In a Moment of Truth, Jeff Dorchen rolls into town with a crate of late capitalist snake oil, and promises infinite benefits - eternal youth! omniscience! non-poisoned water! - for the low price of a couple hundred million dollars, a little bit of suffering, and faith, all the faith you got. Deal of a lifetime. Limited supply. No refunds.
Tonight's your chance to see the new Greg Palast documentary "The Best Democracy Money Can Buy: A Tale of Billionaires and Ballot Bandits" in a special screening.
Greg and his hat investigate the secret voter purge lists and racist policies erasing millions of votes from American democracy - and the billionaires bankrolling the whole scheme. Plus - Willy Nelson!
Catch the film tonight in Pilsen.
Can't make it tonight?
Arlie is author of the new book Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right from The New Press.
In 1894 – (122 years ago) – Alfred Dreyfus, a French army officer of Jewish descent, was arrested for treason and falsely accused of passing military secrets to the Germans. His case would spark intense public debate after newspapers reported that evidence proving his innocence was being covered up by the army. Dreyfus was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment at Devil’s Island in French Guiana. Meanwhile, protests led by prominent intellectuals culminated in a front-page newspaper piece entitled “J’accuse . . . !” by the writer Émile Zola, accusing the French military command of being motivated by anti-Semitism to convict an innocent man. Zola’s article and his subsequent trial and conviction for libel led to a reopening of the Dreyfus case. And although Dreyfus was again convicted, the French president bowed to public outcry in granting him a pardon. It was only in 1906 — twelve years after the original arrest — that further evidence and litigation led to Dreyfus being officially exonerated and readmitted to the French army with promotion and honors.
In 1940 – (76 years ago) – the last president of Catalonia was executed by a Spanish fascist firing squad. Lluís Companys had been active for years as a lawyer and leader in Catalan nationalist groups that sought to create an autonomous political entity within a larger Iberian federation. Amid the turbulent Spanish politics of the 1920s and ’30s, Companys held increasingly important offices and was in and out of prison more than a dozen times. In 1934 he was elected president of a newly proclaimed Catalan state, only to be to be arrested and jailed after just a few hours in office. In 1936 he was released from prison by the new left-wing Republican Spanish government, just in time to be caught up in the violent chaos of the Spanish Civil War. In the struggle against right-wing Nationalists led by General Francisco Franco and aided by Nazi Germany, Companys reluctantly cooperated with Marxists and anarchists in Barcelona until they were finally crushed by Franco’s forces and the civil war came to a bloody end. Companys escaped to France for a few months in exile, but was captured by Nazi German occupiers who sent him back to Spain, where he was quickly tried and executed. The main stadium used in the... read more
Peter is author of the new book Four Futures: Life After Capitalism, part of the Jacobin series from Verso Books.
Laura wrote the article Ayotzinapa’s Message to the World: Organize! for NACLA.
Gustavo wrote Paraguay's Student Spring for NACLA.
George's new book Building the Commune: Radical Democracy in Venezuela is part of the Jacobin series from Verso Books.
Jamie wrote the 4-part series Code of Silence for The Intercept.
Hoping he doesn't have time to touch on the others then.
Here's what Chuck is reading to prepare for Saturday's show:
Four Futures: Life After Capitalism - Peter Frase [Verso]
Paraguay's Student Spring - Gustavo Setrini [NACLA]
Building the Commune: Radical Democracy in Venezuela - George Ciccariello-Maher [Verso]
Code of Silence - Jamie Kalven [The Intercept]
One symptom of my depression is that I will find any excuse to give up. This stems from a general background belief that life is not worth living, yet if it must be lived, then it had better justify the effort and not pull dirty tricks like ruining my marriage or breaking the antenna off of my car or hiding my wallet, tricking me into thinking I've left it on the sand at the beach.
Depression is funny because the rational thoughts initiating throes of it are taken to such irrational extremes. The simple notion, Maybe such and such isn't worth the effort, extends instantly to all things, from washing my hands to keeping the myriad pieces of the cosmos in motion. Which, if you didn't know, sometimes requires great effort on my part.
So idealistic people puzzle me. I don't know if they have unquenchable faith or resilient hope or just some lifelong autopilot setting that keeps them going. Being a hopeless sort, but not so hopeless I'm ready to throw in the towel altogether, at least not all the time, I cling to stories of these people and watch them through their struggles waiting to see exactly how the perverse universe or at least hateful humanity will thwart and ultimately crush them.
I've been reading about one of the greatest disasters in history, the Independence and Partition of India and Pakistan in 1947. The events surrounding it provide delicious fodder for anyone who suspects fate is manipulated by a demon. It's far too complicated a mess to even scratch the surface here in a Moment of Truth, but some of it bears sketching out in relation to the existential question of whether anything is worth the effort. The existential question of hope.
Dickie Mountbatten, one of Queen Victoria's grandsons and a kind of Teflon goldenboy screwup in the British military, was appointed Viceroy of India in February of 1947. It would be his job to negotiate and organize the transition of India from the Jewel in the British colonial crown to a sovereign independent nation.
Pakistan at that point was only a theory, albeit supported with a great deal of evidence, such as the existence of millions of Muslims. India was a fact, as much as a nation can be without actually being run by its own people.
When Mountbatten got to Delhi, there were many characters he had to cajole and appease, but I'm going to compress them into three: Nehru, leader of the Congress Party, who would be... read more
On this date in the year 314 – (1,702 years ago) – two rival Roman emperors met in battle on a field in what is now Croatia. The armies of Licinius and Constantine fought all day until Constantine led a cavalry charge that turned the tide. Twenty thousand of Licinius’s men were killed, along with an unknown number on Constantine’s side. But after nightfall, Licinius managed to retreat and escape with remnants of his army. For the next ten years, the two co-emperors would maintain an uneasy truce in the sprawling, fragmented empire. But in the year 324, another civil war would erupt between them. Once again, Constantine defeated Licinius, and this time he had him imprisoned. A year later, he had him hanged. Constantine was later declared a saint by the Orthodox, Anglican, and Byzantine churches, for having decriminalized Christianity in the Roman Empire.
On this date in 1871 – (144 years ago) – a fire broke out in Chicago that would burn down the city center over the next three days. The Great Chicago Fire killed some three hundred people in the city, destroyed a third of its real estate, and left more than one hundred thousand people homeless. To this day, its original cause remains unknown, despite many theories advanced by historians. The popular myth of Mrs. O’Leary’s cow kicking over the lantern was debunked long ago. Several other major fires occurred on the same day in Michigan and Wisconsin — including a forest wildfire in and around Peshtigo, Wisconsin, that was far more deadly than the one in Chicago, killing an estimated two thousand to twenty-five hundred people. Some people have speculated that the simultaneous fires across the Great Lakes region were perhaps ignited by red-hot meteorite fragments fallen through earth’s atmosphere from an exploding comet. But scientists have pointed out that hot meteorites cool off before reaching the ground, and that the fires were probably just due to high winds in the region following an unusually dry summer.
On this date in 1952 – (63 years ago) – during the morning rush hour at the Harrow and Wealdstone station in London, a high-speed express train arriving from Scotland plowed into the rear end of a passenger train standing at a platform. Within moments, another express train came smashing into the other two. Sixteen... read more