Leftrants

All the news that doesn't fit on my other blog

16 notes

Gabriel García Márquez—a Rebel Against Form, an Artist Against the Forces of Oblivion

The climax of One Hundred Years of Solitude is famously based on a true historical event that took place shortly after García Márquez’s birth: in 1928, in the Magdalena banana zone on Colombia’s Caribbean coast, not far from where the author was born, the Colombian military opened fire on striking United Fruit Company plantation workers, killing an unknown number. In the novel, García Márquez uses this event to capture the profane fury of modern capital, so powerful it not only can dispossess land and command soldiers but control the weather. After the killing, the company’s US administrator, “Mr. Brown,” summons up an interminable whirlwind that washes away not only Macondo but any recollection of the massacre. The storm propels the reader forward toward the novel’s famous last line, where the last descendant of the Buendía family finds himself in a room reading a gypsy prophesy: everything he knew and loved would be “wiped out by the wind and exiled from the memory of men…because races condemned to one hundred years of solitude did not have a second opportunity on earth.”

It’s a powerful parable of imperialism. But the real wonder of the book is not the way it represented the past, including Colombia’s long history of violent civil war, but how it predicted the future.

One Hundred Years of Solitude first appeared in Spanish in Buenos Aires in May 1967, a moment when it was not at all clear that the forces of oblivion had the upper hand. That year, the Brazilian Paulo Freire, in exile in Chile and working with that country’s agrarian reform, published his first book, Education as the Practice of Freedom, which kicked off a revolution in pedagogy that shook Latin America’s top-down, learn-by-rote-memorization school system to its core. The armed and unarmed New Left, in Latin America and elsewhere, seemed to be in ascendance. In Chile, the Popular Unity coalition would soon elect Salvador Allende president. In Argentina, radical Peronists were on the march. Even in military-controlled Brazil, there was a thaw. Che in Bolivia still had a few months left.

In other words, the doom forecast in One Hundred Years was not at all foregone. But within just a few years of the novel’s publication, the tide, with Washington’s encouragement and Henry Kissinger’s blessing, turned. By the end of the 1970s, military regimes ruled the continent and Operation Condor was running a transnational assassination campaign. Then, in the 1980s in Central America, Washington would support genocide in Guatemala, death squads in El Salvador and homicidal “freedom fighters” in Nicaragua.

(Source: azspot)

9 notes

Clean and affordable water is the basis of life. Skyrocketing water prices, unsafe supply, failing infrastructure — these problems fall disproportionately on the most vulnerable among us. This is why public institutions, not private corporations, must lead the development of water systems and delivery. The World Bank Group is uniquely positioned to increase access to clean water for the billions who need it. Instead of using its position to line the pockets of water companies, it should support what is most needed: affordable and clean — and public — water for all.

Anna Lappe at Al Jazeera. World Bank Wants Water Privatized, Despite Risks 

Efforts endanger access to and pricing of life’s most precious resource

(via protoslacker)

1,251 notes


“Equality means everyone gets exactly the same outcome without regard to individual differences, which, in turn, ignores various starting points on the socioeconomic ladder due to circumstance or institutions like white supremacy and patriarchy. Equity, on the other hand, means everyone gets the same quality of outcome, and therefore it requires proactively rectifying issues of circumstance and institutionalized inequality in the manner, as Marx might say, from each according to their ability, to each according to their need.”
— Equality vs. Equity | AmericaWakieWakie

Equality means everyone gets exactly the same outcome without regard to individual differences, which, in turn, ignores various starting points on the socioeconomic ladder due to circumstance or institutions like white supremacy and patriarchy. Equity, on the other hand, means everyone gets the same quality of outcome, and therefore it requires proactively rectifying issues of circumstance and institutionalized inequality in the manner, as Marx might say, from each according to their ability, to each according to their need.”

Equality vs. Equity | AmericaWakieWakie

(via cultureofresistance)

47 notes

In America, violence and the threat of lethal force are the ways we communicate. Violence—the preferred form of control by the state—is an expression of our hatred, self-loathing and lust for vengeance. And this bloodletting will increasingly mark a nation in terminal decline.
The Rhetoric of Violence (via azspot)

(via azspot)

981 notes

When a white man kills an Indian in a fair fight it is called honorable, but when an Indian kills a white man in a fair fight it is called murder. When a white army battles Indians and wins it is called a great victory, but if they lose it is called a massacre and bigger armies are raised. If the Indian flees before the advance of such armies, when he tries to return he finds that white men are living where he lived. If he tries to fight off such armies, he is killed and the land is taken anyway. When an Indian is killed, it is a great loss which leaves a gap in our people and sorrow in our heart; when a white is killed three or four others step up to take his place and there is no end to it. The white man seeks to conquer nature, to bend it to his will and to use it wastefully until it is all gone and then he simply moves on, leaving the waste behind him and looking for new places to take. The whole white race is a monster who is always hungry and what he eats is land.
Chiksika, from Allen W. Eckert’s A Sorrow in Our Heart: The Life of Tecumseh (1992) (via america-wakiewakie)

(via cultureofresistance)

14 notes

From Chris Floyd - April 21, 2014

… Meanwhile, the beat goes on. On Monday, the Peace Prize Laureate launched his third drone strike in Yemen in as many days. (It is of course superfluous to point out that the United States is not at war with Yemen.) The latest strike followed one on Easter Sunday, when Barack Obama celebrated the Resurrection of his Lord and Saviour by killing 30 people in Yemen, by the usual courageous method of having an underling in a padded chair somewhere thousands of miles away courageously push a button while courageously viewing a video screen.

