When I hear someone say that soldiers “defend our freedom,” my immediate response is to gag. I think the last time American soldiers actually fought for the freedom of Americans was probably the Revolutionary War — or maybe the War of 1812, if you want to be generous. Every war since then has been for nothing but to uphold a system of power, and to make the rich folks even richer.
But I can think of one exception. If there’s a soldier anywhere in the world who’s fought and suffered for my freedom, it’s Pfc. Bradley Manning.
Manning is frequently portrayed, among the knuckle-draggers on right-wing message boards, as some sort of spoiled brat or ingrate, acting on an adolescent whim. But that’s not quite what happened, according to Johann Hari (“The under-appreciated heroes of 2010,” The Independent, Dec. 24).
Manning, like many young soldiers, joined up in the naive belief that he was defending the freedom of his fellow Americans. When he got to Iraq, he found himself working under orders “to round up and hand over Iraqi civilians to America’s new Iraqi allies, who he could see were then torturing them with electrical drills and other implements.” The people he arrested, and handed over for torture, were guilty of such “crimes” as writing “scholarly critiques” of the U.S. occupation forces and its puppet government. When he expressed his moral reservations to his supervisor, Manning “was told to shut up and get back to herding up Iraqis.”
The people Manning saw tortured, by the way, were frequently the very same people who had been tortured by Saddam: trade unionists, members of the Iraqi Freedom Congress, and other freedom-loving people who had no more use for Halliburton and Blackwater than they had for the Baath Party.
For exposing his government’s crimes against humanity, Manning has spent seven months in solitary confinement – a torture deliberately calculated to break the human mind.
We see a lot of “serious thinkers” on the op-ed pages and talking head shows, people like David Gergen, Chris Matthews and Michael Kinsley, going on about all the stuff that Manning’s leaks have impaired the ability of “our government” to do.
He’s impaired the ability of the U.S. government to conduct diplomacy in pursuit of some fabled “national interest” that I supposedly have in common with Microsoft, Wal-Mart and Disney. He’s risked untold numbers of innocent lives, according to the very same people who have ordered the deaths of untold thousands of innocent people. According to White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, Manning’s exposure of secret U.S. collusion with authoritarian governments in the Middle East, to promote policies that their peoples would find abhorrent, undermines America’s ability to promote “democracy, open government, and free and open societies.”
But I’ll tell you what Manning’s really impaired government’s ability to do.
He’s impaired the U.S. government’s ability to lie us into wars where thousands of Americans and tens of thousands of foreigners are murdered.
He’s impaired its ability to use such wars — under the guise of promoting “democracy” — to install puppet governments like the Coalition Provisional Authority, that will rubber stamp neoliberal “free trade” agreements (including harsh “intellectual property” provisions written by the proprietary content industries) and cut special deals with American crony capitalists.
He’s impaired its ability to seize good, decent people who — unlike most soldiers — really are fighting for freedom, and hand them over to thuggish governments for torture with power tools.
Let’s get something straight. Bradley Manning may be a criminal by the standards of the American state. But by all human standards of morality, the government and its functionaries that Manning exposed to the light of day are criminals. And Manning is a hero of freedom for doing it.
So if you’re one of the authoritarian state-worshippers, one of the grovelling sycophants of power, who are cheering on Manning’s punishment and calling for even harsher treatment, all I can say is that you’d probably have been there at the crucifixion urging Pontius Pilate to lay the lashes on a little harder. You’d have told the Nazis where Anne Frank was hiding. You’re unworthy of the freedoms which so many heroes and martyrs throughout history — heroes like Bradley Manning — have fought to give you.
C4SS Research Associate Kevin Carson is a contemporary mutualist author and individualist anarchist whose written work includes Studies in Mutualist Political Economy, Organization Theory: An Individualist Anarchist Perspective, and The Homebrew Industrial Revolution: A Low-Overhead Manifesto, all of which are freely available online. Carson has also written for such print publications as The Freeman: Ideas on Liberty and a variety of internet-based journals and blogs, including Just Things, The Art of the Possible, the P2P Foundation and his own Mutualist Blog.
I'm starting work soon on two new series of prints.
The first of these is inspired by my longstanding love of jazz and blues. I hope to have about six images in the set, in editions of no more than 10 for each image, so this will be a strictly limited production. I'm still putting some ideas down as sketches, but it is likely that these prints will incorporate various different print media, probably screenprinting or linocut plus some digital elements.
The second will build on these digital prints that you can see here on flickr. These are based on Neolitihic rock art found in Northumberland and Scotland. The pictures shows images made entirely digitally, but the new set will, as with the Jazz set, be 'hybrids' incorporating various print forms.
