Skip to content

Yes, the American people are responsible

2011 December 19
by Ian Welsh

Let me respond to the idea that Americans are not responsible for what is happening to America, especially poorer Americans.

No.  Sorry, but no.  Sure, their guilt isn’t as great as that of the liberal class, or the financiers, or various other folks, but they are still responsible.  It was a democracy.  There were ways to stop it from getting to this.  In a democracy, the PEOPLE are held responsible.  Yes, there were forces working to stop it from being a democracy, but they voted for people like Reagan and the members of Congress, and so on.  Whether you think the 2000 or 2004 elections were stolen (yes on the first, maybe on the second) they let it get to the point where it could be stolen.  They didn’t riot in 2000.  They reelected George Bush after everyone knew he was torturing scum.

I’m not letting them off the hook.  Sorry.

The pathetic attempts of Americans to pretend they’re good people and don’t deserve what’s happening to them are just that, pathetic.  Yeah, some of them are good, but not enough.  It’s just that simple.

Take some goddamn responsibility.

Until Americans get that they are responsible, they will not also get that they can change things.  If Americans are powerless, if it’s “not their fault” that also means they can’t fix it.

This is basic, like everything else I have to explain these days, it seems.

Sadly America is no longer the issue.  While it is theoretically possible it could be saved, the odds are so low the fight is pointless for anyone not an American (and even there, if you can leave, you should).  We are now in triage, trying to save other nations.  The center did not hold.  So be it, the provinces are on their own, and must do what they can, for themselves.

And the people who continue to apologize for the American public, pretending that Americans as a group are not complicit… yeah, well, whatever.  Doesn’t matter now.  But that sort of “it’s not your responsibility” BULLSHIT is part of why America is going down.

“It’s not your responsibility” means “don’t pay attention, don’t try and change it.”

164 Responses
  1. par4 permalink
    December 19, 2011

    Do you think the UK and the Commonwealth are in the same fix?

  2. Morocco Bama permalink
    December 19, 2011

    Yet another Grand Slam. I couldn’t agree more. Every step of the way, the “Little People,” because of their prejudices, traded away what little liberty and freedom they had for short-term conveniences, thus deferring responsibility and accountability until their progeny were rendered permanent infants, or at best, adolescents.

    The ingredients aren’t there to bake the cake of true change. The People have been neutered and spayed. Nearly everyone these days is an ethical Eunuch without an ounce of real fight in them.

  3. Jack Crow permalink
    December 19, 2011

    I don’t think the 1/3 of all American residents, and the 60% of registered voters who showed up at the polls (2004) is a good enough bellwether to allow the assessment that all Americans chose Bush, or that that all Americans endorse the current leadership, or that the people who are largely victims are responsible for their conditions. Nor is our country an actual democracy, really. When your choice for office holders is from among a rather limited slate of oligarchs and daddy’s little princes, with a corporate media that enlists itself to winnow that field down even further, the word “democracy” doesn’t come to mind.

  4. Celsius 233 permalink
    December 19, 2011

    Yup; spot on Ian & MB.
    Exactly why I left 6 weeks after the asshole starting bombing/invading Iraq.
    We’re done, over done actually…

  5. Ian Welsh permalink*
    December 19, 2011

    If they couldn’t be bothered to vote…

  6. Ian Welsh permalink*
    December 19, 2011

    America /was/ a democracy. I don’t think it is anymore. But voting for Reagan was just as big a mistake at the time.

  7. Jack Crow permalink
    December 19, 2011

    “If they couldn’t be bothered to vote” is an argument that ignores its own environment, the actuality of our “democracy,” the relative homogeneity of the supposedly different political parties, and the fact that there are about 80 million Americans who don’t have a “right to vote” but who are being held responsible for the decisions made by oligarchs.

  8. Morocco Bama permalink
    December 19, 2011

    But voting for Reagan was just as big a mistake at the time.

    ….and Clinton, if you think about it. The Washington Consensus, a term elaborated upon by Zinn, sprouted under Carter, although the seeds had already been planted, and took off from there. Now we have a planetary forest of prodigious proportions and nobody knows how to, or cares to log.

  9. Pepe permalink
    December 19, 2011

    Even my conditioning is conditioned.

    How’d the Franklin line go? “It’s a republic, if you can keep it.”

    I want to blame the proles; I really do. But, as Jonathon Schwarz wrote this weekend “How much history in our heads is fabricated?” A putative democrazy (an unintentional typo which I’ve decided is closer to reality so left uncorrected) where they choose between two pre-vetted by the powers-that-be candidates while they get all of their info from corporatized propaganda outlets …

    At this point, everything’s very likely beyond saving, so blaming everyone – dunno dude. I’d rather just get ready to eat the rich.

  10. tom allen permalink
    December 19, 2011

    I guess I’m the contrarian’s contrarian, then. I think the nation’s redeemable. Not by the adults, perhaps, but by the children. I mean, it’s touch and go in Egypt right now, and Russia, and Iraq … but if they can stay and resist their military dictatorships peacefully and democratically, then we sure as hell can give it one more try. :-P

  11. soullite permalink
    December 19, 2011

    Eh, once you start going back to elections held over 30 years ago, you’re no longer blaming the American people. You’re mostly blaming dead folks who used to be the American people.

  12. December 19, 2011

    Most of the Reagan voters are still alive. 1980 is the year we went off the rails.

    Sadly I agree with Ian. We are no longer America and will not be again in my life time. People with an opportunity to leave should do so.

    Unfortunately we can take many nations down with us, we don’t even have to invade or drop freedom bombs to do so.

    Occupy is the most hopeful thing going on right now.

  13. Ian Welsh permalink*
    December 19, 2011

    Oh, FFS. Are you people arguing America was never a democracy? And forget 30 years ago, try 10 or 20. Nobody is saying, certainly not I, that some Americans aren’t more responsible than others. But things are much worse now, and Americans must take responsibility. If they won’t, they can’t fix it.

    The point is that Americans have been voting for this for a long time. Lower taxes, lower taxes, lower taxes. Suburbia, suburbia, suburbia.

    America can be redeemed, sure. I just don’t think it’s going to happen before it crashes out. 20 years is pretty optimistic, I think, alas.

  14. viajera permalink
    December 19, 2011

    This just doesn’t sit right with me, probably because my defensive hackles are going up as a USian. Yes, the American people as a whole have done some really stupid, idiotic things that have led us to this point, and facilitated war criminals. But I don’t think you can hold your average individual responsible for this.

    As someone who’s lived in the US most of my life, who has traveled and lived all over the country, in my experience the average American is absolutely clueless when it comes to politics. Frankly, most of them don’t give a damn. Why don’t they give a damn? Because they’ve (we’ve) been encouraged not to give a damn from the moment we first start consuming media. The media morass we float in tells us constantly: don’t look over there, that’s boring, here, look at Snooki and The Situation play on the Jersey Shore, check out Brangelina’s latest adventures, watch Ahnold blow up some terrorists, watch “Real” Housewives take each other down. Most importantly, if you want to be happy (and isn’t that the most important thing EVER?!?), be sure to buy Buy BUY!!!!! Don’t think too hard, thinking is for geeks, and you don’t want to be a geek now, do you? Politics, that’s just sooooo boring, they’re all the same doncha know? All that matters is that you have a big, strong daddy figure to protect you – because those scary Mooslims are after you, doncha know?

    Our educational system is crap, and has been crap for decades, and I tend to think that’s intentional. Keep the people dumb so they don’t question or think too much, then distract them with shiny baubles. But also keep them fearful, with constant war in the background and torture on the TV, so they’ll vote in big, strong authoritarians and permit them to do anything “necessary” to “protect” the country.

    Then those of us who’ve taken the red pill and see what’s going on, we’re either ignored or ridiculed. Those dirty f*(*ing hippies, they’re just a bunch of loony extremists, don’t listen to them. So we’re not listened to. I’ve been talking about this for years, but nobody wants to hear it, they just want to write me off as crazy so they can go back to their TV and their toys. We’ve protested, but the media ignores us, or turns their light on us only long enough to ridicule us. We’ve campaigned for candidates who promise to be progressive, then turn around and enact policies more conservative than Republicans of yore. We’ve talked and blogged and raised money, but we have no power in this country, and no one wants to hear what we have to say, because it isn’t pretty and comfortable and happy.

    The American people as a whole are brainwashed. And who is responsible for this? Can you really blame brainwashed people for their own brainwashing, which started in their infancy? Sure, I can see that they allowed this to happen to a certain degree, but once you start down this path you’re victim-blaming the same way you blame a rape victim for wearing a short skirt. They were complicit, but the brainwashing would never have happened if people didn’t actively work to do the brainwashing. These are the people I hold responsible: the media and politicians who have worked to brainwash Americans for the last several decades.

  15. December 19, 2011

    Heh. Ian you are touching on one of the cornerstones of modern American existence – eternal American innocence. In this mindset, “you” or “we” are never to blame. “They” are.

    I call it the “it just happened..” syndrome. It goes something like this: “You know, I was a Reagan Democrat living in a nice cul de sac driving a SUV minding my business and then..it just happened….”

