In a world dominated by a rogue super power these are my (brief) sporadic and chaotic thoughts on the past year from inside the belly of the beast…
Racism is still deeply entrenched in America when liberals think electing a black man is progressive. If racism was even remotely close to being a relic of the past then such a petty cause of celebration would never have occurred. It’s like celebrating a woman doing a push-up. The very notion retains an oppressive mentality. Maybe the liberals would have focused on Obama’s actual policy positions instead of his PR bullshit and the color of his skin.
Wars of aggression still continue in Iraq and Afghanistan with no visible end in sight thanks largely to the passive-aggressiveness of the Left. It scares the shit out of me to see liberals use conjecture to defend the "POTUS" and the occupation of Afghanistan. The war was always illegal and immoral. When we invaded we had no idea of who was behind 9-11 and besides, from that day to October 7 when we attacked there was no other incident. We are not defending ourselves. This is aggression. And propping up warlords, drug lords and Islamic fundamentalists is not helpful for the people of Afghanistan. As Malalai Joya has repeatedly said, leaving ASAP is.
The illegal Iraq War continues too. I realize December was boasted of being the only month of the war that a US soldier didn’t die but the people of Iraq cannot say the same. President Obama put pressure on al-Maliki not to hold a referendum so that Iraqis could call for an early withdrawal.
A female blogger disclosed that she was more successful writing under a male pseudonym than under her female name. Meanwhile the Department of Labor has shown that women with equal or greater education than men of the same job still make (on average 20%) less. Being "black" or Hispanic carries with it additional baggage.
About the one hopeful thing I think I witnessed in 2009 was the growing success of the gay rights movement. There have been setbacks for sure (*cough, Mormons of California) but elsewhere the issue has gained in approval and is at least on the radar. The bigotry has been depressing and the abuse of constitutional amendments to limit the rights of others is outrageous but I feel steam is building and success is visible. I would like to see the movement find ties of solidarity with other movements since oppressions are often inter-related.
The environmental movement is a bit depressing. So much of it has been co-opted and green washed that it is increasingly becoming difficult to know what an eco-friendly company is. And many environmental groups are either clueless of the major role capitalism and markets play, or as Robin Hahnel recently noted on how some radical groups refuse to work for less than ideal gains that are, in the immediate short term, necessary. Worse still, non-radical groups and radical alike often fail to have a coherent vision of a viable alternative or plan to achieve it.
The banks are still in power. Wall Street prevailed over Main Street. We all saw this coming. A man financed by Goldman Sachs was bound to repay his gratitude.
The perseverance of the wealthcare system was equally predictable. The domination of capital and the weakness of a popular social movement pretty much assured that single-payer healthcare reform would never be considered with any seriousness.
Many rightwing "teabaggers" often claimed that Obama cut military spending as if doing so would be a bad thing. Unfortunately, it wasn’t true. He increased it! We continue to account for nearly half of the world’s spending to finance over one thousand foreign military bases and the means to reign supreme in the realm of state sponsored terrorism. Worse still, the hidden cost of this militaristic arm of the Empire is that the Pentagon is the world’s largest polluter.
It would be nice if the spending was cut, because even a fraction would be sufficient for feeding and alleviating the suffering of the more than one billion people who are starving thanks to the Capitalist food system. Our misallocation of corn to biofuel had a clear implication for the people of Mexico, whose diet relies heavily on corn. The Food Wars continued throughout 2009 because the market system continued to usurp resources for fuel, animal feed and feeding the privileged. All of which (and more) heavily impacted the price of food, leaving the poor struggling to survive.
The coup in Honduras was cemented largely due to US support. Some may point out that Obama spoke out against it but it was another case of saying one thing and doing another. Zelaya was taking steps to democratize the country and we honored our history of siding with the ruling oligarchs.
The uprising in Iran is still up in the air for many as being a "color revolution." My thoughts are that the US most likely didn’t plan or even have a hand in the uprising but certainly took what advantage it could of the situation to try and put pressure on the Iranian government. I mean, liberals flock to the elitist Obama and there is no reason to believe that is a sign of foreign meddling in our political affairs. Also, Neda was little more than an exploited poster child to our cause and a comparison between mainstream media coverage of her and Rachel Corrie reveals something very interesting for those willing to look. We can point fingers at Ahmadinejad and the ruling clerics and much of it is true but our government could really care less about their behavior or whether the nuclear programs are for weapons purposes or not. The issue is subservience. Are they a tool of our empire or not? In 2003 they offered a comprehensive peace plan, which Obama has not mentioned. Nor has FISSBAN been explored as a possible solution to the nuclear concerns. Real solutions and considerations are not on the table. What is on the table is American Empire and whatever rhetoric helps advance it. Period.
Dave Zirin nailed it on Tiger Woods by noting how absurd it is that him being unfaithful to his wife is more outrageous than being a whore for Nike and sweatshop labor conditions. His infidelity is a personal issue; his being a tool for Capitalism is not. The latter was never an issue.
The American reaction to the Goldstone Report has also been troubling. We still refuse to see Israel for what it is: a racist, belligerent colonizer who continues to violate international law and use American support to obstruct peaceful resolution.
Which brings me to the Gaza Freedom March. I can’t say I am surprised that it failed. I never thought the US, Egypt and Israel would allow the event to take place. Hopefully it garnered more support for the Palestinian cause.
I could go on and on, but the reality is classism, imperialism, racism and sexism continued to be systemic oppressions that have escalated social inequalities, increased human suffering and is destroying the planet. And so far as a popular social movement is nonexistent then these problems will not go away by themselves.
From below until there is no above…