Readers’ replies to, & more comments on article:

Bleed the Monster, or, we gotta
get the world straightened out

G.S.    <george.salzman@umb.edu>
January 29, 2006

original article at http://site.www.umb.edu/faculty/salzman_g/Strate/Discus/2005-12-18.htm

this ‘reply’ page at http://site.www.umb.edu/faculty/salzman_g/Strate/Discus/2005-12-18com.htm

Immersed in disaster, and not just in Iraq, and
not “just” the United States of America

      A giant being sucked irrevocably into a maelstrom, death as inevitable and excruciating as that of a victim in Kafka's In the Penal Colony.[1] For the United States is a mighty giant in the world today, mighty and fearful, able to spread destruction on a scale never before even imagined in the councils of the powerful. ...
1a. Subject: Re: New from George: Bleed the Monster, or, we gotta get the world straightened out
From: Joe Bageant <bageantjb@netscape.net>
Date: Fri, 23 Dec 2005 08:09:00 -0500
To: George Salzman <george.salzman@umb.edu>

Absolutely goddamned fantastic!

I am going to do the same thing soon, and you are my mentor and guide in this matter.

More later....joe


1b. Date: Fri, 23 Dec 2005 08:25:36 -0500

Damned George!
That was one helluva column. A direct hit ... regarding the American left. And so kindly done too.

Here is my newest one.
http://www.dissidentvoice.org/Dec05/Bageant1222.htm

After the holidays I am going up to Boston, and later to Mexico in the summer. May I visit you and Nancy then?

Joe


1c. Date: Sat, 24 Dec 2005 20:43:04 -0600

Hi Joe,

      Many thanks for your enthusiastic response to my last piece. It’s reassuring to hear that all the effort it took wasn’t without any effect, a fear I can’t seem to avoid. I sent an earlier version to Jeffrey St. Clair <sitka@comcast.net> at Counterpunch, but he had the good sense not to use it. So I was motivated to continue working on it. I’ve been reading your most recent articles — they are absolutely dynamite. The “Left Behind”, “Mediated Reality” and “Southern Reminiscences” are all wonderful, each in its own way. You’ve been going like a house on fire this month, day after day.

      Your piece on mediated reality reminded me of a lengthy essay by another of my heroes, Al Giordano <narconews@gmail.com>. His essay is at http://www.narconews.com/themedium1.html. It starts with

Section A of...
The Medium is
The Middleman

For a Revolution
Against Media

First Published January 1, 1997
With June 2002 Updated Author's Notes

by Al Giordano

For the purposes of discussion and action, an 1 immedia project presents a central premise which, if accurate, carries urgent implications:

Media now
controls a new
economic order:
one that has
supplanted
governments,
churches and
productive
industry to
impose a
mediating
tyranny over
people and our
Daily Lives.

Therefore, something
akin to
Revolution is necessary.

2

You and he see eye-to-eye (I’m pretty damn sure) on the issue of consciousness and its manipulation, actually its manufacture by the controlling corporate media. He’s the journalist I mentioned to you last summer who set up the Narco News website and who has run a School for Authentic Journalism in Latin America several times. I’ve written about him and posted a bit, e.g. at http://site.www.umb.edu/faculty/salzman_g/Strate/Salz/2003-10-21.htm. This piece has pictures of Al and me.

      Also, regarding your focus on the non-corporeality of corporations, there’s a town in western Massachusetts, Russell, that is doing the groundwork for challenging corporations, actually for challenging the supposed supremacy of county, state and federal laws and regulations. One of the people in the On the Ground discussion/action network, Adam Sacks, <info@constution411.org> wrote me about it.

      And your “Left Behind” piece reminded me of an earlier remark you made about the Rape of Nanking having been by Japanese who were Buddhists, which had jarred me at the time because I’d heard so much about the supposed total nonaggressiveness of Buddhism. Just the other day I got a book (gift from James Herod) Blood on the Border: A memoir of the contra war, by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, in which she writes, “The Sri Lankan civil war between the minority Tamils (Hindu, Christian, and Muslim) and the majority Sinhalese (Buddist) was still five years away, but the future of Sri Lanka and the Third World as a whole was already visible in 1978.” So, there seem to be no exceptions, i.e. no religions that are free of destructive sects within them.

      It sounds as though you’ll be in Boston well before I’d been thinking of returning for my two-and-a-half-or-so-month summer stay. I’d love to see you, and Nancy’s also enthusiastic about the possibility of you visiting here. She’s not planning to be in Boston at all this summer. My schedule isn’t fixed, so maybe I can manage to be at either or both locales when you are. In any case, you’re welcome to stay at the Cambridge house of the Trust, and to visit here in Oaxaca whether or not I’m present at either place at the time you are.

