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Feudal Japan’s Edo and the US Empire

Feudal Japan’s Edo and the US Empire

Dissident Voice

March 25, 2020

by Hiroyuki Hamada

 

After the warlord period of 15th century, Japan was united by a few families and then by a shogun family.  The period is called the Edo period. They disarmed civilians and established a mild caste system. The country was closed except for a few ports controlled by the central government, travel restrictions were put in place and certain technological developments were prohibited. The Edo period also had an interesting feature called sankinkoutai. It forced regional leaders to march across the country in formal costumes along with their armies in order to alternate their residences between their home regions and the capital of the feudal Japan, Edo.  It also forced leaders’ wives and family members to remain in Edo at all times. It was an elaborate system to keep the hierarchical structure intact.

The reign lasted a few centuries with no conflicts within the country until the US forced Japan to open in order to use its ports for the whaling business. I’ve been suspecting that the aim of some people among the ruling class circle is to establish such a closed hierarchical system which can function in a “sustainable” manner. But, of course, it is not exactly a system of equality and sharing as it would be advertised. The notion of “sustainable” is also very much questionable as we see blatant lies hidden behind carbon trade schemes, nuclear energy, “humanitarian” colonialism rampant in Africa and other areas, and so on.

Detail from a handscroll painting depicting the sankin kôtai procession of the lord of Iyo-Matsuyama han. Date unknown. National Museum of Japanese History

 

I mentioned the special feature, sankinkoutai, since I see an interesting parallel between it and “representative democracy” within the capitalist West today.  Of course, we don’t have such an obvious requirement among us, but similar dynamics occur within our capitalist framework. Our thoughts and activities are always subservient to the moneyed transactions guided by the economic networks. Our economic restrictions can force us to make decisions to do away with our needs—we might abandon our skills, interests, friendships, life styles, philosophies, ideologies, community obligations and so on. In fact, some of us are forced to live on streets, die of treatable illness, and suffer under heavy debt during our struggles. In a way, we surrender our basic needs as hostages to the system just as the Japanese regional leaders had to leave their family members under the watch of the Shogun family. Moreover, the more our thoughts differ from that of neoliberal capitalist framework, the more we must put our efforts into adjusting to it. Some of us might be labeled as “dissidents,” and such a label can create obstacles in our social activities. This functions similar to the fact that Japanese feudal regional leaders who were further away from the capital geographically had to put more efforts in marching across the country, requiring them to expend more resources. In the capitalist system, this occurs economically as well; those who are already oppressed by the economic strife must spend more resources to conform to the draconian measures to survive.

Now, one might wonder why regional leaders had subjected themselves to such an inhumane scheme. The march across the country was considered as a show of strength and authority; it was a proud moment to put on their costume to show off. The populations across the country were forced to respect this process with reverence and awe. There were strict regulations regarding how to treat such marches.

This situation can be compared to our political process: the presidential election in particular, in which our powers and interests are put in the corporate political framework to be shaped, tweaked, and distorted. Sanctioned by capitalist mandates and agendas, political candidates march across the nation while people proudly cheer their favorites. The more complicit with the capitalist framework the candidates are, the more lavish “the marches.” This forces the contents of political discourse to remain within the capitalist framework while marginalizing candidates and their supporters whose ideas are not obedient to it. “Representative democracy” within a capitalist framework can be one of the most powerful ways to install the values, beliefs and norms of the ruling class into minds of the people whose interests can be significantly curtailed by those ideas. All this can be achieved in the name of “democracy,” “free elections,” and so on.

Since people’s minds and their collective mode of operations are deeply indoctrinated to be a part of the capitalist structure, any crisis would strengthen the fundamental integrity of the structure. I heard a Trump supporter saying that “people should be shook up a little.” That’s actually a very appropriate description. When you shake their ground, people will try to hold onto whatever they think is a solid structure. Some of us might, however, try to hold onto a Marxist perspective, for example. That, of course, provokes reactions by those who go along with the capitalist framework because they will feel particularly threatened, sensing that their entire belief system might fall. Examination of facts and contexts during the time of crisis can generate divisions and opportunities to control and moderate opposing views.

Capitalist institutions are dominated by this mentality which might explain the extremely quick mobilization of the draconian restrictions and the demand for more restrictions during the time of “crisis”.  Economic incentives as well as self-preservation within the system force people to engage actively in unquestioning manner.  For example, we have observed concerted efforts in mobilizing media, government agencies, legal system and so on to “combat” “drug issues”, “inner-city violence” and so on which has led to mass incarceration, police killings and “gentrification” of primarily minority communities.  Needless to say, 9/11 has created enormous momentum of colonial wars against middle eastern countries.  No major media outlets or politicians questioned blatant lies surrounding WMD claim against Iraq, for example.  As a result, many countries were destroyed while one out of a hundred people on the planet became refugees.  Draconian regulations became normal, racism and xenophobia among people intensified and the term “global surveillance” became household.

