Black Agenda Radio Commentaries
News, analysis and commentary on the human condition from an African American point of view.

The Ultimate Corruption

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

“The real grand corruption is in the system, itself.”

The giant British bank HSBC is once again in the spotlight, accused of helping its wealthy customers avoid taxes. The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists coordinated the investigation of HSBC. It’s estimated that rich people around the world have succeeded in hiding more than $17 trillion from tax collectors, and that such tax avoidance schemes cost governments $200 billion in revenue a year. Another organization, Transparency International, has started a “No Impunity” campaign targeting ostentatious displays of wealth by corrupt individuals. Transparency International chairman Jose Carlos Ugaz claims that corruption has reached such huge proportions that it is affecting global economic development. He calls the phenomenon “grand corruption.”

If Mr. Ugaz is really looking for the grandest, most destructive kind of corruption, then he will have to set his sights much higher than a few individuals who make themselves obnoxious by flashing their wealth around. The real grand corruption is in the system, itself.

Most so-called anti-corruption campaigns aren’t really about corruption, in the larger, grand sense, at all; they’re about cheating, and condemning people who break the rules that govern behavior between businessmen. The assumption is that, if it were not for the minority of businessmen that cheat, the system would work just fine, to everyone’s benefit.

Thus, we are told, the problem is banks like HSBC that help wealthy people cheat the system. But, the real problem is that the banks as institutions and wealthy people as a class are the ones that control the system, who write the rules for their own benefit, and to the detriment of everybody else. That is the grand corruption: not that individual rich people break the rules, but that rich people as a class get to make the rules.

Exploitation of Humankind

A number of international agencies compile annual report cards on the levels of so-called “corruption” existing in countries around the world. What these report cards actually measure is not the effects of corruption on various societies, but how the corrupt demands of government officials affect foreign corporations’ ability to do business in those countries. If corporations have few difficulties doing business in a given country, then that country gets high marks for having low levels of corruption. It doesn’t matter if the local government fails to protect the nation’s natural resources, or allows its people’s labor to be cheaply exploited by foreign companies. Selling out one’s own people to foreigners is not considered grand, or even petty, corruption.

Europeans see no element of corruption in the fact that they are relatively rich, compared to the rest of the world’s people, because Europe spent 500 years pillaging and plundering the planet and enslaving the peoples of other countries. The United States sees nothing corrupt in using its vast military superiority to dominate much of the planet – to exploit the weak countries for the benefit of rich Americans. Yet that is the Mother of All Corruptions in the world, today.

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to BlackAgendaReport.com, and sign up for our email notifications of new issues, each Wednesday.
BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.
Direct download: 20150225_gf_Corruption.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:18 PM

Cowardly Black Caucus Reacts to Israeli Insults, Ignores Israeli Apartheid

by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

Nobody celebrates victories against racism and apartheid a generation or two back more often and more lavishly than the Congressional Black Caucus. It's something they must do constantly not just because some of those victories made their careers possible, but because apart from their own careers, they haven't accomplished much in the last 40 years.

From the 1990s onward, most of them voted for legislation that doubled down on the war on drugs, and to intensify overpolicing and mass incarceration in their communities. When it became clear that Katrina was the excuse to dispossess and disperse into exile a couple hundred thousand black people on the Gulf Coast, the black caucus called no hearings, sounded no alarms. And despite their relentless celebrations of victories over racism the entire caucus has consistently turned a blind eye to brutal settler-state apartheid in Israel.

The CBC's promise to skip out when Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu addresses the US Congress on March 5 is not an act of vision or moral courage. When Israel demolishes Palestinian houses, lynches and deports Africans, when Israel passes more discriminatory laws and steals Palestinian land the Congressional Black Caucus says nothing. When successive US administrations of both parties endorse Israeli punishment of civilians with water and power cuts and blockades of medical and construction supplies, books and even toys, the CBC is silent then too. When Israel threatens all its neighbors with nukes, and makes the false claim that Iran has nuclear weapons, the CBC are quiet. When Israeli fighter jets, armored copter gunships and tanks rain white phosphorus and shellfire on Palestinian neighborhoods the CBC, with the rest of Congress, unanimously endorsed the aggressor's right defend themselves by murdering children, and voted to resupply the expended Israeli munitions.