Image by ibanda via Flickr
I'm also looking at new ways of selling these prints. One option I'm considering is a sort of 'Print of the Month Club' where you would subscribe to receive over the year one or both of these sets. If you take only one set you would get a print every other month. I appreciate that this implies a certain amount of trust on your part but the deal I'm thinking about would include the option to cancel your subscription at any time and also to return any print that you were unhappy with for any reason. Guide price per print would be around Â£50.00, but that may vary depending on the final images. You would pay a proportion of the cost of production for the whole series, probably 30% with the balance due in stages with each print.
To find out more as I develop the idea, please sign up for my mailing list using the form in the sidebar on the right. The next edition will be going out at the beginning of January so if you sign up soon, I may have more information available by then.
People ask, “How would voluntary institutions in a stateless society prevent something like the BP oil spill?” I don’t know — how did government prevent it?
The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread.
(Anatole France: The Red Lily, 1894)
I've been experimenting with various ways of combining 'traditional' media with digital. Of course the definitive work on this is probably Digital Art Studio but even so I'm sure there is much to be still discovered.
I have many images that have gone from a photo through a process of manipulation and digital 'painting' to create a digital print. I have also used digital images to create a solar etching and used a scanned drawing to create a digital print. This however is among the first that is genuinely mixed media. The background in this case is a screenprint, while the figure is printed digitally. The digital inks appear to have bonded with no apparent problems to the acrylic base.
I have also made a version using a scanned monoprint for the background.
Image for sale. It isn't on my web site yet, so contact me for details.
...the police encourage chaos by threatning to kettle people – at every demo now, people are premptively breaking out of agreed protest routes whenever there’s the slightest whiff of a kettle about to be set up. Ironically, the threat of kettling has served to make protests more unpredictable, and less easy to control for either police or organisers.
I think he is probably right. Detaining people in freezing weather for several hours for no other reason than that they are on a legal protest is not exactly the best way to promote good relations between police and demonstrators. It is pretty clear that in these circumstances, the police see themselves as the last line of defence against the anarchist hordes. Since those 'anarchists' are inside the country they are become more and more an occupying force and not, as Robert Peel would have it, as being members of the same public as the protestors.
It’s a common observation, to the point of triteness, that we tend to hate those traits in others that we’re prone to ourselves. But maybe there’s something to it when it comes to one country’s perception of another.
One of the diplomatic cables recently released by Wikileaks is a document from last February by Johnnie Carson — Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs — in Lagos, Nigeria. In it he bemoaned the “aggressive and pernicious” nature of Chinese policy in Africa.
Aggressive, eh? Why, mercy me, whatever could they have done? Maintained a “defense” budget almost as large as those of the rest of the world put together? Deployed a navy with a dozen carrier groups capable of raining death from the skies on any country that defied their will? Formulated a national security doctrine which explicitly calls for China to remain the world’s sole superpower forever and ever, and to prevent any other power from ever arising to challenge its hegemony?
According to Carson (no relation), China is not only an “aggressive and pernicious economic competitor.” It also has “no morals.” Not only that, but “China is not in Africa for altruistic reasons.” Unlike the United States, which “will continue to push democracy and capitalism,” what the Chinese promote is “authoritarian capitalism.”
I vaguely recall reading some stuff about another non-altruistic economic competitor that did things like secretly write draft “intellectual property” law for the Spanish parliament. And a few years earlier, this aggressive and pernicious country got its puppet “Provisional Authority” in Iraq to rubber-stamp laws handing over state industry to Western corporations on sweetheart terms and instituting a draconian “intellectual property” regime. (The one thing the Iraqi puppet government most decidedly did not change was Saddam’s anti-union laws.) I guess it’s all in a day’s work when you’re pushing democracy and capitalism.
Still, Carson said, China has not yet emerged as a direct security threat. He enunciated several criteria for recognizing such an eventuality when it does occur:
“Have they signed military base agreements? Are they training armies? Have they developed intelligence operations? Once these areas start developing then the US will start worrying.”
Gawd, yes! Because we can’t have a country building military bases and deploying military advisers all over the place, can we? Not to mention conducting intelligence operations!
It’s a good thing we’ve got the United States putting its military bases and advisers all over the world, intervening in the affairs of other countries, telling everyone what to do, and blasting the living daylights out of anyone who disobeys. And it’s a good thing the United States is pushing democracy and capitalism by strong-arming other countries into passing laws conducive to the interests of American corporations.
Otherwise, some aggressive power with no morals might emerge and start doing non-altruistic things.
By C4SS Research Associate Kevin Carson. Kevin is a contemporary mutualist author and individualist anarchist whose written work includes Studies in Mutualist Political Economy, Organization Theory: An Individualist Anarchist Perspective, and The Homebrew Industrial Revolution: A Low-Overhead Manifesto, all of which are freely available online. Carson has also written for such print publications as The Freeman: Ideas on Liberty and a variety of internet-based journals and blogs, including Just Things, The Art of the Possible, the P2P Foundation and his own Mutualist Blog.