Friday, September 24, 2004

China paves the way for possible return of the Dalai Lama

Some good news today from the UK Independent says China is paving the way for a possible return of the Dalai Lama.

So many changes are taking place within China. Great things could happen before the Olympics open in Beijing in 2008. Hosting the Olympic games would be a great PR opportunity for China to show the world it is changing for the better.

The report, written by Jasper Becker in Beijing and dated September 24, 2004, is copied here in full for writing a post on at a later date as and when more news appears.

Envoys of the Dalai Lama are in Tibet discussing his possible return to the disputed mountain nation. Lodi Gyari, the Dalai Lama's quasi ambassador in Washington, is leading a four-man delegation which arrived in China a week ago.

It is the third such visit since contact was re-established between the two sides in September 2002.

Western diplomats believe that the resumption of talks is cause for optimism that the Tibetan holy leader could return home. "For the first time you have a Chinese leader who knows Tibet," said one diplomat.

Hu Jintao, who became head of the Chinese Communist Party two years ago, was party secretary of the Tibet Autonomous Region from 1988 to 1992. His predecessor, Jiang Zemin, retired from his last post on Sunday, leaving Mr Hu in complete control over foreign and domestic policies.

Mr Hu may push a more conciliatory line over Tibet and other issues as part of a broader effort both to normalise China's political system and to improve its international image.

Mary Beth Markey, executive director of the International Campaign for Tibet, said: "Considering Beijing's timeline for exhibiting itself as a world leader at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, initial steps must be taken now to reach a solution for Tibet."

The US government has repeatedly called for discussions between the Chinese government and the Dalai Lama or his representatives. Progress on Tibet is also necessary if a European Union arms embargo is to be lifted.

The first official EU visit to Tibet since 1998 starts next week. A group of ambassadors will be gathering information on human rights in preparation for a new round of EU-China talks.

The last visit in May 1998 was a disaster for all concerned. Unbeknown to the delegation of EU ambassadors, a protest broke out during their visit to the notorious Drapchi Prison, and a unit of China's People's Armed Police (PAP) were called in to suppress it. Eleven Tibetan prisoners were thought to have died in the weeks following the protests.

All the current political prisoners in Drapchi are still suffering from the tight restrictions placed on them as a consequence of that incident, even if they were not involved in the peaceful protests. Some political prisoners are reportedly still detained in punishment blocks. This time the EU ambassadors will not be going to Drapchi.

At the heart of the negotiations being conducted by Mr Gyari are efforts to find a formula to allow the Dalai Lama to return to Tibet as a religious leader in return for acknowledging Beijing's sovereignty over the country.

The Tibetans are seeking guarantees that the Dalai Lama would be permitted to live all the year in the Potala Palace and not be kept a virtual prison in Beijing. The Dalai Lama wants to have full control over the publication and editing of all religious texts and undisputed authority to appoint the abbots of monasteries and supervise the choice of the reincarnations of all living Buddhas. The Dalai Lama also wants full freedom to leave the country when he wishes and the right to travel to all regions of China inhabited by Tibetans. The majority of the seven million Tibetans live outside the boundaries of the Tibet Autonomous Region.

Officials working in Tibet fear that such is the Tibetans' deep reverence for the Dalai Lama that once he is installed in the Potala, he will inevitably become the source of all authority. Any theoretical separation of church and state will be impossible to maintain and the Chinese Communist Party will lose its influence over the Tibetans.

The Dalai Lama formally abandoned his ambition for full independence at the end of the 1980s and staked out what he calls his "middle way". His envoys had made some progress in the 1980s but both sides were caught out by a series of pro-independence protests in Tibet. The issue became tangled up in the struggle between hardliners and reformers in Beijing.

While in power Mr Jiang took a consistently hard line on both Tibet and Taiwan, partly to bolster his position, especially with the powerful Chinese military. Now that Mr Hu, who is 16 years younger, has replaced Mr Jiang as chairman of the Central Military Commission, he is better placed to stamp his own authority on a more moderate Tibet policy.

If formal talks were to start, discussions might well focus on the 17-point agreement made between the Tibetans and the Chinese Communists after the People's Liberation Army marched into Tibet in 1951. When this agreement was broken by Chairman Mao, who insisted on spreading the Communist Revolution to the Tibetans, they revolted and the Dalai Lama fled to India in 1959.

Dalai Lama's Five-Point Peace Plan for the restoration of peace and human rights in Tibet

The International Campaign for Tibet works to promote human rights and democratic freedoms for the people of Tibet.