All the best to you and Barbara,
George


2. Subject: Re: New from George: Bleed the Monster, or, we gotta get the world straightened out
From: Linda Winston <windalin@aol.com>
Date: Fri, 23 Dec 2005 10:00:12 EST

Dear George,
Many thanks for this wonderfully inspiring piece. I plan to forward it to a couple of others, as a highlight in this mostly horrific year. You’ve started me thinking about how to put my money where my mouth is.
linda w.


3. Subject: Re: New from George: Bleed the Monster, or, we gotta get the world straightened out
From: Starshine <dr.starshine@bresnan.net>
Date: Fri, 23 Dec 2005 09:47:26 -0700

George,
      Thanks for your contribution. I agree that we must all begin where we are and do what we can.
Starshine in Montana


4. Subject: Re: New from George
From: Barrington Daltrey <basd1@fastbk.com>
Date: Fri, 23 Dec 2005 09:55:45 -0800

Hi George:

Every now and then when I receive your updates I take some time to visit your website and read some of your archived essays.

I appreciate what you have to say.

Thanks.
Barrington Daltrey


5. Subject: Re: New from George: Bleed the Monster, or, we gotta get the world straightened out
From: David Smith <ssmithsta@excite.com>
Date: Fri, 23 Dec 2005 23:12:33 -0500 (EST)
Yours is a unique, unselfish, and highly enlightened state. Thank you for some great ideas :)

D Smith

First Year Dental Student
Baltimore MD
Merry Christmas and I wish you the happiest and healthiest New Year


6a. Subject: Re: Recent news
From: James Herod <jamesherod@gmail.com>
Date: Sat, 24 Dec 2005 08:56:25 -0500

Hi George,

You have truly found a buddy in Joe Bageant. I think what really sealed the friendship is that you both love to swear. ...

Joe was right. That was an excellent piece you’ve just written. I hope the idea catches on. We’ll have to think of other ways to spread it. I have one beef. I wish you hadn’t identified the enemy as ‘Western Civilization.’ Western Civilization is not just capitalism and imperialism, but also many wonderful things. To mention only a few: Mozart, Marx, classical Greece, the Golden Gate Bridge, Diltiazem, the Hubble space telescope, Jacques Cousteau, Voyagers I & II, the Paris Commune, Kropotkin, archaeology, the Internet, the Spanish Revolution, Habeas Corpus, Jane Goodall, the English Revolution, Chartres, Leonardo da Vinci, Vermeer, Pavlova, Pavarotti, Ursula Le Guin, Emma Goldman, Dostoevsky, bathysphere, W.C. Fields, surrealism, Stradivarius, movies. But we've been over this before.

. . .

6b. Subject: Re: Recent news
Date: Wed, 28 Dec 2005 23:14:56 -0600

Hi James,

      Yes, of course you’re right. Joe and I have become fucking good buddies, but I hope it’s more than rough language that bonds us. What attracts me to him is exactly what attracted me to you — total authenticity, a person without a fiber of falsehood. And naturally it’s very gratifying to have my painfully labored essays get his immoderate praise. When I got those pictures today with Joe’s comments, like “We have a saying here, If he’s too drunk to sing, make him drive”, it made me think of Marcos starting the tour this Sunday in San Cristobál, and Al’s conjectures about how the Zapatistas will comport themselves outside of their own teetotaler communities, where the tradition is much closer to that of the Shenandoah Valley. Al, as you know, likes a nip now and then. I hope Nancy and I will get to see part of the “consulta” when the Zapatistas come to Oaxaca towards the end of January.

      On “Western Civilization”, we could write essays to each other on that. I walked across the Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito (I think that was the name of the community) for a visit, and then back, thoroughly enjoying the vast spread, and — a reflection of how expansive it made me feel — tasted some wine in one of the vineyard shops there and had a case of their private Cabernet Sauvignon shipped to Freda and me at our home in Brookline. That was years ago, now I avoid Cabernet Sauvignon. So, I have a proposal. Let’s leave the Golden Gate Bridge, but make it for pedestrians only, or perhaps with a small automated electric tram that runs under the now-giant walkway. But the train must run silently, so as not to interfere with the sound of the wind or the distant murmurs. Of course the bridge was made for automobiles, as are practically all the bridges in the U.S., and we’ve got to get rid of all, or practically all, infernal combustion engines. Movies of course must be totally de-commercialized, de-corporatized. W.C. Fields, like Kropotkin, should be left strictly alone to be savored. Diltiazem I had to Google to get a clue on.

