Note from the Editor

While we watch the scandals unfold for Tom DeLay, Jack Abramoff, David Safavian, Bill Frist... and anticipate with bated breath the results of the Valerie Plame investigation, it is natural to think -- at least hope -- that the corrupt system is crumbling under its own weight. Yet that system is much stronger than we can imagine; its roots were grounded long before its far-reaching branches overshadowed us. Two book reviews and their accompanying analyses explain: Michael Doliner on Leo Strauss and the American Right paints a stark picture of the secretive, war-mongering, hierarchical state in which we live, and the review of The Liberal Virus by Samir Amin reveals the destructive virus of unilateral American imperialism that poses a clear and present danger to the world.

Still looking to the Democrats to save humanity? Wishful thinking, says Robert Wrubel. We need a language of radical change to address the deep social injustice and economic inequality; a few brave whistleblowers from the Bush administration wouldn't hurt either -- perhaps one will heed George Beres's call. As for the activists? So long as the media keep ignoring and/or undermining them, we're stuck in our faux democracy. Deck Deckert explains what the absence of opposition and a free press mean.

The price tag for maintaining this culture of greed may mean the cutting of the Space Shuttle program -- in the name of reducing risk; a loss that Alma Hromic fears would squelch the pioneering spirit that led to manned flight in the first place. Yet when known dangers to entire societies, such as a levee break in New Orleans, or an illegal, immoral war in Iraq, are ignored for selfish interests, one has to wonder, where is the vision? What are our values? Professor Audra Himes looks at her at-risk students and asks, just what is the federal government's role? Stevan Konstantinović relates to the senseless suffering in New Orleans from his experience in the NATO bombardment of Serbia -- yet another act of American imperialism in the guise of a moral mission. Milo Clark has some thoughts on US foreign policy and the less-than moral religiosity behind it, and one poster child for the virtues of those American leaders is Bill Bennett, for whom Gerard Donnelly Smith has a few words.

On books and culture, Louis Proyect reviews Bob Dylan's Chronicles Volume One and his role as 1950s/'60s icon, and Charles Marowitz examines another enigmatic icon with Piers Paul Read's Alec Guinness: Authorized Biography.

Finally, our editor's blips from American fascism to New York Times commercialism; energy conservation to billionaire yacht-envy; with some Boonville news, and letters to the editor to round out this edition.

As always, please form your OWN opinion, and let your friends (and foes) know about Swans.


America: Myths and Realities

Michael Doliner:  Killing Democracy The Straussian Way

Shadia B. Drury's Leo Strauss and the American Right

Will the backlash from Katrina's destruction and the Bush Administration's woeful response to it finally do in the neocons? If you think so you don't know whom you are dealing with. Many have connected the name of Leo Strauss with the Neoconservatives, but almost nowhere do I find the actual content of this connection. Strauss was a professor. What did he profess?   More...


Gilles d'Aymery:  The Americanization Of The World

Samir Amin's The Liberal Virus

People who believe that the "indispensable nation," in the words of former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright -- from K Street to the Capitol and from the White House to Wall Street -- can do no wrong, and that the "Americanization of the world" by any necessary, but primarily military, means, is an ardent obligation, if not yet a fait accompli, will have no use for Samir Amin's 128-page book, The Liberal Virus: Permanent War and the Americanization of the World (Monthly Review Press, 2004). However, the partisans of the view that the U.S., in her efforts to dominate and subjugate friends and foes, presents a clear danger to the whole of humanity, should definitely read Mr. Amin's cogent and somber analysis.   More...


Robert Wrubel:  George Lakoff: Wishful Thinking For Democrats

George Lakoff, University of California at Berkeley Professor of Linguistics, is the new guru of the Democratic Party, justly credited with a fresh understanding of the differences between liberals and conservatives, and an explanation of how Democrats can regain their pizzazz at the polls.   More...


George Beres:  New Whistleblower Needed To Oust Bush Administration

Nothing affected uninhibited behavior of those directing policy for the Bush administration until public release of the startling Downing Street Report by an insider in England. It ought to terrify Bush and his staffers because it could spur "whistleblowing" here, if only someone with courage is ready to step forward.   More...


Deck Deckert:  Rally? What Rally?

What if they had a war rally, and nobody came? I'm not talking about the wildly successful antiwar rally in Washington that attracted somewhere between 200,000 and 300,000 people, perhaps more, from all over the nation. I'm talking about the pro-war rally, that tiny contingent of people who came to protest the protest.   More...


Alma A. Hromic:  To End The Program, Press Escape...

"Shuttle program was a mistake," trumpeted a national headline. NASA chief Michael Griffin is on record to USA Today as saying that the space shuttle, the International Space Station, and nearly the entire US manned space program for the past three decades were mistakes.   More...


Patterns Which Connect

Audra Himes:  Katrina, Iraq, And The Absence Of Values

I'm an English professor at a small branch campus of a state university. I spend my days around working-class 18-year-old white kids from rural areas and working-class 18-year-old black kids from inner cities. My campus is 30% black / 70% white. All of my students are at-risk.   More...


Stevan Konstantinović:  New Orleans: The Pain From A Hyena's Bite
Translated from Serbocroat by Alma A. Hromic

Dear American friends,

Trouble does not choose whom it will afflict. It can sometimes be a viciously random thing. I have to tell you that because of the pain that I -- and my people -- have been suffering over the last 15 years, and still suffer, at first I watched the horrific pictures arriving from New Orleans with a degree of coolness.   More...


Milo Clark:  Moral Suasion Or Racism At Work

Daniel Yankelovich may be the old gray beard of polling now. Over 40 years ago, he was the hot radical on the field. He made a specialty and career out of asking different questions: I might call them Mandelbrotian "What ifs."   More...


Gerard Donnelly Smith:  The Insurgent Word: Genocide

Shame on Bill Bennett. May god have pity on his miserable soul. By now everyone has heard his racist comment: "I do know that it's true that if you wanted to reduce crime, you could -- if that were your sole purpose, you could abort every black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down..."   More...


Hungry Man, Reach For The Book

Louis Proyect:  Bob Dylan's Chronicles Volume One

As accustomed as we have become to the hyping of Bob Dylan over the years, it might comes as a surprise to discover that volume one of Chronicles, now available in paperback, deserves all the accolades it has received.   More...


Charles Marowitz:  The Enigmatic Sir Alec

Piers Paul Read's Alec Guinness: The Authorized Biography

Of all the knights of the British theatre, Alec Guinness was the most enigmatic.   More...


Tidbits Flying Across the Martian Desk

Gilles d'Aymery:  Blips #27

"This must be put bluntly: every man who has more than is necessary for his livelihood and that of his family, and for the normal development of his intelligence, is a thief and a robber. If he has too much, it means that others have too little."
—Romain Rolland (1866-1944)

A few selected issues that landed on the Editor's desk, from the spreading of American fascism to the diminishing New York Times reach; from American billionaires' yacht-length envy to myths and realities about solar energy; with a few blips on opium stupidity and neo-liberalism in between.   More...


Letters to the Editor


The need for new leadership, a treasonous, anti-Bush Frenchie, and tangling the lines.   More...



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Created: October 13, 2005