So let's be clear. Netanyahu is a demagogic racist. He heads the planet's most vicious apartheid regime, a US supported and funded client state engaged in the conquest and occupation of neighboring territories and the genocidal dispossession and exile of their populations, all with US tax dollars and US diplomatic cover. But that ain't the CBC's problem with him or with Israel.

Like the rest of the US ruling elite the CBC has no problem with Israeli apartheid. The CBC's problem is that Republican House leader John Boehner invited Netanyahu, not President Obama, so the Netanyahu visit is a violation of protocol, a kind of insult to the First Black President.

We shouldn’t be surprised. The CBC's tunnel vision works the same way at home as it does abroad. Thanks to the large numbers of blacks pushed out of homes and the workforce in recent years, the rate of black child poverty stands now at 38.2%, an all time high. The CBC isn't calling daily press conferences over that either. Detroit is executing its own slow motion Katrina, and pursuing water cutoffs and evictions that will affect over 100,000 residents, just abhout all black, and the CBC hasn't noticed that either. But let somebody insult or disparage the first lady, and they'll be all over that.

It's because the CBC, like the rest of the black political class, are self-serving cowards. Their failure is symptomatic of the shrinkage of black politics from one of vision and struggle to a politics of protecting their own privilege.

For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Bruce Dixon. Find us on the web at www.blackagendareport.com.

 

Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report and serves on the state committee of the GA Green Party. Contact him via this site's contact page, or at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.

Direct download: 20150218_BD_cbc_again.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:15 PM

Black Agenda Radio February 18

 

 

Black Agenda Radio – February 16, 2015

 

KKK-Style Lynching of Haitian in Dominican Republic

Police were quick to dismiss race as the motive for the lynching of a 24 year-old Haitian man despite anti-Black riots and the burning of Haitian flags on that same day in Santiago, the Dominican Republic’s second largest city. “They specifically did this to terrorize, and to make it clear that this is KKK-style stuff that’s going on here,” said Dahoud Andre, a Haitian community activist who helped organize a New York City protest against the murder. A 2013 court decision paved the way for expulsion of many Dominican descendants of immigrants from neighboring Haiti. However, Andre blamed the turmoil on multinational corporations that control the country “lock, stock and barrel. Dominicans,” he said, “are used as proxy racists to do what is happening to Haitians.”

Newark Police Review Board Won’t Replace Protests

Mayor Ras Baraka’s draft plan for Newark, New Jersey’s first Citizens Complaint Review Board “is pretty good, and we shouldn’t throw out the baby with the bathwater,” said Larry Hamm, chairman of the People’s Organization for Progress (POP). The board would be empowered to subpoena witnesses, investigate police wrongdoing and recommend punishments, but its recommendations could be vetoed by the city’s police director. POP and four other community organizations would name members to the board. Asked if POP’s involvement with the board might lead it to hold back on protests, Hamm said: “This is not in any way going to change the activist nature” of POP. “If we did such a thing we would betray the very people we say we’re fighting for.” Public feedback on the plan continues until the end of the month.

U.S. to Answer at UN for Treatment of Political Prisoners

Veteran human rights lawyer Efia Nwangaza and other activists are preparing to meet with U.S. and international diplomats on the plight of former Black Panthers Assata Shakur and Russell “Maroon” Shoatz. Nwangaza said the U.S. must respect Shakur’s rights as a political exile in Cuba, and provide necessary medical care to Shoatz, who is suffering from prostate cancer. Since 2010, Nwangaza has been a lead activist in focusing international attention on U.S. treatment of political prisoners from the COINTELPRO and civil rights eras, which will culminate in a United Nations Periodic Review of U.S. behavior on May 11 in Geneva, Switzerland. Contributions to support the effort should be sent to the Malcolm X Center for Self Determination, in Greenville, South Carolina, where Nwangaza is director.

Obama Wants Unlimited Powers to Expand Wars

President Obama’s request for congressional authorization to engage in combat against the so-called Islamic State and its “associates” for three years “could very easily lead to an expansion of the U.S.-led war on ISIS to neighboring countries...and where the whole world is a potential battlefield,” said Sarah Lazare, a staff writer with CommonDreams.org. Lazare wrote a recent article titled “Obama Seeks Broad Powers to Wage Geographically Limitless War.”

