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The Torture Culture

2010 December 16
by Ian Welsh

Ok, here’s the deal.  Torture does not work to get information.  Period.  You do not torture people to get information, you torture people to send information, or rather, to send a message. What is that message?

We Torture People

That’s all the message is.

America is a torture culture.  The majority of Americans accept torture, they think it’s ok.  This extends right through the society. Sure, it is in its rawest form in places like SuperMax security prisons (23 hour a day isolation is torture), Bagram and Guantanmo, but it extends down.  Glenn Greenwald recently wrote a piece on how Bradley Manning is being kept in constant isolation, refused sheets or a pillow, not even allowed to exercise:

Just by itself, the type of prolonged solitary confinement to which Manning has been subjected for many months is widely viewed around the world as highly injurious, inhumane, punitive, and arguably even a form of torture.  In his widely praised March, 2009 New Yorker article — entitled “Is Long-Term Solitary Confinement Torture?” — the surgeon and journalist Atul Gawande assembled expert opinion and personal anecdotes to demonstrate that, as he put it, “all human beings experience isolation as torture.”  By itself, prolonged solitary confinement routinely destroys a person’s mind and drives them into insanity.  A March, 2010 article in The Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law explains that “solitary confinement is recognized as difficult to withstand; indeed, psychological stressors such as isolation can be as clinically distressing as physical torture.”

Then there is this:

Ariz. Rep. Michele Reagan, R-District 8, is better known for fighting for new laws, but now, she is speaking about her fight against a lawsuit.Reagan is being sued by her mortgage company after she questioned who owned held the note on her home.

“It’s really scary,” she said, “I think that this really needs to be brought to light that this is happening to people in Arizona.”Reagan had wanted to find out she and her husband, David Gulino, could refinance their south Scottsdale home.

“In doing research, I began to wonder if the lender even owned the note to my home,” she said. “So I sent them a letter and asked them and asked them several things. I want to know who owns my property. Am I paying the right person?”

Soon after, Colonial Savings filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court against Reagan and her husband. The company says the couple is trying “to rescind their home loan,” or back out on the loan.

“We’re not interested in walking,” Reagan said. “We’re not interested in saying we’re not going to pay. We just need a little help with the interest rate.”“I’m current on my loan. Never missed a payment. We’ve never been late. We were sued for asking too many questions,” said Reagan.

Suing someone who has done nothing wrong, putting them through all that, isn’t about stopping them from defaulting, it’s about sending a message: “this is what we do to people who dare to challenge us in even the smallest way.”  Win or lose, the banks have sent a message, and they can easily afford harassing lawsuits, while ordinary people can’t.

Torture is just an extension of bullying, and the message of the bully is always “I can do this, and no one will stop me.”

The porno-scanners and the gropes (which definitely include touching your genitals, btw, I have been “padded down”) are also along these lines. They won’t stop a determined terrorist, but they do send a message: we can do this and no one will stop us.  And if you fly on a private jet (ie. you’re rich or important), hey you don’t get groped or scanned.

Likewise, Paypal, Visa, and Mastercard shutting down Wikileaks donations was about sending a message.  “It doesn’t matter if what you’ve done is against the law or not, we will shut you out of the modern economy, and no one will stop us.”

In the modern world you’re either a someone or a no one.  If you’re reading this, odds are that you’re a no one.  And if you’re a no one, you’d better do what you’re told and you’d better not resist, or they will punish you whether it’s just or not, whether it’s legal or not, whether it’s torture or not.

This will only stop when the price for doing it is too high, personally, for the someones.

46 Responses
  1. Morocco Bama permalink
    December 16, 2010

    Gadzooks, another excellent analysis. You’re really resonating with me, and yes, I am a NO ONE and proud of it. Blessed are the NO ONES, for they shall…….hmmmm, shall what? I got it, they shall inherit scorn, indifference, ridicule, loneliness, despair and their reward for enduring all of this, when the SOMEONES are raptured from this rock, will be an unemployable, gene-altering toxic wasteland.