      On your comments about ..., I must admit that I’m in danger of becoming almost (in a narrow sense) an anti-semite, in so far as many American Jews and Israeli Jews are concerned. You know the Tom Lehrer song celebrating “National Brotherhood Week” that starts out reporting that on the first day of NBW (that year, 1965) Malcolm X was assassinated. Lehrer goes on to sing “the Catholics hate the Protestants and the Protestants hate the Catholics, and everybody hates the Jews” which gets great laughter from the Oh-so-sophisticated! coffeehouse crowd where he was performing. I believe there’s more than a little truth in Lehrer’s celebration of hatred. Probably by now, with the many-decades-long conquest of the Palestinians and the indisputable cruelty of many many Jewish Israelis towards the victims (cruelty either active or passive), and the world-wide telecommunications networks reporting it, there may well be billions of people who “hate the Jews”.

      When I read Bageant’s Carpooling with Adolph Eichmann , at http://www.coldtype.net/Assets.05/Essays/06.Joe.carpoolpdf.pdf, it started me thinking about issues of complicity. Then Hannah Arendt’s Eichmann in Jerusalem, with her account of the highly variable behavior of the occupied nations of Europe in so far as cooperation or non-cooperation with the Nazis’ program to exterminate the Jews, has a great deal to say about cultural variation, how local it can be, and how deterministic a role it can play in people’s actual behavior. Raul Hilberg’s The Destruction of the European Jews, of which I read the first 75-80%, also shows a great deal about cultural influences. And Norman G. Finkelstein’s <normangf@hotmail.com>Image and Reality of the Israel-Palestine Conflict, and The Holocaust Industry: Reflections on the Exploitation of Jewish Suffering are exposés of despicable, culturally-determined behavior. His Beyond Chutzpah: On the Misuse of anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History, which I’ve read only a bit of, he succeeded in getting published late last summer, i.e. in August, after a strenuous effort by Alan M. Dershowitz <dersh@law.harvard.edu> to threaten the University of California Press with legal action failed to intimidate them to cancel publication.

      Currently I’m about half way through Robert Fisk’s mammoth The Great War for Civilization:The Conquest of the Middle East, temporarily interrupted by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz’s Blood on the Border: A memoir of the Contra War. Joe Bageant had mentioned in one of his essays that the Japanese responsible for the Rape of Nanking were Buddhists, and just the other day I read in Dunbar-Ortiz about the civil war in Sri Lanka that pitted the Tamil minority (Christians, Hindus and Muslims) against the Sinhalese majority (Buddhists). So Buddhism too has room to accommodate its violent sects, just as, I’m pretty convinced, does every religion.

      At a gut level, as I read about the atrocities perpetrated by the armed Israelis against the Palestinians, my reaction is one of furious condemnation: “the Jews” ought to be thrown out of Palestine, but I also realize the futility (as well as the injustice) such feelings, if their implementation were attempted, would entail. It would be, on a tiny scale, like throwing the white people out of the Americas. I know a few wonderful Israeli Jews, one of whom made a big effort to get money to help pay for a desperately-needed kidney transplant for a three-year-old Arab girl, the daughter of her good friends. A simple act of love. And the only basis for building a better world.

      Another input to my thinking here is Hannah Arendt’s three-part treatise, The Origins of Totalitarianism. I know you don’t care for her particularly, and I too have problems with her “analysis” sometimes, but a major point that she argues, and convincingly for me, is that the development of hatred of Jews in Europe was in part a consequence of the behavior of the wealthiest and most privileged part of the Jewish population. Of course the hatred was not focussed, as it ought logically to have been, on those persons whose behavior made them despicable, but on Jews as a whole. The entire question of why hatred of Jews has flourished for millenia is something that I think must have a historical explanation, in which, for sure, religion played a large role, and continues to do so. Jews are not the only ethnic group to have been hated “in their entirety.” In his chapter on The First Holocaust, Fisk in The Great War for Civilization makes evident the zest with which ordinary Turkish people took part in slaughtering Armenians to carry out the government’s determined effort to exterminate all of them.

      Well, here it is close to 11pm. I’m going to quit for now, though there’s more to write. There’s just a lot going on these days, but tomorrow I’ll return to the discussion.


