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Commentary Last Updated: Dec 31st, 2007 - 01:19:39

Happy New Year, people
By Luciana Bohne
Online Journal Associate Editor

Dec 31, 2007, 01:17

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Thoughtful Americans are certainly aware by now that the government of the United States is no angel. If they have inquiring minds, they have discovered the covert and overt trail of coups, assassinations, overthrow of elected leaders, subversion of pluralism, terrorism against foreign civilians to induce them to vote against their interests, hypocrisy about women�s and general human rights, and naked aggression against foreign people who do not bow down to Washington�s pursuit of profits, which benefits a tiny American economic elite while exploiting the labor and stealing the resources of the rest.

If they have looked into this history and been appalled, Americans, if they�re white, can no longer say, �I feel lucky that I live here. Other places are poor and violent.� If they connect the dots between the US-generated trail of globally spilt blood and their own rapidly vanishing comfort and security, they tend to give up on what they still consider their �country� -- as though the �country� were some ideal entity acting out of its own volition and now tarnished beyond repair. They forget, in their despair, those mortal men (or women, when they manage to snatch a bit of that traditionally concentrated malevolent power) who plot and kill, who torture and steal, who invade and occupy. �Countries� are not mortal entities -- they do not move armies, plunder domestic and foreign treasuries, depreciate the currency, control the media, invent propaganda, arrest dissidents, torture at will, designate �free-speech� zones, reserving the remainder for un-free speech, deny health care, rig elections, set the world aflame with war, drop nuclear bombs, and commit genocide.

People do it. And what some people can do, others can stop.

How? Clearly not by tawdry electoral rituals. I might as well go on record as saying that the US election is in the bag. It will be Hillary. The rest of the political circus animals are mere distractions -- some deliberately unelectable. She has been shown the agenda; she has agreed to do it. Moreover she�s dying to do it. She is it: war and more war. The other party has blown it for the time being.

If elections are not the path to change, then what is? Oh, go ahead and vote. It can do no great harm. It�s like falling in love again or going to church. If it makes you feel better, do it, but don�t expect returns beyond the pleasure of the moment.

What we need to do, first thing, as a people, is cut off our identification of the �country� with its �leaders.� We are the country. They are the sham.

Second, we need to identify with all the people who have fought or are fighting against our thieving elites, free-trade buccaneers, and corporate marauders. Yes, we need to become citizens of the world and identify with the oppressed, for we, ourselves, are now -- can anyone doubt it? -- the oppressed.

Third, we need to turn off the television. We really do. It�s what gives us the illusion that we�re in touch with reality. Reality is elsewhere -- it�s in our now chronic economic insecurity, in our crumbling infrastructure, in the contempt and fear with which the world regards us, in our F for fake educational system, in our contemptible for-profit health system, in our burgeoning prison population, in our gasping-for-breath environment, in our Dickensian personal indebtedness, in the despair of our youth, in our defunct workers� rights, in our shambling civil liberties. Do we really believe that a system of planned inequality that produces and selects its governing stooges will propose a candidate who will reverse the astronomical rise in inequality between rich and poor? Look, if there was money to be made by investing in hanging rope, they would hang each other. Crazy and evil they may be, but not stupid. We are the stupid ones if we continue to play globalopoly with them -- �support [their] troops,� election paraphernalia, and all.

Fourth, we should stop feeling powerless. We�d still be working 16 hours per day (oops -- you do again?) if our great-grandparents all over the industrial world had indulged in despair. We should start thinking about strikes. That�s where our power lies -- in the work we do or withhold. Just think about it, mind you (although that would really be �sending a message�: a national strike in the US on Election Day). But, let us proceed one step at a time to reclaim our indentured political identity. Discover our history first -- a people�s history, not the farce they teach in the school texts. Find out who we were before we became indebted consumers. Read about the labor movement in the United States, say, up to the 1970s. Assert our dignity as the producers of this country�s wealth -- and much else that amounts to human progress. Realize that we are something worse and something better than we are told by the parrots in the media, the pulpits, and the schools. We are human, thank goodness, warts and all -- no more privileged to hate ourselves and our so-called �country� than anyone else.

We have been lied to and have gone to war against a people who not only never meant us any harm but who were also themselves victims of the thug our government had befriended, helped to elevate to power, armed, and cosseted -- until our government decided the thug needed to be disciplined. So, first our government rained bombs and depleted uranium on the thug�s people without bending a hair on his head. When the bombed people rose up and tried to take down the thug, our leaders helped him to suppress them. Then, our leaders continued the sanctions (surely war and sanctions combined must have been a siege strategy outlawed somewhere, somehow shortly after the demise of the Middle Ages -- and certainly, in spirit, after the formation of the United Nations) that killed 500,000 people, most of them children. That was the Clinton guy. His lackey said, �It was worth it.� Think about it -- worth it. What was �it� that was so worthy of a child�s blood on their hands was never made clear. Money, I suppose. A competitive edge. Profit. Territory. Bases. Power. Resources. Markets. It always is.

So, we were persuaded to bomb them again and invade them -- first to liberate them, then to bring them democracy, and, finally, to protect them from anarchy and civil war. This last claim is being made after it has become known that nearly 1.4 million Iraqis have died since the invasion and twice that number was forced to flee into exile to secure their lives!

We, the duped, discovered our error, and voted for other leaders. The war went on just as if we hadn�t voted. They don�t take our wishes more seriously than they do the Iraqis.� People are expendable. Always plenty more where we came from. Call it the �sanctity of human life,� and send in the cannon fodder. The Romans called the likes of us -- the people -- �proletarians,� or producers of offspring, �proles� in Latin. Proletarians, having no other wealth, contribute people whereas they, the ones who kill because it�s worth �it,� are special and unique and so produce war, poverty, and injustice for us and riches and comfort for themselves.

Let�s face it: the criminals �R them. We are the dupes, the tools, the taxpayers. Hate them, if you have to hate anybody. This is not to say that we can exonerate ourselves of the crimes our leaders have committed in our name, but while we hubristically revel in impotent self-loathing the Iraqi genocide goes on -- as does much else that is criminal and anti-human in the world. All of which could change if we didn�t embrace defeat and left the stage without a fight -- or, worse, played along with the bloody farce. It�s time we concentrated on something other than ourselves -- our guilt, our shame, our failure, and our stupidity. Lives depend on it -- and lives are worth it.

Happy New Year!

Luciana Bohne teaches film and literature at Edinboro University of Pennsylvania. She can be reached at

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