Letter from the darkness

This is our fourth day in darkness and we are running low on candles. I don't know what we will do with the kids. They are already losing their minds.

There is no contact with the outside world. Is there an outside world left? In the days leading up to the sudden darkness, there were war reports about Ukraine, with US forces in combat with the Russian Army. How did things spin out of control like this? Our media's talking heads didn't have any answers either. They just looked at each other in disbelief.

Somewhere deep under ground are the criminal leaders who pushed us over the brink. The US has been at war with any number of countries since WW II. Why didn't we try to end this warmongering before it was too late? It didn't take too much brainpower to realize that the reasons they gave us for all these wars were lies. If only we had risen up.

I know the criminal leaders of both countries are safe somewhere in their underground bunkers. They have lights, water and food. Maybe they are sending scientists to the surface, all dressed up in their Hazmat suits, to look around and see what's left.

I must admit, when I listen to my children crying, I wish these criminals the very worst. I hope that the radiation seeps into their high tech bunkers and makes them sick. Or maybe that they kill each other, like they have killed our planet.

Debt servitude

January 26

GUEST: David Schultz, Professor of Political Science at Hamline University and Minnesota School of Law, three-time Fulbright scholar, and author of numerous books quoted in The NY Times, Washington Post and The Economist, talks about how colleges became corporatized and lost their soul.

Free Speech and Academic Freedom in the American Corporate University

Are colleges in the US really non-profits? Or do they hoard their money and pay their presidents like rich CEOs?

Do colleges profit by paying faculty and staff less each year? Are college teaching adjuncts little more than Uber drivers when it comes to wages and benefits? David Schultz gives us some fascinating statistics about our neoliberal colleges and universities. 

The biggest problem is that our country spends so much on weapons (at least half of the entire federal budget) that there is little left over for higher education. Other developed economies haven't turned their institutions of higher learning into neoliberal corporate entities. Who pays, because our college are only affordable to the wealthy? Why the students do, over decades of paying off loans for their college years. What is going on is debt servitude. 

Canadian colleges charge about $5,130 per year for all tuition and fees. That is relatively high compared to EU countries. Other developed democracies just don't drive their students into debt. The only country that does this is the US Empire, which has been spending all its funds on military invasions and occupations ever since the Second World War. 

The costs our empire are staggering. No universal healthcare, no daycare, no higher education, no nursing homes. And then there are the other costs: The elimination of free speech on campuses, and the sending of our young men and women abroad to kill and be killed in our senseless wars. Our neoliberal system has been broken for some time. It has long ago given up on being "of the people, by the people, and for the people," and our institutions of higher learning have paid the price.


A failure of imagination

January 19

GUEST: Alan Robock, American climatologist and Distinguished Professor in the Department of Environmental Sciences at Rutgers University, talks about the existential dangers of nuclear weapons as well as his conversations with Fidel Castro.

Alan Robock - writings published and talks with Fidel Castro 

 
Nowhere To Hide: How a nuclear war would kill you

Alan helps us conceptualize what a nuclear war would be like. In some ways, this is like trying to think logically about our own death. It is irrefutable and inevitable, but still so far beyond our conception as to be a perpetual mystery.   

But nuclear war is closer to a suicide then a natural consequence of living. The leaders of the Democratic Party have been planning for war in Ukraine for a long time. The coup that brought down its democratically elected president in 2014 was only the tip of the iceberg of US intervention. 

There was surprisingly little said about the possibility of a nuclear war when Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and the US ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt were picking Ukraine's next leaders. Their phone call in 2014, accessible to anyone with an internet connection, is a first hand account of how oblivious our national leaders are about taking on larger risks. They are both imperialist schemers, concentrating on how to reverse Ukraine's last election and put in a US puppet government.     

How do we get rid of this element in the Democratic Party? And are the Republicans any better? They can't imagine a nuclear winter that would bring an end to life on earth. The are focused on short term gains in influence and power, good little soldiers of the empire. Who would have thought that a failure of imagination could bring about the end of our species?


To the Israeli Officer Who X-rayed and Swabbed Our Mother’s Ashes

January 12

GUEST: Zeina Azzam, Palestinian American poet, writer, community activist, and Poet Laureate of Alexandria, Virginia, reads some of her poetry and talks about the resistance of her people.