This heroic action was preceded by a strike on Saturday, in which 13 people were killed, including at least three civilians. This was purportedly a “signature strike,” a common practice in which the courageous Americans actually have no earthly idea who they are courageously killing from thousands of mile away — they just push the button because a bunch of people they are tracking seem to be “acting like” terrorists in some way or another. For all we know, all 13 people killed that day were civilians, like the 15 people on their way to a wedding whom the Peace Laurate killed last December.

In fact, we have no way of knowing if any of the dozens of people killed by the Peace Laureate during his busy Easter holiday were civilians or militants. Or what “civilian” and “militant” even mean in the context of the Peace Laureate’s never-ending violation of other nation’s sovereignty to kill people, many if not most of whom are completely unknown to him and his assassins.

We are simply told that all the shredded corpses are “al Qaeda militants.” Which of course leads to the question: Are these the same “al Qaeda militants” whom the United States is supporting in Syria, or the “al Qaeda militants” it supported in Libya, or are they some other kind of “al Qaeda” militants? If the “al Qaeda militants” in Yemen suddenly decided to aim their attacks on, say, Iran, would they suddenly become “good” or “moderate” al Qaeda militants, like we have in Syria? And are these Yemeni “al Qaeda militants” of a different stripe from the “al Qaeda militants” the West supported in, say, Bosnia, or Afghanistan?

Anyway, who cares? The point is that Obama’s peaceful, progressive expansion of the drone bombing and death squads initiated by George Bush is obviously quelling the spread of violent extremism. Whereas “al Qaeda” was once a handful of militants concentrated largely in one corner of Afghanistan, it is now a large, loose, proliferating confederation of violent extremists operating over vast swaths of Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Libya, Mali, Somalia, Nigeria and other countries. As both an ideological brand and physical force, “al Qaeda” is more powerful today than ever before — after 13 years of unrelenting “war on terror.” Every drone strike — and the deep, horrific, constant dread and fear instilled in the multitudes of innocent people who live under the dead eye of American drones, never knowing when and where the bolt may fall — are all incomparable recruiting tools for “al Qaeda militiants” around the world.

Every step taken in the blind, brutal “war on terror” has been counterproductive. Every step has increased terrorism, exacerbated hatred for America and the West, destabilized vast regions of the earth, destroyed all vestiges of constitutional government in the United States, militarized and corrupted Western democracies and visited unspeakable horror and suffering on millions of innocent people.

Yet it never stops. It just goes on and on, plunging the world deeper into darkness day by day, year by year. It’s done by icky conservatives like George Bush and Margaret Thatcher; it’s done by cool progressives like Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. No one, none of our leaders and would-be leaders, will call it off. They don’t know how. And they don’t want to. So they will go on bombing and killing — thus making even more “militants” to bomb and kill. They will pursue this literally insane course while the world burns up around them and their own nations fall to pieces.

(Source: theamericanbear)

481 notes


"Here in the United States, our high level of income inequality corresponds with 883, 914 unnecessary deaths each year… Put that into perspective. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), tobacco, including second-hand smoke, causes approximately 480,000 deaths every year, and in 2010, traffic accidents killed 33,687 people and 31,672 others died of gunshot wounds.
The mechanism by which a bullet or a car crash kills is readily apparent. Inequality is lethal in ways that are less obvious. It’s a silent killer – a deadly plague that we, as a society, tend not to acknowledge.”
— High Inequality Results in More US Deaths than Tobacco, Car Crashes and Guns Combined | Moyers & Co. (British Medical Journal Study)

"Here in the United States, our high level of income inequality corresponds with 883, 914 unnecessary deaths each year… Put that into perspective. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), tobacco, including second-hand smoke, causes approximately 480,000 deaths every year, and in 2010, traffic accidents killed 33,687 people and 31,672 others died of gunshot wounds.

The mechanism by which a bullet or a car crash kills is readily apparent. Inequality is lethal in ways that are less obvious. It’s a silent killer – a deadly plague that we, as a society, tend not to acknowledge.”

— High Inequality Results in More US Deaths than Tobacco, Car Crashes and Guns Combined | Moyers & Co. (British Medical Journal Study)

(Source: america-wakiewakie, via cultureofresistance)

4 notes

econsociology:

This groundbreaking book What ‪Money‬ Wants. An ‪Economy‬ of Desire will change the way you think about money.
What in everyday life is an obvious truth, namely, that in some sense or another, people want money— is basically unthinkable in economic terms. Herein lies the starting point for the main argument of this book. If desire for money in itself is rejected by economic thought, then an idea of money as on object of desire is a point of departure for an elaboration of a comprehensive alternative to contemporary ‪economics‬. Conceiving the desire for money not as an pathological aberration (“greed”) but as fundamental economic reality necessitates a radial shift not only in concept of money but also in conceptions of what commodity is, what economic behavior is, and what the economy is. So, what would economics look like if it acknowledged desire for money?
Through the works of Thorstein Veblen, Georg Simmel, Max ‪Weber‬ and Karl ‪Marx‬, a philosopher Noam Yuran in intellectually engaging manner shows how money permeates economic reality, from finance to its spectacular double in our consumer economy of addictive shopping. Rich in colorful and accessible examples, from Charles Dickens (juxtapositing him with Adam Smith) to Reality TV, this outstanding book debunks the mainstream economics perspective and lays out a radically different economic ontology.
Keith Hart: “When I read this book, I am alternately thrilled and enlightened, confused and frustrated… You just might be reading one of the formative tracts of our time.”Arjun Appadurai: “A brilliant book.”
Free access to the Preface by Keith Hart:
Free access to the Introduction

econsociology:

This groundbreaking book What Money‬ Wants. An Economy‬ of Desire will change the way you think about money.