  16. December 19, 2011

    I’m not as judgmental about it as Ian (and I’m pretty judgmental), but most Americans are just too ignorant, too willfully stupid, too selfish (synonym for conservative) – this country is heading for its day of reckoning. Rioting was not ever the answer, because even peaceful demonstrations against Bush’s coup d’etat were vilified. Even most so called liberals are too ignorant, unprincipled and stupid (witness the election of Barrack Hoover Obama ben Lieberman) America could in theory save itself, regain its moral authority and its prosperity. But we won’t. And for the world, it is probably better not to have the biggest bully on the block being so shortsighted and just plain stupid. The only thing that will knock the blind faith in bastardized free-markets and in American exceptionalism ideology out of its pre-eminence in the American way of thinking is a nasty dose of reality. We are 4 years into that reality check and the Occupy movement represents the first few cracks in the wall. If this is where we are after four years of depression, I think it will be decades before the general population ever reexamines its values and choices.
    And frankly, I think Ian’s advice to get out is still pretty worthless. Europe is going down the crapper faster than us. Russia and China are scary as shit. Japan is fucked (you couldn’t pay me to set foot in that place, or Korea for that matter). Latin America is our future, and not in a good way. Australia and Canada could also turn on a dime. They are cursed with natural resources that will make them sitting ducks for aggression (but more likely they will suffer internal corruption). That leaves the middle east and Africa, and maybe a few little island nations here and there. So you go to all that trouble to emigrate and it’s still just a crap shoot how things will go in a new country, and how well or shitty they will treat foreigners if things go bad. Pass.

  17. December 19, 2011

    “They”?

    Does that mean you?

    And guilty of what?

    War crimes?

    So, what are you saying, Ian?

    Nuke ‘em all?

    Hang every 10th as an example?

  18. alyosha permalink
    December 19, 2011

    I agree with this. It’s immaterial how ignorant the average American is or was, who drank the Kool-Aid and went along with all of it. Doesn’t matter – they’re responsible, perhaps not as much as those who cooked up and served the Kool-Aid, but they certainly aren’t innocent.

    Life has a way of finding our weaknesses, in order to teach us about them, and this is going to be a huge lesson for the masses in this country, if they choose to get it.

  19. SilentHill permalink
    December 19, 2011

    @Gaius First of all, you need to back the fuck up and stop putting words in Ian’s mouth. You’re an utter tool to think that Ian wants to nuke anyone or hang every 10th as an example, you little cretin.

    And yes, douchebags like you, Gaius, Mr. Lesser of Two Evils, are responsible, and I hold you as such. I’ve seen how idiotic people like you are. You engage in silly emotional arguments with no critical thinking skills to back it up. Take for example your post right here. It’s nothing more than a silly emotional argument filled with logical fallacies. Well guess what motherfucker? The freight train is gonna smash through putzes like you, and then you can make your pathetic little emotional arguments and your illogical lesser of two evils bullshit when you’re being marched into indefinite detention and all your livelihood is taken from you forever.

  20. December 19, 2011

    I should clarify my “rioting was never the answer” statement. The peaceful demonstrators were portrayed in the media (and readily accepted as such by he masses) as undemocratic troublemakers. Rioting would have gained even less sympathy or support. When Americans are doing well, or doing well enough, they are absolutely hostile to anyone who wants to change the system (of course the pluto/kleptocrats changed things radically, but they portrayed their campaign of radical deregulation as more of what made America great in the first place, which was the opposite of the truth). Not all Americans deserve what’s coming. But the vast majority do. The fact that they were misinformed by propaganda notwithstanding. If a people can be so easily manipulated, such a people should not be “the policeman for the world”. Such a nation should not be entrusted with the wealth of the world via its status as the reserve currency, and preeminent financial centers. The harm done in the name of such dupes is just as harmful as if it was consciously done with evil intent. Nobody is talking about enslaving or otherwise punishing Americans for such sins. The horror that awaits Americans is simply living in the same world and under the same rules it has created for its global neighbors.

  21. Formerly T-Bear permalink
    December 19, 2011

    The book, Fahrenheit 451, read it, shows an example of what to do to prepare. Bad education; read extensively, get interested. Bad historical recall; read biographies, read historic writers, even read historical novels to introduce yourselves to people, their times, their problems and how they coped. Bad reading skills, practice, practice, practice – turn off the TV/radio/game box. Comprehension and analysis skills dull; select challenging books, understand what the author is about, look for things the author missed or failed to address or overlooked as an answer – the oriental calligraphic rendition of a tree requires seven branches to be considered representative in a drawing, avoid those who present only dichotomies, their either/or does not usually represent the full range of choice actually available, learn to anticipate alternative choices not given, many times the best choices are those not given. Not enough time; make time, learn to control your life, become master of yourself, it is what becoming adult is all about. When you do become adult, then you can make choices; until then, you remain nothing greater than adolescent at best. This choice is yours, yours alone. Don’t be blaming others for your failure of responsibilities, you only cheat yourself.

  22. Jack Crow permalink
    December 19, 2011

    Fascinating comments.

    I guess it is uniformly professorial and middle class managerial to blame the victims of the wealthy for the actions of the wealthy. I mean, because many people are rational enough to realize that voting between pre-selected oligarchs is a lose-lose, or have the pressures of ordinary every day struggles to distract them from the coded language and insider trading of electoralism, its “American’s” fault that those oligarchs have had a gamed system since Madison wrote it out that way.

    Every single damned “advance” or improvement in actual material conditions came at the business end of the threat of violence, revolution, strike and resistance. The legislative “victories” which followed, accompanied as they were by ruling class use of the state to re-capture lost ground, might mystify and entertain the middlings raised to coo at electoral baubles, but they aren’t what provoked or forced actual damned change.

    But, it is sort of comforting to know that the same old same olds produced by the academic universe, and their ilk, still believe that you fault the losers for the depredations of the winners.

    You deserve your future. You really do. Welcome to the proletariat, ass hats. Now, get in queue.

  23. Phoenician in a time of Romans permalink
    December 19, 2011

    Do you think the UK and the Commonwealth are in the same fix?

    The Commonwealth is not a nation. It is merely a “club” of nations that share a common heritage and has no sovereignty. You may be assuming that the de jure fiction of a German housewife as a common head of state actually means anything; if Elizabeth Windsor actually tried exercising that power over a Commonwealth nation, they’d be a de jure republic in hours.

    The American people are responsible for the American republic, just as the Brits are responsible for the UK, and the Aussies for Australia. To talk about “apathy” or “brainwashing” is to offer an excuse, not a reason – I can state that some of my excess weight is due to genetics, but I also know for a fact that much of it is due to “apathy” or “lack of willpower” – which is to say, my responsibility.

  24. Morocco Bama permalink
    December 19, 2011

    Well, I think it’s past the point of voting our way out of this, so voting at this point is irrelevant. An effective Democracy requires a critically thoughtful and informed populace, otherwise, the manipulative ones can easily pull the wool over the eyes of the unwitting in order to get them to agree to measures that are against their interests. That’s been happening across the board for some time now. I’m not sure if the U.S. has ever had a critically thoughtful and informed populace, on the whole, and if you think about it, the Fabled Founders, despite their rhetoric, created an adroit mechanism that guarded against popular will and rule. Yes, they built in some semblance of representation with the House of Representatives, but when you view the power of the Senate to turn down House votes, and the veto power of the executive, combined with the fact that you had to be a land-owner once upon a time to vote, it’s pretty clear they set it up as an Oligarchy with a democratic facade.

  25. December 19, 2011

    Well, the bottom line is that it’s not going to matter who is more to blame. The bill for our actions and lifestyle is coming due. Saying that you were clever enough to avoid being part of the system or that you were too distracted by the pressures of day to day living is not going to matter. Btw, that latter point is going to go over really well in a country where, even now, millions of people still line up around the block to buy the latest igadget.

    When the bill comes due, where you are 1% responsible or 99% responsible is not going to matter a whit. The bill will be paid.

  26. December 19, 2011

    Silent Hill.

    Get back on your meds, man, before they come for you.

  27. December 19, 2011

    I admit I share Ian’s dyspeptic views. At the same time, I see where Jack is coming from and agree with some of what he’s saying.

    So if I may enter the fray: I don’t fault people who are too consumed with just trying to scrape by, people who are victimized by a system intent on screwing them, people who, through no fault of their own, don’t have the means to pull themselves out of whatever swamp they were born into.

    I do, however, blame the privileged, the so-called educated (hyper-educated, frankly), the gifted, the blessed, the ones who’ve had every break in the book and then some, the apathetic, the willfully ignorant. Yes, I do blame them.

    I can’t count the number of times I’ve tried to talk seriously about serious subjects with people who just can’t be bothered. Who are okay with any injustice that comes down the pike as long as it doesn’t happen to them.

    There are, for example, god-knows-how-many ostensibly liberal people and liberal blogs where the letters NDAA have never been uttered. This country isn’t crawling, it’s sprinting, towards fascism, and these supposedly educated, supposedly aware citizens, don’t want to talk about it. These people come from all professions of the chattering classes — they can’t be bothered.

    The first step towards trying to right an injustice is acknowledging it. Acknowledging that it even exists. If you’re not willing to do that, well, then, sorry, but my reserves of sympathy are running low. It’s one thing to be genuinely ignorant; another to be willfully so.

    It has nothing to do with level of education, brainwashing, etc. I’m sure I’ve mentioned him before but will do so again: my grew-up-in-poverty-sometimes-starving-often-bombed-in-WWII immigrant father had the equivalent of an 8th grade education. If he were still around, he’d be screaming bloody murder at what’s happening in this country. Yet millions of people, far more educated and privileged than he ever was, refuse to acknowledge what’s going on.

  28. edwin permalink
    December 19, 2011

    Are you people arguing America was never a democracy?

    I think I might. I think that the soviet union had voting. Voting is not the same as democracy – it is neither necessary nor sufficient. Choice is also not sufficient. There is something fundamentally wrong when your choices are Tweedledum and Tweedledee. For those who think that the US was once a democracy – what has changed and when did this change occur?

    I’ve spent a bit of time thinking about what makes a democracy, and I think that being able to “vote” no in some way or another is what makes a democracy – the ability to vote for change – something different. A system where there is proportional representation allows the formation of new political parties with some reasonable expectation that new ideas are allowed to enter into the halls of power and challenge existing ideas. To form a new political party is to vote no in a round-about sense. In the US, with the 2 party system it is possible (and it has occurred) for a new political party to emerge, and make reasonable inroads into the halls of power, but it seems to me to be rather extraordinary circumstances that allow this to happen. In general the status quo is represented between two points (two political parties) and no other views are allowed into the halls of power. The voter is not allowed to say – a pox on both your houses – unless they withdraw from the system.