6c. Date: Sat, 31 Dec 2005 13:21:06 -0600

      Another book that influenced my thinking is Tariq Ali’s The Clash of Fundamentalisms. Any notion that Islam was “basically a good, benign religion” is thoroughly refuted by our comrade in atheism. All religions, to my knowledge, provide plenty of nourishment for raw hatreds. And are, or seek to be, bastions of power and wealth. In the academic year 1968-69 Freda and I and our two daughters lived in Rome, on the seventh floor of a building overlooking Piazza del Diavolo (The Devil’s Square) in the so-called African Quarter. The first two floors (ground floor plus one) were occupied by the mammoth computational center of Il Banco del Spirito Santo (The Bank of the Holy Spirit). Here was the whirring computerized heart of the Vatican’s giant bank. Some Holy Spirit!

      I know this seems to be a rambling letter. Nancy asked me pointedly the other day when I remarked how much of a struggle it was to put together a coherent essay, Do you ever make an outline? She used to teach English, which of course included writing (i.e. it was not purely a literature class), and said that making an outline was integral. So I began to think about how to organize things, because I believe it must be possible for human beings to think and act our way out of the calamity engulfing us (if it’s not too late to prevent irreversible catastrophic changes in global weather patterns).

      Tentatively, what I see as essential are
1. Children being raised with an abundance of love and respect, so that they feel great confidence in themselves, unquestioned self-respect, and no psychological need to “put down” other people in competing for respect, or finding solace in being “loved” by Jesus or other abstract sources of love — no need for any religion.
2. Building of local, autonomous communities that downplay individualistic values and which educate children to cherish their communal lives, recognition in daily living of the fundamentally social nature of our species, something that soaks into the child’s pores from the very beginning.
3. Extensive sharing of most things, eventual elimination of even the barter economy, initially as part of the development of an “underground economy” in which barter serves to undermine the money economy and its use as a tool of control by centralized institutions.
4. Ideas of reparations, almost always in terms of money compensation, ought to be abandoned since it isn’t possible to undo the harmful acts of the past, and it doesn’t make sense to try to have later generations take responsibility (and guilt) for actions of their progenitors. Children are never responsible for what their parents did. Instead, there ought to be truly equal opportunity for all people to flourish, a prerequisite for which is the elimination of private acquisition of wealth.
5. Accepting temporarily the contradictions we are forced to live with in the dominant culture, while we pour our efforts into building the kind of society we want. We fight against having our consciousness (mis)shaped by the material conditions we are forced to experience because we cannot avoid them.

      Well, this is pretty raggedy, and amounts to but little more than a few scraps from Getting Free http://site.www.umb.edu/faculty/salzman_g/Strate/GetFre/index.htm. But one issue on which we strongly differ is what I see as the primacy of greed (for wealth, power, and “freedom” from useful labor) over capitalism. It seems clear to me that greed far predates the development of capitalism, and was for millenia at the heart of the development of class divisions in many societies.


7a. Subject: Your autobio?
From: Peter Waterman <p.waterman@inter.nl.net>
Date: Sat, 24 Dec 2005 15:03:54 +0100

George:

As a youngster of merely 70, I am currently writing my ‘Itinerary of a Long-Distance Internationalist’.

In so far as you seem to be well-travelled and socially-committed, I was wondering whether you have written any such, or will write such, before going to the Great World Social Forum in the Sky.

I decided that if anyone was going to write my autobio, it should be me, preferably whilst still alive.

However, being a broad-minded soul, I also think that we (oldies) should all do so. This might be helpful to those who think that global solidarity began in Chiapas 1994 or Seattle 1999(?).

Best,
Peter W

PETER WATERMAN, J. v.d. Doesstr. 28, 2518xn The Hague, Netherlands.
Tel: 31-(0)70-363-1539, Fax : 31-(0)84 746 8402, Mobile/Celular: +06-47-336-549.
www.antenna.nl/~waterman/ ; http://groups.yahoo.com/group/GloSoDia/ .
RECENT PUBLICATIONS: [contact him for list -G.S]


7b. Subject: Re: Your autobio?
Date: Sun, 25 Dec 2005 15:58:37 -0600

Dear Peter,
     Thanks for your note, which I guess was spurred by my most recent posting. No, I haven’t written an autobiography, and I doubt that I will. But I wish you success in your efforts. I think each of us ought to do what he/she thinks is most important. I’ll most likely try to continue my current attempt to stir grass-roots mobilization.
All best wishes,
George


8. Subject: Re: New from George: Bleed the Monster, or, we gotta get the world straightened out
From: Ruth & Bruce Graves <bruthgraves@provide.net>
Date: Sun, 25 Dec 2005 01:30:56 -0500

Dear George

Thanks for these clear thoughts. I am afraid I might be one of these liberals – at least I used to be. However, for many years I have felt a certain hopelessness or uselessness in actions that might be deemed as “activism” by society at large because they don’t do anything concrete, just make participants feel better as if they have “done something” when really they haven’t. I refer to all sorts of demonstrations, marches, vigils, etc., etc., that keep happening as sponsored by organizations in the so-called “peace community” here in the Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti [Michigan] area. I/we live in Ypsilanti.