This situation requires further examination since there are a few layers which must be identified.  First, we must recognize that there is an industry that commodifies “dissenting voices”.  The people who engage in this have no intention of examining the exploitive mechanism of capitalist hierarchy.  Some of them typically chose topics of government wrongdoings in contexts of fascist ideologies (jews are taking over the world, for example), space aliens and so on.  The angles are calibrated to keep serious inquiries away but they nonetheless garner major followings.  When certain topics fall into their hands, discussing them can become tediously unproductive as it prompts a label “conspiracy”.  It also contributes in herding dissidents toward fascist ideology while keeping them away from understanding actual social structure.

Second point is related to the first, when the topic enters the realm of “conspiracy”, and when we lose means to confirm facts, many of us experience cognitive dissonance.  The unspoken fear of the system becomes bigger than any of the topics at hand, and some of us shut down our thought process. As a result, we are left with hopelessness, cynicism and complacency.  This is a major tool of the system of extortion.  It makes some of us say “if there is a President who tries to overthrow capitalism, he or she will be assassinated”.  Such a statement illustrates the fact that understanding of violent system, fear and complacency can firmly exist in people’s minds without openly admitting to it.

Third, aside from the unspoken fear toward the destructive system, there is also unspoken recognition that the system is inherently unsustainable to itself and to its environment.  The cultish faith in capitalist framework is upheld by myths of white supremacy, American exceptionalism and most of all by our structural participation to it.   Any cult with an unsustainable trajectory eventually faces its doomsday phase.  It desires a demise of everything, which allows cultists to avoid facing the nature of the cult.  It allows them to fantasize a rebirth.  This in turn allows the system to utilize a catastrophic crisis as a spring board to shift its course while implementing draconian measures to prop itself up.  “The time of survival” normalizes the atrocity of structural violence in reinforcing the hierarchical order, while those with relative social privilege secretly rejoice the arrival of “the end”.

Any of those three dynamics can be actively utilized by those who are determined to manipulate and control the population.

Now, there is another interesting coincidence with the Japanese history.  The title Shogun had been a figurehead status given by the imperial family of Japan long before the Edo period.  Shogun is a short version of Seiitaishogun, which can be translated as Commander-in-Chief of the Expeditionary Force Against the Barbarians. The title indicates the nature of the trajectory more bluntly than the US presidency which is also Commander in Chief — which has engaged in numerous colonial expeditions over the generations. But as I mentioned above, the Edo period was not a time of fighting “barbarians”. It was a time of a closed feudal system and its hierarchy was strictly controlled by its customs and regulations.  The current trajectory of our time prompts one to suspect the inevitable path to be a similar one.

Our thoughts and ideas have been already controlled by capitalist framework for generations.  We knowingly and unknowingly participate in this hostage taking extortion structure.  While shaken by crisis after crisis, we have gone through waves of changes, which have implemented rigid social restrictions against our ability to see through lies and rise above the feudal order of money and violence.

I do understand that the above discussion is very much generalized.  One can certainly argue against validity of the parallel based on historical facts and contexts.  Some might also argue the Edo period to be far more humane on some regards, in terms of how people related to their natural surroundings, or the system being actually sustainable, for instance.  But I believe that my main points still stand as valid and worthy of serious considerations.  Also, it is not my intention to label, demean and demonize policy makers of our time in cynical manner. My intention is to put the matter as a topic of discussion among those who are concerned in a constructive manner.  The comparison was used as a device for us to step back from our time and space in evaluating our species’ path today.

Lastly, as I describe the historical trajectory of the US empire, one can not not examine the nature of the current coronavirus panic “lockdown”. Although the incident is still very much developing some of us have already raised many questions.  This article is from a Chinese state media outlet repeating questions raised by some regarding the origin of the Coronavirus. The questions are serious ones which can easily topple entire official US narratives on the matter and beyond.

If the illness has originated from the US military facility as it has been concluded by some and the US has covered it up and blamed the illness on China, the US didn’t only expose its own citizens to the virus, but it knowingly caused deaths and sufferings among its own people. It erroneously blamed China for not acting fast enough against the situation, while adding the coronavirus deaths to the US annual flu deaths—which is always high due to its dysfunctional healthcare system.

