New Clear Vision

constructive commentary for the chronically farsighted
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Rationality Shutdown

October 11, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Current Events, Economy, Politics, Robert C. Koehler

Power Flows with Daunting Slowness…

by Robert C. Koehler

In an agony of stupidity, the government shuts down.

Only some of it shuts down, of course. The part that stays open is the part that’s at war. “Those of you in uniform will remain on your normal duty status,” the President said. “The threats to our national security have not changed, and we need you to be ready for any contingency. Ongoing military operations, like our efforts in Afghanistan, will continue.”

As I once observed, there’s no such thing as a relaxed nation. It can shut down what it does right, if clumsily, like feeding people, educating them and helping them through difficulty, but it will only shut down its predatory sense of identity in a state of total defeat by a bigger predator. Not letting that happen is its endless obsession. (more…)

Admit It…

September 17, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, David Swanson, Politics

Things Are Going Well

by David Swanson

When something goes right
Oh, it’s likely to lose me
It’s apt to confuse me
It’s such an unusual sight
—Paul Simon

Larry Summers has proven unacceptable to oversee the continued destruction of the U.S. economy.  The U.S. public has successfully rejected proposed missile strikes on Syria.  My Congressman was among the majority who listened.  Today was beautiful.  The Orioles won.  The Cowboys lost.  The University of Virginia avoided losing by not playing.  My family is expecting a new baby.  I’ve finished a new book, which Kathy Kelly has written a beautiful foreword for.  I have a sense that if the universe were right now campaigning on “hope and change” I might seriously consider voting for it.

I’m also pretty sure that if everything in my personal life were going slightly to hell and Larry Summers were crowned king of Wall Street, and the Dallas Cowboys were to win (darn them!), my sense of this moment in the movement against U.S. militarism would remain essentially the same.  A major victory has been won, and we need to claim it and celebrate it. (more…)

Revolutionary Egypt

August 23, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Current Events, Matt Meyer, Politics

The Worst of Times, the Best of Times…

by Matt Meyer

There is a reason why so many internationalists have had hard times writing clearly about Egypt since the end of June 2013. There is a reason why in English the words “it was the best of times, it was the worst of times” resonates so. The cultural chasms and the political complexity of Egypt’s ongoing revolutionary moments will not lend themselves easily to short statements or translated sound bites . . . but we remain distant from, declarative regarding, or dispassionate about these events at our own grave peril. Nothing less than our collective, twenty-first century understandings of such terms as “democracy,” “revolution,” and “violence/nonviolence” are being forged on the streets of Egypt today.

Events are unfolding too quickly for a report from an outsider to be of much use. But hopefully some definitional reflections, from the perspective of an independent solidarity activist/academic committed to revolutionary nonviolence and socialist/anarchist viewpoints, might provide some context for future conversation and work. (more…)

Privacy, Security, Sanity

July 16, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Current Events, Politics, Robert C. Koehler

Caught in a Single, Interlaced Web of Danger and Possibility

by Robert C. Koehler

What I keep longing to hear, in the hemorrhaging national debate about Edward Snowden, whistleblowing and the NSA, is some acknowledgment of what the word “security” actually means, and what role — if any — the government should play in creating it.

“You can’t have 100 percent security and also have 100 percent privacy.”

A moment of silence, please, for the dying patriarchy. That, of course, was how President Obama explained it to the American public shortly after the spy scandal hit the fan. When did we become “the children” in our relationship with the government, irrelevant to its day-to-day operations, utterly powerless as we stand in its massive, protecting shadow? (more…)

Common Future Identity

March 29, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Ecology, Politics, Winslow Myers

Erikson’s ‘Golden Rule in the Light of New Insight’ Revisited

by Winslow Myers

Sixty years ago the psychoanalyst Erik Erikson gave a talk in India on the Golden Rule, a formulation that occurs, with some variation, in all the major religions. Judaism: “What is hateful to yourself, do not do to you fellow man.” Islam: “No one of you is a believer until he desires for his brother what he desires for himself.” Christianity: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Erikson’s theme was the creative potential of mutuality — between spouses, parents and children, doctors and patients, teachers and pupils, even between nations. Mutuality, Erikson asserted, is a relationship in which partners depend upon each other for the enhancement of their respective strengths.  The curiosity of a student elicits from the teacher the skills for transmitting the excitement of learning in a way that benefits both teacher and student.

In the case of nations, fear of Hobbesian chaos if leaders relax their futile race toward military superiority makes it difficult to encourage mutuality. Ruthless power relations turn the life-giving spirit of mutuality on its head: do not even think of trying to destroy me because if you do I will destroy you. This paranoia rationalizes the unabated manufacture of ever more destructive weaponry, irrespective of sensible policy goals, by ever more powerful corporations. (more…)

Soul Poison

March 22, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Politics, Robert C. Koehler

Building Peace Is Building the Future…

by Robert C. Koehler

We’ve lost a war without being able to surrender — and thus divest ourselves of the consciousness that got us into it. We are unable to look honestly at what we did and why, and determine not to do it again.

My friend Catherine Menninger sent me a note the other day that began: “The days are long past when the poison of DU (depleted uranium) was our shared preoccupation. Now an even deeper poison, a soul poison, is seeping into the body politic and beyond. It is touching us all.”

Ten years later, an enormous question looms: How do we get the poison out of our system? I think that’s what atonement means.

In a lengthy report on the Iraq war, David Swanson has placed it “among the world’s worst events,” a profoundly serious allegation that makes it far more than a “mistake.” (more…)

Common Lies

March 18, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, David Swanson, Politics

Thoughts on People Who Are Wrong…

by David Swanson

Don’t people who are wrong annoy you?  I recently read a very interesting book called Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error, by Kathryn Schulz.  Of course I read it with an eye toward figuring out how better to correct those other people who are so dangerously and aggravatingly wrong.  And of course the book ended up telling me that I myself am essentially a creature of wrongness.

But if we’re all wrong, I can live with that.  It’s being more wrong than other people that’s intolerable.  However, statistics show that most of us believe we’re more right than average, suggesting a significant if not downright dominant wrongness in our very idea of wrongness. Even worse, we’re clearly not wrong by accident or despite the best of intentions.  We go wrong for the most embarrassing of reasons — albeit reasons that might serve unrelated purposes, or which perhaps did so for distant ancestors of ours. (more…)