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The Disease of Permanent War

Posted on May 18, 2009
F-111
AP photo / Rich Pedroncelli

Cold War relic: An F-111 fighter jet on display at McClellan Air Force Base in Sacramento, Calif.

By Chris Hedges

The embrace by any society of permanent war is a parasite that devours the heart and soul of a nation. Permanent war extinguishes liberal, democratic movements. It turns culture into nationalist cant. It degrades and corrupts education and the media, and wrecks the economy. The liberal, democratic forces, tasked with maintaining an open society, become impotent. The collapse of liberalism, whether in imperial Russia, the Austro-Hungarian Empire or Weimar Germany, ushers in an age of moral nihilism. This moral nihilism comes is many colors and hues. It rants and thunders in a variety of slogans, languages and ideologies. It can manifest itself in fascist salutes, communist show trials or Christian crusades. It is, at its core, all the same. It is the crude, terrifying tirade of mediocrities who find their identities and power in the perpetuation of permanent war. 

It was a decline into permanent war, not Islam, which killed the liberal, democratic movements in the Arab world, ones that held great promise in the early part of the 20th century in countries such as Egypt, Syria, Lebanon and Iran. It is a state of permanent war that is finishing off the liberal traditions in Israel and the United States. The moral and intellectual trolls—the Dick Cheneys, the Avigdor Liebermans, the Mahmoud Ahmadinejads—personify the moral nihilism of perpetual war. They manipulate fear and paranoia. They abolish civil liberties in the name of national security. They crush legitimate dissent. They bilk state treasuries. They stoke racism. 

“War,” Randolph Bourne commented acidly, “is the health of the state.” 

In “Pentagon Capitalism” Seymour Melman described the defense industry as viral. Defense and military industries in permanent war, he wrote, trash economies. They are able to upend priorities. They redirect government expenditures toward their huge military projects and starve domestic investment in the name of national security. We produce sophisticated fighter jets, while Boeing is unable to finish its new commercial plane on schedule. Our automotive industry goes bankrupt. We sink money into research and development of weapons systems and neglect renewable energy technologies to fight global warming. Universities are flooded with defense-related cash and grants, and struggle to find money for environmental studies. This is the disease of permanent war. 

Massive military spending in this country, climbing to nearly $1 trillion a year and consuming half of all discretionary spending, has a profound social cost. Bridges and levees collapse. Schools decay. Domestic manufacturing declines. Trillions in debts threaten the viability of the currency and the economy. The poor, the mentally ill, the sick and the unemployed are abandoned. Human suffering, including our own, is the price for victory. 

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Citizens in a state of permanent war are bombarded with the insidious militarized language of power, fear and strength that mask an increasingly brittle reality. The corporations behind the doctrine of permanent war—who have corrupted Leon Trotsky’s doctrine of permanent revolution—must keep us afraid. Fear stops us from objecting to government spending on a bloated military. Fear means we will not ask unpleasant questions of those in power. Fear means that we will be willing to give up our rights and liberties for security. Fear keeps us penned in like domesticated animals.

Melman, who coined the term permanent war economy  to characterize the American economy, wrote that since the end of the Second World War, the federal government has spent more than half its tax dollars on past, current and future military operations. It is the largest single sustaining activity of the government. The military-industrial establishment is a very lucrative business. It is gilded corporate welfare. Defense systems are sold before they are produced. Military industries are permitted to charge the federal government for huge cost overruns. Massive profits are always guaranteed. 

Foreign aid is given to countries such as Egypt, which receives some $3 billion in assistance and is required to buy American weapons with $1.3 billion of the money. The taxpayers fund the research, development and building of weapons systems and then buy them on behalf of foreign governments. It is a bizarre circular system. It defies the concept of a free-market economy. These weapons systems are soon in need of being updated or replaced. They are hauled, years later, into junkyards where they are left to rust. It is, in economic terms, a dead end. It sustains nothing but the permanent war economy. 

Those who profit from permanent war are not restricted by the economic rules of producing goods, selling them for a profit, then using the profit for further investment and production. They operate, rather, outside of competitive markets. They erase the line between the state and the corporation. They leech away the ability of the nation to manufacture useful products and produce sustainable jobs. Melman used the example of the New York City Transit Authority and its allocation in 2003 of $3 billion to $4 billion for new subway cars. New York City asked for bids, and no American companies responded. Melman argued that the industrial base in America was no longer centered on items that maintain, improve, or are used to build the nation’s infrastructure. New York City eventually contracted with companies in Japan and Canada to build its subway cars. Melman estimated that such a contract could have generated, directly and indirectly, about 32,000 jobs in the United States. In another instance, of 100 products offered in the 2003 L.L. Bean catalogue, Melman found that 92 were imported and only eight were made in the United States.

The late Sen. J. William Fulbright described the reach of the military-industrial establishment in his 1970 book “The Pentagon Propaganda Machine.” Fulbright explained how the Pentagon influenced and shaped public opinion through multimillion-dollar public relations campaigns, Defense Department films, close ties with Hollywood producers, and use of the commercial media. The majority of the military analysts on television are former military officials, many employed as consultants to defense industries, a fact they rarely disclose to the public. Barry R. McCaffrey, a retired four-star Army general and military analyst for NBC News, was, The New York Times reported, at the same time an employee of Defense Solutions Inc., a consulting firm. He profited, the article noted, from the sale of the weapons systems and expansion of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan he championed over the airwaves.

Our permanent war economy has not been challenged by Obama and the Democratic Party. They support its destructive fury because it funds them. They validate its evil assumptions because to take them on is political suicide. They repeat the narrative of fear because it keeps us dormant. They do this because they have become weaker than the corporate forces that profit from permanent war. 

The hollowness of our liberal classes, such as the Democrats, empowers the moral nihilists. A state of permanent war means the inevitable death of liberalism. Dick Cheney may be palpably evil while Obama is merely weak, but to those who seek to keep us in a state of permanent war, it does not matter. They get what they want. Fyodor Dostoevsky wrote “Notes From the Underground” to illustrate what happens to cultures when a liberal class, like ours, becomes sterile, defeated dreamers. The main character in “Notes From the Underground” carries the bankrupt ideas of liberalism to their logical extreme. He becomes the enlightenment ideal. He eschews passion and moral purpose. He is rational. He prizes realism over sanity, even in the face of self-destruction. These acts of accommodation doom the Underground Man, as it doomed imperial Russia and as it will doom us. 

“I never even managed to become anything: neither wicked nor good, neither a scoundrel nor an honest man, neither a hero nor an insect,” the Underground Man wrote. “And now I am living out my life in my corner, taunting myself with the spiteful and utterly futile consolation that it is even impossible for an intelligent man seriously to become anything, and only fools become something.”

We have been drawn into the world of permanent war by these fools. We allow fools to destroy the continuity of life, to tear apart all systems—economic, social, environmental and political—that sustain us. Dostoevsky was not dismayed by evil. He was dismayed by a society that no longer had the moral fortitude to confront the fools. These fools are leading us over the precipice. What will rise up from the ruins will not be something new, but the face of the monster that has, until then, remained hidden behind the facade. 


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By KDelphi, July 8, 2009 at 12:12 pm Link to this comment

OJTS—Thanks for posting. It sounds heavenly to be around such people…US society has lost much of that on its road to “owning everything” it seems…

Sepharad—If “we’ arranged these societies (and, considering, it seems to stand to reason that the “original” societies were developed out of cooperation of majorities, perhaps overcome by force), then we must de-arrange them…does that make sense?

If , as you say, the “societies” are no longer (never were?) providing or acting in ways that the majority want—-why do they still exist? That is a question I have no answer to…

Peace and never give up, Hakim!
Sepharad, have you been to OurJourneytoSmile’s website? There are some beaautiful videos there and you can sign up for email! ; ) (some of it is also very sad)

http://ourjourneytosmile.com/blog/

A link for Intl Day of Peace:

http://www.internationaldayofpeace.org/

Here’s a petition to create a US Dept of Peace:

http://www.thepeacealliance.org/

I just thought you might enjoy some of these…hope they dont crash your pc (they do mine sometimes..lol)

There is alao a facebook account, but I cant log into it anymore..I’m going to keep trying…

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By Our Journey to Smile, July 8, 2009 at 1:10 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Dear Sepharad, KDelphi, Night Gaunt and Ardee,?

Yes, Sepharad, truth is elusive. Kindness is even more so. Whatever the language.?

I can understand the kind hearts behind all your views, so thank you all for giving us some ?hope. We are trying to keep on.?

It IS idealistic but, at least, it gives us in Afghanistan a vestige of ‘false hope’, that all these ?wars will just STOP someday. ?

I remember a quadriplegic friend telling me, lying on his bed with no control over his bodily ?functions below the neck,  “Don’t ever take away our hope, even if it were false hope, ?because there won’t be anything else left to live for.”?

KDelphi, I’ve found among the ordinary Afghans of the hills, people who offer that sort of ?friendship seen in the Kite Runner that says “For you, a thousand times over!”. ?

I believe that most humans wish for sensible, peaceful lives but the current systems aren’t ?friendly towards what the majority want. And we haven’t quite discovered the ‘key’. We can ?only do what we practically can.?

I’m sorry that my posts appear on the site with unwanted questions marks. Perhaps that’s what truth is about ? smile smile

Thanks again and much peace!?
Hakim

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By Night-Gaunt, July 7, 2009 at 3:18 pm Link to this comment

Actually not only did the Viet-Nam war kill 58,000 USA lives (plus the Aussies and S. Koreans) but all of their families damaged psychologically and almost never mentioned the 2.5 million in Viet-Nam, 1 million in Laos and another 1 million in Cambodia and all of their families grieving for their losses. [Addendum to Cambodia were another 2 million due to the USA bombing giving the Khmer Rogue the kind of power they wouldn’t have had otherwise to kill so many more and destroy the country, in an ironic twist it was a liberated Viet-Nam who saved Cambodia from even more deaths and total desolation.]

The Taliban were created by the Pakistani ISI to control Afghanistan. Now it comes back to bite them and maybe take over or at least put the country into a very dangerous and unstable condition.

Will Rumsfeldt get the same treatment when his time comes as that old Cold War Criminal MacNamera? I wait.

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By Sepharad, July 7, 2009 at 2:21 pm Link to this comment

KDelphi, we think about the same things at the same time. Just posted a comment to Hakim that discusses a lot of what you just said, with the qualifier that I HOPE the people of Afghanistan can come to terms But it’s hard to tell what is and is not true: we don’t speak Arabic, Pashtu, Urdu and have to rely on translators of what the people actually are saying.

I agree with you completely that we all, well most of us, want the same basic things (except not being religious I guess I don’t want exactly the same things—just the freedom for people to believe what they want to believe yet not be able to impose it on others)... peace, security, food, love of family and friends, work, fun, decent health care and education for everyone, a way to earn one’s living.

Sometimes I wonder, “How hard can it BE to see that everyone has all of these things?”  But obviously it is very hard much of the time, not just because of how societies are arranged and governed, protected and defendended: a lot, maybe most, depends on the ethical morality of those who do the arranging and governing and protecting and defending. The most basic systems—tribal, even capitalist, socialist/communitarian—would all work if equality was a given, resources were equitably distributed, and if power and money weren’t so seductive, as well as this need to regard the Other as less human or less important than oneself. Tribalism is often cited as bad but it doesn’t have to be. The Native Americans didn’t do so badly with it. Even capitalism and communism could both work.

I’m beginning to think that our problems are not so much the system of governing as much as individual ethics and morals or lack of same, as long as the system is basically democratic and has a way of ensuring minority rights. I’ve just begun to consider this “the individual, not the system” theory—though I guess it’s hardly developed enough to consider a “theory”. 

ardee is right—we are all responsible for our governments—so maybe it is not the individual current government but we as individuals who have let things reach such a point that there seems to be no controlling them.