Black Agenda Radio on the Progressive Radio Network is hosted by Glen Ford and Nellie Bailey. A new edition of the program airs every Monday at 11:00am ET on PRN. Length: One hour.

 

 

 

Direct download: 20150216_Black_Agenda_Radio_55mins54secs.mp3
Category:weekly 1 hour show -- posted at: 3:12 AM

Loretta Lynch: She’s Black, and That’s All the Black Caucus Cares About

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR executive editor Glen Ford

“The ridiculously ineffectual Congressional Black Caucus is circling its wagons around Holder’s replacement.”

An important aspect of the Age of Obama will soon come to a close with the departure of Eric Holder, the first Black U.S. attorney general. Holder’s record in office makes up a great part of the Obama legacy – which, after six years turns out to be scarcely any different than what could have been expected from any center-right white corporate Democrat. Like former president Bill Clinton, whose Wall Street dominated administration deregulated the banks and set the stage for the economic meltdown, eight years later. Obama’s first act in office was to bring back Bill Clinton’s Wall Street wrecking crew. So, in a sense, Obama is actually a protégé of Bill Clinton, and will likely be succeeded in office by Hillary Clinton.

Obama’s and Eric Holder’s most singular contribution to American political economy is having articulated the concept of banks being Too Big to Fail, or to jail. Back in the late Eighties and early Nineties, one-third of the nation’s savings and loan institutions did fail, and over a thousand individual executives were prosecuted, with a large proportion of them sent to prison. But, Eric Holder’s Justice Department has specialized in protecting big banks and defending the Lords of Capital.

At this late date, with his exit probably only weeks away, Eric Holder is trying to put a final spin on his legacy by demanding that some of the world’s biggest banks, including JP Morgan Chase and Citigroup, plead guilty to a felony for manipulating foreign currency prices. Of course, not a single living, breathing banking executive would be branded a felon. Rather, the banks, as institutions would bear the shame. But, institutions have no shame, and cannot be jailed, and the banks will not be prevented from continuing to deal in foreign currency trading and all the other money streams they have manipulated, with impunity. However, Eric Holder will ride off into the sunset of a multi-million dollar corporate law practice claiming that he finally busted a bank for felonious conduct.

The Pavlovian Black Caucus

Meanwhile, the ridiculously ineffectual Congressional Black Caucus is circling its wagons around Holder’s replacement, Black New York federal prosecutor Loretta Lynch. Lynch last month told a Senate committee that she fully supports the practice of civil forfeiture, which allows police to confiscate people’s money and property on mere suspicion of involvement in illegal activity. Even Eric Holder has advanced some very limited reforms to civil forfeiture, but Loretta Lynch appeared gung ho about the seizures. The Black Caucus, in an uproar, denounced Republican libertarian Senator Rand Paul for saying he’d vote against confirming Lynch because of her position on civil forfeiture, and he sniped that Lynch ought to be a little more concerned about poor people, who are more likely to have their cash seized by the cops. Black Caucus chairman G.K. Butterfield, one of the most pro-corporate members of the Caucus, fumed that Rand Paul was using civil forfeiture as an excuse to “keep an African American legal scholar” from heading the Justice Department. But, of course, the Congressional Black Caucus has adopted no position at all on the pros and cons of civil forfeiture. They have no opinion. All they care about is that a Black Democrat get the attorney general’s job – and that they get to hold on to theirs.

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to BlackAgendaReport.com, and be sure to sign up for our email notifications of new issues each Wednesday.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.
Direct download: 20150211_gf_Holder_Lynch.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:40 PM

Detroit-Style Black Removal Coming to New Jersey

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR executive editor Glen Ford

“If you can ethnically cleanse Detroit, then little Atlantic City should be a piece of cake.”

Kevin Orr, the Black corporate lawyer dispatched by Michigan’s Republican governor to preside over the bankruptcy and degradation of Detroit, has sold his urban executioner skills to Chris Christie, the Republican governor of New Jersey. Orr’s next victim is Atlantic City, the town built around boardwalks and casinos, whose full-time residents, as in Detroit, are overwhelmingly non-white and poor. The immediate cause of Atlantic City’s financial crisis is loss of its employment and tax base. Four of the city’s 12 big casinos have closed, putting more than 8,000 people out of work.

