zaterdag 3 mei 2014

De Mainstream Pers 204

You, who are on the road
Must have a code
That you can live by
And so, become yourself
Because the past
Is just a good-bye…

Teach your parents well
The children's hell
Will slowly go by
And feed them on your dreams
The one they pick
The one you'll know by
Graham Nash. Teach Your Children. 1970

For the managers of the elevated railroads I have as little feeling as any man here…. I regard these men as furnishing part of the most dangerous of all dangerous classes, the wealthy criminal class.
Theodore Roosevelt.  New York World. 3 maart 1883

Fragment uit de biografie Truman van de Amerikaanse historicus David McCullough,  tweevoudig winnaar van de Pulitzerprijs en de National Book Award en ontvanger van de Presidential Medal of Freedom, de hoogste burgerlijke onderscheiding in de Verenigde Staten:

On Monday, December 20, 1937, Senator Truman delivered the second of his assaults on corporate greed and corruption. In the earlier speech in June he had recalled how Jesse James, in order to rob the Rock Island Railroad, had had to get up early in the morning and risk his life to make off with $3,000. Yet by means of holding companies, modern-day financiers had stolen $70 million from the same railroad. 'Senators can see,' he said then, 'what "pikers" (kruimeldieven. svh) Mr. James and his crowd were alongside of some real artists.' Now, in a prepared address written and rewritten several times with the help of Max Lowenthal (adviseur Harry S. Truman. svh), he attacked the power of Wall Street and the larger evil of money worship, sounding at times not unlike his boyhood hero, William Jennings Bryan (Amerikaanse politicus, fel tegenstander van de banken. svh). He had announced the speech in advance, so as to be heard by something more than an empty chamber. 'It probably will catalogue me as a radical,' he warned Bess (Truman's echtgenote. svh), 'but it will be what I think.'

His lifelong hatred of  high hats and privilege, all the traditional Missouri suspicion of concentrated power and the East (waar de economische en politieke macht gevestigd was. svh), came sprouting forth with a degree of feeling his fellow senators had not seen or heard until now. He attacked the 'court and lawyer situation' in the gigantic receiverships (curatorschap. svh) and reorganizations that destroyed railroads, and named the powerful law firms involved… He cited the immense fees taken by the attorneys for the receivers (bewindvoerders. svh), told how  some attorneys took their families on free vacations to California in the private cars of  a bankrupt line, how a receivership judge on the federal bench had a private car on the bankrupt Milwaukee & St.Paul at his beck and call (onmiddellijk op afroep beschikbaar. svh).

'Do you see how it pays to know all about these things from the inside?' he asked.

'How these gentlemen, the highest of the high-hats in the legal profession, resort to tricks that would make an ambulance chaser (Een advocaat die slachtoffers van verkeersongelukken overhaalt om schadevergoeding te claimen. svh) in a coroner's court blush with shame? The same gentlemen, if the past is any guide tom the future, will come out of the pending receiverships with more and fatter fees, and wind up by becoming attorneys for the new and reorganized railroad companies at fat yearly retainers; and they will probably earn them, because it will be their business to get by the Interstate Commerce Commission, to interpret, and to see that the courts interpret, laws passed by the Congress as they want them construed. 

These able and intelligent lawyers, counsellors, attorneys, whatever you want to call them, have interviews and hold conferences with the members of the Interstate Commerce Commission, take them to dinner and discuss pending matters with them. The commission, you know, is the representative of the public and it has its lawyers also, but the ordinary government mine-run (doorsnee. svh) bureaucratic lawyer is no more a match for the amiable gentlemen who represent the great railroads, insurance companies, and Wall Street bankers than the ordinary lamb is a match for the butcher.'

The underlying problem throughout, he said, was avarice, 'wild greed.' 

'We worship money instead of honor. A billionaire, in our estimation, is much greater in these days in the eyes of the people than the public servant who works for the public interest.  It makes no difference if the billionaire road to wealth on the sweat of little children and the blood of underpaid labor.  No one ever considered Carnegie libraries steeped in the blood of the Homestead steelworkers, but they are. We do not remember that the Rockefeller Foundation is founded on the dead miners of the Colorado Fuel & Iron Company and a dozen other similar performances. We worship Mammon: and until we go back to ancient fundamentals and return to the Giver of the Tablets of Law and His teachings  these conditions are going to remain with us. 

It is a pity that Wall Street, with its ability to control all the wealth of the nation and to hire the best law brains in the country has not produced some statesmen, some men who could see the dangers of bigness and concentration of the control of wealth. Instead of working to meet the situation [the Depression], they are still employing the best law brains to serve greed and self interest.  People can stand only so much and one of these days there will be a settlement…'

He saw the country's unemployment and unrest as the fault of too much concentration of power and population, too much bigness in everything…

'Wild greed along the lines I have been describing brought on the Depression. When investment banks, so-called, continually load great transportation companies with debt in order to sell securities to savings banks and insurance companies so they can make a commission, the well finally runs dry… There is no magic solution to the condition of the railroads, but one thing is certain — no formula, however scientific, will work without men opt proper character responsible for physical and financial operations of the roads and for the administration of the laws provided by Congress. 

