The Barber and the Rev

This is the first in a series of short documentaries exploring Martin Luther King through a different lens. Nelson Malden was King’s barber from the moment King came to Montgomery to just before his assassination. This is the beginning of their story.

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Writing on War

As this century began, I was writing War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning, my reflections on two decades as a war correspondent, 15 of them with the New York Times, in Central America, the Middle East, Africa, Bosnia, and Kosovo. I worked in a small, sparsely furnished studio apartment on First Avenue in New York City. The room had a desk, chair, futon, and a couple of bookshelves — not enough to accommodate my extensive library, leaving piles of books stacked against the wall. The single window overlooked a back alley.

The super, who lived in the first-floor apartment, smoked prodigious amounts of weed, leaving the grimy lobby stinking of pot. When he found out I was writing a book, he suggested I chronicle his moment of glory during the six days of clashes known as the Stonewall Riots, triggered by a 1969 police raid on the Stonewall Inn, a gay club in Greenwich Village. He claimed he had thrown a trash can through the front window of a police cruiser.

It was a solitary life, broken by periodic visits to a small antique bookstore in the neighborhood that had a copy of the 1910-1911 Encyclopedia Britannica, the last edition published for scholars. I couldn’t afford it, but the owner generously let me read entries from those 29 volumes written by the likes of Algernon Charles Swinburne, John Muir,

— source | Chris Hedges | Oct 25, 2022

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Reading Proust in War

During the war in Bosnia, I worked my way through the seven volumes of Marcel Proust’s “In Search of Lost Time.” The novel, populated with 400 characters, was not an escape from the war. The specter of death and the expiring world of La Belle Époque haunts Proust’s work. He wrote it as he was dying; in fact, Proust was making corrections to the manuscript the night before his death in his hermetically sealed, cork-lined bedroom in Paris.

The novel was a lens that allowed me to reflect on the disintegration, delusions and mortality around me. Proust gave me the words to describe aspects of the human condition I knew instinctively, but had trouble articulating. He elucidates the conflicting ways we perceive reality, exacerbated in war, and how each of us comes to our own peculiar and self-serving truths. He explores the fragility of human goodness, the seduction and hollowness of power and social status, the inconstancy of the human heart and racism, especially antisemitism.

Those who see in his work a retreat from the world are poor readers of Proust. His power is his Freudian understanding of the subterranean forces that shape human existence. The

— source | Chris Hedges | Nov 20, 2022

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People Do Have Power

With the midterm elections four weeks away, we spend the rest of the hour with the sociologist, the activist, the legendary Frances Fox Piven. She turned 90 on Monday. Frances Fox Piven is a longtime social movement scholar, distinguished professor emerita of political science and sociology at the City University of New York Graduate Center. Her groundbreaking books include Regulating the Poor and Poor People’s Movements: Why They Succeed, How They Fail with her late husband and collaborator Richard Cloward. Her other books include Challenging Authority: How Ordinary People Change America and Why Americans Still Don’t Vote: And Why Politicians Want It That Way.

we’re at a kind of crisis juncture in American development and in the world’s development. But we’ve been there before. Democracy — we think of the United States as a democratic country. It’s always been a very limited democracy. And what kind of — what democratic rights we have have always been fought for. We didn’t get them automatically, and we didn’t get them with the agreement of the propertied classes in the United States. So, American history is punctuated by bitter fights over the contest between a kind of authoritarianism and democracy. And we’re at another juncture of a bitter contest about democratic rights.

And it’s complicated because it isn’t necessarily all the people, the ordinary people, who fight for democracy. People — all sorts of cults have a grip on American development. And the very complexity of

— source | Oct 11, 2022

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The Good Priest

During the two years the cartoonist Joe Sacco and I spent on our book Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt, written out of the poorest pockets of America, we invariably encountered heroic men and women who — against overwhelming odds — rose up to fight lonely and often losing battles on behalf of the oppressed. Bill Means, Charlie Abourezk and Leonard Crow Dog in Pine Ridge, South Dakota. Larry Gibson and Judy Bonds in the coal fields of West Virginia. Lucas Benitez, Laura Germano and Greg Abbot in the produce fields of Florida. The men and women in Zuccotti Park during the Occupy Wall Street movement. 

When set against the crushing poverty, environmental degradation, corporate abuse and despair they opposed, the victories they amassed were often miniscule. And yet, to them, and to the people they were able to support, these victories were immense. They kept alive kindness, community, decency, hope and justice. They provided another way to speak about the world. They reminded us that our primary task in life is to care for others. These moral giants, by their very presence and steadfast refusal to surrender, damned the avarice, lust for power, hedonism and violence that define corporate culture.