(ardee—while I agree with you re responsibility for our governments, I don’t agree that Israel has been practicing genocide. If they were, they’d hardly be so outnumbered. I think planning toward separation could be defined as ethnic cleansing, but that works both ways and happens on both sides. A Palestinian in the West Bank was shot by another Palestinian for selling land to a Jew, and in East Jerusalem no Arab will sell a house to a Jew or even a Christian. I also think that IDF soldiers who are guilty of shooting, deliberately, unarmed civilians should be punished—but on the other hand it was IDF soldiers who outed some of the worst behavior by going to an academic who immediately held a forum.)

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By Sepharad, July 7, 2009 at 1:22 pm Link to this comment

Hakim, thank you for the link, and your honest opinions.  I’m sharing all of it, as well as your wish (“Stop, just stop!”), with my children, my son-in-law, grandchildren, and other family and friends both here and in Israel. I hope that, as one of your colleagues suggests, the loyal jirga and local fighting groups can work out a peaceful compromise with the Taliban. (The Afghani families who live in our area say they will not return until there is no more Taliban, but the fact that they are living here already makes their views unrepresentative of the views of people living amidst the fighting.)  The Pakistanis tried to live with the Taliban rather than fight them in the Swat valley, but that has fallen apart, partly because of Pakistani army activity but also because, or so the villagers say, they were surprised by and did not want the exremely harsh form of Islam the Taliban imposed, which seems quite remote from the Koran and Haditha I’ve read. (Of course my copies are English translations, and thus may not convey the same nuances as an Arabic, Urdu or Pashtu version.)

Also, though I have Moslem friends, I don’t live in an Islamic culture, and I’m not even an observant Jew so I don’t feel the same as religious people, which is a hinderance to understanding religious-based conflict. Though I follow Judaic cultural and community traditions, my ethical framework is non-religious humanistic Judaism. My ethical yardstick is based first and foremost on humanism, also affected by loyalty to my country, and secondarily, to the survival of my small ethnic group. (By “loyalty to”, I mean what is truly best for the U.S. and then for the survival of the Jewish people in the long term, which means that I frequently and intensely disagree with government policies of the U.S. and Israel, and actively oppose what I believe to be wrong.)

Though it’s hard to know the truth of such things, some say that early on, the Taliban had control of bin Laden and other Al Quaeda leaders, and tried to contact the U.S. government perhaps to negotiate handing them over, perhaps not. Whatever the case, our government never responded, which neglect probably is at the root of all the unnecessary wars and deaths since 9/11. If we had talked with the Taliban perhaps everything since would have not happened. Now, our government tells us it is essential to defeat the Taliban as they are protecting Al Quaeda. I think it’s important to stop Al Quaeda, for the West’s sake as well as for Moslems who do not follow their extremist ways, but also wonder if there is not still a way to do that without putting American soldiers on the ground in Afghanistan and elsewhere. Mistreating Moslems anywhere also fuels support for Al Quaeda. If the Islamic world had no legitimate grievances with the West, and if the Arab countries spread the wealth around to their jobless and sick and poor, Al Quaeda would lose a potent recruiting tool. (I don’t know how the Sunni and Shiia can resolve their differences, but if they could that would also make it harder to recuit willing martyrs.)

Yesterday one of America’s old warlords died peacefully at age 93—Robert McNamara, who created and defined the unnecessary war in Vietnam, destroying tens of thousands of lives, both Vietnamese and American. A couple years ago, this man made a documentary film “The Fog of War” and apologized for his very major part in it, asking forgiveness. Like many Americans, I was outraged: he’d caused so much bloodspilling and now suddenly wants to say “sorry”? Many of us do not forgive him, and I doubt that the Vietnamese do. My son-in-law’s reaction was that “A war is NEVER so foggy that you can’t distinguish right from wrong. What a piece of s—-.”

Our Journey to Smile is a bright ray of light against a very grey landscape. Please keep on keeping on.

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By KDelphi, July 7, 2009 at 12:45 pm Link to this comment

Sepharad—This thread is getting so long, I am writing as I think of it. Hope thats ok…

I think that one main prob (I skimmed all posts) is, the question OJTS asks—WHY arent the voices of the everyday people in the media?? And theyre not!

Many think that the purpose of our being in Af-Pak now, is just for “peace”—-but the important thing is the result, which is NOT “peace” at all!

Try cable news today. Michael Jackson, Sarah Palin, Gov Warner…the prob is that it focuses peoples attention of what is not really important, or, overdoes a certain topic unti I just cannot watch anymore! Af-Pak (as it is now called—not mentioning that the term itself just spread the “war” to another country!), Honduras, Iraq, Gaza, Obama in Russia today, the massive unemployment and homelessness in the US—-all shoved aside for matters that are either trivial or done to the point of disrespect.

Another prob, to my mind is the blind faith that “liberals” seem to place in Obama—he can do the exact same thing as Bush and no one dare criticize!

Hoping not to seem too idealistic, I have to agree with Hakim…Stop. Lets just stop.

If the people of Afghanistan want to try to come to agreement with the Taliban, they have the right to. Taliban is not Al Quaeda, and partnering with the people of the region is the only way to really know anything within the tribal systems, if you ask me…it is just impossible to believe that the people there dont want what you and I want—-peace, love , family, security, food, shelter, schooling, fun (Did anyone see ‘The Kite Runner” on HBO Sunday?? Hakim, did you see it? What do you think?)

Obama is in charge now. “Peace” groups like AFSC and Code Pink should not be letting him off the hook just because they think he is a “nice guy”. That is hardly the point and if he doesnt stop it, he is going to become Stealth Bush…smiling and more clever about it. but Bush type policies…

Peace to Hakim and I hope that both he and Sepharad’s son are ok tonight….it IS time for it to STOP and time for “Peace” Groups to step up to the plate and Hold Obama accountable…

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By ardee, July 7, 2009 at 3:23 am Link to this comment

Sepharad, July 7 at 2:40 am #

ardee, some Israelis are spreading settlements and others are opposing them and the IDF is tearing the littler ones down.
.......................

But it is the govt of Israel to whom I address my comments. I am very aware of the conflict and debate that rages within Israel over the policies of its govt towards the Palestinians. Just as we the people of these United States must accept responsibility for our nations actions, so must the Israelis accept responsibility for the 60 years of genocide.

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By Our Journey to Smile, July 7, 2009 at 1:04 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Dear Sepharad, KDelphi and Ardee,
?
On the ground? I’m in Bamiyan, a little removed from the current fighting, though in the ?same ‘sinking ship’.
?
I speak confidently for ordinary Afghans by voicing the ground sentiment :
?
?“Stop! Just stop!”
?
Does mainstream media EVER publish the wishes of Afghans about their own country?
?
?“Neither the US nor Jihadies and Taliban, Long Live the Struggle of Independent and ?Democratic Forces of Afghanistan!” RAWA ( Revolutionary Association of the Women of ?Afghanistan ) statement on the 7th anniversary of the US invasion of Afghanistan October 7, ??2008
?
?“People are growing tired of the fighting,” says Bakhtar Aminzai of the National Peace Jirga ?of Afghanistan, an association of students, professors, lawyers, clerics, and others. “We need ?to pressure the Afghan government and the international community to find a solution ?without using guns.” ?

?“We want reconciliation with the Taliban through a loya jirga,” or grand assembly of ?Afghans, says Fatana Gilani, head of the Afghanistan Women’s Council. “We don’t want ?interference from foreign countries or negotiations behind closed doors.We are against ?Western policy in Afghanistan. They should bury their guns in a grave and focus on ?diplomacy and economic development.” ?

?“Afghanicide – the killing of Afghanistan – must be stopped,” says Israir Ahmed Karimizai, a ?leader of Awakened Youth of Afghanistan.
?
Sepharad, the Afghan peace activist in Kandahar who was one of those who told me ‘we ?can’t make it’, had also said that ‘neither locals nor internationals care’. That is, both local and foreign factors are making things intolerable.
?
Please also take some time to see the short , about 1 minute videos entitled Afghan peace ?needs a human face I-V at http://ourjourneytosmile.com/blog to understand the wishes of ?ordinary Afghan children. In particularly, please show them to your grandchildren.
?
I agree with Ardee that committed action can changes things. But who will commit?
?
Peace groups and activists are subject to the same tendencies of division and self/special-?interest. I stumbled upon a short speech made in Aug 2008 by the President of International ?Peace Bureau, calling for all peace groups to work together for peace in Afghanistan. ?http://www.ipb.org/i/pdf-files/Tomas_Magnusson_Hannover_Speech.pdf

Peace groups may not be ‘united’ for peace, but speaking from on the ground in Afghanistan, ?most Afghans are ready to work this difficult peace out, if they would only be left to their own ?dignity, and not have to dodge death when the next ‘pitiable’ international trooper comes to ?kill strangers whose civilian appearances he can’t differentiate from the ‘insurgent’, whose ?tongue he can’t understand at all and whose heart is as prone to ‘empire designs’ and ‘love ?and hope’ as all of ours.
?
?“Stop! Just stop!”
?
Thanks and much peace!?
Hakim in Afghanistan?
Our Journey to Smile

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By Sepharad, July 6, 2009 at 11:40 pm Link to this comment

ardee, some Israelis are spreading settlements and others are opposing them and the IDF is tearing the littler ones down. Netanyahu has blinked once and his Israeli opponents can make him do it again. Not sure more land-for-peace offers will work, as the Israeli Arabs want to stay in Israel, but remember Netanyahu received fewer votes than Livni, who wants to freeze settlements, negotiate East Jerusalem and get on with moving toward a second state. And now N. may have to bring her into his government. There is no monolithic Israel Bad and no monolithic Israel Good. There is, however, one hell of a battle going on for the country’s soul. Let’s hope your selection of quotes are correct. They make sense to me.

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By ardee, July 6, 2009 at 6:37 pm Link to this comment

Sepharad, July 6 at 7:41 pm #

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, its the only thing that ever has.” Margaret Mead

” I do not believe in a fate that falls on men, however they act. But I do believe in a fate that falls on men unless they act.” GK Chesterton

Hang with me now…...

“The reasonable man adapts to his surroundings. The unreasonable man attempts to change his surroundings to suit himself; and all progress depends upon the the unreasonable man.” GB Shaw


Oh, as to Israel..they are apparently empire building, spreading settlements into territory not theirs.

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By Sepharad, July 6, 2009 at 4:41 pm Link to this comment

KDelphi—I was referring to your question as to why peace groups couldn’t get together and change everything. I don’t know why not either. Maybe there are just not enough of us. Maybe we are too naive. Maybe—mostly likely—there is simply too much inertia out there, we follow some line of activity and exhaust ourselves doing so then nothing comes of it anyway so we try some other more promising avenue ... and so forth. One thing I’ve noticed: in every group I’ve participated in from SDS to Peace Now, from Nader Press Project to Freedom of Informtion Center and other civil rights groups, there are rarely more than a handful of people in the SAME group who are united on goal and approach and so efforts are not as strong as they might be. If we can’t agree on objectives in one group, I suppose it explains why we are never sufficiently organized to change much of anything.

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By Sepharad, July 6, 2009 at 4:26 pm Link to this comment

ardee, Right, should have called the U.S. a new-style empire exploiting other countries’ resources. I do tend to think of an empire as a country that conquers another, and organizes it to pay taxes and produce what the empire back home needs—slaves, wine, rice, whatever.

Not sure what you mean by “colonies of consumers” unless you’re talking about convincing Americans that we need things we don’t need, which is phenomenon completely out of hand (though current economy may bring it to a screeching halt).

Don’t agree that Israel is an empire, as Arabs and Jews have always lived there under different rulers. Do agree that the Israel of ‘47 could qualify as an empire if it doesn’t return to the pre-‘67 boundaries or tried to expand to the Solomon-size ancient Israel. But this could be argued a lot of different ways. In some ways modern Israel is the result of a British colonial era as well as the breaking up of the Ottoman empire after WWI, as is modern Jordan, which used to be part of post-Roman Palestine. If the Arabs and Jews could have gotten along in what was left of Palestine post-Jordan’s creation it would have been easier.

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By KDelphi, July 6, 2009 at 3:33 pm Link to this comment

Sepharad—Sorry, but I’m not sure which post it is..was it about the Am Friends Service Commiittee or Code Pink?