    They call those TORTurous corporate lawsuits, SLAPPs, and they are diabolical, but what do we expect from such a diabolical system besides this?

    http://www.firstamendmentcenter.org/petition/topic.aspx?topic=slapp

    You know, if you look at the entirety of the ascent of Western Civilization, you can’t help but grok what this nut job recites in Shutter Island.

    http://www.sodahead.com/living/god-loves-violence-why-else-would-there-be-so-much-of-it/question-890317/

    God’s gift…His violence…God loves violence…Why else would there be so much of it? It’s in us. It comes out of us. It is what we do more naturally than we breathe. We wage war. We burn sacrifices. We pillage and tear at the flesh of our brothers. We fill great fields with our stinking dead. And why? To show Him that we’ve learned from His example…God gives us earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes. He gives us mountains that spew fire onto our heads. Oceans that swallow ships. He gives us nature, and nature is a smiling killer. He gives us disease so that in our death we believe He gave us orifices only so that we could feel our life bleed out of them. He gave us lust and fury and greed and our filthy hearts. So that we could wage violence in His honor. There is no moral order as pure as this storm we’ve just seen. There is no moral order at all. There is only this – can my violence conquer yours?

    By the way, I’m a strong agnostic, so this is not an endorsement for the existence of God…it’s just some intellectual food for thought, is all.

  2. alyosha permalink
    December 16, 2010

    This really helps me put the whole notion of torture and groping/pat-downs into the context of bullying. It’s not about getting information, it’s about sending it. Things make a lot more sense now. Thanks.

  3. December 16, 2010

    I give Digby a lot of shit about the relentless and redundant re-hashing of Republican deconstruction – increasingly awkward after 2006, unjustifiable after Jan 20, 2009 – but the same persistence of hers is applied to a worthy cause in chronicling the US affinity to Tasers.

    Torture and authoritarianism go together like iron glove and iron fist.

    Greenwald is exactly right on the US obsessions with “HyperSuperMAXMore” torture-prisons. The permissiveness and not-really-unspoken encouragement to break the laws and strictures of custody to abuse inmates existed before Abu Ghraib, it was just exported. In an nation proud to enjoy pervasive Saturday Night show and Hollywood jokes about equally pervasive prison rape, it is pretty obvious that the sickness is neither recent nor an abberation.

    Torture R’ US.

  4. December 16, 2010

    “It’s not about getting information, it’s about sending it.”

    It is about manufacturing “information” as well – the ultimate “He said, She said”. Torture produces incrimination, which is then stovepiped through a corrupt prosecutorial and judiciary system to manufacture pretext, consent, and results. Greenwald makes this point in his follow-up – why torture Manning? To manufacture a pretext that serves as cover to increasingly embarrassing UK and Swedish “authorities” to serve the US in its openly lawless efforts to suppress effective opposition.

    It would be interesting to see what role torture-induced statements played in the lead-up to the Iraq war, and to what extent 2002 and 2003 torture was motivated by the desire to manufacture a “smoking confession” after the fact.

    Finally, as the Kadr case shows, the US is not above manufacturing ex post facto “laws” for kangoroo courts to convert manufactured confessions into “legal” judgements. I am sure that Congress would be more than willing to provide other not-quite-”Just”-In-Time legislation to service any Manning “admissions” into “evidence” against Assange.

    If you compare the standards for “conspiracy” applied in this context to the “high standards” set to prove fraud in corporate world – e.g. the financial industry – it becomes pretty clear that the role of institutionalized torture in the US is not only to deter some from distributing information; torture is crucial in manufacturing “facts” for the media to help in “creating the new reality” that we are all supposed to live in.

  5. Shoto permalink
    December 16, 2010

    Hey Michele Reagan: Welcome to the Party.

    Feel free to go here:

    http://www.tfaforms.com/186974

    And everyone else is encouraged to pay a visit, too.

  6. Morocco Bama permalink
    December 16, 2010

    In the spirit of Ian’s post, one day we will click the link to access his blog, and we will get this. Those are some impressive badges. I fart in their general direction. So to, should you.

    http://torrent-finder.com/

  7. jo6pac permalink
    December 16, 2010

    Yep, as we have been saying for awhile, Welcome to the New Amerika.

    Everything is on schedule, please move along.

  8. December 16, 2010

    Of course, this is all academic and historical, since nobody serious would discuss violence in an open forum. Moreover, everybody knows that the first person to advocate violence is always a cop.

