May 12, 2003
"Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me. I lift my lamp beside the golden door."
Translation in 19th and 20th century America -- we need a mass influx of immigrants to take unskilled work in a rapidly industrializing capitalist economy that depends on the menial exploitation of humans as interchangeable parts in corporate factories. Come on in, we have disease-infested tenements, sweatshops, and workhouses for just about everybody.
Translation in 21st century America -- we need to jail immigrants indefinitely without bail and detain without charge immigrants as material witnesses to keep unwanted Arabs and Latinos off of our shores. Stay out, we have electronic databases of fingerprints and detention cells for just about everybody.
Radical views appear to me as any that stretch beyond the acceptable boundaries of the current status quo of the ignorant masses.
I believe that militarism and pre-emptive strike warfare increase the racist neo-imperialism and economic exploitation felt by billions around the world.
Nearly half of the money we all pay in taxes adds more weapons of mass destruction to our already enormous storehouse of death, and funds repressive dictatorships across Latin America, Africa, the Middle East and Asia that neglect human rights and often conduct genocidal campaigns with the alliance of American corporate profiteering. Brinkmanship, bribery, and threats of the withdrawal of aid constitute the aggressive policeman stance of this nation's foreign policy. And the billions required to fund the sadistic strategy of the maintenance of the free market that only enriches the top five percent of people drains the funds that could be allotted to provide assistance to the unemployed, elderly, schoolchildren and the destitute poor.
I believe that the three branches of government form a triangle where the legislature and judiciary facilitate the oligarchic whims of the executive cabinet. Despite a brief episode of Jeffersonian constitutional democracy, the government has strictly adhered to a Hamiltonian loose construction where the branches' leading bureaucrats can adjust the law at will to fit the circumstance, and actively promote the interests of the wealthy with welfare, subsidies, and tax breaks for corporations and their executive employ. These political elites aggrandize federal power at the expense of the Constitution, the nation's highest law, which instructs in the balance of national and state/local power/jurisdiction and the protection of unalienable civilian liberties.
I believe that American capitalism terraces the wealth in a hierarchical pecking order to maintain a system where the anger and resentment of the lower classes will be buffered by the middle of the pyramid that identifies masochistically with the rich through their accumulation of status symbols. This laughable simulacrum of proportionate power and wealth allows members of the pack to distinguish each other through the socio-cultural symbols of status to both deferentially mimic the behavior of monetary betters, and scornfully demean those with less material possessions. Communities that suffer profound poverty and marginalization at the laissez-faire policies of the government towards the downtrodden often manufacture a criminal class to both labor in prison workhouses, and frighten the middle class into the acceptance of a police state that sometimes protects, sometimes harasses the populace with near omni-present public surveillance.
I believe that obedient, monotheistic glorification of the thought and belief of the state has waged a continual ideological war against the individualism, diversity, and polytheism of thought and belief of the societal organism since the construction of the first sun-kingdoms of the ancient world. Bellicose warlike nationalism in foreign affairs and xenophobic anxiety in domestic concerns arm the state with an expanding role for the military and police. Since World War II the United States military and CIA has: fought North Korea to a stalemate from 1951-53; overthrown the democratically-elected socialist premier to install the Shah as dictator of Iran in 1953; invaded Guatemala in 1954 and 1966-67 to prevent their government from nationalizing land held by US corporations; napalmed and massacred over 2 million Vietnamese from 1960-75; attempted to destroy the Cuban government in the 1961 Bay of Pigs; slaughtered over 1 million in Indonesia in 1965 as part of a CIA-assisted army coup; bombed and landed marines in the Dominican Republic in 1966-67; fire-bombed Cambodians from 1969-75 resulting in up to 2 million deaths; funded a coup to oust the democratically-elected president in Chile in 1973 and installed a brutal military dictatorship; directed and conducted covert anti-rebel contra wars against El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Honduras from the early 80s on; expelled the PLO and shelled Muslims in Lebanon from 1982-84; instated puppet governments after vicious assaults on Grenada in 1983-84 and Panama in 1989-90; saturation-bombed Iraq continually since 1990; and pummeled Afghanistan in 2001-2003. The invasive arms of the military and police stretch like an octopus into one hundred forty-two bases abroad and the city streets, telephones, and computers at home to maintain domination over the world through fear.
I believe that many Americans do not understand the repression that the American military and police bureaucracies instigated across the globe throughout the centuries of its existence. And on the home-front throughout the history of the United States: business elites consistently acquired the National Guard and city police to force employees on strike against conditions of serfdom to return to their jobs, political elites utilized state and local police to arrest non-violent protesters exercising natural liberties to gather and speak freely, and legal elites defended both of their vicious actions by bending and reinterpreting laws in the carnival of the court system. The wedding of the upper echelons of business, politics and law maintain monopolized control over a system conceived to benefit themselves. And their bureaucratic lackey henchmen, awed by the allure of a little Napoleonic authority and blinded by the twisted morality of statism, punish any who dare disagree with the ego-driven policies handed down to the masses from those above in the halls of power and wealth. Mass society parallels the image of Hobbes' Leviathan, as the oligarchy draws vampiric sustenance from the majority that works at their machines and pays money to them to live inside their borders.
I believe in rainforests of densely layered perspectives and reject the ideological black and white deserts of United-We-Stand Pax Americana.
I believe in shrewd investigation, critical thinking, spiritual polytheistic ecumenicalism, cultural diffusion, biological symbiosis, and the individual development of holistic consciousness necessary to wrest humanity from the shell of ape-like emotionally-stunted xenophobic territoriality.
And I believe that me/you/all can make a difference -- as Gilles d'Aymery electronically whispered to my eyes during our first contact -- in solidarity.
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America the 'beautiful' on Swans
Scott Orlovsky is a World History & Cultures, and an American History teacher at Clifton High School in New Jersey. He has a BA in History from the Johns Hopkins University and a MA in History from the University of Colorado. Orlovsky's writing has appeared in the Greenwich Village Gazette and he regularly contributes his columns to Swans.
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