Code Pink are more friends of my sisters. AFSC is supposed to be going to Afghanistan soon , but I see from the website that the post hasd disappeared (?) Code Pink tried to get into Afghanistan,(stopped by State Dept) but has more recently decided to “support ” “amenendments “
to Af-Pak war funding, by asking Obama and Congress to cut out IMF and World Bank regulation tied to foreign aid.

It didnt work…(surprise—I’m amazed they were so naive)I am going to call Am Friends here in Dayton tomorrow..I hope that they havent “settled”, to appease Obama and the Dems ,. as so many “peace” groups have recently…I had written to them about their trip and not recieved a reply…I went to a Quaker College so I know alot of Quaker profresors, etc.

Is that what you were talking about?

I am really surprised to see no mention of the trip at AFSC!!! Or am I being naive….

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By ardee, July 6, 2009 at 2:38 pm Link to this comment

“The U.S. is not a true empire in that we don’t form colonies and citizens in farflung countries to populate there the better to exploit (as did the Huns, the Mongols, the Persians, the Arabs, the British, the French, the Germans, the Russians, the long-ago Inca tribe in Peru, the Spaniards, the Dutch ...  but the U.S. has projected its power (if not its citizens) in most of the last past century and has exploited the natural resources of other countries—mostly for oil and minerals.”

No, Sepharad, the US is a new sort of Empire, using corporations to establish colonies of consumers or puppet governments to exploit the natural resources belonging to the people. Everything changes, including the definition of Empire.

Not to give you a jab, but, Israel is a nation that meets the old criteria of empire building in its usurpation of the territory of another people. I note this not to insult but to elucidate.

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By Sepharad, July 6, 2009 at 2:18 pm Link to this comment

Hakim, first, like KDelphi, I’d be interested in what is happening on the ground as you see it.

Re imperialism, it is the worst of all possible diseases. Every empire that has existed in this world has made degraded the lives and souls of its citizens as well as those citizens of countries in the empire’s path of conquest. Imperialism is the warlord system multiped many times over: a greater power forcing a way of life on all the people it controls.

The U.S. is not a true empire in that we don’t form colonies and citizens in farflung countries to populate there the better to exploit (as did the Huns, the Mongols, the Persians, the Arabs, the British, the French, the Germans, the Russians, the long-ago Inca tribe in Peru, the Spaniards, the Dutch ...  but the U.S. has projected its power (if not its citizens) in most of the last past century and has exploited the natural resources of other countries—mostly for oil and minerals.

I think education is very important, and if the schools aren’t going to do it you have to do it yourself with your own children. For example, I asked my children (and now my grandchildren) about what they are taught in school, and whenever possible integrate my own beliefs. If it’s some aspect of Roman history, I explain why the Pax Romana wasn’t really “peaceful” for the subjects of Rome. Also try to fill in the gaps re American history—why the Civil War was really fought, what happened to the American Indians, why Spain’s conquistadors, so few in number, were able to defeat huge civilizations such as the Aztec and the Incas. Stuff like that. I teach them about Israel, and their heritage, and the wars and conflicts and how complicated and difficult life is for Palestinians and Israelis. And throughout I try to emphasize the importance understanding that every individual life is precious. Of course nature is a great teacher, and sharing the natural world around them with children is a very good thing.

On one of your May 24 posts to KDelphi, you said you had two Afghan friends working for peace who told you “we cannot make it here.”  Did “here” refer to in Afghanistan, or the world in general? I’d be very interested in any expansion on their statement. Did they mean the Afghan social structure preclude the possibility? Or the Taliban presence or the American soldiers or both?

Be safe.

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By KDelphi, July 6, 2009 at 1:03 pm Link to this comment

Hakim—May I ask how things are “on the ground” there since the increase in troops?

I would like to hear it from a person who is actually experiencing it….

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By Our Journey to Smile, July 4, 2009 at 1:40 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Dear Sepharad,
?
Thanks for your reply.
?
Educating the public and the leaders on reconciliation, negotiation and compromise. I agree ?that our world desperately needs this.
?
But the ‘imperial’ instinct ( of whatever race ) is as strong as the survival instinct. The ??‘imperial instinct proudly says that ‘we are ALWAYS right’. This makes compromise and ?tolerance, and therefore peace, very difficult, maybe impossible.
?
HOW do we say this to children, including your grandchildren? HOW do we say it to ?children who witness other children being killed and to their mothers?
?
Thanks and peace!!?
Hakim
On behalf of Our Journey to Smile

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By Sepharad, July 2, 2009 at 10:36 pm Link to this comment

Hakim, re your June 17 query whether war or peace is stronger in individuals: Sorry response is so late, but spent a little more than a week with two granddaughters we see too little of, and was wrapped up in them.

From an evolutionary point of view, I think the most basic response is survival, and while peace is perhaps the best chance for survival in the long term, war is what most people would turn to when they or their resources are threatened. On an individual basis I think the responses would be more rational, more cautious. But when a state or a culture or a religion is expressed in its leaders, rationality (closely followed by peace, all too often) disappears and much breast-beeating and posturing and threatening ensues. While I was looking at my granddaughters (8 and 12), one strumming a guitar, the other doing handstands and asking questions, I had the strongest emotion of wanting to protect them, wishing for a world in which they could follow their curiousity (which is overwhelming; “why” frequently begins their sentences) and learn and meet people in other countries, not just here and Israel but everywhere.
For such a world, there has to be enough peace for people to educate and feed their children and introduce them to knowledge and tolerance as a way of life. But I don’t think that will happen anytime soon. Maybe the most realistic approach is to develop the arts of negotiation and compromise, so that everyone gets some if not all of what they want rather than fighting for more than they need.

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By ardee, June 28, 2009 at 5:50 am Link to this comment

Clash, June 27 at 4:33 pm

Nice sled, dude!

Thanks for the response. Went riding yesterday, thought to escape the heat by heading into the Sierras….couldn’t do it!

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By Our Journey to Smile, June 28, 2009 at 4:18 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Dear Clash and all,
?
I ride a Chinese-made ‘Tonda’ ( imitation Honda ) on these Afghan hills.  smile
?
Perhaps, no evolving system has been friendly enough to ‘human nature’ to ‘improve’ it, in ?the last 6000 years, or since the beginning of human civilization, so we have remained in this ??‘culture of dominance, destruction and abuse’.
?
Don’t individuals in the ‘dominant culture’ already have enough of an ‘education’ to ?understand beyond controlled information, if ‘education’ was the key? If ‘education’ were ?not the crux but rather the CHOOSING, what would help us CHOOSE better? ‘Level’ of ?education? System of voting? Or is it that we CAN’T choose because we’re ‘genetically ?programmed’ to choose money and power?
?
Do we just accept the train’s starting and ending?
?
Peace!?
Hakim
On behalf of Our Journey to Smile?

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By Clash, June 27, 2009 at 1:33 pm Link to this comment

ardee;

68, shovel-pan,gathered up the parts before 80 finished in 82. Of course many parts along the way to the present. Had a couple other newer machines but the old horse seems to be the one that stuck.

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By KDelphi, June 27, 2009 at 1:28 pm Link to this comment

sorry to get off topic too. I could never build my own bike…just wondering…

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By ardee, June 27, 2009 at 1:15 pm Link to this comment

Clash, June 27 at 1:37 pm #

Sorry for the off topic inquiry, but I wonder which 40 year old machine you ride? I rode a ‘47 Indian for many years, finally selling it when the kids insisted I was too damn old for such.

Just recently put together an ‘04 FLHRCI, screw the kids!

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By Clash, June 27, 2009 at 1:06 pm Link to this comment

KDelphi;

The old machine gets 42 miles per gallon at 80 mph, usually now I am not in that much of a hurry. Built her myself 25 years ago or so, no payments ya no.

Have belonged to the the tribe of the winged wheel over thirty years when it was a way of life not a life style. Its a simple life with its own rewards and a couple hundred will get a resourceful warrior along way.

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By KDelphi, June 27, 2009 at 12:48 pm Link to this comment

Clash, you make me miss the road.

How can you afford it? None of my business, just wondering…

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By Clash, June 27, 2009 at 10:37 am Link to this comment

Our Journey to Smile:


Well my response is probably a little late as I travel this time of year, and when traveling light no computer, no phone, no connection, just the wind saddlebags and bed roll, I rely on the graciousness of my brothers and sisters to be able to access technology more complicated than my 40 year old machine.

With that out of the way I will try to at least give you my premise as one of the answers to your questions.

The elected politicians as far as I have been able to discern are not elected by the people but are puppets for those who control the world economic system. A system that has secretly come to out right dominance of the world in the last 100 years. The participants have instigated and funded both sides in every war since the French revolution, controlled and dominated the worlds governments on their way to assert dominance and control over the worlds population.

It is simple to gain the participation of the poor, religious zealots, the young, weak minded and those given the choice of incarceration or participation, with promises of a better life, if one participates.

This culture, one of dominance, destruction, and abuse is there by continued as those who support it do so out of fear.

This is the primary culture that has been taught for 6000 years. The culture of make believe, it is taught in the majority of family’s and through out the social structure of of this society.

Until the majority in the dominant culture chooses to educate themselves beyond the controlled information provided by the elite the train with with no brakes will continue to hurtle towards oblivion.

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By KDelphi, June 22, 2009 at 9:38 am Link to this comment

Sepharad and JTOS—Thanks! It took a bunch of steroids again—sigh. I dont see how I can do that much longer.
There are other things to do , but they are very expensive, and, when youre on Medicaid, you cant even apply for free drugs, so, I cant wear out my hands again…

Wanted you to know that it was appreciated. And, yes, we have had thunderstorms everyday in Ohio for weeks! That was probably it…

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By KDelphi, June 19, 2009 at 9:07 am Link to this comment

I really cant type today. But want to thank all and know I am reading.

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By Sepharad, June 17, 2009 at 11:20 pm Link to this comment

KDelphi, you have my sympathy; mine’s been out of hand ever since we got back from the desert. RA is a real bitch, or in the words of long-time internist Joel, it is a lousy disease. Weather is unusually weird here, probably where you are too: barometric pressure fluctuations trigger flares. Try to sleep at least 9 hours. Whatever is good for your mind and spirit helps push out the disease, though nothing works sometimes. (When pain pills aren’t touching it, completely disrupting brain helps: e.g., watch several James Bond movies with the volume up until you don’t notice the pain then keep watching some more. Exactly the opposite of classical music, which is good for organizing brain but then you notice every little thing.) Will be visiting young granddaughters in Columbus, Ohio, where son teaches, for a week and he tells us it’s raining about every third day. You’re somewhere in that area, right? Just pray that it stops raining, or does it in big long stretches so the barometer doesn’t bounce around so much. I love green and wet places but the desert is the best RA solution, if you really are at your limit. Chicken soup is good. Also chocolate. And gingerale. (Or whatever your grandmother fed you when everything was wrong.) Our little town has an outdoor heated year-round public pool and I swim there four times a week. That is a huge help, and almost offsets damage done riding horses. But I know none of it works all or even most of the time and I really wish it would give you a break for awhile. I hate it. Don’t give it a second more than you have to; it’s a life-stealer. You have all my sympathy, I will put a note in the Wailing Wall through our local Hadassah(even though I’m not a believer, I figure what can it hurt?), but I wish I could do something tangible that would actually help. Wish we could put it in a hole and bury it.

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By Anarcissie, June 17, 2009 at 7:24 am Link to this comment

Peace, as it is usually conceived, is actually a concomitant of war, not an opposite.  People achieve peace by forming a state, which is a frozen war, in which power relationships become more or less fixed and overt combat is modified or eliminated at the price of a certain amount of oppression, of submission in a hierarchy.  If this were a permanent situation it would not seem very desirable, but in fact the state system breaks down and the state turns back into overt war at rather frequent intervals.  So it is not a very good system as it stands.  And, given constant advances in the technologies of destruction, it seems almost certain to be doomed, along with the people who inhabit it.

The state process shows, however, that humans can modify or eliminate genetically-driven behavior, implying that, if we became conscious enough, we could figure out something better than what we have now, and move towards it.

