomatic strategy that Obama appears to have stumbled into almost by accident seem oblivious to the criminality of such conduct. Article 2 of the UN Charter prohibits the ‘threat or use of force’ – threat, not just use – for all members, not just when such conduct is carried out by suspicious Middle Eastern dictators. The criminality of Obama’s diplomatic genius is barely noted.
The irony of such attitudes to international law intensifies in respect of chemical weapons. The situation in Syria, as Professor Chomsky has identified, is a perfect moment to call for a ban on all chemical weapons in the Middle East (let alone elsewhere). The chemical weapons convention, surely the starting point for any reasonable discussion on such an issue, remains persistently unratified by not only Syria, but crucially also Israel. So chemical weapons are not okay, unless it is our man in the Middle East who has them.
So the biggest barrier to ridding the Middle East of chemical weapons is not Syria or Russia, or even technically Israel, it is actually the US. That is not a rhetorical flourish, it is literally the outcome of a resolution proposed by Syria in 2003 when it was a non-permanent member of the Security Council, but ultimately abandoned at the threat of the US exercising its veto. American exceptionalism continues to justify even more American exceptionalism.
Anne Orford, writing on Libya, observed that ‘the bombing of Libya in the name of revolution may be legal, but the international law that authorises such action has surely lost its claim to be universal.’ In respect to Syria, we see this legacy gaining momentum. International law appears to have become something to be enforced but not abided by. This may seem grandiose, but the truth is hard to deny: one of the greatest menaces in the world today remains the US Government. The aspiration of peace, good governance and respect for human rights are regularly jeopardised by this ultimate rogue state.
Elizabeth O’Shea is a lawyer in Melbourne, Australia. - This article was originally published at Counterpunch

De Mainstream Pers 34


Sep
24
2013

Asking What Kissinger Thinks–but Not What He Did

Henry Kissinger (cc photo: Brandon)
Henry Kissinger (cc photo: Brandon)
On September 22CBS Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer had a long interview with Henry Kissinger.
 Take a look at the intro:
In the long history of America, few men have had the influence of Henry Kissinger. For at least 60 years, powerful people have asked: "What does Henry think?" And he has never been shy about telling them….
Kissinger would go on to be Richard Nixon's national security adviser. He received the Nobel Prize for getting peace talks started on Vietnam, was point man for the opening to China, and guided the effort to forge new arms agreements with the Soviet Union. The media loved him. He became secretary of State and as Watergate exploded, kept American foreign policy together at a time when America had never been more vulnerable.
 One part about this–"the media loved him"–is undeniably true. And it's certainly true that powerful people ask Kissinger for advice.
But the idea that Kissinger "kept American foreign policy together at a time when America had never been more vulnerable" deserves a rebuttal.

The war crimes arrest Kissinger was discussing on MSNBC was Ratko Mladic's–not his own.
A more apt description of Kissinger's record might skip the part about bringing peace to Vietnam and instead reference the massive aerial bombardment of Cambodia–"a massive bombing campaign in Cambodia. Anything that flies or anything that moves," as he himself put it (New York Times5/27/04)–in addition to the heavy bombings of Vietnam and Laos.
Kissinger's tenure including support for the military coup that overthrew the Allende government in Chile and support for the murderous Indonesian dictator Suharto's policies in East Timor (FAIR Action Alert, 9/1/99).
One could go on, and in much greater detail, but you see the point.
Kissinger's record haunts him; every so often there are reports about how it interrupts his international travel plans, like in 2001 when a French magistrate sent Kissinger a summons at a Paris hotel, inquiring about Kissinger's role in the notorious Operation Condor programs of the 1970s. Kissinger promptly left town–and did a series of high-profile media interviews, none of which mentioned the French attempt to question him about human rights abuses (Extra!8/01).
Kissinger counts on his friends in the elite media to not bother him with questions about his past. At a 2001 National Press Club event, journalists Russell Mokhiber and Robert Weissman wondered why Kissinger was not asked about these very relevant controversies. The event moderator, Richard Koonce,  told them that there was, in fact, an agreement not to entertain audience questions about certain subjects (CommonDreams.org6/22/01):
"Was there an agreement with Dr. Kissinger not to ask questions related to Christopher Hitchens and allegations of war crimes?"
To our surprise, Koonce did not deny it.
"There was a definite sensitivity to that," Koonce said. "He [Kissinger] was afraid that if we got into a discussion of that, for the vast majority of people that, it would take so much time to explain all of the context, that you know, he preferred to avoid that, and so…."
And so Kissinger's wishes were accommodated and the questions were avoided.
It's hard to know what Schieffer means when he says that Kissinger "kept American foreign policy together" at a difficult time. But it's clear that he, like so many others in the media, greatly admires Kissinger. There's no doubt they are aware of his record. Either they find that record laudable, or they think it's best not to talk about. Neither option is journalistically defensible.

De Participatie Samenleving 5


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U.S. Wealth Is Now the Most Concentrated at the Top Since 1916

The top ten-thousandth of the U.S. population have done very well under President Obama’s leadership, even if they had predominantly voted and contributed to Mitt Romney.
A new report shows that income in the U.S. in 2012 was more concentrated at the top than at any time since 1916. 
A bit more than one twenty-fifth of all income in the U.S. is now being taken in by the top one-ten-thousandth of the U.S. population. That one rich statistical person is bringing in considerably more income than all of the poorest 2,000 people do in that same statistical 10,000 Americans.
We must go back nearly a hundred years to find a time when the top 0.01%, the top 1 in 10,000 people in the U.S., were making more than 4% of the nation’s total income, as they were in the latest calculated year, 2012. This figure of income-concentration among the top 0.01% was the all-time high 4.4% in 1916. In 1915, it was 4.36%. Before that, it was under 3%. And it has never again been anywhere near 4%, until 2012, when it broke through the 4% barrier yet again, for the first time in 97 years, at 4.08%. Other than in 2012, the highest it has been in recent decades was 3.53% in 2007, under Bush, at the peak right before the 2008 crash. This money-concentration is now more extreme than it was even then – even at Bush’s peak.
The details are being reported at the global academic database of income-distribution, which is called “The World Top Incomes Database,” and which is headed by the world’s four leading researchers on income-distribution: Tony Atkinson, Facundo Alvaredo, Thomas Piketty, and Emmanuel Saez.
Here is how this top-end income-figure has changed or evolved during the past century: After 1916, it gradually declined from 4.4% down to 1.67% in 1920. Then it rose again to 3.23% in 1928, right before the 1929 crash. Then, it gradually declined from there, to .97% in 1943. It then remained consistently between .97% and .50% until it reached back again above .97%, to 1.00% for the first time, in 1986, after which it passed 2% in 1992, and then passed the 3% mark in 2005.
However, after the 2008 crash, some people expected that this rise would stop, as it had stopped after the last crash; but, instead, it just continued rising under Obama, so that the 4% barrier was passed last year, in 2012.
This type of rise had never happened before – continuing to climb even after a Wall Street crash.
Evidently, the trillions of dollars in bailouts to Wall Street banks and to their top investors, which didn’t happen under President Franklin Delano Roosevelt during the 1930s, has been having the result that Wall Street and their friends could be expected to have sought: it has prevented them from sharing in the hardships that the public – who have bailed them out and are still experiencing lost jobs, lost pay, and lost wealth – are suffering through in the aftermath of 2008.
The top ten-thousandth of the U.S. population have done very well under President Obama’s leadership, even if they had predominantly voted for Mitt Romney, who promised them an even better deal. Wall Street donated overwhelmingly to the Republican Romney campaign, against Obama. A (supposedly) democratic election in 2012 offered American voters a choice between a hero for Wall Street, versus only an angel and savior for Wall Street; and voters chose Wall Street’s angel and savior, over Wall Street’s favorite. The result is now clear and undeniable, in the economic data.
It’s not like American democracy used to be. Perhaps the important question now is whether this is a real democracy at all – or is America now ruled by Wall Street, no longer really by Main Street?
Has the difference between the Democratic and Republican Parties degenerated to the difference between subservience to Wall Street, versus hyper-subservience to Wall Street? Is that what it really is coming down to, now?

