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This is Michael Albert conveying another free ZNet Update to those who have entered their email address to receive these at http://www.zmag.org and reminding you that at that same place, further down the page, you can also remove yourself from the list should you wish to.
Of course we have been adding more links and articles to ZNet, even since the last update:
-- A major new Instructional On Economics ( http://www.zmag.org/instructs.htm )
-- An SEP site update ( http://www.zmag.org/sep/sep.htm )
-- A new Activism Watch update ( http://www.zmag.org/bulletins/activismbull.htm )
-- And of course new Kosovo pages ( http://www.zmag.org/zmag/kosovo.htm ) from, among others: Edward Herman at http://www.zmag.org/Commentaries/april_25herman.htm and Saul Landau at http://www.zmag.org/landau.htm .
We've also added a section of song lyrics to the Kosovo pages that I feel speak to the issue. These will be changed every few days--those now online are from Bob Dylan, John Lennon, and Phil Ochs.
And finally, because it is a central part of organizing, I also want to remind you to look at the ZNet Commentary Program Page ( http://www.zmag.org/donorform.htm ) and the page of hugely discounted options that we are currently offering for subscribing to Z (http://www.zmag.org/offer.htm ). Each of these choices will not only bring
you a much more substantial source of information and analysis than our free Updates, it will also, if you participate, help finance ZNet and all our operations.
But now, in light of the fact that we are at war, mostly I want to use this (extra) ZNet Update to try to convey something that will be useful in how you address the current events.
When confronting a horrible war machine if one doesn't meekly obey the mass
media's marching orders, one's eyes may open very wide, and not only to immediate events,
but to broader matters as well. It can be overwhelming to face the full extent of
one's country's crimes. We sometimes shut down to the truth before it snags us too fully,
or bog down in feelings of hopelessness about the truth weĂve admitted, or lash out in an
anger that leads nowhere.
The Kosovo Talking Points I sent a few days ago yielded an unexpected but huge call for more material that spoke in a similar voice. I am thus sending the following piece as a tool, I hope, to help keep us in touch with horrible facts of our world, while moving us to act on them constructively.
I also hope you will stay in touch with ZNet and its Kosovo pages for more analytic and indepth historical material. BUT, please, if you can possibly avoid it, do not reply directly to me by email. I can┤t keep up with the traffic using these tools. Instead, if you want to discuss the contents of this or other writings or other matters with me or with other folks concerned about the war, why not try the ZNet public forum system meant expressly for that purpose? You can read about it and become involved via http://www.zmag.org/aboutforums.htm. Now, here is today┤s content, adapted from a piece written during the Gulf War & I hope it is useful and not an imposition.
Stop The Killing Train
Suppose a hypothetical god got tired of what we humans do to one another and decided that from January 1, 1999 onward all corpses unnaturally created anywhere in the "free world" would cease to decompose. Anyone dying for want of food or medicine, anyone hung or garroted to death, shot or beaten to death, raped or bombed to death, anyone dying unjustly and inhumanely would, as a corpse, persist without decomposing. And the permanent corpse would then automatically enter a glass-walled cattle car attached to an ethereal train traveling monotonously across the U.S., state by state, never stopping.
One by one the corpses would be loaded onto the cattle cars and after every thousand corpses piled in a new car would hitch up and begin filling too.
Mile after mile the killing train would roll along, each corpse viewed through its transparent walls, 200 new corpses a minute, one new car every five minutes, day and night, without pause.
By the end of 1999, on its first birthday, the first day of the new millennium, the killing train would measure over 2,000 miles long. Traveling at 20 miles an hour it would take about five days to pass any intersection.
By the year 2009, assuming no dramatic change in institutions and behavior, the train would stretch from coast to coast about seven times. It would take about six weeks from the time its engine passed the Statue of Liberty to when its caboose would go by. God still wondering when pitiful, aspiring humanity would get the message.
Think how a young child sometimes points to a picture in a book or magazine and asks for an explanation, "Tell me about a tree?" A car? A boat? Or a train? A big train? The killing train?" Go ahead, answer that one.
