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You can add or remove addresses from our list via the link on the top page of ZNet - which is http://www.zmag.org/weluser.htm Today, along with our usual reminder that ZNet is updated daily and our usual invitation to visit frequently, we include two essays for you. These are each ZNet Commentaries. The first, by Michael Albert, sent to Sustainers last last night, is a kind of call to campus activism. The second, by Michael Parenti, to be sent to sustainers tonight, is a comment on deeper factors affecting the calamity in New Orleans. Indeed, we mail a commentary every night to our sustaining users. ZNet Sustainers are people who donate to our operations through our sustainer program. To read more about the program, and to support us if you find it congenial, please visit http://www.zmag.org/Commentaries/donorform.htm The simple truth is neither ZNet nor any of our other operations could proceed without the donations our users make to this program. Please become part of that process. Here, then, are the two sample commentaries mentioned above: ---- Embark Now by Michael Albert In the U.S. summer is winding down. Soon U.S. students will trek back to school, including college. Would that I was one of them, not because it would mean I was forty years younger - though that would be a nice turn of events - but because this is the first Fall semester in thirty years I have felt the desire to be scaling ivy walls and prowling campus corridors. What's coming to NYU, Wisconsin, SF State, MIT, Howard, Pepperdine, Morehouse, Purdue, Loyola? What's coming to Drake, Kansas State, Rutgers, Boston University, University of Chicago, Duke, Berkeley, Kent State? What's coming to Reed, Bucknell, Colombia, Vanderbilt, Austin, Evergreen, Concordia, Yale, Jackson State - and all the rest? Tumult, turmoil, tension, and resistance? Rejection and revolt? That's what ought to happen. It's what I hope will happen. Flash back to May 1970: Richard Nixon announced the invasion of Cambodia. Already intense campus unrest dramatically escalated. National guard shot to death four students at Kent State University. Campuses erupted. Two were killed and twelve wounded at Jackson State. About 2,000 students were arrested in the first half of May 1970. Campuses were declared in a state of emergency in Kentucky, Ohio, Michigan, and South Carolina. At least a third of the nation's nearly 3,000 colleges had strikes. Over 80% of all colleges and universities had protests. Approximately four million students, half the country's total, and 350,000 faculty members actively participated in strikes. Buildings were shut down. Highways were blocked. Campuses were closed. Nixon's Scranton Commission reported that roughly three quarters of all students supported the strikes. Pollsters reported that within campuses alone over a million people claimed to favor revolution and called themselves revolutionaries. In early 1971 the New York Times reported that four out of ten students, about three million people, thought a revolution was needed in the United States. This upsurge and the civil rights and then black power movement, the women's movement, the antiwar movement, and the youth rebellion behind it, together threatened the very fabric of society and thereby helped end a war and turn the country's mentality inside out and upside down. Racism was under seige. Sexism was in retreat. Suburban culture was tottering. A gigantic war machine felt shackles. Even capitalism had cracks. But the desire to attain a better world did not last sufficiently long or grow sufficiently wide to replace Washington's White House and Wall Street's corporations which, instead, went on producing greed and domination. Capitalism's institutional persistence slowly eroded and even devoured my generation's aspirations for solidarity and self management. Flash forward thirty five years to next week: Imagine students back on their campuses. Do they discuss what courses to take? Ways to hook up with new guys or gals? Upcoming athletic seasons? I'd be surprised if not, but I hope students' also focus on war and peace. I hope they focus on New Orleans, and why calamities afflict the poor so much worse than all others. I hope they focus on why life in the world is so much less than it could be for the starving, the bombed, the unemployed, and for those working at jobs that rob dignity, stifle creativity, and subject so many souls to stupefying rule by others. I hope they even talk about working at elite jobs and having no time to live, no space to be humane, and no meaning beyond the next dollar. I hope students' main topic this Fall is what they want out of life, spiritually, emotionally, intellectually, and yes, materially, and how they are going to get it consistent with their working hard for everyone else getting it too. Imagine students asking why their curriculums produce ignorance about international relations, ignorance about market competition's violations of solidarity, sagacity, and sustainability. Imagine students deciding enough is enough. Maybe one particular student who wears a funny hat and has a history of being aloof, or perhaps one who looks straight as a commercial and was high school class most likely to have a million friends, will write a song about masters