I learned just how “peaceful” that so-called “community” really was when I was permanently kicked out of the Ann Arbor Friends Meeting around 1980-1990+ for demonstrating in that group against a monstrously “successful” personal and complete character assassination by one of the group’s “white knights”, David R. Bassett, M.D. This destroyed much of our family relationships that have only minimally been rebuilt. My 2 grandsons of 3 [11 & 13] have been asking me why I was fired and why I was kicked out of the church. I work on that as probably a most important effort as well as continuing other family relationship reconstruction, now 23 years in progress.

I recently went anyway to such a vigil on behalf of the Peace Team members that were recently imprisoned in Iraq, in part to accompany my wife, but came away with the same feeling of uselessness.

I do not have an accumulated wealth of significance since my illegal 1982 firing rendered me permanently unemployable taking away my most significant earnings years.

Still, I write epistles intended to seek investigations and corrections in these affairs, more for society to corrrect the record of misdeeds than for my own gain — or I should say regaining of my lost self. My efforts are certainly the epitomy of the proverbial long shot, but even if I fail, there will be a written record and perhaps that may bring about some of the needed changes after I am gone.

I take your suggestion of long ago to house the records of this affair in the libraries at the University of Michigan [Hatcher, I think] and the Swarthmore Peace Collection [I am a Swarthmore graduate]. This will probably happen even if my other efforts fail. However, I feel my continued work needs to be dedicated to persistence too to continue this quest for a small research/museum/library institution in the public interest to continue the work that was cut off by these bigoted events surrounding my pacifist views, artistic work, and new, published, scientific ideas.

My current expressions here are a set of letters now in composition directed to state officials [Governor, another of her staff, and Attorney General] who have indicated things in 3 letters to me that cause these letters themselves to become evidence that they could reasonably be personally charged with obstruction of justice if they do not act constructively on my persistent documentation-supported demands. If this occurs, my back salary and interest is estimated to be over $10M, over $50M if adjusted for inflation. These funds would be in significant measure directed to creation of the above public institution, some for my survival if I still exist.

I studied graduate Liberation Theology at the University of Michigan under a visiting professor of religious thought – the so called “Father of Liberation Theology”. This was for one semester in the mid-1980's. In that course, I read a large amount of writings of Las Casas in order to compile my term paper on which each student gave a class presentation during the semester. Mine was about bigoted, psychological mentalities of those surrounding Las Casas and his apology late in life regretting the part he had played in earlier supporting the enslavment of others in the quest of the Spanish to take over the native “Indians” of South America. One of my conclusions was that the reason Las Casas is so important and why he is studied in this field is that he wrote prolifically and these writings remain today. I think an important activity for such as we is to leave a legacy at least of writings if nothing else.

Thanks again, and best wishes of the season to you. Bruce G.


9a. Subject: Personal message from wtr list member
From: Candyce Hawk <cjhawk@verizon.net>
Date: Mon, 26 Dec 2005 00:03:45 -0800

Mr. Salzman,

I greatly enjoy reading your words on the wtr list. I agree with you that ordinary people (bourgeoisie) are key to turning around the greed-driven dictates of the proletariat worldwide. Redirecting our taxes is one way that I have chosen to contribute to future generations on this planet.

I have considered for some time moving out of the United States for this country is quickly becoming fascist. I have considered Taxco but did some research on Oaxaca tonight after reading your message. It sounds like a wonderful place. Clearly you lived in Boston for awhile, why did you decide to move to Mexico? I hope you don’t mind my asking you these questions; I’ve meant to contact you for a long time. What do you think of Oaxaca?

I’m off to read the website given in your message to the wtr list. Thank you for your time.

