September 30 2001

Dear Friends,

It is time to talk about the logic and processes of Capital. 

For many of us, there was a jagged line that ran from the standardization of education to high-stakes tests to child-consumers (not citizens) to warriors. For some of us, the line remained jagged but could be extended to fascism, but that seemed far off. That jagged line now appears as a straight line, although it is assuredly (and thankfully) incomplete.

Now, looking down that line, it becomes clear that there is at least one well-spring, capital, which is no longer obscure. Bertell Ollman has written a short piece about this:

To the chase:

Anti-war, anti racist demonstrations took place all over the US on Saturday. According to the Washington Post, 10,000 people marched in DC. 2000 people marched in LA. Columbus Ohio had 200 demonstrators. 150 marched in Kalamazoo. The is far more sentiment for sanity than what existed at the beginnings of the war in Vietnam. 

There is new information on the Rouge Forum www site, including material from Chomsky, Zinn, and the usual suspects. Then there is the poem by Dr Muggins:

We await the Big War. National rhetoric seems to be trailing the President's learning curve. At the outset, the language moved quickly from "justice" to "retribution" and "wanted dead or alive" with promises of an anti-Afghan pogrom. Now, as reality sinks in, the speech turns to "international cooperation in a surgical operation against terrorists only, not the people of any nation." Relearning who to hate so quickly can be unsettling. It will be hard to calm the blood-lust created by the early discourse with just one body, Usama Bin Laden's, when a minimum of 6,000 seems to be on the table. If Usama has just 3000 committed fighters, as ABC's Nightline claims, then the USA will need to find 3000 more. 

Note too the inversion of the postures: Bush, the big unilateralist who scoffed at NATO and the UN, who led the US walk-out at the world conference on racism, is now the great coalitionist who moves only in unison with other nations. Free market discourse disappeared in favor of airline bailouts (and we know that when it came to the military, the free market was in the time-out room) aimed at airline bosses, not the workforce.. More than 100,000 airline workers are laid off. Language about a war for peace and freedom seems to crash against the fact of the current lock-down in Cincinnati.

The twin parties of capital a ululating for war in one unified howl. AlGore is calling Bush, "My Commander." 

All the Flag Days strung red, white, and blue proclaiming that WE are under attack and all in this together n every city in the USA do not overcome the fact that we are not all in this together, that we are divided in daily life by owning or not owning, bosses and workers, Masters and Slaves, to use Hegel's metaphor. 

The message from the predictable leaders of the left, however, has been disappointing. Zinn, Said, Chomsky, talk about our current condition in terms of civil liberties, the connections of historical background, of a heritage of democracy, peace. One article goes so far as to rightly point and say, "It's the Oil, Stupid!", as we too have said on our www page.

In a debate on NPR on September 29, , a representative from Z magazine, long practically the sole voice of the left, argued for a UN war crimes commission, as opposed to war on Afghanistan. This simply will not do anymore.. 

As Dr Muggins says in the poem linked above, it is not just evil notions (nationalism, racism, hatred, sexism, war, injustice) that are loosed now, but the logic of Capital working at hyper-pace, as it must. The normalcy that some commentators want to return to was rooted in massive international unemployment, overproduction, wars on every continent but two (which sent combatants to the others), poverty-related epidemics, a pathological NASDAQ fantasy that was witnessed on television by starving children, and, in every instance, exploitation racing against the company next door. (see Krugman in the NY Times magazine September 30)

Why did this happen? Oil? Yes. Fanatical irrationalism? Yes. But no. At the head and heart of this is capita, the deadly need to exploit at peak capacity. To not say so, and to not say we must live to learn without it, to overcome it, to live in a world based on From Each According to Their Commitment to Each According to their Need, to not declare that as our vision of what can be; that leads us into silly debates over whether Capital's United Nation or Capital's US Delta Force should oppress the people of the world. 

Yes, we need to make a withering assault on the horrible history of racism and nationalism (see The Continuing Appeal of Nationalism, here: )

Yes we must demonstrate that the move to religious fanaticism has a long history and philosophical roots. 

But we should at the same time point a finger and say, "Capital, as it must be as long as it is."

It is the processes of Capital, the war of all on all, in which the Masters, if they are to remain Masters, must, absolutely must, take the most from the most in order to survive, and if they do not, the logic of capital, which cares not a damn who is running it, mastering the masters, must move on to the next most exploitative suitor. 