If the ecologists are right that this planet is a single super-organism, they are wrong that pollution, toxic waste, and other human-created garbage is the most deadly virus attacking it. The killing train, which itself spews more of the same muck, is worse.
Think about the pain that radiates from the Vietnam War monument with its 50,000 names in Washington, D.C. Imagine the lost opportunity and lost love and the network of negative influences that radiate from the unnecessary deaths enumerated on that monument. Now think about the killing train stretching from coast to coast and back and forth and back and forth and back and forth. Consider its impact, not only on those on board, but on every person that any of those corpses ever loved or would have loved, fed or would have fed, taught or would have taught.
Who rides the killing train? Citizens of the "Third World," selling their organs for food, selling their babies to save their families, suffering disappearances and starvation. They live in Brazil, Colombia, and the Philippines, in Timor, Iraq, Mexico, and Angola, in Turkey and in New York City. They are headed for the killing train. Every day. Millions.
Is this exaggerated? When 10 million children die yearly for lack of basicmedical aid that the U.S. could provide at almost no cost in countries whose economies Exxon and the Bank of America have looted, what can you call it other than mass murder?
Bloated diseased bodies are victims of murder just as surely as bullet-riddled bodies tossed into rivers by death squads or pierced by shrapnel from falling bombs. Denying medicine and stealing resources is ultimately no less criminal than supplying torture racks or carpet bombing whole countries. It is often more deadly.
Evolution has given humans the capacity to perceive, think, feel, imagine. At a time of war¨as now in the Balkans¨if we get aroused to action by the unusually visible carnage we may begin to see the whole killing train as it persists day in and day out, with the carnage no less real but much less visible. When this happens what do we do about it? Become depressed? Cynical? Anguished? Cry? Daydream of Armageddon? Daydream of justice? Educate ourselves, hand out a leaflet, build a local organization?
Once we begin to see this macabre train, how do we face it? Part of us says these crimes are so grotesque, so inhumane, that the perpetrators deserve to die. A little tiny killing train for the killers and no more big killing train for everyone else. An eye for a million eyes. What other step makes more sense?
But of course, that's not the way the world works. People give the orders, hand out the bombs, withhold the food, pay the pitiful salaries -- but institutions create the pressures that mold these people. When an institutional cancer consumes the human patient, what kind of surgeon can cut it all away? Is the weight of repression so intense it can never be lifted?
At first, becoming attuned to our country's responsibility for the corpses stacked behind transparent cattle-car walls makes handing out leaflets, or arguing for peace with a co-worker, or urging a relative to think twice about paying taxes, or going to a demonstration, or sitting in, or even doing civil disobedience or building the movements to do all these things collectively seem insignificant. But the fact is, these are the acts that the hypothetical God, tired of our behavior, would be calling for if she were to actually parade the "free world's" corpses down our main streets in killing trains. These are the acts that can accumulate into a firestorm of informed protest that then raises the cost of profiteering and dominating so high that the institutions breeding such behavior start to buckle.
The fact is, "You lose, you lose, you lose, and then you win." Every loss is part of the process that leads to transforming institutions so that there can be no people as vile as Clinton or Milosevic. No more "Good Germans" or "Good Americans," cremated Jews or decapitated peasants.
War in the Balkans is a horrendous crime against humanity because it rends life from and justice from civility to no benefit to any constituency other than the Masters of War. It is an orchestrated atrocity that mandates our militant, unswerving opposition. There should be no business as usual until this war is ended.
But even after the Balkan War ends, the on-going U.S. and European corpor ate war against "free world" people destined to ride the killing train will, if it continues, remain a tremendous crime against humanity. The killing train transcends the Balkans and Turkey, Timor, Colombia, and Mexico and extends as well into the systemic denial of human fulfillment and development that is at the heart of corporate capitalist logic and practice. Ultimately, so must our opposition transcend the current events. The killing train¨alienation, poverty, disease, starvation, death squads, and terror¨stems from basic institutions. These must become our lasting target.