|17 September 2001
These are times that test the core of every critical educator. The relentless war of the rich on the poor and working people of the world, qualitatively rammed forward by the vile terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, DC., seems to be on overdrive. NPR reports 40 US hate crimes, mostly aimed at mosques and people who attackers conceived as being Arabic (Afghanistan is not in Arabia, it is in Asia).
War hysteria emanates from the White House where the petulant but none-too-bright
middle school boy who must repeatedly remind that he is In Charge is posting
dead-or-alive wanted posters worthy of a Texas prison executioner's fantasy.
He was joined by 420 others, the Congress, from both parties (other than
California's Barbara Lee) on a bipartisan outpouring of authoritarian death
As Fresno State historian Paul Gilmore has said, to paraphrase, the
state no longer wages war, the state is war. Larry Eagelberger,
Brent Scowcroft, all the second tier bureaucrats of times past and join
with Kissinger demanding fascism at home, genocide overseas. Checkpoints
on US highways, mass graves elsewhere. The Afghan people are ghettoized,
borders closed, trapped, like few people have been trapped for decades.
The terrorist attack was the cue ball slamming into the billiards rack
and now spinning crashing balls will not soon stop-as long as we agree
to play on today's tilted table. The connections of things as they change;
that is an educators task-as is the method of unraveling the processes
Every action will have a severe consequence. Let us say, just for supposition,
that the Taliban gives up Bin Laden or that they can only muster minimal
resistance to an invasion (a la Saddam). What if Bush grabs Usama? Then
what? The blood fever is afoot. Even if Bush wanted to just kill Usama,
that will not satisfy the Presidential base, the local US ululating religious
fanatics and talk show hosts who are going to demand another dead 4,999,
minimum. One problem of many of the Bush administration is that Congoleeza
Rice is the brains of the operation, and no one can be allowed to know
that. A stupid boy is running things.
Invade Afghanistan? What will be the impact on that country, and Pakistan,
and India, now poised at war on each others borders, each with The Bomb?
What must be given the fascist leaders of Pakistan to pay off the invasion
of Afghanistan? Or, to the north, what of the Uzbeks, what will come of
them if their former Soviet Republic allows a US invasion force, at the
edge of Russia. What of Afghanistan itself? The Afghan opposition which
the US leadership now touts, despite the recent assassination of its top
man, what distinguishes that leadership from the Taliban is that the Taliban
does not grow poppies and deal heroin. And what of the exiled Afghan intellectuals?
Those who are organized want to replace the Taliban with a monarch who,
they admit, "Could surely not offer democratic rule."
But it is increasingly clear that this campaign is not just aimed at
Usama, or at Afghanistan, but all of what the regime in DC calls the terrorist
states. It plans to wipe them out. Who would the be? The list is unclear.
Sudan. Iraq. Indonesia where the CIA says Usama now operates rings? Syria?
Not Iran, as they must be used to get Iraq. Not the Saudis as they sit
on the oil. Who will be next, and how many innocent people will die-on
both sides? Each home of terror rains terror on its own citizens, as we
are about to learn in the US. Neither Bin Laden nor Bush will send themselves
or their children. One ball crashes into the next, each with more horrible
Are we now to forget the Drug War, that war so nicely whipsawed by power:
Have the intelligence agencies finance covert wars against the poor elsewhere,
then arrest the nation's poor and jail them by the millions for losing
the Drug War? How many fingers does the Imperial Hand have to fill the
holes in the dike? Will FARC in Columbia agree to a time-out?
Let us notice the paradox of the 40 billion $ transfusion to the military.
This is the same military and intelligence system that trained the terrorist
pilots to fly, on their military bases, on US soil,
This is the same FBI and that fought the civil rights movement, that killed
the Black Panther Party members in their beds, that killed Lumumba , Guevera,
that rain Operation Phoenix in Vietnam (openly declared an assassination
project that killed at minimum 20,000 Vietnamese leaders ) and tried to
kill Castro, that is now saying they need a law passed to assassinate foreign
leaders. Are we not to see that a shift in this law, and the voluntary
eradication of the few remaining civil rights laws, is not aimed at terrorists
or foreign operatives, but at us?
What happens when the 40 billion to the military further devastates
the inner cities, where the elimination of the civilized safety nets of
welfare, civil rights laws, and unemployment compensation was done so gleefully
in the past surreal decade? Are there enough willing troops to come back
and fight the people of Detroit, again?