    In this sense, the US is not a democracy, and I suspect has never been one though it has some very strong democratic elements within its political system – in particular its (former) commitment to freedom of speech.

    The apathy of the voters is quite understandable and I would be much more hesitant to blame people for their failure to vote for the “correct” thug.

    When I start hearing things like human rights were better under Bush because there was an opposition to human rights violations unlike now, or that the best choice is to vote Republican because that way the US will crash and burn sooner and cause less pain to other people in the world I understand the futility of blaming the people of the US for not making the correct choices when the two choices are pre-defined and both wrong.

    Look at the amazing hostility that third party candidates experience. Intuitively, it is understood that their party candidates help the opposite side. A left wing third party helps the Republican party. The system is gamed against new ides – to the extent that new ideas are actually punished.

    I don’t think that this is new to the US, but is a central feature of first past the post, and in particular US style first past the post – from the beginning. Being from the colonies, I am not up on everything to do with the history of the US system so I am open to correction.

  29. astra600 permalink
    December 19, 2011

    A 20 year veteran of world-wide service in the US Armed Forces Intelligence field, I believe my father knew exactly who the poisoners of society were, and the nature of our country’s crimes. The burden kept him retired and quiet, because he knew a rebellious split from dreamy Reagan America would pass hardship immediately upon my generation. Like many middle-classers, there was no fortune in our family, and what we had would only support a rural homestead. Yet, a slide show of Vietnam was all it took to show me the travesty of war. Exposure to literature and travel freshened my awareness. Lessons to avoid pitfalls like gambling were demonstrated. Regrettably, I don’t think such epistemic talks were a common thing in those carefree years. Why else would there be pro-war rallies? People preferred that the American quilt could be folded so just the nice stitching would show. Knowing that only a few regents control the pattern makes me want to reach for the scissors. I’m the one spreading the tough talk now, my father passing on just a few years after my college graduation. Maybe sewing things up will be all my time was good for.

  30. groo permalink
    December 19, 2011

    Dear Ian, I basically underscribe all what you write.

    But here are some caveats:
    a) cognitive dissonance.
    A recent article on that can be found at …

    Watch out for that citation of Festinger:

    …Suppose an individual believes something with his whole heart…suppose that he is then presented with unequivocal and undeniable evidence that his belief is wrong: what will happen? The individual will frequently emerge, not only unshaken, but even more convinced of the truth of his beliefs than ever before. Indeed, he may even show a new fervour about convincing and converting people. (Festinger et al., 1956, p. 3)

    http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2011/12/philip-mirowski-the-seekers-or-how-mainstream-economists-have-defended-their-discipline-since-2008-%E2%80%93-part-i.html

    It seems useful to me to take a close look at human follys like that AND HOW THEY CAN BE EXPLOITED, whenever thay are recognized by some rascals.

    This is an extremely sensible question to me:
    What about thoses rascals who seem to spoil the party all the time. Not that I am a partying person. I avoid them, because I expect thoses rascals there.

    b) A -ahem- natural tendency of a large proportion of society seems to be:
    to align with authority in hierarchical societies.
    Well. Ahem. Noticed. Not invented here.

    c) these human follys, so to say, –and lots of others– can be exploited by a minority which recognizes that and exploits those to their advantage.

    Call it exploitation of information asymmetry or outright fraud.

    So who is responsible?
    The fools or the foolers?
    This is a constant topic of recent debate, e.g. in the housing bubble/scam.

    …Take some goddamn responsibility. …

    Well. Ahem. who exactly?
    We are ALL guilty?

    NO.

    US-Americans -sorry to generalize – are definitely the premier scammers&scammed in this world, closely followed by the London-City scammers and quite some others.

    For the rest of us:
    You did not pay attention. You have been defrauded and rightly deserve so.
    So the saying goes.

    But I would not go so far as to condemn ALL Americans to be guilty.
    Those poor chaps who rush into supermarkets on Black Friday.

    I pity them. What a poor bunch of demented and demoralized people.
    On into the Guiness book of records, or whatever.

    But are they ‘responsible’?

    I stop the unending story here, and say my agnostic ‘Amen’.

    It is the profit-motive, sanctioned greed, desperation, whealth illusion, relative status and whathaveyou.

    Those are very primitive emotions.
    Perfectly managed by the PTB, who elegantly defer the ‘responsibility’ to the animal spirits.
    Which they sublimate by going into the Opera to watch the very human folly they created in the first place.
    Tautology complete.

    Come on.
    Give me a break.

    To make the story short:
    Who is actually responsible for the devolvement of a theoretically/possibly decent society in to a demented one?
    WE all?

    Well.
    I would not say so.

  31. Ghostwheel permalink
    December 19, 2011

    Pretty harsh, Ian.

    What do you think of the uncountable billions of dollars that have gone into play solely for the purposes of influencing public opinion, to making and keeping us ignorant?

    It goes all the way back to Edwards Bernays and his demonic masterpiece Propaganda … or maybe even further back … Creel Commission and WWI …. Further?

    Most people take in their beliefs and attitudes from the surrounding environment … which is managed by elite gatekeepers. Only a very few have the logical and critical thinking skills to keep hitting at issues until the truth is revealed. And this process occurs in the face of great winds blowing in the opposite direction.

    I guess the point is that it seems too simple to me to say that the masses are willfully ignorant. A tremendous amount of energy goes into misinforming them and creating memes that perpetuate false consciousness. There’s a reason the Murdochs and Kochs and Rockefellers spend all that money influencing public opinion.

    I want to get angry at all the couch potatoes out there, I really do, but they seem to be yet more victims. As far back as Plato you’ve got the idea that most people “imbibe” their morality from their surrounding culture and only a few “Guardians” have the mental power to know good in itself.

    My essay writing skills tell me to wrap it up with a big conclusion … except I really don’t have one on this point. There’s something unfinished in human mental evolution, as though we’re still at the point where we want to take in the sacred stories of a tribal culture, but instead get the noxious substitute of institutionalized religion and Fox News.

    No answers, sorry…. :(

  32. Celsius 233 permalink
    December 19, 2011

    Responsibility; the ability to respond. Or; the opportunity or ability to act independently and take decisions without authorization:
    IMO responsibility is a little understood word especially as applied to that which is outside of our day to day activities (laundry, pay the bills, etc.).
    I liked Formerly T-Bears comment because it addresses the much bigger picture.
    And he/she is also speaking to the dynamic of critical thinking (self education); without which there can be no understanding of responsibility; ours or anybody’s.
    One can rail and blame, but in the end it is up to each and every one of us to self educate for our own protection and that of our families.
    Not to act is a failure of us all and not to do so leaves us vulnerable to the galoots.
    Stop blaming and get yourself to the nearest mirror…

  33. Celsius 233 permalink
    December 19, 2011

    There are many kinds of victims; which one are you?

  34. Compound F permalink
    December 19, 2011

    I do hope you put together an essay on how it is remotely possible that this country or indeed europe does not come crashing down in the flames of 700 t in credit default swaps.

    It’s not that I reject optimism outright, but I’d really like to see the argument that this need not be the end of the age of growth, that the bad paper in the banks is really not all that bad, and how anyone could know that in the absence of mark-to-market accountancy.

  35. Scott479 permalink
    December 20, 2011

    You end up here when the better part of a people live their entire lives by the mantra of “More than enough is a good place to start”.

  36. Bruce Wilder permalink
    December 20, 2011

    People act collectively thru and by institutions; people collectively “think” thru institutions. Some of the previous comments made references to the role of institutions — the media, schools, business corporations, elections, political parties — but I don’t get a sense that people understand what a profound failure of institutions, the present dire state of the U.S. and the world, really is. And, a profound failure to understand the importance of institutions, the architecture of institutions.

    I like Chris Hedges’ dark vision — he makes Ian look like a bloody optimist — partly because he has traced the failures of liberalism, in this thirty year slide toward oblivion, to the corruption and failure of liberal institutions. His Death of the Liberal Class identifies the corruption and failure of journalism, establishment religious institutions, labor unions, universities and the Democratic Party, as a mechanism.

    The synthetic libertarian v neoliberal ideology we’ve been fed to frame political discussions for 30 years is profoundly anti-institutional. Both sides deny that institutions matter, as they de-regulate and debate non-issues, like the size of government.

    That anarchists are leading OWS is telling, as well. These are people, who want to start with a clean slate, rationalizing the state all over again.

    I could generate a scintilla of optimism, if I thought anyone in this society could imagine progress.

  37. Jack Crow permalink
    December 20, 2011

    Anarchists rationalize the state, Bruce?

  38. December 20, 2011

    I agree with Ian entirely. Too indifferent to vote, and when they do vote they vote only for tax cuts. The average voter believes that the purpose of a federal legislator is to provide federal pork barrel spending for the home state, turning us into a nation divided against itself. Governance has become 535 pigs rooting in the Washington trough.

    “Occupy Wall Street”? Pffft. Give me a break. A bunch of spoiled brats whining because they believe they have not received their fair share of the money.

  39. Bruce Wilder permalink
    December 20, 2011

    Yes, Jack Crow. You hadn’t noticed?

  40. cripes permalink
    December 20, 2011

    Who’s Responsible? And for what?
    I say Tony Blair takes the fall before I do.

    Ian’s shotgun targeting of the American people as responsible or “not responsible” (which is it?) for a catalog of international horrors already enumerated has emotional appeal, but doesn’t hold up so great under examination. It reminds me a lot, actually, of the Robert Rubin rational that since “everyone” is equally responsible for the ongoing economic plunder, then no one is responsible.