Zeina Azzam background

Can poetry be part of the resistance? Does poetry skirt our usual analysis based on reason and caution? Does it make its way into our hearts before we can make judgements about its appropriateness? 

Here is one of Zeina's poems on Palestine. Read it and then tell me what you experienced. I will gladly pass along your comments to her.

To the Israeli Officer Who X-rayed and Swabbed Our Mother’s Ashes

Even though you looked me in the eye
my peripheral vision was stuck on the machine gun
cradled in your colleague’s jittery arms next to me.
Your questions were like jagged metal soldiers
on a conveyor belt, a continuous barrage,
the same sharp words coming steadily,
marching toward my brother and me.
All the supervisors who came, all those
young military minds with colorful stripes
trained in war but with no grasp of our grief,
of a Palestinian heart, of a simple desire
to return homeward.
To you, these were just salt crystals
in an engraved wooden box
you must run through the x-ray machine twice,
swab all around, carry as if a purse, a sack of books.

To us, those were our mother’s remains
from an unholy world that kept her far away from her homeland
for 71 years, made her a refugee everywhere she went.
You will never know who our mother was.
My brother and I would have told you that
we were carrying what was left of her because
you wouldn’t let her living body come back,
you wouldn’t allow a refugee and her family
to return to Nazareth.
But after your razor-like interrogation ended
and our halting answers were enough,
we crossed your checkpoint and continued our journey.
We buried her ashes in the Palestine she knew.
Our Palestinian mother finally exercised her right of return.

 

 

Is America capitalism's end game?

January 5

GUEST: Jeffrey Mackler, longtime teacher and union activist, founder of Northern California Climate Mobilization, and Socialist Action Party presidential candidate for 2016 and 2020, talks about the crypto currency debacle and its links to neoliberalism.

Behind Sam Bankman-Fried’s Cryptocurrency Crash

What does the cryptocurrency collapse have to do with Socialism? And how do deal with the fact that just because events happen in a sequence doesn't mean that the first one caused the second. Correlation is not causality. 

But there is a logical case to be made. In capitalism's ever stronger quest for profits, the US has turned to money management and speculation. Forty years ago less then 10% of the US economy was taken up by investment firms. Now finance is almost a quarter of all business activity. No product emerges from the speculation; only catastrophic bubbles with pathetic little con men running the show. Today we are in the land of Oz when it comes to understanding the basic structures of our economy. We don't even know where most of the money is.

Perhaps that is capitalism run amok. It smells like capitalism, with all the nation's wealth going to an ever smaller group of insanely rich men. And the workers in such a neoliberal endgame? Earning less then $15 an hour and unable to feed their families. 

Are we beyond regulation? Are the rich so much in control that there is no possibility of really altering this system? Congress is bought and paid for by the wealthy, and there are no regulations left about bribing. There is little to show for our grand elections; it is all run by dark money. 

Is such a system worth keeping? One that only favors the filthy rich and keeps everyone else down? No, that's the recipe for fascism, when the anger of the poor gets directed towards minorities and immigrants. Maybe America is capitalism's end game, and it is going to be a rough ride down.

Wrapped in the Star of David

 
GUEST: Sofia Farah, human rights activist, Melton Fellow, and Development Director for Mondoweiss, talks about the organization's efforts to bring the struggle of the Palestinian people to larger audiences around the world.
 

Mondoweiss

 

Since there isn't much debate about Israel in our media, on-line publications like Mondoweiss are critical to understanding US support for this apartheid regime. 
 
There was a time when taking action against apartheid was very different. In the 1980s, our media didn't cover the fight for human rights in South Africa. People just didn't know about how our country was making racist oppression possible in Africa. I remember handing out leaflets outside some national banks that were still investing in South Africa. People took and read them. They had no preconceived notion opposing our anti-racist message.

A high school teacher in the 1980s brought in a white South African to talk to his history classes. The guest was a farmer and had talked in other schools as well. As a member of the faculty, I sat in on this class, just to see what the farmer had to say. He started with the concept of what a Zulu is: "either a cattle rustler or a killer." 