The history of the last 150 years in the US is that black people have
been the victims of the most ferocious attacks, and have consistently played
pivotal roles in discovering the ways out; hence the wisdom of the Slave
over the Master. Watch the ghettos and learn.
Let us not mourn but note the irony of the death of free market deregulation.
National capitalists in trouble, the bosses in panic, are lined up demanding
a spout at the federal trough: the airlines, failing New York businesses,
the steel industry. Just as the US was on the brink of deregulating its
libraries, the last bastion of socialism, the terrorist attack sets aside
the dogma of the free market and blasts home the fact that not only is
there no such thing as a market free of domination and exploitation, but
there is no such thing as a government today that is not fully in the hands
of the rich: their weapon. Every future maneuver must be understood, not
merely as one government or culture clashing against another, but one form
of exploitation, one life and death concern about profitability jarring
into the next, each with a mercenary gaze, each truly in service not to
nation or God or democracy, but in service to the most narrow selfishness--exhibited
in two ways today: the failure of the press' desires for a patriotic stock
purchase spree on September 17, and that fact that the lines at military
enlistment centers are very short, despite booming flag sales. War fever
and patriotism ends at the teller window, and on the line of the Code of
What of Europe, already in deep recession? Alan Greenspan has no tricks
for them. How long will the French cheer and the English send their sons,
and the Japanese donate their industries and the Chinese their workers--or
will each try to sidle a little close to those Middle East and Caspian
oil fields? What happens when the US can no longer purchase Germany's fine
machine tools, as is now the case, or afford to attend Belgian trade conventions?
The big fish of capital eat the small, and no one wants to be first. It
is a death match.
The logic of capital, to run amok, is such that each boss MUST fight
now, as if one boss does not fight he will be overrun by others. Such is
the nature of the system, whether the struggle is between Piggly Wiggly
and Seven Eleven, between Chrysler and Toyota, or between the US and the
world. Each form of capital accumulation, requires a national base, because
it must have an army. Capital may be globalized, but it has been globalized
for two hundred years and more; yet contrary to the postmodernist, whose
demise parallels the bogus free market, capital and its personifications
are not afloat and adrift but have a base and that is in a nation. To seek
surcease under the wing of a good boss, a kindly politician, that desperate
search for a more gentle tyranny that led people to choose between Democrats
and Republicans, look now and see them gang up on the world and recognize
that people who must work to live have only opposition in common with those
who live to own.
The dream quest now is not for peace and prosperity, not for democracy
and justice, but for control of the handle on capital's pump, for Oil..
Every top player has Oil written across his vita: Bush, Cheney, bin Laden,
Saddam, every oil well not just black gold but social control. Enlistments
might go up when US gas hits 5$ a gallon
Yes, capital feeds on crises. War is good business and the Detroit News
is trumpeting the war as a chance to rebuild the "arsenal of democracy."
What is bad for United Airlines is good for tank manufactures and metal-detector
investors. The United Auto Workers and the AFL0CIO and the American Federation
of Teachers are all on the war wagon, gung ho. War means jobs. And dead
sons, later on.
Capital may run from nation to nation, cozying with whoever exploits
most at the moment, and from boss to boss, but it has its horrible days
for everyone and we are entering some of them--as others have for decades.
At issue is not merely the usual crises of capitalism: War, overproduction, mass unemployment, racist genocides. More deeply at issue is that for the first time in history, there is enough to go around, to share, for everyone to live fairly well. The gap between the crises of capital, today, and what might be a better world, in accomplished in part by understanding what is, how it got that way, and how it changes--but also in part by recognizing that the crises of capital can only be overcome, superceded, by a mass change of mind, consciousness, that recognizes a better future, even though not one of us has ever lived it.
This profound change of mind and habit is the educators' task. How people
come to know something is as important as what they come to know, as the
utter failure of preaching to people imbued with hierarchical lives about
surplus value in the socialist countries should demonstrate.
Yes, racism is death, and nationalism as well. But telling people is
not enough. Finding the routes into their singular minds is key. The questions
that unlock answers are more enduring than the answers themselves: How
do things change? Who gains? What is the history of this? Whose gaze stands
behind this history and these graphics? Why?
No workers blood for oil Let us tip over the tilted billiards table.
It is time to talk about getting rid of capitalism It is the logic of capital
that must be broken with reason.