Monday, April 23, 2007

Is there no hope? (a threnody on Korea and Mosul)

It is enough to point out that even though there is an overwhelming amount of public information that Bush started an aggressive war based on lies and blatant propaganda, nothing is done to bring this criminal to the bar. Or that his administration countenances torture, openly, and is treated with deference by all mainstream authorities.

I have given this much thought, but we are finished as a civilization, and certainly as any progressive force in history. Humanity itself is very unlikely to survive the coming world war. This war is guaranteed due to the irrational insistence on nation-state production and competition for international markets and raw materials (including competition over labor as a production input).

It could be a chicken-or-egg dilemma, but the other side of this is the epidemic of narcissistic self-indulgence and self-reference that ridicules knowledge and stubbornly refuses to learn from humanity's mistakes. In this sense, America has gotten the president it deserves in George W. Bush, a narcissistic, sociopath-type, who sees the end of his party's rule (or his class's rule) as coterminous with an apocalyptic end of days.

The anti-intellectualism of U.S. society has poisoned any reasoned discourse, drenched as it is in anti-Marxist, triumphalist ideologies that are shallow in the extreme, and ridiculous in the concrete.

Mistake after mistake, crime after bloody crime, mass murder after mass murder, from Korea and Vietnam to the sectarian killing fields of Iraq, the U.S. and its impressionistic train of pundits, media stars, would-be critical bloggers, and brainless idiots full of the certainty of their own mentalistic creations, pontificate, bluster or excuse the disaster that has been U.S. foreign policy. They have nothing to replace it with. Liberals wash their hands of Iraq, crying crocodile tears over civil war, leaving moral posturing about democracy and a better life to the vicious GOP, who have no intention of helping anyone, unless it means lining their own pockets and bringing billions into the coffers of American corporations.

Meanwhile, revelations come out, about torture, about U.S. mass murder of civilians in Korea, about sectarian killings, and the response is inured neglect. A collective shrug of the shoulders. What outrage is possible is displaced onto meaningful but lesser atrocities, like the firings of the U.S. attorneys. (And I've written on the latter myself, so this is not aimed at anyone in particular).

The Korean revelations, as written up [at Daily Kos] by OneCrankyDom (see link above), or by Stephen Soldz at his blog, can be read in more detail at the AP story, "Declassified documents confirms U.S. killed civilians during 'Korean War'".


A declassified U.S. Navy document confirms that on Sept. 1, 1950, the destroyer USS DeHaven, at the Army's request, opened fire on a refugee encampment on a beach near the southern South Korean port of Pohang. Survivors say 100 to 200 refugees — mostly women and children — were killed.


... 83 were killed, including many children. Declassified documents show that commanders of the U.S. 25th Infantry Division, operating in that area, had issued orders two weeks earlier to shoot civilians found in the war zone.


As many as 300 refugees were killed, many suffocated, on Jan. 20, 1951, when U.S. warplanes dropped apparent napalm firebombs at the entrance to a cavern where the South Koreans were sheltering 90 miles southeast of Seoul, survivors say....


Also in January 1951, south of Seoul, U.S. warplanes killed 300 South Korean refugees as they jammed into a storehouse at the village of Doon-po, survivors say....


In another napalm attack that month, U.S. warplanes struck Sansong village, 125 miles southeast of Seoul, killing 34 villagers, a declassified U.S. military document said. It quoted U.S. officials saying Sansong villagers had helped North Korean troops, who kept supplies there, but it also reported "no enemy casualties" in the strike. Survivors denied they had aided the enemy and said they had no warning to evacuate.

And then there's the 21 Yazidis pulled off a bus near Mosul and lined up and shot. It was a reprisal killing by Muslims for an earlier barbaric death by stoning of a Yazidi woman, whose crime was falling in love with a Muslim and converting to Islam. The stoning death was reportedly put onto the Internet. Here's one of many press stories covering this tragedy.

Finally, there's the insanity of nation-states fighting each other over the world's finite markets and resources. Some diaries at Daily Kos went mano a mano over this issue, while missing the main point: capitalist production and an insistence on holding world productive capacities to an organization by nation state or regional alliance is certain to lead, as it did previously in 1914 and 1939 to a new and massively horrific world war.

People who know absolutely nothing about history, but love the sound of their own voices and worship their own thoughts, sneer at the promise of socialism. The corpses of the millions killed by Stalin and Mao fertilize their well-meaning sermonizing (giving them the benefit of the doubt), while their consciences seem not to blanch at the millions killed by imperialist conquest and rivalry in World War I and II (and numerous other wars, or by the sectarian and nationalist conflicts of which Iraq and Bosnia are only two well-known recent examples). The shadow of Hiroshima seeps ominously into what's left of our souls.

No, there is no hope. Humanity is inexecrably stupid and cruel. This does not, irrationally enough, mean that I will abandon all hope myself. It is nobler to act as if the universe were moral, that good can triumph, that reason will achieve a revolution in human manners and civilization, that the very being of humankind will evolve into something higher and finer.

How calmly does the olive branch
observe the sky begin to blanch,
without a cry, without a prayer,
with no betrayal of despair!

Poem link

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