In fact, I think some people are now doing that, although so far they are a tiny minority hardly noticed by the mainstream, who continue to fight and, when they’re not fighting, try to fiddle the state system.

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By Our Journey to Smile, June 16, 2009 at 10:11 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Dear Anarcissie, Sepharad, KDelphi, Nigh Gaunt and Clash,

I had asked, “Why do the majority of human beings instinctively desire peace but allow a few ‘elected politicians’ to deny peace?”

Anarcissie and Sepharad, in the majority of evolutionary human beings, do you think that the instinct for combat or war is stronger than the instinct for peace?

If the tendency for war is a ‘stronger instinct’, and not a disease as Chris suggests in this article, and the genetics of the war instinct is as strong as the genetics of other medical conditions, we should be embarking on gene therapy ; all else would fail. And only if we believe that the instinct for peace is a ‘better’ instinct.

If, on the other hand, the instinct for peace in the majority of humans is stronger, can we explain why the majority are not stronger mathematically?

To put it at the individual family level, if the majority of those in our own families wished for peace, can we have peace?

KDelphi, thanks for always keeping hope!

I hope all these discussions can help humanity smile a little more….

Thanks and Peace!
Hakim in Afghanistan

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By KDelphi, June 16, 2009 at 12:46 pm Link to this comment

If actions could not be changed by genetic combination and evolution, then we would be exactly the same as we were (about) 7 million years ago.

There has to have been small incremental changes.

If there is no going against our genetics, then there is no point in discussing it at all, is there? (I’m not being facetious) If we are just a product of our genes…and wouldnt historically, genetically separated populations behave in very dramatically, fundamentally different ways? I am not sure that they do…like, wouldnt a population that evolved in an environment that was unable to support a large number of huumans, mate less and perhaps kill more?

Sepharad—RA is killing me, yes I want sympathy…

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By Clash, June 13, 2009 at 11:25 am Link to this comment

In this culture of make believe, most believe that to conform, follow and get by is all. No disruption to the status quo is to be allowed. So we bring to all who will not fall in line either economic war, or political war.

This culture has and will rule from the hierarchy were violence flows readily down the structure but is met in the extreme should those at the bottom choose to defend themselves from its abusive behavior.

The parable of Crazy Horse shows us if one must try and help the people by taking action, one will find not only that the dominant culture will be disposed to take war like action, and will in the end subvert the very same people being helped enough to allow them to to hold their own to the ground allowing this culture to brutalize or kill the very person’(s) working for change and peace.

This culture has provided, for 6,000 years the “one true way of living”, it is its truth and standard, it will not be changed by participation, and it will ultimately lead to our extinction.

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By Sepharad, June 13, 2009 at 12:00 am Link to this comment

KDelphi, Anarcissie has put her finger on several issues defining why human beings wage war. We are creatures of our genes and evolution, and to reverse behavior on a personal, communal, national let alone global scale—which we have to do at some point if our species is to survive—may demand more rationalism than we are just now capable of. The other problem, particularly in the West and most particularly in the U.S., is that the abundance of resources combined with industrial and technological advances has given us the leisure to be, if we want, more individualistic: it’s possible to survive without being part of the hive, so many of us do not concern ourselves, except at an abstract level, with whether the wealth is shared or not. Many of us no longer have coherent extended family units so we are freer to invent our own values and goals. In a way this is a good thing, bringing innovative thinking and less conforming, more independent citizens. But such people aren’t the glue that holds society together no matter how much the contribute to the society’s progress.

I need to think more about this.

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By Our Journey to Smile, June 12, 2009 at 11:53 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Dear Night Gaunt, KDeplhi and Anarcissie,
?
It’s encouraging to see that our final ‘output’ is to do what each of us can.
?
And I think Mankind hasn’t been creative enough in the area of ‘changing’ or ‘redirecting’ ?human behavior, whether innate or acquired.
?
I agree with Anarcissie that such ‘transformation’ or ‘evolution’ for a kinder, more humane ?quality takes a ‘profound reversal’. Every small change is necessarily profound; otherwise ?change becomes another abused misnomer.
?
Thank you for each trying hard in your own capacities. We’ll have to encourage each other as ?it will have to happen radically with each of us individually, and then perhaps a few others ?we get to meet.
?
Like asking the politician friend, “Why?” and not settling for set, century-old answers.
?
Like refusing (this is a hard one) to have our taxes spent on hurting other human beings we ?don’t even know.
?
Like acting on that small voice of conscience, in Afghanistan and America and elsewhere, ?even when the world shouts otherwise.
?
Like, as KDelphi says, redeeming Mankind’s ‘smartness’ for plowshares.
?
Like, as Night Gaunt says, re-defining the ‘profitability’ of war.
?
Like, as Anarcissie says, ‘working on it’ because ‘where there’s life there’s hope, even if it’s ?a long shot’.
?
Bearing in mind that for some in the ‘Afghanistans’ of our world, hope is rare, and life and ?shots can be unfairly very short. ?

Can’t ‘peace’ groups pool together? We may make a ‘bigger minority or majority’ then. ?:)

Thanks and peace!?
Hakim in Afghanistan

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By Anarcissie, June 12, 2009 at 8:13 pm Link to this comment

KDelphi—I don’t think we’re going to make much progress unless we recognize the seriousness of the problem.  In these discussions, people denounce war endlessly, preaching to the choir, and blame the leaders and the system.  But who are those who create and support the system?  Who follow the leaders?

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By KDelphi, June 12, 2009 at 1:24 pm Link to this comment

I just do not believe that it is the many who want war. I think that a few profit from it, and, young people are hormonal and easily convinced, especially when a society is breaking down. (less easily “convinced” when the rich have to go, which has not happened in our society for a long time—if we had a draft, there would be alot more people protesting) I am not certain that most US citizens are against the “war” in Afghanistan (as were “against Iraq”—supposedly)—but, I think they follow the “lead” of the people that they put in power. Until it hits them they just dont care. It is worth mentioning , that the “commanders” no longer “lead troops into battle”—they stay home and invest in KBR and DynaCorp..and ‘thank them for their service”

The chimps example you give, Anarcissie, you give alot. I am aware of the studies and , was shocked at how often killing happens. But I dont think that it really comprable, and there are alot of reasons why. They do not kill off entire troops of each other, using the “lower classes” of chimp society, while the “leader’ sits home and profits. I have to assume that the tiny part of our genes that are different from chimps is the part that makes us “smarter”. It is up to us whether we use that to make tools of war or plowshares, in my opinion. (I keep qualifying it, because I dont have any scientific proof—it is just my view of human behavior)We are genetically related to every species on earth, but not every species on earth has ‘wars”—in fact, none “have wars” like ours…it takes man to make a species extinct, as far as I know.

It starts to seem like an excuse to some people, to just throw up their hands and say, well, its genetic—what can we do..

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By Anarcissie, June 12, 2009 at 9:36 am Link to this comment

Our Journey to Smile:
’... Shepharad, Night Gaunt, Anarcissie, Ardee, KDElphi…….Why is it that peace groups are ?not as ‘strong’ as politicians? Why do the majority of human beings instinctively desire peace ?but allow a few ‘elected politicians’ to deny peace? ...’

I think human beings are actually rather combative, and historically they have definitely admired war and warriors, and in a very deep way.  When they do not literally fight, they often metaphorize what they are doing as combat or war.

I used to think this might be the result of some sort of chance misdevelopment or disease, but I have now read of tribes of chimpanzees who conduct wars, so I guess it’s the genetic heritage of a difficult evolution.

Up until a few centuries ago, wars were largely carried out without completely destroying the environment in which they took place.  In fact, a few decades after the most horrific battles and sackings, it was hard to find evidence that anything had happened except in memory and legend.  With the advent of the industrial revolution, that is no longer true.  We can now actually destroy ourselves and the world.  As someone said, “Once, man could not do as he desired.  Now he can do as he desires; and he must change his desires, or perish.”

But if our desires emanate from our genetic heritage, we can’t really change them.  We might be able to redirect them.  But doing this is a kind of profound reversal of people’s usual ways of proceeding.  For one thing, it’s rational, and reason is usually employed only after every other means has failed.  And it’s tragic—we can never again, as a whole society, experience the joys of the berserker, yet many people are incorrigibly optimistic, hence the political popularity of wars.  And we have shaped our individual and community lives around the fact of war.  In spite of all this, where there’s life there’s hope, even if it’s a long shot.  I’m working on it.

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By Night-Gaunt, June 12, 2009 at 9:01 am Link to this comment

The “Fog of War,” not just the physical manifestations of the smoke from the explosions but the haze of propaganda used to keep the truth from being known by the most people most of the time.

It has shown itself to be so successful it has been expanded to every facet of our society and those who wish to manage our information for us.  Once you are able to get past it and take on the facts as they are, not as we would like them to be. Most do not like war but they need to be convinced that the reasons given are bogus and counter productive for all. Until then the wars will go on and many will join the military to get their 3 squares a day and free training and to kill ____ for God and country too!

When war stops being profitable, it will stop.

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By Our Journey to Smile, June 12, 2009 at 12:54 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Dear Sepharad, KDelphi, Night Gaunt and other Truth Diggers… ,

Thank you Sepharad and KDelphi for your hearts!!

It’s not about ‘killing’ me, Hakim, accidentally in the fog. It’s about killing anyone.

Night Gaunt, the ‘frustrating dilemma’ is that the oligarchs are humanly just as desiring of peace as we are, so that there may not be the ‘insiders’ or ‘outsiders’.

BBC’s headlines today read US to ‘protect Afghan civilians’. ???????

Thanks and Peace,
Hakim in Afghanistan

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By KDelphi, June 12, 2009 at 12:13 am Link to this comment

Sepharad—I worry about the same things, having worked with vets…I just didnt want to say anything to hurt your feelings. I know that it must be very difficult…the fog of war…I wish it would end…

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By Sepharad, June 11, 2009 at 11:51 pm Link to this comment

KDelphi, re your June 5, 5:50—No anger, not from me. It is a horrifying thought. But I doubt my son-in-law will come over a hill and kill Hakim, as the main part of his mission is to identify and protect non-combatants. But the thing that troubles me is that if you are in a country not your own, even if you know the language and the customs, and there is fighting, and you are a soldier and armed, it is all too easy to kill people who are not fighting. Protecting populations may be the objective, but war is so chaotic and foggy, and how can people not make mistakes?

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By KDelphi, June 9, 2009 at 1:58 pm Link to this comment

Night Guant—True. They pay no blood and recieve treasure.

I have no idea how these war profiteers sleep at night.

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By Night-Gaunt, June 8, 2009 at 10:55 am Link to this comment

The reason is they are on the outside looking in. Most of the oligarchs find it is better, for them, to have war than peace. Unlike the rest of us.

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By Our Journey to Smile, June 7, 2009 at 10:16 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Dear Sepharad ( and Night Gaunt, Anarcissie, Ardee, KDElphi..),?

Thank you!?

Nightmares….sigh! You would have read “Night” by Elie Wiesel. I agree that your grand-?daughter’s nightmares need her dad’s presence for comfort.?

Thanks for sharing your grandma’s thoughts. Mothers and grandmothers have a ‘special’ ?wisdom and your grandma’s focus on love may be one of the keys to overcoming our world’s ?current violence.?

Shepharad, Night Gaunt, Anarcissie, Ardee, KDElphi…….Why is it that peace groups are ?not as ‘strong’ as politicians? Why do the majority of human beings instinctively desire peace ?but allow a few ‘elected politicians’ to deny peace? If it’s MONEY that’s the MAIN basis of ?permanent war, we may have to accept that none of us can do anything about this and that no ?amount of ‘truth-digging’ here would be of any practical use.?

Yes, I was encouraged by Obama’s ‘generally peaceful’ speech as well and had to respond by ?writing to my Egyptian Arab Muslim friend at http://ourjourneytosmile.com/blog/2009/06/a-?personal-letter-from-a-peacemaker-in-afghanistan-to-shereef-my-egyptian-arab-muslim-?friend

It’s resilient and wonderful when ‘craters’ are transformed into something ‘peaceful’ ; we ?need to also encourage each other to prevent more‘craters’ from irretrievably taking away ?
the lives and hopes of fellow ‘strugglers’.?