According to the allegations, some elected officials might have even profited from this murderous situation.

Subsequently, it stands to reason to question what has motivated the US to act in such a drastic manner against the virus after knowingly tolerating the deaths being caused by the virus for a few months.

Some points to keep in mind are:

1. A social crisis exacerbates structural violence against an already oppressed population leading to augmentation of ruling class interests.

2. A crisis allows bailout measures for those who are already being served generously by the system.

3. A crisis allows codification of draconian policies to further restrict an already oppressed population.

4. A crisis justifies the existence of the authoritarian system.

5. All of the above are various aspects of capitalist hierarchy to serve itself by harming its own people.

Please also refer to articles by Cory Morningstar on the topic.

When a crisis situation is identified in mobilizing the population, one common technique to contain dissenting voices is the use of false equivalency. For example, in discussing the US imperial war against Syria, one might have said that Russia was bombing just like the US.  However, needless to say, Russia was invited by the Syrian government to fight West-backed al-Qaeda affiliated terrorist groups in Syria.  The liberation efforts by the Syrian Arab Army and its allies brought back Syrian people to their own communities which were devastated by the US proxy war against Syria.

In the case of coronavirus situation, Chinese government detecting a disease epidemic so that it can allocate sufficient medical care to its people is very different from the US totally ignoring medical threats regularly and suddenly deciding to “care” in aimlessly draconian ways.

This Facebook post by Phil Greaves concisely lays out the difference:

“China:

 

-Lockdowns in only the most affected areas.

-Quarantine and hospital treatment for ALL suspected cases.

-Masks provided for everyone, no “two-meter” bullshit.

-200 million CPC members & volunteers mobilised to serve the elderly & vulnerable with food and medicine.

-ALL wages paid in full for anyone off work due to the virus, for the entire duration.

 

95% production regained after 4 weeks.

 

Britain:

 

-Nationwide house-arrest.

-Shuts down nearly the entire economy, sacks millions of workers, does not guarantee pay for even half of them.

-Gives the banks hundreds of billions.

-Massively reduces healthcare capacity.

-Allows supermarket chains to exploit panic buyers.

 

Economic depression inevitable.”

It is also very different for the Chinese government to regulate circulation of false information in order to implement its policies effectively from the US censoring legitimate questions about its ineffective policies and its active policies to harm its own people and “others”.

The differences in the approach of the two countries toward the peoples across the globe during this time of crisis are also very clear.  While China is reaching out to other countries to help their struggles — sending medical equipment and experts to those countries — the US is actively punishing some of the hardest hit countries with trade sanctions, trade embargo and demonization campaigns against them.

Corona panic incident is yet another milestone in clearly marking inhumanity of the imperial order perpetuated by the western hegemony.

 

[Hiroyuki Hamada is an artist. He has exhibited throughout the United States and in Europe and is represented by Lori Bookstein Fine Art. He has been awarded various residencies including those at the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center, the Edward F. Albee Foundation/William Flanagan Memorial Creative Person’s Center, the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, and the MacDowell Colony. In 1998 Hamada was the recipient of a Pollock Krasner Foundation grant, and in 2009 he was awarded a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship. He lives and works in New York.]

REFLECTION: APRIL 11, 2002 | Venezuela: Coup and Countercoup, Revolution

REFLECTION: APRIL 11, 2002 | Venezuela: Coup and Countercoup, Revolution

Above: 11 avril 2002: le coup d’Etat a commencé, les rues de Caracas s’embrasent.

PRESIDENT CHAVEZ RETURNS TO THE PRESIDENTIAL PALACE IN CARACAS.

Above: Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez (C) salutes on arrival at the Miraflores palace April 14, 2002.

“Hugo Chávez Frías has been the recognizable face of the global anti-imperialist movement, inspiring revolution when the elites said history had ended. Venezuela and Comandante Chávez instead made new history, in the face of neoliberal exploiters and interventionists, showing the rest of us outside Venezuela how much more we can and should do, besides resigning ourselves to occasional protests. Chávez’s anti-imperialism was consistent, coherent, and a powerful body of thought and practice that resisted intimidation and appropriation. Where the left has been vanquished, tamed, or misdirected in so many parts of the global North, Chávez was a reminder that we can draw fresh ideas from the answers provided by the South. I will always love Hugo Chávez, I will always miss him, he will never be forgotten. Thank you beloved Venezuela for your great gift to the world!” — El regalo revolucionario de Venezuela para todo el Mundo, Maximilian Forte, March 17, 2013 [Sources: Encircling Empire | Mensaje a Chávez]

Let us take a moment to reflect.

