18 September 2001

Dear Friends, 

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 George Bush, 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 promises. War is at hand. President Bush, on September 15, called his project a "crusade." . 

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 now join with Henry Kissinger demanding fascism at home, genocide overseas; checkpoints on US highways, mass graves elsewhere: tactical nuclear war, somwhere. 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. Making the connections of things as they change; that is an educators task-as is the method of unraveling the processes of change. We need to not only watch the balls on the table, we need to try to understand how they move and why-and the makeup of the table itself. 

The war ahead is an oil war. The interest of the US in most matters of oil is: Instability. Pitting Iraq against Iran, using the iron fist of Israel to, from time to time, enforce US oil interests, manipulating instability is far more efficient and less costly than trying to establish a permanent troop presence in every oil region. Why did the US not kill Saddam Hussein when it could? Because Hussein still could be counted on to maintain imbalance in the region, so that the people of oil rich nations could not control the goods of their soil. This has been the case of the Middle East and the Caspian oil fields since WWI. Those who seek references might start with T.E. Lawrence and B. H. Liddle-Hart, his biographer. When you hear, "War for democracy"; think, "Oil." 

Every action will have a severe consequence for poor and working people. 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.

Why not have a trial for Bin Laden? After WWII the US named and tried Nazi and Japanese war criminals, whose crimes surely outstripped Bin Laden's group. But the language of war moved last week, from what was first a demand for justice, to an official demand for retribution. Why not try Bin Laden? Because Bin Laden could testify, point to his accusers, and say: "I am your creation. Here are the days and times I received training and money from your CIA. Here is the connection your CIA makes with the world's drug traffickers. Here is how we got our weapons, from your intelligence services. These are the people who trained us in terror-and now you call me a terrorist?" And he would be telling the truth. 

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 paid to the fascist leaders of Pakistan for permission to invade Afghanistan? What if their own people turn on them, and then in turn a fundamentalist sect seizes power, and the Bomb? 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."

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 they 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 working people will die-on both sides--people who do not believe that God is speaking to them, who hate their leaders, but who are trapped? 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 consequences. War without end, war of the rich on the poor. 

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, http://msnbc.com/news/629529.asp?cp1=1#BODY 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 Military Justice. 

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. Every narrow interest, every bit of selfishness that was preached as virtue until last week is baying: Flight instructors are complaining about layoffs and demanding subsidies. But the cab drivers who rely on airport traffic, largely unorganized, are going to pay a similar price, probably in silence. 

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. Capital has offered us the potential for international organization and technology to create an egalitarian and democratic world. 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. 

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