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The Ugly American Goes to Chiapas: Correcting Hedges on the Zapatistas

Affect

June 29, 2014

by Lorenzo Raymond

 

Marcos bird

Subcomandante Galeano (formerly Marcos) gives a message to the “well-behaved left”

 

A lie not only deceives others, turning them into objects to be manipulated and used, but a lie erodes trust, the cement that holds communities and relationships together. Lies lead to cynicism. This cynicism spreads outward like a disease until it blights the landscape.
– Chris Hedges, “Decalogue VIII: Theft”, Losing Moses on the Freeway

If Hedges was found in a small matter to have further compounded his dishonesty, it makes you wonder about more important matters.
– Thomas Palaima, University of Texas classics professor and discoverer of Chris Hedges serial plagiarism

Well, we hate to say we told you so. Chris Hedges, pseudo-revolutionary, fire-and-brimstone pacifist, and left-liberal personality cultist, was exposed as a plagiarist this month by some of his own former media comrades. In spite of his radical posturing, one capitalist pillar that Hedges has always refused to denounce is the Protestant work ethic, so it’s rather grotesque to find that that he makes a living ripping off lesser-known and harder-working journalists. The cancer of plagiarism runs deep; this appears to be a modus operandi that stretched over a decade, a decade that ironically saw Hedges crafting a reputation as the great moral absolutist of the left.

Last year, we wrote that Hedges “represents a powerful network of liberal recuperators who have been undermining resistance in this country for years while claiming to promote it.” And, indeed, the network is circling its wagons around him, shamefully giving The Great Man a free pass on behavior that would’ve buried a less well-connected journalist. One of the more laughable claims we’ve seen from Hedges supporters is that there’s a government conspiracy against the writer because he brought a lawsuit against the feds for the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012. In reality, this was one of several ways he undercut the Occupy movement—in the midst of the most sustained wave of direct action the U.S. had seen in years, Hedges assisted in pushing activists “into the courts and out of the streets” ( to use Robert Kennedy’s  description of his goal regarding black rioters and the Civil Rights Act of 1964).[1]  Predictably, the lawsuit was a failure.

Given that Hedges is so intertwined with the left establishment that they will indulge in a cover-up on his behalf, it’s worth looking at just what kind of man they’re covering for. This is a reporter who, unwittingly or not, assisted Iraqi defectors, trained by the CIA, in lying the public into the Iraq War ; a “fearless investigative journalist” who refuses to investigate substantial charges of media censorship by the Lannan Foundation because billionaire Patrick Lannan is a friend of his [2]; an armchair revolutionary who dismissed the Black Panthers and the American Indian Movement as “parasites to popular protest”; And, as we’ve noted before, a blind ideologue who will falsify the history of classical anarchism—and more recently, of the Zapatistas—to promote his “nonviolent” agenda.

Hedges’ whitewash of the Zapatistas, published just this month, is a particularly shameful exercise that can’t go unchallenged. It’s one thing for a pacifist propaganda site like Waging Nonviolence to cover the Zapatistas without mentioning the group’s commitment to armed defense; it’s another to completely twist their politics and words to suit the author’s narrow ideology. Hedges charges into the breach though, writing that “The Zapatistas began by using violence, but they soon abandoned it for the slow, laborious work of building 32 autonomous, self-governing municipalities.”  He reiterates throughout the article the organization’s “shift from violence to nonviolence.”

The Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) abjures recklessness with its bullets and promotes mutual aid programs, to be sure. But the communiqué that the Zapatistas sent out last month in response to deadly attacks by right-wing paramilitaries doesn’t sound very Gandhian: “…it is pain and rage that now again makes us lace up our boots, put on our uniforms, strap on our guns, and cover our faces…”  In the same message they note with pride that the murdered companero named Galeano, though caught unarmed, refused to surrender and “challenged the aggressors to hand-to-hand combat…”

In truth, the EZLN has never seen community organization and the periodic use of violence as mutually exclusive; in fact they see them as mutually reinforcing. Chiapas correspondent Ginna Villarreal wrote of the participants in a Zapatista women’s forum of 2007, “They are members of the five Caracols and work in all areas of government, they are promoters of health and education. They are also insurgents and commanders of the army EZLN.”  Aid worker Hillary Klein writes that:

     As someone who worked in Zapatista communities for many years, my impression is that the people who make up the movement do not distinguish between the work they are doing in their communities and their military leadership; they see it as one integrated movement. Because the military aspect of the Zapatista movement is the most clandestine, perhaps it is the least understood… But there is no denying that without its political-military character, in other words, without its initial commitment to armed struggle and its guerrilla army, the Zapatista movement would not be what it is, 15 years ago or today.