Postcards from the Revolution

April 11, 2010

by Eva Golinger

Venezuela commemorated the eighth year anniversary of the coup d’etat backed by Washington that changed the bolivarian revolution forever

In just 47 hours, a coup d’etat ousted President Chavez and a countercoup returned him to power, in an extraordinary showing of the will and determination of a dignified people on a revolutionary path with no return. The mass media played a major role in advancing the coup and spreading false information internationally in order to justify the coup plotters’ actions. CIA documents revealed US government involvement and support to the coup organizers.

When Hugo Chavez was elected President in 1998, the Clinton administration maintained a « wait and see » policy. Venezuela had been a faithful servant to US interests throughout the twentieth century, and despite the rhetoric of revolution spoken by President Chavez, few in Washington believed changed was imminent.

But after Chavez followed through on his first and principal campaign promise, to initiate a Constitutional Assembly and redraft the nation’s magna carta, everything began to change.

The new Constitution was written and ratified by the people of Venezuela, in an extraordinary demonstration of participatory democracy. Throughout the nation in early 1999, all Venezuelans were invited to aid in the creation of what would become one of the most advanced constitutions in the world in the area of human rights. The draft text of 350 articles, which included a chapter dedicated to indigenous peoples’ rights, along with the rights to housing, healthcare, education, nutrition, work, fair wages, equality, recreation, culture, and a redistribution of the oil industry production and profit, was ratified by national referendum towards the end of 1999 by more than 70% of voters.

Elections were immediately convened under the new constitutional structure, and Chavez won again with an even larger majority, around 56%. Once in office in 2000, laws were implemented to guarantee the new rights accorded in the Constitution, and interests were affected. Venezuela assumed the presidency of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), with oil at approximately $7 USD a barrel. Quickly, under Venezuela’s leadership, which sought to benefit oil producing nations and not those supplied, oil rose to more than $25 USD a barrel. Washington was uneasy with these changes, but still was « waiting to see » how far the changes would go.

Changes Washington Disapproved

In 2001, the Bolivarian Revolution proposed by President Chavez began to take form. The oil industry was in the process of being restructured, hydrocarbons laws were passed that would allow for a redistribution of oil profits and Chavez was recuperating an industry – nationalized in 1976 – that was on the path to privatization. An opposition began to grow internally in Venezuela, primarily composed of the economic and political elite that ruled the country throughout the prior 40 years, now unhappy with the real changes taking effect. Aligned with those interests were the owners of Venezuela’s media outlets – television, radio and print, which belonged to the old oligarchy in the country.

In early 2001, President Chavez attended the Summit of the Americas meeting in Quebec, Canada. By now, Washington had undergone its own changes and George W. Bush had moved into the White House. President Bush also was present at the meeting in Quebec, and there announced the US plan to expand free trade throughout the Americas – the Free Trade of the Americas Act (FTAA). Hugo Chavez was the only head of state at the summit to oppose Washington’s plan. It was the first showing of his « insubordination » to US agenda.

Later that year, after the devastating and tragic attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City, Washington began a bombing campaign in Afghanistan. President Chavez publicly declared the bombing of Afghanistan and the killing of innocent women and children as an act of terror. « This is fighting terror with more terror » he declared on national television in October 2001. The declaration produced Washington’s first official response.

US Ambassador to Caracas at the time, Donna Hrinak, paid a visit to Chavez in the presidential palace shortly after. During her encounter with the Venezuelan President, she proceeded to read a letter from Washington, demanding Chavez publicly retract his statement about Afghanistan. The Venezuelan head of state declined the request and informed the US Ambassador that Venezuela was now a sovereign state, no longer subordinate to US power.

Hrinak was recalled to Washington and a new ambassador was sent to Venezuela, an expert in coup d’etats.

Washington Organizes the Coup

As Washington’s concern grew over the changes taken place in Venezuela, and the insubordination of the Venezuelan President, business groups and powerful interests inside Venezuela began to contemplate Chavez’s removal. Those running the state-owned oil company, PDVSA, were adamant to defend their positions and control over the company, as well as their mass profits, which instead of being invested in the country were being coveted in the oil executives’ pockets.

A US entity, created by US Congress in 1983 and overseen by the State Department, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), began to channel hundreds of thousands of dollars to groups inside Venezuela to help consolidate the opposition movement and make plans for the coup. School of the Americas-trained Venezuelan military officers began to coordinate with their US counterparts to organize Chavez’s ouster. And the US Embassy in Caracas, with the recently arrived Ambassador Charles Shapiro, was helping to put the final touches on the coup d’etat.