Het was deze zelfde Harry Truman die precies tien jaar later als president de zogeheten 'Truman doctrine' formuleerde. Deze leer legde, ironisch genoeg, de ideologische basis voor de 'wild greed' en de almaar groeiende macht van het militair-industrieel complex, waarvoor zijn opvolger, president Dwight Eisenhower, weer een decennium later het Amerikaanse volk waarschuwde, aangezien in 'the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.' 

De 'Truman Doctrine' was erop gericht de Amerikaanse hegemonie af te dwingen door de invloed van Sovjet Unie zoveel mogelijk in te perken. Historici 'often consider it as the start of the Cold War, and the start of the containment policy… 

The Truman Doctrine became the foundation of the president's foreign policy and placed the U.S. in the role of global policeman. As Foner reminds us, the Truman Doctrine 'set a precedent for American assistance to anticommunist regimes throughout the world, no matter how undemocratic, and for the creation of a set of global military alliances directed against the Soviet Union.' […]
It shifted American foreign policy toward the Soviet Union from détente (a relaxation of tension) to a policy of containment of Soviet expansion as advocated by diplomat George Kennan
Truman used disease imagery not only to communicate a sense of impending disaster in the spread of communism but also to create a 'rhetorical vision' of containing it by extending a protective shield around non-communist countries throughout the world.

De containment-politiek was de naoorlogse voortzetting van de veronderstelling dat de VS 'exceptionalistisch' is, 'the distinct belief that the United States is unique, if not superior, when compared to other nations,' waardoor de VS 'a special nation [is] with a special role – possibly ordained by God – to play in human history.' Dit geloof, meer is het niet, vormt een fundamenteel aspect van de ideologie van de elite in Washington en op Wall Street, en wordt door de westerse mainstream-pers als een dogma aanvaard en verspreid. Zo beweerde bijvoorbeeld de mainstream-journalist Geert Mak nog in 2012 in zijn boek Reizen zonder John. Op zoek naar Amerika dat de VS na '45 ‘decennialang als ordebewaker en politieagent [fungeerde]’ een mening die algemeen gedeeld wordt door onder andere de Nederlandse 'politiek-literaire elite.' Deze pleitbezorgers van het neoliberale systeem verzwijgen het door Amerikaanse intellectuelen uitvoerig beschreven al dan niet gewelddadig expansionisme van de VS, dat sinds de negentiende eeuw ideologisch werd gerechtvaardigd door leerstellingen als 'manifest destiny,' 'exceptionalism,' 'Truman Doctrine,' en tegenwoordig de zogeheten 'R2P,' de zogenaamde 'responsibility to protect,' oftewel 'humanitair ingrijpen' dat, zoals bekend, doorgaans in chaos eindigt. In tegenstelling tot wat de propaganda claimt, gaat het in werkelijkheid om 'a ruthless, angry search for wealth that continues to the present day,' en dat begon met de 'ontdekking' van Amerika, zoals de Amerikaanse auteur Barry Lopez schrijft in The Rediscovery of North America (1990). Deze winnaar van de National Book Award, wiens essays gepubliceerd worden door ondermeer Harper's, National Geographic en The New York Times, benadrukt de continuïteit van het Amerikaanse geweld:

First, this incursion, this harmful road into the 'New World,' quickly became a ruthless, angry search for wealth. It set a tone in the Americas. The quest for personal possessions was to be, from the outset, a series of raids, irresponsible and criminal, a spree, in which an end to it — the slaces, the timber, the pearls, the fur, the precious ores, and, later, arable land, coal, oil, and iron ore — was never visible, in which an end to it had no meaning. 
The assumption of an imperial right conferred by God, sanctioned by the state and enforced by a militia, the assumption of unquestioned superiority over a resident people, based not on morality but on race and cultural comparison — or, let me say it plainly, on ignorance, on a fundamental illiteracy — the assumption that one is due wealth in North America, reverberates in the journals of people on the Oregon Trail, in the public speeches of nineteenth-century industrialists, and in twentieth-century politics. You can hear it today in the rhetoric of timber barons in my home state of Oregon, standing before the last of the old-growth forest, irritated that anyone is saying 'enough… it is enough.' 
What Columbus began, then, what Pizarro and Cortés and Coronado perpetuated, is not isolated in the past. We see a continuance in the present of this brutal, avaricious behavior, a profound abuse of the place during the course of centuries of demand for material wealth. We need only look for verification at the acid-burned forests of New Hampshire, at the cauterized soils of Iowa, or the collapse of the San Joaquin Valley into caverns emptied of their fossil waters.