Thank you again and please stay in touch personally if possible ?contact@ourjourneytosmile.com

Spring warmth in Afghanistan,?
Hakim

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By ardee, June 7, 2009 at 4:31 pm Link to this comment

Wars boil down to economic competitions, and far to often I think, or in some cases, distractions that force people to look outward rather than at their own condition.

Other wise, what Night Gaunt noted sound about right….

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By Anarcissie, June 7, 2009 at 2:41 pm Link to this comment

Leefeller:
‘Eternal war seems to be propagated from the top. ...’

True, and yet every large system and institution is replicated and supported by ordinary daily life.

As ever, people are told to look up to great heroes to solve the problems and lift the misery, but it is the looking-up itself which is an inherent part of the problem.

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By KDelphi, June 7, 2009 at 12:23 pm Link to this comment

Night-Guant -Did you sees Bill Moyers (Yes, on TV!—but , anyone can see it at pbs.org), Jeremy Scahill??

We could “pull all of the troops out of Iraq” and still have a 200,000 person mercenary military! Pres. Obama is actually increasing mercenary activity and contracts.

Clever…but not wise..

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By Our Journey to Smile, June 7, 2009 at 1:43 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Dear Sepharad,

Thank you!

Nightmares….sigh! You would have read “Night” by Elie Wiesel. I agree that your grand-daughter’s nightmares need her dad’s presence for comfort.

Thanks for sharing your grandma’s thoughts. Mothers and grandmothers have a ‘special’ wisdom and your grandma’s focus on love may be one of the keys to overcoming our world’s current violence.

Why is it that peace groups are not as strong as politicians? I’ve always wondered why the majority of human beings instinctively desire peace but would allow a few ‘elected politicians’ to deny peace? Is humanity still missing something vital?

Yes, I was encouraged by Obama’s speech as well and had to respond by writing to my Egyptian Arab Muslim friend at http://ourjourneytosmile.com/blog/2009/06/a-personal-letter-from-a-peacemaker-in-afghanistan-to-shereef-my-egyptian-arab-muslim-friend

It’s resilient and wonderful when ‘craters’ are transformed into something ‘peaceful’ ; we need to also encourage each other to prevent more‘craters’ from irretrievably taking away
the lives and hopes of fellow ‘strugglers’.

Thank you again and please stay in touch personally is possible .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Spring warmth in Afghanistan,
Hakim

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By Night-Gaunt, June 5, 2009 at 3:54 pm Link to this comment

Those that wish to rule us need wars and enemies. If they don’t exist than they will create them. Money, power, global reach…many perks for those who wish to dominate. However if you can also gain allies it takes some of the pressure off you and foists it on them. It also frees up your forces for other tasks.

It is even better if the populace is behind you. Fill you command ranks with the proper race and economic positions while the lower ranks have veterans and then the dross for the lowest and some of the most dangerous foot soldier work. Even better if it is doubled with corporate mercenaries and even foreign troops to do even more work for you.

It means that other than the elites and their security, the rank-and-file live spartan lives unless in a corporate job. Ironically they will need to create a kind of tame Middle Class to better control the society.

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By KDelphi, June 5, 2009 at 2:50 pm Link to this comment

I hope I dont anger anyone by posting this, but, is it not terrifying that Sepharad’s son-in-law could come over a hill and unintentionally kill Hakim??

That is just unbelievable to me….

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By Leefeller, June 5, 2009 at 6:57 am Link to this comment

Eternal war seems to be propagated from the top. Most Veterans of war I believe would not prefer war to peace.  Maybe if more Verterns of war were in high places in government, we would have less war?  It would be interesting to find out how many of our so called representatives have been in the horrors of war and how they vote. 

Iraq was and is a war without a cause.  Spreading democracy is a most decadent reason, especially since we do not really have one ourselves. From what I have been told the neoconservative wanted the Iraq war with a passion for the oil? Did we go into Iraq for the money, to fill the confers of the Military complex?  Culling our young for the old in charge need to bleed the wound which may envelop them?  We may never know a real reason for attacking Iraq, as Vietnam the phoony fear story is all that is left in the vast pile of death.

Is it possible, without fear and hate sponsored to distract from peace and love, special interests are just using differences to manipulate the people in separate groups for it is known the divided fall? 

Seems the MSM feeds the fanatics emotions with issues which really have little effect in the daily lives of people.  So we see passionate hate fostered over abortion, gays and illegals.  While our country is in an economic cesspool, we are in several wars, our politicians continue to have questionably close relations with lobbiests.

So real issues which may affect the people are not really addressed in front of the contrived issues.  So war goes on, medical care for all is absent and life of the common person goes in a direction, which means not up.  Yes one should fret and focus about gay rights, illegals and abortion with all the mustered hate they deserve?

A simplistic look at how it seems.

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By Sepharad, June 5, 2009 at 12:16 am Link to this comment

Hakim, thank you so much for your response. (Oh—the “killers and fools” my son-in-law was referring to were Americans. He thinks that if armies only consist of people who like to fight and kill, there will never be a chance to listen and understand, and more deaths than necessary.) In one argument, told him that while he was in Iraq, my granddaughter had nightmares every single night, and that by BEING in Iraq with his men there were Iraqi children also having nightmares.

There are sometimes “just” wars, but we are not involved in any at the time and have not been since World War II—which itself was a result of the Versailles Treaty following World War I, in which Britain and France treated the German people so harshly that the people were ready for anyone who offered them back their dignity, and unfortunately the person who came along and inspired them was Adolph Hitler. My grandmother (who lost nearly all her family in Hitler’s death camps) believed that there were no truly evil people in the world, just people who had not received enough love when they were young, even including Hitler.

You’re right, that people are more alike than we realize but only if we know them. Also, though it’s “countries” and “cultures” that go to war, but what is killed are individuals. Individual people do not go as individuals into other people’s countries and start shooting at them. They go and talk to people, ask questions, talk, have tea, and this is how empathy begins. (KDelphi, you know, is the kindest and gentlest of people, yet very firm and committed to peace. Peace groups, though, are not as strong as politicians and government policy. I am a Jewish American though I have family and friends in Israel as well. They belong to Peace Now and the political party it founded called Meretz. But as in the U.S. and probably in Afghanistan too, Meretz is not even close to being as powerful as the centrist and rightwing parties. But Meretz perhaps missed a big chance when, after Tzipi Livni (a centrist who was dedicated to removing the settlements from the West Bank and to sharing Jerusalem) won the election.  Meretz refused to join because there were other centrist parties. The consequence is that now Meretz only has two seats in the Knesset, practically no representation, and Benjamin Netanyahu, very rightwing and no intention of following Livni-like policies, won! And is shaping the country’s actions for the worse. So there is perhaps such as thing as being too unwilling to compromise, too pure. In the American election, there were other candidates I preferred to Obama but I voted for him in the general election because, although I thought he was too tied to the banking industry and elite colleges from which most of our politicians come, I knew that if his opponent McCain won we would descend into endless war. So I voted for Obama. A lot of Americans did, even though some of us did not think him to be liberal enough, and for the first time—his speech in Cairo—I’m truly glad I DID vote for him. Peace lovers can encourage one another and sometimes affect policy, but we are just not strong enough to control our governments. I dislike the way Obama handled our financial crisis with all the bailouts to rich people, but was impressed by his words in Cairo and now, we’ll see. A good image: one day a huge IED went off just missing my son-in-law’s and his men’s tent. It frightened the Iraqis nearby for days. Finally, my son-in-law had water piped in to fill the huge crater left by the IED, and put a rough sign next to it: “Lake Salaam-aleikum.”

I look forward to hearing from you again.  Shalom.

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By Our Journey to Smile, June 4, 2009 at 12:34 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Dear Sepharad,
?
Thank you! ?

More than the need for ‘rare thoughtful exchanges’ is the need for practical, thoughtful ?actions of empathy, which Obama will have to bear in mind in his hand to the “Muslim” ?world.
?
I doubt anyone has ‘perfect understanding’ but even if a person does, empathy is more than ??‘perfect understanding’ and is hard to build ‘distantly’. ?
KDelphi wrote, “I think that any social contact between people of both countries can only ?help for others to see that these people are like our people. I dont think that everyone sees ?that, and, it makes it easier to kill them.” ?

Sepharad, knowing the handful of Afghan people helps you because it IS now harder for you ?to ever kill this handful. I suggest to you that most Afghans are like them and also like all ?other human beings who desire for peace.  Is it strange for a human to desire peace, whether ?Afghan or American?
?
Yes, Afghans have a culture of war. But America and other parts of the world has a culture of ?war too ( as suggested by Chris Hedges in this article! ). It has made Mankind much, much ?less creative in solving disputes, because ‘killing’ is an ‘easier’ and also an ‘acceptable’ ?option ( Geneva conventions and all). We aren’t using either our hearts or our minds ?creatively enough when ( I wish only to encourage kindness in this) we get rid of ‘killers and ?fools’ by ‘killing’. I share your ‘anger’; your son-in-law has his own ‘anger’ too. May we ?find a more humane love through all this mess.
?
I live in the Afghan mountains, so I pray your son-in-law will not come this way, for there are ?many friends who physically look like insurgents and he would never be able to tell…….
?
Warmly from Afghanistan,?
Hakim

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By Sepharad, June 3, 2009 at 1:28 am Link to this comment

KDelphi and Anarcissie, A little late getting to it but I just read and appreciate very much your exchange and the response from Hakim. I also think that person to person is important but Anarcissie’s caveat is right: people who understand one another perfectly can fight endless wars. (In his little book “Please Help Us Divorce”, Amos Oz gently dissuades his European audience for proposing any more sitdowns over coffee with his Palestinian counterparts seeking more mutual understanding. He points out that we understand each other perfectly, but the problem is the painful-to-each-side separation, and that process is where Israelis and Palestinians need outside help.)

One thing I wonder about is Hakim’s yearning for peace. The handful of Afghan people I know are living here because they are sick of war, but doubt there will be any end for Afghanistan because the culture is built for and around war. Maybe not the kind of war they are fighting with the U.S. and the Taliban, but the traditional kind of back and forth war between warlords and tribes, almost a national sport rather than massively damaging as modern war is proving to be. My knowledge of Afghanistan is not terribly deep, other than their horse traditions, the Brits and the Russian’s experience. I know they have always been divided among themselves yet each little segment hangs together (and fights and works together).

But I do believe that in most cases, people talking to people, in person or in cyberspace, is essential because this is what evolves into empathy. And empathy is what the world—especially our country—- lacks yet needs more than anything else.

My son-in-law is training mountain divisions to go to Afghanistan (he’ll go with them), introducing them to Afghan people and the language and culture as well as counterinsurgent warfare. He’s very gentle, a warrior with a soul, does not believe in collateral noncombatant damage, ever, no matter what the situation. After Iraq I hoped he’d get out—they have a 6-month-old girl, a 2-year-old boy, and an 11-year-old girl, who takes his absences particularly hard. But he feels that if we leave the war “to the killers and the fools” it will be worse all around for everyone involved. (He’s part Algerian, and has a sense of commitment to these damned conflicts. He’s a scientist by profession and I’m angry with him for putting himself at risk and his family through more uncertainty and fear. Also angry because I HATE war even though I understand it seems to be part of the human genetic inclination. I can understand fighting for survival, but that’s not what these hungover wars are about. I often find myself singing to myself Dylan’s “Masters of War”.)

Thoughtful exchanges such as yours are rare on the dig, and I really appreciate them.

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By Night-Gaunt, May 28, 2009 at 12:50 pm Link to this comment

I wish I could agree with Gore Vidal that it is an “empire that will fall” here. No, I see the tottering remains of our Republic doing that header into the dust bin of history. From its ruins using shock doctrine a new shiny empire will rise on that hill of skulls, lubricated with the blood of patriots and revolutionaries. [You pick who is whom. It will be decided by who wins and who loses.] One that will be unrestrained by anything internal like the ACLU and the Bill of Rights. That and many other remnants will be swept up and burned on the holy pire of righteousness and purity of a new monoculture. Enjoy!