    No, no, some are way more responsible, and others have no power at all. How can there be responsibility without authority? Without resources, without power, without voice, without recourse? There are Little Eichmanns and big Eichmanns and serfs and the blind and the brutalized, but they’re not EQUALLY responsible. Some of them (Americans! ) in fact are the TARGETS of the rapacious supranational killer oligarchy.

    As far as exercising the vote franchise, or not, being somehow proof of the failure of Americans (read “Germans”) to be responsible, I think anyone who nurtured fond implanted memories of our “democracy” should now–after Reagan/Clinton/Bush/Obama–know what a fracking fairy tale their vote really is. Give em credit, they know it’s a wasted vote, because it is. It has all the impact of a fart in a storm.

    As distraught as I am over the incapacity of those who understand justice to resist the onslaught of the oligarchy, we must remember it is an onslaught waged on multiple levels:
    overwhelming military and police force, a captive and increasingly impoverished, propagandized populace, an internal gulag that reminds any who dare oppose the fate that awaits them, and that’s if mere homelessness, bankruptcy, unemployment and untreated medical needs aren’t persuasive enough. Some brave souls have tried, and many ordinary people have stepped forward, if only to stand against the invasion of Iraq or vote the First Negro into office. We know what they got for their efforts: kettling, spying, lying, stealing and now, basically, the slow unveiling of MAD MAX circa 2012.

    This traumatizing shock applies, in varying measures, to the populations of Europe, North America, much of Asia. South America and parts of Asia/Mideast/Africa are showing real signs of independence from the international cartel. So, Americans of whatever class are hardly the only ones to blame. John Doe’s all over the world have stood around passively while atrocities have been committed in their name and tax dollars.

    Am I mad as hell? Sure.
    As satisfying as it is (esp. for an outlander) to blame ugly, stupid “murricans” for everything it’s too simple and too easy.
    In fact, I could make a pretty good case blaming the f*cking Europeans for the whole deal, you know, creating the USA in the first place.

    Try again.

  41. Pat In Massachusetts permalink
    December 20, 2011

    This is so true. If Americans could just turn off their radios and TV’s for just one week, we might have a fighting chance.

    We me, I’ll be 60 next year and the last decade in America has left me numb.

    There is not much fight and argument left in a person when numbness sets in.

  42. December 20, 2011

    Look, you can’t trumpet your freedom and democracy and then claim that you’re not responsible for what it produces. Of course the game is rigged, and it really doesn’t matter who you vote for or even if you vote at this point. The fact remains that the theoretical and structural framework does exist for popular control; moreover, both our leaders and the average American do talk about democracy, yada, yada and yada.

    I never voted for Bush or any of the asshats who populated Congress when we decided to invade Iraq, and yet i am responsible for that travesty and indirectly responsible for all the senseless brutality and death that came of it. I’m responsible because it was done in my name, by the leaders of a supposedly free country that willingly elected those leaders and stood behind them.

    We the venal, the violent, the selfish beyond redemption and immature such that we refuse to take responsibility for our actions. That’s us, and we rightly deserve everything we’re getting and about to get.

  43. madisolation permalink
    December 20, 2011

    “All you stupid Americans are responsible. Now admit you’re wrong, take responsibility, and go out and fix it!”
    Suppose they do. Suppose they riot and fight. What then?
    Know who I’m blaming? I’m blaming those jackasses who are willing to put on riot gear and fight their fellow citizens. Those are the ones I can’t stand to look at. If they refused to stand between the people and the cowards in power, if they refused to fight innocents on foreign soil and push buttons to drop drones for the sake of their corporate and political masters, we would not be in the situation we are today.
    In my opinion, there is noew no difference between them and Hitler’s army and Hitler’s SS. They are more responsible than all of us regular citizens combined, because they are willing to snuff out any dissent.

  44. Formerly T-Bear permalink
    December 20, 2011

    Seumas Milne at The Guardian has collected some “historical” reporting and presented a compelling summary (from one of the worlds premier news agencies). See if you are able to find the historical inaccuracies, the propaganda, the disinformation from this presentation.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/dec/19/arab-spring-seven-lessons-from-history

    Ask yourselves how much of this did you know beforehand, are aware of it on a day to day basis, or able to use information to judge whatever story you are being sold.

    This is only a fragment of a mirror most people have to see their world.

  45. Morocco Bama permalink
    December 20, 2011

    Some here, not all by any means, are engaging in Strawman tactics, wittingly, or unwittingly. Ian said that the “Americans” who are considered poor are not granted victim status in perpetuity and therefore get a pass for their part in this. He also emphasized that their degree of culpability is surely less than that of the Oligarchs and their Technical minions, but it doesn’t absolve them of all culpability. So, it’s not correct to replace what Ian has asserted with your own version of what you wanted him to say and then proceed to criticize that fabricated assertion, i.e. the Strawman you have erected.

    Some above said:

    As satisfying as it is (esp. for an outlander) to blame ugly, stupid “murricans” for everything it’s too simple and too easy.

    That’s a Strawman and not what Ian said, and therefore, everything that is said in that post that hinges on it, is invalid. I only say this, because it has happened to me on another thread, and it happens all too often and is allowed to slip by without calling it to account.

  46. Morocco Bama permalink
    December 20, 2011

    When you don’t cleanse and fortify the soil of its previous toxicity, you are bound to repeat the same patterns of behavior in perpetuity. Behold the seeds of that fix….they have fallen from the very same foliage that is apparently the source of the consternation.

    http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/wed-november-16-2011/occupy-wall-street-divided

  47. someofparts permalink
    December 20, 2011

    Not to any particular purpose, just out of affinity really, this conversation is making me remember Human Stain, a later Philip Roth novel. A black man passes as white and lives with his wife and children at a small college where he teaches. One day a student accuses him of making racist remarks and his life falls apart. I take the book as a sobering kind of meditation on identity and responsibility.

    When the right wing radio spends decades training my fellow citizens to think feminists are nazis and liberals are fascist, how do you think their listeners talk to progressives when they meet us? Being blamed for everything wrong whether it was our fault or not is the very air we breathe. Why, if it weren’t for cognitive dissonance, I’d hardly have a social life at all!

    So blame on. I’m going to keep trying to keep myself alive and have joy and do good when possible. Everybody holds people like me and my friends responsible for everything anyway, so what the fuck. I know folks are out there blaming and hating on me and my ilk. I’m gonna be in here, in my own strange little world, doing my best to stay human and humane and probably fucking up a lot as always but soldiering on. shhhhhh ….

    Also from another celebrated novelist on questions of responsibility – Bluest Eye, Tony Morrison. I’m glad somebody finally told that story, just seems funny I know of no others.

  48. December 20, 2011

    Lex,

    +1 Well said.

    I mean, we are currently celebrating the supposed end of a monstrous war crime in Iraq. Patting ourselves on the back for a job well done and whatnot. Do you think the relatives of the hundreds of thousands dead and injured Iraqis really care who’s more to blame for their relatives deaths and injuries? After all, we didn’t sift blame like fine flour when it came to killing them. Not at all.

  49. alyosha permalink
    December 20, 2011

    A good analog would be Nazi Germany. Certainly Hitler and the architects and implementors of the Reich bear the bulk of the blame for what happened, but it wouldn’t have been possible if the average German had not given away their power and consent to these people, even though this often came about through coercion. And to varying degrees, all Germany suffered the consequences of this misplaced trust.

  50. December 20, 2011

    I agree with your analogy to a point. I think you could make a reasonable claim the once the Nazis rose to power Germany became a captive society and it would be hard to leave out the end of WWI, particularly the punitive Treaty of Versailles, because it certainly had an effect on later events. But, to your point, when Russian tanks rolled into Berlin it didn’t matter which German was more culpable than the other.

    In our case, we seem to be willfully heading toward the abyss all on our own.

  51. groo permalink
    December 20, 2011

    alyosa, ks,
    as the ‘Teuton’ here, who sometimes throws his bits into this round, a comment:
    Marx- French-German war – Bismarck -Kaiser-Wilhelm -WWI -Versailles- Bavarian revolution – Weimar Republic- Hyperinflation – Dolchstosslegende-rise of Hitler- racial purification- WWII -Nurenberg Tribunal- Marshall-Plan -Montan-Union -Concept of Social Democracy- 1968- RAF -Wirtschaftswunder- Neoliberal takeover …

    What I want to say, is that in history everything is connected, and every sensible person hopefully knows that.
    Makes your head spin.
    On the outside are those stupid stereotypes: like the British ‘cultivate’ the germans mainly being all Nazis.
    See Fawlty Towers in the more humorous variant, or prince Who?, who impressed his upper-class fellows on a party with a Nazi-uniform.
    This is a simple mechanism of selfdefence, the British used for a long time, dating back to at least the East India company.
    Every Empire has its semantics of lies.
    Nothing new to see here.

    2nd.
    It is difficult to generalize.
    Somehow hopefully we are Bayesians here.
    At least valuing probability.

    Sofar so good.
    But valuation of probability, if it is of any use, should bring us to the HOT SPOTS in history.
    Right?

    I do not claim to know them, but I try.

    Conclusion.
    1) a broad brush a’la “we all are -evenly- responsible”, even the couch-potatoes IS NOT HELPFUL.
    Sure. The American couch potatoes are a laughing matter for the rest of the world.
    But to include them into the causality of affairs seems to be a bit overstretched to me.
    2) WE HAVE TO IDENTIFY THE HOT SPOTS.
    Re Assigning responsibility, I would assign 99% responsibility to certain groups, who are quite small.

    Everything else is misappropriation of Bayesian Rule, and sort of misinterpretation of social dynamics.

  52. December 20, 2011

    groo,

    Thanks and I see your point but as MB said, who said “we all are -evenly- responsible”? I haven’t and Ian hasn’t either. I think Ian has parsed things quite fairly and my further point is that in the end it’s not going to matter who is more or less responsible.

