April 6, 2006
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I was reflecting on the epithet "Bushevik," which frequently appears here. We all feel a deep contempt for this man, for his party, and his supporters. What is the best way to brand him - and them?
I have to tell you, I always react a little to the term: it is derived from "Bolshevik," which refers to a specific left-wing movement which drove the first Marxist revolution in Russia, but which has come to have a popular meaning of "left-wing extremist." So as a term of contempt, its origins are in the political Right, and it carries their meanings and intent as a result.
That is why, to my ear, Bushevik rings politically untrue. Bush is clearly no leftist. But worse, I suspect it works unconsciously to under gird prevailing anti-left sentiment. It is one thing to appropriate a derogatory term as a sign of self-respect in the face of enemies - "we're here, we're queer," "nigger," etc. - but this is something else, and I fear it works against us. Is the only term of contempt we can come up with one which derogates leftist politics? Contemplate calling a bigot a "fag" or a "nigger." It doesn't work, does it? And it tacitly accepts the idea that being such is somehow a problem. We should be saying "Yeah, that's right - WE ARE BOLSHEVIKS - and we're coming for you."
Let's tie the right to their true political antecedents - there are plenty of them and they are plenty ugly. I refer to them as Fascists. It is plain, simple - Bill O'Reilly's hilarious misuse of the term aside - and exactly correct. The historian Eric Hobsbawm discussing the true Fascist movement of this century, notes the constant properties of recurring right-wing extremism: "hysterically nationalist and xenophobic, idealizing war and violence, intolerant and given to strong-arm coercion, passionately anti-liberal, anti-democratic, anti-proletarian, anti-socialist and anti-rationalist, dreaming of blood and soil and a return to the values which modernity was disrupting."
Bolshevism, for all its faults, was ostensibly a peoples' movement with roots in rationalist enlightenment thinking, looking to the future, not the past, reason, not religion. Even the relationship with the most memorable horrors of the Soviet system are suspect: Trotsky specifically used the term to distinguish his "true" Communism from Stalin's authoritarian state.
I want to find the right words for these bastards. I used to reject the idea of calling them Fascist - partly because of the widespread misuse of the term, partly because it tends to end civilized debate, partly because I thought we should need a different word. After all, people didn't call the Fascists by some name of a another time. They called them Fascists, plain and simple, and they made it stick as a term of abuse.
Haven't Republicans done enough at this point for their name to be mud? I believe that any hope for this would require, at minimum, an act of official disapprobation. Impeachment with broadcast hearings airing all their dirty laundry - might - might, though I doubt - be a first step. However, I think shifting the tide of rhetoric this far in one bound will be more difficult - or impossible. After all, the political scientists will note that America is a "Republic" (not a "Democracy"), and the American Left's great antecedents amongst the founders (Jefferson, for example) were passionate Republicans (in the political science sense as well as the political sense - though the party meant something quite different back then). "Republic" is a well-established brand. Furthermore, Fascists were our official enemy during WWII, so the term was really another for "enemy". So, from this viewpoint, turning "Republican" into the epithet it ought to be will require some work.
Sadly, what I suggest for "Republican" has already happened to American "Left adjectives." Because of Soviet Communism, because it was recognized as the official enemy of the state during the Cold War, the Right has been very effective at turning terms for Leftist politics - I struggle to find another phrase that isn't contaminated with pejorative - into epithets: creeping outwards from Communist and Bolshevik, to Socialist, to Liberal, and even, I sense, tainting "Democrat"... It has been a long, gradual process. If we wish to shift the frame, we won't do so but incrementally.
Another thing I worry about with "Bushevik" is that it carries no further than this man and his specific failure. But the problem goes beyond him - to his vice president and cabinet and functionaries, his party, the blind passions of their supporters, and the system of corruption which enables him. Once he is gone, so will be any investment in this coinage. We should have a word which casts a net on all of them, that we can use beyond 2008...
There is much work we have to do, getting our words just right is a small thing, perhaps, but I think which has deeper consequences ... in the unconscious.
[BuzzFlash Note: "Bushevik" is a nicely ironic term, it's been picked up all over the net, it's got a tinge of humor to it. Readers?]
