Note from the Editor

We heard Iraq had been "liberated." We only heard for we haven't watched much TV or read our daily paper in the past three weeks. Call this self-preservation or a cop-out reaction to insanity. Strangely enough, celebrations and cheers seem to be missing or rather muted all over the world. Even the USA, aside from the gleeful Washington apparatus, appears racked by a gigantic psychosis, a sort of massive depression. People avoid talking about the issue altogether. There is a sense that we've begun something much, much larger than one can fathom, something that is increasingly being questioned: violence has become the modus operandi of our culture and no one knows what it will breed. Will Syria be next, or Iran, or North Korea, or Libya...or China? Old allies and friends have been renamed adversaries deserving retributions; the social net is being gutted, our civil liberties drastically curtailed... where will this end? As Scott Orlovsky notes, fear leads to anger leads to hatred leads to violence leads to genocide... Again, aside from this messianic, hawkish Administration bent on destroying villages and countries to save them, its fundamentalist followers and the toady media, the country is curiously quiet, almost subdued; joy and optimism gone largely unreported. There is an eerie feeling floating in the air... My gosh, what have we done? What are we up to -- or against?

The simplicity of the rehashed message does not match the immense complexities that we imperceptibly sense but cannot fully grasp. How can violence and destruction bring a safer world? How can they generate solutions to poverty, global warming, ozone layer depletion, and myriad other challenges? It does not square; and it is bloody frightening! Too many myths and too little realities! A cartoon by Amedeo Henry pretty well captures the situation. But let's not fall under the spiel of pessimism; let's not listen to the sirens of defeatism of the human spirit. The psychological impact of the past two years may well create an atmosphere that is more receptive to peaceful solutions and dramatic changes to the way we do business, as Eli Beckerman demonstrates in his eloquent letter to Canadian author and poet Margaret Atwood. Beckerman's piece is the perfect antidote to despair! Scott Orlovsky correlates the present events with those of some 70 years ago in Europe as a warning of what could be in store for humanity if we do not stop this madness. Richard Macintosh makes plain the reasons why our current system is bound to implode and ultimately will fail; a message joined by Philip Greenspan. Michael Stowell and Milo Clark offer their own suggestions for ways to help counter the insane policies concocted by the reactionary clique in power: by not paying taxes, and by living locally -- particularly in the midst of beauty.

For sure, beauty is not absent from Swans. Once you've read Louis Proyect's stirring book review of Naguib Mahfouz's novel, "Midaq Alley," you'll rush to your local library and grab the book in a hurry! And read the poetry of Kahnupad Haider, Alma Hromic and Richard Macintosh to experience more beauty, even if a tad heartbreaking (each offers a poem on war.) But for those of you who are tired of hearing the name of god invoked day in and day out by Bush Incorporated and long for some relaxation, humor should help you thanks to Barrett Brown's satire. Finally, there are always a few gems to be found in the Letters to the Editor!

Enjoy this edition and as always form your OWN opinion, and let your friends (and foes) know about Swans. It's your voice that makes ours grow.


America: Myths and Realities

Gilles d'Aymery:  Simplicity: The Absence of Complexity

To paraphrase Rambo Rumsfeld, in a free country people are free to do bad things, like looting and robbing. They also are free, fortunately, to do good things, "for goodness gracious!"   More...


Patterns Which Connect

Eli Beckerman:  A Letter To Margaret Atwood

As though an earthquake were tearing apart the very foundations on which we stand, a huge breach has formed between the flow of information around the globe and the mere trickle of information in the United States.   More...


Scott Orlovsky:  They're Building A Pipeline

Syria lies between Iraq and Israel, at the critical crossroads of Saddam Hussein's northern Iraqi oil fields and Sharon's right wing Likud hardliners. The American right-wing three branches headed by the Bush/Cheney hardliners finance Israel to construct more weapons of mass destruction than the entire Middle East combined.   More...


Richard Macintosh:  Heresy!

It's hard to pinpoint the exact time that I stopped believing. Perhaps I can do so by finding the various attempts at epiphany -- that is, to prop up things that I was supposed to believe. A loyal child, I wanted to uphold the values and teachings of my parents.   More...


Philip Greenspan:  Will The Favorite Go The Distance?

The Vietnam War taught the government many lessons in how to successfully wage its future wars. Consequently certain principles were adopted and implemented.   More...


Solutions Under the Radar Screen

Michael W. Stowell:  Taxman

That placard held high by America's founders, "No Taxation Without Representation," is now lost among the billboards of neocolonialism and those former days of revolution have faded from our collective consciousness, overshadowed by the specter of scarcity conjured by human avarice.   More...


Milo Clark:  What? Me worry?

What do I see when I look up from my keyboard? Big windows on three sides give an abundance of natural light. A stand of Mexican Weeping Bamboo drapes softly awaiting every subtlety of breeze which moves its graceful culms gently in response.   More...


Hungry Man, Reach For The Book

Louis Proyect:  Naguib Mahfouz, "Midaq Alley"

A decisive factor in the ongoing war against Arab peoples is the general lack of knowledge about and sympathy for their culture. To destroy a people, it is much easier to do so under a cloak of ignorance and misrepresentation.   More...


Humor with a Zest

Barrett Brown:  Would You Vote For This Deity?

Every so often, an overly optimistic secular humanist will jump the proverbial gun and proclaim -- in a fit of the sort of wishful thinking by which us progressive types may so often be easily identified -- that the intellectuals of the world have finally established something of a beachhead in the struggle between science and faith, that only a short "mopping-up" campaign remains before the contemporary incarnations of organized religion are relegated to the status currently held by the Norse pantheon and pamphlets on crystal healing.   More...



Kahnupad Haider:  The Lost America Of Love

(for allen ginsberg)

not past blue automo-
biles in driveways,
not anywhere towards a  home
nevermore to a silent cottage?   More...


Alma A. Hromic:  War Sestina

The sun of last summer shone upon war,
our towns and villages consumed in flame;
racked and tortured, our people and our land,
led, hounded, forced into black doom and ruin,
a nation torn, with faces grim and grave,
sowing the whirlwind, reaping the harvest.   More...


Richard Macintosh:  Hidden Hearts And Blood-Flecked Minds

Some were filled with dread to see the war begin
      And long to see it end.
Others longed to see the war begin
      And dread to see it end.   More...


Letters to the Editor


On Zimbabwe, Yugoslavia, Julien Benda, and the War on Iraq.   More...



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Created: April 21, 2003