EZLN Aug 2005

Those don’t look like wooden guns: EZLN photographed in August 2005

 

In his article, Hedges extensively quotes Subcomandante Marcos’ recent “farewell address” and its call for thoughtfulness when seeking justice, but he omits these words of the speech, which are a pointed rejection of Hedges’ entire thesis:

     Nothing that we’ve done, for better or for worse, would have been possible without an armed military, the Zapatista Army for National Liberation; without it we would not have risen up against the bad government exercising the right to legitimate violence. The violence of below in the face of the violence of above.

 

     We are warriors and as such we know our role and our moment

Diversity of tactics is about proportionate response, and that is what the EZLN practice; the US government—the power behind the corporations, the Mexican army, and the right-wing paramilitaries—has decreed “low-intensity conflict” as the strategy in Chiapas; thus the Zapatistas keep their responses low-intensity as well, but not, as Hedges would demand, no-intensity. And so the ball sits in the Empire’s court; the EZLN is never willing, but always ready, to go to war.

Mired in the pacifist binary of nonviolence/violence, the well-behaved left cannot make sense of this, yet it is a common view in revolutionary philosophy, particularly in Latin America. Paulo Friere writes that, “paradoxical though it may seem – [it is] precisely in the response of the oppressed to the violence of their oppressors that a gesture of love may be found. Consciously or unconsciously, the act of rebellion by the oppressed (an act which is always, or nearly always, as violent as the initial violence of the oppressors) can initiate love.”

If there are any genuine revolutionaries still aligned with the established left, they should understand very clearly that a defense of Hedges is not a defense of revolt; in fact it is the opposite. One of the best things we can do to restore the spirit of rebellion in this country is to cut ourselves loose of this shady albatross. But at the same time, take this much of his advice to heart: “We must all become Zapatistas”…Remember “the violence of below in the face of the violence of above.”…And as warriors, know your role, and know your moment…

 

1. Thomas F. Jackson, “Jobs and Freedom:  The Black Revolt of 1963 and the
Contested Meanings of the March on Washington” (Virginia Foundation of the Humanities) pg. 12 – http://web1.millercenter.org/apd/colloquia/pdf/col_2008_0410_jackson.pdf

2. John Pilger, “The Censorship that Dare Not Speak Its Name: The Strange Silencing of Liberal America” [unabridged version]  in Project Censored 2014: Fearless Speech in Fateful Times, Mickey Huff and Andy Lee Roth, eds. (Seven Stories Press, 2013) – http://bit.ly/UdRmPS

 

[Lorenzo Raymond is an independent historian and educator living in New York City.]

 

The Bloody Legacy of American Exceptionalism

American Herald Tribune

February 9, 2016

by Vanessa Beeley

 

Columbus_Day_72319

 

Exceptionalism: the condition of being different from the norm; also:  a theory expounding the exceptionalism especially of a nation or region.

There are many theories surrounding the origin of American exceptionalism. The most popular in US folklore, being that it describes America’s unique character as a “free” nation founded on democratic ideals and civil liberties. The Declaration of Independence from British colonial rule is the foundation of this theory and has persevered throughout the often violent history of the US since its birth as a free nation.

Over time, exceptionalism has come to represent superiority in the minds and hearts of Americans. Belief in their economic, military and ideological supremacy is what has motivated successive US governments to invest in shaping the world in their superior image with little or no regard for the destruction left in the wake of their exceptional hegemony.

In considering itself, exceptional, the US has extricated itself from any legal obligation to adhere to either International law or even the common moral laws that should govern Humanity.  The US has become exceptionally lawless and authoritarian particularly in its intolerant neo-colonialist foreign policy.  The colonized have become the colonialists, concealing their brutal savagery behind a veneer of missionary zeal that they are converting the world to their form of exceptionalist Utopia.