Subject: The Big 3 and the Economy
There is an issue that I simply don't understand. We're told we should buy American autos because it helps the economy. Okay, that is understandable but in this day and age, what is really an "American" auto? Is it the automobile with an "American" name but manufactured overseas, such as GM, Ford, or Chrysler? Most of the "American" autos are assembled outside of this country.
Or, is an "American" auto now considered one with a "foreign" name, but actually assembled here in the US, such as Toyota, Mazda, or Subaru?
The traditional "American" automakers keep telling us they have to slash jobs, cut wages, curtail benefits, and try to bust unions to survive. Most of the time, when they take the previously mentioned actions, they end up exporting jobs offshore.
However, many of the "foreign" automakers are investing in America by building new assembly plants in the US, providing well-paying jobs, and providing excellent benefits for their employees. They also have a completely different business model that they use that provides for equality of ALL employees from the top honcho, whose salary is limited to a certain percentage, and provides for the same perks for everyone.
We frequently hear American corporations blame labor for their woes. Yet, I have noticed that when these corporate head bangers blame the lowest echelons, they are receiving outrageous salaries, perks and benefits. The excesses are legend by now.
Is it so far-fetched to reason that it is corporate excesses that are contributing to the downfall of the American economy? It seems that blaming these problems on the low end of the totem pole is a farce and a lie.
Are there any BuzzFlashers who can explain this to me? I have tried to figure this out for well over five years now, and when I add two and two I still keep coming up with four.
I just read your contribution to BuzzFlash and I want to thank you for saying all of this in a clear eloquent way. I am in tears because of the powerful way you have told the truth about the ripping of the safety net by a national government.
I share your circumstance, different profession, but other than that, our adult lives are very similar. I also took care of my mother during her last illness. I was glad to do that and, believe it or not, considered myself lucky to have the opportunity to repay a little of the kindness and caring she had shown me.
In short, we are facing an uncertain, even drastic future, and that should not be. I will continue to speak out, stronger because of your contribution. And I will say a prayer for all of us.
Subject: Maureen R. Sinclair
Do you realize that you are telling the story of so many Americans now, who never, ever lived through anything like this before. We may be in the same age group...but, regardless, this country is going so down.
I heard today on the radio, that people making 40-44 thousand a year must ... have some form of health insurance...and that is with 3 children. (This is a law being proposed.) If you do not....you will pay a hefty fine. Now, they don't think this, but it is apparent to me, having gone though the health system lately, that high costs are the Medical people (doctors, etc. (not nurses, who seem to do all the work) and hospital and insurance costs. They want us to believe that it is the fault of needless lawsuits. A county across the river, they have picked on, and while they may file many lawsuits...a recent revelation, was that only about 1/3 to 1/2 of those suits, ever make it to court...so it is just another lie!
The reason we are all hurting in this country is because of the people running it...and even the House and Senate....no one provides oversight, and so, the pork just goes up more and more. We cannot take care of what FEMA is supposed to do...there will be no money to even repair the dams in and around N. Orleans.
I fear more for my old age now...than at any time in my life..It does not matter how much you count on something....with this bunch, it will not be there. We had friends who retired at 61, because they were bought out and he was given an option that was great, to retire. And this man had saved somewhere in the neighborhood of a million dollars. But, in 6 short years...things (this is from talk I have overheard) have become so bad, they have lost their company paid retiree's health benefits...and the pensions have been cut to the point that they are trying to live on Social Security...plus what is left of his pension. As a result...they are having to dip into savings just to live from day to day. They have more life to live, too, because they are our age, and my husband is still working. If there is any kind of a catastrophic illness....it could take it all. They would have been considered middle to upper income...but, it does not matter anymore...because if you are not in Washington DC...not a member of a lobbying group...not on the list of people who get benefits because of someone you know...it just does not matter.
You bet, I am scared...many people who thought they had great jobs are scared. My husband has a good Thrift (savings plan) at his job...but it will go nowhere in a serious illness. We all thought Medicare and Medicaid would be there to pick up the pieces, even if we had retiree's benefits....but, neither is guaranteed now...because companies are limiting so many things.
