We have to oppose apocalypse now
By Michael Albert
I hate apocalyptic politics.
I was radicalized by the civil rights movement and Vietnam. People shouted all kinds of furor about the environment imploding, about fascism rising, and about imminent Armageddon.
The hollering had provocation. We witnessed jackbooted thugs from the FBI murdering Panther activists in their beds. We saw mile-high bombardiers massacre children and all living creatures. Two million Indochinese and more died by U.S. violence. Toxic poisons flowed freely destroying forests and fields. Would the rivers die too, children asked
All this gave millions of my generation amply more than sufficient reason to rebel against war, against poverty, against sexism, and against all the rest of the mountain of violations innocent people suffer.
It led to massive opposition. And there was massive repression of opposition, as well.
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The Holographic Universe
Still, I never got alarmed in an alarmist manner. As bad as elite
behavior was, as promising as our activism was, and therefore as
dangerous as the times were, I never feared an overarching catastrophic
realignment of the world.
Despite the magnitude of the indignities and deaths, it always seemed
certain that the crimes of the men in grey flannel suits were just
intensified business as usual. All the grim and grievous circumstances
of the 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s never seemed to me poised to transcend
existing social relations. There was no new more ugly regime threatening
But I have to say that today it does seem that plans now being pursued
in the suites, in the Congress, and in the White House, are not merely
an intensification of business as usual.
The anti-corporate globalization movement, promising a new but much more
humane world "regime", has (with good reason) seriously scared the
masters of the universe. But 9/11 has given them confidence and hubris.
Capitalism, patriarchy, racism, and corporate globalization are vile
enough, but every so often -- and of course the mid century Nazis were a
prime example -- something even worse tries to emerge out of still
deeper layers of hell, and occasionally it does. And such a scourge of
evil seems perhaps to be seeking entry into our world now, all the way
from the seventh circle, or further.
The assault now planned for Iraq will, if we don't stop it, have
grotesque consequences for Iraqis and for the Mideast as a whole, of
course. If the attack occurs, there will be a week or two of tumultuous
terroristic explosions in Baghdad. Then the battle, which will never
really be joined since there is only one serious combatant, will be
effectively ended. Airborne punishment may rain down for a few weeks
more as the boys with toys play out their hand to the last Iraqi groan.
Every new device will be tested, with its effectiveness evaluated by its
pile of charred remains. Every polished mechanism of delivery and
intensification will be utilized, with its effectiveness evaluated by
the souls massively shattered.
Will Rumsfeld videotape the victory dances in the Pentagon for reality
TV? Will the techies in front of their computer monitors plugged into
smart missiles spiraling into their targets play the William Tell
Overture as inspiring accompaniment to their wizardry, like they did
during the first Gulf War?
Disgusting as all this will be, if the campaign called "Awe and Shock"
occurs, its grotesque violence against humanity will just be capitalism,
racism, sexism, and authoritarianism as they exist in every day life,
escalated by violent opportunity. Business as usual.
And because business as usual is so bad, we need to rally and rage
against it. And because we need to not only be morally right, but also
strategic, we need to manifest our rage intelligently.
We must raise public opposition so high that Bush feels our social
threat. He must decide that to fully pursue his ends would harm his
elite constituencies more than to give in to our opposition would harm
them. Or, if you prefer, he must feel that to wage carnage would benefit
elites less than our growing opposition will harm them. We will need to
marshal a lot of opposition to raise such high social costs.
But beyond even these observations, if we look just a little ahead and
think about the desperate terroristic reply an attack on Iraq will
elicit from some corner of Saudi Arabia or Jordan or Egypt -- to be
delivered here in the U.S. -- and if we envision the infinitely
hyperbolic terroristic rejoinder our government will unleash back - the
already astronomical stakes rise even higher.
Bush and Co. know that if we again devastate Iraq some kind of attack on
the U.S. will follow. They know war will elicit it. A second assault on
U.S. citizens will help facilitate the full flourishing of Bush's
agenda, and Bush and Co know it, and perhaps even seek it.
If the U.S. bombs Iraq, and in turn someone attacks the U.S., Bush and
Ashcroft will seek to further strip legislated liberties via a greatly
intensified Patriot Act that will become a freedom from freedom act.
Bush and owners throughout the land will seek to further redistribute
wealth and power upward while working hard to exterminate every last
vestige of public concern for anything but Wall Street's radiance. It
will be a paroxysm of racist nationalism.
Even Korean nuke-rattling -- and nukes definitely make loud rattles --
seems to be welcome music to Bush's ears. His authoritarian cabal wants
the U.S. population traumatized by fear and loathing, and for this to
occur Bush and Co. need visible and verbally aggressive targets that
people can ignorantly fear and loathe.
