Note from the Editor

The chattering classes have salivated over the meaning of Islamo-fascism and all the little Hitlers showing up on the world stage recently, at least until the latest public-devouring "values" scandal in Washington appeared. A Congressman's alleged sexcapade took over the news cycle, relegating the coverage of the Military Commissions Act of 2006 to the dustbins. Yet, this Act, as well as the little-known Public Expression of Religion Act (reviewed in the Blips), shows the remarkable similarities that emeritus professor of European history at Columbia University Fritz Stern illustrated in a November 2005 speech, "between the path taken by Germany in the years leading up to Hitler and the path being taken by the United States today," according to Tom Reiss in his review of Stern's memoirs, Five Germanys I Have Known (October 8, 2006, The New York Times Review of Books, p. 24).

Reiss writes that Stern, "with a frankness that startled some in the audience . . . . talked about a group of 1920s intellectuals known as the 'conservative revolutionaries,' who 'denounced liberalism as the greatest, most invidious threat, and attacked it for its tolerance, rationality and cosmopolitan culture,' and about how Hitler had used religion to appeal to the German public. In Hitler's first radio address after becoming chancellor, Stern noted, he declared that the Nazis regarded 'Christianity as the foundation of our national morality and the family as the basis of national life.'" Sound familiar? Could it happen here? The blend of hyper-nationalism, xenophobia, religion, family values, secrecy, economic dislocations, competition for resources, militarization of culture, wars...all telltale signs of a creeping authoritarian corporatism.

Add the intrusive surveillance of the citizenry; the electoral shenanigans; the growing penal colonies; even, as Jan Baughman discusses, the monitoring of the global media through "sentiment analysis" software; all the realities shown by Milo Clark that are far from Mr. Bush's rosy scenario; the attacks on Habeas Corpus that Gerard Donnelly Smith highlights in a powerful poem...and one can legitimately ask: Is the U.S. fast becoming a banana republic?

Then you can see the state of nature in the company of Martin Murie, which to him has become a state of anger. From all of the above you'll find Charles Marowitz's review of Noam Chomsky's Failed States quite apropos. For a moment of relaxation, sort of, Michael Doliner muses on three acolytes' approach to the use of nuclear weapons. When all is said and done, what we might be in great need of, suggests Peter Byrne, is a new manifesto that calls for revolution not only in the arts, but also in morals, religion, and politics, like a handful of Canadian artists did in 1948 with the Refus global.

The Blips cover many issues that our international audience will find quite astounding. As the saying goes, "be afraid, be very afraid." Finally your numerous letters with, in particular, that of John Catalinotto, who emphasizes the anti-war campaign of the Green Party ticket in Michigan.

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


America: Myths and Realities

Gilles d'Aymery:  Latest Banana Republic

It went through the news cycle for a few days. We heard of a rebellion in Mr. Bush's own party, but it passed both the House and the Senate without much of a whisper. It's going to be signed by the president, and the "Military Commissions Act of 2006" will become the law of the land.   More...


Jan Baughman:  The Global War On Negative Sentiment

It arouses suspicion to learn that under the auspices of a president who dismisses the polls -- both domestic and international -- yet claims to know what Americans want (insert his opinion here) and makes decisions on behalf of the "best interest of the world," the Department of Homeland Security is funding research into software that can monitor the sentiment towards the U.S. as reported in the global media.   More...


Milo Clark:  Achh, Arghh And What?

Some Greek philosopher, Plato maybe, said that only dead folks know the end of war. One could say that opinion makes short work of thinking otherwise. Does such a dark thought make cynicism cynical? Or irony ironic?   More...



Gerard Donnelly Smith:  On the Suspension of Habeas Corpus

Without the body no words against abuse,
No counter-testimony about injustice,
Only a ghost's chance for freedom,
Only women holding photographs   More...


Patterns Which Connect

Martin Murie:  State Of Nature, II

A few years ago Bruce Anderson printed a piece of mine, "State Of Nature," in his fine paper, the Anderson Valley Advertiser. Well, the situation has gotten worse, much worse.   More...


Hungry Man, Reach For The Book

Charles Marowitz:  Noam Chomsky's Failed States

Noam Chomsky began his career as a semanticist; that is, a person who diligently searches out language in order to better reveal its meaning.   More...


Humor with a Zest

Michael Doliner:  A Phone Call

A short play: George and Dick each in his own armchair. Dick has a large pad used to hide his face. Table between them has a phone on it. Phone rings. George answers.   More...


Arts & Culture

Peter Byrne:  Total Refusal

The next time you have arty friends around for dinner, ask those with a gleam of social and political awareness this question. It will get your parlor games up and running. When did artists in North America issue a manifesto that called for revolution not only in art but also in morals, religion, and politics?   More...


Tidbits Flying Across the Martian Desk

Gilles d'Aymery:  Blips #42, from the Martian Desk

"The belief in a supernatural source of evil is not necessary; men alone are quite capable of every wickedness."
—Joseph Conrad, Under Western Eyes, 1911

A few selected issues that landed on the Editor's desk related to the demise of the American experiment, from the crossbreeding of theocracy with corpocracy and the Public Expression of Religion Act; to good ol' American values and education, replete with school shootings and ignorance; to Boonville news of fire and deer offal too close to home, and more.   More...


Letters to the Editor


On the Green Party's anti-war campaign and Barack Obama's questionable nuclear intentions; suggestions for the misnamed International Crisis Group; challenges to Karen Moller's take on Tony Blair and Peter Byrne's view of Oriana Fallaci; Bob Woodward's ethics as oxymoron, and more.   More...



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SWANS - ISSN: 1554-4915
Created: October 11, 2006