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october 01 dispatches

10-31-01    emily: conspiracy theories

I'm just looking at the numbers of who's got their greedy little hands out for this-time-around's systematic transfer of wealth to the already wealthy. And it looks like the jackpot winner (I don't mean to disparage the gamblers) of $254 million is Enron Energy Services. Just a reminder that, back in April, Thomas E. White, vice chairman of Enron Energy Services, was appointed secretary of the Army. I had thought in April that the appointment might simply be a thank you for the bazillion dollars Enron poured into the Bush campaign. But when things are just too tidy, and the same guy keeps pulling up triple-sevens over and over again, any idiot can tell you it means one thing: The fix is in. No surprise there, of course, but it's always good to sit a few minutes with a cold, hard fact.

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Craig adds: for some more about Bush and big bucks, check out Mother Jones magazine's list of top contributors to Bush's campaign, and an analysis of what they expect in return.

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10-29-01    craig: executive assasins

As reported by The Guardian, in the wake of Sept. 11th, Bush quietly lifted a 25-year ban on CIA assasinations. Calling political assasinations a "defensive" move against attacks on amerikan lives, Bush's new order targets a wide range of "terrorists" for covert, US-sponsored murder: "The US president, according to senior government officials quoted by the Post, signed an order last month known as an intelligence 'finding,' which broadens the list of potential targets beyond Bin Laden and his immediate circle of some 15 operational planners - and beyond Afghanistan."

As with the new domestic "anti-terrorist" legislation, there can be no doubt that this order will serve to destroy oppostion to US economic policies of genocide. Past targets of CIA assasination campaigns included such terrorists as Fidel Castro, Che Guevara, and Salvador Allende.

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10-25-01    craig: today's list

listening to: David Bowie go through Changes
eating: PB and J, more american than flags and imperialist war
drinking: the object of my caffeine addiction (no free plugs here!)
wearing: the clothes I put on yesterday
writing from: the train wreck we call a dining room
stressing out about: my lack of a costume for tomorrow's Critical Mass
fondly recalling: graffitti spotted last night -- "we were always in history"
reading: How Israel was Won, by Baylis Thomas
contemplating: Thomas on political memory --

Memory has a way of becoming a political instrument, selectively shifting attention to those current events which seem consistent with concerns and expectations arising from the past. The memory of the holocaust made the Jewish colonization of Palestine seem like a defensive operation and raised the specter of Nazi aggression when the Palestinians resisted that colonization. Morever, such analogy of past and present events becomes an oracle about the future. This oracle then justifies present actions and even creates a duty to the future to prevent past events.

Memory takes part for the whole; it creates myth from fragments of truth. We know this from our own history in which American pioneers are portrayed as victims of vicious attack rather than victimizing colonizers. The white man's conquest of the West comes to be depicted as an unintended by-product of a brave defense. Once the indigenous population "somehow" ends up dispossessed and marginalized, the outcome is ascribed to their senseless greed and fanatical instransigence. This is the justifying myth of not only the American and Zionist colonizations but also of colonization efforts by most nations.

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10-22-01    craig: fight to win

Members of Make have been less underground, more bedridden, this past week as a bit of post-traumatic, seasons-changing cold season sweeps across the city. Nonetheless we are still buzzing from an excellent visit to Toronto, where Colby and I got a taste of Maple flavor with the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty economic disruption campaign. We joined a group of 2,000 renegade pedestrians vowing "no more business as usual" and shut down traffic in the financial district for hours, while a caravan blockade simultaneously brought to a standstill traffic on a main freeway leading into the city. As an added bonus, we got to hang out with the wonderful Helen from Colours of Resistance and a group of her ass-kicking friends, who we joined for drinks and activist dish. Oh, Canada, we love you, despite the proliferation of American flags.

Anyhow, while I try to get my shit together, go check out Al-Awda, the Palestinian Right to Return Coalition.

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10-10-01    craig: from imperial war to class war

Navigating questions of collaboration and resistance, I happened upon the incisive words of Robin D.G. Kelley (author or Race Rebels and Yo' Mama's Disfunktional) in a recent article:

In 1932, a group of French and Caribbean Surrealists got together and wrote a brief called "Murderous Humanitarianism," vowing to change "the imperialist war, in its chronic and colonial form, into a civil war." I say the same thing: we need a civil war, a class war, whatever, to put an end to U.S. policies that endanger all of us. Imagine a U.S. foreign policy committed to real democracy in the world, ending poverty with no strings attached or profit motive, respecting Islamic concerns regarding Western occupation of sacred land.

In Joe Sacco's brilliant graphic novel Palestine: In the Gaza Strip, he depicts a conversation between himself (an american tourist in Jerusalem) and two Israeli women. One cuts short his aggressive inquiries about the occupation and Israel's moral obligations, exclaiming:

We just want to live our lives, okay? We have our lives! We have jobs and families and we go out and live just like you do. . . We don't think about this stuff all the time, and we get a bit tired of hearing about it!

What are the costs when those of us who can, choose not to think? Whose lives end when we go on living ours?

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10-08-01    craig on the comfort zone

How do you stop a war?