What in everyday life is an obvious truth, namely, that in some sense or another, people want money— is basically unthinkable in economic terms. Herein lies the starting point for the main argument of this book. If desire for money in itself is rejected by economic thought, then an idea of money as on object of desire is a point of departure for an elaboration of a comprehensive alternative to contemporary economics‬. Conceiving the desire for money not as an pathological aberration (“greed”) but as fundamental economic reality necessitates a radial shift not only in concept of money but also in conceptions of what commodity is, what economic behavior is, and what the economy is. So, what would economics look like if it acknowledged desire for money?


Through the works of Thorstein Veblen, Georg Simmel, Max Weber‬ and Karl Marx‬, a philosopher Noam Yuran in intellectually engaging manner shows how money permeates economic reality, from finance to its spectacular double in our consumer economy of addictive shopping. Rich in colorful and accessible examples, from Charles Dickens (juxtapositing him with Adam Smith) to Reality TV, this outstanding book debunks the mainstream economics perspective and lays out a radically different economic ontology.

Keith Hart: “When I read this book, I am alternately thrilled and enlightened, confused and frustrated… You just might be reading one of the formative tracts of our time.”
Arjun Appadurai: “A brilliant book.”

Free access to the Preface by Keith Hart:

Free access to the Introduction

11 notes

sustainableprosperity:

"We Won’t Succumb to Threats": Journalists Return to U.S. For First Time Since Revealing NSA Spying

Published on Apr 14, 2014

http://www.democracynow.org - Ten months ago, Laura Poitras and Glenn Greenwald flew from New York to Hong Kong to meet National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden. Poitras and Greenwald did not return to the United States until this past Friday when they flew from Berlin to New York to accept the George Polk Award for National Security Reporting. They arrived not knowing if they would be detained or subpoenaed after Director of National Intelligence James Clapper described journalists working on the NSA story as Snowden’s “accomplices.” At a news conference following the George Polk Award ceremony, Poitras and Greenwald took questions from reporters about their reporting and the government intimidation it has sparked. 

Watch: All Democracy Now! interviews with Glenn Greenwald & Laura Poitras
http://www.democracynow.org/topics/ed…

Democracy Now!, is an independent global news hour that airs weekdays on 1,200+ TV and radio stations Monday through Friday. Watch our livestream 8-9am ET at http://www.democracynow.org.
Please consider supporting independent media by making a donation to Democracy Now! today, visit http://owl.li/ruJ5Q.




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(via cultureofresistance)

101 notes

nezua:

sikssaapo-p:

“Five Hundred Years of Injustice:
The Legacy of Fifteenth Century Religious Prejudiceby Steve NewcombWhen Christopher Columbus first set foot on the white sands of Guanahani island, he performed a ceremony to “take possession” of the land for the king and queen of Spain, acting under the international laws of Western Christendom. Although the story of Columbus’ “discovery” has taken on mythological proportions in most of the Western world, few people are aware that his act of “possession” was based on a religious doctrine now known in history as the Doctrine of Discovery. Even fewer people realize that today - five centuries later - the United States government still uses this archaic Judeo-Christian doctrine to deny the rights of Native American Indians.Origins of the Doctrine of DiscoveryTo understand the connection between Christendom’s principle of discovery and the laws of the United States, we need to begin by examining a papal document issued forty years before Columbus’ historic voyage. In 1452, Pope Nicholas V issued to King Alfonso V of Portugal the bull Romanus Pontifex, declaring war against all non-Christians throughout the world, and specifically sanctioning and promoting the conquest, colonization, and exploitation of non-Christian nations and their territories.Under various theological and legal doctrines formulated during and after the Crusades, non-Christians were considered enemies of the Catholic faith and, as such, less than human. Accordingly, in the bull of 1452, Pope Nicholas directed King Alfonso to “capture, vanquish, and subdue the saracens, pagans, and other enemies of Christ,” to “put them into perpetual slavery,” and “to take all their possessions and property.” [Davenport: 20-26] Acting on this papal privilege, Portugal continued to traffic in African slaves, and expanded its royal dominions by making “discoveries” along the western coast of Africa, claiming those lands as Portuguese territory.Thus, when Columbus sailed west across the Sea of Darkness in 1492 - with the express understanding that he was authorized to “take possession” of any lands he “discovered” that were “not under the dominion of any Christian rulers” - he and the Spanish sovereigns of Aragon and Castile were following an already well-established tradition of “discovery” and conquest. [Thacher:96] Indeed, after Columbus returned to Europe, Pope Alexander VI issued a papal document, the bull Inter Cetera of May 3, 1493, “granting” to Spain - at the request of Ferdinand and Isabella - the right to conquer the lands which Columbus had already found, as well as any lands which Spain might “discover” in the future.In the Inter Cetera document, Pope Alexander stated his desire that the “discovered” people be “subjugated and brought to the faith itself.” [Davenport:61] By this means, said the pope, the “Christian Empire” would be propagated. [Thacher:127] When Portugal protested this concession to Spain, Pope Alexander stipulated in a subsequent bull - issued May 4, 1493 - that Spain must not attempt to establish its dominion over lands which had already “come into the possession of any Christian lords.” [Davenport:68] Then, to placate the two rival monarchs, the pope drew a line of demarcation between the two poles, giving Spain rights of conquest and dominion over one side of the globe, and Portugal over the other.During this quincentennial of Columbus’ journey to the Americas, it is important to recognize that the grim acts of genocide and conquest committed by Columbus and his men against the peaceful Native people of the Caribbean were sanctioned by the above mentioned documents of the Catholic Church. Indeed, these papal documents were frequently used by Christian European conquerors in the Americas to justify an incredibly brutal system of colonization - which dehumanized the indigenous people by regarding their territories as being “inhabited only by brute animals.” [Story:135-6]The lesson to be learned is that the papal bulls of 1452 and 1493 are but two clear examples of how the “Christian Powers,” or “different States of Christendom,” viewed indigenous peoples as “the lawful spoil and prey of their civilized conquerors.” [Wheaton:270-1] In fact, the Christian “Law of Nations” asserted that Christian nations had a divine right, based on the Bible, to claim absolute title to and ultimate authority over any newly “discovered” Non-Christian inhabitants and their lands. Over the next several centuries, these beliefs gave rise to the Doctrine of Discovery used by Spain, Portugal, England, France, and Holland - all Christian nations.The Doctrine of Discovery in U.S. LawIn 1823, the Christian Doctrine of Discovery was quietly adopted into U.S. law by the Supreme Court in the celebrated case, Johnson v. McIntosh (8 Wheat., 543). Writing for a unanimous court, Chief Justice John Marshall observed that Christian European nations had assumed “ultimate dominion” over the lands of America during the Age of Discovery, and that - upon “discovery” - the Indians had lost “their rights to complete sovereignty, as independent nations,” and only retained a right of “occupancy” in their lands. In other words, Indians nations were subject to the ultimate authority of the first nation of Christendom to claim possession of a given region of Indian lands. [Johnson:574; Wheaton:270-1]According to Marshall, the United States - upon winning its independence in 1776 - became a successor nation to the right of “discovery” and acquired the power of “dominion” from Great Britain. [Johnson:587-9] Of course, when Marshall first defined the principle of “discovery,” he used language phrased in such a way that it drew attention away from its religious bias, stating that “discovery gave title to the government, by whose subject, or by whose authority, the discovery was made, against all other European governments.” [Johnson:573-4] However, when discussing legal precedent to support the court’s findings, Marshall specifically cited the English charter issued to the explorer John Cabot, in order to document England’s “complete recognition” of the Doctrine of Discovery. [Johnson:576] Then, paraphrasing the language of the charter, Marshall noted that Cabot was authorized to take possession of lands, “notwithstanding the occupancy of the natives, who were heathens, and, at the same time, admitting the prior title of any Christian people who may have made a previous discovery.” [Johnson:577]In other words, the Court affirmed that United States law was based on a fundamental rule of the “Law of Nations” - that it was permissible to virtually ignore the most basic rights of indigenous “heathens,” and to claim that the “unoccupied lands” of America rightfully belonged to discovering Christian European nations. Of course, it’s important to understand that, as Benjamin Munn Ziegler pointed out in The International Law of John Marshall, the term “unoccupied lands” referred to “the lands in America which, when discovered, were ‘occupied by Indians’ but ‘unoccupied’ by Christians.” [Ziegler:46]Ironically, the same year that the Johnson v. McIntosh decision was handed down, founding father James Madison wrote: “Religion is not in the purview of human government. Religion is essentially distinct from civil government, and exempt from its cognizance; a connection between them is