Atlantic City’s top elected officials oppose the imposition of an emergency manager, and no governor has ever tried to force bankruptcy on a city in New Jersey. But Detroit worked out so well for the bankers, it’s now the textbook model for how to destroy any semblance of democracy in mostly Black and brown cities. Kevin Orr proved, in Detroit, that it’s always best to put a Black man out front when your mission is to disenfranchise the residents of a chocolate city.

Atlantic City council president Frank Gilliam says Governor Christie is usurping the sovereignty of the community. But that, of course, is precisely the purpose of establishing an emergency manager dictatorship: to strip the targeted population of an effective vote and, ultimately, to push them out of town, altogether. The State of New Jersey will probably never succeed in bringing Atlantic City’s casinos back to their former profitability, just as Detroit can never relive its days as a world center of manufacturing. However, there are other potential uses for Atlantic City’s seaside properties – if only all those poor Black and brown people could be cleared out of the way. If you can ethnically cleanse Detroit, a city of 700,000 with an 82 percent Black majority, then little Atlantic City, with only about 40,000 residents – 70 percent of them Black and Latino – should be a piece of cake.

Christie and Orr – What a Team!

Detroit is right now preparing to evict 100,000 people from their homes for being behind in taxes; that’s two and a half times the total population of Atlantic City. Detroit authorities have cut off running water to 40 percent of the city, and are shutting the valves on 3,000 homes every week. The United Nations calls that a “human rights violation,” but its not even an issue for the Democratic Party or the First Black President. Therefore, it is no wonder that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, a Republican presidential hopeful, is eager to replicate the Michigan model for Black urban removal. Remember, that Christie’s political career took off when he put the Black mayor of Newark on the road to prison, back in 2008. If he can disenfranchise the voters in Newark, Jersey City, Camden, Trenton, and Patterson – just as Michigan Governor Rick Snyder did in all the largely Black cities of his state – then Governor Christie will be hailed as a hero by every white racist in the country.

And, the Democrats won’t do a damn thing to stop him – just like in Detroit.

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to BlackAgendaReport.com, and sign up for email notifications of our new issues, each Wednesday.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.
Direct download: 20150204_gf_KevinOrrToAC.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:51 PM

Insane U.S. Oil Glut Wars

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR executive editor Glen Ford

“The destruction of energy exporting economies will only intensify the global recession that has already begun.”

The people that rule the United States have determined that, the only way for the U.S. to maintain its hegemony in the world is to engineer the economic collapse of its rivals. The likelihood that such economic warfare will wind up dragging the entire planet into chaos and catastrophe does not seems to phase the Lords of Capital, who are so rich they can only be made poor at the point of a firing squad. Having surpassed Saudi Arabia and Russia as the world’s biggest producer of oil and natural gas, the Americans are now flooding the planet with fuel that no one needs in order to keep prices so low that Russia, Iran and Venezuela will suffer regime change. Washington is also eager to deploy its military and dirty tricks of all kinds to break its rivals’ will to resist U.S. empire.

The problem is, it’s very difficult to aim an oil and gas weapon. The effects tend to be general, rather than targeted. It’s kind of like poison gas; the wind blows death into everybody’s face, including the guy who popped the canister. The Americans have soaked the entire world with gasoline, and now they’re running around with matches between their fingers, laughing like maniacs, thinking they have the ultimate power because they can burn the whole place down. Yes, it is conceivable that the regimes in Russia, Iran and Venezuela could be brought low, broken, through years of depressed prices – but oil and gas prices can only be kept low if the world economy is also depressed, locked in stagnation. The destruction of energy exporting economies will only intensify the global recession that has already begun. Chaos, instability, unintended – and even unimaginable – consequences will surely characterize the next, purposely created crisis: a deliberate economic crime against humanity.

“Oil and gas prices can only be kept low if the world economy is also depressed, locked in stagnation.”