Dit inzicht zult u evenwel niet aantreffen in de propaganda van de westerse mainstream-pers. De polder-pers zal nimmer de VS beschrijven als een genadeloze parasitaire cultuur die zoveel slechte karma heeft veroorzaakt dat het nu geheel volgens onverbiddelijke logica van de wetten der natuur zichzelf ten gronde richt. Alle eeuwenlang gegenereerde energie weerkaatst op den duur, onder andere in de vorm van wat de CIA 'Blowback' noemt. Het kwaad vernietigt inderdaad zichzelf. Niet voor niets heeft de natuur, God zo u wilt, het schijnbaar weerloze geschapen. Alles heeft recht van leven, ook al verstaan we zijn taal niet; elk leven zal zijn aanwezigheid of juist zijn afwezigheid kenbaar maken. 'All things are connected. Whatever befalls the earth befalls the children of the earth,' aldus verwoordde het opperhoofd Seattle deze wijsheid in de negentiende eeuw tegenover de dove en blinde blanke binnendringers die dachten dat hun materiële mateloosheid permanent geluk zou opleveren. Nooit zijn degenen die Europa ontvluchtten erin geslaagd werkelijk in de VS te wortelen, nimmer hebben ze het land werkelijk eigen kunnen maken, zijn ze verbonden geraakt met de grond. Altijd bleven ze mentaal en fysiek gemobiliseerd, waardoor ze nergens een 'thuis' konden vinden en dus maar beleven expanderen. 'America was not to be a home,' maar een doorgangsroute naar rijkdom. Toen ze eenmaal de Stille Oceaan hadden bereikt begon hun overzees imperium. Nergens vonden ze de rust waar ze naar op zoek leken, en wel omdat voor hen alles ontzield was geraakt. De 'Indianen,' onder wie het Teton Sioux-opperhoofd Luther Standing Bear, probeerden aan de gewelddadige blanke barbaren uit te leggen dat 

Everything was possessed of personality, only differing from us in form. Knowledge was inherent in all things. The world was a library and its books were the stones, leaves, grass, brooks, and the birds and animals that shared, alike with us, the storms and blessings of earth,' 

Zo mogelijk nog wijzer waren de woorden van Red Dog, een Oglala Sioux, die opmerkte: 'We are all poor because we are all honest.' Chief Joseph van de Nez Perce, verklaarde op zijn beurt: 'We do not want churches because they will teach us to quarrel about God, as the Catholics and Protestants do. We do not want to learn that.' Een mens die zichzelf niet kent, kent ook de wereld niet, laat staan 'God.' Een mens zonder zelfrespect kan nooit een ander respecteren.  Een individu zonder waardigheid ziet de waardigheid van een ander niet. Een volk dat meent 'uitverkoren' te zijn gaat ervan uit dat de anderen inferieur zijn. Het christendom van de uitgeweken blanke Europeanen was geen religie, maar een mens en natuur infecterende ziekte, een plaag van de God der Wrake die vrees aanjoeg. God's wildernis was geen zegen, maar een vloek. Nogmaals Luther Standing Bear:

But, because for the Lakota there was non wilderness, because nature was not dangerous but hospitable, not forbidding but friendly. Lakota philosophy was healthy — free from fear and dogmatism. And here I find the great distention between the faith of the Indian and the white man. Indian faith sought the harmony of man with his surroundings; the other sought the dominance of surroundings.

In sharing, in loving all and everything, one people naturally found a due portion of the thing they sought, while, in fearing, the other found need to conquest.

For one man the world was full of beauty; for the other it was a place of sin and ugliness to be endured until he went to another world…

But the old Lakota was wise. He knew that man's heart, away from nature, becomes hard; he knew that lack of respect for growing, living things soon led to lack of respect for humans too. So he kept his children close to nature's softening influence. 

Na vijf eeuwen waarin voor het kapitalisme 'enough' nooit 'enough' was, en de 'ruthless, angry search for wealth' fanatiek en meedogenloos werd nagejaagd, waardoor zowel de mens als de natuur werd verkracht, staat de mensheid nu aan de vooravond van zijn eigen ondergang. En de judeo-christelijke God zal zijn kinderen niet redden. Alleen zijzelf kunnen zich redden. Senator Harry Truman had gelijk dat de 

underlying problem throughout, he said, was avarice, 'wild greed.'

De natuur is niet wild, de blanke christen is 'wild.' Zijn 'onbeheerste begeerte' vernietigt alles dat in zijn weg staat. Maar dat wat geen maat kent, vernietigt tenslotte zichzelf; dat is de logica van de natuur die streeft naar evenwicht. Een parasitaire cultuur verwoest zichzelf van binnenuit. Op de dag dat ik dit schrijf, vrijdag 2 mei 2014, bericht de International New York Times op zijn voorpagina over 'America's poor' die steeds 'farther behind' raken in de materiële rat-race dat één van de belangrijkste oorzaken is het overhevelen van werk naar de lage-lonen-landen. De International New York Times:

The same global economic trends that have helped drive down the price of most goods also have limited the well-paying industrial jobs once available to a huge swath of working Americans. And the costs of many services crucial to escaping poverty — including  education, health care and child care — have soared.

Tegelijkertijd groeit wereldwijd de kloof tussen arm en rijk. Maar steeds angstvallige blijft de mainstream pers de oorzaken verzwijgen, en weigert ze de huidige gebeurtenissen in context van de historische continuïteit te plaatsen. Barry Lopez:

The Spanish sought a narrowly defined wealth. Las Casas writes, 'Now the ultimate end and scope that incited the Spaniards to endeavor the extirpation (uitroeiing. svh) and desolation of this people was gold only; that thereby growing opulent in a short time they might arrive at once at such degrees and dignities as were in no ways consistent with their persons.' 

We lost in this manner whole communities of people, plants, and animals, because a handful of men wanted gold and silver, title to land, the privileges of aristocracy, slaves, stables of little boys. We lost languages, epistemologies (kennistheorieën. svh), books, ceremonies, systems of logic and metaphysics — along, hideous carnage. 