« The right man for the right time » in Venezuela, said an Embassy cable sent to Washington in December 2001, referring to Pedro Carmona, the head of Venezuela’s Chamber of Commerce, Fedecamaras. Carmona was signaled out as the « president-to-be » after the coup succeeded. That December 2001, oil industry executives led a strike, and called for Chavez’s resignation. Their furor began to grow in early 2002 and by March, the strikes and protests against President Chavez were almost a daily occurrence.

The NED quadrupled its funding to Venezuelan groups, such as Fedecamaras and the CTV labor federation, along with a series of NGOs plotting Chavez’s ouster. A State Department cable from the first week of March 2002 claimed « Another piece falls in to place » and applauded the opposition’s efforts to finally create a plan for a transitional government : « With much fanfare, the Venezuelan great and good assembled on March 5 in Caracas’ Esmeralda Auditorium to hear representatives of the Confederation of Venezuelan Workers (CTV), the Federation of Business Chambers (Fedecamaras) and the Catholic Church present their ‘Bases for a Democratic Accord’, ten principles on which to guide a transitional government ».

Soon after, a March 11, 2002 Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) top secret brief, partially declassified by Jeremy Bigwood and Eva Golinger through investigations using the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), revealed a coup plot underway in Venezuela. « The opposition has yet to organize itself into a united front. If the situation further deteriorates and demonstrations become even more violent…the military may move to overthrow him ».

Yet another CIA top secret brief from April 6, 2002, just five days before the coup, outlined the detailed plans of how the events would unravel, « Conditions Ripening for Coup Attempt…Dissident military factions, including some disgruntled senior officers and a group of radical junior officers, are stepping up efforts to organize a coup against President Chavez, possibly as early as this month…The level of detail in the reported plans…targets Chavez and 10 other senior officials for arrest…To provoke military action, the plotters may try to exploit unrest stemming from opposition demonstrations slated for later this month… ».

A Corporate-Media-Military Affair

National papers in Venezuela headlined on April 10-11, 2002 that the « Final battle will be in Miraflores », the Venezuelan presidential palace, hinting that the media knew the coup was underway. That April 11, a rally began at the PDVSA headquarters in Eastern Caracas. The rally turned into a march of several hundred thousand people protesting against President Chavez and calling violently for his ouster. Those leading the rally, the presidents of the CTV, Fedecamaras and several high level military officers who had already declared rebellion just a day before, directed the marchers towards the presidential palace, despite not having authorization for the route.

Meanwhile, outside the presidential palace, Chavez supporters had gathered to support their President and protect the area from the violent opposition marchers on the way. But before the opposition march even reached the palace or the area near the pro-Chavez rally, shots were fired and blood began to spill in both the pro- and anti-Chavez demonstrations. Snipers had been placed strategically on the buildings in downtown Caracas and had open fired on the people below.

Pro-Chavez supporters on the bridge right next to the palace, Puente Llaguno, fired back at the snipers, and the metropolitan police forces, who were firing at them. A Venevision camera crew, positioned near the pro-Chavez rally, took images of the firefight and quickly returned to the studio to edit the material and produce a breaking news story showing the pro-Chavez supporters firing guns with a voice-over stating they were firing on « peaceful opposition protestors ». The images were rapidly reproduced and repeated over and over again on Venezuelan national television to justify calls for Chavez’s removal. The manipulated images were later shown around the world and used to blame President Chavez for the dozens of deaths that occurred that April 11, 2002. The truth didn’t come out until after the dust had settled and the coup was defeated. The television crew had been told to take the footage and manipulate it, under direct orders from Gustavo Cisneros, owner of Venevision and a variety of other media conglomerates and companies, and also the wealthiest man in Venezuela.

The high military command turned on President Chavez and took him into custody. He was taken to a military base on an island off Venezuela’s coast, where he was either to be assassinated or sent to Cuba. Meanwhile, the « right man for the right time » in Venezuela, Pedro Carmona – designated by Washington, swore himself in as President on April 12, 2002, and proceeded to read a decree dissolving all of Venezuela’s democratic institutions.

Counter-Coup and Revolution

As the Venezuelan people awoke to television networks claiming « Good morning Venezuela, we have a new president » and applauding the violent coup that had occurred a day earlier, resistance began to grow. Once the « Carmona Decree » was issued, Venezuelans saw their worst fears coming true – a return to the repressive governments of the past that excluded and mistreated the majority of people in the country. And Chavez was absent, no one knew where he was.

