Friday, November 13, 2009

Are WE our government? Illusions and disillusions of democratic regimes

I have read an article written by Acharya S., What about 9/11?, and although I agree with most of this author's articles and research, I can't do the same with this statement of hers.

Leaving aside the debate of whether the 9/11 was an inside job or a terroristic attack carried out by islamic integralists, what struck me in this article is the phrase "We are the U.S. government". Supporting the official theory of the attack with the explanation "To say that "the American government" committed this crime represents a broadstroke generalization that essentially condemns all Americans - and makes us as unsafe as Muslims feel when people do say, "It's the Muslims," etc." is naive and weak.

First of all, I think the debate around 9/11 needs to be supported by strong evidence and not just with opinions, as it involves massive scientific research and in-depth geopolitical analysis. However, here I don't want to talk about this, but instead would like to investigate the "We are the US Government" statement.

What is the "government"? This word is usually employed to define a political body formed according the results of popular elections. When the author says "We are the government" maybe she means "We are the State."

Is the population "the State"? It would certainly be right for the people to be considered as being "the State," to have the possibility of strongly influencing their government's decisions and to enjoy all civil liberties legal papers such as the Constitutions guarantee. This would be called "direct democracy": it's by all means something worth working for, but unfortunately it's certainly not the case of today's regimes, be them in Europe, America, Africa, or Asia.

There is a large confusion over terms such as "democracy," "freedom," "civil liberties," and this is mainly due to distorted media coverage, controlled education systems and repressive acts aimed at undermining our rights to be informed and safe.

Does implying that the US government is not behind the 9/11 attacks *because* US citizens ARE the government mean that ALL U.S. citizens were responsible for the Chilean coup in 1973 staged by the CIA and the White House? Does that mean that all US citizens were responsible for the overthrow of Mossadegh in Iran in 1953? Does that mean that all US citizens are responsible for the mass murders in Afghanistan and Iraq ordered by the US government?

Many people work in agencies and institutions related to the US government and, as they are simple employees, they of course have, nor have had, nothing to do with the crimes carried out by the US administrations throughout the last decades since the end of World War II up to now.

Like many countries, the United States has a Constitution, meaning by this, "both the formal constitution, the written document along with its various amendments and legal apparatuses, and the material constitution, that is the continuous formation and re-formation of the composition of social forces." (From Empire, by Antonio Negri and Micheal Hardt). Formal Constitutions are usually very enlightened, but this doesn't mean that such primary codes are followed, nor respected by the countries' ruling powers.

The idea (or better, the hope) that citizens are the State is the system our ruling powers want to make us believe we live in. But there is nothing more false than that. Governments, parliaments, political parties and organizations are bodies aimed at giving the illusion that we, the people, have power over our lives. With the practice of "free" elections, we are led to think that we choose the candidates we actually prefer. However, what is the choice? Two, three or four options to choose from? And who decides what the options have to be?

What actually happens in our "free" elections is that we tick a name belonging to a pre-packed coalition, by no means stemmed from popular choice, but all reflecting the same corporate interests that today have the main power. Whether we choose one coalition or the other, the result doesn't change much: right-wing parties will carry out what are to be considered right-wing policies and left-wing groups will bring about what we have to think are left-wing ideals.

When we read news that apparently criticise the government representatives it can mean that some news has leaked out or that a change in the political scene is necessary, and that particular movement or person is not entitled to popular consent anymore. This is when the mind-control machine of corporate media starts working in a specific direction.

Just to come back to government actions, can we believe politicians always work in order to ensure our safety and well-being? Here are some telling examples that show how governmental insitutions can be disrespectful towards our civil liberties:

Justice Dept. Asked For News Site's Visitor Lists: in this article, journalist Declan McCullagh reports an attempt by the US Department of Justice to literally spy on citizens who read Indymedia website, with clear and shameless violation of those citizens' privacy in order to obtain their details such as the IP address, therefore their location.

A careful observer will immediately notice that this action by the US Department of Justice is in striking contrast with the First Amendment of the American Constitution that aims at defending the freedom of speech.

On the same line, the UK government, rather expert in Big Brother matters, seems to have rebranded national activists "domestic terrorists," since the police "are gathering the personal details of thousands of activists who attend political meetings and protests, and storing their data on a network of nationwide intelligence databases," the Guardian reveals.

The truth is that if in the past it was more difficult to monitor our government's actions, therefore to spot their crimes, now with the spreading of modern technologies available to an always increasing number of people, the news travel quickly, reach all corners of the globe and are able to provoke general indignation.

With the excuse of international terrorism and the need to "protect" our countries, western governments are enhancing security measures to absurd levels. In an enlightening article titled "Her Majesty's Big Brother: Britain's Protesters Rebranded 'Domestic Extremists'" Tom Burghardt notices:

"Why would British police target law-abiding citizens exercising their right to protest the depredations of the capitalist order?

Because they can! With a logic that only a policeman's mother could love, Setchell told The Guardian: 'Just because you have no criminal record does not mean that you are not of interest to the police. Everyone who has got a criminal record did not have one once.'"

Antifascist Calling rightly reminds that this situation is certainly not new:

"Since the 1970s, the federal grand jury system where the prosecutor reigns supreme, has been an instrument wielded by the secret state to target dissent and to ensnare left-wing government critics in open-ended 'investigations' whose sole purpose is to harass if not prosecute alleged 'troublemakers.'"

It's easy to understand here how misleading and populist can be to clear a priori the government of any accusation by saying that WE all are the government.

WE (the people) are certainly NOT the government, nor we live in a direct democracy, as we don't have any possibility to influence the government's decisions in crucial matters such as war, taxes, health system.