Thanks for speaking for all of us...who are not fraudulent millionaires...as most in DC are!
Shirley ... St. Louis
Subject: Iraq War - Never Let Them Forget What We've Become
The image of the hooded Iraqi soldier, electrical shock wires attached to both his hands outstretched, standing on the crate is the perfect image of the insanity and purposelessness of Bush's war.
Although I am not Christian (may I say thank God for that) I wish to remind those especially in the republican Christian religious right of what their Jesus said.
St. Luke 23:34 Then Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."
Shame shame shame.
Subject: Randi Rhodes and Lou Dobbs
Randi Rhodes said on the Dobbs program last night that greed and corporatism are the main causes open borders and and exploitation of workers. Corporatism and the lobbyist's influx of cash into our political system are the two most influential reasons our nation is divided and in such a sorry state. Public campaign finance and severe penalties against law-breaking big business and their hired guns, lobbyists, is our only avenue of salvation.
Subject: Studs Terkel
I just watched Jon Stewart's interview of Studs Terkel on the Daily Show--wow. Why doesn't someone give Studs Terkel an interview show? Even "deaf as a doorstop," as he proclaimed himself to be, he provided the most fascinating, challenging, wise and funny five minutes I've seen on television in a long, long time. And charming--damn, I don't know how old he is, but he still has the clear-eyed, merry soul of a child. (I love Jon himself, but he was way outmatched, and I know he'd be the first to say it. Thanks, Jon, for not having to be the best thing on your show ALL the time.
Subject: Iraq War Was Worth It: Oil Prices Jump Above $67 Per Barrel
And the oil industry earns 9 cents a gallon.... 1.5 cents more than in previous years.
Document Says Oil Chiefs Met With Cheney Task Force
Firm linked to Cheney wins oil-field contract
WASHINGTON -- A company tied to Vice President Dick Cheney has won a Pentagon contract for advice on rebuilding Iraq's oil fields after a possible war.
A BuzzFlash Reader
Subject: Canadians in Afghanistan
Here is one for you about how most of us Canadians feel about your king's wars in the Middle East and in Afghanistan in particular.
Afghanistan is not our war, Mr. Prime Minister (alternatives.ca)
Regardless that I have a relative fighting in Afghanistan, I do not believe that we Canadians should be there, even under the auspices of the NATO banner because we are not fulfilling a peacekeeping mission at this point. Canadians are not warriors. Short and sweet. The average Canadian is a peacemaker and for our government to cram this down our throats, spewing the same Bushisms such as, "We will not cut and run," makes most of us puke. It is equally as bad as hearing our own dear leader (36% popularity) citing, "God bless Canada." Hunh? When did very secular Canada become religious?
The Afghani, who are the ones dying, did nothing to incur the wrath of the American king's anger. The Afghani, in general, just want peace and breathing space. Bin Laden's terrorist movement and most of his followers are from king George's buddies in Saudi Arabia as is he. It would be so nice for gung ho Americans to realize this. Will the US ever be tired of war? (Dumb question, most of your GNP is based on militaristic industries). It is, however, based on the oil pipeline which is far more important than "fighting them there ..." in terms of access to oil. We have petrol sources, too. Interesting ... "Canadian Bacon" anyone?
PS: Gaia Sighs: is that a.m. or p.m.? I have my University grad the morning of 06.06.06. It has been a long time dream come true for this woman. Please don't tell me that I will be doomed to be flown off the earth before I get my piece of paper!!!!!
Subject: Addendum to My Previous Post
Another source about how most of us Canadians feel about the American king's war
Why are we in Afghanistan? (rabble.ca)
Both of the sites I have posted tell much about our Canadian ethics. As I previously posted, Canadians are not warriors, we like to wear the peacekeeper's dove. War is the most abhorrent tool man has ever devised in the thousands of years we have inhabited the earth as the animals we are (and here I do not mean mankind in a general sense, I mean the many men who have been, and are in command and have been for eons. How can we, men and women both, who desire a global peace unite and join hands across nations to make our want for peace realized? Obviously, through sites such as BuzzFlash. Thank you Buzz!