Between April 12-13, Venezuelans began pouring into the streets of Caracas, demanding a return of President Chavez and an ouster of the coup leaders. Meanwhile, the Bush administration had already issued a statement recognizing the coup government and calling on other nations to do the same.

But the coup resistance grew to millions of people, flooding the areas surrounding the presidential palace, and the presidential guard, still loyal to Chavez, moved to retake the palace. Word of the resistance reached military barracks throughout the country, and one in Maracay, outside of Caracas, acted quickly to locate and rescue Chavez and return him to the presidential palace.

By the early morning hours of April 14, Chavez had returned, brought back by the will and power of the Venezuelan people and the loyal armed forces.

These events changed Venezuela forever and awoke the consciousness of many who had underestimated the importance and vulnerability of their Revolution.

[Eva Golinger, winner of the International Award for Journalism in Mexico (2009), named “La Novia de Venezuela” by President Hugo Chávez, is an Attorney and Writer from New York, living in Caracas, Venezuela since 2005 and author of the best-selling books, “The Chávez Code: Cracking US Intervention in Venezuela” (2006 Olive Branch Press), “Bush vs. Chávez: Washington’s War on Venezuela” (2007, Monthly Review Press), “The Empire’s Web: Encyclopedia of Interventionism and Subversion”, “La Mirada del Imperio sobre el 4F: Los Documentos Desclasificados de Washington sobre la rebelión militar del 4 de febrero de 1992” and “La Agresión Permanente: USAID, NED y CIA”. Since 2003, Eva, a graduate of Sarah Lawrence College and CUNY Law School in New York, has been investigating, analyzing and writing about US intervention in Venezuela using the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to obtain information about US Government efforts to undermine progressive movements in Latin America. ]

Essential Viewing: The Revolution Will Not Be Televised – Chavez: Inside the Coup

 “We do not need to look for the bronze or marble, because Chavez, the statesman and military figure who roars, laughs, sings and smiles, is sculpted in living flesh into the skins of all colors, in the hair of all textures, and in the bones of all the Venezuelans that he liberated”–Roy Chaderton, Ambassador of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela to the OAS

Defending Democracy Against The Philanthropists in Our Midst

Jay Taber wrote, in 2003, a piece, “Defending Democracy,” that remains informative and seems now prophetic. Here is an outtake:

The established elite of a community rarely do their own dirty work. For that, they employ their dependants, which includes charitable and pseudo public-interest organizations that benefit from their philanthropy. In this way, authentic activists committed to democratic values—the white blood cells of a community– frequently encounter overt opposition from their ideological opponents and covert opposition from ostensible allies in the pay of the power elite. This makes it easy for compliant media to alienate true patriots from their natural constituency and vital resources. Moral authorities and community leaders need to speak out against this form of social exclusion. Alternative media need to make it clear how synthetic activists (usually the better funded non-profits), posing as guardians of the public interest, often serve to maintain the status quo privileges of their benefactors by undermining the credibility of grassroots organizers.

Now, this is not the tone of one who has his hand out, or is asking for a grant, or who offers to funders a chance to measure and manage outputs and outcomes. This is not the tone of one pitching “social return on investment” to business minds. This is the lonely voice of an incorrigible patriot. May America live on in these men and women, who are refusniks of the new social order based on propaganda, fear, greed, and intimidation. If you are are a philanthropist prove Jay’s debunking of you wrong. Put aside your happy face; put aside the measurement and management of ameliorative trivia.  Ask yourself whether democracy is dying on these shores, and ask yourself if you are willing to put yourself at risk reversing that slide. That risk will only grow until your children are comfortable calling Wealth Bondage, “Freedom.” And, unless you act, they may have no concept of political liberty as a living and fearless tradition.

Among my conservative, small town, Christian self-made friends, I find some with clear eyes and a spine. I have not found many with spine among progressives. We are a nice bunch. Daddy and Mommy would look askance if we were outspoken. Our Board might object. Our funders might raise their eyebrows. We should keep it positive, like my fellow philanthropy bloggers writing dead polite prose with a smiley face, as if they were already under direct corporate control. The greatest givers are those who like Jay forgo comfort and put themselves at risk for our country.

WATCH: Gaddafi – Distinguished Guest of Columbia University, USA, 2006

A Czech friend, a novelist, told me; “You in the West are disadvantaged. You have your myths about freedom of information, but you have yet to acquire the skill of deciphering: of reading between the lines. One day, you will need it.

That day has come.