Climate Change 19


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Major New Climate Report from the IPCC Reveals Human Impact Is 'Unequivocal' -- Global Response Needed

UN secretary-general urges global response to clear message from scientists that climate change is human-induced.
Protesters scream outside the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in Stockholm to demand immediate political action on the climate, on September 27, 2013
Photo Credit: AFP
World leaders must now respond to an "unequivocal" message from climate scientists and act with policies to cut greenhouse gas emissions, the United Nations secretary-general urged on Friday.
"The heat is on. We must act," said Ban Ki-moon, as he invited world leaders to a special summit next year to forge a global agreement on emissions.
The world's leading climate scientists, who have been meeting in all-night sessions this week in the Swedish capital, said there was no longer room for doubt that climate change was occurring, and the dominant cause has been human actions in pouring greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
In their starkest warning yet, following nearly seven years of new research on the climate, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said it was "unequivocal" and that even if the world begins to moderate greenhouse gas emissions, warming is likely to cross the critical threshold of 2C by the end of this century. That would have serious consequences, including sea level rises, heatwaves and changes to rainfall meaning dry regions get less and already wet areas receive more.
In response to the report, the US secretary of state, John Kerry, said in a statement: "This is yet another wakeup call: those who deny the science or choose excuses over action are playing with fire."
"Once again, the science grows clearer, the case grows more compelling, and the costs of inaction grow beyond anything that anyone with conscience or commonsense should be willing to even contemplate," he said.
He said that livelihoods around the world would be impacted. "With those stakes, the response must be all hands on deck. It's not about one country making a demand of another. It's the science itself, demanding action from all of us. The United States is deeply committed to leading on climate change."
In a crucial reinforcement of their message – included starkly in this report for the first time – the IPCC warned that the world cannot afford to keep emitting carbon dioxide as it has been doing in recent years. To avoid dangerous levels of climate change, beyond 2C, the world can only emit a total of between 800 and 880 gigatonnes of carbon. Of this, about 530 gigatonnes had already been emitted by 2011.
That has a clear implication for our fossil fuel consumption, meaning that humans cannot burn all of the coal, oil and gas reserves that countries and companies possess. As the former UN commissioner Mary Robinson told the Guardian last week, that will have "huge implications for social and economic development." It will also be difficult for business interests to accept.
The central estimate is that warming is likely to exceed 2C, the threshold beyond which scientists think global warming will start to wreak serious changes to the planet. That threshold is likely to be reached even if we begin to cut global greenhouse gas emissions, which so far has not happened, according to the report.
Other key points from the report are:
• Atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide are now at levels "unprecedented in at least the last 800,000 years."
• Since the 1950's it's "extremely likely" that human activities have been the dominant cause of the temperature rise.
• Concentrations of CO2 and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere have increased to levels that are unprecedented in at least 800,000 years. The burning of fossil fuels is the main reason behind a 40% increase in C02 concentrations since the industrial revolution.
• Global temperatures are likely to rise by 0.3C to 4.8C, by the end of the century depending on how much governments control carbon emissions.
• Sea levels are expected to rise a further 26-82cm by the end of the century.
• The oceans have acidified as they have absorbed about a third of the carbon dioxide emitted.
Thomas Stocker, co-chair of the working group on physical science, said the message that greenhouse gases must be reduced was clear. "We give very relevant guidance on the total amount of carbon that can't be emitted to stay to 1.5 or 2C. We are not on the path that would lead us to respect that warming target [which has been agreed by world governments]."
He said: "Continued emissions of greenhouse gases will cause further warming and changes in all components of the climate system. Limiting climate change will require substantial and sustained reductions of greenhouse gas emissions."
Though governments around the world have agreed to curb emissions, and at numerous international meetings have reaffirmed their commitment to holding warming to below 2C by the end of the century, greenhouse gas concentrations are still rising at record rates.
Rajendra Pachauri, chair of the IPCC, said it was for governments to take action based on the science produced by the panel, consisting of thousands of pages of detail, drawing on the work of more than 800 scientists and hundreds of scientific papers.
The scientists also put paid to claims that global warming has "stopped" because global temperatures in the past 15 years have not continued the strong upward march of the preceding years, which is a key argument put forward by sceptics to cast doubt on climate science. But the IPCC said the longer term trends were clear: "Each of the last three decades has been successively warmer at the Earth's surface than any preceding decade since 1850 in the northern hemisphere [the earliest date for reliable temperature records for the whole hemisphere]."
The past 15 years were not such an unusual case, said Stocker. "People always pick 1998 but [that was] a very special year, because a strong El Niño made it unusually hot, and since then there have been some medium-sized volcanic eruptions that have cooled the climate."
But he said that further research was needed on the role of the oceans, which are thought to have absorbed more than 90% of the warming so far.
The scientists have faced sustained attacks from so-called sceptics,often funded by "vested interests" according to the UN, who try to pick holes in each item of evidence for climate change. The experts have always known they must make their work watertight against such an onslaught, and every conclusion made by the IPCC must pass scrutiny by all of the world's governments before it can be published.
Their warning on Friday was sent out to governments around the globe, who convene and fund the IPCC.
It was 1988 when scientists were first convened for this task, and in the five landmark reports since then the research has become ever clearer. Now, scientists say they are certain that "warming in the climate system is unequivocal and since 1950 many changes have been observed throughout the climate system that are unprecedented over decades to millennia." That warning, from such a sober body, hemmed in by the need to submit every statement to extraordinary levels of scrutiny, is the starkest yet.
"Heatwaves are very likely to occur more frequently and last longer. As the earth warms, we expect to see currently wet regions receiving more rainfall, and dry regions receiving less, although there will be exceptions," Stocker said.
Qin Dahe, also co-chair of the working group, said: "As the ocean warm, and glaciers and ice sheets reduce, global mean sea level will continue to rise, but at a faster rate than we have experienced over the past 40 years."
Prof David Mackay, chief scientific adviser to the Department of Energy and Climate Change, said: "The far-reaching consequences of this warming are becoming understood, although some uncertainties remain. The most significant uncertainty, however, is how much carbon humanity will choose to put into the atmosphere in the future. It is the total sum of all our carbon emissions that will determine the impacts. We need to take action now, to maximise our chances of being faced with impacts that we, and our children, can deal with. Waiting a decade or two before taking climate change action will certainly lead to greater harm than acting now."