    Just saying.

  9. someofparts permalink
    December 16, 2010

    It gets better.

    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2010/12/16/929377/-Geithner-Blocking-Legal-Help-For-Foreclosure-Victims

    key paragraph from piece linked above -

    “–In fact, the Treasury Secretary approved $7.6 billion in outlays to help states prevent foreclosures and modify mortgages, too. However, “…the rules dictate that funding cannot be used for legal aid, dramatically blunting the impact of the program.” ”

    On an unrelated topic – I’ve been sharing Ian’s advice about getting out of the U.S. with some of the 20-somethings at my side job. I snapped out of my selfishness long enough to realize that someone young who will have children some day REALLY needs to leave even more than a geezer like me does. Good news is that they are listening.

    Just wanted to let Ian know that the truth-talking you keep doing is helping people – probably more people than you will ever hear from.

  10. Morocco Bama permalink
    December 16, 2010

    I considered getting out of Dodge, until I realized that it’s all Dodge now, one way, or another. I think Martha sums it up nicely.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fhcflDSUMvc

  11. Ian Welsh permalink*
    December 16, 2010

    Of course, I would never advocate violence, unless it was against defenseless Iraqis or Afghanis, for having terrorists in their wedding or funeral parties, of course. In that case, it’s ok, kill as many kids as you like, they’re terrorist sympathizers, after all.

  12. anon2525 permalink
    December 16, 2010

    Ok, here’s the deal. Torture does not work to get information. Period. You do not torture people to get information, you torture people to send information, or rather, to send a message.

    I think that this gives them too much credit. They are not sending a message — they’re not that thoughtful. They’re pissed off and they’re punishing him.

    When I read Greenwald’s article the other day, I was thinking, “Torturing him? What for? Even if you think it works, what does he know? He’s not an agent from the Soviet Union or a captured officer from an enemy army. He doesn’t have some ‘ticking time bomb’ (the favorite right-wing fantasy). He doesn’t know anything. He’s not dangerous in any way. And why isn’t he being put on trial? You’ve had him for seven months.” Under the circumstances, what they are doing verges on being sadism.

  13. anon2525 permalink
    December 16, 2010

    I would never advocate violence, unless it was against defenseless Iraqis or Afghanis, for having terrorists in their wedding or funeral parties, of course. In that case, it’s ok, kill as many kids as you like, they’re terrorist sympathizers, after all.

    Don’t forget Yemenis or young Afghani boys.

  14. December 16, 2010

    As you surely must see, Ian, your answer is less than fully responsive.

  15. anon2525 permalink
    December 16, 2010

    We were sued for asking too many questions,” said Reagan.

    Suing someone who has done nothing wrong, putting them through all that, isn’t about stopping them from defaulting, it’s about sending a message: “this is what we do to people who dare to challenge us in even the smallest way.”

    No, I think that the bank is suing the Reagans because the bank doesn’t have a good, non-self-incriminating answer. Because the Reagans are in Obama’s socioeconomic class, they can get some attention (oops!) but the bank doesn’t want this publicized. They would prefer the “rocket docket,” where they screw homeowners quickly and without any questions.

  16. anon2525 permalink
    December 16, 2010

    The porno-scanners and the gropes (which definitely include touching your genitals, btw, I have been “padded down”) are also along these lines. They won’t stop a determined terrorist, but they do send a message: we can do this and no one will stop us.

    And all that it took was one failed “shoe” “bomber” and one failed “underwear” “bomber” — talk about your asymmetrical warfare… What did that cost them? $100? And the cost to the u.s. economy? Billions of dollars in equipment, personnel expenses, and lost time of travelers. For as long as routine air travel exists.

  17. Morocco Bama permalink
    December 16, 2010

    Welcome to the New Amerika……same as the Old Amerika, but now with new packaging and a regiment of steroids.

    Just a few reminders of that glorious past.

    http://www.ferris.edu/jimcrow/question/jan04.htm

    This one is telling since it was perpetrated by two later esteemed WWII Generals, Eisenhower and MacArthur. In fact, MacArthur refused Hoovers’ orders to discontinue the campaign, and instead burned the Bonus Army camp to the ground. Nice touch.

    http://www.eyewitnesstohistory.com/snprelief4.htm

    I could go on and on, the list of injustices and atrocities are seemingly endless, but it does go to show, the game plan is still the same, even though it’s got a new bob and a new weave.