Such is the media & marketing apparatus that supports this superiority complex, the majority of US congress exist within its echo chamber and are willing victims of its indoctrination. The power of the propaganda vortex pulls them in and then radiates outwards, infecting all in its path.  Self-extraction from this oligarchical perspective is perceived as a revolutionary act that challenges the core of US security so exceptionalism becomes the modus vivendi.

Superbowl Military

Above: US military propaganda and Superbowl 50 [Source]

Just as Israel considers itself the chosen people from a religious perspective, the US considers itself the chosen nation to impose its version of Democratic reform and capitalist hegemony the world over. One can see why Israel and the US make such symbiotic bedfellows.

“The fatal war for humanity is the war with Russia and China toward which Washington is driving the US and Washington’s NATO and Asian puppet states.  The bigotry of the US power elite is rooted in its self-righteous doctrine that stipulates America as the “indispensable country” ~ Paul Craig Roberts: Washington Drives the World Towards War.

So why do the American people accept US criminal hegemony, domestic and foreign brutal tyranny & neo-colonialist blood-letting with scant protest? Why do the European vassal states not rise up against this authoritarian regime that flaunts international law and drags its NATO allies down the path to complete lawlessness and diplomatic ignominy?

The psychological term “Gaslighting” comes from a 1944 Hollywood classic movie called Gaslight.  Gaslighting describes the abuse employed by a narcissist to instil in their victim’s mind, an extreme anxiety and confusion to the extent where they no longer have faith in their own powers of logic, reason and judgement. These gaslighting techniques were adopted by central intelligence agencies in the US and Europe as part of their psychological warfare methods, used primarily during torture or interrogation.

Gaslighting as an abuser’s modus operandi, involves, specifically, the withholding of factual information and its replacement with false or fictional information designed to confuse and disorientate. This subtle and Machiavellian process eventually undermines the mental stability of its victims reducing them to such a depth of insecurity and identity crisis that they become entirely dependent upon their abuser for their sense of reality and even identity.

Gaslighting involves a step by step psychological process to manipulate and destabilize its victim.  It is built up over time and consists of repetitive information feeds that enter the victim’s subconscious over a period of time, until it is fully registered on the subconscious “hard disk” and cannot be overridden by the conscious floppy disk.  Put more simply, it is brainwashing.

“Overall, the main reason for gaslighting is to create a dynamic where the abuser has complete control over their victim so that they are so weak that they are very easy to manipulate.” ~ Alex Myles

Victims of Gaslighting go through 3 stages, disbelief, defence and depression.

The first stage depends upon trust in the integrity and unimpeachable intentions of the abuser, a state of reliance that has been engendered by the abuser’s artful self-promotion and ingratiating propaganda.  Once this trust is gained, the abuser will begin to subtly undermine it, creating situations and environments where the victim will begin to doubt their own judgement.  Eventually the victim will rely entirely upon the abuser to alleviate their uncertainty and to restore their sense of reality which is in fact that of the abuser.

The second stage, defence, is a process by which the abuser isolates the victim, not only from their own sense of identity but from the validation of their peers.  They are made to feel that their opinion is worthless, discredited, down-right weird.  In political circles they would be labelled a conspiracy theorist, a dissident, a terror apologist.  As a consequence, the victim will withdraw from society and cease to express themselves for fear of ridicule, judgement or punishment.

This stage can also be compared to Stockholm Syndrome where a hostage or captive is reduced,by psychological mind games, back to infantile dependency upon their captor.  Narcissistic abuse bonds the victim to the aggressor via trauma.  Stockholm Syndrome bonds the victim to the aggressor via regression to an infantile state where the abuser/aggressor becomes the “parent” who will rescue the victim from imminent annihilation.  Both methods tap into the victim’s survival mechanisms to gain and maintain control.

The final stage is depression.  A life under the tyrannical rule of a narcissist drives the victim into a state of extreme confusion.  They are stripped of dignity & self-reliance.  They, ultimately exist in an information vacuum which is only filled by that which the abuser deems suitable or relevant.  This can eventually invoke symptoms of PTSD [Post Traumatic Stress Disorder]. Flashbacks, constant apprehension, hyper vigilance, mind paralysis, rage and even violence.  The process is complete and the victim has been reduced to a willing accomplice in the abusers creation of a very distorted reality.