Iran 414



Dit ziet er niet goed uit voor Israel, waar de zionistische extremisten Iran willen vernietigen.Vrede is een

 ramp voor de joodse staat, want dan zal de staat zich aan het internationaal recht moeten houden,

 en op den duur minder financiele en militaire steun van het Westen krijgen.


Obama, Iran's Rouhani hold historic phone call

WASHINGTON/NEW YORK | Sat Sep 28, 2013 12:56am EDT
(Reuters) - President Barack Obama and new Iranian President Hassan Rouhani spoke by telephone on Friday, the highest-level contact between the two countries in three decades and a sign that they are serious about reaching a pact on Tehran's nuclear program.
The call is the culmination of a dramatic shift in tone between Iran and the United States, which cut diplomatic relations with Iran a year after the 1979 revolution that toppled U.S. ally Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and led to the U.S. Embassy hostage crisis in Tehran.
Obama has said for years he was open to direct contact with Iran while also stressing that all options - including military strikes - were on the table to prevent Iran building a nuclear bomb.
The U.S. president had hoped to meet with the relatively moderate Rouhani at the U.N. General Assembly in New York this week, but the Iranian side decided an encounter was too complicated, in what was seen by White House officials as an effort to avoid antagonizing hardliners in Tehran.
On Friday, however, the Iranians said Rouhani expressed interest in a phone discussion before he left the United States, according to a senior administration official. The White House quickly arranged the call, which took place at 2:30 p.m. (1830 GMT) and lasted about 15 minutes.
A source close to Rouhani said the United States had reached out after positive talks between Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif a day earlier.
Speaking to reporters, Obama said he and Rouhani had directed their teams to work quickly toward an agreement on Iran's nuclear program. He said this was a unique opportunity to make progress with Tehran over an issue that has isolated it from the West.
"While there will surely be important obstacles to moving forward and success is by no means guaranteed, I believe we can reach a comprehensive solution," Obama said at the White House.
"The test will be meaningful, transparent, and verifiable actions, which can also bring relief from the comprehensive international sanctions that are currently in place" against Iran, Obama said.
Rouhani, in his Twitter account, said that in the conversation he told Obama "Have a Nice Day!" and Obama responded with "Thank you. Khodahafez (goodbye)."
He added that the two men "expressed their mutual political will to rapidly solve the nuclear issue."
The price of oil fell on Friday as tensions eased between the United States and Iran after the Obama-Rouhani talk.
"The phone call was an important milestone - a calculated risk by two cautious leaders mindful of domestic constraints," said Yasmin Alem, senior fellow at Atlantic Council's South Asia Center. "More than anything else it shows the high level of political capital invested in a peaceful resolution of the nuclear crisis."
TABOO BROKEN
The telephone call, the first between the heads of government of the two nations since 1979, came while Rouhani was heading to the airport after his first visit to the U.N. General Assembly, according to a statement on Rouhani's official website.
"The biggest taboo in Iranian politics has been broken. This is the beginning of a new era," said Ali Vaez, a senior Iran analyst at the International Crisis Group.
Such a call could not have been imagined under Rouhani's predecessor, former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who antagonized Israel and the United States and denied the Holocaust.
A hardline website believed by Iran experts to be affiliated with Ahmadinejad, Rajanews, referred to the call as a "strange and useless action."
As president, Rouhani is the head of the government but has limited powers. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is the ultimate authority in Iran with final say on domestic and foreign policy, though Rouhani says he has been given full authority to negotiate on the nuclear issue.
Obama, who expressed willingness as a presidential candidate in 2007 to reach out to U.S. adversaries, nodded to that power dynamic in his remarks, saying both men had given signals that Iran would not pursue nuclear arms.
"Iran's Supreme Leader has issued a fatwa against the development of nuclear weapons. President Rouhani has indicated that Iran will never develop nuclear weapons," Obama said.
"I have made clear that we respect the right of the Iranian people to access peaceful nuclear energy in the context of Iran meeting its obligations."
Western powers say they believe Iran has been pursuing nuclear weapons for some time. Iran says its aims are peaceful and focused on energy production.
The Obama administration official said the United States had told the Israeli government about the Obama-Rouhani call. Israel is deeply skeptical about the shift in Iran's rhetoric and has warned its allies to be wary of Rouhani.
Rouhani was on a charm offensive during his week in New York, repeatedly stressing Iran's desire for normal relations with Western powers and denying it wanted a nuclear arsenal, while urging an end to sanctions that are crippling its economy.
OUTREACH
In his speech to the 193-nation U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday, Obama cautiously embraced Rouhani's gestures as the basis for a possible nuclear deal and challenged him to demonstrate his sincerity.
However, the failure to orchestrate a handshake between the two leaders that day, apparently because of Rouhani's concerns about a backlash from hardliners at home, seemed to underscore how hard it may be to make diplomatic progress.
Iran and the United States back opposite sides in the Syrian civil war and have been at loggerheads for years over Israel, Tehran's support for Hezbollah militants in Lebanon and other issues. Washington broke off diplomatic relations with Iran in 1980 because of the U.S. Embassy hostage crisis. Fifty-two Americans were held hostage for 444 days.
Rouhani, who took office last month, told a news conference earlier on Friday he hoped talks with the United States and five other major powers "will yield, in a short period of time, tangible results," on a nuclear deal.
He said Iran would bring a plan to resolve the decade-long dispute over Tehran's nuclear program to an October meeting with the six powers in Geneva.
He offered no details about that plan, but emphasized that Tehran's nuclear ambitions are entirely peaceful.