Joe and I met Father Michael Doyle in Camden, New Jersey, one of the poorest cities and most dangerous in the United States. Father Doyle, an Irish priest and poet with ruddy

— source | Chris Hedges | Nov 13, 2022

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A Deficit Spending Scam Destroyed UK’s Prime Minister

“Most of what passes as “the economic policy we need now” is really pleading by a self-interested employer class. Raising interest rates to fight inflation is the big example these days. Among the forms and fields of class struggle, debunking economic policies’ claims of being class neutral is an ongoing battle.”

With its disguises as “high finance” for the mystified and “Keynesian fiscal policy” for those “in the know,” deficit spending by the government was quite a successful scam for a long while. When the UK’s ex-prime minister opened her new government in September, Liz Truss followed tradition by trying to run the oft-used scam again. But this time it did not work. Eventually, even successful scams stop working. Its failure became hers but also her party’s, the Conservatives.’ Neither of them understood the scam’s limits. Perhaps its disguises had worked best on those who repeated them most in thought and word.

In its UK version, the deficit spending scam entailed the Conservative (but also some Labor) governments repeatedly cutting taxes on corporations and the rich. Serving their donors explains most of this. Without this scam, such behavior would have forced governments to act in traditional ways they now sought to avoid. One way would be to raise taxes

— source | Richard Wolff | Nov 06, 2022

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The Politicians Who Destroyed Our Democracy Want Us to Vote for Them to Save It

The bipartisan project of dismantling our democracy, which took place over the last few decades on behalf of corporations and the rich, has left only the outward shell of democracy. The courts, legislative bodies, the executive branch and the media, including public broadcasting, are captive to corporate power. There is no institution left that can be considered authentically democratic. The corporate coup d’état is over. They won. We lost.

The wreckage of this neoliberal project is appalling: endless and futile wars to enrich a military-industrial-complex that bleeds the U.S. Treasury of half of all discretionary spending; deindustrialization that has turned U.S. cities into decayed ruins; the slashing and privatization of social programs, including education, utility services and health care – which saw over one million Americans account for one-fifth of global deaths from Covid, although we are 4 percent of the world’s population; draconian forms of social control embodied in militarized police, functioning as lethal armies of occupation in poor urban areas; the largest prison system in the world; a virtual tax boycott by the richest individuals and corporations; money-saturated elections that perpetuate our system of legalized bribery; and the most intrusive state surveillance of the citizenry in our history.

In “The United States of Amnesia,” to quote Gore Vidal, the corporate press and the ruling class create fictional feel-good personas for candidates, treat all political campaigns

— source | Chris Hedges | Nov 6, 2022

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Social media is a ‘cancer to democracy’

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) called Facebook a “cancer to democracy” in a tweet on Thursday shortly after the company announced that it was changing its corporate name to Meta to better represent its focus on building the metaverse. “Meta as in “we are a cancer to democracy metastasizing into a global surveillance and propaganda machine for boosting authoritarian regimes and destroying civil society… for profit!” said Ocasio-Cortez on Thursday. Earlier this month, Facebook’s years of scandals reached a boiling point when the Wall Street Journal published several articles on the company’s own research provided by whistleblower Frances Haugen. Weeks later, Haugen testified before the Senate Commerce Committee’s subcommittee on consumer protection, outlining how platforms like Instagram harm children and teens.

— source | 2021/10/29

[but all social media are social control media, damaging humanhood.]

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Tom Henehan: A revolutionary life

Yesterday, October 16, marked the 45th anniversary of the assassination of Tom Henehan, a member of the political committee of the Workers League—the predecessor of the Socialist Equality Party in the US.

On October 19, 1997, the SEP held a meeting in Ann Arbor to commemorate the 20th anniversary of Tom Henehan’s death.

Below we post the tribute to Tom that then SEP National Secretary David North delivered at the meeting. This lecture is also available in pamphlet form at Mehring Books.

On the evening of October 15, 1977, Tom was supervising an activity sponsored by the Young Socialists, the party’s youth movement, in Brooklyn, New York. Two men, later identified as Edwin Sequinot and Angel Rodriguez, started a disturbance by attacking another Workers League member, Jacques Vielot. As Tom rushed to Vielot’s aid, he was shot five times by a third assailant lying in wait, a professional gunman named Angelo Torres. Sequinot then pulled out a gun and shot Vielot, severely wounding him. The injured Vielot rushed Tom to Wyckoff Heights Hospital. Tom died approximately an hour after arriving at the hospital, in the early morning hours of October 16. He was 26 years old.

— source | David North | 16 Oct 2022

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