“The only way left to affirm yourself in failed societies is to destroy.”
— Chris Hedges
The arc of my reading this morning was rooted in Hedges’ bracing essay on why the U.S. imposes a culture of cruelty on so many innocent victims. None of his examples of sadistic public policy were new to me, but taken together as a whole they paint a picture of surprisingly consistent cruelty.
It’s been decades since I let corporations tell me what news to pay attention to, so I went on from there to read some familiar websites like Pressenza and a newish one specific to my home state, the Maine Monitor (formerly Pine Tree Watch).
At Pressenza I read more about a situation I’ve seen some tweets about, “US Trying to Extradite Venezuelan Diplomat for the ‘Crime’ of Securing Food for the Hungry: The Case of Alex Saab v. The Empire by Roger D. Harris. It’s one pungent example of U.S. economic warfare via sanctions enforced by incarceration.
Did you know that one-third of nations on our planet are under some form of collective punishment via U.S. sanctions?
Some awareness of history suggests that sanctions nearly always precede our invasions and bombing campaigns to control other nations’ resources. Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright famously defended sanctions imposed on Iraq that resulted in the death of an estimated 500,000 children: “I think that is a very hard choice, but the price, the price is worth it.”
This was before her confirmation hearings, by the way, but apparently posed no barrier to her joining the Clinton cabinet. Perhaps cruelty is actually a requirement for those who serve the empire?
Children are also the victims in Maine. When their parents are incarcerated, often for non-violent crimes and often for simply being too poor to pay fines or make bail, children struggle to stay in touch. As a former school teacher I know from personal experience how much kids struggle when a parent is in jail. But both public and private jails in Maine make money from gouging families for phone calls with loved ones. “As families struggle to afford 15-minute phone calls from jail, Maine counties rake in millions” by Samantha Hogan provides the satanic details.
Zoom back out to the big picture, where children are going to bed hungry while billionaires buy another mansion. From Children’s Defense Fund:
As of February 2021, more than 1 in 5 Black and Hispanic adults with children (22.8% and 20.6%, respectively) said their households were not getting enough to eat compared with 1 in 10 white adults with children (10.4%).
Cruelty as public policy is designed to engender fear, according to Hedges. Turning it back on the perpetrators is what is required now:
“History has amply illustrated how this process works. It is a game of fear.
And until we make them afraid, until a terrified Joe Biden and the oligarchs he serves look out on a sea of pitchforks, we will not blunt the culture of sadism they have engineered.”