Responsibility to Protect? No!


Libya in Anarchy Two Years after NATO Humanitarian Liberation

Global Research, September 27, 2013

In 2011 when Muhammar Qaddafi refused to leave quietly as ruler of Libya, the Obama Administration, hiding behind the skirts of the French, launched a ferocious bombing campaign and a “No Fly” zone over the country to aid the so-called fighters for democracy.
The US lied to Russia and China with help of the (US-friendly) Gulf Cooperation Council about the Security Council Resolution on Libya and used it to illegally justify the war. The doctrine, “responsibility to protect” was used instead, the same doctrine Obama wants to use in Syria. It’s useful top look at Libya two years after the NATO humanitarian intervention.

Chaos in oil industry
Libya’s economy is dependent on oil. Just after the war, Western media hailed the fact the oil installations were not damaged by the population bombing and oil production was near normal at 1.4 million barrels/day (bpd). Then in July the armed guards hired by the government in Tripoli suddenly revolted and seized control of the eastern oil field terminals they were supposed to protect. There is where the vast bulk of Libya’s oil is produced, near Benghazi. It goes by pipeline to tankers on the Mediterranean for export.
When the government lost control of the terminals production and export fell sharply. Then another armed tribal group seized control of two oilfields in the south blocking oil flow to terminals on the northwest coast. The tribal occupiers demanded more pay and went on strike to demand pay and an end to corruption. The end result is today, early September Libya pumped a mere 150,000 barrels of its capacity of 1.6 million bpd. Exports have fallen to 80,000 barrels per day. [1]
Armed Militias vs Muslim Brotherhood
Libya is an artificial state like much of the Middle East and Africa, carved out in the colonial era of World War I by Italy. It is ruled by tribal consensus among numerous tribes. Qaddafi was chosen in a long process of voting by tribal elders that can take up to 15 years I was told by one expert. When he was murdered and his family hunted, NATO forced rule by a Muslim Brotherhood-dominated National Transitional Council (NTC).
Now in August a new Assembly was elected dominated again by the Brotherhood as in Morsi Egypt or Tunisia. Sounds nice on paper. The reality is that, by all accounts lawless bands, armed for the first time during the war with modern weapons, including foreign Al Qaeda and other jihadists are carrying out daily bombings across the country for local control. Tripoli itself has numerous armed gangs controlling sections of the capitol. It is turning into an armed battle between local tribal millitias that are forming and the Brotherthood that controls the central government. Leaders in the provinces of Cyrenaica and Fezzan are considering breaking away from Tripoli and rebel militias mobilizing across the country. [2]
Bombings in Tripoli are daily as lawlessness spreads
Nuri Abu Sahmain, Muslim Brotherhood President of the newly elected Congress has summoned militias allied to the Brotherhood to the capital to try to prevent a coup, in a move the opposition sees very much like a coup by the Brotherhood. The main opposition party, a center-right National Forces Alliance, as a result just deserted Congress together with several smaller ethnic parties, leaving the Brotherhood’s Justice and Construction party heading a government with crumbling authority. “Congress has basically collapsed,” said one diplomat in Tripoli. [3] The Obama Administration has promoted a takeover across the Muslim world from Egypt to Tunisia to Syria by the secretive Muslim Brotherhood as part of its long-term strategy of controlling the Muslim Arc of Crisis from Afghanistan to Libya. As the Saudi-backed military coup against Brotherhood president Muhammed Morsi in Egypt in July showed, the Obama strategy has some problems.
Riots and lawlessness
With rising violence the Interior Minister Mohamed Khalifa al Sheikh resigned in August. Some 500 prisoners in Tripoli jail did a hunger strike to protest being held two years without charges. When the government ordered the Supreme Security Committee to restore order, they began shooting prisoners through the bars. In July 1200 prisoners escaped a jail after a riot in Benghazi. In short lawlessness and anarchy is spreading. [4]
Ethnic Berbers, whose militia led the assault on Tripoli in 2011, temporarily took over the parliament building in Tripoli. Because the US and NATO was adamant it wanted no “boots on the ground,” instead they freely gave arms to any and all rebels who would shoot at the Qaddafi government troops. Now they still have the guns and Libya was described to me by one French journalist who had recently been there as “the world’s largest open air arms bazaar,” where for cash anyone can buy any modern NATO weapon.
Foreigners have mostly fled Benghazi since the American ambassador was murdered in the US consulate by jihadi militiamen last September. And Libya’s military prosecutor Colonel Yussef Ali al-Asseifar, in charge of investigating assassinations of politicians, soldiers and journalists, was himself assassinated by a bomb in his car on 29 August. [5]
Prospects are grim as the lawlessness spreads. Sliman Qajam, a member of the parliamentary energy committee, told Bloomberg that “the government is running on its reserves. If the situation doesn’t improve, it won’t be able to pay salaries by the end of the year.”
The Obama Administration argues that the not-yet-proven use by the Assad government of chemical weapons in Syria justifies a bombing war by NATO and allies such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey and Jordan, based on the “humanitarian” doctrine deceptively known as “responsibility to protect,” which argues that certain violations of human rights or safety are so serious as to transcend international law, UN Charters or US constitutional requirements and allow on moral grounds any US President to bomb any country he or she chooses. Something is not quite right here…
Endnotes
[1] Krishnadev Calamur, Libya Faces Looming Crisis As Oil Output Slows To Trickle, NPR, September 12, 2013, accessed inhttp://www.npr.org/blogs/parallels/2013/09/12/221725022/libya-faces-looming-crisis-as-oil-output-slows-to-trickle
[2] Patrick Cockburn, We all thought Libya had moved on — it has, but into lawlessness and ruin, 3 September 2013, accessed inhttp://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/africa/special-report-we-all-thought-libya-had-moved-on–it-has-but-into-lawlessness-and-ruin-8797041.html
[3] Chris Stephen, Libyans fear standoff between Muslim Brotherhood and opposition forces, The Guardian, 20 August, 2013, accessed inhttp://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/aug/20/libya-rebels-muslim-brotherhood-blockade
[4] Patrick Cockburn, op. cit.
[5] Ibid.
Copyright © 2013 Global Research

De Mainstream Pers 33



Er zijn machten aan de gang boven Europa, ik zeg echt bóven Europa, het klassieke woord grootkapitaal doet hier zijn intrede. Ik heb er nooit zo in geloofd, maar nu wel, die ons totaal ontglipt en waar je niks tegen kunt doen. En dat vind ik buitengewoon beklemmend.
Geert Mak. Radio I. 29 april 2013.