of the universe - and unseating them. Maybe another student will write about floods drowning people's hopes, and about a rising tide of our own compassionate creation lifting people's prospects. Maybe another student will write about resurgent racism and sullying sexism, and then about combative communalism and feminism and their time finally coming. And maybe students will hum the new tunes and sing the new lyrics - and rally, march, sit in, occupy, all while waving a big, solid fist. Imagine students not just sending out emails to their friends and allies, but entering dorms and knocking on every door, initiating long talks, communicating carefully-collected information and debating patiently-constructed arguments that address not only war and poverty, but also positive prospects we prefer. Imagine students earmarking fraternity and sorority members, athletes, and scholars, for conversation, debate, incitement, and recruitment. Imagine students come to see their campuses as places that should be churning out activists and dissent and come to see themselves as having no higher calling than making that campus-wide dissent happen. Imagine students schooling themselves outside the narrow bounds of their colleges, learning that there is an alternative to cutthroat competition and teaching themselves to describe that alternative and to inspire others with it, to refine it, and especially to formulate and implement paths by which to attain it. Imagine students, now sharing many views and much spirit, angry and also hopeful, sober and also laughing, sitting in dorms and dining areas forming campus organizations, or even campus chapters of a larger encompassing national community of organizations - perhaps something called students for a participatory society this time around - or even students for a participatory world - and maybe even having each chapter choose its own local name. Dave Dellinger SPS. Emma Goldman SPS. Malcolm X SPS. And for that matter, Rosa Luxembourg SPS, Emiliano Zapata SPS, Che Guevara SPS. And so on. Imagine, in short, students rising up with information, relentless focus, and some abandon too, becoming angry, militant, and aggressive, but keeping foremost mutual concern and outreaching compassion. Imagine all this pumping into the already nationally growing U.S. dissent against war and injustice, pumping into the neighborhood associations and union gatherings and church cells and GI resistance, a youth branch willing to break the laws of the land and to push thoughts and deeds even into revolutionary zones. Imagine students singing, dancing, marching, and law breaking up a storm. That is something the antiwar movement, the anti corporate globalization movement, the movement for civil rights and against racism and sexism, the movements for local rights against environmental degradation, the movements for consumer rights against corporate commercialism, and the labor movement too, all need. We need youth. Imagine young people, with time, energy, heart, and mind, discerning that they are being coerced by society most often to become passive victims, sometimes to become passive agents, occasionally to become active perpetrators but only as cruel and rich beneficiaries of society's injustices. Imagine students seek more and other. Imagine they hunker down for the long haul, much better equipped and much better oriented than my generation ever was. I think, I hope, students are about to not only reject statist war and corporate greed, but to carry that rejection into positive advocacy and anger that gives entire campuses and not small sub communities sustained commitment. That will be a ticket to a new world for everyone, a ticket much better than old style graduation into the morally decrepit world all around us. This trip is long. But why not embark now? ---- How the Free Market Killed New Orleans* By Michael Parenti The free market played a crucial role in the destruction of New Orleans and the death of thousands of its residents. Armed with advanced warning that a momentous (force 5) hurricane was going to hit that city and surrounding areas, what did officials do? They played the free market. They announced that everyone should evacuate. Everyone was expected to devise their own way out of the disaster area by private means, just as the free market dictates, just like people do when disaster hits free-market Third World countries. It is a beautiful thing this free market in which every individual pursues his or her own personal interests and thereby effects an optimal outcome for the entire society. This is the way the invisible hand works its wonders. There would be none of the collectivistic regimented evacuation as occurred in Cuba. When an especially powerful hurricane hit that island last year, the Castro government, abetted by neighborhood citizen committees and local Communist party cadres, evacuated 1.3 million people, more than 10 percent of the country's population, with not a single life lost, a heartening feat that went largely unmentioned in the U.S. press. On Day One of the disaster caused by Hurricane Katrina, it was already clear that hundreds, perhaps thousands, of American lives had been lost in New Orleans. Many people had "refused" to evacuate, media reporters explained, because they were just plain "stubborn." It