New Clear Vision

constructive commentary for the chronically farsighted
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What Is It Good For?

April 18, 2014 By: NCVeditor Category: David Swanson, Economy, Politics

War Brings Peace and Prosperity, New Book Claims

by David Swanson

Ian Morris has stuck his dog’s ear in his mouth, snapped a selfie, and proclaimed “Man Bites Dog.” His new book War: What Is It Good For? Conflict and Progress of Civilization from Primates to Robots is intended to prove that war is good for children and other living things.  It actually proves that defenders of war are growing desperate for arguments.

Morris maintains that the only way to make peace is to make large societies, and the only way to make large societies is through war. Ultimately, he believes, the only way to protect peace is through a single global policeman.  Once you’ve made peace, he believes, prosperity follows.  And from that prosperity flows happiness.  Therefore, war creates happiness.  But the one thing you must never stop engaging in if you hope to have peace, prosperity, and joy is — you guessed it — war.

This thesis becomes an excuse for hundreds of pages of a sort of Monty Python history of the technologies of war, not to mention the evolution of chimpanzees, and various even less relevant excursions.  These pages are packed with bad history and guesswork, and I’m greatly tempted to get caught up in the details.  But none of it has much impact on the book’s conclusions.  All of Morris’s history, accurate and otherwise, is put to mythological use.  He’s telling a simplistic story about where safety and happiness originated, and advocating highly destructive misery-inducing behavior as a result. (more…)

Voices of Pain and Peace

March 12, 2014 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Culture, Politics, Robert C. Koehler

Film Festival Highlights Anguish … and Hope

by Robert C. Koehler

No matter how bad it gets, we can look inside ourselves and find hope, possibility … the future. And when we find that, we know what it means to build peace.

“It’s like I’m in a never-ending battle with my brain,” Kayla said. “They called me Crazy Kayla. I have anger problems. Someone messes with me, I lose it. I was molested, raped, physically and mentally abused. I was in 127 different homes. I have a 3-month-old baby…”

Peace isn’t the avoidance of difficult topics but their thorough, unstinting examination, not with cynicism and despair but with the certainty that salvation is mixed into the pain. All we have to do is find it.

This is precisely what a good documentary film does for us, and there are so many of them out there these days. Thirty-one such films were showcased at Chicago’s sixth annual Peace on Earth Film Festival, an event I’ve been associated with since its beginning. The four-day festival, which was held March 6-9 (free of charge, as always) at the Chicago Cultural Center, takes on a mélange of provocative subjects: Fukushima, agribusiness, gun violence, forgiveness in the wake of violence, hospice care for prisoners, childhood mental illness, and much more. (more…)

Porthole to the Future

November 22, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Ecology, Economy, Jan Lundberg

New Ships Aim Toward Brighter Horizons

by Jan Lundberg

The young man sat on the pebbly beach, looked out over shades of turquoise framed by pine-studded points of sunlit land, and said to himself, “This is the place to be.”

The next minute he noticed around him a couple of cigaret butts and bits of degraded plastic, and wondered aloud, “How can anyone harm nature?”  Then in a matter of seconds he questioned who the hell he was to point a finger at any polluters, when he had taken a jet plane and used a car to get to this almost unspoiled spot.  It was great to be in the Aegean instead of back in the States, but what was the worth of running around the globe trying to spice things up for a more meaningful life? (more…)

Occupy Everything

October 04, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: David Swanson, Politics

Reflecting on Lessons Learned and New Directions

by David Swanson

When the Pentagon ends an occupation, crawling home from Vietnam or Iraq or Afghanistan with its Tomahawk missile dragging between its legs, it declares victory every time.  And, depending on how you define victory, it certainly leaves lasting effects.  The cancer and birth defects and poisoned water supplies bear witness: there was an occupation here.

When the Occupy Movement lost its presence on television and therefore in real spaces that are never quite as real as television, it too left a lasting impact.  But it was a positive lasting impact, difficult as yet to measure fully, but observable in many areas.  (more…)

My Fellow Americans

September 12, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Current Events, Pat LaMarche, Politics

Buy President Obama a History Book

by Pat LaMarche

“My fellow Americans, for nearly seven decades, the United States has been the anchor of global security. This has meant doing more than forging international agreements — it has meant enforcing them. The burdens of leadership are often heavy, but the world is a better place because we have borne them.”

Of the thousands of words the president said in Tuesday night’s televised speech to the nation on Syria, these 75 words are the most important. No man with such a fundamental misunderstanding of modern American history should be deciding the fate of a new group of civilians.

In this one paragraph the president rolled the clock back to 1943, claiming in that particular lifetime of U.S. actions on global security, our killings have been more righteous and had better outcomes than the anticipated actions of others. And with this distorted view of the consequences, President Obama hopes once again to use bombs to set things right.

Even if we shave two years off his timetable and move him past the long debated use of nuclear weapons — on not one but two civilian targets in Japan — the United States cannot claim to have made the world a better place. (more…)

Dare to Imagine

August 28, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Current Events, Jennifer Browdy de Hernandez, Politics

Queer Visions of Another World

by Jennifer Browdy de Hernandez

The news this week that Private Bradley Manning had come out as Chelsea made me think first that truth is way stranger than fiction, and second that it makes perfect sense that one of the most courageous warriors of our time would be a queer woman.

Gloria Anzaldua, who has been one of my heroines since I first read her seminal work Borderlands/La frontera back in the 1980s, always insisted that queer folk have a special role to play in bringing about a change in human consciousness — moving us from the patriarchal mold of the past 5,000 years or so to what she called “a new mestiza consciousness,” a much more holistic, inclusive, planetary awareness.

Anzaldua extended Virginia Woolf’s famous statement, in her anti-war tract Three Guineas, that “as a woman, I have no country.  As a woman, I want no country.  As a woman, my country is the whole world,” giving it a new queer mestiza twist: (more…)

Spectator Wars

August 13, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Economy, Politics, Robert C. Koehler

Something Has to Give in the ‘Great American Consensus’

by Robert C. Koehler

“Pakistani authorities have long denounced the strikes, out of concern that civilian deaths caused by drone strikes inflame the local population, bolster militant groups and violate Pakistan’s sovereignty.” — CNN, July 26

“Analysts said the administration was still grappling with the fact that drones remained the crucial instrument for going after terrorists in Yemen and Pakistan — yet speaking about them publicly could generate a backlash in those countries because of issues like civilian casualties.” — New York Times, Aug. 2

Oh, the serious news! I read it with ever-fresh incredulity. It’s written for gamers. It reduces us to gamers as it updates us on the latest bends and twists in the geopolitical scene. We’re still playing War on Terror, the aim of which is to kill as many insurgents as possible; when they’re all dead, we win (apparently). The trick is to avoid inflaming the locals, who then transition out of passive irrelevance and join the insurgency. They get inflamed when we kill civilians, such as their children. (more…)