Because they (citizens) press for more action to meet the problems they have to face, they require more social control. At the same time they resist any kind of social control that is associated with the hierachical value they have learned to discard and reject. The problem may be worldwide.
Trilateral Commission Report. The Crisis of Democracy. 1975

[G]edurende zeker vijf decennia was het Europese project zeer succesvol. Dat is het in veel opzichten nog altijd, vergeet dat nooit – praat bijvoorbeeld maar eens met de Polen, de Esten of de andere voormalige Oost-Europeanen...

Kun je… de totaal verstoorde verhouding tussen staat en privé in de voormalige Oostbloklanden als bij toverslag laten verdwijnen? En geldt dat niet nog sterker voor de diepgewortelde tradities van cliëntelisme en patronage in de meeste Zuid-Europese landen?
Geert Mak.  Abel Herzberglezing. 22 september 2013

This collection is centred on the fundamental problem of creating legitimacy for capitalism: how can an inherently and profoundly anti-democratic system contain and limit dissent and at the same time present itself as ostensibly ‘democratic’? It will examine how ideological and material limits are placed on democratic practice, suppressing oppositional politics and restricting people’s freedoms in order to protect the capitalist social order from challenges for greater social, economic and political equality and freedoms. It will argue that these limits are sustained using hollowed out, carefully managed versions of ‘democracy’, which exploit the popular appeal of democratic ideals while suppressing political dissent. Thus the grand promise of social and political equality is exploited to protect a system which requires gross social and political inequality.

Capitalism is dependent upon its relentless expansion and penetration into new spheres – such as land, resources and forms of labour – and consequently can permit only a very limited degree of popular participation. This is restricted to nominal political ‘rights’ which are separated from, and privileged over, socio-economic equality. Thus even while inequality deepens, our legal and social sanctioned political agency is largely limited to choosing between a selection of politically homogeneous parties once every four to five years. These elections have become empty, largely symbolic rituals, in which professionalized marketing campaigns elide any substantial political debate. Meanwhile, our legal avenues to hold our putative representatives to account, or to persuade them to take heed of our demands, are restricted to actions via pressure groups or tame and largely ineffectual protest about specific, isolated issues. This ensures that the capitalist system is able to reap catastrophic damage upon subject populations and the environment, even to the extent of threatening the habitability of the planet, while remaining, for the most part, insulated from public challenge.
Rebecca Fisher. Managing Democracy. Managing Dissent. Capitalism, Democracy and the Organisation of Consent. 2013

Ik gebruik deze citaten om te laten zien wat het verschil is tussen kritische Amerikaanse intellectuelen en de Nederlandse mainstream opiniemakers, met Rebecca Fisher en Geert Mak als prototypische voorbeelden. Wat onmiddellijk opvalt is dat Mak geen enkel  inzicht heeft in de structuur van het systeem waarin hij leeft, hij zwenkt van links naar rechts en stemt zijn betoog af aan het publiek dat hij op een bepaald moment aanspreekt. Niet 'de totaal verstoorde verhouding tussen staat en privé' in de kapitalistische democratieën zijn het probleem, zoals Rebecca Fisher laat zien, nee die 'in de voormalige Oostbloklanden.' Niet de 'diepgewortelde tradities van cliëntelisme en patronage' van de rijke elite in de kapitalistische metropolen als Washington en Londen zijn het probleem, maar die 'in de  meeste Zuid-Europese landen.' In zijn bestseller In Europa, waar ook nog een uitgebreide televisieserie van werd gemaakt, concludeerde Mak in 2004 met grote stelligheid dat

Europa als vredesproces een eclatant succes [was]. Europa als economische eenheid is ook een eind op weg.

Dat was nog in de tijd voorafgaand aan de kredietcrisis die Mak en de rest van de Nederlandse mainstream pers niet zagen aankomen, in tegenstelling tot kritische Amerikaanse deskundigen zoals ondermeer uit het volgende blijkt:

On Sept. 7, 2006, Nouriel Roubini, an economics professor at New York University, stood before an audience of economists at the International Monetary Fund and announced that a crisis was brewing. In the coming months and years, he warned, the United States was likely to face a once-in-a-lifetime housing bust, an oil shock, sharply declining consumer confidence and, ultimately, a deep recession. He laid out a bleak sequence of events: homeowners defaulting on mortgages, trillions of dollars of mortgage-backed securities unraveling worldwide and the global financial system shuddering to a halt. These developments, he went on, could cripple or destroy hedge funds, investment banks and other major financial institutions like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Vijf jaar later vroeg de immer naar ‘hoop’ zoekende Geert Mak in zijn boekje De hond van Tisma zich verbijsterd af:

Hoe zijn we zo plotseling in deze nachtmerrie terechtgekomen?

Mak’s verbijstering is niet vreemd, want hij heeft geen benul van hoe het westerse neoliberale systeem werkelijk functioneert, en dus vroeg hij zich te laat af hoe het kon dat

Europa een lokaal probleem zo uit de hand liet lopen, dat het nu de hele wereldeconomie bedreigt.

Nog steeds had hij niet door dat niet in de eerste plaats ‘Europa’ het ‘probleem’ was, maar de VS, waar het globaliserende neoliberale systeem met zijn privatisering en deregulering was ontwikkeld. Zo ontstond een ongecontroleerd systeem waarbij vele honderden miljarden aan niet bestaand geld werden uitgeleend, in een imperium dat elke dag weer meer dan anderhalf miljard dollar moest lenen om overeind te kunnen blijven, en nu een buitenlandse schuld heeft die omgerekend $52,856.21 per inwoner bedraagt, een schuld die de VS nooit zal kunnen aflossen maar desalniettemin blijft toenemen. Hoe dan ook, Mak concludeerde in augusutus 2011 ineens geschrokken:   

Het Europese project als geheel is nu al zwaar beschadigd; met kunst- en vliegwerk blijft het misschien bestaan.

Maar slechts vijf maanden later, januari 2012, had Geert Mak  zijn mening opnieuw aangepast door tegenover mij in een e-mail te stellen dat de Duitse auteur Hans Magnus Enzensberger een ‘grumpy old,’ man was die ‘alles heeft opgegeven,’ een mening die hij baseerde op het feit dat deze Duitse auteur veel sceptischer was over de zogeheten ‘Europese eenwording.’ Zo schreef Enzensberger over opiniemakers als Mak:

In de ogen van haar pleitbezorgers wordt het lot niet, zoals Napoleon nog dacht, door de politiek, maar door de economie bepaald. Die presenteert zichzelf als een hogere macht die door niets wordt tegengehouden, en zeker niet door de eeuwenoude tradities, mentaliteiten en constituties van de Europese landen.

