Our Man in San Juan, Dave Buchen checks in from the disasters everyday (no internet, no power, body odor) and catastrophic (no water, palpable crime, imported bananas) of life right now in Puerto Rico and explains how he's adjusting to his new normal life, with a little help from El Primer Templo Sagrado y Profano del Apocalipsis Puertorriqueño.
We're talking with Dave for the first time since his three post-Maria reports in October 2017.
Welcome to the Moment of Truth: the thirst that is the drink.
After the superwealthy have taken control of everything, what is going to happen to all the excess people? I mean, assuming the superwealthy continue on their current course of commandeering all the resources and phasing out human labor, what's going to happen to all the people they don't need? If those people begin to grow food for themselves, should they find somewhere to do so, won't the superwealthy eventually find out and take the arable land for their own profit? If they hunt and fish and gather, won't their land be taken away and turned into hunting, fishing, and gathering resorts for the superwealthy? And the pre-existing communities: if they aren't picturesque enough to bring in tourism dollars, and they can't farm and they can't get jobs and they can't hunt, fish or gather, how will they live?
I've heard estimates to the effect that 40% of the people on Earth at the moment are unnecessary to the people who matter: they're unemployable, they're in the way, and their misery isn't even necessary as a warning to the existing workforce not to ask for too much. 40% of humanity could be shed just like that. It's a wonder someone or some corporation or cabal of corporations hasn't taken care of this by now.
They're probably waiting to see how large the percentage can grow. It's entirely possible that the superwealthy could whittle the number of people necessary to keep them ecstatically comfortable down to, say, a few thousand per person who matters, or PWM. And better to massacre all of the expendables in one big lump than to do it piecemeal. Better from a PR standpoint. Then again, maybe they're actually doing it piecemeal as we speak.
But if so, they're doing it very slowly and in an extremely disorganized way. It's worth examining why they haven't taken more definitive, prompt action to eliminate the expendables.
It probably wouldn't be much fun to be a PWM without the ability to go to, say, a town on the Amalfi Coast, where people are living as you assume they've lived for a long time, for dinner on a pleasant piazza overlooking the Mediterranean where you are served a bowl of the most divine soup, and the jasmine petals fall from the trees into your soup, and you are meant to eat them, they compliment the soup deliciously. And you wander the narrow streets with your trophy spouse, passing picturesque... read more
In 1793 – (224 years ago) – King Louis XVI of France was led to a carriage and escorted by more than a thousand horsemen and armed citizens to the Place de la Revolution in Paris, where a huge crowd awaited him, along with a ragtag group of executioners. His failure to address his country’s economic crisis had sparked a revolution, and the new National Assembly had found him guilty of treason and stripped him of his crown and title. Upon reaching the scaffold, the ex-king loudly proclaimed his innocence to the crowd, and then was seized and shoved into the guillotine. Moments later, the heavy blade came down and separated his head from his body. One of the executioners, a young man of about eighteen, grabbed the severed head and held it high for the crowd to see. After a long moment of silence, a few people shouted: “Vive la Republique!” Others in the vast crowd picked up the phrase until it became a repetitive chant, growing louder and louder for more than ten minutes. Nine months later, Marie Antoinette, the ex-king’s wife, was beheaded in much the same way.
In 1941 – (76 years ago) – in Bucharest, Romania, a rebellion against the head of state, General Ion Antonescu, by Legionnaires of the Iron Guard, a right-wing Orthodox Christian paramilitary group, boiled over into an anti-Semitic pogrom. For the next two days, mobs of local people rampaged through the city’s predominantly Jewish neighborhoods, ransacking and burning down synagogues, businesses, and homes. Thousands of people from all walks of life were dragged into the streets, beaten, and tortured. Some were also slaughtered and mutilated, and still others were taken out of town and shot. By the time the bedlam died down, some 125 victims of the pogrom were dead.
