Monday, October 19, 2009

Democrats Are

I keep being forced to the conclusion that ordinary, rank-and-file Democratic Party members, or voters are scum. By scum I mean every and any bad word you can think of.

Given that there are tens of millions of these so-called "people," you would think there would be a few Good Democrats out there among the pimps, whores, faux-greens and moral vacuum heads that constitute the Democratic Party. But there aren't, because a good person would simply leave the party. A good person could not stand to be stewed in the corrupt muck of the party.

I knew, during the Bush era, that this was the truth. Yet under President George W. Bush many Democrats, sometimes even Democratic Party politicians, said things that made them sound human, even humane. Democrats in Congress criticized Bush and the wars against Iraq and Afghanistan. They criticized the health care system. I knew the Congressmen and Senators were lying, thieving sons of hyenas, but I thought maybe some of the ordinary people who voted for them really wanted peace and justice. I thought they might abandon the Democratic Party when it failed to deliver on its promises.

I heard them myself, the two-faced personifications of dishonesty, here in coastal California, saying they would elect Democrats, they just needed a few more seats in the House and Senate, and a good President, and then we would see that they were good people, with good hearts, in a good party.

I knew they were deluding themselves, but I deluded myself too. I thought when the Bush Administration policies, which after all are just ruling class policies, continued under a Democratic administration, they would turn against their sacred Democratic Party.

But no. While I have seen former Green Party members who made the mistake of voting for Kucinich and then Obama come back to the Green Party, I have not seen a single long-term Democrat stand by what, only a year ago, they professed to be their principals. I have yet to see a Democrat around here leave the party. They aren't even acting disgusted. They are still acting like teenagers drunk on beer and a local football game victory.

I have seen the lot of them start talking the way Republicans talked just two years ago. They support Obama's war crimes against the people of Afghanistan. They do it by flipping some neural circuit, I guess. Now that the war in Afghanistan is led by a Democratic Party President, and in particular a black one who talks like a member of the intelligentsia, they think it is a good thing to spend billions of dollars in Afghanistan imposing Western culture on a people that don't want it. Now they seem to really hate the Taliban. A year ago, they might not have liked the Taliban, but at least they had common enemies, George W. Bush and the Republicans. Today yesterday's Peace Democrat would roast a Taliban baby on a spit if Barack Obama hinted he wanted a nice meal to go along with this Peace Prize.

A few Democrats I know, a very few, are still saying things like "but what I really support is Single Payer (health insurance)." But for the most part they will eat whatever donkey manure Obama feeds them, and whiney "just as good as single payer."

Did the Democrats hold hand with the Republicans to make the most massive transfer of public funds to the super-rich since the founding of this Republic? If the Republicans had done that alone the Democrats would be screaming. Since the leading Democrats were at the table, gobbling campaign donations and tips from hedge fund managers, the following Democrats can only hope that their homeless encampments, Obama-villes, aren't too cold this winter.

It is way past time to admit that the electoral process in the United States of America is a sham. The two parties just take turns shoveling whatever the ruling class decides onto the backs, and into the brains, of the American people.

I feel like I am in a zombie movie, only zombies come in two types. Democrat and Republican.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Criticisms of President Franklin Roosevelt

Franklin Delano Roosevelt was President of the United States of America from March 1933 until he died in office on April 12, 1945, a few days before Germany surrendered. He started office during the Great Depression and died towards the end of World War II. He was the leader of the Democratic Party during his Presidency.

Democratic Party loyalists portray Franklin Roosevelt as the savior of the nation. They believe his New Deal legislation helped Americans during the Depression, and was responsible for ending it. The continuance of most New Deal programs after the Depression ended is lauded as the beginning of a modern, well-adjusted state and economy. In addition, the defeat of America's World War II enemies, Germany under Adolf Hitler, Italy under Benito Mussolini, and Japan under Hideki Tojo, is attributed to Roosevelt's leadership, and is placed beyond criticism.

Republicans had a variety of criticism of President Roosevelt during his reign. Many criticized the New Deal, but most Republican members of Congress voted for many New Deal programs. [And many conservative Democrats in Congress voted against many of the programs.] There are two main, present-day criticisms of Roosevelt and the New Deal. One is that it did not end the Depression; rather it extended it be hampering businesses from getting on with the normal upswing in the economic cycle that usually follows a credit crisis of the type that characterized the Great Depression. The other is that even if it did help with the economy, it created a vastly larger, bureaucratic (possibly even socialist) government that should have been dismantled after the crisis was over.

The Republicans supported the war effort, but were not happy being allied with the USSR under Joseph Stalin. They are probably right that the war would have had the same results no matter who was President. Roosevelt himself said, before the U.S. had even entered the war, that Joseph Stalin had already beaten Hitler by winning the Battle of Moscow.