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By KDelphi, May 28, 2009 at 12:34 pm Link to this comment

Anarcissie—Yes, but there is already war.

I wish to hell the US would stop trying to build Empire, too. But, until that time, I dont see how a little humanity hurts, or does not help.

I dont know what good it will do, but, I know what good doing nothing will do. (I did not say that everyone here was “doing nothing”—I honestly dont know)

But, it got some attention to the site and thats good enough for me!

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By Anarcissie, May 28, 2009 at 11:46 am Link to this comment

KDelphi—It seems to me the Afghan people would be far happier if the people or at least the ruling class of the United States had never heard of them.  Looking at history, I see that there was a great deal of socialization and commerce between Germany and France for centuries, and yet between 1870 and 1945 they fought three very brutal wars costing millions of lives.  One doesn’t need separate ethnicities, in fact; think of the various civil wars, in the U.S., England, France, Spain, Ireland, China, Russia, and so on, which were between people who knew each other all too well.  Our problem does not seem to be ignorance of the other.  In any case, the perpetrators of the worst violence often claim to be doing their dear victims a favor. (As now in Afghanistan, in fact, but the practice goes back to antiquity.  As the “barbarian” famously said to the Roman general, “You Romans make a desert and you call it peace.”) 

However, I am not trying to discourage anyone from going to Afghanistan, or anyone from there coming here, in the interest (and practice!) of peace, if that’s what they want to do.  It’s not what would occur to me, but I don’t know what the solution is either.

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By KDelphi, May 28, 2009 at 10:20 am Link to this comment

Anarcissie—Think of it this way—what is 200,000 USAns started communicating with 200,000 Afghanis—dont you think that would make a difference, when they were watching another drone heading over the mountais, if it was someone you had corresponded with, exchanged greetings, and seen pictures of?

Further, with our limited access to honest information in the media, I would like to (not enjoy) see the effects on the ground, which the videos , at OJTS and dandelion salad, give me a “flavor” of…sorry if you disagree.

I ,myself, found it mystifying that the topic seems to become another one entirely, when the topic is difficult to think about. I am not questioning your motives—I am in no position to do so. Because, this site, especially (and I include myself) has a tendency to get off topic and, since the topic was the war, and, a victim of war was HERE, I thought is was appropriate to point it out.

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By Night-Gaunt, May 28, 2009 at 9:19 am Link to this comment

“Night-Gaunt—there is nothing Libertarian about giving financial institutions and the rich people who own and operate them trillions of dollars, or spending further trillions and thousands of lives to try to run the world.  In the matter of opposing war and imperialism, Libertarians are mostly your allies, so I don’t know why you are so attracted to denouncing them.”Anarcissie

It may not be all Libertarians but it certain encompasses many of them. But then I also go by my own experience and observations on this. The very essence of it promotes on a local level that which we see on a national & internationl level. If you can do it then good for you and if you can’t then tough luck. If you can’t take charge of your own life then those who will can. Whether here with getting a job, or being paid enough to live or obtaining medical treatment that doesn’t bankrupt you. If you can afford it in the first place. Same Libertarian ethos as I see it. A total meritocracy of survival of the most ruthless. The pseudo-science of “Social darwinism” is something that came about by those uber-Capitalists who subscribed to the Libertarian aggressive exploitation of everything. Unbound and unregulated. If you are altruistic at all it is considered a weakness by those Libertarians who don’t. “If they can’t do it then that is their problem? Why promote their weakness and sloth?”

True, the gov’t aid and bailouts of the corporate world failures isn’t Libertarian, that is fascist. Especially when they don’t have to do anything to get it. [I would tolerate it if the corporations were broken up and given to the workers to run.]

I have heard plenty of Libertarians advocate overseas military and financial expeditions because of the entrepreneurial spirit and defense of the country and its economic holdings in those other countries. “If the locals don’t want to or can’t exploit their own resources then we can and will.”

Anarssissie, if we saw the misery and destruction wrought by our country on others from Columbia to Pakistan. I mean all the bloody torn dissected by bombs locals we kill like on Al-Jazeera, it would change things. But we get a mostly antiseptic cleaned up version with our people mostly shown in a positive light. Remember since 1990, the USA ,with some help from others, have killed around 5 million people in Iraq alone, not counting all the other countries and all the other things done to the locals from child rape to toxic dumping from our 913 bases around the globe.

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By KDelphi, May 28, 2009 at 8:28 am Link to this comment

Anarcissie—Well, here is what the poster , apparently, had in mind—human contact. I’ll print the email I recieved to both of us today (they must hasve read thepost) and you can decide whatever you like.

I am weary of people intellectualizing the war and, I think that if we had more human to human contact, it could make a difference. That is my opinion, Anarcissie. If I am wasting my time, it is still nice to hear from people suffering the consequences of Empire, for ME.

I recieved this today…(email)

Dear KDelphi and Anarcissie,
Thanks for this opportunity to get down to the basic human level.

I must thank you and Anaricissie and all others who are trying their best to address what Anaricissie calls ‘the main problem which is in the US’.

But ANY power, American or otherwise, super or not J, has a tendency to be oppressive, so to struggle against that involves empathizing and walking with the oppressed. What is ‘under siege’ is not a soul-less entity of an artificial state with meaningless borders called Afghanistan, but ordinary Afghan human beings who so happen to be born in it.

So, thanks KDelphi for suggesting that practical social contact and humane relations with ordinary Afghans is helpful. I appreciate Anaricissie’s focus, but ‘Google hits’ cannot substitute the human touch that’s universally lacking.

If the media would show the majority of 30 million Afghans saying, “Enough is enough. We’re tired of war and want peace.”, with the support of internationals, strange things may happen.

The disease of permanent war, which Chris Hedges suggests is afflicting the US admin, not only alters the carriers of the disease, but has permanently fatal consequences on Afghans, Iraqis etc etc. We fight AIDs because it leads to the deaths of people we love ; so we need to know the people who are dying from the disease of permanent war.

Martin Luther King tried to bring the Vietnam human face when he said : This is the message of the great Buddhist leaders of Vietnam. Recently one of them wrote these words, and I quote: Each day the war goes on the hatred increases in the hearts of the Vietnamese and in the hearts of those of humanitarian instinct. The Americans are forcing even their friends into becoming their enemies. It is curious that the Americans, who calculate so carefully on the possibilities of military victory, do not realize that in the process they are incurring deep psychological and political defeat. The image of America will never again be the image of revolution, freedom, and democracy, but the image of violence and militarism.

Aren’t Afghans human beings with human hearts?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EqWi26t5mB4

On behalf of my Afghan friends, I thank all of you! Peace.

Hakim

On behalf of Our Journey to Smile
(end of email)

So, my point was, maybe inarticulately, that I think it helps if we view people that our govt is attacking as human beings and I think that this could help some people to do so. Some of the videos I watched , at the site, made me want to do more, so I am going to try to go to a protest in June in DC. I am not certain why you seem angry….maybe you could explain.

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By Anarcissie, May 28, 2009 at 5:22 am Link to this comment

NIght-Gaunt—there is nothing libertarian about giving financial institutions and the rich people who own and operate them trillions of dollars, or spending further trillions and thousands of lives to try to run the world.  In the matter of opposing war and imperialism, libertarians are mostly your allies, so I don’t know why you are so attracted to denouncing them.

KDelphi—I’m still mystified.  Social contact is nice, but it doesn’t prevent wars.  I assume the people of Afghanistan, in common with the people of the dozens of other countries the U.S. has attacked, don’t like being shot up and having bombs dropped on them, so hearing this wouldn’t be news.  Wasn’t news.  I think that is probably how other people who participate here feel: they don’t know what else to say about it.  Since you thought this was unsatisfactory, I was wondering what you had in mind.

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By Our Journey to Smile, May 28, 2009 at 12:04 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Dear KDelphi and Anarcissie,
?
Thanks for this opportunity to get down to the basic human level.
?
I must thank you and Anaricissie and all others who are trying their best to address what ?Anaricissie calls ‘the main problem which is in the US’.
?
But ANY power, American or otherwise, super or not smile, has a tendency to be oppressive, so ?to struggle against that involves empathizing and walking with the oppressed. What is ‘under ?siege’ is not a soul-less entity of an artificial state with meaningless borders called ?Afghanistan, but ordinary Afghan human beings who so happen to be born in it.?
So, thanks KDelphi for suggesting that practical social contact and humane relations with ?ordinary Afghans is helpful. I appreciate Anaricissie’s focus, but ‘Google hits’ cannot ?substitute the human touch that’s universally lacking.
?
If the media would show the majority of 30 million Afghans saying, “Enough is enough. ?We’re tired of war and want peace.”, with the support of internationals, strange things may ?happen.
?
The disease of permanent war, which Chris Hedges suggests is afflicting the US admin, not ?only alters the carriers of the disease, but has permanently fatal consequences on Afghans, ?Iraqis etc etc. We fight AIDs because it leads to the deaths of people we love ; so we need to ?know the people who are dying from the disease of permanent war.
?
Martin Luther King tried to bring the Vietnam human face when he said : This is the message of ?the great Buddhist leaders of Vietnam. Recently one of them wrote these words, and I quote: Each day the war ?goes on the hatred increases in the hearts of the Vietnamese and in the hearts of those of humanitarian instinct. ?The Americans are forcing even their friends into becoming their enemies. It is curious that the Americans, who ?calculate so carefully on the possibilities of military victory, do not realize that in the process they are incurring ?deep psychological and political defeat. The image of America will never again be the image of revolution, ?freedom, and democracy, but the image of violence and militarism.
?
Aren’t Afghans human beings with human hearts??
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EqWi26t5mB4
?
On behalf of my Afghan friends, I thank all of you! Peace.?
Hakim
On behalf of Our Journey to Smile
http://ourjourneytosmile.com/blog

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By KDelphi, May 27, 2009 at 10:22 pm Link to this comment

Night Guant—I certainly agree with that!

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By Night-Gaunt, May 27, 2009 at 10:15 pm Link to this comment

Until people figure out that permanent war is the life blood of an empire and a death knell for a republic it will go on no matter who is president. Mostly interchangeable but following the same way of thinking. All that is missing is to make the rest of the gov’t part of the same mind set. The courts will become more for show than for truth.

Notice that the pace of wealth going to the national security state and military is actually increasing while money in other areas like health care and education are staying the same or going down. Cost is going up and it comes our of our pockets directly or you don’t have access to it.

The brave new Libertarian world of sink or swim, on your own. The myth of the rugged individual levitating by your own bootstraps still promulgated & believed.

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By KDelphi, May 27, 2009 at 9:10 pm Link to this comment

Anaricissie—I had never heard of it before.

I just thought that people were getting off on topics while someone was posting from Afghanistan. If you are interested in what the uS is doing in Afghanistan, I assumed that, at least part of it, was because you were concerned for the people of Afghanistan and would be interested in talking to a person from there. Maybe you know people there—I do not.

That is all that I meant by it.

I think that any social contact between people of both countries can only help for others to see that these people are like our people. I dont think that everyone sees that, and, it makes it easier to kill them.

I wasnt referring to anyone specifically, and I just thought people would want to answer him.

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By Anarcissie, May 27, 2009 at 6:45 pm Link to this comment

KDelphi:
’... You know, theyve (the kids from the site, I think!) been posting here for days, and, everyone so concerned about the disease of permanent war doesnt even seem to notice…’

I’m somewhat mystified.  I get the impression they want someone to come to Afghanistan, but as I see it the main problem right now is in the United States.  And most of the people who participate in these discussions probably think they’re doing what they can with that problem although it may not be much.  As for spreading the word, “our journey to smile” gets several thousand hits on Google, and most of them seem to be in the Afghan category rather than Ken Shane’s story about the Brian Wilson epic.  So, what are we not doing that we should be doing?

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By KDelphi, May 27, 2009 at 11:33 am Link to this comment

Our Journey to Smile—your videos and site were on another progressive site today.