injurious to both.”Most of us have been brought up to believe that the United States Constitution was designed to keep church and state apart. Unfortunately, with the Johnson decision, the Christian Doctrine of Discovery was not only written into U.S. law but also became the cornerstone of U.S. Indian policy over the next century.From Doctrine of Discovery to Domestic Dependent NationsUsing the principle of “discovery” as its premise, the Supreme Court stated in 1831 that the Cherokee Nation (and, by implication, all Indian nations) was not fully sovereign, but “may, perhaps,” be deemed a “domestic dependent nation.” [Cherokee Nation v. Georgia] The federal government took this to mean that treaties made with Indian nations did not recognize Indian nations as free of U.S. control. According to the U.S. government, Indian nations were “domestic dependent nations” subject to the federal government’s absolute legislative authority - known in the law as “plenary power.” Thus, the ancient doctrine of Christian discovery and its subjugation of “heathen” Indians were extended by the federal government into a mythical doctrine that the U.S. Constitution allows for governmental authority over Indian nations and their lands. [Savage:59-60]The myth of U.S. “plenary power” over Indians - a power, by the way, that was never intended by the authors of the Constitution [Savage:115-17] - has been used by the United States to: Circumvent the terms of solemn treaties that the U.S. entered into with Indian nations, despite the fact that all such treaties are “supreme Law of the Land, anything in the Constitution notwithstanding.”Steal the homelands of Indian peoples living east of the Mississippi River, by removing them from their traditional ancestral homelands through the Indian Removal Act of1835.Use a congressional statute, known as the General Allotment Act of 1887, to divest Indian people of some 90 million acres of their lands. This act, explained John Collier (Commissioner of Indian Affairs) was “an indirect method - peacefully under the forms of law - of taking away the land that we were determined to take away but did not want to take it openly by breaking the treaties.”Steal the sacred Black Hills from the Great Sioux nation in violation of the 1868 Treaty of Fort Laramie which recognized the Sioux Nation’s exclusive and absolute possession of their lands.Pay the Secretary of the Interior $26 million for 24 million acres of Western Shoshone lands, because the Western Shoshone people have steadfastly refused to sell the land and refused to accept the money. Although the Western Shoshone Nation’s sovereignty and territorial boundaries were clearly recognized by the federal government in the 1863 Ruby Valley Treaty, the government now claims that paying itself on behalf of the Western Shoshone has extinguished the Western Shoshone’s title to their lands.The above cases are just a few examples of how the United States government has used the Johnson v. McIntosh and Cherokee Nation v. Georgia decisions to callously disregard the human rights of Native peoples. Indeed, countless U.S. Indian policies have been based on the underlying, hidden rationale of “Christian discovery” - a rationale which holds that the “heathen” indigenous peoples of the Americas are “subordinate to the first Christian discoverer,” or its successor. [Wheaton:271]As Thomas Jefferson once observed, when the state uses church doctrine as a coercive tool, the result is “hypocrisy and meanness.” Unfortunately, the United States Supreme Court’s use of the ancient Christian Doctrine of Discovery - to circumvent the Constitution as a means of taking Indian lands and placing Indian nations under U.S. control - has proven Madison and Jefferson right.Bringing an End to Five Hundred Years of Injustice to Indigenous PeoplesIn a country set up to maintain a strict separation of church and state, the Doctrine of Discovery should have long ago been declared unconstitutional because it is based on a prejudicial treatment of Native American people simply because they were not Christians at the time of European arrival. By penalizing Native people on the basis of their non-Christian religious beliefs and ceremonial practices, stripping them of most of their lands and most of their sovereignty, the Johnson v. McIntosh ruling stands as a monumental violation of the “natural rights” of humankind, as well as the most fundamental human rights of indigenous peoples.As we move beyond the quincentennial of Columbus’ invasion of the Americas, it is high time to formally renounce and put an end to the religious prejudice that was written into U.S. law by Chief Justice John Marshall. Whether or not the American people - especially the Christian right - prove willing to assist Native people in getting the Johnson ruling overturned will say a lot to the world community about just how seriously the United States takes its own foundational principles of liberty, justice, and religious freedom. As we approach the 500th anniversary of the Inter Cetera bulls on May 3 and 4 of 1993, it is important to keep in mind that the Doctrine of Discovery is still being used by countries throughout the Americas to deny the rights of indigenous peoples, and to perpetuate colonization throughout the Western Hemisphere. To begin to bring that system of colonization to an end, and to move away from a cultural and spiritual tradition of subjugation, we must overturn the doctrine at its roots. Therefore, I propose that non-Native people - especially Christians - unite in solidarity with indigenous peoples of the Western Hemisphere to impress upon Pope John Paul II how important it is for him to revoke, in a formal ceremony with indigenous people, the Inter Cetera bulls of 1493.Revoking those papal documents and overturning the Johnson v. McIntosh decision are two important first steps toward correcting the injustices that have been inflicted on indigenous peoples over the past five hundred years. They are also spiritually significant steps toward creating a way of life that is no longer based on greed and subjugation. Perhaps then we will be able to use our newfound solidarity to begin to create a lifestyle based on the first indigenous principle: “Respect the Earth and have a Sacred Regard for All Living Things.”ReferencesCherokee Nation v. Georgia 30 U.S. (5 Pet.) 1, 8 L.Ed. 25 (1831).Davenport, Frances Gardiner, 19l7, European Treaties bearing on the History of the United States and its Dependencies to 1648, Vol. 1, Washington, D.C.: Carnegie Institution of Washington.Johnson and Graham’s Lessee V McIntosh 21 U.S. (8 Wheat.) 543, 5 L.Ed. 681(1823). Rivera-Pagan, Luis N., 1991, “Cross Preceded Sword in ‘Discovery’ of the Americas,” in Yakima Nation Review, 1991, Oct. 4.Story, Joseph, 1833, Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States Vol. 1 Boston: Little, Brown & Co.Thacher, John Boyd, 1903, Christopher Columbus Vol. 11, New York: G.P. Putman’s Sons.Williamson, James A., 1962, The Cabot Voyages And Bristol Discovery Under Henry VII, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Wheaton, Henry, 1855, Elements of International Law, Sixth Edition, Boston: Little Brown, and Co.Ziegler, Benjamin Munn, 1939, The International Law of John Marshall, Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press” (source)