Inmiddels kon zelfs Mak niet meer kunnen ontkennen dat Enzensberger veel dichter bij de waarheid zat met  zijn essay Brussels, the Gentle Monster or the Disenfranchisement of Europe, waarin hij had geconstateerd dat

Er geen gebrek [bestaat] aan uitingen van ressentiment, van stille of publieke sabotage, maar in het algemeen heeft het fameuze democratische deficiet niet geleid tot revolte, eerder tot apathie en cynisme, tot minachting van de politieke kaste of tot collectieve moedeloosheid.



Brussels, the Gentle Monster or the Disenfranchisement of Europe. De Nederlandse titel is fout. Het begrip 'disenfranchisement' betekent 'het ontzetten uit een recht, rechten/privileges ontnemen
(in het bijzonder) het kiesrecht/de burgerrechten ontnemen.'


In tegenstelling tot Enzensberger bleef Mak, die tot de Franse Légion d’Honneur werd verheven voor de onschatbare bijdrage die hij met In Europa geleverd heeft aan het Europese project,’  blind voor de werkelijkheid door het ‘Verenigd  Europa’ te blijven verkopen  met argumenten als ‘bij een overdracht van soevereiniteit aan Brussel kleine landen aan macht [winnen], hoe vreemd dat ook klinkt.’ Dat de macht in het inmiddels neoliberale Europa gerund werd in overeenstemming met de belangen van grote concerns had het boegbeeld van de Nederlandse mainstream nog steeds niet door, hoewel hij wel begreep dat zijn propaganda subtieler moest worden, getuige het feit dat hij niet langer meer de conclusies van zijn meer dan 1200 pagina’s tellende In Europa hardop durfde rondbazuinen. Ook Mak besefte dat grote delen van zijn lezerspubliek inmiddels onraad roken en begonnen te beseffen dat het in ons globaliserende systeem niet de politici de macht in handen hebben, maar de banken en het management van de grote concerns. Steeds zichtbaarder werd het dat de economische macht haar lobbyisten in Brussel aanstuurden om het politieke beleid te bepalen, precies zoals de ‘grumpy old’ man Enzensberger tot ergernis van Mak had geschreven. Zodra de banken door hun eigen gespeculeer in grote financiële moeilijkheden dreigen te komen dan is één telefoontje voldoende om buiten het parlement om in enkele uren tijd de macht van de institutionele beleggers en andere speculanten in lucht weer veilig te stellen. Nu dit besef groeide, vooral ook omdat de langdurige kapitalistische crisis maar niet overging, verklaarde Mak op 29 april 2013 op de radio dat:

Er machten aan de gang [zijn] boven Europa, ik zeg echt bóven Europa, het klassieke woord grootkapitaal doet hier zijn intrede. Ik heb er nooit zo in geloofd, maar nu wel, die ons totaal ontglipt en waar je niks tegen kunt doen. En dat vind ik buitengewoon beklemmend,

Maar omdat Geert Mak niemand anders is dan Geert Mak had hij zijn opinie vijf maanden later wederom aangepast. Voor een Nederlands mainstreampubliek in het sociaaldemocratische bolwerk de Rode Hoed  eindigde hij zijn geruststellende nog geen 5000 woorden lange betoog met de categorische conclusie:

geen gemeenschap zonder veiligheid, zelfbeschikking en solidariteit, en tegelijk geen gemeenschap zonder verbeelding. Geen Jorwerd zonder Brussel. Maar tegelijk: geen Brussel zonder Jorwerd.

Geen Europa zonder Mak en Geen Mak zonder Europa.

Kortom, Leve Europa, geen dorp zonder stad, ‘geen veiligheid, zelfbeschikking en solidariteit’ zonder Brussel, ‘geen gemeenschap’ zonder het fameuze democratische deficiet,’ zoals Enzensberger het typeerde, geen Jorwerd zonder de bureaucratische macht van Brussel dat allereerst de belangen van de grote concerns en banken beschermt. Mak's woorden verraden een totalitair beeld, hij wil zijn publiek ervan overtuigen dat Europa geen toekomst heeft zonder het kapitalistische 'Brussel.' Enzensberger mocht dan wel gelijk hebben, hij was en bleef in de ogen van Mak en de zijnen een ‘doemdenker’ die dan ook nooit verheven zou worden tot het onsterfelijke Legioen van Eer. Tijdens  zijn verdediging van het neoliberale Europa sprak Mak in de Rode Hoed met geen woord over de macht van het ‘grootkapitaal,’ waarin hij ‘nooit zo in geloofd’ heeft  ‘maar nu wel,’ en dat als een zwaard van Damocles ‘boven Europa’ hangt, en ‘waar je niks tegen kunt doen.’ En hoewel Mak dit feit vijf maanden eerder  nog ‘buitengewoon beklemmend’ vond, sprak hij tijdens de Abel Herzberglezing met geen woord erover, zelfs het grip kapitalisme werd niet één keer door hem genoemd. Ziehier het poldermodel in werking, en aangezien er in Nederland geen kritische intellectuele traditie bestaat, zwijgt de goegemeente. Mak's ‘grootkapitaal’ mag dan wel de ‘democratie’ buiten werking hebben gesteld, toch geldt: ‘Geen Jorwerd zonder Brussel’ en ‘geen Brussel zonder Jorwerd.’ Nog steeds beseft de polder mainstream niet wat er daadwerkelijk aan het gebeuren is. Als vleesgeworden poldermodel illustreert Mak als geen ander in Nederland de stuitende onnozelheid. De vraag is dan ook hoe iemand die zijn eigen maatschappij niet begrijpt, de VS kan begrijpen? Het antwoord is simpel: dat kan niet. De Amerikaanse cultuur is hem wezensvreemd, zoals ondermeer blijkt uit het feit dat hij Jacks Kerouac’s klassieke werk On the Road en passant afdeed als ‘egotripperig’ en dat

De aantrekkingskracht van figuren als... Jack Kerouac alles [had] te maken met de traditionele Amerikaanse drang tot zelfverwerkelijking, van de plicht om iets van het leven te maken.

Daarentegen laat de Amerikaanse hoogleraar Engels, Carole Gottlieb Vopat, zien hoe gelaagd en complex On the Road is. Over de hoofdpersoon Sal schreef ze dat hij:

continually perceives the futility and insanity of his journeys, yet continually makes them, always with the same childlike innocence and expectation, always to follow the same pattern of hopefulness ending in disillusionment as he learns and relearns the same weary lessons about America and Dean Moriarty. Nonetheless, Sal does finally accept the obligations of his insights and revelations, decides to bear the heavy weight of change and responsibility, and grows up to understand, evaluate and finally repudiate Dean Moriarty, The American Dream, and life on the road.