Yesterday, between fits of TV and radio propaganda reports, the reading group I'm in tossed around thoughts about the essay "Why Palestinians Cheered the Scud Missiles," from Norman Finkelstein's The Rise and Fall of Palestine. The chapter presents an intense and challenging discussion of Palestinian reactions to Iraq's bombing of Israel during the last Gulf War, an analysis that sets Israel/Palestine within an international context in which the world's powerful nations have turned a blind eye to Israel's murderous system of apartheid. What options exist for an impoverished, butalized refugee community denied access to international modes of redress? As one Palestinian living in a camp within occupied territories put it, "We hoped the Scuds would show Israel that there was a price to be paid for continuing to torture us." Whether the contested CNN footage of Palestinians celebrating in response to the events of 9-11 is real or not, and without dismissing the gravity of the lives lost, one can easily see why Palestinians, among others, would likewise cheer the violent interruption of "business as usual" here in the states.

Reading the essay and thinking about what could possibly be effective strategies of resisitance in the face of a war machine that feels (is?) so untouchable (how do you stop a war?), I came upon a quote from Mattiyah Peled, a political activist in Tel Aviv. He describes the function of Peace Now, the maintstream Israeli opposition movement:

Nice people in Israel who feel unhappy with the situation but are not prepared to do anything about it get together twice or three times a year, and as the saying goes here, they give their conscience to the laundry. They get it back cleaned up, and they go back home happy and satisfied. There is nothing more to it than that. They stand at a demonstration. They shout a few slogans. They go home satisfied that they have done the job, but they are not prepared to shake the system. So this is a substitute for real action.

Peled's description reminds me of what american Indian activist Ward Churchill calls a politics of "the comfort zone" -- an activism that serves more to assuage feelings of guilt on the part of activists than to dismantle unjust structures. And I'm led to wonder -- What will american citizens do to stop this war? What should we do? I don't by any means wish to establish a code of appropriate action, but I think we must seriously consider the failures of past anti-war efforts and engage critical debates about our motives and aims. We must be careful not to substitute action that reassures "we're doing all we can" for action that actually stops Bush's genocidal campaign.

Again, from Finkelstein's essay, leftist Israeli Shulamith Aloni:

The government continues to rule in the Territories -- suppressing human rights, destroying, killing -- and we have a share in it because we have not gone into revolt. We obey the law. We serve in the army. . . . In short, we abide by the rules of the game. And therefore, we are partners. . . all of us.

How can we not be unwitting partners to Bush's tyranny? How do you stop a war?

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10-08-01    dean says, "no justice, no peace"

the various anti-war gatherings i've been to since 9/11 have really worried me in terms of comfort-zone activism and hollow notions of peace. peace seems to be the word that brings people together. lets not have a war. let's have peace. i just keep thinking, what are these people talking about? the US is already making nonstop war, its just not called that and lots of people in the US don't find out about it or don't care. to come out and make a protest that adopts the same narrative that the government is spouting, i.e. that this attack came out of no where and started this war, rather than that it was a incident in a series of incidents which have killed tens or hundreds of times more people outside the US than within, seems dangerously lazy. people seem to accept the terms of the debate being 'should we go attack afghanistan and have a war, or continue as usual with no war.' i look around and feel like maybe i'm at a protest supporting the exact bullshit i'm trying to protest.

i always feel like the point of going to big protests and marches is to join up for a common principle, even when i may differ with others there about various other issues. but at these peace/anti-war protests, i wonder what i share at all. do the people around me only think its worth protesting if there is a danger that 'our boys' will be sent somewhere, but not usually when the deaths are just in other parts of the world, executed by the US government via other countries' people? do they think there was 'peace' before 9/11? do they fundamentally just oppose armed struggle, and want 'peace' even if that means severe economic exploitation and death by sanctions, environmental degredation, and murderous labor conditions? when i watch a bunch of privileged people who usually do no activist stuff (except maybe using working assets for phone service?) show up, part of me wants to be happy about a growing mobilization, but most of me knows they'll get back in their SUV's and tell their friends at the next dinner party how gritty they were for going to a march. "it was just like the '60s" they'll say. so i'm not going to any more anti-war actions without a lot of flyers and stickers and zines that ask questions about deeper notions of what "peace" and "war" mean.

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10-05-01    craig with some house-cleaning

I've been furiously studying my html book, making lots of time-consuming changes, that no one will notice, to my own badly written code. I took down the uprisings section because it was too hard to keep up with; I'll post interesting events here in dispatches instead. Also, I've made it so you will enter right into dispatches from the title page, so you don't have to click past battle plan. In the next few days (famous last words), I'll also be making some changes to the links page, to the material reading page, and to the new transmissions page.

In the meantime, why not check out some sites of the great folks I met recently at the Homes Not Jails conference in D.C. -- Project South and MST (Brazilian Landless Movement).

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10-01-01    ananya/craig on Ashcroft's surveillance bill

Ananya forwarded me a link to Senator Patrick Leahy's homepage where you can find a point by point analysis of what will be the practical applications of Ashcroft's so-called Anti-Terrorism Act. Though the commentary clearly is meant to support the bill, it nonetheless offers a useful resource for understanding the broadening of governmental powers under this piece of backlash legislation.

I can't help but think of an article by Cletus Nelson in You are Being Lied To which suggests that the u.s. goverment in fact participated in the Oklahoma City bombing in order to provoke a political climate amenable to further curtailment of civil liberties in the name of "national security." The legislative work that followed the OKC bombing is the foundation for Ashcroft's bill today.

ps, the label "conspiracy theorist" does not frighten me.

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