It has already become clear to the nations of the Caribbean and Central America that the disruptions imposed by the oil glut go beyond the drilling platforms of Venezuela. The 17 members of Petrocaribe have for years enjoyed access to Venezuelan fuel at cut-rate prices, with the best of credit terms, as part of the socialist country’s policy of solidarity with its neighbors. Venezuela even accepted payment in commodities, a kind of barter system. The Petrocaribe program was losing Venezuela about $2.3 billion a year, and with the collapse in world prices, Venezuela may have to scale back its generosity. Meanwhile, the U.S. is licking its chops, hoping to make the whole region dependent on American liquefied natural gas. But, we all know what dependence on the United States means in the Caribbean and Central America. It means the end of sovereignty, the end of dignity, and the certainty of continued misery for the masses of the people.

The artificial oil glut, on top of global economic stagnation, will also cause insane things to happen to a U.S. economy whose only bright spot – besides the Wall Street casinos – is an energy industry that keeps on churning out oil and gas that a stagnant world can’t use, just to spite other countries that have oil. How crazy is that? And how long can that go on?

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to BlackAgendaReport.com, and sign up for email notifications of our new issues, each Wednesday.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.
Direct download: 20150128_gf_OilGlutWar.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:15 PM

Not Charlie Hebdo: Why Anti Muslim “Jokes” Are Often War Propaganda

A Black Agenda Radio Commentary by Bruce A. Dixon

When you want to understand how the big wide world works you don't look back at yourself and try to make it rhyme with what you already think you know.

That means you don't ask smug, Eurocentric, self-congratulatory Bill Maher questions like “Why are they so touchy? How come those backward Muslims separate their religion from politics?” If you actually want to understand why some fraction of Muslims saw gratuitous insult instead of satire when the French magazine Charlie Hebdo depicted the prophet Muhammad doing things you wouldn't want your own small children to see, or pregnant Muslims as “Boko Haram sex slaves” howling for welfare checks, all you've got to do is look at is two bits of history. Philospher Karen Armstrong, in her latest book Religion and the History of Political Violence, goes a long way to break it down.

The first bit of history Armstrong explains, is that the notion of religion as a set of practices and beliefs about the diety you can perform on Sundays separate from how you put together political and economic life is an exclusively Western concept that nobody on earth before 17th and 18th century Europeans would recognize at all. The Sanskrit, Jewish, Arabic and other old terms for “religion” all mean something that recognizes no separation between politics, economics and morality and moral life.

It took more than a century of warfare in the 1600s and 1700s at a cost of hundreds of thousands of lives to establish a kind of religion in Europe which could be separated from politics and economics. That way Europeans could have slavery and capitalism. European ruling elites could exterminate tens of millions in history's greatest genocide colonizing the New World and still call themselves Christians. Non-European Muslims are being allowed only a generation or two and fortunately a lot less bloodshed to make that kind of transition, which brings us to Armstrong's second bit of relevant history.

She reminds us that the 20th century's so-called modernizers in the Muslim world mostly didn't do it with friendly and democratic persuasion. Under the approving eyes of the West, they did it forcibly, with secret police, torture, discriminatory laws, kangaroo courts and especially in Iran sponsored by Britain and the US, with bullets fired into crowds of often nonviolent protestors. In addition to needed reforms like curtailing shariah law, Turkey's Mufasta Kemal Atatürk, the Pahlevis in Iran and Egypt's Gamel Adbul Nasser each locked up thousands of religious opponents, and purged them from the civil service and political life.

This ain't exactly how you train people to engage in a friendly, respectful and civil discussion of religious and political differences. It IS how you make lasting enemies, every suspicious and vengeful, alert for the next slight or insult. But this is the real and relevant history Americans have trained themselves not to know.

Add to this the wave of armed US and European interventions in Muslim lands, our puppet governments, our occupations, torture campaigns and drone strikes, and factor in that even while cruise missile liberals like Bill Maher and US presidents say we just don't DO religious war, US military personnel “at the tip of the spear” call their enemies “hajis” and police departments in the US and Europe surveil Muslim communities wholesale and incarcerate Muslims disproportionately.

In this context, unlike jokes exposing the foibles of the powerful, which are real satire, Charlie Hebdo, which is now subsidized by the French government is engaged in something much like war propaganda. And Bill Maher is just another cruise missile liberal, a bully.

For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Bruce Dixon. Find us on the web each week at www.blackagendareport.com.

Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report, and a member of the state committee of the GA Green Party. Contact him via this site's contact page or via email at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.
Direct download: 20150121_bd_on_provoking_muslims.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:12 PM

Selma: Black History According to Oprah

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

“Oprah insults Black SNCC civil rights heroes, but she protects the white, rich Kennedys.”

