Monday, June 30, 2008
Separate and Unequal
Absence of the Sacred
As a national monument, as well as proposed UNESCO World Heritage Site, Tara defenders are fighting the government of Ireland to protect it from a planned motorway.
As pointed out by Professor Ronayne from Galway University, the privatization of archaeology in service to global development corporations and militaries ensures that such foundational aspects of human identity as cultural heritage will be increasingly under attack. In the absence of the sacred, of course, we will no longer be fully human; maybe that's the whole idea.
Sunday, June 29, 2008
Endurance and sense of purpose have a lot to do with it. Had the Native Americans thrown up their hands, they would not exist today. The values hippies expressed, likewise, would not still be cherished by so many.
Present laments aside, those who still value the noble aspects of the 1960s probably have something worthwhile to offer to young people who weren't yet around to experience the beginning of our social revolution. Sharing whatever that may be is probably a good idea.
Saturday, June 28, 2008
Doing Your Part
People in your community who behave as though they are above the law are often acting unlawfully. Even when they are within the letter of the law, they almost always act against the public interest. These people in turn provide support for others like them engaged in business and politics at various levels, and constitute a network at odds with democracy. Outing them weakens their network's effectiveness.
While it is exciting to connect with investigative researchers dealing with regional corruption and national crises, it is likewise essential to the pro-democracy movement to link up local activists with those doing research in their community. That way, we, too, can create a support network capable of sustained effort and effective action.
When I speak to distraught young people, I tell them anecdotes from my organizing experience, some of which are included in my book. They seem to find that inspiring. Knowing that there are numbers of fellow citizens willing to do something makes it less lonely; discussing this stuff makes the lessons worthwhile.
Friday, June 27, 2008
Planning for Panic
But what about man-made disasters, is anything being done about that? I haven't seen any signs. With the certainty of such things as foreign and domestic terrorism recurring in the future, what is being done to plan for public panic? Is this government and media-generated psychosis even being discussed?
In the aftermath of Oklahoma City and 9/11, innocent American citizens were murdered, and many others were terrorized based on racial misperceptions promoted by both major media and the FBI. Nervous breakdowns and domestic violence were also rampant.
Operating from the assumption that government and industry will continue to act irresponsibly, what might we do in our own communities to inoculate our neighbors and ourselves against panic? Can we finally begin having discussions based on the future we expect, rather than on the future we hope for?
Is anyone already doing this?
Regarding this coordinated information warfare mobilized against their respective citizenries, Colonel Gardiner observes, "We allowed strategic psychological operations to become part of public affairs." Reflecting on this observation, Gardiner goes on to say, "When truth is a casualty, democracy receives collateral damage."
As the perpetrators of these operations throw up flak to distract public attention and derail investigation of high crimes, the perception management continues. As both presidential contenders beat the drum for war against Iran, it remains to be seen whether the American public has learned anything about information warfare since the televised Iran-Contra hearings twenty years ago, or if what's left of democracy in the US will also become collateral damage.
Thursday, June 26, 2008
A Short Distance
In the reality of the present, with the benefit of hindsight into the 9/11 hysteria that left a dozen brown-skinned American citizens dead for being different, the ongoing xenophobic behavior by corporate media makes it difficult to think of the human rights abuses at Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, and Fallujah as accidents. Indeed, the overt White Nationalism promoted on FOX News is yet another red flag that things have gotten seriously out of hand.
I'm not sure what the National Council of Churches is waiting for, but a boycott of FOX and their sponsors is long overdue. If our moral authorities won't act, who will?
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
Watching the Sunset
In Looking at Totem Poles, Hilary Stewart recounts the history of this vital aspect of the indigenous civilization spanning some thousand miles of still dramatic coastline, including many illustrations and stories about how this culture was clandestinely preserved and adapted to the hostile environment of European invasion. The book is informative as well as inspiring in many ways.
Monday, June 23, 2008
Paralyzed by Confusion
How did this happen?