De genocidale terreur tegen mens en natuur gaat onverminderd door, met vermeende rechtvaardigingen als het verspreiden van 'democratie' en 'mensenrechten,' terwijl het in werkelijkheid nog steeds om grondstoffen en markten handelt, met als gevolg Abu Ghraib en Guantanamo, en de chaos in Libië, Syrië, Afghanistan en Irak, overal waar het westerse geweld binnendringt. Zoals Lopez in 1990 terecht stelde:

It is perilous, of course, to suggest that we ourselves would have behaved differently. (My generation turns back but a few pages to scenes in the villages of Vietnam, where our goals were simply political),

waar tenminste 3,4 miljoen Zuidoost Aziaten gedood werden omdat de Amerikaanse economische macht geopolitieke belangen had. Maar nooit zal de Nederlandse 'politiek-literaire elite' de werkelijkheid kunnen accepteren. Ook al vernemen ze van de hoogste politici en militairen hoe wijd vertakt de corruptie is, nooit zullen ze de realiteit kunnen aanvaarden. Nooit zal tot hen door kunnen dringen wat Smedley Butler in 1933 als de hoogste commandant van de Amerikaanse mariniers verklaarde:

I spent 33 years and four months in active military service and during that period I spent most of my time as a high class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism. 

Nooit zullen mijn mainstream collega's beseffen hoe belangrijk de waarschuwing was van president Eisenhower in 1961 aangaande het 'militair-industrieel complex':

We moeten niet nalaten zijn ernstige gevolgen te doorgronden. Onze bodem, hulpbronnen en levensonderhoud zijn daar allemaal bij betrokken; evenals het hele bouwwerk van onze samenleving.

Nooit zal de mainstream-pers consequenties verbinden aan wat de Amerikaanse vijf sterren generaal Douglas MacArthur in 1952 verklaarde:

It is part of the general pattern of misguided policy that our country is now geared to an arms economy which was bred in an artificially induced psychosis of war hysteria and nurtured upon an incessant propaganda of fear. While such an economy may produce a sense of seeming prosperity for the moment, it rests on an illusionary foundation of complete unreliability and renders among our political leaders almost a greater fear of peace than is their fear of war.
En nooit zal de 'vrije pers' het feit kunnen inzien dat de corrupte macht van het westerse kapitalisme grenzeloos is, of zoals senator Truman in 1937 opmerkte:

the ordinary government mine-run (doorsnee. svh) bureaucratic lawyer is no more a match for the amiable gentlemen who represent the great railroads, insurance companies, and Wall Street bankers than the ordinary lamb is a match for the butcher.
En waarom kunnen mainstream journalisten en opiniemakers de waarschuwingen van betrokken deskundigen niet accepteren? Wel, omdat ze dan moeten toegeven dat de commerciële massamedia propaganda bedrijven,  en dat zij niet meer zijn dan ordinaire propagandisten. De Hoflanden, de Makken en al die andere propagandisten ontlenen hun status en inkomen aan een mythe, en dat willen ze zo houden. Dat is de voornaamste reden waarom de zelfbenoemde 'politiek-literaire elite' in de polder in haar eigen propaganda  is gaan geloven. De wrange ironie is nu dat juist de mainstream media het grootste struikelblok zijn in de voortgaande strijd voor niet alleen de persvrijheid, maar vooral ook de vrijheid van de westerling om te bepalen wat hij moreel aanvaardbaar acht. Naar aanleiding van het uitroeien van de 'Indianen' herinnert Barry Lopez de lezer eraan dat 

it is not good to forget, not to face squarely, what happened, the way the world forgot the extermination of Armenians in Turkey twenty-five years before Buchenwald. And if we say, yes, all right, this was us, and the pattern  continues, then how are we to understand it? How can we clarify for ourselves what went wrong? [...]

Vervolgens snijdt het mes van Lopez steeds dieper in de westerse ziel, en schrijft hij dat het

dilemma is suggested by Tzvetan Todorov, the French writer and critic, in The Conquest of America. He says that what we see in the under the Spanish is an imposition of will. It is an incursion with no proposals. The Spanish impose, they do not propose. I think it is possible to view the entire colonial enterprise, beginning in 1492, in these terms. Instead of an encounter with 'the other' in which we proposed certain ideas, proposals based on assumptions of equality, respectfully tendered, our encounters were distinguished by a stern, relentless imposition of ideas -- religious, economic, and social ideas we deemed superior if nog unimpeachable.

Weer wordt een nieuwe generatie bewerkt met leugenachtige mainstream dogma's. De continuïteit van de aloude hiërarchie.  