We are currently seeing the transformation of US exceptionalism into an abusive Narcissism.  The gargantuan apparatus of mind bending and controlling is being put into hyper drive by the ruling elite.  We are inundated with propaganda that challenges our sense of reality but only after being “tenderized” by the fear factor.  Fear of “terror”, fear of war, fear of financial insecurity, fear of gun violence, fear of our own shadow.  Once we are suitably quaking in our boots, in comes the rendition of reality that relieves our anxiety.  If we challenge this version of events we are labelled a conspiracy theorist, a threat to security. We are hounded, discredited, slandered and ridiculed.  We are isolated and threatened.

Wars are started in the same way.  Despite the hindsight that should enable us to see it coming, the process swings into motion with resounding success. The ubiquitous dictator, the oligarch who threatens to destroy all that the US and her allies represent which of course is, freedom, equality & civil liberty all wrapped up in the Democracy shiny paper and tied with the exceptionalist ribbon.

Next the false flag to engender fear, terror and to foment sectarian strife. The support of a “legitimate” organic, indigenous “revolution” conveniently emerging in tandem with US ambitions for imposing their model of governance upon a target nation. The arming of “freedom fighters”, the securing of mercenary additions to these manufactured proxy forces.  All this is sold in the name of freedom and democracy to a public that is already in a state of anxiety and insecurity, lacking in judgement or insight into any other reality but that of their “abuser”.

They don’t realise that NGOs are an integral part of their abuser’s apparatus, operating on the leash of neo-colonialist financing and influence.Then in addition, the Humanitarians are deployed.  The forces for “good”, the vanguard of integrity and ethical intervention.  The power that offers all lost souls a stake-holding in the salvation of sovereign nations that have lost their way and need rescuing.  A balm for a damaged soul, to know they can leave their doubts and fears in such trustworthy hands as HRW, Amnesty International, they can assuage their deep sense of guilt at the suffering being endured by the people of far flung nations because they can depend upon the NGOs to provide absolution with minimal effort on their part.  They don’t realise that NGOs are an integral part of their abuser’s apparatus, operating on the leash of neo-colonialist financing and influence.  NGOs provide the optic through which the abuser will allow the victim to perceive their world and once absorbed into this flawed prism the victim’s own cognitive dissonance will ensure they do not attempt a jail break.

In this state of oppressed consciousness the victim accepts what they are told.  They accept that the US can sell cluster bombs to Saudi Arabia that obliterate human beings and lay waste to essential civilian infrastructure in Yemen.  They accept that the US financially, ideologically & militarily supports the illegal state of Israel and provides the arsenal of experimental weapons that maim and mutilate children and civilians on a scale that is unimaginable.  They accept that a crippling blockade of the already impoverished and starving nation of Yemen is “necessary” to resolve the issues of sectarian divisions that only exist in the minds of their Congressional abusers.

The majority of Americans accept mass murder under the pretext of the right to protect, because their ability to form rational and reasoned opinions has been engineered out of them.  This is now the definition of US exceptionalism.  It is their ability to manipulate the world into accepting their lawlessness and global hegemony agenda.  In seeking to impose its own image upon our world the US has drifted so far from its founding principles, one wonders how they will ever return to them.  They have employed a recognised form of torture to ensure capitulation to their mission of world domination which entails the mental, physical and spiritual torture of target civilian populations.

In conclusion, the US has indeed achieved exceptionalism.  The US has become an exceptional global executioner and persecutor of Humanity.  Imperialism is a euphemism for the depths of abuse the US is inflicting upon the people of this world.

Our only hope is to break the cycle of abuse with empathy for the victim and with appreciation for the years of brainwashing that precedes their agonizing passive-aggressive apathy towards crimes being committed in “their name”.

This was an email I received recently from one courageous young American girl whose epiphany is testament to the resilience and survival instinct of the human spirit.

“My name is Caroline and I am a 22 year old US citizen. I only fairly recently discovered the truth about Empire/NATO’s activities in Syria and Libya and so many other countries (thanks to writers like Andre Vltchek, Cory Morningstar, Forrest Palmer). I am sickened when I remember that I signed some of those Avaaz petitions and I feel horrified at knowing that I have Syrian and Libyan blood on my hands. I want to believe that I’m not “really” guilty because I really thought (as I had been told) that I was not doing something bad at the time, but still, what I did contributed to the suffering of those people and I want to do something to atone in at least some small way, even though I probably can’t “make up” for what I did or erase my crime.

