Noam Chomsky (interview)

from Truthout:

It is quite remarkable to see how little concern top planners show for the prospects of their own destruction — not a novelty in world affairs (those who initiated wars often ended up devastated) but now on a hugely different scale. We see that from the earliest days of the atomic age. The US at first was virtually invulnerable, though there was one serious threat on the horizon: ICBMs [intercontinental ballistic missiles] with hydrogen bomb warheads. Archival research has now confirmed what was surmised earlier: there was no plan, not even a thought, of reaching a treaty agreement that would have banned these weapons, though there is good reason to believe that it might have been feasible. The same attitudes prevail right to the present, where the vast buildup of forces right at the traditional invasion route into Russia is posing a serious threat of nuclear war.

… the vast buildup of forces right at the traditional invasion route into Russia is posing a serious threat of nuclear war
—Noam Chomsky


This Is Water: DFW at Kenyon (2005)

David Foster Wallace gave the commencement speech at Kenyon College in 2005. The transcript link in the footnote is to an uncut version. The article link is to a page on the Kenyon website that gives some background and includes in a sidebar a link to an edited transcript.

* * *

the takeaway:

We need “way more than luck” to change from individual being, our “natural default setting of being uniquely, completely, imperially alone day in and day out” to shared being, a “well-adjusted” setting of being aware of being, with “awareness of what is so real and essential, so hidden in plain sight all around us, all the time, that we have to keep reminding ourselves over and over: This is water. This is water.”

It will be within your power to experience a crowded, loud, slow, consumer-hell-type situation as not only meaningful but sacred, on fire with the same force that lit the stars – compassion, love, the sub-surface unity of all things. Not that that mystical stuff’s necessarily true: the only thing that’s capital-T True is that you get to decide how you’re going to try to see it. You get to consciously decide what has meaning and what doesn’t. You get to decide what to worship.
—David Foster Wallace

see also:

the “single dogma” (Hermann Hesse)* – unity (sub-surface or otherwise)

quote :: transcript :: duplicate :: edited :: article :: *search :: communion :: comment

the Atlantic slave trade

from The Independent:

The shocking scale of British slave ownership has been revealed in scores of official records which have found that thousands of modern-day Britons are related to owners who received huge sums in compensation when the trade was abolished.

A five-year project by University College London has compiled the identities of 46,000 Britons who owned slaves, mainly in the West Indies, on the day slavery was abolished in 1833.

David Cameron, Benedict Cumberbatch, Ben Affleck and George Orwell are just some of the high profile descendants of the slave owners revealed in the files.

Records from the Slave Compensation Commission show that some 800,000 Africans were freed upon abolition after being kept as legal property.

Upon their liberation the Commission paid out the modern equivalent of £17 billion in compensation to the UK’s tens of thousands of owners – the largest government pay-out prior to the bailout of the banks in 2009.

The colossal sum represented 40 per cent of government expenditure in 1834.

compensation: equivalent today of $30,000 (US) per formerly enslaved person

so on average each former owner received 800/46 times that: $520,000 (US)


inside the imperial palace

Matt Taibbi:

The maddening thing about the Democrats is that they refuse to see how easy they could have it. If the party threw its weight behind a truly populist platform, if it stood behind unions and prosecuted Wall Street criminals and stopped taking giant gobs of cash from every crooked transnational bank and job-exporting manufacturer in the world, they would win every election season in a landslide.

This is especially the case now that the Republican Party has collapsed under the weight of its own nativist lunacy. It’s exactly the moment when the Democrats should feel free to become a real party of ordinary working people.

But they won’t do that, because they don’t see what just happened this year as a message rising up from millions of voters.

Politicians are so used to viewing the electorate as a giant thing to be manipulated that no matter what happens at the ballot, they usually can only focus on the Washington-based characters they perceive to be pulling the strings. Through this lens, the uprising among Democratic voters this year wasn’t an organic expression of mass disgust, but wholly the fault of Bernie Sanders, who within the Beltway is viewed as an oddball amateur and radical who jumped the line.

Nobody saw his campaign as an honest effort to restore power to voters, because nobody in the capital even knows what that is. In the rules of palace intrigue, Sanders only made sense as a kind of self-centered huckster who made a failed play for power. And the narrative will be that with him out of the picture, the crisis is over. No person, no problem.

This inability to grasp that the problem is bigger than Bernie Sanders is a huge red flag. As Thacker puts it, the theme of this election year was widespread anger toward both parties, and both the Trump craziness and the near-miss with Sanders should have served as a warning. “The Democrats should be worried they’re next,” he says.

But they’re not worried. Behind the palace walls, nobody ever is.

read more