Know your history, discover your power, dispel the illusions of justice muttered like mantras by murderers.

nezua:

sikssaapo-p:

Five Hundred Years of Injustice:

The Legacy of Fifteenth Century Religious Prejudice
by Steve Newcomb

When Christopher Columbus first set foot on the white sands of Guanahani island, he performed a ceremony to “take possession” of the land for the king and queen of Spain, acting under the international laws of Western Christendom. Although the story of Columbus’ “discovery” has taken on mythological proportions in most of the Western world, few people are aware that his act of “possession” was based on a religious doctrine now known in history as the Doctrine of Discovery. Even fewer people realize that today - five centuries later - the United States government still uses this archaic Judeo-Christian doctrine to deny the rights of Native American Indians.

Origins of the Doctrine of Discovery

To understand the connection between Christendom’s principle of discovery and the laws of the United States, we need to begin by examining a papal document issued forty years before Columbus’ historic voyage. In 1452, Pope Nicholas V issued to King Alfonso V of Portugal the bull Romanus Pontifex, declaring war against all non-Christians throughout the world, and specifically sanctioning and promoting the conquest, colonization, and exploitation of non-Christian nations and their territories.

Under various theological and legal doctrines formulated during and after the Crusades, non-Christians were considered enemies of the Catholic faith and, as such, less than human. Accordingly, in the bull of 1452, Pope Nicholas directed King Alfonso to “capture, vanquish, and subdue the saracens, pagans, and other enemies of Christ,” to “put them into perpetual slavery,” and “to take all their possessions and property.” [Davenport: 20-26] Acting on this papal privilege, Portugal continued to traffic in African slaves, and expanded its royal dominions by making “discoveries” along the western coast of Africa, claiming those lands as Portuguese territory.

Thus, when Columbus sailed west across the Sea of Darkness in 1492 - with the express understanding that he was authorized to “take possession” of any lands he “discovered” that were “not under the dominion of any Christian rulers” - he and the Spanish sovereigns of Aragon and Castile were following an already well-established tradition of “discovery” and conquest. [Thacher:96] Indeed, after Columbus returned to Europe, Pope Alexander VI issued a papal document, the bull Inter Cetera of May 3, 1493, “granting” to Spain - at the request of Ferdinand and Isabella - the right to conquer the lands which Columbus had already found, as well as any lands which Spain might “discover” in the future.

In the Inter Cetera document, Pope Alexander stated his desire that the “discovered” people be “subjugated and brought to the faith itself.” [Davenport:61] By this means, said the pope, the “Christian Empire” would be propagated. [Thacher:127] When Portugal protested this concession to Spain, Pope Alexander stipulated in a subsequent bull - issued May 4, 1493 - that Spain must not attempt to establish its dominion over lands which had already “come into the possession of any Christian lords.” [Davenport:68] Then, to placate the two rival monarchs, the pope drew a line of demarcation between the two poles, giving Spain rights of conquest and dominion over one side of the globe, and Portugal over the other.

During this quincentennial of Columbus’ journey to the Americas, it is important to recognize that the grim acts of genocide and conquest committed by Columbus and his men against the peaceful Native people of the Caribbean were sanctioned by the above mentioned documents of the Catholic Church. Indeed, these papal documents were frequently used by Christian European conquerors in the Americas to justify an incredibly brutal system of colonization - which dehumanized the indigenous people by regarding their territories as being “inhabited only by brute animals.” [Story:135-6]

The lesson to be learned is that the papal bulls of 1452 and 1493 are but two clear examples of how the “Christian Powers,” or “different States of Christendom,” viewed indigenous peoples as “the lawful spoil and prey of their civilized conquerors.” [Wheaton:270-1] In fact, the Christian “Law of Nations” asserted that Christian nations had a divine right, based on the Bible, to claim absolute title to and ultimate authority over any newly “discovered” Non-Christian inhabitants and their lands. Over the next several centuries, these beliefs gave rise to the Doctrine of Discovery used by Spain, Portugal, England, France, and Holland - all Christian nations.

The Doctrine of Discovery in U.S. Law

In 1823, the Christian Doctrine of Discovery was quietly adopted into U.S. law by the Supreme Court in the celebrated case, Johnson v. McIntosh (8 Wheat., 543). Writing for a unanimous court, Chief Justice John Marshall observed that Christian European nations had assumed “ultimate dominion” over the lands of America during the Age of Discovery, and that - upon “discovery” - the Indians had lost “their rights to complete sovereignty, as independent nations,” and only retained a right of “occupancy” in their lands. In other words, Indians nations were subject to the ultimate authority of the first nation of Christendom to claim possession of a given region of Indian lands. [Johnson:574; Wheaton:270-1]

According to Marshall, the United States - upon winning its independence in 1776 - became a successor nation to the right of “discovery” and acquired the power of “dominion” from Great Britain. [Johnson:587-9] Of course, when Marshall first defined the principle of “discovery,” he used language phrased in such a way that it drew attention away from its religious bias, stating that “discovery gave title to the government, by whose subject, or by whose authority, the discovery was made, against all other European governments.” [Johnson:573-4] However, when discussing legal precedent to support the court’s findings, Marshall specifically cited the English charter issued to the explorer John Cabot, in order to document England’s “complete recognition” of the Doctrine of Discovery. [Johnson:576] Then, paraphrasing the language of the charter, Marshall noted that Cabot was authorized to take possession of lands, “notwithstanding the occupancy of the natives, who were heathens, and, at the same time, admitting the prior title of any Christian people who may have made a previous discovery.” [Johnson:577]

In other words, the Court affirmed that United States law was based on a fundamental rule of the “Law of Nations” - that it was permissible to virtually ignore the most basic rights of indigenous “heathens,” and to claim that the “unoccupied lands” of America rightfully belonged to discovering Christian European nations. Of course, it’s important to understand that, as Benjamin Munn Ziegler pointed out in The International Law of John Marshall, the term “unoccupied lands” referred to “the lands in America which, when discovered, were ‘occupied by Indians’ but ‘unoccupied’ by Christians.” [Ziegler:46]

Ironically, the same year that the Johnson v. McIntosh decision was handed down, founding father James Madison wrote: “Religion is not in the purview of human government. Religion is essentially distinct from civil government, and exempt from its cognizance; a connection between them is injurious to both.”