You said in your email , which I finally got, that many were ready to give up? Please! do not!

I will try to spread the word.

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By KDelphi, May 27, 2009 at 11:22 am Link to this comment

Hakim—Peace and greetings to you, Abdulai, Raziq, Sulaiman, and Parwin. I would like to give you my email and name here, but, I cant do that. So I wrote to yours—I hope you got it. I also signed up for updates from your site…I will send again—-I have a very old pc…

I wish I could come to Afghanistan in September—-I dont have money. I am also not certain that I would be the best “representative”. But, I will try to spread the word and keep checking the website for updates.

If the PEOPLE of the US and of Afghanistan, could TALK , on a one-to-one basis, instead of elite government officiald to government official, the endless war could probably be stopped…

Please be well.

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By Our Journey to Smile, May 27, 2009 at 12:20 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Dear KDelphi,

Thanks so much! ?

The 4 kids in the video “Afghan children smile for peace, humanity…” are Abdulai, ?Raziq, Sulaiman and Parwin. I live in their village, so I’ll send them your encouragement ?this evening. ?

The disease of permanent war….it’s been 100 years plus for Afghanistan now. First the British, then the Russians,the Taliban, among Afghans themselves, and now, US with NATO etc…....

Thanks and Peace!!!
Hakim
http://ourjourneytosmile.com/blog

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By KDelphi, May 26, 2009 at 3:33 pm Link to this comment

How about back on topic, with a heartbreaking video called “Afghans Smile for Love, Peace, Humanity”?

You know, theyve (the kids from the site, I think!) been posting here for days, and, everyone so concerned about the disease of permanent war doesnt even seem to notice…

http://ourjourneytosmile.com/blog/

I do it all the time, but, sometimes, I think people would rather not think about the topic posted, so…we go off on our own issues and dont even notice those in our midst who are supposed to be the topic…its not fake! I’m not trying to be self-righteous here. They just want a volunteer, and, maybe someone here would have the money to go…

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By KDelphi, May 26, 2009 at 3:18 pm Link to this comment

It is a public website, so I am sure I can pass it on.
Our Journey to Smile has been posting here, so I emailed thenm and looked up the website for y’all…

This Our Journey to Smile is an Afghani students organzation, peeps. Check it out! Beautiful poems, sad pics…they also want volunteers….

http://ourjourneytosmile.com/blog/

We are a group of Afghan youth and college students who, together with international volunteers, wish to recover humanity’s smile.

Our Journey to Smile is a non-violent, peace-building effort and event approved by the UN International Peace Day under the Culture of Peace Initiative.
http://internationaldayofpeace.org/participate/events_calendar.html


Our commitment to peace is also registered by Peace One Day http://www.peaceoneday.org/commitment.aspx (commitment number 21323).

 

 

Our Journey to Smile is impartial, independent, NOT political or religious and is NOT a charity.

 

Our Journey to Smile in 2009 wishes to gather Afghan college students and Afghan youth from every ethnicity,

as well as international volunteers from every country, to come together at the World Heritage Bamiyan Buddhas in Afghanistan on International Peace Day, 21st September 2009, to be an example and encouragement to the world that wide-scale humane relations based on a humane love is possible, however in-humane our current global situation may be.

 

 

We are looking for international volunteers, one from every country if possible, to join Afghans at the Bamiyan Buddhas on 21st September 2009, knowing that the cumulative hope and conscience of humanity,  once communally expressed on a wide enough scale,would demonstrate a love that inspires Mankind to grow and to be compassionately humane

You should really check it out, after someone took the trouble to come here and post.

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By KDelphi, May 26, 2009 at 2:57 pm Link to this comment

Our Journey to Smile—can I post a link to your website? Sounds like a great organization! Never give up…

Beautiful poems, too…SAD PICS…

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By Night-Gaunt, May 26, 2009 at 9:17 am Link to this comment

A sad state of affairs indeed. The way schools are run these days I have posited that it is preparing the people to live in police state conditions and not be bothered by it. They do now in schools. A fine preparation for martial law and its concomitants like perpetual war and torture.

I don’t think this is what Jefferson was talking about concerning an informed electorate and universal education. I considered school to be mind numbing in most respects. I don’t do well in such structured environments anyway. But then I have been out of the school system since the 1980’s.

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By Anarcissie, May 26, 2009 at 6:40 am Link to this comment

The term education is used in different ways, but usually it means a state-chartered, state-governed set of institutions and programs, rather than any old learning.  That is the way we use it when we say “Iowa spent 126 million dollars on education in 2008.”  In the standard model of education, wise administrators employ skilled technicians to inject knowledge into mostly passive objects called students.  The system is authoritarian and hierarchical.  Whenever its accomplishments are actually tested objectively, such as seeing whether grade-school children have learned to read, there is a great deal of dissatisfaction; but most of the measurements of the education system are self-referential, and the spending of money, time and energy, especially money, is substituted for measures of actual competences acquired.  Such a system is probably not very efficient at imparting knowledge and training to its clients, but because power is present and dominates the proceedings, it does seem to succeed pretty well in indoctrinating its charges in beliefs which justify and support it, and by extension the larger political system in which it is embedded.

Education and self-education are almost diametrically opposed concepts.

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By Our Journey to Smile, May 26, 2009 at 12:41 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Dear KDelphi,?
Thanks for being someone peace can count on…...
?
I hope we can keep in touch at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

????? ?????!??  Be at peace!?
Hakim/Young

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By Night-Gaunt, May 25, 2009 at 10:39 pm Link to this comment

All of you speak too generically of “education” as being automatically “brain washing.” Wide reading and critical an analytical skills can usually right that problem. [I had to learn that on my own.]It is a narrow well of information and little or no ability to analyze and deconstruct and dissect to find if it is truthful or even complete keeps most in the uninformed and misinformed way. It takes some time and effort but it gets easier over time. We can only do as well with what we have. Knowing what we have is just as important in order to do so.

The human IQ is malleable so self education is a good way to augment it. That is the ammunition, how you shoot with it is where the increase can come in. Too many people either coast along to get by or these days so busy just surviving they don’t have the time or inclination to educate themselves in these areas. They would rather be with family and friends and relax with what little time they have between working or looking for work.

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By Anarcissie, May 25, 2009 at 7:59 pm Link to this comment

Folktruther—I don’t think education is good at making people competent, but I think it’s very good at brainwashing them.  I guess that’s been said a time or two before, so I’m being a bit tedious, maybe.

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By Inherit The Wind, May 25, 2009 at 7:58 pm Link to this comment

Folktruther, May 25 at 10:03 pm #

Inherit, it might not take much critical ability to realize that everything they taught you is wrong, but it does take intellectual courage which, surporisingly, most people lack.  You don’t, you are like me in that respect, only dumber.  Or maybe smarter for all I know, it doesn’t really matter.  What matters is that we seem to lack a caution that most intelligent people have to know better than to tell illegitimate truths.  But I was miseducated by marx and you, alas, by Alyce Rosenbaum and liberal economic theory.  It takes years to de-educate and de-inform oneself.
**********************************************

Un-mis-educating yourself depends MAINLY on when you come to the realization that there are MAJOR premises that are wrong.  Then you must decide: Is the whole thing a crock, or are there parts that have value?

But realizing that most of what we are fed getting from K-12 is BS is the first step. I try very hard to get my teen to think multi-dimensionally about history and social studies, to realize that just ‘cuz the teacher says it’s so, doesn’t make it so, and you must always assume it’s a puzzle you need to look at from multiple directions for insight. 

To understand history, see Kurasawa’s “Rashomon” about an incident seen from multiple directions.  Or even the Jet Li film “Hero”.  It’s said frequently that history is written by the victors.  But that’s the history fed to us from K-12, (ie, BS) and NO history written can simply be taken at face value. 

A “history” is simply someone’s opinion as to what the facts THEY considered mean.  No more.  Understand THAT, and no historian is ever an “authority” again.

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By Folktruther, May 25, 2009 at 7:03 pm Link to this comment

Inherit, it might not take much critical ability to realize that everything they taught you is wrong, but it does take intellectual courage which, surporisingly, most people lack.  You don’t, you are like me in that respect, only dumber.  Or maybe smarter for all I know, it doesn’t really matter.  What matters is that we seem to lack a caution that most intelligent people have to know better than to tell illegitimate truths.  But I was miseducated by marx and you, alas, by Alyce Rosenbaum and liberal economic theory.  It takes years to de-educate and de-inform oneself.

anarcissie, it doesn’t appear that the standard education historically can much effect the outcome of rule if this is effected by crazed and corrupt psychopaths.  Imagine putting in a pharmaceutical CEO, Rumsfield, as sec of Defense, who did not plan for an occupation after an invasion, and fired the senior military man who publically advocated one.  What does Education have to do with political insanity?

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By Night-Gaunt, May 25, 2009 at 1:22 pm Link to this comment

The difference between how Stalin would interpret the Golden Rule and Gandhi would.

In fiction it is a wager with Samma-El (Satan/devil) where no matter what you want or wish for it can be distorted against you. I get a similar vibe from Obama, the Constitutional scholar and teacher. I would like to see how he taught that class.

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By KDelphi, May 25, 2009 at 12:47 pm Link to this comment

Yes, we need to take note that “best” doesnt always go with “brightest”.

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By Night-Gaunt, May 25, 2009 at 11:11 am Link to this comment

I follow SMILE (Space Migration Intelligence Enhancement Life Extension) but then that is for a mature species which we are not. It isn’t just the creation of new tech but the wisdom to use it harmoniously. We may be stuck in the ghetto of a Type 0 civilization for a long time and maybe nothing better till our extinction. It is mostly up to us.

Unfortunately there are certain forces and factions that like the idea of an apex polity of control. Dominion over all the earth and its inhabitants. The wealth is accrued to themselves in their selfish ways of thinking. Paranoid and violent to keep us under control of the usual pallatives stop working. So far they are most useful still in efficacy.

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By Anarcissie, May 25, 2009 at 6:35 am Link to this comment

KDelphi:
’... ON Education , Liberal Arts/Elite type, here is a good article:
Elite Colleges Are Promoting a Culture of Selfish, Cutthroat Behavior and We Are All Paying the Price
...
By Peter Schmidt, AlterNet. Posted May 23, 2009.
Our latest economic crisis could inspire similar soul-searching and a renewed emphasis on meritocracy in higher education. ...’

The fundamental purposes of an educational system are to (1) manage the intellectual life of the country for the benefit of its ruling class, and (2) to replicate the personnel of the ruling class.

Since one person rules another, and one class rules another, only by force and fraud, we should expect a meritocracy to be worse than a ruling class populated by the heirs of the better-off because they’d be more effective.

However, when I look at history, I can’t say that the meritocrats are all that effective. In the end they seem about as stupid, fraudulent, and brutally violent as the scions.

Remember “the best and the brightest”?

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By KDelphi, May 25, 2009 at 12:34 am Link to this comment

Ou Journey To Smile—Yes, I’d say that MOST peace groups have that as their goal…but not all. I dont know all cant get together, but we never see to do so. My group will keep trying , and, never give . You cant count on that…I wish I knew what else I could say.

ON Education , Liberal Arts/Elite type, here is a good article:
Elite Colleges Are Promoting a Culture of Selfish, Cutthroat Behavior and We Are All Paying the Price

http://www.alternet.org/story/140202/elite_colleges_are_promoting_a_culture_of_selfish,_cutthroat_behavior_and_we_are_all_paying_the_price/?page=entire

By Peter Schmidt, AlterNet. Posted May 23, 2009.
Our latest economic crisis could inspire similar soul-searching and a renewed emphasis on meritocracy in higher education. But it also could have the opposite effect, prompting selective colleges and universities to even more heavily favor those applicants with cash and connections in an effort to repair their own finances.

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By Anarcissie, May 24, 2009 at 6:42 pm Link to this comment

Inherit The Wind:
‘Actually, in the US, I think it was created to educate priests and lawyers, in that order.  When John Adams went to Harvard do you think they graduated many who were NOT headed for the clergy or the bar?’