Capital is at its best in human destruction: addicted smokers for example. The product rises from the soil, workers cannot be paid the full value of their labor in the creation of the product (their social relation with nature) or the Masters will cease to be Masters. Then the product is passed along to people who become addicted, destroying the product, which must be made again, always at a profit. War works in the same way. Capital requires war. It is war every day as the masters of capital must force people to labor to live and survive, , then force them again so the masters can live better. 

In the broader context of genuine class war, Big fish will eat Little fish. Small businesses in the wrong niche will be crushed. Some big businesses will be swallowed. Leaving the Nasdaq crowd, capital will move along to the war manufacturers like Dupont, home to napalm. Those who personify capital marry a flirt. The Microsoft monopoly lawsuit will get a wink and disappear. The cigarette manufacturers will try to sneak smokes to the soldiers. 

In every nation, every boss must out of necessity look at this coming war and think (not just race and family and nation and peace) but: profit. Or die. 

The fragile coalition that Bush builds right now is compromised at every angle by that singular goal, profit, of every member. As the US moves troops to the Middle East, each member of the coalition will be wondering about how to get closer to those oil fields, in order to saddle capital, in order to survive. They have no other choice. A coalition built on sheer opportunism will not long stand. Its shattering could be much more explosive than the attack on the World Trade Center.

Just as the line from the standardization of education has its connections, so does the line from Oil War to Capital's War, an international war of the rich on the poor, have its links. Even if new forms of energy were found, the needs of capital would remain. Until we make a conscious decision to work with what we have, a truly internationalized society with the technological ability to take care of all, if we can share, and until we take conscious action rooted in that democratic and egalitarian outlook, we will live with the war of all on all. There is, in life, a connection of reason and power, which we must forge now. 

Pointing at capital and declaring it is not enough, as educators know. At issue, too, is how people learn about the deadly requirements of the social system, how they learn about it, in order to never replicate it again. The Correct Demands and Putting People in Motion will not do either. We need to listen to people and organize using the same constructivist critical methods we use to teach. Capital thrives on crises and destruction. Only a mass conscious decision to live otherwise can stop it. 

To the practical: What can we do?


We have already assigned our legal-eagle to researching the routes out of war for young men and women who are now around that age. If, as promised, this is an endless war, there will be some, maybe many, who choose not to war. It is likely that the traditional route out, Canada, will be closed over time. It may ben however, that there are things youths and parents can do now to maneuver toward the future: get landed immigrant status somewhere, be a CO, whatever. 

Still, there will be many, most, trapped by the economic draft. Months before the September 11 terrorist assault, we had begun research on the GI coffee shop movement from the Vietnam era. That research is not yet done, hardly begun. This goal will take some time. But we are assured of a long war. 

Short Term?

We have already described what might be done. These pieces seem to stand up well.

Stand up to racism and war.

Teach well.

Build Community.

Expose the lies. Here are two:

Today, MSNBC is saying that the Taliban survives by running heroin. That is a lie. For all the horrors of the Taliban, it is the Northern Alliance that is composed of heroin traders. Moreover, any mass military adventure into Afghanistan is going to create a world wide heroin epidemic.

Today, the NY Times revealed that the CIA, which created bin Laden, has been trying to assassinate him for three years. The implications of this are obvious. 

If nothing else, write a letter to the editor:

To the Editor:

Once passenger screening is done, any effort by passengers or crew to

prevent passengers from boarding solely because of their appearance (front

page, Sept. 23) should not be met with anxious detachment or quiet

sympathy but with the simple statement: "I, too, am of the wrong race. I insist

that I be ejected, too. We are all Arabs and Afghans."

The friends and enemies made will be worth the price of lost time. 


San Diego, Sept. 23, 2001

Can we overcome. Yes. At issue is how much time and life will pass. A sense of urgent patience, and a sense of humor will help. Work still sucks. People still wonder why the rhetoric of their leaders so rarely appears in life. All the Friday Flag Days in school do not offer youths the chance to be creative or democratic citizens. All the curricular demands for abstinence will not stop desire and love. The thousands of deeds of millions of rescuers will always outweigh the desperate acts of a few terrorists. Here is a note by Stephen Jay Gould: 

Thanks to TLS, John, Tom W, Dave, Tim, Hope L, Herb, Rapid Robert, Sarah, Jackie, Tamara, Marc, and Harold 

Birthday Greetings to Mary on her, well, who counts?!

All the best, r 

No Blood For Oil Page