    Sure, if we don’t manage to take down the whole ball of wax with us, for future historians writing about the fall of the American Empire it’s going to be an interesting academic question but, for the folks living when it happens? Not so much.

  53. groo permalink
    December 20, 2011

    Another question, which maybe somebody here can answer:
    How is it, that the British are 70% atheistic, their US-brethren 80% religious?
    Strange.

    Where is the protestant Ethic of good old Max Weber in that?

    On the other hand there seems to be a subtribe of wallstreeters and London-innercitiers, who are -well, sorry- the scum of this universe, and solely believe in ‘money’.
    I.e. the ultimate abstraction, which for materialist Anglosaxian belief is quite a feat, I would suppose.

    How does that fit together?

    I very much would know what goes on here?

    Is it, that they do not care, whatever belief is there in the lower social strata, upon which they thrive?
    Because they are the 0.x% anyhow?

    So why care about the scum, because there is the buffer of the 10%, which shields them from any harm from the lower classes.
    This buffer is all to be cared for.
    If it reduces to 5%: Who cares? All the better. Lower costs.

    Or what?

  54. groo permalink
    December 20, 2011

    what I have been pondering for maybe 30 years -of MY life- now:

    Historical reponsibility.

    Who exactly is responsible?
    For what reason?

    Is there intergenerational responsibility?
    What about ME?

    Teutons are very sensible on that one, because they are accused on that for three generations at least.

    So my humble question is:

    What do you guess?
    1-2 generations -european reorganization of borders and populations?
    3 generations?
    8 g.? — American-Indian holocaust
    100 g.? Jewish expulsion?

    How far back in to the past shall responsibility go?
    Extremely difficult!

    How far into the future?
    This is e.g. a central German concern.
    We have places of rememberance, who point into the far future, and into the quite far past,
    probably more than the rest of the world combined. (the question of eternal guilt; a difficult one, you know. So do’nt bother us with trivialities.)

    Thank You for answering this one, and hopefully acknowledging, that this is on topic.

    One never knows.

  55. Formerly T-Bear permalink
    December 20, 2011

    @ groo

    Once someone said they were not alive when the war went down, how could they be responsible for what others did. They had a valid point.

    There is no one younger than 90 years young that could conceivably been responsible for what happened in the Spanish Civil War as well.

    How old would you have to be to have had a position of responsibility in the Irish Civil War.

    That is not to say living memories of these times is unknown to those that follow. It is for those to put those memories to rest with the bones of those who were responsible and bury for all time those ghosts so that those spirits never return.

  56. groo permalink
    December 20, 2011

    Interestingly enough it was CG Jung, who raised the question of the longterm effects/backlash of the holocaust on Indians onto the American soul.
    His thesis:
    In the long term the indian soul, which is the soul of the land, will finally take over.
    I -agnostically- pray that it is so.

    It is probably more compliated.
    It is a longterm-battle about the land and its spirit.
    The result, as Jung anticipated, is open to an epic battle, which could last 1000s of years, just like the Jewish battle about their land.

    So beware.
    But who am I to educate You On Your history?

  57. cripes permalink
    December 20, 2011

    My point put more simply is only this:

    There is more holding the ruling classes of Europe, Japan, Canada and the USA together than there is holding the deluded–or conscious–masses of the USA to their rulers. We continue to give national “interests” more weight than they actually have in a globalized world. The rulers know better.

    I repeat: Tony Blair is way more responsible for the horror in Iraq than I will ever be. And voting won’t cut it.

  58. Pepe permalink
    December 20, 2011

    you can’t trumpet your freedom and democracy

    Whoever trumpets America’s freedom and democracy has either been fully propagandized, or is lying out their ass. Just because you vote, doesn’t mean you live in a democracy, and just because people tell you that you’re free, doesn’t mean that you are.

  59. Vinquest permalink
    December 20, 2011

    There is more holding the ruling classes of Europe, Japan, Canada and the USA together than there is holding the deluded–or conscious–masses of the USA to their rulers.

    I’d say the unity of action by those ruling classes is more the result of the U.S. having waged a one-sided social war against its industrial allies for the last decade, than of some preexisting natural cohesion among their ruling elites.

  60. December 20, 2011

    A general comment aimed at this thread from an American.

    Stop blaming the education system, stop talking about how abstractions are just too ignorant, lazy, corrupt or indifferent to do what you think they should be doing to set things right. Quit whining that seeing through the hologram makes you the object of scorn. That is horse shit.

    Get fit, get tough, get capable and get ready to endure.

  61. groo permalink
    December 20, 2011

    just saying.

    My inner warrior for a peacable kingdom is deeply embarrseed.

    Could there be something like a peacable warrior?

    Sometimes I am confused.
    Sorry.

    Sometimes I only find something sensible in that:
    —-
    Only you can do something about it.
    There’s no-one there, my friend, any better.
    I might know what you mean when you say you fall apart.
    Aren’t we all the same? In and out of doubt.
    I can see angels standing around you.
    They shimmer like mirrors in Summer.
    But you don’t know it.
    And they will carry you o’er the walls.
    If you need us, just call.
    Rest your weary world in their hands.
    Lay your broken laugh at their feet.
    I can see angels around you.
    They shimmer like mirrors in Summer.
    There’s someone who’s loved you forever but you don’t know it.
    You might feel it and just not show it.
    ——-
    (Kate Bush)

    Then I have to lay down my imaginary weapons on her beautiful feet, just to adore her visions.

    But at times they get bloody real.

  62. Celsius 233 permalink
    December 20, 2011

    Lex PERMALINK
    December 20, 2011

    I never voted for Bush or any of the asshats who populated Congress when we decided to invade Iraq, and yet i am responsible for that travesty and indirectly responsible for all the senseless brutality and death that came of it. I’m responsible because it was done in my name, by the leaders of a supposedly free country that willingly elected those leaders and stood behind them.
    We the venal, the violent, the selfish beyond redemption and immature such that we refuse to take responsibility for our actions. That’s us, and we rightly deserve everything we’re getting and about to get.

    _________

    Spot on; you articulate what I’ve been trying to say, only much better.

  63. Bernard permalink
    December 20, 2011

    this is what Southern White Americans wanted. plain and simple. living in the South, Government was always an enemy of the Whites, starting with the Civil War. and later, LBJ, & Democrats using Government to give Blacks “OUR” tax money.

    the successful fear of the Blacks worked/and still works so well in the South. Reagan and the Southern Strategy/ in Philadelphia MS is proof of the Lee Atwater propaganda White Southerners bought lock, stock and barrel.

    that’s just a Southern view. i saw how well it worked with poor whites told blacks were stealing their tax money. Don’t know how life was in other parts of America. White Male power vs the “others.” keeping us all in our place. works incredibly well.

    Blame belongs where it originates, with the willful ignorance chosen by the Whites who agreed to what they were being “sold.” Propaganda needs willing participants to really be effective.

    ownership of responsibility can’t be denied, but it will be derided. No one forced these Americans to drink the Kool Aid.
    we are just more “Good Germans” who speak English.

    excuses for not wanting to see what is going on around is something i gather Good Germans lived by until they were forced to see the results of Hitler’s “leadership.’ We are starting to see ours sooner rather than later.

    St. Reagan began the cornerstone destruction of the American dream. a Dream only for the Rich White Males. Saving White America became the Goal of the Republican party. the whole environment of the history of and beliefs of the poor white Southerners rests on the distrust of Government and the Fear of the Blacks who would dilute the purity of their race.

    Gosh, and now we have reaped the destruction of the appearances of Democracy. Society has been officially dismissed as non essential in America, not Profitable. The Few openly own the Many/Congress is the easiest example of that.

    as one cartoon said, The poor may inherit the Earth, But we, the Rich White Males/Corporate Businessmen/ will still own Congress.

    and it’s always the other Congressman who is “so” crooked. notice the re-election rates.

    the White Middle Class authorized this with their Republican Control of Government, starting with Reagan. They got what they voted for.

    Damn Hippies/OWS, causing trouble again, Call the police and put them away. we’ll show them Hippies what it means to be “American.”

  64. Bruce Wilder permalink
    December 20, 2011

    When I try to think of the moral responsibility borne by the mass of people, as opposed to elites, I tend to think of it as the responsibility of an audience not to make a popular success out of a bad play. The elite — the playwright, the director, the actors, the musicians in the orchestra, the stage manager, wardrobe, lighting, costumes, even the stagehands and professional critics — have to know their jobs and do it. The “success” or acceptance of a bad play, however, is not a mark of technical deficiency, so much as it is a mark of bad taste — and it is the audience’s bad taste, which is the judge and arbiter of whether the play goes on. The audience does not have to know how to write a good play, or how to act in one, to have a genuine and valuable response.

    There have been a lot of choice points along the downward path of the last 40 years or so, where it seems to me the American People could have acted on little more than good taste, or the simplest sort of moral intuitions, and taken the country on a different, better path. The choice of Reagan, or cheap gas over prudence, the abandonment of labor unions, the non-reaction to Bush v. Gore, the decision to invade Iraq on false pretexts.

    I’m not discounting that the audience sometimes needs some help from perceptive, professional critics, to find and appreciate the good stuff. And, in that, the evolution of American media has been particularly unfortunate.

    The perennial laziness and weakness of liberalism or progressivism or whatever you care to call “the left” in America, which provokes so much deserved contempt from Ian is one part, the complacency of the 75-99% and two parts the decline of social affiliation across the board. People do not join anything, anymore; they are not eager to belong to any organization. The evangelical churches are the exception that proves the trend; the loyalty and committment of evangelicals, for all the noise they make, is remarkably shallow in many ways — they fall away easily and often; it is only the churn that keeps their numbers up.

    Among the 1% — especially among the 1/2 of 1% — identification with the nation-state has faded away completely, I think. They increasingly feel part of a global elite. It is a dangerous illusion for us and them.

