The image above is from Gaudi's spectacular Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. Jesus says to Judas, 'you have also betrayed me'. But he turns a bit too far and looks at us - those who enter the church - rather than Judas. This is a sculpture of complicity as much as betrayal. It reminds us of the dangers of silence when dangerous noises threaten our world.
This week, at Alternet, I have an essay on the Trump administration as The Final Administration. The worry here is the great disregard by this government to two of the gravest threats to the planet's longevity - climate catastrophe and militarism. Here's a taste of the essay,
As I write this, I am sitting not far from the small fishing village of Palomares, Spain, where a B-52 struck a KC-135 oil tanker at 31,000 feet. The B-52 broke apart and three of its four hydrogen bombs fell near the little village. The fourth fell into the Mediterranean Sea. The bombs that hit the land exploded on impact, but did not generate a nuclear explosion. Nonetheless, the area suffered great contamination. This was in 1966. Even now, snails are fished out of the waters with strange deformations. It is not the safest place to go for an afternoon swim.
As if by serendipity, the last time I was in this area, 20 years ago, I carried with me Jonathan Schell’s The Fate of the Earth (1982), one of the most powerful books on the prospects and outcomes of nuclear warfare. The descriptions by survivors?the hibakusha?which illustrate Schell’s book are deeply meaningful. There is one memory of a terrible noise as a survivor sees a horse, pink because its skin has fallen away, galloping down the street, shrieking. Schell quotes Torako Hironaka’s list of things she remembered, which included, 1. Some burned work-clothes. 5. A naked woman. 6. Naked girls crying ‘Stupid America’. 10. A field of watermelons. 12. What with dead cats, pigs and people, it was a just a hell on earth. The writings of the Hibakusha are sentinels of the feeling of near annihilation.
You can read the rest of the essay here.
The accusation that the Russians interfered in the US election will continue throughout this presidency. But, as I note in my report in Frontline, it misses the point. Trump's corruptions are not rooted in anything specific to the Russian connection or to his own personal peculiarities. He is the first president to come from the world of international business. Sniffs of corruption are natural in this world, where business is itself saturated with cronyism and various forms of social theft. One of the missed elements of the Trump agenda is his hatred for the US law - Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). It is an act that most of the US 1% despise. They would like to be immune from such gestures of reform. My column for Frontline ends with the following thought,
In 2012, Trump went public with his criticism of the FCPA. “Now every country goes into these places and they do what they have to do,” Trump said. What he meant is that international businesses are able to pay bribes and finance their activities with illicit money. This, for Trump, is normal as it is indeed normal in the world of business. What the Russia probe reveals is not so much Russian interference in the U.S. elections as the normal world of sleaze and corruption. This is the world that produced Donald Trump, petrodollars mingle here with the ill-gotten gains of the Russian oligarchy, swilling in the pigsties of U.S.-based international corporations. Trump cannot understand the outrage at his dealings, murky as they are, because these are normal in the world of big business. But he can be comforted with the news that Special Prosecutor Mueller and the Democrats are not interested in this much deeper root of corruption. It is enough for everyone to dance around the question of the hacks and the meetings. If anything, the investigation might reaffirm an old saw: that Russia, and only Russia, is too corrupt for international business. What it will not adopt is a new saw: that international business is too corrupt for the world.
To read the rest of the report, go here.
There is madness afoot in the United States. My colleague and friend Johnny Williams is the latest victim of the far right harassment of intellectuals. I am far away from all this now, but have tried to keep in touch. A misreading of a Facebook post that he had written has led to death threats, and now to his having to flee the state of Connecticut and go into hiding. My heart and strength to to him and his family. That fake news has the ability to produce such an outcome is a travesty.
A new erratic Crown Prince in Saudi Arabia, more threats against Iran and North Korea, lynching of Dalits in India around beef as a normal matter, famine stalking Sudan and Yemen - hope is hard to find in all this. Truly hard to find. But also imperative. In India, the Tamil Nadu Untouchability Eradication Front (TNUEF) led a 360 kms walk from Salem to Chennai in a demonstration against honour killings. These are killings mainly against Dalit men who marry non-Dalit women. It is an outrage. That is the bad side of history. But the good side is the struggle. The picture below is from Chennai, where TNUEF members and Communist Party of India (Marxist) activists clashed with the police as they marched in the city. Long may our struggles continue, and soon may our victories come.