  18. Morocco Bama permalink
    December 16, 2010

    As we speak, a new definition for violence is being crafted to include any thought, or verbal/written articulation that, no matter how subtle and nuanced, casts doubt on the glorious system in which we operate. Violators will be punished with extreme prejudice.

  19. December 16, 2010

    Anon 525 -

    It seems clear that Bradley Manning is being punished for daring to challenge the PTB. That’s the message they’re sending. They’re not torturing him for information, they’re just showing what happens to people who screw with the oligarchy/patriarchy. The next person who thinks about facilitating leaks will think about Manning in prison under horrible circumstances. It’s an effective bullying tactic.

    Also, a lot of the “war on terror” is not just about attacking civil liberties, but about money. The people behind the full-body scanners are making a fortune – one of whom, not so coincidentally, is Michael Chertoff. Meanwhile, real security measures, such as scanning the containers that come into our ports, or using scanners that can “sniff” explosive residue, are not being discussed. Obviously there are no Obama/Bush cronies pushing these machines, or they’d be in every port and airport, respectively.

    The “war on terror” has also given an excuse for the continuation of the military-industrial complex, again shoveling trillions of dollars into its maw.

    It really is an amazing thing, this culture of fear, which allows the government to perpetrate torture and violence everywhere without much questioning by its citizens. No wonder after 9/11, Bush said he “hit the trifecta.”

  20. anon2525 permalink
    December 16, 2010

    Likewise, Paypal, Visa, and Mastercard shutting down Wikileaks donations was about sending a message. “It doesn’t matter if what you’ve done is against the law or not, we will shut you out of the modern economy, and no one will stop us.”

    Unlike your other examples, I agree that attempting to prosecute WL’s Assange is certainly about the u.s. gov’t.’s sending a message.

    It’s not clear that the gov’t. will be able to send it, however. In order to put him on trial (and get a conviction), they’ll not only have to prosecute him for a non-crime, but they also will have to selectively prosecute him. None of the media outlets that published the documents before WL is being mentioned as the object of prosecution. What happens when they put Assange on trial and he is acquitted? It is better for them that he remains a (political) target, but not one that they catch. (This is also the reason I don’t expect DADT to be rescinded. The right-wing doesn’t want to lose that wedge issue.)

    And these are people who are not particularly competent at actual legal reasoning. There’s a reason that most of the people who were held at Guantanamo were at long last released and why few of the remaining prisoners have been put on trial — the state has no case against them. The prisoners are political prisoners as surely as those imprisoned by the former Soviet Union.

  21. anon2525 permalink
    December 16, 2010

    It seems clear that Bradley Manning is being punished for daring to challenge the PTB. That’s the message they’re sending.

    It’s not clear to me. Besides Greenwald, where is there any mention or description of what is being done to Manning? If the gov’t. is “sending a message,” they’re doing a really bad job of it because nobody is being told the message. The gov’t.’s message will be told when the prosecution makes its recommendation for sentencing, or when the judge(s) announces the sentence. “Life imprisonment without parole,” or some thing like that.

  22. John permalink
    December 16, 2010

    I believe the US government wants to get Assange and put him in prison. Who needs a stinkin’ trial? Why would they need that to send a message?
    I think they simply want to get him and keep him in protective custody until the GWOT is won which with eternal war in the east will be forever or until he dies behind bars.
    The king does have a dungeon and he want to use it.

  23. Tom Hickey permalink
    December 16, 2010

    Nothing new to see here. In order to exploit “the labor factor,” political elites alternately appease the masses with some co-optation and intimidate them with punishment. It is simple stimulus response theory that is characteristic of behaviorism — bread and circuses” as positive reinforcement and pain infliction as negative reinforcement.

    Political liberalism was supposed to tone this down, but never to replace it. Trotsky got it right. Until the workers take charge of their lives by taking charge, they will be at the mercy of the ruling elite because liberal bourgeoisie are never going to to more than talk about liberal ideals.