Most of us have been brought up to believe that the United States Constitution was designed to keep church and state apart. Unfortunately, with the Johnson decision, the Christian Doctrine of Discovery was not only written into U.S. law but also became the cornerstone of U.S. Indian policy over the next century.

From Doctrine of Discovery to Domestic Dependent Nations

Using the principle of “discovery” as its premise, the Supreme Court stated in 1831 that the Cherokee Nation (and, by implication, all Indian nations) was not fully sovereign, but “may, perhaps,” be deemed a “domestic dependent nation.” [Cherokee Nation v. Georgia] The federal government took this to mean that treaties made with Indian nations did not recognize Indian nations as free of U.S. control. According to the U.S. government, Indian nations were “domestic dependent nations” subject to the federal government’s absolute legislative authority - known in the law as “plenary power.” Thus, the ancient doctrine of Christian discovery and its subjugation of “heathen” Indians were extended by the federal government into a mythical doctrine that the U.S. Constitution allows for governmental authority over Indian nations and their lands. [Savage:59-60]

The myth of U.S. “plenary power” over Indians - a power, by the way, that was never intended by the authors of the Constitution [Savage:115-17] - has been used by the United States to: Circumvent the terms of solemn treaties that the U.S. entered into with Indian nations, despite the fact that all such treaties are “supreme Law of the Land, anything in the Constitution notwithstanding.”

Steal the homelands of Indian peoples living east of the Mississippi River, by removing them from their traditional ancestral homelands through the Indian Removal Act of
1835.

Use a congressional statute, known as the General Allotment Act of 1887, to divest Indian people of some 90 million acres of their lands. This act, explained John Collier (Commissioner of Indian Affairs) was “an indirect method - peacefully under the forms of law - of taking away the land that we were determined to take away but did not want to take it openly by breaking the treaties.”

Steal the sacred Black Hills from the Great Sioux nation in violation of the 1868 Treaty of Fort Laramie which recognized the Sioux Nation’s exclusive and absolute possession of their lands.

Pay the Secretary of the Interior $26 million for 24 million acres of Western Shoshone lands, because the Western Shoshone people have steadfastly refused to sell the land and refused to accept the money. Although the Western Shoshone Nation’s sovereignty and territorial boundaries were clearly recognized by the federal government in the 1863 Ruby Valley Treaty, the government now claims that paying itself on behalf of the Western Shoshone has extinguished the Western Shoshone’s title to their lands.

The above cases are just a few examples of how the United States government has used the Johnson v. McIntosh and Cherokee Nation v. Georgia decisions to callously disregard the human rights of Native peoples. Indeed, countless U.S. Indian policies have been based on the underlying, hidden rationale of “Christian discovery” - a rationale which holds that the “heathen” indigenous peoples of the Americas are “subordinate to the first Christian discoverer,” or its successor. [Wheaton:271]

As Thomas Jefferson once observed, when the state uses church doctrine as a coercive tool, the result is “hypocrisy and meanness.” Unfortunately, the United States Supreme Court’s use of the ancient Christian Doctrine of Discovery - to circumvent the Constitution as a means of taking Indian lands and placing Indian nations under U.S. control - has proven Madison and Jefferson right.

Bringing an End to Five Hundred Years of Injustice to Indigenous Peoples

In a country set up to maintain a strict separation of church and state, the Doctrine of Discovery should have long ago been declared unconstitutional because it is based on a prejudicial treatment of Native American people simply because they were not Christians at the time of European arrival. By penalizing Native people on the basis of their non-Christian religious beliefs and ceremonial practices, stripping them of most of their lands and most of their sovereignty, the Johnson v. McIntosh ruling stands as a monumental violation of the “natural rights” of humankind, as well as the most fundamental human rights of indigenous peoples.

As we move beyond the quincentennial of Columbus’ invasion of the Americas, it is high time to formally renounce and put an end to the religious prejudice that was written into U.S. law by Chief Justice John Marshall. Whether or not the American people - especially the Christian right - prove willing to assist Native people in getting the Johnson ruling overturned will say a lot to the world community about just how seriously the United States takes its own foundational principles of liberty, justice, and religious freedom. 

As we approach the 500th anniversary of the Inter Cetera bulls on May 3 and 4 of 1993, it is important to keep in mind that the Doctrine of Discovery is still being used by countries throughout the Americas to deny the rights of indigenous peoples, and to perpetuate colonization throughout the Western Hemisphere. To begin to bring that system of colonization to an end, and to move away from a cultural and spiritual tradition of subjugation, we must overturn the doctrine at its roots. Therefore, I propose that non-Native people - especially Christians - unite in solidarity with indigenous peoples of the Western Hemisphere to impress upon Pope John Paul II how important it is for him to revoke, in a formal ceremony with indigenous people, the Inter Cetera bulls of 1493.

Revoking those papal documents and overturning the Johnson v. McIntosh decision are two important first steps toward correcting the injustices that have been inflicted on indigenous peoples over the past five hundred years. They are also spiritually significant steps toward creating a way of life that is no longer based on greed and subjugation. Perhaps then we will be able to use our newfound solidarity to begin to create a lifestyle based on the first indigenous principle: “Respect the Earth and have a Sacred Regard for All Living Things.”

References

Cherokee Nation v. Georgia 30 U.S. (5 Pet.) 1, 8 L.Ed. 25 (1831).

Davenport, Frances Gardiner, 19l7, European Treaties bearing on the History of the United States and its Dependencies to 1648, Vol. 1, Washington, D.C.: Carnegie Institution of Washington.