Like all historical dramatic films, Selma is a political work, reflecting the political views of the producers. Oprah Winfrey is one of those producers, in addition to playing one of the characters in this version of the Selma story. Her handwriting – that is, her conservative Black political worldview – is all over the film, which demands and deserves a political response.

For the purposes of this brief radio commentary, I’m only going to register three complaints.

Number One: the film is a crude insult to SNCC, the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee workers who, along with a small minority of Black preachers like Dr. Martin Luther King, comprised the infrastructure of the civil rights movement in the Deep South. These hundreds of heroic young people, who had been organizing communities in Mississippi and Georgia and, yes, Lowndes County, Alabama for years, and who invited Dr. King to come to Selma, are personified in the film by one confused sounding, infantile behaving youth who we are supposed to believe is James Forman, the SNCC executive secretary who was, in real life, a Korean War veteran and former teacher and ground-breaking organizer about the same age as Dr. King. In the film, the James Forman character comes across as petty-minded, while Dr. King is made to seem like the only adult in town. Veterans of SNCC have a right to be hurt at being consigned to the dustbin of history by the likes of Oprah Winfrey. The rest of us should also be angry at having our history treated like a Saturday morning cartoon.

“King was seeking social transformation, a new system of living.”

Some people are missing from the film that absolutely should be in there. No, I’m not talking about Stokely Carmichael, although yes, he is quite relevant to the story. I mean the Kennedy brothers, John and Bobby, who were the ones who authorized the bugging of Dr. King’s phones and office and hotel rooms. But Oprah loves the Kennedys, and so the movie leads the audience to believe that J. Edgar Hoover and President Lyndon Johnson set out to surveil and destroy King because of his push for voting rights. But Attorney General Robert Kennedy signed the order, while his brother, who was then president, was still alive. Oprah insults Black SNCC civil rights heroes, but she protects the white, rich Kennedys.

Finally, near the end of the film, Dr. King is depicted as yearning for an end to mass protests, so that Black people could achieve real political power – quite clearly meaning the election of more Black people to office. As if that’s what the mass movement was all about, in King’s mind. We know that’s not true, because Dr. King said the opposite in countless sermons, speeches, books and essays; that he was seeking social transformation, a new system of living. Three years after Selma, King died, still seeking to revive the mass movement.

For Oprah Winfrey, Dr. King was just an opening act for a future President Obama, and for an age of billionaire Black TV celebrities.

As Prof. Abdul Alkalimat, of the University of Illinois, has written about the film Selma: “If the most militant person in the movie is played by Oprah, you know something is very, very wrong.”

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to BlackAgendaReport.com, and sign up for email notifications of our new issues, each Wednesday.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.
Direct download: 20150121_gf_OprahSelma.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:51 PM

The Big Reality Show, the 1% and the Myth of the Thin Blue Line

 

A Black Agenda Radio Commentary by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

 

There's a potent and powerful racist and classist myth that tough cops, jailers, judges and prosecutors are all that stand between us and rampant crime, anarchy and ruin. For American politics its an increasingly necessary fantasy, a myth that generations of public officials from jailing judges and hang 'em high prosecutors, to lock 'em up legislators, sheriffs, governors and even presidents have based their careers upon.

 

The myths are necessary because no modern society can openly abandon its duty to provide its people quality educations, decent housing, living wage jobs and economic security, unless it is willing to brand large numbers of those it won't provide education or housing or jobs and a dignified retirement unworthy, undeserving and irredeemable. The American political class of both parties, including black politicians stopped even talking about any rights to full employment, decent housing, economic security and the like decades ago, preferring to pretend that There Is No Alternative.

 

Thus the myths of the triflin' lazy, drug-addled crime-ridden, mostly black and brown poor are essential to the stability of America as we know it. These myths are the ethical and moral justification of the neoliberal economic order and its prison state. Overpolicing and mass incarceration don't just happen because the cops are racist, the prosecutors corrupt, and the legislators and media vicious and cowardly, nor are they driven by the profits of private prisons or captive labor.