    Liberal democracy the way it is configured is a co-optation device that encourages workers to think that they are in charge through the ballot box while it manipulates them with propaganda and actively discourages significant dissent through intimidation. The Freedom of Information Act has provided ample evidence that the authorities closely monitor dissent. There is also good reason to think that they act against those deemed dangerous, both to remove the perceived threat and to send a message, as Daniel Ellsberg has explained about his own case and others, and John Dean set forth in his book on the authoritarianism.

    It’s totalitarianism lite.

  24. December 16, 2010

    Anon 525 -

    It’s not clear to me. Besides Greenwald, where is there any mention or description of what is being done to Manning? If the gov’t. is “sending a message,” they’re doing a really bad job of it because nobody is being told the message.

    I hear what you’re saying, but the fact that they put him in prison is a message, no? Prison is not known for being a place where people are treated well.

    In this case, the message is not torture, but power.

  25. anon2525 permalink
    December 16, 2010

    The “war on terror” has also given an excuse for the continuation of the military-industrial complex, again shoveling trillions of dollars into its maw.

    Business As Usual since the end of WWII, when the MICC* was originally set up — Private profits at Public expense.

    *When Eisenhower was planning on giving his farewell address, he was going to call the military-industrial complex the military-industrial-congressional complex in order to point out congress’s role in keeping the money flowing to congressional districts for jobs from gov’t. contracts. His brother, Milton, is said to have talked him out of the ‘congressional’ part to make it more politically palatable. link

  26. Morocco Bama permalink
    December 16, 2010

    Exactly, Tom, but Trotsky was a traitor to that cause, as was Lenin. Chomsky puts it in perspective here.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yQsceZ9skQI

    I’d like to see this kind of revolution take hold. It’s a dream, I know, but it’s all I have…my dreams.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JzbmxZBTbt4

  27. anon2525 permalink
    December 16, 2010

    In this case, the message is not torture, but power.

    Sounds like we’re in agreement (but in disagreement with Ian Welsh’s point), that Manning is not being tortured to send a message. As far as arresting and imprisoning him to send a message, um, yeah, the “message” is that it is illegal to break the law (leak classified gov’t. documents).

    Ian Welsh’s post does not mention (overlooks?) the quite substantial message that is being sent to people in the gov’t.:

    It is OK to commit crimes such as killing innocent civilians or aiding in the prostitution of young boys and then hiding that through the use of document classification — we will not investigate and you will not be prosecuted for these crimes, even if the documents become known to the public.

  28. editor_u permalink
    December 16, 2010

    @Morocco Bama (first comment after Ian’s article)

    “Blessed are the NO ONES, for they shall…….hmmmm, shall what? I got it, they shall inherit scorn, indifference, ridicule, loneliness, despair and their reward for enduring all of this, when the SOMEONES are raptured from this rock, will be an unemployable, gene-altering toxic wasteland.”

    Yes, they shall inherit all those things, but from whom? I’d say most of that scorn, etc., will come from other no ones, who are convinced either that they are someones, or are just this side of becoming someones whose ascendance to that level is being thwarted by the no ones making the fuss. [deep breath, now] Or who know that they are no ones, but they have not yet been disturbed in their misery, so shut up. You know, “you’re ruining it for everyone.”

    That’s my experience in union organizing, anyway.

  29. anon2525 permalink
    December 16, 2010

    There is also good reason to think that they act against those deemed dangerous, both to remove the perceived threat and to send a message, as Daniel Ellsberg has explained about his own case and others

    In a well-functioning judicial system both Ellsberg and Manning should be arrested and put on trial. There are laws against leaking classified documents. But in a well-functioning citizenry, the juries in those trials should find both leakers innocent by reason of civic whistle-blowing. Both men have made public crimes and gov’t. lying that would otherwise have remained hidden. The citizenry, in which the legitimate power of gov’t. resides, needs to send a message to those in government.

  30. S Brennan permalink
    December 16, 2010

    Ian I agree with you linking the behaviors,

    I’m sure some clever writer will say this has been going on since the American Revolution and then pull up some example to support that contention. What’s different here is the vast scale of these actions that are meant to terrorize and suborn the WHOLE population. For somebody born after 1979, who never lived under the freedoms [however limited some clever writer will say] of the FDR policy years it may be difficult to see how radically different the US looks today*. During the Red Scare days Gary Cooper felt confident enough to tell congress were to stick it…and Gary Cooper was no liberal.