If it’s not too much trouble, could you please tell me what you think I should do, if there is anything?”

She deserves an answer…

 

 

[Vanessa Beeley is a photographer, writer, peace activist and volunteer with the Global Campaign to Return to Palestine. She was recently invited to be on the steering committee of the Syria Solidarity Movement.]

Malcolm X: Do Not March With Your Oppressors

 

 

Unist’ot’en Call To Action: Pipeline Construction Has Begun

The Unist’ot’en People Will Stop the Northern Gateway

ALERT, CALL FOR HELP

WKOG admin: Stop supporting the very organizations financed and dependent upon the very corporations and very system we claim to oppose. Stop supporting the appointed false prophets of privilege who have sold out our children and living ecosystems in exchange for 6-figure salaries, ego and celebrity. Start supporting real activism and the people on the front lines who refuse to bow down to power. These are the real heroes we so desperately need as we cross planetary tipping pints. If you cannot support real direct action physically, please send a donation. Even a small donation will help. 

Statement of Solidarity with the Mi’kmaq Warriors

Warrior Publications

by Zig Zag

Dec 2, 2013

mikmaq-warrior-solidarity

Since the spring of 2013, the Mi’kmaq, along with Native and non-Native allies, have been resisting exploratory testing by SWN Resources Canada in New Brunswick. SWN, a Houston, Texas-based company, is searching for deposits of natural gas in shale rock formations. If they are successful and find significant deposits, they will then attempt to extract this gas using the process of fracking.

When Divestment Isn’t Enough

Generation Progress

September 23, 2013


Demonstrators call for the cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline during a rally in front of the White House. (Reuters/Joshua Roberts)(Via The Nation Blog)

It’s early March and raining as I ride through the mountains of the Mad River Valley. Where white usually paints lines thicker than the lane marker, there is no snow. As I hitchhike through Vermont with two talkative strangers, I’m worried by the stories a mother tells one of my teenage companions. This native Vermonter recounts the winters of her childhood, full of snow and flurries, while her daughter stares out at the pavement, as grey and dry as sky. I look out the window myself, only to see sleds abandoned and pale yellow tracts of grass. The stories of this woman’s childhood now pass as legend. The daughter grimaces as her mother tells a story she’s heard many times before.

“Green Hill: A Story of Freedom” — Excerpt From a New Documentary

June 5, 2013

by Dr Steve Best

WKOG editor: Yes, Virginia, there are legitimate direct actions that actually achieve the stated goal …

On April 28 2012, in Montichiari Italy, at 16: 15, in broad daylight, amidst a crowd of over 1,000 protestors, animal activists broke into the compound of Green Hill laboratory animal breeders and liberated 27 beagles. It was a bold, brazen, defiant, and iconic act of defiance, resistance, and liberation. Soon after, the Green Hill compound was closed and hundreds of beagles were adopted to loving homes.

Wasted Energy: Fossil Fuel Divestment

nyu-divest

Intercontinental Cry

June 16, 2013

By Jay Taber

In my comment on the campus fossil fuel divestment campaign, I noted that divestment won’t change a thing environmentally. It will only change ownership of some shares from public institutions to private ones–like the banks we bailed out with our tax dollars. Given the money to be made on the booming fossil fuel industry, I’m sure the banks will be delighted to acquire these shares, and in turn leave the public with no voice at future shareholder meetings.

Essential Summer Reading | Underminers: A Practical Guide for Radical Change

underminers1

Industrial Civilization is likely to be the last great empire humanity will ever see. If it is allowed to continue in its ravenous way then there is no future for humanity, for the natural systems and processes that allow humans to exist on Earth are the very things that Industrial Civilization is destroying. In fact, no form of civilization has ever been sustainable nor ever will be. In order for humanity to continue on Earth then civilization has to stop, and people allowed to return to a way of living that is connected to the real world.

The Silent Death of the American Left

by JEFFREY ST. CLAIR

 

Is there a Left in America today?

There is, of course, a Left ideology, a Left of the mind, a Left of theory and critique. But is there a Left movement?

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