    But, the 99% simply do not feel they belong at all. For people, for whom economic and social stress, is pressing them in the direction of authoritarian attitudes and hostility, not just to the elite, but to the downtrodden, and to the community and the state — this is a remarkable condition. This shallowness of affiliation is a mirror of the shallowness of thought and understanding.

  65. caplin permalink
    December 20, 2011

    bruce wilder wrote:

    “When I try to think of the moral responsibility borne by the mass of people, as opposed to elites, I tend to think of it as the responsibility of an audience not to make a popular success out of a bad play.”

    yes, but,

    “no one ever went broke overestimating the bad taste of the american public”.

  66. Celsius 233 permalink
    December 21, 2011

    Bruce Wilder PERMALINK
    December 20, 2011
    When I try to think of the moral responsibility borne by the mass of people, as opposed to elites, I tend to think of it as the responsibility of an audience not to make a popular success out of a bad play.

    ________

    I prefer calling a spade a spade; enough of similes, euphemisms, and obfuscation.
    I thought Lex’s comment cut right to the point/facts.
    The people of the U.S. have lost their minds/reason; lock, stock, and barrel.

  67. Celsius 233 permalink
    December 21, 2011

    ^ Of course; this all follows Ian’s OP. Nobody likes being served shit; but if that’s what’s being served; refuse it, but don’t call it fertilizer; call it the shit it is…

  68. cripes permalink
    December 21, 2011

    There is plenty of blame to go around if we want to hold entire countries culpable for the aggressions of their rulers. Sarkozy and Cameron’s attack on Libya, the Brazilian’s rape of Haiti through MINUSTA and their genocidal cleansing of their own people in the favelas, the German economic stranglehold on Eastern and southern Europe. The collusion of them all in the assaults on Iraq, Afghanistan and Iran. It goes on and on.

    And I don’t see their populations being much more successful at reining in the crimes of their respective 1%. England’s students set off some good fires last summer, but the working masses don’t exactly have Whitehall quaking in their boots, either.
    Hell, they elected another Tory. Why? Because Blair’s New Labor is shit just like Obama.

    If anything, the USA serves as grunts for the transnational exploiters, supplying the military muscle and doling out trillions to US and European banks at their behest on the backs of the US worker. Man, what a rape this is.

    The significance of this era is that the privilege of the US worker by foreign exploitation is rapidly becoming a thing of the past, as they are pushed downward into the impoverished class. They are more exploited and disenfranchised than ever, even as a segment of them cling to illusions of racial/national superiority that, unfortunately, deludes some to identify their interests with their oppressive rulers.

    I sure hope the mass of people in Greece, England, Brazil the USA etc., develop a common perspective and practical capacity to wield their power internationally, as their rulers have been perfecting for decades.

    I just don’t see how claiming even the “poorest” americans are “responsible” accomplishes anything.

    But if it makes you fell better…

  69. Kurt permalink
    December 21, 2011

    It’s interesting to read the protests from some commenters, citing reasons why the American people (or some portion of them) aren’t responsible for the country’s situation. I disagree with them.

    Certainly most of us are taken advantage of by an oligarchy. Certainly most of us don’t have access to crucial decisionmaking forums, and many of the ones who do have access are corrupt. And most certainly, many among our population are poorly informed about the state of affairs. But it’s our responsibility to take charge of those things. We have to educate our neighbors. We have to monitor elections and recall bad politicians. When there is abuse of the financial and legal systems, we have to interrupt the processes that allow the oligarchy to continue benefiting from that abuse. If it means sacrificing our convenience, our well being, or even our lives to move our nation away from empire and fascism… it’s our responsibility to do so, because it is our nation.

  70. December 21, 2011

    Congress at 9% popularity. Bullfeathers. We not only elected those criminals, the vast majority have been reelected by us many times, and most will be reelected in 2012. We know they are criminals, and we don’t care, because they make promises, principally of lower taxes, which cater to our greed.

  71. Everythings Jake permalink
    December 21, 2011

    If only you’d read Richard Bonin’s latest, you’d understand that it’s not our fault. The dirty brown man named Chalabi, a the nefarious criminal, masterminded an Iranian backed plot to deceiv our good moral, and upstanding innocent American selves. I know it’s a shock, divulged as it is from a member of the 60 Minutes stable, totally in contravention to their mission to deride the non-white, non-American bad people (courtesy of those later taped intercut shots of Mike Wallace scowling). Here’s Ian Masters (channeling Charlie Rose best “oh Tom Friedman, your mustache is so hot, please feed me your jizm”) with the “amazing story” – an absolution of the American soul (you weren’t responsible, you were duped by that dirty Satan-like Persian).

    http://ianmasters.com/sites/default/files/mp3/bbriefing_2011_12_20c_richard%20bonin.mp3

  72. Phoenician in a time of Romans permalink
    December 21, 2011

    I point out that there is one simple point which may start the ball rolling – insist that those who broke American law by torturing people be prosecuted, that those who ordered said torture be prosecuted, and elect people who state that they will so prosecute or press for that prosecution.

    It’s not “democracy” vs “dictatorship” – it’s accountability – any politician, whether President or tyrant, who knows they won’t be held accountable will be corrupted.

    But, of course, neither wing of the US political establishment will do that. It’s impolite. We’re at war. It’s not really torture. Let’s move on…

  73. Ghostwheel permalink
    December 21, 2011

    I should add, too, that I have college educated family members who get their news from the television. I’ve tried to get them to read alternative news, I’ve pointed out that the TV news is full of lies and misrepresentation and skewed facts….

    And yet, they sit there utterly mesmerized. As the character of Howard Beale says in the movie Network (1976), “This tube is the most awesome force in the whole godless world.”

    There is more than uninformativeness going on. More than willful ignorance. There seems to be a kind of mass hypnosis that’s just dang near impossible to deprogram people from.

    That movie was unbelievably prophetic on so many fronts….

  74. jcapan permalink
    December 21, 2011

    Way late to the dance. From the last thread:

    “Yes yes. Believe what you need to believe to sleep at night.”

    The same could be said of you, Ian.

    “The pathetic attempts of Americans to pretend they’re good people”

    It seems a great comfort to you, the thought that 300 million people are beneath your concern, despite the years you worked on their behalf. Was that your conviction then, that we were all a bunch of selfish bastards, complicit in the state’s worst excesses, or only after you left? You know, frustrated that we didn’t take to your north-of-the-boundary gospel? After all, we all know your favorite refrain–nobody ever listens to poor Ian, who has to constantly remind his readers of how often he’s been right about everything? You know, the condescending, humorless, douche shtick you do so well (it must be all those years spent in the US).

    And I said I wasn’t going to go out like Mo-Obama either. Cheers all.

  75. someofparts permalink
    December 21, 2011

    jcapan, looks like you and Ian are in opposite situations. He should be listened to and isn’t, whereas no one should waste time listening to you, and yet here you are spouting away.

  76. Jay permalink
    December 21, 2011

    Ian I rarely strongly disagree with you but you are way off here. Riot in 2000? On Al Gore’s behalf? Why? So he could’ve done 93% of the same crap? Yeah, Gore would have been a huge improvement, just like Obama has been right? Next you’re going to tell me John Kerry would have saved us.

    We have a democracy in name only. The last president who tried to avoid war got a CIA bullet in the head. Democracy…… pfffffffffffffffffft.

  77. December 21, 2011

    Oh, no, not the “CIA killed Kennedy” argument again. Spare me.

    Too long a thread, too many good as well as missing-the-point comments to respond to. A few thoughts:

    Thank you, Lex; hammer to many nail heads.

    Thank you, MB, for pointing out straw men, in abundance here.

    As for Bill H:

    “Occupy Wall Street”? Pffft. Give me a break. A bunch of spoiled brats whining because they believe they have not received their fair share of the money.

    What a crock of shit. The Occupy movement is the most — is the only — optimistic thing out there.

    I’m 54, I have more than my fair share of money, not because I was born into it — far from it — but because in addition to my own work and frugality I was also lucky enough to be a part of an abnormally prosperous time in history in a particular country in particular surroundings that offered me particular opportunities. I’m not whining. I’m putting my ass on the line. I’m fighting for a future without indefinite detention, permanent state of war, foreclosure, unemployment, environmental disaster, lack of health care. I lost a fucking job over my involvement in the Occupy movement — I believe that’s called putting your money where your mouth is.

    When the economy collapses, at least I’ll have a roof over my head, since I paid off this mortgage long ago — as long as our overlords don’t also throw Manifest House Destiny into the indefinite detention mix. When friends and colleagues — hyper-educated, privileged, heads-willfully-stuck-in-the-sand, “liberal” friends — end up living under a bridge because the entire social safety net is shredded and all their money in banks and retirement accounts isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on, will I have to invite them to live with me? Or maybe you can, since they haven’t been involved in the Occupy movement and therefore aren’t the “whining spoiled brats” you decry.

    Re a much earlier comment of groo’s: yes, unfortunately, as research, not only this article, has shown, Facts Don’t Matter:
    http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/ideas/articles/2010/07/11/how_facts_backfire/

    Good luck getting people to acknowledge the ugly truths right in front of their faces. If any of you succeed, you are, as the saying goes, a better man than I.

  78. December 21, 2011

    I’m holding Ian responsible.
    Jesus, what an incredibly egotistical, holier-than-thou piece of writing/shit this is.

  79. cripes permalink
    December 21, 2011

    dk:

    You’re right. This reeks of smug, pompous self-regard.

    And delusional in his insistence that elections will fix anything. This is a republic (not democracy) in name only.

  80. December 21, 2011

    Ian didn’t say that elections will fix everything, or, indeed, anything. Where are people getting this??

    If you’re talking about Bush/Gore, I thought he meant simply that we had not a democratic transfer of power in this country but a judicial coup. And millions of people were just fine with it.

