• "God invented war so Americans could learn geography" -- Mark Twain.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Disconnects & the Guilty Conscience

In the news, it was reported these past days that the Government of Canada has spent 1 billion Loonies providing "security" for the G8/G20 meeting in Toronto. The security costs include 5 million dollars for a fence, which left 995 million dollars for other unstated purposes.

There is probably no one in the Western World who has not heard of Marie Antoinette's famous disconnect -- the one that led to her other; and it would appear to be a proposition that governments -- like people -- reaching the end of their viabilities suffer from certain connection deficits. What kind of irreality could have seized the Harper government to spend such lavish sums on protecting a Coddled Club of twenty big wigs in the middle of a Great Recession which is daily costing people their presents and their futures? One is reminded of Hoover the Great, who donned and dined in a tuxedo thinking it would give an "uplift" to the dispirited hobos of Hoovervilles.

There was an Antonine innocence (or at least insouciance) to Hoover's disconnect. Neither the ill-fated queen nor the ill-fated president were malicious people. On the contrary, it was their very good naturedness (and Hoover's indisputable humanitarian instincts) that made their remove from the reality of others so maddening. The same cannot be said for that creamy face scumbag, Harper. Harper, and the neo-liberal hoodlums he hosts, understand very well what they are about. Their disconnect is connected to a fear that is born of their own social and economic guilt. Although they don't care about the dislocations and deprivations their policies will cause, they do know that their policies will cause them. What we see on the streets of Toronto is the shadow of their own self-betraying conscience.

The brioche of the matter is very simple. The meeting in Toronto is aimed at deciding whether to save the banks or to save large non-bank corporations. Obama-Geithner-Bernake have saved American banks and now want to promote trade in order to push the American corporate economy back into the clover. This is called "ending the recession" -- although it is understood and admitted that it is an End-Of-Recession that will not -- repeat not -- involve an End of Joblessness. In other words, OGB is pushing The People be Damned Option 1.

Europe (and particularly Angela Merkel) is pushing The People be Damned Option 2, otherwise known as "Save Our Banks!--The Sequel" Throughout 2008 and 2009, Europe was quite Le Smug. Those uncouth Americans had wrecked themselves with their Wild West Finance. One could cut the swell of Budenbrooksian self-righteousness with a busser-knife. In fact, Germany, and France too, even played the victim, quietly accepting U.S. taxpayer monies for assorted injuries to their banks at the hands of the credit-swapping genies of Wall Street.

But lo and behold! Quite on their own Swiss, German and French banks were out lending massive sums to those credit-unworthies now known as the PIGS of Europe. To be sure, Goldman Sachs played a "constructive role" in cooking Greece's books; but it took a sure-as-hell willing fool to be duped. As the Wall Street Journal put it with inimitable bluntness, Greece is a nation of taxis and tourists; it couldn't "produce" its way out of a paper bag and will never have an "economy" that can repay its debts. This is news?

Of course, Greece is small pork. The real pigs in the poke are Spain and Italy with outstanding debts of one trillion each. That leaves European banks holding a lot of worthless paper. The answer? Austerity & Privatisation. The People have to get used to doing with less and - in Greece's case in particular, in addition to that, what it has in terms of national infrastructure needs to be privatized. (Indeed two weeks after the "rescue package" was announced a "privatisation schedule" was also announced.)

And so the meeting at Toronto boils down to arguing over imperilled salmon fumée whether to pursue Austerity or a Jobless Recovery. Which side of yes we have no bananas do you prefer?

If there were a Protocols of Toronto this would be it; and there is no way these demons do not know that they are Screwing the People big time. They might turn out their media-cannons to dumb-wit the populace but they know that if the people knew they would be up in arms. Ergo: SECURITY.

In fact, once one perceives that todays coddled cadre of leaders is just a milder speaking version as the same neo-con beast we illusorily got rid of at the last election, it can be seen that they have always had a guilty conscience. Back in 2004 the chipsters reported on the announced development of crowd control weapons -- including slippery jelly, sonic cannon and burn lasers -- avowedly aimed at defending against "terrorists" -- or, as the police chief of Toronto called them yesterday, "multi-issue terrorists". You see in the Austerity Police State a person with an issue (e.g. joblessness, hunger, health care or clean air) is a "terrorist".

There is, in reality, no serious security threat to the very precious leaders of the G8/20. There will be the usual carnival protests by powerless progressives accompanied by assorted minor acts of vandalism by anarcho-theatre groups. But a torched cop car and some smashed windows do not topple Empires and -- more even more importantly-- come nowhere close to presenting a danger to well guarded leaders within their security-perimeters.

So unlike hapless Hoover or the unhappy Autrichenne, the disconnects of todays leaders are in fact well connected to what they are about. Today, their police goons are in fact firing plastic bullets at the shadowy spectres of their haunted conscience; tomorrow they will fire real burn lasers and deaf rays at the truly desperate.


Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The Pied Piper of Psychosis

It is not everyday that we get to watch a country becoming unglued before our very eyes. But listening to Benyamin Netanyahu defend Israel's assault on a food convoy is like watching some psycho-genic Pied Piper of Jerusalem leading his followers over the precipice of sanity.

This was no Love Boat!" Bibi exclaims. "It was a boat of hatred."

Reverting to the accusatory tone he adopted in his September 2009 address to the United Nations, Netanyahu decried that "For many in the international community no evidence is needed. Israel is guilty until proven guilty,"

Then, retrenching behind the parapets of victim hood, Netanyahu goes on to bemoan that, "The state of Israel faces an attack of international hypocrisy. This is not the first time we have faced this, two years ago we faced a massive attack of missiles fired by Hamas who hid behind civilians."

