Thursday, January 20, 2005

Z-Mag Jan 2005

Z Magazine, the published face of the excellent Z-Net website is appealing for subscriptions - apparently the number of print subs has been falling. They are offering a special subscription rate for a limited period here.

Here's the contents list for January 2005, hopefully as an incentive to support this valuable resource for the left.

JOURNAL OF THE 18TH YEAR: The State of Z by Z Staff

DEMOCRACY WATCH: The Non-Election of 2004
Noam Chomsky
After noting some points of despair after the Bush elections Chomsky argues these elections didn't tell; us that much.
"Though significant in their consequences, the elections tell us very little about the state of the country, or the popular mood. There are, however, other sources from which we can learn a great deal that carries important lessons. Public opinion in the U.S. is intensively monitored and, while caution and care in interpretation are always necessary, these studies are valuable resources. We can also see why the results, though public, are kept under wraps by the doctrinal institutions. That is true of major and highly informative studies of public opinion released right before the election, notably by the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations (CCFR) and the Program on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland (PIPA), to which I will return.
One conclusion is that the elections conferred no mandate for anything, in fact, barely took place, in any serious sense... "

Talking about the right-wing election victories of the 1980s Chomsky says they were:
" part of the powerful backlash against the terrifying "crisis of democracy" of the 1960s, which threatened to democratize the society, and, despite enormous efforts to crush this threat to order and discipline, has had far-reaching effects on consciousness and social practices. The post-1960s era has been marked by substantial growth of popular movements dedicated to greater justice and freedom and unwillingness to tolerate the brutal aggression and violence that had previously been granted free rein."

"It is easy to demonstrate that for Bush planners, the threat of terror is a low priority."

Instead the war in Iraq can be seen as the valuable "opportunity to establish the first secure military bases in a dependent client state at the heart of the world's major energy reserves, a region understood since World War II to be the "most strategically important area of the world," "a stupendous source of strategic power, and one of the greatest material prizes in world history." Apart from what one historian of the industry calls "profits beyond the dreams of avarice," which must flow in the right direction, control over two-thirds of the world's estimated hydrocarbon reserves- uniquely cheap and easy to exploit-provides what Zbigniew Brzezinski recently called "critical leverage" over European and Asian rivals, what George Kennan many years earlier had called "veto power" over them. These have been crucial policy concerns throughout the post-World War II period, even more so in today's evolving tripolar world, with its threat that Europe and Asia might move towards greater independence, and worse, might be united: China and the EU became each other's major trading partners in 2004, joined by the world's second largest economy (Japan), and those tendencies are likely to increase. A firm hand on the spigot reduces these dangers.

Note that the critical issue is control, not access. U.S. policies towards the Middle East were the same when it was a net exporter of oil, and remain the same today when U.S. intelligence projects that the U.S. will rely on more stable Atlantic Basin resources. Policies would be likely to be about the same if the U.S. were to switch to renewable energy. The need to control the "stupendous source of strategic power" and to gain "profits beyond the dreams of avarice" would remain. Jockeying over Central Asia and pipeline routes reflects similar concerns. "

Meanwhile: "A large majority of the public believe that the U.S. should accept the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court and the World Court, sign the Kyoto protocols, allow the UN to take the lead in international crises, and rely on diplomatic and economic measures more than military ones in the "war on terror." Similar majorities believe the U.S. should resort to force only if there is "strong evidence that the country is in imminent danger of being attacked," thus rejecting the bipartisan consensus on "pre-emptive war" and adopting a rather conventional interpretation of the UN Charter. A majority even favor giving up the Security Council veto, hence following the UN lead even if it is not the preference of U.S. state managers. When official Administration moderate Colin Powell is quoted in the press as saying that Bush "has won a mandate from the American people to continue pursuing his 'aggressive' foreign policy," he is relying on the conventional assumption that popular opinion is irrelevant to policy choices by those in charge.