Candyce Hawk
Washington State USA


9b. Subject: Re: Personal message from wtr list member
Date: Mon, 26 Dec 2005 11:22:46 -0600

Dear Candyce Hawk,
      Thank you for taking the trouble to write, and for your encouraging words. I’m glad to respond to your questions, but wondered if you would mind if I wrote an open response to the wtr-s listserv that identifies you (so that other folks on the list can write you, too). I could omit parts of the second paragraph if you don’t want it known that you’re thinking of possibly leaving the U.S. But be assured that you’re not the only one. I’ve heard from a fair number of Americans that they are entertaining the same thoughts. In the meantime, some of your questions are answered in my introductory note to the Mexico folder at http://site.www.umb.edu/faculty/salzman_g/Mexico/index.htm and in the essay “Why Mexico?” at http://site.www.umb.edu/faculty/salzman_g/Strate/Discus/1999-01-27WhyMex.htm.
With all best wishes for the new year,
George


9c. Subject: Re: Personal message from wtr list member
Date: Mon, 26 Dec 2005 09:56:43 -0800

Mr. Salzman,

Thank you for writing to me; I appreciate your time. Yes, you may write an open response to the list and include my email. Thank you for the links. I’m reading other essays linked from your site (Getting Free, and Strategy for Revolution) but will read the “Why Mexico” links first. I didn’t realize your website was so extensive. Excellent! Looks like have several days of informative and enjoyable reading ahead. Best wishes to you as well for the coming year. Thank you again for your timely response to my email.

Candyce


10a. Subject: Re: New from George: Bleed the Monster, or, we gotta get the world straightened out
From: Anna Jhirad <annajhirad@aol.com>
Date: Mon, 26 Dec 2005 13:40:05 -0500

George,

I finally had the time, again, to read more closely your comments. What great ideas. I do follow what’s happening rather closely, but the issues are so terribly large, it seems almost impossible to know how to respond.

I. One of my many concerns is the loss of democracy in America. I do believe that Bush has NEVER been elected President — in either the 2000 or 2004 campaigns — what with rigged voting in Florida, Ohio, and Texas (eg. gerrymandering of Texas, electronic voting machines, and GOP state representatives who manage the vote counting process) and Rove-styled political campaigns in which the tactics of smearing one’s opponent or resorting to distortion, outright lies, and character assassination are common. Congressman Conyers has done important work in investigating the serious manipulation of the presidential election of 2004.

I also think the expanding use of electronic voting machines has insured GOP control of the election process. This is especially true since two of the most important manufacturers of electronic voting machines are brothers and Republican stalwarts, and one of the two brothers ( who makes Diebold machines) made the famous, or infamous, announcement that he wanted to “deliver” the vote to Bush in 2004. Hence: Maryland, now on electronic voting machines and normally Democratic leaning state, voted in a truly crude and unpopular GOP governor (Ehrlich), to the surprise of many and the press. I often wonder if he really got elected, but there is less proof here of rigging than there is in Texas, Florida and Ohio.

I helped distribute campaign material for the Democratic Party in 2004 in Ohio. I happened to see the GOP campaign material, which cynically, dealt only with cultural issues--not one issue of importance was on their flyers. They did not deal with the economy, health care, education, the Iraq war, the growing poverty in America. Nothing. I also happened to read newspaper accounts in Ohio of how the votes of 2000 were counted--many of the largely Democratic strongholds had 17% to 20% of their votes simply not counted. And of course, you know what happened in 2004.

II. My second concern is Bush’s blatant violation of our Constitution and Bill of Rights — in a host of incidents — as well as his administration’s destruction of America’s position of strength in the world. The diplomatic achievements of 60 years — since World War II — have been tossed out the window by Cheney’s and Bush’s crude and incompetent efforts to foment conflict and grab power.

The question is how to steer our country back to a more civilized position? Bush and Cheney’s instincts are so dictatorial — how can one restore some reasonable sense of democracy here?

Your ideas allow for a funding base ... But we need to brainstorm about how to fight back.

Meanwhile, it seems to come down to personal things. ...You have contributed to political and social movement, but how will you survive? Who will take care of you when you’re older? We need — all of us — to band together to assure the survival of each of us. — especially since Bush has undermined health care provisions and not shored up Social Security.

Anna

Anna Reid Jhirad
Washington, DC


10b. Date: Wed, 11 Jan 2006 09:02:48 -0600

Dear Anna,

      I've been trying to answer folks who wrote me — pretty much in the order in which I got their e-mails — and after yours (number 10) there are still a few others I need to get to. I'm sorry to be so delayed. Thank you for your generous encouragement. You’re right of course that the issues are enormous. I believe that many people are trying to grapple with how we can respond effectively to all the threats.

      I. About the 2000 and 2004 elections, I agree completely with you that the announced results were fraudulent. Although I do not believe that representative democracy is a good way to organize the political structure of a country, I am not so much of an anarchist that I refuse to have anything to do with electoral politics, as long as that system is in place. I urged voting against Bush, as my post at http://site.www.umb.edu/faculty/salzman_g/Strate/Salz/2004-10-26.htm stated, and after election day I supported the work of Bev Harris's organization, Black Box Voting, with website at http://www.blackboxvoting.org/. They are still very much involved in trying to prevent dishonest elections. I hope they succeed, but that is not where my energies are going. I do not share the common beliefs of those liberally-minded people who still have hopes in the Democratic Party. I think the entire system is illegitimate and ought to be replaced in fundamental ways.

