Friday, December 30, 2022

The Collective West's macabre dance of death in Ukraine, what Beat poet Gregory Corso would call a "laughable preview" of the "corpse the universe" that awaits

(Gregory Corso)

The Beat poet Gregory Corso came from that generation that most viscerally understood how the atomic bomb that the United States dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan, at the end of World War II had changed the world. He wrote a poem about it in 1958, appropriately titled “BOMB”.


“I do not know just how horrible Bombdeath is    I can only  imagine

Yet no other death I know has so laughable a preview …


Corpse the universe … O Bomb  O final Pied Piper


Know that the earth will madonna the Bomb

that in the hearts of men to come more bombs will be born

magisterial bombs wrapped in ermine   all beautiful

and they’ll sit plunk on earth’s grumpy empires

fierce with moustaches of gold”


Don’t you love that line “so laughable a preview”? Did it make you think of former comedian Volodymyr Zelensky’s recent visit to Washington, D.C., where he was toasted and lauded with affection and admiration by President Biden, U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who called the U.S. proxy war in Ukraine against Russia the nation’s number one priority?

(Volodymyr Zelensky, center, as a performer in 2018)

Zelensky, looking buff in his green sweatshirt, even got a kiss from 82-year-old Pelosi even though what he really wanted was yet more billions of dollars and weapons to use against the Russians, whose invasion of Ukraine is brutal but who also rightfully don’t want a belligerent NATO member on their border, one that has already warred against the Russian-speaking population of eastern Ukraine for eight years. Zelensky had hardly thanked Congress for the billions he’s already received before he asked for more, assuring his fawning audience it’s an investment, not a dubious handout to what has been designated the most corrupt nation in Europe.


Never mind that Zelensky has repeatedly called for a “no-fly zone” over Ukraine and other measures that could plunge the world into a third world war and nuclear Armageddon. The neoliberal establishment in Washington—including Under Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, who championed the 2014 coup that installed a pro-Western leadership in Kyiv and set the stage for the current war—is bound and determined to cripple Russia even at the risk of countless deaths not only in Ukraine but around the world.


Why do they want to cripple Russia? To claim its markets, eliminate its potential as an economic rival, and free U.S. and other Western corporations for further exploitation of the world. The bombing of the Nord Stream pipeline is the clearest of evidence for this. Now boot-licking Europe has to buy its fuel from the United States, at a much higher price than it was paying Russia, of course.  Once Russa is crippled, the focus can shift to China, an even more threatening economic competitor.


The true motivation of the proxy war in Ukraine is greed.  When Biden finally shut down the United States’ 20-year war in Afghanistan, the insatiable wolves of the military-industrial complex howled in anger. They had to be fed, and Biden knew it. His and his son Hunter’s deep knowledge of and investment in corrupt Ukraine, the antipathy toward Russia that he and fellow Democrats like Hillary Clinton shared, the slavishness of allies like the European Union coupled with the U.S. domination of NATO--all made Ukraine perfect as the next battleground. To hell with the Ukrainian people.


(Oswald Spengler)


“War is the primary politics of EVERYTHING that lives,” the German philosopher Oswald Spengler wrote in his 1918 magnum opus The Decline of the West, “so much so that in the deeps battle and life are one, and being and will-to-battle expire together. The aim, too, remains the same—namely the growth of one’s life-unit (class or nation) at the cost of the others.”


The 19th century German historian Heinrich von Treitschke praised the “sacredness” of war. “Without war no State could be. … The laws of human thought and of human nature forbid any alternative, neither is one to be wished for.”

(To the right, Heinrich von Treitschke)


Those are the voices that today echo through the halls of the U.S. State Department, Wall Street, and at NATO headquarters in Brussels.


A voice not heard in those unhallowed halls is that of 19th century Russian philosopher Vladimir Solovyov, who defined evil as “the state of tension of a will which asserts itself exclusively, denying every other.” Solovyov believed “suffering is the necessary reaction of the other against such a will.”


(Vladimir Solovyov)


In other words, war and utter selfishness—translate: greed—are evil. Sadly, Solovyov concluded that only the end of the world will destroy evil.


