New Clear Vision

constructive commentary for the chronically farsighted

Archive for the ‘Randall Amster’

Reflections on Ferguson

November 26, 2014 By: NCVeditor Category: Current Events, Politics, Randall Amster

Cover of Darkness, Rays of Light

by Randall Amster

The announcement arrived at the telegraphed moment, conveniently scheduled for prime time in most zones. A decision said to shed light on a matter of national importance is revealed only after dark, with the lede buried under a pile of prosecutorial dereliction. When the decisive words newfergseasonsare finally uttered, they echo with unintended irony as a broken system delivers its own self-indictment: “No True Bill.”

We’ve been here before, far too many times. Anguish fills the air, slowly replaced by tear gas and smoke. Rage smolders from the friction of perpetual despair, finally igniting fires that engulf a handful of structures. People are urged to lodge their complaints but keep their place, to express their views but only from the sidelines, to follow the rule of law but relegate their quest for justice. The convenient spectacle of “violence in the streets” obscures the perpetuation of “structural violence” everywhere. (more…)

Line of Fire

July 02, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Current Events, Ecology, Randall Amster

Finding Resilience in Times of Crisis

by Randall Amster

Living in Arizona for nearly two decades, and for more than half of that time in the central highlands region around Prescott, has candlespresented innumerable challenges and opportunities alike. Many will be familiar with Arizona’s haywire politics and the international controversies that have ensued. Those of us working on progressive causes here often find solace in the fact that — though the victories may be few — this is where the work needs to be done. I’m thankful to have been part of this ethos of engagement over the years, even as I’m preparing to head eastward and embrace new possibilities. (more…)

Cognitive Assonance

June 20, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Current Events, Politics, Randall Amster

Congratulations! You’re Being Watched

by Randall Amster

With revelations (yet again) that we are all essentially being watched virtually all the time, we might expect a popular backlash against such a massive and unprecedented intrusion on privacy. Americans may differ on a plethora of political issues, but there’s a common wisdom suggesting broad agreement on core principles such as individual liberty. Alas, widespread pushback against a total surveillance society seems unlikely to emerge, and having the full scope of such a program become publicly known may only increase its acceptability.

Modern America is built on the ethos of the “reality show” — and people want to be watched. (more…)


May 27, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Politics, Randall Amster

Keeping War Between Iraq and a Hard Place

by Randall Amster

It has to be difficult these days being a purveyor of militarism and saber-rattling warmongering. Oh sure, the pay is still good and the work looks steady for the foreseeable future — plus the perquisites of power seem relatively intact. But the shine has definitely come off the enterprise, leaving one to wonder what will become of the true diehards who are too slow and stodgy to change with the coming global tide.

At least since the invasion of Iraq in 2003, there has been a notable diminution of the appetite for war, at least among “the people” if not yet those ostensibly in power to represent said people. From the tragic absurdity of WMD and “Mission Accomplished” to the calamitous realities of Fallujah and Abu Ghraib, the Iraq War has finally given the lie to the already-tattered mythos of the “good war.” (more…)

War No More

March 21, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Ecology, Politics, Randall Amster

Ten Years After the Invasion of Iraq, Are We Any Closer to Peace?

by Randall Amster

No one in power specifically called it “a date which will live in infamy,” but when the U.S. commenced the invasion of Iraq on March 19, 2003, it changed the political map of the world in ways we are still trying to disentangle. The basic idea that nations would only wage war for bona fide reasons and with general support from the international community — tattered as those notions already were — was essentially laid to rest with the Iraq war. What is especially troubling is that we didn’t even need the benefit of hindsight to realize the full implications; in real time and without precedent, millions (perhaps even billions) around the world raised principled objections to the impending war before it commenced. Many people knew (and said) that it was illegal, unjust, and immoral, but to no avail. And so it goes…

A decade later, the fictitious rationales of “weapons of mass destruction,” liberating people from an evil dictator, promoting human rights, and “restoring democracy,” are almost laughable and are not seriously asserted as a viable basis for the war. (more…)

Pump Fiction

March 08, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Ecology, Economy, Randall Amster

We’re Not Going to Drill, Dig, or Frack Our Way Out of This Mess…

by Randall Amster

We have entered a critical era for the future of humanity on this planet, and the stakes are indeed as high as whether there will be anything left for those who come next. In the period of expansive consumer growth following World War II, and then again with another quantum leap in the age of globalization and digitization, humankind has been collectively taxing the planet’s carrying capacity and altering basic processes that have sustained our existence for eons. At this juncture, we cannot simply go back to a more pristine time (real or imagined), and the question of where we go from here is an open and urgent one.

Unfortunately, elite interests of both the national and multinational varieties are already in the process of making this all-important decision for us. Rather than reconsidering the profligate lifestyles and extractive mindsets that have pushed us to the brink, the profit-seeking powers that be are doubling down on their efforts to procure every last usable penny’s worth from the planet in short order. (more…)

Catching the Drift

February 06, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Current Events, Ecology, Randall Amster

Can We Avoid Getting Swept Up in the Winds of Disenchantment?

by Randall Amster

It’s all too easy to get caught up in the news cycle, as if it actually represents reality and merits our continuous attention. But it’s largely a “bad news” cycle that we’re talking about, and in consuming
it one can hardly avoid the conclusion that “the sky is falling” — a notion that’s coupled with a hegemonic “unless” that asserts “the end” can be averted only through more devices of the war-austerity-exploitation sort. Simply put, the mainstream media cultivates a dualistic ethos of despair/fear and resignation/capitulation that is difficult to resist, and yet is one that must be resisted if we are to retain the capacity to imagine a better world and work toward its realization.

I struggle with this dilemma on a daily basis. To unplug from the incessant negativism of the news crawl is to fall “out of the loop” in short order and to be lost in the myriad conversations of our lives that devolve upon “hot topic” and “currently trending” references. It also makes it difficult to comment on said news in order to offer analysis, critique, or even points of reference that will resonate for readers outside the avowed Luddites in our midst. Thus, in order to be relevant, it seems as if we need to be at least conversant with the “devil’s in the details” quality that makes up the news of the day. (more…)