Vraag de domineeszoon Geert Mak wie de elite in Washington en op Wall Street het recht gaf om na '45 ‘decennialang als ordebewaker en politieagent' op te treden, en hij zal zwijgen als het graf. Hij heeft zich die vraag nooit gesteld, omdat Mak, die zich als christen definieert, nooit zijn superioriteitsgevoel ter discussie heeft gesteld. Dat kan hij niet. Voor hem is 'the other' per definitie een mindere, een onwetende die nog niet het niveau van de westerse beschaving heeft bereikt, en dus door de zelfbenoemde 'ordebewaker' desnoods met geweld in het gareel kan worden gehouden. Hij heeft nooit naar 'de ander' geluisterd. Alleen hij en zijn mede-christenen waren en zijn nog steeds aan het woord. Hij kent maar één taal en één stem. Voor hem en zijn mainstream is 'the other' onzichtbaar en geluidloos. En mocht hij ooit bij toeval in een onbewaakt moment het andere horen dan begrijpt hij het niet, omdat Geert Mak zijn taal niet spreekt. Bescheidenheid en schaamte, berouw en waardigheid zijn voor hem onbekende begrippen. Hij is niet op zoek naar de werkelijkheid, maar naar 'hoop,' omdat 'ik niet zonder hoop[kan], Stan, dat klinkt misschien wat pathetisch, maar het is toch zo,' zo schreef hij mij in januari 2012. Maar wat is 'hoop'Albert Camus stelde in zijn boek Summer in Algiers:
From Pandora's box, where all the ills of humanity swarmed, the Greeks drew out hope after all the others, as the most dreadful of all. I know no more stirring symbool; for, contrary to the general belief, hope equals resignation. And to live is not to resign oneself.

Inderdaad, Harry Truman had gelijk: 'We worship money instead of honor.' De rest is propaganda van de schaamtelozen, op zoek naar licht aan het einde van het riool, waar ze doorheen waden.

The Economic Plans of the Kiev Government Will Spell Ruin for a Great Many in Ukraine

Friday, 02 May 2014 11:34By Renfrey ClarkeTruthout | Op-Ed

2014 0502 clarke mainUkrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk. (Photo: Atlantic Council / Flickr)
The economic plans of Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk and his government in Ukraine will amount less to austerity than to economic evisceration.
The Economist published a chart in March that placed Ukraine's per capita GDP in 2013 (1992=100) at a level of about 45, compared with Russia at 130 and Belarus at 260. Something else has obviously been at work in Ukraine apart from the normal mayhem that accompanies a shift from bureaucratized command planning to oligarchic capitalism. In Ukraine, I argue, a major additional problem has to do with the effects of putting a national boundary through the middle of tightly integrated productive complexes.
Soviet industry, it's often forgotten, was structured on the basis that it was going to be centrally planned. Enterprises often had only one practicable supplier of particular inputs. The borders of the various Soviet republics weren't allowed to get in the way of rational planning decisions. Countless enterprises depended on materials or components from across republican boundaries. That wasn't a problem so long as it was all the USSR, with a single planning system. From 1991, though, the borders acquired meaning, and national trade policies added a big complication wherever production complexes sat astride the frontiers.
Ukraine was home to some of the most heavily industrialized regions of the USSR, so this problem loomed especially large. A major proportion of Ukrainian industry could only function through rejigging the old planning relationships into new forms of international trade with Russia and other post-Soviet partners. Sourcing inputs from the West tended not to be an option; numerous technical standards, for one thing, were different.
In its essentials, the above pattern persists to this day. Currently, about 40 percent of Ukraine's trade is conducted with other post-Soviet countries, which take more than 60 percent of Ukrainian exports. In these circumstances, any kind of ideologically-driven "turn to the West" by Ukraine has to be extraordinarily costly, leaving numerous enterprises economically stranded and forcing them to shut down.
The fact that Ukraine's new rulers are intent on just such a turn prompts a comparison with the economic policies followed in Belarus, Ukraine's northern neighbor. Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko is an unpleasant character in many ways, but he hasn't been seduced by the supposed magic of privatizing industry and realigning trade toward the European Union. Something like 80 percent of large-scale industry in Belarus remains in state hands. Ties with Russian suppliers and customers have been preserved and enhanced. The results, noted above, have been spectacularly better than in Ukraine.