  81. December 21, 2011

    Lisa,

    Exactly right. Ian’s meaning was plainly obvious. I mean damn, he wrote in “See Jane Run” fashion. I don’t know how he could have been more straightforward. Some people are just pretending not to get it or are taking offense to avoid dealing with it directly.

  82. Jack Crow permalink
    December 21, 2011

    Mr. Welsh argues that “Americans” elected Bush, as a sign of their culpability in the conduct of the people who own the majority of the wealth, control the state, run the schools and produce the culture. He continues to argue, in comments, implying that America used to be a democracy.

    The emphasis is clearly on electoralism, and there is a very clear indication that he not only believes in the myths of a golden age of “Democracy,” but that this is the basis of his assertion of collective guilt and generational sin:

    “It was a democracy. There were ways to stop it from getting to this. In a democracy, the PEOPLE are held responsible.”

    [FWIW, these are the similar to words written by Bin Laden, in his "Letter to America," when he also argues that Americans get what they deserve because they are a "democracy."]

    But Mr. Welsh’s assertion of collective guilt and generational sin elides a simpler truth: “America” was never a democracy. Madison never wanted one. Madison made sure that the Constitution forestalled its emergence. Even the closest thing to a democrat among the “Founders” and “Framers,” the serial rapist Tom Jefferson, only wanted his overlapping spheres of democratic federalism for good white folks of Teutonic stock.

    As for the only other actual democrat of note, among the original rebels – well, he was a persona non grata from before even the insurrection was ended: good ole Thomas Paine, who pre-Georged Henry George and who was so despised by the majority of the clearly oligarchical and elitist framers of the mercantile young Republic, that they were willing to let him die in England, and later in France…

  83. Morocco Bama permalink
    December 21, 2011

    I never realized so many people were so proud to be an American….especially people reading and responding to this blog. I mean, there are quite a few who are taking this way too personally, so therefore they must identify themselves as Americans, and thus take Ian’s criticism to mean them, even though they don’t fit the profile that is the recipient of Ian’s criticism.

    It harkens back to what I mentioned on the other thread about what one considers oneself. If you’re an ethical person of principle first, then you are not an American…in the sense of what that term has come to mean. That’s why I said I am not an American on the other thread when I swapped out American for Atheist. I’m happy Ian took that and ran with it and I met the challenge of my words. I’m not the “American” Ian describes, so therefore I don’t take it personally.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q65KZIqay4E

  84. Jack Crow permalink
    December 21, 2011

    A swing and a miss, MB. But the passive aggressiveness is cute.

  85. cripes permalink
    December 21, 2011

    Sure he did:

    “In a democracy, the PEOPLE are held responsible. Yes, there were forces working to stop it from being a democracy, but they voted for people like Reagan and the members of Congress, and so on. Whether you think the 2000 or 2004 elections were stolen (yes on the first, maybe on the second) they let it get to the point where it could be stolen. They didn’t riot in 2000. They reelected George Bush after everyone knew he was torturing scum.”

    As far as “they” electing Reagan or Bush, or Obama for that matter, we’re talking 20% of the population. The rest have figured out their votes are worse than useless, and the remainder will be methodically vote-caged, barred from voter rolls and Diebolded if they don’t follow the duopoly

    And exactly what has Ian done to stop the fascist Canadian Prime Minister Steven Harper?

    He typed. Glass house, maybe?
    ————————-
    Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Governor-General David Johnston paid warm tribute to the military today for its work in the Libyan campaign.

    Mr. Johnston thanked the troops for their efforts.

    “On behalf of all Canadians, I thank you for your service in this mission,” he said. “Together, you embody our commitment to international law, to the rights and freedoms we cherish in a democratic society, and to the personal values of duty, honour, and service.”

  86. alyosha permalink
    December 21, 2011

    …there are quite a few who are taking this way too personally, so therefore they must identify themselves as Americans, and thus take Ian’s criticism to mean them, even though they don’t fit the profile that is the recipient of Ian’s criticism.

    I like to think that I’m not quite as ignorant as many of my countrymen, but I defnitely am an American, regardless of the mental gymnastics/semantic games you’re showing us.

    I knew, before the Iraq war started, that it was based on lies, unlike the overwhelming majority of my neighbors. Sure, I voted against Bush/Cheney – something most of the world had no choice about, and it certainly taught me the rare privilege of the franchise in this country- you get to have some miniscule say in what goes on in the world, versus no say at all for the rest of its inhabitants.

    But that’s where it stopped. I thought quite a bit about war resistance – about not paying taxes. Voting is all well and nice, but it gets serious in a hurry when you decide not to fund America, Inc. Didn’t do it. Just played along. Didn’t want to be inconvenienced – have a life to run, after all.

    And so, despite my ability to see a bit further than most of my countrymen, and maybe I used this ability to sound a few alarms (and get ridiculed or worse), in the end the machine kept on rolling over this country, and I helped pay for it. I may not be as responsible as those who waved the flag and lusted after Islamic blood, but I helped write the checks.

  87. cripes permalink
    December 21, 2011

    Oh, honestly, and Ian writes checks to Stephan Harper to bomb Libya. I think the organized electorate in Wisconsin and Ohio and occupiers in hundreds of US cities are doing more than Ian is on this score.

    Liberated any foreclosed homes lately, or laid down in front of truncheon wielding police, Ian? Refused to pay your federal taxes? Didn’t think so.

  88. Ian Welsh permalink*
    December 21, 2011

    Remarkable. Yes, Canada has done some bad things. Canadians must be help partially responsible for that. This is a democracy, after all. I accept that I have some responsibility for bad things Canada does. The Canadian people, as a group, are very responsible for whatever bad things Canada does.

    This comment thread is a real encapsulation of why the US is going down. Oh no, many of you are in no way responsible, and neither are any other Americans you identify with. The remarkable inability to take responsibility is exactly what I have come to expect from the majority of Americans.

    Again, the moment you take responsibility, you can fix things. Till then, you can’t.

  89. December 21, 2011

    I’m an “American,” and I am as responsible for the current state-of-affairs as anyone.

    “Responsibility” means different things to different mind-sets. If one is in denial, they are by definition unable to perceive any personal responsibility for the consequences of denial. Only outside observers not in denial – at least not on the same subject – are free to debate about the responsibility of the denier. It is my sense, however, that it would not be much of a debate. It is pretty easy to see that denial is a robust, albeit passive-aggressive, defense of the status quo.

    The “American way of life,” which was famously declared non-negotiable by Dick Cheney, has been subsidized by an overtly aggressive policy of exploitation. A disproportionate amount of resources have been retained by, and funneled into, the United States. This was (is) our status quo, and our active denial can be measured by all of the moments of history in the last century-and-a-half when cracks appeared in our Exceptionalist narrative, cracks which revealed the utter brutality* that underwrites the dreamlike standard of living that saw its apex in the sixties for the general population, in the nineties for a steadily refining class of martinets (I characterize myself, as a reasonably well-paid IT professional at the time, as being of this class – as opposed to the stagnant-wage majority), and finally here in the twenty-first century for a class of elites that have become sufficiently self-enabling for the rest of us to comfortably denounce them as ultimately responsible.

    (A neat and convenient deflection in the end-game to our orgy of selfishness.)

    My particular responsibility? I hope that an anecdote – a confession – will illuminate.

    I “woke up” seven years ago last month. The consequences of that awareness has impoverished me.

    Now, “waking up” does not excuse the 40 preceding years of adulthood in which I was quite aware of, and often decried (more stridently in my youth, of course) the hints of brutality that underwrote the relative prosperity that I experienced as an “American.” What was peculiar about my particular enlightenment was that choice was taken away from me. We all need to look at ourselves in the mirror, and once stripped of our toolkit of lies, then cursory glances no longer satisfy. My current materially sorry state is more than compensated, admittedly, by an enhanced sense of esteem, however undeserved.

    (As an aside: So I do not regret this, but I am keenly aware of what an abyss the truth is to those who are still clinging to their toolkits. While I’m aware of the denial, and the consequences of the denial, I am reluctant to reveal – even if I were able – the cruelty of the truth to others before it ripens within them. It’s hard enough when you are ready for it.)

    Back to me – I have a clear memory of my prior state of mind, in which I marshaled mighty reason to explain my privilege in the most benign manner possible. And, bearing in mind that I spent the majority of my useful life in participation with “catapulting the hologram” – to mangle a Bush quote (can a Bush quote actually be mangled?) – I am loathe to judge the people around me for not being awake. As if I “woke up” in time.

    However horrific the consequences of the Dream, the Dreamer, while clearly responsible, is perhaps not as clearly deserving of my contempt.

    ——————————————————–

    *One can start with Twain’s ruminations, in his autobiography, over the infamous slaughter of Filipinos in his time, a particularly venal act of Empire ambition. There have been many such hints, and the American people, for the most part, chose to accept whatever narrative best mollified their doubts about their own “good” nature and intentions. Sure, the left in principle reject “America First!” exceptionalism, but their own response-in-denial is basically what neo-liberalism is today, that we need merely to export and educate the rest of the world to get up to “American Dream” speed, that a rising tide lifts all boats, blah blah.

    I would be inclined to excuse those who are truly deluded with the philosophical fantasy of “infinite abundance” – but for those hints of brutality that were always knocking at our door, and that we passive-aggressively refused to acknowledge.

  90. Vinquest permalink
    December 21, 2011

    I always had the impression that the Liberal party leadership race was being actively rigged to install the Washington’s spooks’ BFF Michael Ignatieff. When it became obvious after the first go-around that there was simply no way to make it look like Ignatieff had actually won over the Liberal party membership fair and square, the leadership process what simply dispensed with and Ignatieff installed by fiat.

    I can’t prove Washington’s involvement of course , but given its track record and the oddness of the circumstances I’m not inclined to give it the benefit of the doubt.