John Pilger, Power, propaganda and conscience in the ‘War on Terror’

In this rare 2006 video footage (following article below), distinguished guest, Muammar Gaddafi, speaks via live-stream to students and faculty at Columbia University, USA. He was invited to speak about Libya – which showcased the most democratic system of governance in the world. Today, after the NATO-led invasion, Libya is a western occupied slaughterhouse with Venezuela now in first place for the path towards true democracy.

Muammar Gaddafi’s Libya Was Africa’s Most Prosperous Democracy

Jan 14, 2013

Muammar_Gaddafi

Muammar al-Gaddfi | June 1942 – 20 October 2011

Brave New World

by Garikai Chengu

[Garikai Chengu is a fellow of the Du Bois Institute for African Research at Harvard University. Click here to mail him.]

Contrary to popular belief, Libya , which western media described as “Gaddafi’s military dictatorship” was in actual fact one of the world’s most democratic States.

In 1977 the people of Libya proclaimed the Jamahiriya or “government of the popular masses by themselves and for themselves.” The Jamahiriya was a higher form of direct democracy with ‘the People as President.’ Traditional institutions of government were disbanded and abolished, and power belonged to the people directly through various committees and congresses.

The nation State of Libya was divided into several small communities that were essentially “mini-autonomous States” within a State. These autonomous States had control over their districts and could make a range of decisions including how to allocate oil revenue and budgetary funds. Within these mini autonomous States, the three main bodies of Libya ‘s democracy were Local Committees, People’s Congresses and Executive Revolutionary Councils.

Source:
Source: “Journey to the Libyan Jamahiriya” (20-26 May 2000)

In 2009, Mr. Gaddafi invited the New York Times to Libya to spend two weeks observing the nation’s direct democracy. Even the New York Times, that was always highly critical of Colonel Gaddafi, conceded that in Libya, the intention was that “everyone is involved in every decision…Tens of thousands of people take part in local committee meetings to discuss issues and vote on everything from foreign treaties to building schools.” The purpose of these committee meetings was to build a broad based national consensus.

One step up from the Local Committees were the People’s Congresses. Representatives from all 800 local committees around the country would meet several times a year at People’s Congresses, in Mr. Gaddafi’s hometown of Sirte, to pass laws based on what the people said in their local meetings. These congresses had legislative power to write new laws, formulate economic and public policy as well as ratify treaties and agreements.

All Libyans were allowed to take part in local committees meetings and at times Colonel Gaddafi was criticised. In fact, there were numerous occasions when his proposals were rejected by popular vote and the opposite was approved and put forward for legislation.

For instance, on many occasions Mr. Gaddafi proposed the abolition of capital punishment and he pushed for home schooling over traditional schools. However, the People’s Congresses wanted to maintain the death penalty and classic schools, and ultimately the will of the People’s Congresses prevailed. Similarly, in 2009, Colonel Gaddafi put forward a proposal to essentially abolish the central government altogether and give all the oil proceeds directly to each family. The People’s Congresses rejected this idea too.

One step up from the People’s Congresses were the Executive Revolutionary Councils. These Revolutionary Councils were elected by the People’s Congresses and were in charge of implementing policies put forward by the people. Revolutionary Councils were accountable only to ordinary citizens and may have been changed or recalled by them at any time. Consequently, decisions taken by the People’s Congresses and implemented by the Executive Revolutionary Councils reflected the sovereign will of the whole people, and not merely that of any particular class, faction, tribe or individual.

The Libyan direct democracy system utilized the word ‘elevation’ rather than‘election’, and avoided the political campaigning that is a feature of traditional political parties and benefits only the bourgeoisie’s well-heeled and well-to-do.

Unlike in the West, Libyans did not vote once every four years for a President and local parliamentarian who would then make all decisions for them. Ordinary Libyans made decisions regarding foreign, domestic and economic policy themselves.

Several western commentators have rightfully pointed out that the unique Jamahiriya system had certain drawbacks, inter alia, regarding attendance, initiative to speak up, and sufficient supervision. Nevertheless, it is clear that Libya conceptualized sovereignty and democracy in a different and progressive way.

Democracy is not just about elections or political parties. True democracy is also about human rights. During the NATO bombardment of Libya , western media conveniently forgot to mention that the United Nations had just prepared a lengthy dossier praising Mr. Gaddafi’s human rights achievements. The UN report commended Libya for bettering its “legal protections” for citizens, making human rights a “priority,” improving women’s rights, educational opportunities and access to housing. During Mr. Gaddafi’s era housing was considered a human right. Consequently, there was virtually no homelessness or Libyans living under bridges. How many Libyan homes and bridges did NATO destroy?