In 1968 – (49 years ago) – near the US Air Force Base at Thule, Greenland, an American B-52 bomber carrying four hydrogen bombs experienced a cabin fire in flight. The whole crew was forced to bail out, one crew member being killed in the process. The burning airplane crashed onto the ice in nearby North Star Bay, not far from an indigenous Inuit settlement. The fiery crash ignited conventional detonators on the H-bombs, which in turn ruptured the bomb canisters and spread plutonium and other radioactive debris for miles. The subsequent cleanup operation by US and Danish personnel failed to... read more
Kevin wrote the recent article On Chelsea Manning's Freedom at Shadowproof. He has covered the Manning case since the very begining.
Laura just posted the article Bringing Mexico to Its Knees Will Not “Make America Great Again” at Counterpunch.
Henry is author of the essay Militant Hope in the Age of the Politics of the Disconnect for Counterpunch and War Culture, Militarism and Racist Violence Under Trump for Truthout.
Rebecca wrote the article Trumpism and the Davos Man for n+1.
Bruce Dixon wrote the recent articles Mocking, Marching, Stopping the Hate and Dumping Trump Are Not Enough and Is It Time To Revoke John Lewis’s Lifetime Civil Rights Hero Pass? for Black Agenda Report.
Welcome to the Moment of Truth: the thirst that is the drink.
Art critic and premature environmentalist John Ruskin said, "There is hardly anything in the world that some man cannot make a little worse and sell a little cheaper, and the people who consider price only are this man's lawful prey." Today, fascism is rising all over the world, and, as with everything these days but pharmaceuticals, the US response is to offer the product a little cheaper and a little worse. Where fascism is concerned, "made in the USA" is the new "made in China."
After WWI, so many great European artists – poets, painters, filmmakers, playwrights – were disgusted to their deepest core by the pointless death and destruction that had taken place. They gave voice to multitudes who felt the same. But some pricks weren't satisfied. Germany was impoverished by bad treaty terms, no doubt, and the victors in Europe weren't treating the losers too well, but these unrepentant pricks would have felt the same way regardless. The poverty and embarrassment of nations was just an opportunity to them.
Today we call these pricks fascists, whether they adopted the name and the shirt or not. Franco, Hitler, and Mussolini were fascists. Stalin was an opportunist of similar stripe, and though for chronological, geographical and picayune decorative reasons we don't call him a fascist, he was a fascist, as were Mao and Jiang Qing and Chiang- kai Shek and Hirohito. And they had some fascist game. They were good at their jobs. Stalin alone murdered the equivalent of the entire population of greater Los Angeles and then some.
WWII was made by fascists. Even in the aftermath of a war most people judged an abhorrent, meaningless paroxysm of carnage, fascists wanted another war and got it. They didn't just talk the talk.
It took a pile of 40 million more corpses to feed the beast birthed by fascism, and so awful was it that even the leftover fascists and newly-aspiring fascists couldn't buck the anti-fascist, anti-war, anti-hatred trend that followed in its wake for a good thirty-five years. No, it took a lot of doing, a lot of lying, and a lot of killing before labor union victories and democratic socialism and investment in the public welfare could be turned into the perceived profanities they're treated as today, particularly in the United States.
In 1761 – (256 years ago) – in one of the most significant armed conflicts of the eighteenth century, forces of the Maratha empire met Afghan invaders in battle near Paripat, in what is now northern India. The Marathas were at the peak of their power, and they came to the fight with brand-new French-built artillery. But after heavy bloodshed they were pushed back by the more numerous and better trained Afghans in a battle that is viewed today as having marked the beginning of the Maratha empire’s decline. Between thirty and forty thousand Maratha warriors were killed, as were some twenty to forty thousand Afghans. And on the next day the Afghans overrran the city of Paripat, massacring some forty to seventy thousand noncombatants. But the Afghans would fail to follow up on their victory, and were soon pushed out of India by the Sikhs. One historian has written that the battle at Paripat “did not decide who was to rule India, but rather who was not. The way was, therefore, cleared for the rise of the British power in India.”