    The fact that Bush & Obama fully support the formation of a proto-fascist state is not nearly as shocking as the vast numbers of people who support either tyrant. Loyal Obama/Bush supporters seem willing to support tyranny so long as it’s “their man” doing it. The fact so many of my friends support Obama as he shreds of even the pretense of democracy I find deeply troubling. I wonder if this is how it felt in Germany during the thirties during the run-up to the insanity that was WWII?

    *As a child, I watched almost new, 360 mph, propeller driven aircraft, sent to South America to be replaced by 575 mph jet driven aircraft. As an adolescent, I watched men land on the moon…comparing that to the personal gadgets of today seem trite, but I know friends who will argue 3G vs 4G is just as important of a development. Those software folks may be right on some technical level, but it does not feel that way to me. I just can not see some personal gadget’s improved GUI, or killer app in the same light as touring the moons of Jupiter, or landing on Mars and sampling the soil. Not only have nostalgia for the political order under FDR policies and their collective achievements, but I feel revulsion for the replacement policies offered by people who would describe themselves a s liberal Obama supporters.

  31. December 16, 2010

    Spot on, Ian, and I have to agree also with many of the commenters here. I would add only one element, besides the aforementioned power and determination to wield that power for its own sake, and that is sadism. Torture is also about letting sadists run free, with the imprimatur of state authority to bolster them. All these elements of intimidation are on a continuum (as I’ve been saying for ages at the Cogblog, much to the chagrin of several of my fellow Cogbloggers). The Patriot Act loosed the hounds, the over-hyped “war on terror” keeps expanding their territory.

  32. Morocco Bama permalink
    December 16, 2010

    FDR stopped dead in its tracks everything leftist activists had fought for up to that point. With his containment policies, he halted the natural outcome of all those years of struggle. That outcome was precisely what Tim speaks of above. And yes, it is possible to hold this view and hold the Fascists in greater disdain.

  33. anon2525 permalink
    December 16, 2010

    But in a well-functioning citizenry, the juries in those trials should find both leakers innocent by reason of civic whistle-blowing. Both men have made public crimes and gov’t. lying that would otherwise have remained hidden.

    Earlier, I could not understand what it was that the torture of Manning could possibly extract from him. Now, there is a report that some people hope to show a conspiracy between Manning and Assange (h/t David Dayen at FDL):

    Justice Department officials are trying to find out whether Mr. Assange encouraged or even helped the analyst, Pfc. Bradley Manning, to extract classified military and State Department files from a government computer system. If he did so, they believe they could charge him as a conspirator in the leak, not just as a passive recipient of the documents who then published them.

    “trying to find out” equals “put into restricted solitary confinement until Manning ‘confesses’ to the ‘conspiracy’,” apparently.

    This shows where the laws on whistle-blowing need to be changed. Not only should the whistle-blowers not be charged (or charged and found innocent, if the prosecutors won’t listen), but also the people who classify the documented crimes should be charged with conspiracy to cover up the crimes.

  34. anon2525 permalink
    December 16, 2010

    Off-topic, but in light of this week’s announcement, time magazine cannot be belittled enough:

    TIME Announces New Version Of Magazine Aimed At Adults

    This has been around for months, but some may have missed it.

  35. December 16, 2010

    Little correction of social injustices has ever been accomplished … especially in this country … without violence. And that’s the truth … and you don’t have to advocate it to recognize it. And I’ll also make the point that people who supposedly are “fighting” for positive change against the repressive plutocratic forces that be shouldn’t reflexively look down their noses at those who take violent shots back at these scumbag plutocrats that cowardly hide behind the system that they created while posturing as innocent bystanders as they wage war on the middle class and poor in this country by systematically culling our ranks so that they can buy their 3rd yacht and 5th vacation home. The folks that actually fight back have a fuck of a lot more courage than the plutocrats and a lot of these fucking morons who supposedly are “fighting” for change but spout such nonsensical bullshit such as “if you use violence to fight back against those that are violent to you, you become them”. No, you advocate immorality when you allow innocent people to be harmed for immoral means.