Founded in 1988, ICT is a non-profit membership organisation with offices in Washington, Amsterdam and Berlin.

The following is an excerpt from ICT's website that outlines the Dalai Lama's Five-Point Peace Plan.

The Dalai Lama's Proposals

In 1987 the Dalai Lama proposed a Five-Point Peace Plan for the restoration of peace and human rights in Tibet. The plan called for:  
1. Transformation of the whole of Tibet into a zone of Ahimsa, demilitarized zone of peace and non-violence.        

2. Abandonment of China's population transfer policy, which threatened the very existence of the Tibetans as a people.        

3. Respect for the Tibetan people's fundamental human rights and democratic freedoms;        

4. Restoration of and protection of Tibet's natural environment and abandonment of China's use of Tibet for the production of nuclear weapons and dumping of nuclear waste;        

5. Commencement of earnest negotiations on the future status of Tibet and of relations between the Tibetan and Chinese people. 

In 1988 the Dalai Lama elaborated on the fifth point, proposing a concrete framework of negotiations. Tibet, he suggested, should become fully self-governing under a democratically elected government. China could maintain responsibility for the overall foreign policy of Tibet and, until such time as the Tibetan zone of Ahimsa is set up, following a regional conference on peace, China would also be permitted to maintain a restricted number of troops in Tibet for defensive purposes only.   

These proposals were well received internationally, although the Chinese rejected them. At least, until the June 1989 crackdown on China's democracy movement, however, the Chinese indicated a willingness to talk in its communications with the Tibetan government in exile. This willingness was, it is now believed, in large part due to international pressure on China to negotiate with the Dalai Lama. Once again, communication between Beijing and the Tibetan government in exile has opened up but nothing substantive has resulted.   

In August of 1993, two Tibetan representatives traveled to discuss the possibility of substantive negotiations. However, no major advances were made. Instead the Chinese only reiterated their empty statement that they are willing to discuss anything other then independence, while at the same time refusing to respond to any such initiatives by the Dalai Lama.
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ICT's website states the current situation as follows, but unfortunately the report is undated.

Current Situation

Today the situation in Tibet is increasingly tense. The influx of Chinese increases; peaceful demonstrations in Lhasa and elsewhere take place despite the strong and often violent reaction of Chinese security forces. Thousands of Tibetans are imprisoned for their political or religious activities; torture is carried out regularly on detainees; Tibetans are rarely permitted to leave the country and access to Tibet by exiled Tibetans is limited. China has just opened Tibet to tourism, both individual and group, and to wider economic development. The "economic miracle" of China does not apply to Tibet, however, since the only community that is benefiting from economic incentives is the Chinese community. Indeed, the Chinese authorities are so worried that Tibetan political activity might disrupt business and public relations that repression in the major towns - and at the major monasteries - is very tight.   

In recent years, and especially since the award to the Dalai Lama of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989, the concern shown by governments in Europe and the America, in particular, has grown considerably. A number of parliamentary bodies have passed resolutions condemning human rights violations in Tibet and calling for a peaceful resolution of the conflict in accordance with the Dalai Lama's plan. Heads of state, foreign ministers and other political leaders have received the Dalai Lama and his representatives and have shown a desire to be of assistance in promoting a peaceful resolution to the conflict, and thereby contributing to greater peace in the entire region. However, pressure tactics by China have thwarted efforts to make substantive headway to resolve the issue, and Tibet has continued to pay a terrible price for the failure of the world community to seriously challenge China on its behavior there. [end of report]

Friday, September 17, 2004

TIBET: CRY OF THE SNOW LION - Dalai Lama's Five Point Peace Plan

This movie review, with new photos, has moved to above post dated Thursday, September 29, 2005


China, Egypt, and the new alliance of China with Arab and African states

The following post entitled "China, Egypt, and the new alliance of China with Arab and African states" is authored by Jim Moore and copied here, in full, for future reference:

For some time I have been emphasizing that the Chinese are in the process of establishing deep relationships with the more authoritarian leaders in the Arab and African world.  My now many months of study of the situation in Sudan has helped me see that the Chinese are powerfully exploiting the opportunity provided by an Arab world frightened of the US, and wishing to preserve its authoritarian social structures and abusive human rights practices.  For China these alliances solve a big and rapidly expanding problem: how to supply itself with oil, and do so in the face of increased demand from other nations as well.

Here are two stories from Al-Alwah, the independent English-language newspaper based in Egypt.  This is not a radical paper, nor is it a propaganda organ. These pieces are important to understand and absorb. 