    At that point the options available to the public were an upset by the heretofore-considered-unelectable NDP, the neocon-from-the-zygote-stage Harper, and the neocon ball-washer Ignatieff. The Canadian public did the unthinkable by pushing the NDP into the major leagues and probably would have elected them had the “orange crush” happened a week sooner, but given the terrifying power of U.S. and the media brainwash I can hardly imagine the public doing much more than they did.

  91. Jack Crow permalink
    December 21, 2011

    And really, are we being lectured by Canadians? Canadians? Get back to us when you at least have the decency to get a monarch off your fucking currency.

  92. groo permalink
    December 21, 2011

    Interesting thread, as always.

    May I bring your attention to this:
    Norman Finkelstein with Chris Hedges at Lannan Foundations
    link to the video of the event at: http://www.normanfinkelstein.com/

    Here Finkelstein is at his best.
    In the middle of his speech he develops some powerful principles for starting a movement, and avoiding devolvement into a cult.
    Completely applicable to OWS.

    Watch it!

    I myself too often find myself fighting the 1% and not paying attention to the disgruntled majority, or even shunning them, for what idiots they are.

    Accusing and condemning the 9x% is the the sure road to irrelevance.

    Actually, as others have noted here, the disapproval-rate of senate/congress is approaching 90%.

    So people are quite aware of dysfunctionalities and the inner workings of Brainwashington, so to say.

    To caricaturize people as consumerist idiots, as some Black-Friday-videos suggest (embarrassing, to be sure), misses the point.

    The point is, as Finkelstein quite convincingly argues, is, that the Public Intellectuals direct the forces into the ‘right’ direction, and not split them up into cults.

    First step: PIs have to be aware of that, cut back their ego’s and concentrate on the possible.

    OWS did not make a major mistake up to now.
    Maybe the wintertime gives some pause for thinking for the PIs, how to proceed.

  93. December 21, 2011

    And exactly what has Ian done to stop the fascist Canadian Prime Minister Steven Harper?/blockquote>

    good point. Also, so far as I am aware, Ian has not gone to any of the Canadian Occupations, not even to report.

    not dodging my responsibility for my country’s actions, but sheesh, at least I went down to Freedom Plaza to help with the occupation, not much, but at least a little.

  94. December 21, 2011

    My goodness. I’m guess I’m not surprised that the “personal is political” philosophy has been taken to such a vain extreme where you can opt out or in of any and every thing and all the matters are your personal choices. Nice, neat little self encapsulated bubbles. That’s fitting for our time.

    I’m an American. I accept that identity. I don’t need any qualifications to try and downplay that identity.

    The bombs that fall on the heads of the mostly innocents in Iraq, Pakistan, Somalia and elsewhere say “Made in America”. They don’t say “Made in America excluding those who didn’t vote for Bush”.

    Internally, there’s “Nothing the Matter with Kansas”. Let’s stop kidding ourselves that people didn’t/don’t know what’s going on. Yes, they are being bamboozled but, they have a fair idea of it though they probably can’t explain it in elegant prose. The ugly truth is that most of them don’t care so long as they get a piece of the action. How much of the current drama would simply dissapper if we jumped in a time machine and went back to the Clinton ear economic mirage? Pretty much all of it. You’d be left with us diehards shouting against injustice as usual.

    So overall, “We” are not responsible for our internal politics nor are “We” responsible for our external actions. Apparently, “We” are just little self encapsulated bubbles being tossed about by the wind.

  95. someofparts permalink
    December 21, 2011

    Well, re-reading Ian’s post, I take the main point to be that our responsibility is moot anyway. The odds of saving this place are too remote any longer. Now the priority is keeping other nations from being pulled down by us.

    I’m not comfortable setting myself apart from the shortcomings of my countrymen. I’m no better or worse than anyone else. Thinking in those terms never helped me much.

  96. cripes permalink
    December 21, 2011

    Ian:

    “The Canadian people, as a group, are very responsible for whatever bad things Canada does.”
    (And Americans, “especially poorer americans”, are not. )

    Really? How so? By electing neo-con war-monger privatizer Harper? Puhleeeze.

  97. Morocco Bama permalink
    December 21, 2011

    I’m not comfortable setting myself apart from the shortcomings of my countrymen. I’m no better or worse than anyone else. Thinking in those terms never helped me much.

    I have no qualms setting myself apart from what is described and thought of as American. I would like to not be associated with such a term, but as was mentioned long ago on another thread from way back, it is extremely difficult to not be a U.S. Citizen, and getting more difficult everyday. It has its legal hooks in you, not to mention, it’s extremely difficult to emigrate to other countries without have something valuable to offer said country in return. I’m not saying any of that is impossible, but it’s full of roadblocks. So, for now, I’m stuck on this soil and I’ll be damned if I will lump myself in with the pond scum I’ve been fighting for more than half my life now. I’ll never forget how I was pilloried by many on the so-called “Left” when I called out Obama for what he was, and what I knew he would be, well before he was elected, or even seemed to have a chance of winning the Democratic nomination. Those very same types continue to pull similar stunts with other topics even if they have now admitted they were duped by Obama. It’s as though they haven’t learned from it, and instead continue to pummel anyone who has a controversial view….and a controversial view to them is anything that attempts to burst their cozy little comfort bubble.

    I don’t want to go down with these freaks….and yet that’s most likely going to be the outcome. Yeah, of course, if we breath, we are partly responsible, but the degrees vary, and my responsibility, like others here, I’m sure, is mostly involuntary. I contribute to this diabolical system to a bare minimum……just enough not to lose my wife and children and keep from starving….or living under the bridge, or going to jail. I have refrained from taking another corporate job for several years now….and, in fact, have not earned an income, at all. As a result, Uncle Scam has paid me for the past several years due to tax credits. I’m a seasoned professional who has worked in corporate finance with these scum CFOs and CEOs….and quite honestly, I can’t do it anymore because of my conscience….so don’t you lump me in with those scum….not when I have sacrificed mostly everything whilst they, and their sycophantic, cheerleading minions rob us, and the world blind. They are not MY countrymen. You can claim them if you like.

    Was Sophie Scholl a Nazi? Was she responsible for the Nazi Atrocities? Is my only atonement her fate? I’m ready and willing to be part of an effort, a movement, that would possibly change this marching pestilence….but I don’t see it…anywhere. And no, as Ina has said, OWS is not it. He’s more optimistic than me….he believes it’s a start, but I call it dead in the cradle. It’s stillborn. Half-measures, quarter measures…..anything less than full measures will not cut it, and I don’t think most “Americans” are willing, and/or capable of that for all the obvious reasons.

  98. cripes permalink
    December 21, 2011

    Ian:

    This week, (Globe and Mail, Sept 9, 2011) Prime Minister Stephen Harper asserted that Canada’s biggest security threat is “Islamicism,” and vowed to reintroduce two controversial clauses of the Liberals’ Anti-terrorism Act.

    …the Liberal architects of the legislation, Mr. Manley and Ms. McLellan, support Mr. Harper’s move to revive clauses to allow preventive detention and forced testimony.

    If you want to be “responsible” for the bad your country does, here’s his address:
    The Right Honourable Stephen Harper
    Prime Minister of Canada
    Office of the Prime Minister
    80 Wellington Street
    Ottawa, ON
    Canada

    Or, you can just walk down there with a big sign and demand to talk to him in person about that forced testimony.

    Let me know how that works out.

  99. alyosha permalink
    December 21, 2011

    …I contribute to this diabolical system to a bare minimum……just enough not to lose my wife and children and keep from starving….or living under the bridge, or going to jail.

    Those are the trade-offs you’ve made. You’re not willing to risk losing your wife, your kids and a roof over your head, or going to jail. It’s “inconvenient” – the word I used in my comment, in your case seriously so. And so your “contribution” to the system may be minimal, but it’s not zero. And so you are, to that degree, responsible, as awful as that might sound to you. Whether you like the people around you or not.

    Psychologically, I largely checked out of this culture some time ago. I try to relate to people as human beings, not so much as Americans, although certain tribal affiliations can be fun at times. But bottom-line, none of this matters – the fact is, I still pay taxes, vote, and get all the advantages and disadvantages of living in the Empire. And all the group karma both good and bad (a concept which to me is a little more accurate than “responsibility”) thereof. There’s just no way around it. We all belong to certain groups, some of them impossible to get out of (our birth family), others difficult to leave, others completely easy to leave.

    This doesn’t mean you have to run out and begin your one man battle against the USA, but it does mean being honest about your situation, and stop kidding yourself. If those are the trade-offs you want and are willing to accept, so be it. But don’t kid yourself that you’re not really a member of this group. As long as you’re writing a check to Uncle Sam, you most definitely are wearing a stars and stripes T-shirt. With all the bennies and negatives that go with it.

  100. caplin permalink
    December 21, 2011

    ian is right, and yet he’s wrong.

    (if ) one takes “responsible” to mean “has a responsibility” , then 100% absolutely, every american has a responsibility for what’s going on. a responsibility to do their utmost to understand, to educate themselves, to consider the implications of every one of their actions (or lack thereof), and act accordingly.

    (if) one considers “responsibility” to mean “deserves whatever repercussions the actions of their overlords generates”, than no, that’s utter bullshit. it’s that line of thinking that sells the bombing of whole countries because _their overlords “did bad things”. you think all those dead, maimed, displaced,and terrified iraqi’s and libyans and afghanis are “responsible” because of their overlords perceived or real actions?

    what about american kids? those american 3 year olds? no? too young? at 6yo, surely, they deserve to go down. no? do i hear 12? what about those that have fought wrongs their whole life? what about the amerindians, they didn’t try hard enough for you? what about malcom x, mlk? what about bradley manning?

    hate of an entire people, though tempting in america’s case, is shit and has no place in the revolution.

Comments are closed.