On the Road is tevens een fundamentele kritiek op het onvolwassene en de vulgariteit van de zogeheten Amerikaanse Droom en het permanent gemobiliseerd zijn, zonder richting en op weg naar niets, in een poging de verpletterende leegte te ontsnappen. Het is Geert Mak allemaal ontgaan. Voor hem handelt On the Road slechts ‘om het schijt hebben aan alles,’ terwijl in werkelijkheid het thema van de roman precies het tegenovergestelde is. Gottlieb Vopat die zich verdiepte in de roman benadrukt het volgende:

Although Dean’s madness endows everything with frenetic significance, Sal knows that ‘It made no sense… It was a completely meaningless set of circumstances that made Dean come, and similarly I went off with him for no reason.’ Now only pot can make him believe that IT, the moment of decision and revelation, is at hand; ‘that everything was about to arrive – the moment when you know all and everything is decided for ever.’

Het Amerikaanse systeem roept een niet te verzadigen hang op naar kicks, naar extase, naar het geexalteerde, naar drugs, alcohol of coke, naar het eeuwige nu, zonder verleden en toekomst, zonder verplichtingen, zonder alle andere medemensen, het absolute individualisme, waar alles en iedereen willoos omheen cirkelt en niet uit hun baan kunnen komen, behalve door een financiele crash, de inslag van een komeet. In het hart van het Amerikaanse systeem bevindt zich een groot zwart gat dat alles naar zich toetrekt en verslindt, tot niets meer overblijft. Kerouac en een aanzienlijk aantal andere Amerikaanse auteurs hebben deze werkelijkheid beschreven, maar Mak heeft hun werk niet gelezen. En in het geval van Kerouac’s boek ziet Mak niets anders dan het ‘egotripperige.’ Mak stelt over ‘de naoorlogse generatie’:

De aantrekkingskracht van figuren als James Dean en Jack Kerouac had alles te maken met de traditionele Amerikaanse drang tot zelfverwerkelijking,

een in zijn ogen typisch ‘Amerikaans’ fenomeen. Maar wat achter die ‘drang tot zelfverwerkelijking’ schuilgaat is voor de mainstream niet meer dan ‘egotripperig’ gedrag. Zou Mak evenwel het essay An American Education hebben gelezen van Tim Hunt, hoogleraar Engels aan de Washington State University, dan had hij het volgende geweten over de diepere drijfveren van het ‘escapisme’ in On the Road:

Dean represents the New World at its most a anarchistic and individualistic. Dean’s ‘marriage’ to Sal is fated to end in divorce, as are all his ogther marriages. The disintegration of the relationship, though, defines for Sal a basic dichotomy. He can respond to his vision of death by accepting ‘marriage,’ by believing in the purposefulness of death in the cyclical, Old World pattern; or he can respond by becoming an ‘American’ like Dean, by taking his isolation, his individuality, as an opportunity to ignore death by ignoring time and social pattern. He can try to overcome death by living as if outside time and society, cultivating the moment and torturing the senses to attain the ‘timeless’ through temporary vision and ecstasy. The problem with the first response is that it is likely to result in the shallowness and social constriction that Sal flees in the book’s beginning. The problem with the second, as Dean knows and as Sal discovers in part three, is that it leads to exhaustion and quite probably an early death.

Mak daarentegen prefereert een mok thee, en een comfortabele lederen fauteuil om door de VS te rijden. Zo flikte hij het, met naast zich zijn echtgenote voor de 'gezelligheid.' en een stuk minder 'egotripperij,' moeten we aannemen.

In een cultuur die geen verleden en toekomst kent, alleen een permanent dwingend heden waaruit niemand kan ontsnappen, bestaat er geen ruimte voor de dood, continuiteit bestaat er niet, de cirkel is doorbroken, overgebleven is slechts een kaarsrechte weg vooruit, almaar vooruit. Vandaar Mak’s misvatting dat ‘Amerikanen… hele optimistische mensen’ zijn. In hun land is alles ‘nieuw.’ Oud betekent de dood, die zinloos lijkt, een onrechtvaardig einde van het leven in een onverzadigbare consumentenparadijs. Het gespeelde ‘optimisme,’ waar Mak zich zo op verkijkt, functioneert daarbij als een verdedigingswal waarachter angstige en van elkaar geisoleerde mensen zich verschuilen. De Amerikaanse dichter Gary Snyder in Turtle Island:

A culture that alienates itself from the very ground of its own being -- from the wilderness outside (that is to say, wild nature, the wild, self-contained, self-informing ecosystems) and from that other wilderness. the wilderness within – is doomed to a very destructive behavior, ultimately perhaps self-destructive behavior.

Ook het werk van Gary Snyder heeft Mak niet gelezen, zo blijkt uit zijn literatuurlijst, en evenmin de romans van een van de grootste Amerikaanse auteurs van de twintigste eeuw: F. Scott Fitzgerald. In The Crack-Up schrijft hij:

All the stories that came into my head had a touch of disaster in them – the lovely young creatures in my novels went to ruin, the diamond mountains of my short stories blew up, my millionaires were as were as beautiful and damned as Thomas Hardy’s peasants. In life these things hadn’t happened yet, but I was pretty sure living wasn’t the reckless, careless business these people thought – this generation just younger than me.

In Reizen zonder John is Mak ‘op zoek naar Amerika,’ inderdaad zonder John.’ Maar niet alleen ‘zonder John,’ ook zonder al die andere Amerikaanse schrijvers en beeldend kunstenaars die in hun werk doordringen tot de diepere lagen van hun samenleving. Laten we Carole Gottlieb Vopat, hoogleraar Engels aan de aan de Universiteit van Wisconsin, nog eens citeren. In de uitstekende serie Bloom’s Modern Critical Interpretations schrijft ze over Jack Kerouac’s On the Road:

Kerouac has… provided an enduring portrait of the national psyche; like Fitzgerald, he has defined America and delineated American life for his generation.

In tegenstelling tot Mak kan Gottlieb Vopat door de uiterlijke schijn heenkijken en tussen de regels door lezen. Ze kan literatuur interpreteren, verwart de hoofdpersoon niet met de schrijver, zoals Mak doet. Ze laat zien dat in On the Road de protagonist

Sal Paradise goes on the road to escape from life rather than to find it, that he runs from the intimacy and responsibility of more demanding human relationships, and from a more demanding human relationship with himself.