The first is a news report on the recent meeting of Arab League foreign ministers, and how all the nations are so afraid of the US, and so split in how to respond, that nothing could be done in concert at the meeting. United in fear, by Dina Ezzat

For this official and many Arab diplomats the pacific nature of this week's meeting of Arab foreign ministers, and of the meeting of Arab ministers of economy -- under the umbrella of the Arab Economic and Social Council -- which preceded it, should not be read as an indication of a new-found unity of purpose.

"Not at all. It is just that we have given up hoping to do anything, or for that matter to say anything," said one permanent representative to the Arab League. He elaborated that rather than attempt to bridge the deep chasms dividing them, the Arab states seem to have conceded that these are insurmountable.

The dividing line, he went on to explain, is delineated by the nature of relations with the US. "Some of us have more than strategic ties with the US while some others are still being viewed by the US as enemies. And at the end of the day we are all afraid of the US, either out of fear of military intervention and economic sanctions, or because of the military and security dependence that some Arab countries have on the US."

Such caving in to a regional Pax Americana is ominous, suggest a number of Arab diplomats, one described it as "disturbing and indicative of the disintegration of the Arab regional system".

Here is one of many fascinating examples of diplomatic signalling at the meeting.  Syria seems to be trying to figure out how to come to positive terms with the US, or at least to be working hard to avoid provoking the US:

On the eve of the Arab foreign ministers meeting Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Mohamed Al-Sobbah, speaking on behalf of the GCC, made an unprecedented call upon Syria to pull out its troops out of Lebanon.

Jordanian Foreign Minister Marwan Al-Moashar, whose country shares the GCC's close relationship with the US, took a similar line. In a statement he made before arriving in Cairo, he said Amman was expecting Syria to respond to the demands made by UN Security Council Resolution 1559. The resolution calls on Syria to pull its troops out of Lebanon.

For their part, neither the Syrian nor the Lebanese delegations asked for the Arab foreign ministers meeting to adopt a stance against this resolution.

The joint Syrian-Lebanese demand was for an Arab resolution that indicates support for both countries in the face of any potential aggression.

Syrian diplomats were "working very hard to structure a new relationship with the US on the basis of mutual cooperation on regional security matters in Iraq on one hand and Syria- Lebanon-Palestine, on the other" said one Arab diplomat. Damascus was not expecting Arab foreign ministers to take a stance against the harsh US anti- Syrian rhetoric.

The second is an op-ed that discusses the potential of the emerging Chinese-Arab relationship as a counter to the "Zionist-American" threat.  I do not put these articles up to be provacative at all, but only because I think they represent a kind of thinking, a political reality, that we need to understand as we address issues in the Arab and African world--such as the genocide in Sudan.  China's message to the Arabs, by Anouar Abdel-Malek

There is light at the end of the tunnel. The ideas, sentiments, and interests of the Arabs and China have come together at last, under the auspices of the Arab League. Sino-Arab cooperation can release the potential of two of the world's greatest civilisations. The visit to Cairo by Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing has opened the way for a great partnership, one that may influence the course of our progress, one that may save us from the buffeting winds of this increasingly perilous world. But what do the Arabs and Chinese have in common? Why is it that we need to forge close ties with Asia, and particularly the Chinese? And do the ancient countries of the Silk Road have much in common?

Later in the piece he gives his answer:

...With the Zionist-American aggression besieging, and haemorrhaging, our nations, one is tempted to think of where we have gone wrong with strategy. At a time when aggression follows aggression, when our independence and unity are at stake, one is tempted to acknowledge the message China has for Egypt and the Arab world. The message is best conveyed in the words of Sun Tzu, China's leading political and strategic writer of the fifth century BC. In The Art of War, the world's oldest military treatise, Sun Tzu has this to say: "To win one hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the acme of skill. What is of supreme importance in war is to attack the enemy's strategy."

This is the message we have to keep in mind. It is a message that is inherent to our freedom, to our quest to resist the waves of turmoil and bloodshed coming our way, to our inherent revulsion at an international order controlled by a single power. The Zionist- American quest is wreaking havoc on the Arab world, from Iraq to Palestine and beyond. And it is not armies alone that we have to worry about. It is the thinking that sent the armies, and the strategy that lies behind that thinking.

We have to remember the word of Sun Tzu, and "attack the enemy's strategy". This is what the Arabs and Chinese have in common: the need for a strategy of their own. There is great potential here and in Asia, and this potential does not have to remain unexplored. If we want to survive the Zionist-American quest we have to reformulate our own.