On the Great Depression issue, I would note that the New Deal was made of many pieces. Some, without a doubt, helped to get the U.S. economy going again. Some features did hamper businesses, and therefore the aggregate recovery of the business sector. What most clearly ended the Great Depression in the United States was the quicker revival of the German economy by the National Socialists (Nazis), followed by the rearmament boom in Europe and consequent export boom from the United States.

Another criticism leveled by Republicans, starting when Roosevelt announced he would run for a third term, was that Roosevelt was subverting democracy by making himself "President-for-life." When the nation came to its senses later, the XXII Amendment to the United States Constitution was passed, limiting Presidents to two terms of office. However dictatorial Roosevelt may have acted at times, however, he did leave the two party system intact. He also left the system of racial segregation, including denying black Americans the right to vote, intact in the former states of the Confederacy. Thus, in running a racist, militarist, bureaucratic regime similar to that of the National Socialists in Germany, the main differential that prevents the Roosevelt administration as being labelled as truly fascist is that, unlike Hitler, Roosevelt did not have his domestic opponents murdered (excepting probably Governor Huey Long, who was a Democrat).

Americans seldom look at Franklin Roosevelt's life prior to his election to be President. I will go over it in detail in more detail in another essay. Most people know he came from a wealthy family and was related to President Theodore Roosevelt. A person like that is handed offices at an early age that an unconnected person might have to work all their lives to obtain. He started as a Wall Street corporate lawyer, but was elected to the New York State Senate in 1910 at the age of 28. He was appointed Assistant Secretary of the Navy at the age of 31. As such he participated deeply in the U.S. attacks on Latin American nations during that era. Whatever else he was, he was a life-long militarist who dreamed of a triumphant white America ruling over an empire of colored people similar to the British Empire.

Roosevelt and other U.S. imperialists were well aware of the complexity of international relations. In 1936 Roosevelt was happy to let Franco, Mussolini, and Hitler impose a fascist government on Spain without a contest. Like most capitalists, he saw Stalin's USSR as the main danger. The economy of the U.S.S.R. had grown markedly since the Russian Revolution, while those of the capitalist nations were in obvious decline. Communists and the Japanese, while bitter rivals, were also getting the better of the U.S. puppet in China, Chiang Kai-shek. Roosevelt could not hope to take over Europe, and the U.S. already ruled over all of the Americas (for practical purposes). Africa was occupied by the British. That left only East Asia as a hunting ground for Roosevelt.

By profiteering from the plight of the British Empire while watching Stalin and Hitler do most of the real fighting, Roosevelt did a better job for American imperialism than he planned. By maneuvering Japan into a war over China, however he made a big mistake.

After Roosevelt's death and the end of World War II, the United States largely supplanted Great Britain as the world's greatest imperial power. This was Roosevelts greatest legacy. In addition to the war crimes committed at his command during the war, it would lead lead the U.S. to the long road of troubles every imperialist nation experiences. While the U.S. retained control of the Philippines and occupied Japan and Korea, its Asian strategy backfired, which became more obvious as decades passed. Japan itself could not be exploited to the extent originally intended because it was needed to balance communist military and economic power. China was taken out of the U.S. economic block by its own communist movement. Japan had shown that White Power was not invincible, and most East Asian nations continued their struggles for independence from their colonial masters. The U.S. has only been able to hold on to South Korea and the Philippines as quasi-colonies.

In summary, Roosevelt did some good things, like getting Social Security started. He missed an opportunity to create a national, government-run medical insurance program. He greatly increased the authority of the federal government, and within it he increased Presidential power, thus undermining democracy. He forced Japan into an unecessary war, and only attacked Hitler because he thought if he did not Stalin would take over Europe. He also ordered the creation of nuclear weapons, which is probably the greatest tragedy of the 20th century.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Nobel Peace Prizes for War Criminals

If you want to get a Nobel Peace Prize, your best shot comes from committing war crimes or crimes against humanity. This is not a pathway for the low-level soldier who kills a few POWs or women and children. You have to think big to get the Nobel Peace Prize. I popped up the list of Peace laureates at Wikipedia. Here are some of the historical highlights. Forgive me if I don't list every single war criminal, and detail all their war crimes. That would require a book.

United States President Theodore Roosevelt received the prize in 1906 for arbitrating an end to the Russo-Japanese War. But Roosevelt was a life-long war monger. He was one of the architects of the Spanish-American War. After that war was over he was President while the U.S. waged a genocidal campaign against the independence movement in the Philippines (which became a U.S. colony and base for further military intervention in Asia). He originally encouraged the Japanese and Russians to fight, and he allowed the Japanese to grab Korea in return for their not challenging U.S. rule of the Philippines. He wanted to end the Russo-Japanese War while the Japanese were still ahead because he believed Russia was the greater threat to the U.S. in Asia.