Rather than drawing the obvious conclusions, key sections of the Ukrainian intelligentsia and political elite - besotted with capitalist ideology - have decided that the real problem is that realignment toward the West hasn't gone far enough. Economic aid from Russia, along with entry into the Russian-led Customs Union, has been rejected. The choice by Ukraine's new leaders has been to move toward a free-trade pact with the EU, and an agreement is due to be signed following the presidential election of May 25.
But if Ukraine is to have free trade with the EU, then various free trade arrangements that have existed with Russia and Belarus will have to be terminated. Otherwise, goods from these countries are certain to be rebranded in Ukraine and re-exported duty-free to the EU, which is something that EU officials have made clear they won't tolerate. For that matter, the Russians aren't about to allow duty-free entry of EU goods to their territory either.
So what will the effects be of the extensive reorientation of Ukraine's trade toward the EU, as is promised to begin later this year?
Agricultural exports will benefit from expanded markets, and this will have a certain impact in Ukraine's western provinces, where agriculture is relatively more important. But Ukraine is mainly an urban, industrial country, and the effects on industry will be cataclysmic. The prospects are especially grim for the eastern regions where the country's heavy industry is concentrated.
New tariff barriers are likely to break the vital production nexus with Russian industry more or less definitively, leaving numerous Ukrainian enterprises to be sold for scrap. Ukrainian manufactured goods, which until now have been competitive in other post-Soviet countries, will find few buyers in the EU. Forced to compete directly with more sophisticated, higher-quality EU offerings, they'll find few buyers in Ukraine either. More enterprises will be driven into bankruptcy as a result.
The notion that EU capital will flood into Ukraine, buying up distressed factories and modernizing them to produce for the European market, is fantastical. Western corporations that want cheap, skilled labor can find it elsewhere in Eastern Europe, in countries where the travails of the shift to capitalism have been overcome to a much greater degree and where key industrial regions aren't gripped by insurgency.
Then there's the question of natural gas supplies. Ukraine relies on Russia for about 50 percent of the gas it uses and it has run up a gas bill to its neighbor amounting to some $2.2 billion. When former President Yanukovich was forced by his domestic opponents last December to reject $15 billion in Russian aid in favor of a much less generous deal with the EU, he also passed up the offer of a 40 percent discount on the price of Russian gas.
Now the Russians are demanding that the gas bill be paid. Further deliveries are only to be made if money is received in advance, and Russian President Putin has warned that unless conditions for paying off the arrears are met, future deliveries will be reduced or halted. Without Russian gas, Ukrainian cities will freeze in the bitter winters, and many industrial plants will be unable to operate.
All in all, the "turn to the West" is shaping up as astoundingly wrong-headed. Together with the effects of austerity, which will sharply reduce effective demand from the population and cripple industry still further, this move by the new Ukrainian rulers promises to deindustrialize their country and turn it into an agricultural and raw materials appendage of the EU.
Facing the worst effects are the eastern provinces, particularly the Ukrainian section of the Donbass coal and steel region, which depends heavily on exports of steel to Russia. The people of Donetsk and Lugansk provinces aren't stupid, and have a good sense of what's in store for them. Rather than waiting for it to happen, they're rising in revolt first.
Unlike Kiev's Maidan demonstrators - middle-class eaters of Victoria Nuland's* cookies - the people on the barricades in Donetsk and Slavyansk are of a solidly proletarian cast. The struggle there has a very important class dimension, exemplified now in the decision by groups of coal miners to join in the fight. This class aspect of the conflict will, I think, come increasingly to the fore.
*Victoria Nuland is the assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian Affairs at the US Department of State. Last December, she demonstrably went to Maidan Square in Kiev to hand out cookies to protesters. Nuland became famous in early February when a recording of a conference call between her and the US ambassador to Ukraine was leaked and went viral. The call took place a few weeks before President Victor Yanukovych was overthrown. In the conversation, Nuland described the US choice of Arseniy Yatsenyuk to become the Ukraine prime minister. When she and the US ambassador came to discuss the hesitations of some European leaders in supporting the Maidan protest movement, Nuland famously said, "Fuck the EU."
Copyright, Truthout. May not be reprinted without permission.