Johnson and Graham’s Lessee V McIntosh 21 U.S. (8 Wheat.) 543, 5 L.Ed. 681(1823). Rivera-Pagan, Luis N., 1991, “Cross Preceded Sword in ‘Discovery’ of the Americas,” in Yakima Nation Review, 1991, Oct. 4.

Story, Joseph, 1833, Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States Vol. 1 Boston: Little, Brown & Co.

Thacher, John Boyd, 1903, Christopher Columbus Vol. 11, New York: G.P. Putman’s Sons.

Williamson, James A., 1962, The Cabot Voyages And Bristol Discovery Under Henry VII, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Wheaton, Henry, 1855, Elements of International Law, Sixth Edition, Boston: Little Brown, and Co.

Ziegler, Benjamin Munn, 1939, The International Law of John Marshall, Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press” (source)

Know your history, discover your power, dispel the illusions of justice muttered like mantras by murderers.

(via cultureofresistance)

58 notes

We now have a choice in this country. We can either continue going down the road to oligarchy, the road we’ve been on since the Reagan years, or we can choose to go on the road to a more pluralistic society with working class people able to make it into the middle class. We can’t have both.
And if we want to go down the road to letting working people back into the middle class, it all starts with taxing the rich.
Thom Hartmann (via azspot)

(via azspot)

Filed under taxes justice oligarchy wealth gap the economy Thom Hartmann

27 notes

We Built This Country on Inequality

I admit to tuning out most conversations surrounding income and/or wealth inequality in the United States. It’s not because I don’t find these conversations important; they are vital. The problem is that I always hear the issue of inequality situated around what has happened in the last thirty or forty years, which ignores the fact this is a nation built on inequality. The wealth gap didn’t spring up from policy gone awry—it is the policy. This country was founded on the idea of concentrating wealth in the hands of a few white men. That that persists today isn’t a flaw in the design. Everything is working as the founders intended.

The source of that inequality has changed, as the past thirty/forty years have been dominated by the financial class and rampant executive corruption, but the American economy has always required inequality to function. Even times of great prosperity, where the wealth gap decreased, inequality was necessary. The post-WWII period is notable for the lowest levels of inequality in the modern era, but the drivers of that prosperity (the GI Bill, construction of the highway system, low-interest home loans) deliberately left black people out, and the moments of robust public investment that have benefited racial minorities and women have always been followed by a resurgence of concern over government spending and “state’s rights.”

Our job, then, if we’re serious about forming a society of true equality, is to interrogate and uproot the ideologies that created the original imbalance. In other words, we can’t deal with income/wealth inequality without also reckoning with white supremacy and patriarchy.

(Source: azspot)

Filed under inequality wealth oligarchy patriarchy economics injustice

431 notes

Top 5 Secrets of the Private Prison Industry

sinidentidades:

There are 2.3 million prisoners behind bars in the United States, costing the federal government about $55 billion a year. Ten percent of all prisons in the U.S. are privately operated. The Daily Ticker embarked on an investigation to take you behind the scenes of this unique and secretive industry.

In 1984 the Corrections Corporation of America (CXW) revolutionized the way prisons in the United States operate. The company took over a prison facility in Hamilton County, Tennessee — the first time a private operator was contracted to run a jail. More prison companies were created and contracts continued to flow — between 1990 and 2010 the number of privately operated prisons in the U.S. increased 1600%. The increase in privately operated prisons has outpaced both the growth of public prison facilities and even the U.S. population.

Private prisons bring in about $3 billion in revenue annually, and over half of that comes from holding facilities for undocumented immigrants. Private operations run between 50% to 55% of immigrant detainment facilities. The immigration bill battling its way through Washington right now might also mean good things for private prisons. Some estimate that the crackdown on undocumented immigrants will lead to 14,000 more inmates annually with 80% of that business going to private prisons.

The prison industry has also made money by contracting prison labor to private companies. The companies that have benefited from this cheap labor include Starbucks (SBUX), Boeing (BA), Victoria’s Secret, McDonalds (MCD) and even the U.S. military. Prison laborers cost between 93 cents and $4 a day and don’t need to collect benefits, thus making them cheap employees.

Federal Prison Industries, a company that contracts out prison labor, made over $900 million in revenue last year. FPI has prisoners working in apparel, clean energy, printing, document conversion and call centers. While FPI claims that prisoners are gaining real-world skills and learning trades, some argue otherwise.

“This is a threat to not just established industries; it’s a threat to emerging industries,” says Representative Bill Huizenga (R-Mich).

While CCA and the GEO Group claim that private prisons bolster competition and efficiency in the prison system, Christopher Petrella, a prison policy analyst and author, argues that it’s the opposite.

“What’s fascinating is that two companies alone constitute 75% of the entire ‘private prisons market’ and so often the two companies will make claims that competition ends up bringing efficiency and efficacy into the marketplace and their services but unfortunately is creating a duopoly,” he says.

Corrections Corporation of America and The GEO Group made $1.7 and $1.6 billion in annual revenue last year. CCA operates 67 federal and local facilities and has about 40% market share while the GEO Group operates 95 prisons in the U.S. and abroad.

These companies are not classified as correctional facilitators; they consider themselves real estate investment trusts, or REITs, to limit corporate tax liability. Corrections Corporation of America and The GEO Group derive about 40% of their revenue from the federal government — and are exempt from paying federal taxes.

(via cultureofresistance)