Thursday, December 16, 2010

Web of Lies!

Laina Farhat-Holzman expresses what it is like to find oneself, and in this case a civilization, in an irreducible contradiction and paradox. Do the humanistic ideals of “free” and “fully” informed citizens of democratic nations have value beyond the symbolic gesture or being used as an ideological justification for various systems of domination and exploitation? This is a real dilemma that Western Civilization has wrought. As Baudrillard put it somewhere, ‘we have painted ourselves into a corner…but there you are!’

It is doubtless that the comfort and predictability of our day to day lives ought to be enhanced by trust, civility and social solidarity. Groceries at the market and a “daily newspaper” are nice benefits and who wants to rock that boat? Mr. Assange apparently.

Why? Because he is some kind of raging “Anarchist” intent on nothing but mindless and hateful destruction? He does not follow those “rules of the road that govern driving” that Laina holds as a metaphor for ‘good civilization’. ( In the U.S. over 37,000 died on those roads last year.) I was taught that the rules of the road were honesty and openness and the “trust” was that you and I could be trusted with the truth. We all knew that governments and corporations are full of liars and deceitful self promoters. Now we have evidence that it is all of them. I can at least “trust” that I am being lied to and kept out of the loop.

I do not know what is meant by calling Mr. Assange a “devout anarchist”, other than its obvious intent as an insult. Mr. Assange’s alleged “anarchism” is tied immediately to Al Quaeda and some international “anarchist movement”? Is this the truth or just another cover story? The thinking about anarchism here needs clarification..

Al Quaeda and the ideal society they propose as exemplified in Sharia Law is the antithesis of anarchism. It is utter totalitarianism. They are very clear about the “rules of the road” and who is in charge of the “truth” and what exactly you need to know. They seem to feel the same way about their rules as Laina does about hers.

The state of anarchy that exists in Somalia does stand in stark contrast to my “mid-western’ sense of order. This state of anarchy is not the product of mad bombers and destroyers acting out their hatreds of governments and tyrants or deep anarchistic philosophical commitments. Philip Kaputo is well read as a testament to the ramifications and lingering wounds left by European Colonialism. Living in a “state of anarchy” does not require any anarchists nor does it require any personal commitment to anarchy. In this sense it merely indicates that a system or systems of a state organization are lacking or ineffective.

Anarchism deserves better. Leo Tolstoy, Peter Kropotkin, Michael Bakunin, Errico Malatesta, Emma Goldman, Murray Bookchin and the first President of the ISCSC, Pitirim Sorokin, who declared himself to be a “Conservative Christian Anarchist”, are but a few of the anarchists that have contributed much to political and social thought and to civilization in the most constructive ways. Here we may actually find a “devout anarchist”. I do not think there is a bomb-tossing, hate filled destroyer in the bunch. Certainly not Sorokin!

The contradictions found in late modern societies are not to be escaped by dialectical maneuvers. More challenging is the rapid and continued growth of global electronic communications that can guarantee journalistic oversight as promised by the Fifth Estate. On one hand, these information networks have been used by the state and by markets to ‘manage’ the people by making personal secrets and private information their domain. On the other hand, these same networks make keeping public secrets more difficult and the people less agreeable. It is not even possible to ‘clamp down’ or shut it off. Maybe governments will have to learn to be honest and open or we will have to acknowledge that it is a scam and we are the dupes. We painted ourselves into this corner.

And please don’t kill the messenger, if for no other reason than to avoid the irony of becoming what we hate: anarchists. Before we get Mr. Assange and “…locking him up for good” maybe we would want to know if he broke any laws. As of this morning he is not charged with any crime related to Wiki-leaks here or in any other jurisdiction. Here he would continue, in a civilized way, to be innocent until proven guilty should they trump up some charges, and still has the right to a trial and a defense before being locked up “for good”. If this is the progrom of the anti-anarchists, it is part and parcel of what needs to be exposed. I will stand with Sorokin as a Conservative Christian Anarchist and always support the demand for public’s right to know and be suspicious of states and nations as the notorious liars that they are.

By Richard Cronk

Monday, December 13, 2010

How Fragile is Civilization and How Thoughtless is Anarchy!

We in the developed world live in a civilization that would make our
ancestors giddy. We have rule of law, participatory government, literacy, property rights and contracts, and live with possessions never dreamed of by the most lavish emperors of the past. But the most important thing that characterizes our civilization is a culture of trust. We trust that we do not have to fear our neighbors, that the market always has food, that there is a system
of law enforcement that works quite well, and that rules of the road govern
driving. It is no small matter to me that I can smile at strangers and that
they smile back. What most Americans don’t know is how precious—and
rare---that heritage is!

I trust my sources: that the daily newspapers will arrive on time, that news magazines and some Television news will provide me with relatively accurate accounts of events, and that this entire system of trust has been our heritage after centuries of struggle to have just this sort of civilization. We have gotten used to it—and don’t realize how fragile it is.

Not every country in the world is our friend. In dealing with others, from the beginning of our country’s history, we have needed diplomats to be stationed in other countries, as others have diplomats stationed here. We depend upon these “eyes and ears” to provide our government with insights not available at a distance. This is one important leg of “intelligence.” We all gather it—and our enemies (and sometimes our friends) try to pierce each others communications. This is called spying, but it usually does not involve publishing the information., until now.

When English Queen Elizabeth I sent an ambassador to France the 16th century, he witnessed a nation-wide pogrom launched by the Catholic king against his Protestant Huguenot subjects. It was a massacre. He knew that this anti-Protestant campaign would next be focused on his queen. Knowing that he could not trust to a messenger to alert her, he had to wait until he could tell her about it privately.

Now we have been put in this position again, thanks to the work of a devout anarchist, the Australian Julien Assange, who believes that nobody should have secrets, except for himself and his clandestine cult. Assange trusts nobody and nothing—and as an anarchist, only knows how to destroy, not build. He has single-handedly assaulted that very trust at the core of our civilization: that we can talk to each other confidentially without having those confidences not only violated, but published.

The Anarchists really believe that there can be no brave new world of their imaginations until the civilizations of today are taken down. Assange is one kind of anarchist—but this movement takes other forms as well, most noteworthy Al Qaeda and other militant Islamists, with their murderous destruction and belief that they will have a perfect (imaginary) Muslim world in the future after destroying this one.

If you want to see what really comes with anarchy, we need only look at Yemen and the Horn of Africa—Somalia being one of the best examples—in which anarchists have or are in the process of destroying all semblance of government, law, and order. As once noted, life amidst anarchy is nasty, brutish, and short. Read Philip Kaputo’s novel, The Horn of Africa, for a brilliant picture of what life is like without the civilization of trust.

Some futurists have predicted that by mid-century a major cyber war will break out—possibly between the United States and China—a war fought in space. But nobody thought that the first volley of that war had already been fired—and we are going to have to confront the consequences and come up with defenses and remedies. This is not a blow for “freedom of the press.” It is a blow for destroying that freedom and all the other freedoms.

We can start by extraditing Mr. Assange and locking him up for good.

By Laina Farhat-Holzman
Santa Cruz Sentinel
December 11, 2010