      II. You speak of the Bush “administration’s destruction of America's position of strength in the world” and of scuttling “the diplomatic achievements of 60 years – since World War II”. Here we disagree markedly in our outlook and evaluation. I am all for destroying U.S. global dominance (military and economic), and I am appalled at the U.S. “diplomatic achievements” since the Second World War (as well as before). As for steering the U.S. “back to a more civilized position”, it’s a mistake to believe that the U.S. ever was “more civilized.” There is simply nothing decent to try to go “back” to. The colonial conquest of the Americas was as brutal and murderous an enterprise as one can imagine, a mammoth holocaust for the indigenous peoples, from which the descendents of the survivors are still suffering, not in Argentina and Uruguay, where the European invaders managed to wipe them out, but in much of the rest of the Americas. As for U.S. accomplishments in the past half century, William Blum’s <bblum6@aol.com> Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions since World War II, is a frightening, quite comprehensive account of how the U.S. has acted, under both Democratic and Republican administrations.

      My thought about building up a material base for the grassroots efforts is that without it we will remain ineffective and marginalized, without real impact. The amount of constructive energy that young people are putting into the communications, news and information part of the grassroots infrastructure is immeasurable in dollar terms. I know first-hand how a group of them in the Boston area is making the Lucy Parsons Center (LPC) http://www.lucyparsons.org/ flourish as a radical book, magazine and zine source and an active community center. They all do it on a volunteer basis, supporting themselves by working elsewhere. But the entire effort is under the looming threat of the ever present landlord who may demand higher rent, as he has periodically, which puts great stress on the collective to have additional fund-raising events. I hope that it will become possible for them to buy a suitable building, with a manageable mortgage, so that the LPC will be on a firm, secure base.

      As for brainstorming about how to fight back, I think you are absolutely correct. The Town of Russell in western Massachusetts is now doing just that, or more accurately, a good number of its citizens are. Across Massachusetts towns and cities are moving to deprivatize their water suppliers, to take them back from the corporations that were given contracts to provide those services, for profit. I believe that those of us who are in a position to help such efforts, and many others, ought to seriously consider the long-term benefits for our children and grandchildren if we move in that direction.

      Adam D. Sacks <info@constution411.org>, who I mentioned near the end of my essay two days ago, is heavily involved in supporting the growing challenge to corporate hegemony over our lives. His article in the July/August 2005 issue of Dollars & Sense, “Rights Fight: Townships in rural Pennsylvania take on factory farms — and corporate rights”: is a real inspiration.

      Finally, your last paragraph, on what it means to each of us personally, on the risks and our fears. I’ve tried, as well as I can, to overcome my fears, but it’s true that they linger. I long ago decided that I didn’t want to end up being a burden to my children, a burden that I saw my brother and his wife assume for the last years of our parents’ lives. The truth is that our parents’ lives were, in their final years, a huge burden also to themselves, but they were so conditioned to the illusion of middle class Americans that it is desirable to live as long as modern medicine could make possible, and they absolutely could never think of ending their own lives voluntarily and peacefully, that they struggled on, unfruitfully, my father until after his 92nd birthday, and my mother, who died a little over a year later, in her 95th year. My lingering fear is that I will be unable to make the choice, when I feel my life is no longer useful, to end it. I’ve kept a bottle of sleeping pills (prescription) since leaving for Mexico in 1999, but I must not neglect to refill the prescription each year, as I did last summer. I must try to keep myself healthy enough physically to be able to use them when I’m ready to give up the struggle. So I try to do the basic things — moderate food and a little alcohol (usually a beer), no tobacco or other drugs except caffein and sucrose, adequate rest, regular exercise (a forty-five minute climb up a nearby hill and down maybe 5 or 6 times a week) and keeping myself occupied. I’m hoping to avoid a stroke or other disabling affliction that would take control away from me. And underneath it all I recognize that money alone won’t prevent a possibly prolonged and painful end. As you put it, “We need — all of us — to band together to assure the survival of each of us.” That’s the only real security, social security through communality. I’m working on communality.

Sincerely, and with all best wishes to you and David,
George

P.S. Yesterday I got a few replies to my Monday posting. Two of them may interest you. Here they are:

Subject: RE: New post - On ideology and truth: Evo Morales' speech
From: Tony Troughton-Smith <tts@iinet.net.au>
Date: Tue, 10 Jan 2006 14:30:17 +0800

Hi George

In reply to your question

What is our turf?