Renfrey Clarke is an Australian journalist, translator and left activist. Throughout the 1990s he reported from Moscow for Green Left Weekly, of Sydney.

The Crime of Peaceful Protest

Occupy Wall Street activists Eric Linkser, center left, and Cecily McMillan, far right, take turns shouting information to fellow protesters preparing to return to Zuccotti Park on Nov. 15, 2011. (Photo: AP/Bebeto Matthews)NEW YORK—Cecily McMillan, wearing a red dress and high heels, her dark, shoulder-length hair stylishly curled, sat behind a table with her two lawyers Friday morning facing Judge Ronald A. Zweibel in Room 1116 at the Manhattan Criminal Court. The judge seems to have alternated between boredom and rage throughout the trial, now three weeks old. He has repeatedly thrown caustic barbs at her lawyers and arbitrarily shut down many of the avenues of defense. Friday was no exception.
The silver-haired Zweibel curtly dismissed a request by defense lawyers Martin Stolar and Rebecca Heinegg for a motion to dismiss the case. The lawyers had attempted to argue that testimony from the officer who arrested McMillan violated Fifth Amendment restrictions against the use of comments made by a defendant at the time of arrest. But the judge, who has issued an unusual gag order that bars McMillan’s lawyers from speaking to the press, was visibly impatient, snapping, “This debate is going to end.” He then went on to uphold his earlier decision to heavily censor videos taken during the arrest, a decision Stolar said “is cutting the heart out of my ability to refute” the prosecution’s charge that McMillan faked a medical seizure in an attempt to avoid being arrested. “I’m totally handicapped,” Stolar lamented to Zweibel.
The trial of McMillan, 25, is one of the last criminal cases originating from the Occupy protest movement. It is also one of the most emblematic. The state, after the coordinated nationwide eradication of Occupy encampments, has relentlessly used the courts to harass and neutralize Occupy activists, often handing out long probation terms that come with activists’ forced acceptance of felony charges. A felony charge makes it harder to find employment and bars those with such convictions from serving on juries or working for law enforcement. Most important, the long probation terms effectively prohibit further activism.
The Occupy Wall Street movement was not only about battling back against the rise of a corporate oligarchy that has sabotaged our democracy and made war on the poor and the working class. It was also about our right to peaceful protest. The police in cities across the country have been used to short-circuit this right. I watched New York City police during the Occupy protests yank people from sidewalks into the street, where they would be arrested. I saw police routinely shove protesters and beat them with batons. I saw activists slammed against police cars. I saw groups of protesters suddenly herded like sheep to be confined within police barricades. I saw, and was caught up in, mass arrests in which those around me were handcuffed and then thrown violently onto the sidewalk. The police often blasted pepper spray into faces from inches away, temporarily blinding the victims. This violence, carried out against nonviolent protesters, came amid draconian city ordinances that effectively outlawed protest and banned demonstrators from public spaces. It was buttressed by heavy police infiltration and surveillance of the movement. When the press or activists attempted to document the abuse by police they often were assaulted or otherwise blocked from taking photographs or videos. The message the state delivered is clear: Do not dissent. And the McMillan trial is part of the process.
McMillan, who spent part of her childhood living in a trailer park in rural Texas and who now is a graduate student at The New School for Social Research in New York, found herself with several hundred other activists at Zuccotti Park in Manhattan in March 2012 to mark the six-month anniversary of the start of Occupy Wall Street. The city, fearing the re-establishment of an encampment, deployed large numbers of police officers to clear the park just before midnight of that March 17. The police, heavily shielded, stormed into the gathering in fast-moving lines. Activists were shoved, hit, knocked to the ground. Some ran for safety. More than 100 people were arrested on the anniversary. After the violence, numerous activists would call the police aggression perhaps the worst experienced by the Occupy movement. In the mayhem McMillan—whose bruises were photographed and subsequently were displayed to Amy Goodman on the “Democracy Now!” radio, television and Internet program—was manhandled by a police officer later identified as Grantley Bovell. [Click here to see McMillan interviewed on “Democracy Now!” She appears in the last 10 minutes of the program.]
Bovell, who was in plainclothes and who, according to McMillan, did not identify himself as a policeman, allegedly came up from behind and grabbed McMillan’s breast—a perverse form of assault by New York City police that other female activists, too, suffered during Occupy protests. McMillan’s elbow made contact with his face, just below the eye, in what she says appeared to be a reaction to the grope; she says she has no memory of the incident. By the end of the confrontation she was lying on the ground bruised, beaten and convulsing. She was taken to a hospital emergency room, where police handcuffed her to a bed.
Had McMillan not been an Occupy activist, the trial that came out of this beating would have been about her receiving restitution from New York City for police abuse. Instead, she is charged with felony assault in the second degree and facing up to seven years in prison. She is expected to take the witness stand this week.
McMillan’s journey from a rural Texas backwater to a courtroom in New York is a journey of political awakening. Her parents, divorced when she was small, had little money. At times she lived with her mother, who had jobs at a Dillard’s department store, as an accountant for a pool hall and later, after earning a degree, as a registered nurse doing shifts of 60 to 70 hours in hospitals and nursing homes. There were also painful stretches of unemployment. Her mother, from Mexico, was circumspect about revealing her ethnicity in the deeply white conservative community, one in which blacks and other minorities were not welcome. She never taught her son and daughter Spanish. As a girl McMillan saw her mother struggle with severe depression and, in one terrifying instance, taken to a hospital after she passed out from an overdose of prescription pills. For periods, McMillan, her brother and her mother survived on welfare, and they moved often; she attended 13 schools, including five high schools. Her father worked at a Domino’s Pizza shop, striving in vain to become a manager.
Racism was endemic in the area. There was a sign in the nearby town of Vidor, not far from the Louisiana state line, that read: “If you are dark get out before dark.” It had replaced an earlier sign that said: “Don’t let the sun set on your ass nigger.”
The families around the McMillans struggled with all the problems that come with poverty—alcoholism, drug abuse, domestic and sexual violence and despair. Cecily’s brother is serving a seven-year sentence for drug possession in Texas.
“I grew up around the violence of poverty,” she told me as she lit another cigarette while I interviewed her Thursday night in an apartment in Harlem. She smoked nearly nonstop during our conversation. “It was normative.”
Her parents worked hard to fit into the culture of rural Texas. She said she competed as a child in a beauty pageant called Tiny Miss Valentines of Texas. She was on a cheerleading team. She ran track.
“My parents tried,” McMillan said. “They wanted to give us everything. They wanted us to have a lifestyle we could be proud of. My parents, because we were ... at times poor, were ashamed of who we were. I asked my mother to buy Tommy Hilfiger clothes at the Salvation Army and cut off the insignias and sew them onto my old clothes. I was afraid of being made fun of at school. My mother got up at 5 in the morning before work and made us pigs in a blanket, putting the little sausages into croissants. She wanted my brother and myself to be proud of her. She really did a lot with so very little.” 