Woodrow Wilson, another United States President, was an avowed racist who kept African-Americans in legal chains. Even Theodore Roosevelt attacked him for being a racist. He won the Presidency in 1912, then in the 1916 election promised the American people to keep us out of the war (World War I) in Europe. After the war he did help create the League of Nations, but he established it on a racist basis, personally blocking a Japanese proposal to treat non-white nations on an equal basis with white folk.

You probably have not heard of Cordell Hull, Franklin Delano Roosevelt's Secretary of State who helped create the United Nations. Cordell Hull did everything he could to force Japan into fighting the U.S. in World War II. The United States had ten times the industrial capacity of Japan, so the outcome of a war was never in doubt. FDR wanted to prevent Japan from enabling Asian nations to gain independence from the United States and the European powers. [See also 1937 to 1940: U.S. Economic and Proxy War with Japan]

Henry Kissinger got the Nobel Peace Prize in 1973. He got it for negotiating an end to the War in Vietnam. Of course, that was a U.S. war of aggression. Negotiations should not have been necessary. Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon plus their leading henchmen should have been tried and sentenced like the Nazis at Nuremberg. How many people, mainly Vietnamese, died while Kissinger spent four years negotiating? And why give the prize to Kissinger instead of President Richard Nixon, his boss?

On the other hand, the committee does give Peace Prizes to genuinely good people: Jane Addams, the American Friends Service Committee, Martin Luther King, Doctors Without Borders, etc.

Does inheriting a war make you a war criminal? Only if you keep prosecuting the war.

My criteria for giving a peace prize to a United States President is this: when one withdraws all U.S. troops from non-U.S. territory, she'll deserve a prize. If she prosecutes past U.S. Presidents, generals, and leaders of Congress for their war crimes and crimes against humanity, I might agree that peace and justice have finally come to America.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Materialism and Idealism

A long time ago I was in a discussion group at an anarchist conference (yes, anarchists hold conferences). At this point I can't remember what the discussion topic was, but for some reason I was prompted to state that I was a materialist.

A young (younger than I was) female anarchist spoke up next. She attacked materialism. She could not believe an anarchist would be a greedy materialist. The whole problem with the world was that people were not idealistic enough.

It was my fault. I had forgotten the vast difference between intellectual, academic speak and ordinary person speak. Because our time was almost up, and others were in line to speak, I did not get to make a clarification.

Idealism, in ordinary language, is acting according to one's ideals. This is generally believed to be a good thing, although people argue about what ideals should be upheld. Philosophic idealism (see also idealism at Wikipedia) has to do with the nature of reality. In simple terms it posits that reality is shaped by idea-like substance. There are lots of versions of philosophic idealism, but they don't correlate much with ordinary ideals like honesty, courage, patriotism, public service, or selflessness.

Similarly, philosophic materialism has little in common with street materialism. Philosophic materialism (see also materialism at Wikipedia) posits that reality is made of substances (usually atoms) that, in combinations, give rise to the world that humans experience, and that exists apart from human perceptions. This is your garden variety scientific view. The Universe existed for billions of years before humans started chatting about philosophy and spinning epic poetry. Thought and even consciousness are created from the ordinary substances of the universe. This is not necessarily a simplistic view. In quantum physics, our best guess at how the substances of nature work, we have a very complex system of space, time, energy fields, quantum rules and waves.

Ethical systems are not very closely tied to the idealism or materialism of philosophy. Often philosophic materialists have highly developed ethics. And idealism, all too often, ends up as either a system of rules of faith with horrid implications (killing non-believers is good) or a vapid nothingness because, for example, if the world is an illusion, if it is all in your head, how do you decide questions of ethics?

I think many people have a sort of natural dualism, and that most religions encourage this. In dualistic philosophies there is both material substance and an idealistic component (often called spiritual) identified with mind, souls, and gods. This appeals to our unanalyzed experience because what goes on in the human mind, particularly imagination and consciousness, seems rather divorced from the muddle and muck of the world, including the mortal and disease-prone human body.

You can spend a lot of time reading the writings of philosophers and religious texts; I certainly have. You may get lost in some complex system that appeals to your personality, but probably you will eventually find your way out of the thickets of philosophic argument back to dealing with the world we all live in.

Philosophy was the precursor of science, and what we now call science used to be called natural philosophy, or the philosophy of nature.

In dealing with that part of the world consisting of human society, we develop a system of ethics, whether we call it that or not. Ethics is a big topic in philosophy. I think society could use a lot more discussion of, and analysis of, ethics. Practicing ethical behavior, and setting up social incentives to encourage ethical behavior, are two important goals for the natural liberation movement.

Philosophic materialism, in summary, is not about greed or the desire to own material things. Dualists and philosophic idealists seem just as prone to greed as materialists. But simply concluding that one is a materialist (or realist) does not provide much guidance in our complex world. A philosophy of life, including an ethical system, is still needed.