 

America's savage police and prison states provide us with a long running reality show that justifies our profoundly unequal and unjust social order. It gives us a morality play that casts the criminalized and mostly nonwhite poor as villains kept at bay by the heroism of that thin blue line, while schools, roads, parks public works, nature and even water are privatized, while private and public pensions are looted, while student loan debt, black unemployment and underemployment continue to rise and wages continue to fall, while child homelessness is at an all time high and there are more vacant homes than homeless people, and while the rich and famous are celebrated and lionized for being famously rich.

 

This is something that politicians from the president down to local mayors and aldermen know, and top cops, from Homeland Security and the FBI to state and local departments know as well. It's something those in motion in the streets today over the last dozen and the next dozen police atrocities need to better understand and articulate. The burgeoning movement against police immunity and impunity really IS a threat to so-called “national security”, a menace to the privileges of banksters and employers, of privatizers and gentrifiers, the prerogatives of the 1%.

 

When more of them openly question these prerogatives in the same breaths as they do the privilege of cops to murder and maim with immunity and impunity, we'll be a long step closer to a better world.

 

For Black Agenda Radio I'm Bruce Dixon. Find us on the web at www.blackagendareport.com.

 

Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report, and a member of the state committee of the GA Green Party. Contact him via this site's contact page or via email at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.

 

Direct download: 20140107_bd_thin_blue_line.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:59 PM

Once Again, the Empire Rolls the Dice of War

 

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

 

If the war against Iraq was dumb, the oil price war is the Mother of Dementia.”

 

Twelve years ago, the people who rule the United States wagered the fate of its decaying empire on a lightning military strike into the Middle East, beginning with the rapid conquest of Iraq. From there, the Americans planned to project imperial power deep into energy-rich central Asia, allowing Washington to isolate and strangle China, which was then only a few years away from becoming the world’s largest economy. America’s pivotal ally in the region was Saudi Arabia, the most reactionary regime on the face of the earth and a client state of the U.S. since the end of World War Two.

 

Instead of containing China, the Americans “accelerated the processes of their own ruin,”as I predicted on the very day they invaded Iraq. George Bush’s successor, Barack Obama, called it a “dumb war.” But, in fact, the Iraq War was a calculated act of desperate men, based on the inescapable facts of imperial decline and the logic of class survival. It was a war in which the potential damage to U.S. power and prestige in the world was weighed and measured against the consequences of allowing China to continue its rise, possibly in a future partnership with Russia, creating a new nexus of economic and political collaboration that would draw in Brazil, India, Latin America – and, eventually, even Europe. In other words, U.S. imperialism looked into the near future, and saw its own death. It chose not to die, but to preemptively re-set the global chessboard, knowing full well that failure in Iraq would hasten the pace of imperial decline. George Bush rolled the dice – and lost. But, that’s what any ruling class would do when staring death in the face.

 

Forestalling the Inevitable

 

Barack Obama, who answers to the same masters as Bush, entered office confronting the same scenario as his predecessor – only from an even weaker position. Obama chose to spread chaos through proxy jihadist wars in North Africa and the Middle East – in partnership with Saudi Arabia. But the pace of imperial decline had quickened decisively with the financial meltdown. Chaos is an unreliable weapon, and jihadists are no friends of Wall Street bankers or Saudi royalty. China is the acknowledged economic top dog, with Russia as a partner and the rest of the world reconfiguring itself. Death is still breathing down U.S. imperialism’s neck.

 

And so, Barack Obama, like George Bush before him, rolls the dice of war.

 

His partner, once again, is Saudi Arabia, without which the breathtaking plunge in oil prices could not have occurred. This time around, Washington aims to cripple Russia, before moving against China, by destabilizing the whole world’s energy sector – including U.S. energy production. But, that’s like setting your apartment on fire to get rid of an unwanted roommate. There is no way to calibrate and control such an assault on energy pricing, no possible means of avoiding a cascade of unintended consequences to the world economy. If the war against Iraq was dumb, the oil price war is the Mother of Dementia, and cannot help but further unravel all manner of capitalist structures – including deadly derivatives – throughout the planet.

 

But, doomed systems and declining classes will do anything to forestall the inevitable.

 

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to BlackAgendaReport.com, and sign up for email notifications of our new issues, each Wednesday.

 

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

 

Direct download: 20150107_gf_OilPriceWar.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:45 PM