Bush is therefore happy to convince the world that only two options
exist for each country in the world community. Lay supine and beg for
charity from the U.S. while obeying Washington's every instruction. Or,
grab firmly onto as many massively destructive weapons as you can
purchase from arms merchants in hopes that having such devices can ward
off U.S. assaults.
Some nations will collapse and beg. Other nations will follow the
weapons-seeking course. The latter will become fodder for the U.S.
media's hate campaigns and Bush's war machine.
If Bush has his way, an assault on Iraq will not be a war, of course,
but a massacre presented as the mother of all snuff films - displaying
countless defenseless victims blown to bones. The film will be shown to
the world in Technicolor and Widescreen, popcorn optional. Bush's point
will be to display for all to cower before the future prospects of
whomsoever the U.S. labels its enemy, or even just its adversary, or
even just an annoying irritant. Boom. Goodbye.
Are there internal limits on U.S. policy nowadays other than the
constraints that elite fear of dissent imposes? Perhaps, but it is hard
to see any as yet. There is a clue to what might come if our annointed
egocentric thugs get their way when the U.S. lumps Germany with Libya
and Cuba as the opponents of our will due to each saying they would
oppose war even if war gets Security Council support.
To demonstrate against injustice, inequity, and indignity is virtually
always right. We should do it as naturally as we eat or love, to express
our humanity. Even more important, however, we should also do it to
build a continually enlarging opposition able to stem the tide of
business as usual. And we should demonstrate, as well, to change the
logic of our world's transactions and interactions entirely, to finally
eliminate business as now know it. Organize. Goodbye -- to capitalism.
But, truth be told, there are times when demonstrating becomes
especially urgent. Such increased urgency can be due to an incredibly
dire unfolding situation. It can be due to horrible prospects that might
follow in the absence of dissent. It can be due to very real prospects
that major demonstrations could imminently turn the tide. It can be due
to a growing dissident potential which needs nurturing and commitment to
reach its enormous possibilities. Or it can be due to all these reasons
February 2003 is such a time.
To further their imperial power Bush and Co. are at least planning to
subject the innocent citizens of Iraq to a rain of missiles that will
awe and shock, which in realspeak means missiles that will mutilate and
At the most, however, Bush and Co. are embarked on a three-channel
Channel one: Turn back the clock a hundred and fifty years to a time of
international relations that was based solely on brute force so that the
U.S. can then exploit our ability to win any violent battle anywhere,
Channel two: Redistribute upwards, even more than in the past, wealth
and power within the U.S. Destroy long-standing social programs that
ameliorate some of the pain endemic to capitalism. Aggravate racial and
gender differences and antagonisms. Enhance options at the top, narrow
them for everyone else.
Channel three: Curtail the only serious impediment to pursuing channels
one and two, public and powerful dissent, by enlarging media
manipulation and escalating repression around the world and especially
here in the U.S.
Antiwar opposition in the U.S. and around the world is already at
unprecedented levels - even before a war. Now our movements have to grab
the remote and turn to channel four wherein widespread growing peace and
justice activism roots itself deeply in the moral and social fabric of
society and then grows gigantic all around the world.
Doing this, we may stop the war. Even now, project awe and shock is not
a foregone conclusion.
And if we don't stop the war, we can certainly reduce the horrors it
And beyond this war, we must develop a movement that is politically
conscious enough, morally committed enough, and creatively organized
enough, to prevent the next war.
And beyond just preventing wars, we need to build a movement that can
literally reverse reactionary agendas and go on to win liberating
alternatives for global relations, ecology, economic life, women and
families, and cultural communities, as soon as it is humanly and
I still hate apocalyptic organizing.
It is not because we are never in an apocalyptic situation. Truth be
told, there is a sense in which we will always are facing apocalyptic
outcomes until a new world is won.
It is because the radical point, even in the most apocalyptic
situations, needs to always be to create ever more powerful and aware
movements and not simply to create reactions to proximate policies with
limited comprehension and time-bound commitment.
Come out to demonstrate February 15-16.
But show up with every intention to come out again and again, each time
more informed about all manner of injustice, more committed to seek all
manner of liberation, more organized to wield our strength on behalf of
our visions, and more positive and hopeful in order to sustain and
inspire ourselves and others.
All that, and not just responding in the apocalyptic moment, is our path
to justice and liberation.
We have to oppose apocalypse now. We have to remove the causes of
recurring apocalypse. We have to win peace and justice and a new world
that will sustain both.
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Mediocre times produce the very worst that the world has to offer:
Laden, Bush, Hussein, Sharon, and Blair. None but the feeble minded
inspiration from such a ghastly lineup of "leaders".
Turn Off TV and Turn On Quantum
Humanity's most valuable possessions are Clean Water, Clean air, and Trees