    The unfortunate fact of the matter is … due to their system … there is damn near no other way to effectively make the plutocrats pay a price other than violence. They own the court system, the government, the wealth, and they don’t give a fuck about strikes becoz they’re not dependent upon our work anymore. Even in Europe, the huge strikes didn’t prevent the plutocrats from administering austerity measures on them thru their governmental puppets … and now we’ll find out if a few busted heads will. Becoz until they feel physically endangered, the sociopaths will keep immorally impoverishing people so that they can HAVE MORE. Their greed is insatiable, their “morality” malleable and, despite their impressive table manners and politeness, these are not decent people coz if they were they would have shown some empathy by now. There is no other way to stop them but to exact a price from them … and, unfortunately, there is little alternative but violence to extract that price. That’s just the way it is … and they’ve made it that way.

    Z

  36. Bernard permalink
    December 16, 2010

    still, this is a fascist state, that is not news. the use of torture is but one part of the devices used to display the power they have corrupted. none of this would have been allowed if the people hadn’t been so expertly divided and manipulated. and willing. Bread and circuses.

    now that we have torture, predators like Bybee, Cheney , Yoo and the neocon sadists are free to abuse those they choose. i still don’t understand how people can think torture somehow has any good in it, at all.

    the meek shall inherit the earth, after what?

  37. Morocco Bama permalink
    December 16, 2010

    This is an interesting review on the failure of Socialism to take root and flourish in the U.S. It indicts FDR, and rightfully so.

    http://www.prospect.org/cs/articles?article=specters_of_socialism

    Had America’s socialist movement not been crushed between 1917 and 1920, what might have happened when the Depression galvanized the working class in the 1930s? We’ll never know. But Lipset and Marks are content to analyze the 1930s by stressing, correctly, the brilliant emasculation of the left by Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal. Seducing labor leaders–including many of the more militant leaders of the brand-new Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO)–and scrambling to co-opt socialists by propounding left-sounding programs, FDR prevented organized labor from linking up with the Socialist and Communist parties in the early 1930s. By 1936 the Socialist Party was all but dead, and the Communist Party was one of Roosevelt’s loudest supporters. (The authors quote CIO President John L. Lewis complaining that FDR was “carefully selecting my key lieutenants and appointing them to honorary posts… . He has his lackeys fawning upon and wining and dining many of my people. At proper intervals he has unveiled to them the glory of admission to the White House and permitted them to bask in his presence.”) Roosevelt, they write, used “conscious efforts to undercut left-wing radicals, to preserve capitalism.”

  38. Andre permalink
    December 16, 2010

    I was thinking of some ‘no ones’ in my lifetime, and these names come to mind: Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, all of whom have been pretty dame effective. There’s this to begin with: violence is theirs (the powers that be) to use, and we shouldn’t stoop to that level, but aside from the strength of non-violence, there’s much more to your insights when they’re place inside the crucible of non-violence……..

    How to bring a capitalist system to its knees rests, IMO, with consumerism, the blood of capitalism. Stop buying! On as massive a scale as possible. That might start with cutting off Comcast, one of the bigger devils, something I did eight years ago. The beast is multi-headed and it’s many things we would have to do without, but of course, most people do not want that kind of discomfort. And successful anti-consumerism effectively implemented will put a lot of people out of work. That does not mean I’m going to rush out to Walmart tomorrow. but it’s something to think about.,

  39. Celsius 233 permalink
    December 16, 2010

    I watched “V for Vendetta” again last evening. The movie was made in 2006 and very much addresses today and this conversation by bringing Guy Fawkes and the Gunpowder Plot of 1605 into the 21st century. 401 years have passed: Remember, remember the 5th of November…

  40. guest permalink
    December 17, 2010

    “Morocco Bama PERMALINK
    December 16, 2010
    I considered getting out of Dodge, until I realized that it’s all Dodge now, one way, or another. I think Martha sums it up nicely.”

    Seriously. One place I would have thought would be a good safe haven might have been Sweden. Then they start doing the bidding of some bad actors with the whole trumped up condom crap. I read about a suicide bomber in Sweden and I learn that they have ditched their neutrality too. For what? To join the EU? Turns out the conspiracy theorists were right that the EU was about killing sovereignty and democracy and enslaving everyone to the men in grey suits.