In the theater of the absurd that is today’s “Collective West”, a kind of macabre dance is taking place.  A “laughable preview,” Corso would call the procession of its greed-and-ambition-blinded leaders behind the “final Pied Piper”, their beautiful, ermine-wrapped bomb. Onward they march toward the “corpse” of the universe that is the ultimate end of their machinations.  


Monday, December 5, 2022

Biden's betrayal of railroad workers is par for the course for the modern-day Democratic Party

My friend is a longtime Democrat in the Republican-controlled Mississippi Legislature, a veteran of many battles with the arch-conservatives who rule this state, and he’s got a few scars to show it. As we enjoyed tailgating on the fabled University of Mississippi Grove one football game day, I lamented how today’s national Democratic Party has abandoned its working class roots.


Blue-collar workers are forever lost to the party, he told a wide-eyed me. “They’re never coming back,” he said. The seductive power of Republican demagoguery has won them over forever.


So what then is the modern-day Democratic Party, I asked. “Suburban women,” he said. “That’s our target.” He was serious. The party of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the New Deal, the Great Society was now the party of “suburban women”—in other words, well-to-do, well-educated and predominantly white suburbanites. Nothing against suburbanites, but that's all?


“Then you’ve lost me,” I told him. And indeed, on May 10 of this year, before an audience of one (me) in my home office in Oxford, Mississippi, I declared my independence from the Democratic Party, a hollow shell of its former self that today is as beholden to its corporate and wealthy donors as the Republicans.


At no time was this point driven home more clearly than when President Joe Biden, the self-proclaimed “most labor-friendly president in American history”, recently signed legislation forbidding railroad workers from going on strike to secure paid sick leave and a more human work schedule.


“I don’t think (Biden) is a friend of labor,” a railroad signalman told the World Socialist Web Site after Biden’s betrayal.  “I think he’s in it for the money. I think the whole thing is very corrupt.”


“The political parties have been corrupted and no longer represent the people,” another railroad worker wrote the Railroad Workers Rank-and-File Committee.


Years of futile wrangling between workers and the leaders of one of the most profitable industries in the nation finally raised the specter of a strike and forced Biden to intervene. What the president did, however, was try to force down the throats of workers an industry-backed plan that would have raised wages but done nothing to address the core issues of sick leave and the inhumane work scheduling on the nation’s rail lines.


Biden boasted of the 24 percent pay increase that was in his plan. However, that pay increase was spread across five years and comes after a three-year hiatus since the last pay increase. Add inflation, and just how much of a pay increase is it?


Why didn’t Biden tell the railroad industry, “Give the workers the same paid sick days that most other American workers have”? He didn’t because in the end he stands with big business, not the working class.


Railroad workers not only had to contend with an intransigent industry and hypocritical politicians but also the top brass of their major railroad unions, who also opposed a potentially crippling strike just as the Christmas season is getting started. Across the wide spectrum of the labor movement, from railroad worker unions to the United Auto Workers, the rank-and-file is finding itself increasingly alienated from its entrenched, utterly compromised leadership.


Voting with both Democrats and Republicans in supporting Biden’s ban on a strike was the so-called “left wing” in Congress, including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and House Progressive Caucus leader Pramila Jayapal. In the Senate, Bernie Sanders proposed a separate bill that would have given workers seven days sick leave, but it failed, of course.


Underlying these betrayals of the railroad workers is the overall abandonment of the working class that my legislator friend talked about on the Ole Miss Grove. Bill and Hillary Clinton spearheaded that abandonment 30 years ago, and Barack Obama helped solidify it. Joe Biden’s entire political history is a long sad story of shifts and compromises and turnabouts.


“The terrible truth is that they (Democrats) prefer horse trading over the issues of importance to their donor class than they do meeting the needs of the people,” columnist Margaret Kimberly wrote in the Black Agenda Report last month.  “They don’t want to transform the country on behalf of the people. They are always on the side of their donor class. … It is clear that the people must look to themselves and not at Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi, or former president Obama, to guard their interests.”


Of course, you might have a shot at getting their attention if you're wealthy and live in the suburbs.