I don’t know.  My impression is that Harvard, Yale and the other early universities were at first exclusively religious institutions, but increasingly looked to Oxford and Cambridge for inspiration and guidance, and of course they had shifted away from training priests and theologians to producing gentlemen.  Do you happen to know what he studied?  It’s an interesting question.

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By Inherit The Wind, May 24, 2009 at 1:08 pm Link to this comment

Anarcissie, May 24 at 11:34 am #

I believe the classical liberal education was formulated in order to teach prospective English gentlemen how to enjoy life and take part in ruling the realm.  In the case of the American upper classes and the elite schools, this sort of thing must still seem appropriate.  I don’t know what they make of it further down the social and economic food chain.  I do know that elites, ruling classes, have to replicate their personnel and inculcate their ideology in the general population, and it is probably thought good to impart some useful skills to some of them while processing them into servants of the state, although it is done in a remarkably inefficient manner.
*******************************************

Actually, in the US, I think it was created to educate priests and lawyers, in that order.  When John Adams went to Harvard do you think they graduated many who were NOT headed for the clergy or the bar?

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By Anarcissie, May 24, 2009 at 8:34 am Link to this comment

I believe the classical liberal education was formulated in order to teach prospective English gentlemen how to enjoy life and take part in ruling the realm.  In the case of the American upper classes and the elite schools, this sort of thing must still seem appropriate.  I don’t know what they make of it further down the social and economic food chain.  I do know that elites, ruling classes, have to replicate their personnel and inculcate their ideology in the general population, and it is probably thought good to impart some useful skills to some of them while processing them into servants of the state, although it is done in a remarkably inefficient manner.

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By Leefeller, May 24, 2009 at 7:05 am Link to this comment

Not sure what you mean by undergrad? Guess I may be one of those undergrads.  Now, after ITW’s comment on K through 12 being a bunch of crap I made the right decision.  I quit school in the 7th grade to work with my uncle on the farm. I quit after I heard they were going to teach us one of those sex class’s, having heard the Catholics were already doing that, I was afraid they were going to make me sing and other things.  What does ITW mean by painting with a board Brush?

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By Inherit The Wind, May 24, 2009 at 5:07 am Link to this comment

Folktruther, May 24 at 3:49 am #

libertyvini

“Classical liberal education (legitimate education in the classic sense) has a goal of equipping the recipient with the tools and knowledge to understand and interact with the world in a productive way.”

No, it doesn’t.  Classical Education teachers you power delusions that are incompatible with telling the simple truth about people and power.  It is a form of indoctrination that induces one to identivy with the Elite.

Education consists of specialize truths, which are largely true, and ideologial truths, which largely aren’t.  The ideological truths are the power bullshit that diverts one attention from the crucial matters threatening the existence of earthpeople. the Elite not only are Educated in the conventional sense, they identify with with it and with those who have it.

Enligthenment is different than Education, the opposite, in fact.
**********************************************

As usual, FT operates with a chainsaw instead of a scalpel.

An undergrad education at most universities in the US can still give you a wide and broad perspective. 

Unless, of course, you are going in order to get a business degree, in which case FT is right. 

Some schools embrace the Swarthmore ideal of EVERYONE must have a “Liberal Arts” education, others don’t and just let it be a technical training program in one field. (No, I never went to Swarthmore, never even went near the place, but I respect its direction).

On the other hand, grad school in most programs is nothing BUT an indoctrination and hazing system.  FT is close to the mark, though not exactly. Sadistic professors can torment grad students with the impunity of prison guards, with little or no recourse available. Undergrads can fight back, grad students cannot. If you have the wrong combo of professors on your committee for your thesis or dissertation, you will NEVER finish. 

And when you finish, you will either be forever scarred or forever warped, depending on your ethical and moral strength.  I’ve never met anyone who wasn’t scarred or warped by the process, whether they finished or not.

So, again, FT paints with too broad a brush, but, (and I give him credit) there is a core of truth to what he is saying.

I was a 3 years into college before I realized that literally EVERYTHING I had learned about History from K through 12 was crap and it didn’t take much critical thinking to figure that out.

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By Our Journey to Smile, May 24, 2009 at 1:58 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Dear KDelphi,?

But don’t you think that the ‘US Military Empire’ isn’t the root problem? ?

Hasn’t this ‘disease of permanent war’ had a natural host in the power hungry hearts of ALL ?human beings throughout history, so that whatever the ‘political’ ideology or empire, we’ll ?end up with the same ‘superpower’ problem??

Thanks again for your encouragement that there are ‘those of us here who will never give up ?trying’. ?

Naively but sadly, why can’t all peace groups pool together, since that may make a ??‘democratic’ majority??

Thanks and Peace!!?
Hakim
On behalf of Our Journey to Smile

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By Folktruther, May 24, 2009 at 12:49 am Link to this comment

libertyvini

“Classical liberal education (legitimate education in the classic sense) has a goal of equipping the recipient with the tools and knowledge to understand and interact with the world in a productive way.”

No, it doesn’t.  Classical Education teachers you power delusions that are incompatible with telling the simple truth about people and power.  It is a form of indoctrination that induces one to identivy with the Elite.

Education consists of specialize truths, which are largely true, and ideologial truths, which largely aren’t.  The ideological truths are the power bullshit that diverts one attention from the crucial matters threatening the existence of earthpeople. the Elite not only are Educated in the conventional sense, they identify with with it and with those who have it. 

Enligthenment is different than Education, the opposite, in fact.

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By KDelphi, May 23, 2009 at 12:08 pm Link to this comment

Our Journey to Smile—“How can we NOT give up?”

I can understand how you would feel that way. I wish I could say what is going to happen will be better than the past…I caN only tell you that there are those of us herre who will never give up trying to make it so, and, to bring down the US Military Empire.

Peace to you, if only in your mind…

LibertyVini and Folktruther—Here is an interesting article for you…Chris Hedges has alot of stuff on the topic of “mis-education”, too, at his website and here on Truth Dig….

http://www.alternet.org/story/140202/elite_colleges_are_promoting_a_culture_of_selfish,_cutthroat_behavior_and_we_are_all_paying_the_price/?page=entire

Elite Colleges Are Promoting a Culture of Selfish, Cutthroat Behavior and We Are All Paying the Price

By Peter Schmidt, AlterNet. Posted May 23, 2009.

“...Selective colleges are so happy to have their palms greased in such a manner that some make little effort to hide how much they lower the bar for applicants connected to generous alumni and other contributors. To improve their odds of having favors done for them by people in positions of power, many selective higher-education institutions also admit mediocre applicants at the request of state and federal officials….


“..Through such admissions policies, colleges end up giving the nation’s high school students crash courses in cynicism. They teach young people that money talks, fairness is for losers, who you know matters more than what you know, and some people are simply entitled to what others may never attain, no matter how hard they work….”

Anarcissie—I signed up for their newsletter and asked a couple of questions (I dont seem to be able to download the videos..and my pc was doing so well today..). It sounds a little scattered, and, of course, bottom up, but, that may be the way to go in the future.

NOthing else seems to be working. I will let you know what I think of it, after they write me back, ok? I notice Portland, and CA…but , also New Mexico, so , who knows?

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By Anarcissie, May 23, 2009 at 11:16 am Link to this comment

What middle- and working-class people can do now is begin to forge the relationships, with themselves and with the poor, that will enable them—us—all of us—to survive.  The homeless may know better than the well-fed and well-housed how to cope.  Those that are first may be last, and those that are last may be first.

These facts are apparent enough so that dealing with them is already being bourgeoisified and marketed: http://transitionus.org/

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By KDelphi, May 23, 2009 at 10:37 am Link to this comment

Anarcissie—I understand what you are saying.

I guess it is my work experience that makes me focus on the homeless “mentally disabled”. If they werent already dependent on “charity”...

It is true, that, if the middle class becomes the lower class, many will refuse to live that way and force something else. At least, I hope they will.But, so far, even as the former middle and working classes loses work, health care and necessities of housing, etc., they still seem hell bent on avoiding any type of socioeconomic solution.(If they are not, then, certainly the politicians seem that way) I kow (or I think I know) that you do not believe in a top-down solution. And, perhaps you are not thinking of the same “population” that I am. People who have lived in marginal conditions, with many social supports, around her, have been doing it for years. But, there are those that are unwilling or incapable.

I guess it is my training that makes me focus on those that wont survive without help, and, who may not be able to build or maintain social relationships. It just seems that nobobdy else does, and, so, I guess, I do.

Maybe it makes me feel as though I am “still working”...but, as I know many personally, it is impossible not to think of them, as snow falls, as it gets hot,as the food bank empties. I know that that is not a “way to live”, but, I just dont want them to die.

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By LibertyVini, May 23, 2009 at 4:07 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

@ folktruther;

It isn’t the “educated” that rule us, it is, rather, the elites that rule us, a relatively tiny claque of people who stuff elite institutions, such as the ivies, corporate management, and upper tiers of government with their children and friends.

Classical liberal education (legitimate education in the classic sense) has a goal of equipping the recipient with the tools and knowledge to understand and interact with the world in a productive way.

With that in mind, “education” in the West has been fractured into three largely dysfunctional parts - the elite universities, which function as private clubs for trading positions at the top of the hierarchy, the technical specialties, largely corrupted but still functioning, and mass education, completely corrupt and serving only to create compliance with and inculcate love of the state.

Classical liberal education, such as it still exists, is largely practiced by individuals who somehow persist in educating themselves against the current.

“Education” has almost nothing to do with it. Look at our over-educated former president, who attended Yale and Harvard - do you think even a fragment of “education” ever got through his thick skull?

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By Our Journey to Smile, May 23, 2009 at 12:13 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Dear KDelphi,

Thanks for reading our thoughts and for your encouragement.

How can we or will we not give up?

I know 2 Afghan friends working for peace who have personally told me that ‘we cannot make it here’. How can we NOT give up?

Thanks and peace!!
Hakim
On behalf of Our Journey to Smile

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By Anarcissie, May 22, 2009 at 1:20 pm Link to this comment

KDelphi—Things are not necessarily going to be worse for poor people.  As I mentioned, most poor people take care to maintain the social relationships that keep them alive and protect them.  This especially true of those who are here without official sanction.  We could learn from them, even if many of the lessons, like putting up with your relatives, seem repugnant.

Moreover, as things get worse, more and more middle- and working-class people are going to find themselves among the poor.  This will change some important political and social facts, because a large population of poor people will begin to alter the social and physical environment to their advantage, especially if they’re laced with liberal and egalitarian ideas and feelings.  This process may not always be pretty, but (for instance) being able to build and live in a shanty in a shanty-town is better for those who do it than being kicked around and forced to live on the street or in prison-like “shelters” by the cops.

I think middle- and upper-class people may have more problems than the poor, since as I say they depend on large institutions which may cease to function and not have the skills or knowledge to shift to a different way of life.  They need to start thinking about things, and some of them are.

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By KDelphi, May 22, 2009 at 11:10 am Link to this comment

Anarcissie—How depressing, and , as you probably know, I am certainly not Pollyanna.

There are actually people who have no neighbors, friends or family that they can (or are allowed) to turn to.

I guess that they have learned to survive, but, wont some of the mechanisms that they have learned to use breakdown?

If people eat from dumpsters and the so-called middle class cannot afford to throw out food, what then?

I am thinking of those who do not even have the basics of existence, certain for them, from day to day (which is growing). I guess it is the people I used to work with (and still know many of). They are strong, but, we havent been through this kind of meltdown before.

Many that might want to help, will not be able to.

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By Night-Gaunt, May 22, 2009 at 10:42 am Link to this comment

Sorry Mmadden I don’t recall that item. I do know that they were condemned for having Al-Qaeda in their country and that Osama bin Laden was blamed for the attack on 9/11/2001. Many of the bases were where the Mujahadeen were, originally recruited and trained by the CIA. I recall that bin Lauden said he wasn’t involved but did approve of it. The USA didn’t bother to even try to work with the Taliban and just made Afghanistan a different flavor of hell on earth than it was under the iron heel of the theocrats. The Northern Alliance is known in those parts as “the other Taliban” by the locals. We have not helped them but hurt them since 1979.

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