Rainy Sunday Night Blues

February 23, 2003

National Nightmare

Since the week of George W. Bush's inauguration I've had a printout tacked up on my bulletin board of a brilliant article The Onion. It quotes George W. as saying, "Our long national nightmare of peace and prosperity is finally over."

It's remarkable how on-target that article was. The junta wasted not a minute enacting its brutal agenda of world empire. Mere moments after he took the oath of office, Bush was sitting with a grinning Trent Lott nullifying executive orders of Clinton one after another in a stack. The regime's attack on democratic institutions, civil rights and the poor of the world began immediately and continues without a break day in and day out. Every day at least one monstrous outrage. Efficiency is one thing you have to give them. Or maybe it's just relentlessness.

In the fantasy inaugural speech in The Onion, Bush promised, "at least one" war during his term. How moderate that seems now that he has promised us unending war for a generation. I knew that Bush would pick up the war agenda that his father was forced to give up because of that varmint Clinton. CNN was broadcasting a new logo of war with Iraq "The Unfinished War" even before Bush was inaugurated. Like plenty of others with some familiarity with the Bush family, I knew the push for war would be on. But I didn't imagine how blatantly and aggressively antidemocratic the Bush adminstration would turn out to be. And I certainly never suspected anything as spectacularly horrific as the WTC attacks as a point from which they could ratchet up the agenda far beyond what had ever been seen, or would ever have been tolerated in the US before.

The 911 attack was the incident they needed to really kick their agenda into high gear. They had their Patriot Act, their Doctrine of Constitutional Nullification, all ready to go. When some senators pushed for time to discuss, or even read the bill, they were accused of being aligned with the terrorists, and a round of deadly biological weapons was sent to some principal voices of dissent in the Democratic party. The Senate was closed, the bill was rammed through. Now they have another more intensified Patriot II ready to go, so presumably the long-awaited Next Big Catastrophe is in the wings, to provide the opportunity to ram another one through.

The question still hangs: Will Americans let this hijacking of their free society go forth? The demonstrations of tens of millions around the world on February 15 were an impressive display of the latent power of populations when aroused and focused by injustice.

For a long time after the December 2000 coup, it appeared that Americans were quiet. I think they were just drowned out -- even their thoughts were drowned out -- by the ubiquitous corporate media. But as the agenda has moved from coup to an unprovoked attack on a Third World oil rich country, to dismantling of the Bill of Rights and on and on, one outrage after another, a lot of people have woken up. They finally poked through the veil of the media to visibility. Now we are getting a glimpse of the size of a massive movement. And the people who are opposed to the war against Iraq seen each other, and experienced their own numbers and the energy it represents. Now resistance is coming forth from a thousand quarters at once.

Authorities make attempts to suppress it, but the people are like liquid. We will pour through whatever holes or cracks there are. We are the energy that runs the system. If you push us far enough, we may rebel. And if enough of us are aroused, we will be irresistible.

It is a law of behavioral physics that if you put a wall up, people will try to knock it down. Now, as we have seen in CBS's attempt to keep artists from speaking out for peace at the Grammy ceremony, the establishment is now pushed to the point of having to actively suppress a point of view that does not support war. They took a pro-war position in saying they would unplug antiwar comments. As a news medium they would like to be characterized as "unbiased," "objective." As not taking a position opposed to a majority of their customers. Obviously that's not the case. It's a deadly error for anyone to consider today's corporate broadcasting networks to be anything remotely resembling a "free press."

Step one is to turn off television news. Cleanse your mind of the poison of the Ministry of Information. And then undertake every act of noncompliance with the war machine and its media that you can. It doesn't have to be dangerous. Just watch for opportunities to exercise your power as a citizen and as a consumer in knowing, directed ways. Abbie Hoffman said revolution is anything you can get away with. If you don't get away with it, you may not be able to play in the next round. Millions of small acts will change the world.

Americans have appeared very docile in this recent period in history, but I think we may have been seeing a tolerance which is now running short. People are becoming aroused and speaking out and taking action in many spheres of activity simultaneously. The battle up to now has largely been a right-wing assault against the poor and middle class, meeting practically no resistance. Almost no politicians have taken up the cause of the people against the corporate elite because all are dependent on the corporate elite for their donations. But things may have just gone too far now. The outrages have piled so high now, the people may be taking matters into their own hands, asserting their rights as citizens to de-throne politicians who do not represent them.

As the Bush administration pushes relentlessly forward with a war that a massive majority of the world is vehemently opposed to, we are seeing an approaching confrontation between corporate power and democratic power that could be huge. Up to now, the former has seemed virtually invincible, and the latter weak and timid. But there are signs that this is about to change radically. By the simple mathematics of the situation, the huge numbers that the administration has been screwing repeatedly to enrich the greedy few, create a natural bloc of opposition. It's a faction that is huge, but has up to now exerted little political power. They've left the workings of Washington to the corporate lobbies. So their vast numbers didn't matter.

But if the pressure from the administration continues, it may reach a threshold at which the population becomes galvanized self-aware. Then we will see the power of the sleeping giant.

We can wake up from this nightmare.

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