Subject: The Fighting Dems
So now you are glorifying the warmongers who just happen to be Democrats?
This is absurd. Whatever happened to the "Hell no we won't go Democrats"?
Or how about the "Send Bush to Prison Democrats"?
Or How about the "Not another penny to finance slaughter in imperialist war Democrats"?
This isn't a tag team wrestling match. The Democrats, with the exception of a precious few, are no better than their counterparts in the Weimar Republic.
Where are the soldiers refusing to participate in a war crime?
We don't need war "heroes" running for Congress, we need people who will shut the war machine down, not argue for "better fought mass murder" with better benefits for those who chose to kill. Sure, take care of the vets who got hurt, but first get em all back where they won't get hurt--or hurt others--HOME.
A BuzzFlash Reader
Subject: Realizing Hope: Life Beyond Capitalism By Michael Albert, 198 Pages (a Book Review)
Fed up with Capitalism with its dog eat dog, haves and have-nots and perpetual wars? Wish there was something else but "know" that it's hopeless because you've been told that TINA (there is no alternative). Well, think again, because TIAA (there is an alternative) and it's called Parecon (Participatory Economics).
Parecon is the brainchild of Michael Albert (Co-director, South End Press, Zmag, Znet). It is an economic system whose values are solidarity, diversity, equity and self-management, juxtaposed in such a way as to promote classlessness, which Albert zeros-in on (correctly, I believe) as the mortar for holding Parecon (and a New Society) together. While Parecon's values are intended to promote classlessness, Albert introduces what could be an even surer approach to this heretofore unrealized state and that's balanced job complexes (everyone's work features empowering and decision-making tasks as well as rote or even onerous tasks), so that nobody hoards the more desirable work nor gets stuck with what's purely unpleasant.
Albert believes that an economic system that features solidarity, diversity, equity, self managemenet and classlessness (instead of Capitalism's anti-social competitiveness, individualistic greed and corporate hierarchy) will promote individual well-being, happiness and fulfillment as well as open the way towards ending racism, sexism, ageism, and will bring about peace on earth and goodwill to all living beings. "Realizing Hope" is published by Zed Books. Read it, think about and visualize a world featuring Parecon and if you like it......
A BuzzFlash Reader
Brilliant. Absolutely Brilliant. Al Franken is my hero. Get that man a Senate seat!
Subject: Time To Put Our Own House in Order
I'd like to talk a bit today about rigid ideology. On our side. What prompted this is reading something over at Americablog the other day. John Aravosis went to some black tie D.C. function, the Radio and Television Correspondents Association annual dinner. Typical DC hobnobbing thing, all sorts of types there. Mr. 'as-popular-as-explosive-diarrhea' Dick Cheney was there. Anyways, John was doing what people do at these kinds of functions - schmoozing with all sorts of people. Then he made the fatal mistake of talking to Florida Bush-stooge, Senate candidate and election-theft-enabler Katherine Harris and getting a picture with her, recognizing the camp value (the same reason I collect Nixon memorabilia). Then, he made the doubly fatal mistake of commenting that he was surprised how nice of a person she was on a personal level. This unleashed a bunch of negative, harsh comments from a small percentage of his readership, calling him a sellout, traitor, etc.
Now, I've been reading John for about a year. I think he's a real activist. He got ranting homophobe Dr. Laura off of the air, he successfully put pressure on Ford to resist caving in to the wingnuts about advertising in gay-themed publications, brought the whole 'your cell phone records are for sale' thing to light, etc. He's one of those on our side that's actually accomplished something other than spout out bumper-sticker slogans. Admittedly, he is definitely more in the mainstream than I am. But that's fine. My point is that he is anything but a sell-out. He really got upset about this, and I would think that he could use a bit of a thicker skin. But it prompted him to write a post about those on the left who fear money and power.