McMillan spent most of her summers with her paternal grandparents in Atlanta. They opened her to another world. She attended a Spanish-language camp. She went to blues and jazz festivals. She attended a theater summer camp called Seven Stages that focused on cultural and political perspectives. When she was a teenager she wrote collective theater pieces, including one in which she wore the American flag as a burka and sang “The Star-Spangled Banner” as a character dressed as Darth Vader walked onto the stage. “My father was horrified,” she said. “He walked out of the theater.”
As a 13-year-old she was in a play called “I Hate Anne Frank.” “It was about American sensationalism,” she said. “It asked how the entire experience of the Holocaust could be turned for many people into a girl’s positive narrative, a disgusting false optimism. It was not well received.”
Art, and especially theater, awakened her to the realities endured by others, from Muslims in the Middle East to the black underclass in the United States. And, unlike in the Texas towns where she grew up, she made black friends in Atlanta. She began to wonder about the lives of the African-Americans who lived near her in rural Texas. What was it like for them? How did they endure racism? Did black women suffer the way her mother suffered? She began to openly question and challenge the conventions and assumptions of the white community around her. She read extensively, falling in love with the work of Albert Camus.
“I would miss bus stops because I would be reading ‘The Stranger’ or ‘The Plague,’ ” she said. “Existentialism to me was beautiful. It said the world is shit. It said this is the lot humanity is given. But human beings have to try their best. They swim and they swim and they swim against the waves until they can’t swim any longer. You can choose to view these waves as personal attacks against you and give up, or you can swim. And Camus said you should not sell out for a lifeboat. These forces are impersonal. They are structural. I learned from Camus how to live and how to die with dignity.”
She attended Lawrence University in Appleton, Wis., under a scholarship. After graduating, she worked as a student teacher in inner-city schools in Chicago. She joined the Young Democratic Socialists. She enrolled at The New School for Social Research in New York City in the fall of 2011 to write a master’s thesis on Jane Addams, Hull House and the settlement movement. The Occupy Wall Street demonstrations began in the city six days after she arrived at the school. She said that at first she was disappointed with the Occupy encampment in Zuccotti Park. She felt it lacked political maturity. She had participated in the political protests in Madison, Wis., in early 2011, and the solidarity of government workers, including police, that she saw there deeply influenced her feelings about activism. She came away strongly committed to nonviolence.
“Police officers sat down to occupy with us,” she said of the protests in Madison. “It was unprecedented. We were with teachers, the fire department, police and students. You walked around saying thank you to the police. You embraced police. [But then] I went to Occupy in New York and saw drum circles and people walking around naked. There was yoga. I thought, what is this? I thought for many protesters this was just some social experiment they would go back to their academic institutions and write about. Where I come from people are hungry. Women are getting raped. Fathers and stepfathers beat the shit out of children. People die. ... Some people would rather not live.”
“At first I looked at the occupiers and thought they were so bourgeois,” she went on. “I thought they were trying to dress down their class by wearing all black. I was disgusted. But in the end I was wrong. I wasn’t meeting them where they were. These were kids, some of whom had been to Harvard, Yale or Princeton, [who] were the jewels of their family’s legacy. They were doing something radical. They had never been given the opportunity to have their voices heard, to have their own agency. They weren’t clowns like I first thought. They were really brave. We learned to have conversations. And that was beautiful. And these people are my friends today.”
She joined Occupy Wall Street’s Demands Working Group, which attempted to draw up a list of core demands that the movement could endorse. She continued with her academic work at The New School for Social Research. She worked part time. She was visiting her grandmother, who was terminally ill in Atlanta, in November 2011 when the police cleared out the Zuccotti Park encampment. When she returned to the New School she took part in the occupation of school buildings, but some occupiers trashed the property, leading to a bitter disagreement between her and other activists. Radical elements in the movement who supported the property destruction held a “shadow trial” and condemned her as a “bureaucratic provocateur.”
“I started putting together an Affinity Group after the New School occupation,” she said. “I realized there was a serious problem between anarchists and socialists and democratic socialists. I wanted, like Bayard Rustin, to bring everyone together. I wanted to repair the fractured left. I wanted to build coalitions.”
McMillan knows that the judge in her trial—who in one comment on the lawyers’ judge-rating website The Robing Room is called “a prosecutor with a robe”—has stacked the deck against her.
The British newspaper The Guardian reported that Bovell, the policeman who McMillan says beat her, has been investigated at least twice by the internal affairs department of the New York City Police Department. In one of these cases, Bovell and his partner were sued for allegedly using an unmarked police car to strike a 17-year-old fleeing on a dirt bike. The teenager said his nose was broken, two teeth were knocked out and his forehead was lacerated. The case was settled out of court for a substantial amount of money. The officer was also captured on a video that appeared to show him kicking a suspect on the floor of a Bronx grocery.
In addition, Bovell was involved in a ticket-fixing scandal in his Bronx precinct.
Austin Guest, 33, a graduate of Harvard University who was arrested at Zuccotti Park on the night McMillan was assaulted, is suing Bovell for allegedly intentionally banging his head on the internal stairs of an MTA bus that took him and other activists in for processing.
The judge has ruled that Bovell’s involvement in the cases stemming from the chasing of the youth on the dirt bike and the Guest arrest cannot be presented as evidence in the McMillan case.
The corporate state, which has proved utterly incapable of addressing the grievances and injustices endured by the underclass, is extremely nervous about the mass movements that have swept the country in recent years. And if protests erupt again—as I think they will—the state hopes it will have neutralized much of the potential leadership. Being an activist in peaceful mass protest is the only real “crime” McMillan has committed. 
“Everyone should come and sit through this trial to see the facade that we call democracy,” she said. “The resources one needs to even remotely have a chance in this system are beyond most people. Thank God I went to college and graduate school. Thank God Marty and Rebecca are my lawyers. Thank God I am an organizer and have some agency. I wait in line every day to go to court. I read above my head the words that read something like ‘Justice Is the Foundation of Democracy.’ And I wonder if this is ‘Alice in Wonderland.’ People of color, people who are poor, the people where I come from, do not have a chance for justice. Those people have no choice but to plea out. They can never win in court. I can fight it. This makes me a very privileged person. It is disgusting to think that this is what our democracy has come to. I am heartbreakingly sad for our country.”


  S.L. Kanthan @Kanthan2030 Western politicians are absolute clowns, but they have no self-awareness. “Iran’s actions are reckless!” Surpr...