      Or rather, what should it be? ...

      I would suggest that the issues of climate change and renewable energy are both actually areas of “our turf” that some of the mainstream media and politicians have been dragged onto by the weight of our arguments, which is good, as far as it goes. I think climate is so urgent that we must continue to proclaim it of paramount importance – there’s no point in solving any other problems if the world becomes effectively uninhabitable for large portions of our race, and even other species.

      But that said, climate change is just a symptom of the disease which is our reigning, but severely skewed, economic paradigm. It is this, in my opinion, that (to extend your metaphor) should be our fortress in the centre of our turf. Nothing will address climate change effectively until we can lay bare and reveal the myths of money, and turn the lumbering beast of our globalising society away from the cliffs of eternal growth and the rocks of debt at their base. We have to restore the ideal that the interests of the many take precedence over those of the few (and certainly of the individual). And we have to banish the bastards that have hijacked us away from the ideal with the sugared words of advertising for the last century or more.

      Perhaps the visionaries of the 21st century are appearing in South America. Let us hope so, and hope they can be quick to inspire and mobilise, not only those within their borders, but people around the world too. And for that, as you say, we need these alternative media and communication channels. What chance would we have if we were to be deprived of them?

Tony Troughton-Smith
Australia


Subject: Your Recent Posts
From: Andrew Stretton <bsmart@icisp.net.au>
Date: Wed, 11 Jan 2006 12:50:25 +1100

Hi George,

      First of all, thank you for your recent posts. Uncannily, the last two have been very aligned with where my thinking is at present. Over the past year I have been sitting on the fence, keeping one foot in the water of “accepted norms” and the other in so called “radical thought”. The latter is becoming increasingly “normal” to me as the days go by and I am finding it hard to find any justification in living life as I have done, in particular, as everybody does around me, in a place where conformity equates with comfort.

      At 45 this is a scary prospect! That said, I am also beginning to realize that the anxiety I am experiencing is actually coming from NOT standing up and saying what I need to say. It is daunting indeed to face the possibility that the public expression of one’s thoughts, especially in a small regional community, may well lead to a life at the margins. However, the prospect of living my life without challenging the destructive path on which society seems hell bent on heading down would be even more unthinkable!

      My thoughts are now turning to “how”. How do I best go about raising these issues, in the societal collective conscious, in a constructive, factual and truthful way? Your recent post, “Ideological conformity — an impediment to truth”, highlights this dilemma beautifully. After reading your “bleed the monster” post, I have decided that the very first step is to indeed start acting locally and to that end, I will be publishing a bi-monthly journal, name as yet undecided, for local circulation.

      The year 2006 is going to be an interesting one for Andrew Stretton as he takes his first steps towards a more authentic life!

      Thanks again for your e-mails they are a continued source of inspiration.

Kindest Regards
Andrew Stretton
Talbot, Victoria, Australia


11. Subject: Re: New from George: Bleed the Monster, or, we gotta get the world straightened out
From: Colyn Sharp <anncsharp@yahoo.com>
Date: Wed, 4 Jan 2006 13:48:56 -0800 (PST)

DEAR MR. SALZMAN, I ALMOST WEPT AS I READ YOUR "BLEED..." ARTICLE, AND AM SUBMITTING THIS COMMENT BRIEFLY, BUT WOULD ENCOURAGE YOU TO ACCEPT MY INVITATION TO VIEW A VIDEO WHICH I THINK WILL BE VERY EDUCATIONAL AND ENJOYABLE ESPECIALLY RELATED TO A GRASS ROOTS APPROACH AND ONE ON ONE ASSISTANCE BETWEEN INDIVIDUALS. I CAN DROP THE VIDEO AT YOUR HOME SINCE WE ACTUALLY ARE NEIGHBORS. SINCERELY, COLYN SHARP P. S. JUST SEND ME A NOTE.VIA E MAIL.


12. Subject: Re: New from George: Bleed the Monster, or, we gotta get the world straighten...
From: Wayne Cooke <wcooke648@aol.com>
Date: Thu, 5 Jan 2006 18:16:38 EST
To: George Salzman

      Thank you for your open and honest “bleed the monster” letter. While I’ve let it sit in email over the holidays, I’ll now get it copied and distributed as well as I can, which isn’t much. I appreciate your supportive and intelligent writings. Yes, a lot of effort will be wasted this year complaining ... while the neocons take over.


All comments and criticisms are welcome.    <george.salzman@umb.edu>

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