Greetings! Happy New Year!
In January, we once honored the life and work of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a man who seriously challenged the established order of this country-and for that the FBI under J. Edgar Hoover tried to slander him, including the infamous letter, after he won the Nobel Prize, telling him to commit suicide. THIS repression was aimed at a man who practiced NON-VIOLENT forms of social protest-a far cry from the sanitized saint King had become in our culture. The established power in our society is as much threatened by non-violent resistance as they are with an armed uprising.
I hereby make my endorsement for President of the United States-BERNIE SANDERS. It’s not about winning or losing, or personalities, or who and what looks good over the media; it’s about bringing out solid social change in this country, and Bernie Sanders has demonstrated such a commitment since his days in the University of Chicago in the early 1960s, getting arrested during Civil Rights activism-and who wouldn’t like a politician arrested, but for a righteous cause?
Are we so programmed in this country to just accept the “lesser of two evils,” to accept how dumbed-down and corrupt our political system is, in BOTH parties? Oh, sure, the Republican party keeps calling itself the “party of Lincoln,” even while chasing after racist white voters with such slogans as “law and order” and “welfare queen,” and even the old pre-Civil War slogan of the ante-bellum South, “states rights” (to oppress and enslave a race of people); and the Democratic party touts itself as the heir of the legacy of the New Deal and the Great Society, while agreeing with the Republicans to dismantle the protections that placed limitations on the power of corporations to oppress workers and consumers, and to restore the plutocratic class that led us into the 1929 Depression, and the 2007-08 Recession, to power.
To me, both of the political parties are as much part of the US state apparatus as the Army; both are on the ballot in every state, and both have erected requirements that would make it close to impossible for alternative parties of the left or right to get on the ballot. And either of the two major parties would get all the national media coverage, while alternative parties would be lucky to get on a local college stations. (Fortunately, alternative parties could use the internet-podcasting, YouTube, etc.-to get their message across.)
With the candidacies of Donald Trump in the Republican primaries, and Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primaries, I am seeing the beginning of the end of the old two-party system. The two major parties have been mainly bureaucracies, with their national, state, and lower-level organizations, and activists on the left and right using the party bureaucracies to get their agendas across-the liberal, labor, and Civil rights activists utilizing the Democratic Party, and the secular and religious rightists utilizing the Republican Party. Now, we see the politicians of both parties have been stringing along the activists, talking the talk of the activists’ causes, while entering office and doing everything possible to stay in office; and we have to still support our party’s candidate, selected by the other party officials, because the other party’s candidate is a HELL of a lot worse.
The uselessness of the traditional party system is also seen in the PACs, where wealthy donors could contribute money to a candidate’s campaign-who would the candidate be beholden to, the voters or the donors? With the Citizens United decision, where money was equal to speech, the floodgates of campaign donations, and political corruption, came loose; our government is fast losing the last pretentions of “democracy” and is becoming an outright plutocracy.
(It was this same political class, in both parties, that led us into the debacle of the Viet Nam war, where both political parties, and officials calling themselves both conservative AND liberal, tried showing how “tough” they were in fighting the Communist menace by propping up the sorry-ass regime of kleptomanical thugs calling themselves generals, who were more skilled in graft than combat, and who were at war with their own people. The arrogance of presuming that WE, a powerful foreign nation, but a foreign nation nonetheless, knew more than the indigenous people about THEIR OWN country would appall any thinking person.)
(I’m not saying that ALL foreign intervention is inappropriate, and I don’t advocate a form of neo-isolationism-the US of A is too much the international power to go back to that, and all nations are tied into each other, through trade and communication.)
Yes, indeed, upheaval is in the air. This year marks the centennial of the Easter Uprising of 1916 in Ireland, where Irish citizen-soldiers raided the General Post Office in Dublin and declared Ireland an independent republic-and the forces of the United Kingdom went in and crushed the rebellion, executing many of its leaders, including the socialist and trade union leader James Connelly. It was also pointed out to me (Thanks, T.) that next year will be the centennial of the Russian Revolution, and it would be good to have some conversation about the history and effect that the Revolution had on world history, what it did right and wrong-and we can’t have any excuse-making of the terror and repressiveness of the Soviet regime, which went against ANY real Socialist ideals.
These were not spontaneous flashes of emotion; Lenin and Connelly did not press a button and say, “Comrades, do your thing.” These events had behind them years, centuries, of combustible materials behind them-labor unrest, political and cultural repression, illiteracy, a wealthy and arrogant oligarchy on top of millions of impoverished workers and farmers. In each of these events, there were precedents of earlier attempts at addressing the problems of these nations, such as parliamentary politics, labor organizing (which included Marxism), literary endeavors. And the ruling classes kept acting like they would stay on top forever-until it finally burst upon them.
It’s out now-John Ehrlichman, Richard Nixon’s domestic policy advisor, was quoted in an article in the April 2016 Harper’s magazine that the “war on drugs” was really a war on their domestic opponents, African-Americans and anti-war activists. The idea was to associate anti-war activists with weed and African-Americans with heroin, to demonize both groups in the media-news and TV fiction, like cop shows- and make it easier to demand draconian laws, supposedly against drug use, but really as a way to harass and incarcerate the regime’s enemies.
And the “drug war” still goes on, with no end in sight; in spite of the marvelous surveillance of the government, the “just say no” sloganeering, the lectures in school, the drugs somehow keep coming in, and people keep taking them. As with every other war, there are the profiteers, rich people who get richer from the war-drug cartels with their monopolies, banks where the drug money is stored, law-enforcement agencies that get government grants and also make money from seizures for drug possession. It’s time to call a truce in the “drug war,” and treat it like a public health issue rather than a law-enforcement issue.
Racism has been the real motivating factor of the “War on Drugs,” way before Nixon. Harry Anslinger, the first director of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, needed an excuse for his agency to exist, so he latched upon the fear that marijuana would make otherwise rational people into raving homicidal maniacs, including associating marijuana with Blacks, Filipinos, Mexicans, and jazz music; quoth he:
“Marihuana leads to pacifism and communist brainwashing”
“Reefer makes darkies think they’re as good as white men.”
“…the primary reason to outlaw marijuana is its effect on the degenerate races.”
William Randolph Hearst, the infamous newspaper publisher on the hunt for a wild, sensational story-who led us into the Spanish-American war, a war merely about imperial power- also took part in the birth of the “War on Drugs,” also our of self-interest; he invested heavily in timber for news paper pulp, and he feared competition from hemp paper. Plus, DuPont had just patented nylon, and feared competition from hemp as a source of fabric, along with pharmaceutical firms that feared competition for their overpriced manufactured medicines. (I thank the web site Drug War Rant, http://www.drugwarrant.com, for this great historical information.)
For decades, going on a century, we have been lied to about the phony Drug war, part propaganda, part money maker, part scare tactic. This makes you wonder, what the HELL else have we been lied to about? Let us begin the work of liberating our minds, after which we’ll liberate our nation.