  41. December 17, 2010

    i feel compelled to remind folks, and i’m sure most here know it; but the “torture culture” has been in full effect in this country. for decades. ask any young brown or black man in an urban neighborhood. ask any DFH pot dealer busted for moving a couple of ounces. “no one” cared that institutionalized rape, beatings, and torture have been part of our prisons for all the long length of the history of the War on (some) Drugs, and then some. because most of the people locked up and tortured in them were poor, not-white, and/or hippies.

    all this attention to the fact that our government and leadership enjoys and relishes torture and sadism is the result of well-to-do white progressives suddenly realizing that they too are now targets. witness all the excitement that Assange has been “house arrested” and is spending his in-house arrest time on a fabulous resort estate, while the poor, enlisted guy who made Assange famous rots, for months on end, in solitary in a military prison in quantico, with no relief in sight. if our government and military had restrained itself, and only added foreigners and american muslims to this list of people being sadistically and needless tortured without purpose, i’m sure very few “important” and “serious” writers would’ve noticed. (ian is not in that group and has noticed for a long time, let me boilerplate that now)

    the entire MIC of this country is headed by a bunch of sadists. theocratic, uneducated, willfully apocalyptic torturers who made Abu G and wedding bombings and Gitmo not only possible, but standard. and as was always predictable, the money is running out and now those techniques are beginning to be applied to comfortable, domestic white liberals in the american middle class. oh well, this is where “identity” politics always failed. now is when the privileged identities who believed if they just compromised enough on some issues (but not their own, gosh no!), and were civil enough with torturers at Village cocktail parties, finally realize that they can be tossed in the camps just like everybody else.

    the nazis killed a bunch of german aryan liberals. the romans slaughtered plenty of roman citizens on the ‘wrong’ side of various civil wars. the chinese had a nice time eliminating “good” chinese citizens in the wake of that nation’s post colonial upheavals. this country? not special or different. hell, look to Mexico, right now. it’s not just “illegals” and “drug runners” getting cut down, as that experiment in democracy fails and gangsters take over that nation. it’s happening here, as well.

  42. Morocco Bama permalink
    December 17, 2010

    Great points, chicago dyke.

  43. anon2525 permalink
    December 18, 2010

    all this attention to the fact that our government and leadership enjoys and relishes torture and sadism is the result of well-to-do white progressives suddenly realizing that they too are now targets. witness all the excitement that Assange has been “house arrested” and is spending his in-house arrest time on a fabulous resort estate, while the poor, enlisted guy who made Assange famous rots, for months on end, in solitary in a military prison in quantico, with no relief in sight.

    Excerpt of Assange’s (brief) public statement when he was released on bail:

    During my time in solitary confinement in the bottom of a Victorian prison, I had time to reflect on the conditions of those people around the world also in solitary confinement, also on remand, in conditions that are more difficult than those faced by me. Those people also need your attention and support.

  44. Morocco Bama permalink
    December 18, 2010

    And your point is, anon2525? Your quoting Assange about his concern for other’s held against their will doesn’t undermine chicago dyke’s points, in the least. She’s talking about all the faceless people this system seeks to degrade and humiliate on a daily basis. The no ones. Faceless and nobody. That describes me, but without the physical bars….yet. You can’t undo this system with the very epitome of this system…..CELEBRITY. Only the faceless nobodies can achieve it without the use of the trappings of CELEBRITY.

  45. anon2525 permalink
    December 18, 2010

    And your point is, anon2525? Your quoting Assange about his concern for other’s held against their will doesn’t undermine chicago dyke’s points, in the least.

    That he is not self-obsessed, which appears to be the point that CD is making — that people are only concerned about people like themselves. “Speak for yourself and stop trying to tell me what I think,” is my reply. So, yes, it does undermine CD’s point. You have made a mistake in your reasoning and reading. If you find that CD’s point applies to you, then that is your self-determination.

  46. Morocco Bama permalink
    December 18, 2010

    I take CD’s point to be not about Assange himself, but about those who are making him a cause célèbre. It’s those very persons that are fashioning whoever Assange is into the image of their choosing and convenience.. It’s hero worship. Woe the country, or people, that needeth a hero.

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