We are absolutely the most important element of a State and we must demand to participate in all public matters, as those laws rule our lives and the spaces we share with other human beings. By monitoring and never belittling the governments' crimes we can contribute in making our political leaders (really) work for us in the total respect of our rights.

Highly recommended further reading:

- Michael Hardt & Antonio Negri, Empire, Harvard University Press, 2001

- Blum William, Killing Hope. US Military & CIA Interventions since World War II, Zed Books, 2003

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Corporate human rights: the joke of our times

The 4th of November in Italy is the Remembrance Day, namely a day when we remember and cry for our men who died at war "for the sake of the country."

For the sake of what?

Ok, so here is the concept our governments want us to buy: "We send our men to oil-reach and strategic Middle East destinations because they also happen to be terrorists' hometown and we have to be proud of our compatriots because they are willing to die for the sake of their own country and to export democracy to those desolate lands."

Here is the same concept but made it real: "We send our men to oil-rich and strategic Middle East countries because they also happen to be so arrogant for wanting to keep their independence, while we (the West) are committed to conquer and impose our greedy ideals all over the planet."

It might sound a bit pessimistic, but come on, what exactly are the benefits we enjoy when our soldiers die in wars aimed at destroying other countries? None.

Islamic terrorism is a big lie, the clash of civilisations, so cherished by brainwshers Samuel Huntington and Zbigniew Brzezinski, doesn't exist, people do not want to live at war but at peace, wars are not inevitable and are only useful to make the rich richer. Period.

Personally, I find official Presidents' speeches quite offensive: do they really think we are all stupid? Or do they just hope that?

Everytime soldiers come back home inside a coffin the babble begins: high-flown speeches to say how grateful we are they died for us, state funerals, and other rhetorical rubbish. From the exact following day the soldiers' families are alone again to cry for their dead and to make their ends meet. The rest of the population doesn't even have a clue of what the dead soldiers' names are and are busy working to survive, because those wars are bringing more and more poverty and world's instability.

Of course, they never miss mentioning the "human rights" fairy tales: we are dying to defend other people from their dictators. Exactly how the US government did for Chile in 1973: they organised the military coup to protect Chilean people from democratically elected Allende and support criminal Fascist Pinochet. "Democracy" had won then and democracy keeps winning nowadays, when innocent people die under our democratic bombs, or are the victims of our democratic depleted uranium or see their houses destroyed for the sake of our democratic corporations.

I'm reading a very thought-provoking book, "Humanitarian Imperialism. Using Human Rights to Sell War." Its author, Jean Bricmont, quotes Harold Pinter's speech at the Nobel Prize Lecture in 2005, perfectly in line with the hypocrisy of our governments.

I will quote here parts of the same speech as it appears on the official Nobel Prize site, it desperately calls for an in-depth look and analysis and targeted action:
The United States supported the brutal Somoza dictatorship in Nicaragua for over 40 years. The Nicaraguan people, led by the Sandinistas, overthrew this regime in 1979, a breathtaking popular revolution. The Sandinistas weren't perfect. ... But they were intelligent, rational and civilised. They set out to establish a stable, decent, pluralistic society. The death penalty was abolished. ... Over 100,000 families were given title to land. Two thousand schools were built. A quite remarkable literacy campaign reduced illiteracy in the country to less than one seventh. Free education was established and a free health service. Infant mortality was reduced by a third. Polio was eradicated. The United States denounced these achievements as Marxist/Leninist subversion. In the view of the US government, a dangerous example was being set. ...

The United States finally brought down the Sandinista government. It took some years and considerable resistance but relentless economic persecution and 30,000 dead finally undermined the spirit of the Nicaraguan people. They were exhausted and poverty stricken once again. The casinos moved back into the country. Free health and free education were over. Big business returned with a vengeance. 'Democracy' had prevailed. ...

The United States supported and in many cases engendered every right wing military dictatorship in the world after the end of the Second World War. I refer to Indonesia, Greece, Uruguay, Brazil, Paraguay, Haiti, Turkey, the Philippines, Guatemala, El Salvador, and, of course, Chile. ...

The crimes of the United States have been systematic, constant, vicious, remorseless, but very few people have actually talked about them. You have to hand it to America. It has exercised a quite clinical manipulation of power worldwide while masquerading as a force for universal good. It's a brilliant, even witty, highly successful act of hypnosis.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Stefano Cucchi, a case of violence in an Italian police station

"He was well when I put him in the State's hands. They gave him back to me dead. I want the truth." These are the words of Stefano Cucchi's mother. Stefano was 31 and on October 16th was arrested because found with 28g of hashish. He never got back home.

His family was never allowed to see him, and the young man died alone in a prison of the Carabinieri (Italian military police) in Rome. "He fell off": this is the Carabinieri's official explanation. There are many jokes in Italy about the Carabinieri's stupidity, so maybe they think we are all as stupid.

This is Stefano before being arrested

This is one of the images the family has released to the press: Stefano's body after he was murdered in the police station.

Unfortunately, this is not the only case of violence involving the public service of the Italian police. All other cases were dismissed with pathetic excuses, no explanations and the loneliness of the victims' families.

The psycopaths working for the police in Italy are in charge of "protecting" us. From who exactly? Who are the criminals? Police officers are trained and brainwashed to be violent and, as brave as they are, when they have in their hands a young man, unarmed, alone and with no "important" lastname, they take the liberty to do whatever they want, nevermind if humane or not.

Stefano Cucchi's case, as well as Federico Aldrovandi, as well as the massacre carried out by the police in the school Diaz during the G8 of 2001 in Genoa, are some of the darkest pages of Italy's recent history.
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