He makes some good points. There are those of us on our side, due to their rigid ideology, that cannot deal with the idea that someone who is working for us should be justly compensated for their work. It's almost like there are some that feel because they're able to live off the power grid in their wigwam, that we ALL need to live that way. It's like some kind of hippie fascism. And, like the worst of the conservatives, they are unable to see things in anything but a dualistic black and white. Either you renounce capitalism and any modern comforts completely or you are evil and impure.
I live in Plainfield, Vermont, home of the progressive Goddard College, not your typical college. It's definitely one of theo se progressive alternative schools where they spell women with a 'y'. Lots of great people have come through its doors over the years, many of which I am good friends with. The legendary jam-band Phish started out there. Until recently, right down the road, we had the Institute for Social Ecology, a kind of anarchist-type educational institution. So they've kind of helped make Plainfield what I call 'ground zero for the granola belt'. There are lots of back-to-the-land types here, to varying degrees. Lots of fifty and sixty-something guys with huge beards. My own house was originally built with no running water, an outhouse, kerosene lamps, and a wood-fired kitchen stove. Needless to say, you have some of the leftiest of the left here.
I had my first firsthand experience with the idealistic ideology when involved with the Plainfield Co-op, our little food store that has been here since the early seventies. Jenni was on the Board of Directors. It has reached a point, due to various factors, that it is in serious finacial distress, and the BOD wanted to make some radical changes, such as hiring an experienced manager who actually had experience in retail grocery. The idea of moving it to a bigger, more suitable place was also proposed. Now, the PR campaign was kind of botched from the board from the start, lots of miscommunication and such. But some of the b.s. the diehards were spewing was UNBELIEVABLE. The new manager wanted to do such radical things such as proper inventory management, better product placement, the end of paying all of our vendors in cash out of the register, and basically putting long-needed standard operating procedures that any responsible business should have, in place. Some of the bullshit responses to this:
"It's corporate. We should question (above-stated) standard operating procedures." " We shouldn't even be discussing making this store profitable. Profit is immoral." "We shouldn't move the store because it will get more cars driving by. The age of the automobile is going to be coming to an end very soon." "We have to have non-hierarchical management."
Non-hierarchical management can work great... if everybody on the team has the required skills necessary. Someone needs to know about profit margin. Inventory control. Marketing. Unfortunately, in the 30-plus years of non-hierarchical management, there was never a time where all of those skills were present, hence the problems. You're only as effective as your least effective person. When I mentioned to one of them how if we actually made a profit, we could afford to pay our employees a livable wage and healthcare (a favorite cause for the left), I heard, "Well, it's not right that profit should have to pay for healthcare." In other words, because we should have universal health care and don't, that we shouldn't try to do what is the current norm for paying for healthcare, until we do have universal healthcare. Sorry, hard-working employees. Tough beans, my ideology doesn't allow this.
So basically, thanks to certain peoples' fear of vague undefined notions, a complete lack of sense of what it takes to run a business, and a pervasive almost Marxist ideological rigidity, we're in trouble.
Now, I don't think that our extremists are evil. I can't find an equivalent of the xenophobic, racist, intolerant right-winger on our side, maybe I haven't looked hard enough. But our extremists are just as fearful of change, and can't seem to grasp that it is a complex world, with complex issues, and there is no 'black and white' to anything. Scientists who study adult development call it 'dualistic' thinking, which is the first stage of adult thinking. The first. It's the kind that hopefully as a 30-50 year old person you should be well-past. And unfortunately we have a lot of well-educated people on our side that aren't.
I'm not advocating that we go to the 'mushy middle' of things. We can be left, even far-left. But we need to avoid the rigid ideology, recognize nuance, and see the world as it really is, not just as how we think it should be. If we do that, we will be closer to getting it how it should be. If we don't, we are no better than the other side.
Subject: Would you care to rephrase that?
I usually can't stand people who nitpick, but every now and then, you run across a situation that deserves it.
I'm referring to Crazy Annie Coulter telling intellectual luminary Sean Hannity that Tom DeLay was "incredibly honorable." As a writer, C.A.C. should have known that when that sentence is parsed according to the English language's rules of syntax, its meaning is that DeLay's honor is incredible.
Nice one, Annie. You're not only libelous and delusional, you're also a complete hack.
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