After a few similar comments, I raised my hand and said that in this country, such talk is labeled racist. The students seemed stunned. Here were two adults disagreeing on something that was obviously emotionally charged. The history teacher, however, was more than shocked; he was furious. What right did I have coming into his classroom and saying such things to his "guest"?

So I thought education was the key to ending US support for Apartheid South Africa. If we could convince enough people on the grassroots level, well things would change. I used to apply that same logic to Palestinian rights, and I have handed out my share of leaflets over the last decade or so. 

But the efforts to educate Americans face several roadblocks. The Zionist Lobby has tons of money to bribe members of Congress. Check out Open Secrets to see how much your members of Congress got last year:
 
Another problem is that both the right wing Jews and Christian evangelicals have made Israel into a religion. Criticizing Israel is now labeled as "antisemitism." Even writing that the Israel Lobby gives out millions to our politicians might be condemned as racist talk. So people in the US are confused, and that is just the way that apartheid Israel likes things to be. Apartheid wrapped in the Star of David.

That's why newsletters like Mondoweiss are so important. It is an open discussion of race, religion, the state of Israel, and the US role in the oppression of the Palestinians. The truth is right there, and it is wonderfully written. What more could an anti-racist ask for?
 
 

 

It's too soon to die

December 22

 

Holiday Special. We include some songs we never got to play during the year, as well as some parts of interviews that were just left out. Stay tuned for a Pandora's Box full of wishes and the unexpected gifts. And of course, we don't leave out that most important of treasures, which is our hope for a new world based on peace and love, rather than greed and militarism.   

This was a fun show to do, and I hope you enjoyed it. I just picked music and interviews that I had saved during the year. It was stuff I couldn't throw away.

Activist Radio is usually more formulaic, especially since I now record it in my home studio. I write almost all of the program out before I start recording. That's different than what happened in the Vassar College Radio's studio, where I would often go off subject. Back then I also had a number of so-hosts, which really changed the dynamics of what went out over the air.

The new year gets me thinking about other possibilities for the show. I still enjoy doing it a lot, especially since the program seems to be gaining an audience. KCEI carries Activist Radio now, broadcast from Red River and Taos New Mexico. So does KEPJ of San Antonio, Texas.

KKWE from White Earth Indian Reservation broadcasts Activist Radio in Minnesota, as does WBDY in Binghamton, New York. Wesleyan University airs my program to Middletown, Connecticut from its station, WESU. And WGRN (The Green Renaissance) broadcasts us from Columbus, Ohio. WRFA airs us to Jameston, New York. 

Each week brings a new list of stations. Some carry Activist Radio for a week or two and then drop us. Some have been with us for several years. One of our longest relationships is with WIOF in Woodstock, NY. It is a great little station, with a relatively wide broadcast area in the Mid Hudson Valley. Finally, the show is carried by the Progressive Radio Network which goes out from https://prn.live.

Having listeners always makes things seem more important. I want my country to put a greater emphasis on peace and social justice. I want to talk about racism, neoliberalism, and militarism. I want to expose the filthy rich for what they are doing to the US and to the rest of the world. And I want to convince humankind that it is "too soon to die," as Pete Seeger implored us. 

Here is all of Pete's song for a better new year:

One blue sky above us
One ocean lapping all our shore
One earth so green and round
Who could ask for more
And because I love you
I'll give it one more try
To show my rainbow race
It's too soon to die.
 
Some folks want to be like an ostrich,
Bury their heads in the sand.
Some hope that plastic dreams
Can unclench all those greedy hands.
Some hope to take the easy way:
Poisons, bombs. They think we need 'em.
Don't you know you can't kill all the unbelievers?
There's no shortcut to freedom.
 
One blue sky above us
One ocean lapping all our shore
One earth so green and round
Who could ask for more
And because I love you
I'll give it one more try
To show my rainbow race
It's too soon to die.
 
Go tell, go tell all the little children.
Tell all the mothers and fathers too.
Now's our last chance to learn to share
What's been given to me and you.
 
One blue sky above us
One ocean lapping all our shore
One earth so green and round
Who could ask for more
And because I love you
I'll give it one more try
To show my rainbow race
It's too soon to die.
 
One blue sky above us
One ocean lapping all our shore
One earth so green and round
Who could ask for more