Wat Mak als ‘egotripperig’ afdoet is in feite een beschrijving van de VS die Mak niet kan accepteren. Kerouac laat een van zichzelf en de maatschappij vervreemde stem horen, die leeft in een niet te ontsnappen werkelijkheid waarin burgers consumenten zijn geworden en allen on the road zijn, zonder een duidelijk doel, op zoek naar normen en waarden, ‘misschien wel moraliteit,’ zoals Steinbeck opmerkte toen hij in een brief zijn vriend Adlai Stevenson wees op ‘a creeping, all-pervading, nerve-gas of immorality which starts in the nursery and does not stop before it reaches the highest offices, both corporate and governmental.’ Een van de belangrijke kenmerken van de Amerikaanse cultuur is het permanent gemobiliseerd zijn, zowel fysiek (de auto) als mentaal (reclame en politieke propaganda). Carole Gottlieb Vopat:

Reality is never good enough; it must be classified, embroidered and intensified; above all, the sheer reality of reality must be avoided. Sal’s roleplaying shelters him from obligations, whether of others or of himself, inherent in those situations He is protected from having to face and feel his own emotions as well as from having to deal with the needs and demands of other people… Kerouac’s characters take to the road not to find life but to leave it all behind: emotion, maturity, change, decision, purpose, and especially, in the best American tradition, responsibility… Sal refuses responsibility not only for the lives of others but for his own life as well. He does not want to own his life or direct his destiny, but prefers to live passively; to be driven in cars, to entertain sensations rather than emotions.

Een treffendere beschrijving van de door spektakel en geconditioneerde reflexen gedreven  Amerikaanse massacultuur is nauwelijks denkbaar.

They avoid anything – self-analysis, self-awareness, thinking – which would threaten or challenge them, for with revelation comes responsibility for change and, above all, they do not want change. They demand lives as thin and narrow as the white lines along the road which so comfort and mesmerize them, and are content with surfaces, asking no more.

In tegenstelling tot Mak’s bewering over het ‘egotripperige van Kerouac’ stelt Gottlieb Vopat:

Sal and his friends are not seeking or celebrating self, but are rather fleeing from identity. For all their solipsism, they are almost egoless. They do not dwell on the self, avoid thinking or feeling… there is only the Eternal now, the jazz moment, which demands absolutely nothing… Their emphasis on spontaneity is a measure of their fear of life. In their cars they are suspended from live and living, as if in a capsule hurtling coast-to-coast above the earth. They seek out not truth nor values but this encapsulated almost fetal existence as an end in itself, an end that is much like death.

Het is een vorm van autisme, de werkelijkheid is vervangen door een virtuele werkelijkheid die nu wereldwijd heerst. Mak heeft daar geen oog voor. Hij ziet slechts hopeloos gedrag. De journalistiek is eendimensionaal, de literatuur schept daarentegen een gelaagde werkelijkheid, ontoegankelijk voor degene die niet door de façade kan heen kijken. Carole Gottlieb Vopat over Sal’s reisgenoot wijst ons erop dat

Dean Moriarty is himself America, or rather the dream of America, once innocent, young, full of promise and holiness, bursting with potential and vitality, now driven mad, crippled, impotent… ragged, dirty, lost, searching for a past of security and love that never existed, trailing frenzy and broken promises, unable to speak to anybody anymore.

Ze constateert verder dat

Kerouac is able to step back from his characters to point out their follies; to show, for example, Dean’s pathetic justification of life on the road... ‘What’s your road man? – holy boy road, mad man road, rainbow road, guppy road, guppy road, any road… Kerouac further points out that the shortcomings of the country to which they are so intimately connected. Kerouac’s response to America is typically disillusioned. America is a land of corruption and hypocrisy, the exitement and adventure of the past. In particular Kerouac indicts America for failing to provide his searching characters with any public meaning or communal values to counteract the emptiness of their private lives.

Het zal duidelijk zijn dat wat Mak aanziet voor een los geschreven verslag van een Amerikaanse zwerftocht door twee wilde jongens,’ in werkelijkheid een bezeten zoektocht is van de hoofdpersoon Sal naar zin en betekenis, naar verlossing zelfs, waarbij

Dean’s response to continual disillusionment is to forsake the destination for the journey: ‘Move!’

terwijl Sal

continually perceives the futility and insanity of his journeys, yet continually makes them, always with the same childlike innocence and expectation, always to follow the same pattern of hopefulness ending in disillusionment as he learns and relearns the same weary lessons about America and Dean Moriarty. Nonetheless, Sal does finally accept the obligations of his insights and revelations, decides to bear the heavy weight of change and responsibility, and grows up to understand, evaluate and finally repudiate Dean Moriarty, The American Dream, and life on the road.

On the Road bevat namelijk tevens een fundamentele kritiek op de kinderlijkheid en vulgariteit van de zogeheten Amerikaanse Droom en het permanent gemobiliseerd zijn, zonder richting en op weg naar niets, in een poging de verpletterende leegte te ontsnappen. Het is Geert Mak allemaal ontgaan. Voor hem handelt On the Road ‘om het schijt hebben aan alles’ terwijl het thema van de roman precies het tegenovergestelde is.  Carole Gottlieb Vopat die zich verdiepte in de roman benadrukt het volgende:

Although Dean’s madness endows everything with frenetic significance, Sal knows that ‘It made no sense… It was a completely meaningless set of circumstances that made Dean come, and similarly I went off with him for no reason.’ Now only pot can make him believe that IT, the moment of decision and revelation, is at hand; ‘that everything was about to arrive – the moment when you know all and everything is decided for ever.’


Het Amerikaanse systeem roept een onverzadigbare hang op naar kicks, naar extase, naar het geexalteerde, naar het eeuwige nu, zonder verleden en toekomst, zonder verplichtingen, zonder alle andere medemensen, het absolute individualisme, waar alles en iedereen willoos omheen cirkelt en niet uit hun baan kunnen komen, behalve door een financiele crash, de inslag van een komeet, of een andere grootscheepse natuurramp. In het hart van het Amerikaanse systeem bevindt zich een groot zwart gat dat alles naar zich toetrekt tot niets meer overblijft. Kerouac en een aanzienlijk aantal andere Amerikaanse auteurs hebben deze werkelijkheid beschreven, maar Mak heeft hun werk niet gelezen.  


F. Scott Fitzgerald: 'All the stories that came into my head had a touch of disaster in them – the lovely young creatures in my novels went to ruin, the diamond mountains of my short stories blew up, my millionaires were as beautiful and damned as Thomas Hardy’s peasants. In life these things hadn’t happened yet, but I was pretty sure living wasn’t the reckless, careless business these people thought – this generation just younger than me.'



Carole Gottlieb Vopat: 'Dean Moriarty is himself America, or rather the dream of America, once innocent, young, full of promise and holiness, bursting with potential and vitality, now driven mad, crippled, impotent… ragged, dirty, lost, searching for a past of security and love that never existed, trailing frenzy and broken promises, unable to speak to anybody anymore.'




Later meer over de Nederlandse mainstream opiniemakers.