Communications analysts suggest it is the inevitable result of hyperbolic claims used in direct-mail fundraising, bolstered by conspiracism promoted in the media, and perpetuated by repetition in political campaigns. Given this all-out assault on our ability to reason, the ruling elite clearly have nothing to fear from the citizenry.
Zimbabwe on Potomac
Mugabe's thugs are admittedly less sophisticated than RNC goons, but Zimbabwe adheres to a model flexible enough to include variants on the fascist theme. Russia provides another variant, slightly more crude than that of the US, but -- like the two American political parties -- increasingly syncretic.
Republican Party synchronization with militias against immigrants since 2005, like White House support for industry-financed vigilantes against environmentalists in the early 1990s, are indicators of an attitude only reined in by withering institutional mores. Mores now nearly vanquished by incremental intrusion into personal privacy, sweeping erosion of civil rights, and brazen hostility toward free expression.
Sunday, June 22, 2008
Exploring this thought further, I think that most people are extremely reluctant to re-think their habitual opinions or to reconsider their fundamental world view, even when their world view repeatedly conflicts with social reality. This cognitive dissonance that persists no matter how often the pattern recurs, is what some have called reinforcing an opinion.
What I am suggesting is that this habit is sometimes subconscious, even hard-wired.
Saturday, June 21, 2008
Crises in Context
Three books come to mind that might help put our present circumstances in context: Peddlers of Crisis by Jerry Sanders, The Science of Coercion by Christopher Simpson, and The Iran-Contra Scandal by Peter Kornbluh.
Sanders illustrates how the National Security Agency (enacted in 1948) enabled secret, unaccountable government that helped to create our current crises; Simpson shows how the methodology of advertising merged with that of psychological warfare to maintain this anti-democratic development; and Kornbluh documents the consequences in the form of the criminalization of US policy and administration under President Reagan. Taken as a whole, these three books help to create a backdrop for the prognosis delineated in A New Dark Age by Phil Williams.
Friday, June 20, 2008
The World As We Know It
In his recently-published paper on the topic, Professor Williams examines the key factors, any one of which could bring on widespread panic, and proceeds to show how the nexus of multiple crises already well underway could literally change the world as we know it.
Anticipating such man made disasters in advance may not allow us to avoid them all together, but they can make it possible for us to prepare while some of us still have cool heads. Under these conditions, capitalizing on social anxiety by perpetuating fear as part of consumer advocacy campaigns becomes all the more unconscionable.
Leaving the Comfort Zone
He specifically denotes the exhausted model of the colonial enterprise, and remarks on how it has changed the natural environment and the spiritual capacity of both indigenous and colonial peoples.
The need to make a spiritual connection in order to advance has him concerned that great harm might take place as we struggle to get unstuck from this unworkable arrangement of relationships. Given the degree of dysfunction and disharmony we live in, I suppose it is inevitable that individual sacrifices will have to be made.
(Professor Atleo is the first aboriginal to receive a doctorate in British Columbia.)
Thursday, June 19, 2008
Taking a Dive for Empire
Guy Debord would be amused.
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
The Certainty of Tyranny
Cowen probably can't imagine living in defiance of neoliberal aggression; that would require a mind liberated from free-market indoctrination -- not something likely to be encountered in mainstream politicians. Which is why, no doubt, the Irish constitution does not rely on representative democracy to protect the Irish nation from foreign rule.
Better the uncertainty of democracy than the certainty of tyranny.
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
The current news focus on American Nazis brought back memories from the 1980s when Aryan Nations (or one of their militia friends) blew off the back of Bill Wassmuth's home with dynamite.
Little known to the Pollyannas, or to anyone outside the couple dozen investigative researchers in the Public Good network, SPLC did almost nothing about the militias of the 1990s until they were in a position to cash in through a major lawsuit against Aryan Nations--largely made possible by the heroic field research of Paul de Armond and the exemplary grassroots regional organizing of Bill Wassmuth and Eric Ward.