A previously cleared vessel full of pampers and pablum is a "hate boat"? Since when is bringing humanitarian relief to civilians caught in the maw of hostilities an act of hate? Is the International Red Cross, which also attempts to bring relief to Gaza, also a "hate organization"? What evidence, other than the evidence of his own accusation, did Netanyahu have for suggesting that the seized boat was laden with contraband of war?

What in the world is an "attack of hypocrisy"? How is criticism of a blockade, or of the seizure of a vessel trying to run it, an example of a double standard? Is the world hypocritically condoning a Hamas blockade of Israel?

Mixing his metaphors and analogies, does Netanyahu seriously assert that Hamas subjected Israel to a "massive attack of missiles" -- an attack so overwhelming in its barrage that it has killed less than a dozen people in four years? And does he seriously assert that the world hypocritically failed to condemn Hamas's so-called rocket attacks?

On what factual basis does Netanyahu assert that Israel is always "presumed guilty?" Obviously two opponents in conflict engage in mutual recriminations. Plus ca change. But on this issue of Israel's invasion of Gaza, it took several resolutions and a year of commission studies before the Goldstone Report issued its findings which in no way presumed anything. Concluding, upon hearing, that Israel violated international law is not the same as "presuming" that it did so.


Psychotic disorders are severe mental disorders that cause abnormal thinking and perceptions. People with psychoses lose touch with reality. Two of the main symptoms are delusions and hallucinations. Delusions are false beliefs, [ Psychotic Disorders ]

"A delusion is a false belief that is based on an incorrect interpretation of reality. Delusions, like all psychotic symptoms, can occur as part of many different psychiatric disorders. But the term delusional disorder is used when delusions are the most prominent symptom.

"A person with this illness holds a false belief firmly, despite clear evidence or proof to the contrary.

"In delusional disorder, the delusions involve circumstances that could occur in reality even though they are unlikely. ... There are several types of delusions. Themes of persecution are common. Other types are erotic, grandiose, jealous delusions."

Israel has clearly gone psycho.

That she is enmeshed in a violent conflict with Hamas and various Palestinian factions is a fact. That Israel is the weaker party or a helpless victim is nonsense.

That there are people and governments around the world who side with the Palestinians against Israel is also a fact. But it is also a fact that most Western governments, including the most powerful government of all, basically support Israel, militarily, economically, and diplomatically. Israel got her nuclear technology from France. Israel has been given special trade status with the EU. The US continuously provides Israel with arms, cash and -- most important of all -- precious vetoes. Israel is nowhere close to being the World's Waif.

That Hamas (or factions within Hamas) have lobbed a few jumbo firecrackers over the wall at a small farming village called Sderot is a fact. That this constitutes anything like a "rain" or anything like "missles" is a mischaracterization that bares no resemblance to reality.

Let us put aside the pointless issue of "who started it". Assuming that Hamas is "attacking" Israel, the attacks are like those of a five year old kicking a professional boxer in the shins. Would any non-delusional person anyone argue that the boxer is "justified" in ramming a massive fist into the child's face?

And so, one comes to the problem of the blockade. It is correct that international law recognizes the right of blockades, in general between belligerents. There is a real question of whether the "between" part qualifies in this case; but, assuming it does, the right to prevent contrabands of war does not include the right to embargo essential foods and medicines. What have forbidden chocolate and cilantro to do with "missles"?

Even assuming that Israel has an unimpeachable right to stop the relief convoy and granting that one of those ships could be bearing real arms and munitions what is the likelihood that these pre-inspected boats were?

What is really at issue is that the Gaza Blockades by design seeks to bring "pressure" to bear on civilians. Israel has publicly stated that this is the real purpose of the blockade, and this is the primary reason the UN, most governments and scores of NGO's have condemned it. It is (1) out of proportion to the legitimate needs of self defense and (2) consciously (not "collaterally") seeks to collectively punish the civilian population. For Netanyahu to decry this judgement as an attack on Israel's right to self-defense is simply over-the-cliff.

This is not a one-time mis-reaction. With increasing consistency Israel's public pronouncements bear the imprimatur of "Judah contra Mundum". Netanyahu's harangue to the UN General Assembly last September -- in which he alternately bemoaned and accused while waving blueprints of Auschwitz in the air -- was a jaw dropping example.

Netanyahu has become Israel's Pied Piper of Psychosis.

But it is not just Israel. According to Uri Avneri, the delusion afflicts Jews world wide. In a recent article in the Gush Shalom web-page, he reviews Israel's recent polls and policy arguments and concludes,

"Without being conscious of it, we do what we can to be hated again, We shall not rest until the world is anti-Semitic again...."

This is not the statement of some proverbial rabid anti-semite. Avneri gets little coverage in the mainstream US press, but he is a long time and respected journalist. Not only that, he was of the "First Generation" No one can fault his Zionist credentials. He has lived in, participated in and observed Israeli politics from the very beginning. When Uri Avneri says -- in so many words -- that Israel and her Jewish supporters are in self-destruct mode people should listen.

Was it like this at Massada? one wonders. Recent theories have reconstructed the evidence so as to conclude that the massacre was not a voluntary suicide but rather a self-imposed mass execution. We will never know for sure.

Was it like this at Berlin's Sportpalast? where Goebbels gave his infamous Total War Speech in which he whipped the crowd into a "bring-it-on" frenzy. Germania Contra Mundum.

What we do know is that when the speech was over, Goebbels wiped his brow, walked away and said,-- with unparalleled cynicism and contempt -- "What lunacy!"

Does Netanyahu believe his paranoia? We may never know, but it is clear that he is laboring hard to get others to swallow it.

Avneri's warning goes beyond the pros and cons of any one particular incident in a now 60 year long struggle. Regenerating real anti-semitism is no small matter and what Avneri has to say ought to be considered very carefully

©WCG, 2019