In 1907 – (110 years ago) – the city of Kingston, Jamaica, was struck by an estimated magnitude 6.5 earthquake. It was seen as one of the deadliest earthquakes recorded up to that time. All buildings in Kingston were damaged, with about 85 percent of them completely destroyed. The initial quake was followed by fires, a tsunami, and some eighty aftershocks over the next several weeks. All in all, about eight hundred to one thousand people were killed, and another ten thousand were left homeless.
In 1966 – (51 years ago) – Sergei Korolev, chief designer of the Soviet Union’s space program, died from a bungled surgical operation. Korolev, a rocket scientist whom Stalin had exiled to Siberia, had later been recalled to design and build military missiles. After Nikita Khrushschev came to power, Korolev shrewdly diverted resources toward space exploration, leading the projects to launch Sputnik into orbit in 1957, and Yuri Gagarin in 1961. Through the early Sixties he labored to satisfy Khrushchev’s constant demands for Cold War propaganda victories over the United States, by masterminding a series of politically driven space spectaculars, including the first spaceflight by a woman, and the first spacewalk. But in 1966 he underwent routine surgery for hemorrhoids, performed personally by the... read more
John is author of Debriefing the President: The Interrogation of Saddam Hussein from Blue Rider Press.
Marc also dropped the hottest, best-reviewed videogame of 2016, THUMPER, we'll hear about that too.
Jake wrote the article Senator-Elect and Former Paramilitary Leader Guy Philippe Arrested on Drug Charges for CEPR.
Antonia wrote the article Rex Tillerson Could Be America's Most Dangerous Secretary of State for In These Times.
Elliot is author of the essay The Concept of the Wall for ROAR Magazine.
Sorry to be so specific and surprising with the text of Jeff's tease.
Welcome to the Moment of Truth: the thirst that is the drink.
I was raised in a shitty suburb of Detroit full of bullies or aspiring bullies. As a child my biggest worry was being noticed. I preferred anonymity. Being singled out in a crowd was a prelude to horrible things.
I say I preferred to remain anonymous. It never occurred to me to make friends. I didn't know what that was about. I had friends by default. Anyone who interacted with me without insulting or bullying was my friend. And even then I didn't always trust them. I just knew they had chosen to behave like a friend and that was their choice. Until they behaved otherwise, they were my friend. I didn't understand myself as an active being in the community. I was much more concerned with how the community was acting upon me.
A little later on people would recount their memories of our interactions. I then began, slowly, to understand that I had a presence among others. I was not invisible. I did and said things, which actions and statements were remembered by others. A relationship began to develop between my observing eye and this reported thing that was, I guessed, some aspect of me. I began to watch myself, just as I had been watching the world. I saw myself through the eyes of others. And the more I heard about my presence in the lives of others, the more I saw myself as the main character in a story being told.
I'm going to name the observer, "The Gaze" and the observed, "The Hero," just for the sake of simplicity. The Gaze evaluates what's going on, and the Hero is the main character in the drama the Gaze is watching. Somewhere in between those two was an empty space. My true identity began to be built in the empty space between these conflicting aspects of myself as both an invisible observer and an observed character. And I had no idea what was being built. And I had no desire to know.
I don't know if everyone's identity is constructed this way, or if I'm just one of the unlucky ones who found himself with an empty space where a self should be, letting it build itself without my cultivation or conscious awareness, like an autonomous, unseen detective building an image of a crime from pieces of evidence, discarding whatever judgments prove faulty, incorporating what seems reliable. But I do believe we all have shells made out of Gaze and Hero, and we all have a space within, where our self is built, however... read more
Here's what Chuck is reading to prepare for Saturday's show:
Debriefing the President: The Interrogation of Saddam Hussein - John Nixon [Blue Rider Press]
Senator-Elect and Former Paramilitary Leader Guy Philippe Arrested on Drug Charges - Jake Johnston [CEPR]
Rex Tillerson Could Be America's Most Dangerous Secretary of State - Antonia Juhasz [In These Times]
The Concept of the Wall - Elliot Sperber [ROAR Magazine]