Tag: antiwar movement

Seeing: American Exceptionalism

[R]eality, or the world we all know, is only a description that has been pounded into you from the moment you were born.

The reality of our day-to-day life, then, consists of an endless flow of perceptual interpretations which we have learned to make in common.

I am teaching you how to see as opposed to merely looking, and stopping the world is the first step to seeing.

The sorcerer’s description of the world is perceivable. But our insistence on holding on to our standard version of reality renders us almost deaf and blind to it.

When you begin this teaching, there is another reality, that is to say, there is a sorcery description of the world, which you do not know. As a sorcerer and a teacher, I am teaching you that description. What I am doing with you consists, therefore, in setting up that unknown reality by unfolding its description, adding increasingly more complex parts as you go along.

In order to arrive at seeing one first has to stop the world. Stopping the world is indeed an appropriate rendition of certain states of awareness in which the reality of everyday life is altered because the flow of interpretation, which ordinarily runs uninterruptedly, has been stopped by a set of circumstances alien to that flow. In this case the set of circumstances alien to our normal flow of interpretations is the sorcery description of the world.

The precondition for stopping the world is that one has to be convinced; in other words, one has to learn the new description in a total sense, for the purpose of pitting it against the old one, and in that way break the dogmatic certainty, which we all share, that the validity of our perceptions, or our reality of the world, is not to be questioned.

After stopping the world the next step is seeing. By that I mean what could be categorized as responding to the perceptual solicitations of a world outside the description we have learned to call reality.

The Teachings of Don Juan

by Carlos Castaneda

Time to Jump Start the Anti War Movement


With the final betrayal of the progressive left still stinging like salt rubbed into a raw wound and the Pope of Hope’s filthy Judas administration in full damage control mode after Sunday’s slip by Health and Human Services Secretary Katherine Sebelius that the public option was about to have its life support unplugged. The public option (without it any ‘reform’ of health care is no more than garbage)was the feckless fallback position for the corporate puppet Obama rather than the right thing which would be national single payer insurance and in true form the white flag was already run up by the reigning lord of the jackass party. You would think with armed thugs now carring assault weapons prowling Obama town halls that he and his rotten liar cabal of Wall Street and insurance water carriers that he would be a bit less likely to alienate those who are the true base but once again it is made evident of how much we are all being played for fools and chumps and have been ever since the DLC decided to throw in with the Reagan Revolution.

Obama and the New Terrain of Battle, Part 2: The Roadblock

This is the part 2 of a longish piece I finished right before the the inauguration. You can catch Part 1 here or the whole thing over at Fire on the Mountain, where there are a couple interesting comments. Part 3, up here tomorrow, will address the economic meltdown.

A Roadblock for the Anti-War Movement

The exception to this generally very favorable climate for struggle is unfortunately a crucial one: the wars of aggression the US government is locked into in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The anti-war movement has been the single most powerful opposition force in this country during the last six and a half years. The fact that 70% plus of the American people want the war over with, and pronto, owes much to the tireless and thankless work of tens of thousands of anti-war activists. In fact, the coalescing of broad popular sentiment against the war was perhaps the single most important factor in the Democratic Party’s 2006 victories and 2008 landslide.

The problem facing the anti-war movement now is a grimly ironic one. Despite its enormous contributions to the changed political atmosphere in this country, the movement’s demands –Stop the War! Bring The Troops Home Now!–seem today most unlikely to be met by the Obama administration.

The brutal underlying contradiction remains what it has been since the invasion of Iraq–the US ruling class cannot afford to stay in Iraq and they cannot afford to leave. To stay is to extend an insanely costly occupation indefinitely, in the face of popular hatred, with chaos always around the corner and the sketchiest prospects for a stable hegemony. To leave is to give up the prospect of a US hand on the world’s second largest oil spigot and to accept a drastic defeat for US military power and geostrategy.

We are left with two unknowns about Obama’s intentions regarding these wars, and one known.

Unknown #1 is how far he will go toward pulling out of Iraq. Obama’s goal, in practice, appears to be to finesse the contradiction, by pulling out a majority of the US troops and reducing the combat role of the tens of thousands who will remain. This risks further undercutting US ability to dictate what happens in Iraq, while leaving US troops, bases and other assets more vulnerable to insurgent attack or the re-eruption of civil war between Iraqi forces.

Unknown #2 is how far he will go in honoring his pledge to win in Afghanistan. The pledge was made, and repeated incessantly, to make Obama look tough and highlight the Bush administration’s failure to hunt down al-Qaeda’s leadership. Still, Afghanistan doesn’t have the same strategic importance to the US as Iraq and there are excuses aplenty to step back–corruption in Kabul, NATO allies pulling out, the need to conserve funds and rebuild the military.

The thing which we do know is a simple fact of political life: whatever his intentions, inside of six months, these wars will be Obama’s wars, not Bush’s wars.

It is remotely possible that he will actively try to end them both, but there has been no sign of this since Election Day. Appointees of his in the State Department,the national security apparatus and the military are all publicly saying that a too-rapid withdrawal from Iraq is risky and impractical. Continuing the occupation of Iraq or even dragging out its end will continue the bleeding, actual and economic, there and here.

Moving to double down in Afghanistan threatens major catastrophe. There are reasons that Afghanistan is called the Graveyard of Empires–25 centuries worth of reasons.

All of this leaves the anti-war movement off balance, with hard choices before it.

Should the anti-war movement attack Obama now, or not? There are some in the liberal wing of the movement who, in a touching combination of wishful thinking and denial, want to give him a long honeymoon as a chance to follow through on his promises. Most activists are far more skeptical.

Very sensibly, though, most are also reluctant to launch an all-out assault on him and risk alienating the great swaths of his ardent supporters who so far still believe that he will bring the occupation of Iraq to a close, who will keep believing it so long as troop levels are falling, and who don’t know much about Afghanistan.

With Iraq less and less visible on the country’s radar–none of the Big Three teevee networks even has a Baghdad correspondent any more–some argue that we should seek to end the war indirectly by directing our main attack on the bloated military budget. I think this is a mistake and plays into the hands of those, including those in the new administration, who want Iraq off the radar. People need reminding that there are still 142,000 US troops in Iraq, not help forgetting it.

In my view, the best option is to keep on keepin’ on–continue to protest, step up outreach to our friends and neighbors and rattle the cages of elected officials, especially when appropriation-for-occupation time rolls around again. As Iraq becomes Obama’s war, Obama will increasingly be the one the people hold responsible for its continuation. Even if he should actually begin substantial troop reductions, as promised, that doesn’t oblige the movement to drop the demand that all the troops be brought home. Now.

Should we raise the profile of Afghanistan in anti-war work? The anti-war movement is playing catch-up, in a sense, after keeping its focus rather strictly on Iraq. But with the situation changing rapidly, the occupation’s outlook “grim” (according to the latest national Security estimate) and the promise of the US force there being doubled, to 60,000+ this year, we have no choice. And any step by Obama to escalate the US occupation of Afghanistan or to maintain the deadly status quo there should be opposed directly, with all the vigor possible, as education around that occupation is stepped up.