There is a tremendous strategic opening right now.  It seems to me that on the one hand, US action--reckless though it has been--has unfrozen situations that have been static and unyielding, such as relationships with Syria, as indicated by talk at the Arab League meeting.

On the other hand, into this "unfrozen" and amorphous situation the Chinese are moving quickly, offering an alternative to the US.

And the US mechanism of unfreezing--war--has led to fear becoming the main response to the US, with respect following.  On the other hand, it seems that many in the Arab and African world have a new respect for China, and do not particularly fear her.  This bodes well for China in creating alliances, obviously, and not so well for the US.

I do not believe that either US presidential candidate, or either US administration, is adequately paying attention to this situation.  And yet China is clearly the second most powerful nation on earth now--and gaining.    The combined Arab and African worlds contain vast oil reserves.  These worlds also are controlled by a number of the world's most authoritarian governments.  If we care about any of the following--US economic and political leadership, US access to oil, or the promotion of democracy and human rights across the world--we need to be paying attention.  All points on the political spectrum will find important issues in this situation: "nationalists," "realists," and "idealists."

Posted by James Moore on 9/17/04; 2:37:45 AM from the Economics and cybenetics dept

Further reading:

[Note to self: insert links here to Jim Moore's other posts on China and 'The Genocide Bloc']
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Courtesy of Third World Traveler

Here are some quotes, courtesy Third World Traveler. The first three are my favourites:

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."

Margaret Mead
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"The only way to abolish war is to make peace heroic."

John Dewey, American philosopher and educator, 1859-1952
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"It is only when a society shares caring values that its people can feel secure."

Michael Lerner, philosopher, psychologist, author
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"Individuals have international duties which transcend the national obligations of obedience ... Therefore [individual citizens] have the duty to violate domestic laws to prevent crimes against peace and humanity from occurring."

Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunal, 1950
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"If we'd been born where they were born and taught what they were taught, we would believe what they believe.

A sign inside a church in Northern Ireland, explaining the origin of intolerance and hate
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"Many of us regard ourselves as mildly liberal or centrist politically, voice fairly pleasant sentiments about our poor children, contribute money to send poor kids to summer camp, feel benevolent. We're not nazis; we're nice people. We read sophisticated books. We go to church. We go to synagogue. Meanwhile, we put other people's children into an economic and environmental death zone. We make it hard for them to get out. We strip the place bare of amenities. And we sit back and say to ourselves, "Well, I hope that they don't kill each other off. But if they do, it's not my fault."

Jonathan Kozol, educator and author
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"The range of debate between the dominant U.S. [political] parties tends to closely resemble the range of debate within the business class."

Robert McChesney, author and media critic
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"Quite simply, there can be no popular sovereignty without a real belief in the value of government. If government does not assume and carry out public responsibilities, less accountable institutions such as the corporation will do the job in their own self-interest."

Charles Derber, Corporation Nation
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"They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."

Benjamin Franklin, 1759
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"If those in charge of our society - politicians, corporate executives, and owners of press and television - can dominate our ideas, they will be secure in their power. They will not need soldiers patrolling the streets. We will control ourselves."

Howard Zinn, historian and author
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"The goal of conservative rulers around the world, led by those who occupy the seats of power in Washington, is the systematic rollback of democratic gains, public services, and common living standards around the world."

Michael Parenti
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"To accept opinions is to gain the good solid feeling of being correct without having to think."

C. Wright Mills - from the book The Power Elite
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"Propaganda is to a democracy what violence is to a dictatorship."

William Blum - Rogue State, on how governments control their citizens
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"Conceit, arrogance and egotism are the essentials of patriotism.... Patriotism assumes that our globe is divided into little spots, each one surrounded by an iron gate. Those who had the fortune of being born on some particular spot, consider themselves better, nobler, grander, more intelligent than the living beings inhabiting any other spot. It is, therefore, the duty of everyone living on that chosen spot to fight, kill, and die in the attempt to impose his superiority upon all others."

Emma Goldman, American anarchist and feminist, 1869-1940
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"The United States is not only number one in military power but also in the effectiveness of its propaganda system."

Edward S. Herman, political economist and author
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"In the United States, both the upper levels of the Republican and Democratic Parties are in the pay of the corporate media and communication giants."

Robert McChesney and John Nichols, media critics and authors
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"The most unpardonable sin in society is independence of thought."