was not until Day Three that the relatively affluent telecasters began to realize that tens of thousands of people had failed to flee because they had nowhere to go and no means of getting there. With hardly any cash at hand or no motor vehicle to call their own, they had to sit tight and hope for the best. In the end, the free market did not work so well for them. Many of these people were low-income African Americans, along with fewer numbers of poor whites. It should be remembered that most of them had jobs before Katrina's lethal visit. That's what most poor people do in this country: they work, usually quite hard at dismally paying jobs, sometimes more than one job at a time. They are poor not because they're lazy but because they have a hard time surviving on poverty wages while burdened by high prices, high rents, and regressive taxes. The free market played a role in other ways. Bush's agenda is to cut government services to the bone and make people rely on the private sector for the things they might need. So he sliced $71.2 million from the budget of the New Orleans Corps of Engineers, a 44 percent reduction. Plans to fortify New Orleans levees and upgrade the system of pumping out water had to be shelved. Bush took to the airways and said that no one could have foreseen this disaster. Just another lie tumbling from his lips. All sorts of people had been predicting disaster for New Orleans, pointing to the need to strengthen the levees and the pumps, and fortify the coastlands. In their campaign to starve out the public sector, the Bushite reactionaries also allowed developers to drain vast areas of wetlands. Again, that old invisible hand of the free market would take care of things. The developers, pursuing their own private profit, would devise outcomes that would benefit us all. But wetlands served as a natural absorbent and barrier between New Orleans and the storms riding in from across the sea. And for some years now, the wetlands have been disappearing at a frightening pace on the Gulf' coast. All this was of no concern to the reactionaries in the White House. As for the rescue operation, the free-marketeers like to say that relief to the more unfortunate among us should be left to private charity. It was a favorite preachment of President Ronald Reagan that "private charity can do the job." And for the first few days that indeed seemed to be the policy with the disaster caused by Hurricane Katrina. The federal government was nowhere in sight but the Red Cross went into action. Its message: "Don't send food or blankets; send money." Meanwhile Pat Robertson and the Christian Broadcasting Network---taking a moment off from God's work of pushing John Roberts nomination to the Supreme Court---called for donations and announced "Operation Blessing" which consisted of a highly-publicized but totally inadequate shipment of canned goods and bibles. By Day Three even the myopic media began to realize the immense failure of the rescue operation. People were dying because relief had not arrived. The authorities seemed more concerned with the looting than with rescuing people. It was property before people, just like the free marketeers always want. But questions arose that the free market did not seem capable of answering: Who was in charge of the rescue operation? Why so few helicopters and just a scattering of Coast Guard rescuers? Why did it take helicopters five hours to get six people out of one hospital? When would the rescue operation gather some steam? Where were the feds? The state troopers? The National Guard? Where were the buses and trucks? the shelters and portable toilets? The medical supplies and water? Where was Homeland Security? What has Homeland Security done with the $33.8 billions allocated to it in fiscal 2005? Even ABC-TV evening news (September 1, 2005) quoted local officials as saying that "the federal government's response has been a national disgrace." In a moment of delicious (and perhaps mischievous) irony, offers of foreign aid were tendered by France, Germany and several other nations. Russia offered to send two plane loads of food and other materials for the victims. Predictably, all these proposals were quickly refused by the White House. America the Beautiful and Powerful, America the Supreme Rescuer and World Leader, America the Purveyor of Global Prosperity could not accept foreign aid from others. That would be a most deflating and insulting role reversal. Were the French looking for another punch in the nose? Besides, to have accepted foreign aid would have been to admit the truth---that the Bushite reactionaries had neither the desire nor the decency to provide for ordinary citizens, not even those in the most extreme straits. Next thing you know, people would start thinking that George W. Bush was really nothing more than a fulltime agent of Corporate America. ------- Michael Parenti's recent books include Superpatriotism (City Lights) and The Assassination of Julius Caesar (New Press), both available in paperback. His forthcoming The Culture Struggle (Seven Stories Press) will be published in the fall. For more information visit: www.michaelparenti.org. ===================================This message has been brought to you by ZNet (http://www.zmag.org). Visit our site for subscription options.