SPLC cranked up its well-oiled PR machine and legal machinery and effectively killed funding for Bill and Eric. To this day, many people still think all it takes to defeat domestic terrorism is a slick lawyer and a lot of pious posturing.
I'm not suggesting we stoop to such methods, but it's good to be aware of how shallow the understanding of the violent right-wing is, and the emotive force of scary photos. Mostly what I object to is the impression that this is our major problem, rather than the very widespread and entrenched system of exclusion from power and decision-making in this country, and how mainstream thuggery really is.
It's the guys in suits behind the scenes that cause most of the trouble. Nailing them takes a lot more than PR campaigns.
Part of the problem is that philanthropy in this country does not provide any infrastructural support for building and maintaining regional pro-democracy networks, where authentic activists can meet up and find mentors. Within that climate of deprivation, what should be a cooperative, reciprocal arrangement has become a very unhealthy competition.
I see no resolution of this social disaster.
Monday, June 16, 2008
Stranger Than Fiction
Friday, June 13, 2008
Thursday, June 12, 2008
The Stereotypical Mind
It is about the bureaucratic deformation of the mind, which I think is one of the major contemporary problems in all societies, industrialized or underdeveloped. The book deals with the problem of how specialization in life's activities can create this kind of deformation of the mind. In order to fulfill his task in an efficient and perfect way, a person finds himself secluded in a position in which he cannot see how what he does can have tragic and catastrophic repercussions and consequences in other areas or activities of society.
I remember in military school all those incredible documents we had to write or read. The language was so stereotyped that it gave you an idea of something totally disconnected from what real life is...Also used are scripts from a radio broadcaster in Iquitos who likes to exaggerate, a kind of tropical journalist, very primitive, who is really an incarnation of the stereotypical mind, a mind that moves only among stereotypes, totally incapable of saying or creating anything original.
--Mario Vargas Llosa A Writer's Reality
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
Monday, June 09, 2008
Fourth World Eye
In addition to posting here, I also write regularly for Fourth World Eye, a publication of the Center for World Indigenous Studies. Readers can either check out my portfolio, or click on FWEye in the Skookum sidebar.
--Jay Taber, Skookum editor
Sunday, June 08, 2008
Writing Under Siege
Out of the Silence
As the rest of us struggle to survive the decline of our own civilizations, perhaps we will likewise find our voices and create our own forms of communication. By discussing the values we wish to protect, we might even find ways of freeing ourselves by uniting with the indigenous resurgence.
At the very least, hosting discussions free of market exclusion, government censure, and media influence, will allow us opportunities to also come out of the silence.
Saturday, June 07, 2008
The National Security State
Friday, June 06, 2008
A Small Step
Spinning into War
Separated from honesty by fear, centrists reside halfway between integrity and fraud.
Thursday, June 05, 2008
Really Lucky Guy
Speaking of Celts
Speaking of Celts, we were pleasantly surprised to find Celtic ruins during our visit to the Iberian Peninsula in Northern Portugal.
Tuesday, June 03, 2008
Skookum Index constitutes our treasure trove, where we've archived selected articles from various publications over the years, including our own. For readers who have the time, we encourage you to explore our other sites as well, conveniently listed under Access in the Skookum sidebar. Each one has a unique ambience, creating in aggregate an unusually sympatico symbiosis.
--Jay Taber, Skookum archivist
Monday, June 02, 2008
Sunday, June 01, 2008
- An open society is safe and inviting
- A closed society is fearsome
- The public health model works
- Common models are counterproductive
- Aggression can be contained
- Moral sanction is essential
- Obstacles to moral conduct can be overcome
- Allows for non-violent change
- Prevents tyranny
- Requires conflict
- Disinformed public
- Suppressed dissent
- Intimidated opponents
- Threatened investigative journalists
- Isolate pathogen
- Inoculate vulnerable populations
- Educate society
- Law enforcement
- Pressure group
- Constrains bad behavior
- Motivates involvement
- Sustains commitment
- Media distractions
- Government propaganda
- Lack of discussion