In brief, we learn very little of any significance from the elections, but we can learn a lot from the studies of public attitudes that are kept in the shadows. Though it is natural for doctrinal systems to try to induce pessimism, hopelessness, and despair, the real lessons are quite different. They are encouraging and hopeful. They show that there are substantial opportunities for education and organizing, including the development of potential electoral alternatives. As in the past, rights will not be granted by benevolent authorities, or won by intermittent actions-a few large demonstrations after which one goes home, or pushing a lever in the personalized quadrennial extravaganzas that are depicted as "democratic politics." As always in the past, the tasks require day-to-day engagement to create-in part re-create-the basis for a functioning democratic culture in which the public plays some role in determining policies, not only in the political arena from which it is largely excluded, but also in the crucial economic arena, from which it is excluded in principle. "

Also in this issue:
Holly Sklar
What a country, our United States. We haven't had a woman president. We haven't had a black president. We haven't had a Latino or Native American president. But we've had two George Bushes...

FOG WATCH: "They Kill Reporters, Don't They?"
Edward S. Herman
It has long been a problem for the U.S. imperial establishment that using their ever-improving arsenal of death, in projecting power from Vietnam to Iraq, kills large numbers of target state civilians...

REVOLUTION: Chiapas: Ten Years Later
Chris Arsenault interviews John Ross
It's been ten years since the Zapatistas of Chiapas, Mexico launched their rebellion to create "a world where many worlds fit"...

ORGANIZING: ¡No Más! No More! We Must Stop The Dirty Wars!
Elizabeth Martinez reports on SOAW
As 16,000 people listened, the names of 767 Salvadorans massacred at a single village rang out, one after the other...

MEDIA BEAT: The PU-litzer Prizes for 2004
Norman Solomon
The PU-litzer Prizes were established a dozen years ago to provide special recognition for truly smelly media performances...

PRIVACY: Automating Camera Surveillance
Andrew Kalukin
With practice, you can recognize the video spies in the city of Washington, DC....

DRUG POLICY: Dealing in Death: Bush's FDA
Don Monkerud
After years of supposedly protecting the public from dangerous food and drugs, the FDA has embarked on a path to protect corporate profits at all costs. Even death is no obstacle...

Bill Berkowitz
In October 2003, Rep. Grace Napolitano (D-CA) introduced House Concurrent Resolution 292, which expressed "the sense of Congress that Congress should adopt and implement the goals and recommendations provided by the President's New Freedom Commission on Mental Health ...

REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS: Abstinence Only Education
Eleanor Bader
Dr. Kimber Haddix McKay, an anthropologist who teaches Human Sexuality at the University of Montana-Missoula, thought it would be a good idea to expose her students to those who promote sexual abstinence until marriage...

GENDER & RACE: Alan Keyes, the Republicans, & Abortion Debates William Johnson
Shortly after entering the Illinois Senate race, Republican Keyes called Democratic Senatorial candidate Barack Obama's pro-choice views on abortion "the slaveholder's position"...

GAY & LESBIAN NOTES: The Problem with Martyrs
Michael Bronski
The moment ABC's "20/20" announced it would air an hour-long show on the "real facts" behind the 1998 Matthew Shepard murder, controversies began to swirl....

EYES RIGHT: The Days After
Nikhil Aziz, Chip Berlet, Pam Chamberlain, & Palak Shah
It is indeed a sad day when progressives and liberals bemoan the departure of Colin Powell as Secretary of State...

ASIA: Taming the "Banana Republic"
Ben Moxham on the U.S. in East Timor
In March of last year, a USAID-funded kid's book released in East Timor provoked outrage....

ENERGY: New Nukes!
Michael Steinberg
They didn't wait long. In a November 4, 2004 press release, the Department of Energy "announced awards to two nuclear utility-led consortia"...

Z PAPERS ON VISION: Architecture of the New Society
Chris Spannos
Every city is a deeply interconnected web of spatial designs and patterns. From the urban to the suburban, our built environment is carved into commercial and residential areas....

BOOK REVIEW: Blue Gold by Maude Barlow & Tony Clarke Review by Tom Gallagher
In 1998, the World Bank refused to guarantee a $25 million dollar loan for an upgrade of Cochabamba, Bolivia's water system ...

BOOK REVIEW: Voices of a People's History of the U.S. edited by Howard Zinn and Anthony Arnove. Review by Paul Buhle
This volume is a reader's treasure trove of original documents that supplement the famed People's History.


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