One area where the United Nations Human Rights Council praised Mr. Gaddafi profusely is women’s rights. Unlike many other nations in the Arab world, women in Libya had the right to education, hold jobs, divorce, hold property and have an income. When Colonel Gaddafi seized power in 1969, few women went to university. Today more than half of Libya ‘s university students are women. One of the first laws Mr. Gaddafi passed in 1970 was an equal pay for equal work law, only a few years after a similar law was passed in the U.S. In fact, Libyan working mothers enjoyed a range of benefits including cash bonuses for children, free day care, free health care centres and retirement at 55.

Democracy is not merely about holding elections simply to choose which particular representatives of the elite class should rule over the masses. True democracy is about democratising the economy and giving economic power to the majority.

Fact is, the west has shown that unfettered free markets and genuinely free elections simply cannot co-exist. Organized greed always defeats disorganized democracy. How can capitalism and democracy co-exist if one concentrates wealth and power in the hands of few, and the other seeks to spread power and wealth among many? Mr. Gaddafi’s Jamahiriya however, sought to spread economic power amongst the downtrodden many rather than just the privileged few.

Prior to Colonel Gaddafi, King Idris let Standard Oil essentially write Libya ‘s petroleum laws. Mr. Gaddafi put an end to all of that. Money from oil proceeds was deposited directly into every Libyan citizen’s bank account. One wonders if Exxon Mobil and British Petroleum will continue this practice under the new democratic Libya ?

Democracy is not merely about elections or political parties. True democracy is also about equal opportunity through education and the right to life through access to health care. Therefore, isn’t it ironic that America supposedly bombarded Libya to spread democracy, but increasingly education in America is becoming a privilege not a right and ultimately a debt sentence. If a bright and talented child in the richest nation on earth cannot afford to go to the best schools, society has failed that child. In fact, for young people the world over, education is a passport to freedom. Any nation that makes one pay for such a passport is only free for the rich but not the poor.

Under Mr. Gaddafi, education was a human right and it was free for all Libyans. If a Libyan was unable to find employment after graduation the State would pay that person the average salary of their profession.

For millions of Americans health care is also increasingly becoming a privilege not a right. A recent study by Harvard Medical School estimates that lack of health insurance causes 44,789 excess deaths annually in America . Under Mr. Gaddafi, health care was a human right and it was free for all Libyans. Thus, with regards to health care, education and economic justice, is America in any position to export democracy to Libya or should America have taken a leaf out of Libya ‘s book?

Muammar Gaddafi inherited one of the poorest nations in Africa . However, by the time he was assassinated, Libya was unquestionably Africa ‘s most prosperous nation. Libya had the highest GDP per capita and life expectancy in Africa and less people lived below the poverty line than in the Netherlands . Libyans did not only enjoy free health care and free education, they also enjoyed free electricity and interest free loans. The price of petrol was around $0.14 per liter and 40 loaves of bread cost just $0.15. Consequently, the UN designated Libya the 53rd highest in the world in human development.

The fundamental difference between western democratic systems and the Jamahiriya’s direct democracy is that in Libya citizens were given the chance to contribute directly to the decision-making process, not merely through elected representatives. Hence, all Libyans were allowed to voice their views directly – not in one parliament of only a few hundred elite politicians – but in hundreds of committees attended by tens of thousands of ordinary citizens. Far from being a military dictatorship, Libya under Mr. Gaddafi was Africa ‘s most prosperous democracy.

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Video: Uploaded on Oct 27, 2011 | “Muammar Gadhafi in respectful live-streaming dialog with academics at Columbia University March 23, 2006. Here he is praised as a champion of democracy, before the demonization and destruction instigated by a corrupt US, its allies and compliant media.”

Further Resources:

Learning to Govern Ourselves‘: Venezuela’s National Network of Commoners: January 2, 2013: http://venezuelanalysis.com/analysis/7583

The Rights of Mother Earth in Bolivia – Early digital release [Kindle Edition]: January 29, 2013: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00B8C4WTO/ (includes law and framework law) | PAPERBACK: https://www.createspace.com/4151997 | See more: http://www.bolivianlaws.com/2013/01/the-law-of-rights-of-mother-earth-of.html

Great Green Charter Of Human Rights Of The Jamahiriyan Era: http://rcmlibya.wordpress.com/2012/08/12/the-great-green-charter-of-human-rights-of-the-jamahiriyan-era/

Direct Democracy: Understanding Libya’s Political System: http://libyadiary.wordpress.com/2011/03/01/direct-democracy-understanding-libyas-political-system/

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