Emma Goldman, American anarchist and feminist, 1869-1940
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"For the last fifty years we've been supporting right-wing governments, and that is a puzzlement to me...I don't understand what there is in the American character... that almost automatically, even when we have a liberal President, we support fascist dictatorships or are tolerant towards them."

William Shirer, author
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"No form of government, once in power, can be trusted to limit its own ambition, to extend freedom and to wither away. This means that it is up to the citizenry, those outside of power, to engage in permanent combat with the state, short of violent, escalatory revolution, but beyond the gentility of the ballot-box, to insure justice, freedom and well being."

Howard Zinn, on the need for dissent and non-violent protest
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" I am astonished each time I come to the U.S. by the ignorance of a high percentage of the population, which knows almost nothing about Latin America or about the world. It's quite blind and deaf to anything that may happen outside the frontiers of the U.S."

Eduardo Galeano, Latin American writer and historian
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" When everyone is thinking the same, no one is thinking."

John Wooden
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"To provide its happy people with perpetual fun is now the deepest purpose of Western civilization."

Jeremy Seabrook, Third World Network
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" With unfailing consistancy, U.S. intervention has been on the side of the rich and powerful of various nations at the expense of the poor and needy. Rather than strengthening democracies, U.S. leaders have overthrown numerous democratically elected governments or other populist regimes in dozens of countries ... whenever these nations give evidence of putting the interests of their people ahead of the interests of multinational corporate interests."

Michael Parenti, political scientist and author
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" If an American is concerned only about his nation, he will not be concerned about the peoples of Asia, Africa, or South America. Is this not why nations engage in the madness of war without the slightest sense of penitence? Is this not why the murder of a citizen of your own nation is a crime, but the murder of citizens of another nation in war is an act of heroic virtue? "

Martin Luther King, Jr.
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"The only thing worth globalizing is dissent."

Arundhati Roy, author
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"There is no reason to accept the doctrines crafted to sustain power and privilege, or to believe that we are constrained by mysterious and unknown social laws. These are simply decisions made within institutions that are subject to human will and that must face the test of legitimacy. And if they do not meet the test, they can be replaced by other institutions that are more free and more just, as has happened often in the past."

Noam Chomsky, American linguist and US media and foreign policy critic
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"What would have happened if millions of American and British people, struggling with coupons and lines at the gas stations, had learned that in 1942 Standard Oil of New Jersey [part of the Rockefeller empire] managers shipped the enemy's fuel through neutral Switzerland and that the enemy was shipping Allied fuel?

Suppose the public had discovered that the Chase Bank in Nazi-occupied Paris after Pearl Harbor was doing millions of dollars' worth of business with the enemy with the full knowledge of the head office in Manhattan [the Rockefeller family among others?] Or that Ford trucks were being built for the German occupation troops in France with authorization from Dearborn, Michigan? Or that Colonel Sosthenes Behn, the head of the international American telephone conglomerate ITT, flew from New York to Madrid to Berne during the war to help improve Hitler's communications systems and improve the robot bombs that devastated London? Or that ITT built the FockeWulfs that dropped bombs on British and American troops? Or that crucial balI bearings were shipped to Nazi-associated customers in Latin America with the collusion of the vice-chairman of the U.S. War Production Board in partnership with Goering's cousin in Philadelphia when American forces were desperately short of them? Or that such arrangements were known about in Washington and either sanctioned or deliberately ignored?"

Charles Higham, researcher, about U.S.- Nazi collaboration during WWII
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"Four sorrows ... are certain to be visited on the United States. Their cumulative effect guarantees that the U.S. will cease to resemble the country outlined in the Constitution of 1787.

First, there will be a state of perpetual war, leading to more terrorism against Americans wherever they may be and a spreading reliance on nuclear weapons among smaller nations as they try to ward off the imperial juggernaut.

Second is a loss of democracy and Constitutional rights as the presidency eclipses Congress and is itself transformed from a co-equal 'executive branch' of government into a military junta.

Third is the replacement of truth by propaganda, disinformation, and the glorification of war, power, and the military legions.

Lastly, there is bankruptcy, as the United States pours its economic resources into ever more grandiose military projects and shortchanges the education, health, and safety of its citizens."

Chalmers Johnson, Sorrows of Empire
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"Corporations care very much about maintaining the myth that government is necessarily ineffective, except when it is spending money on the military-industrial complex, building prisons, or providing infrastructural support for the business sector."

Michael Lerner, philosopher, psychologist, author
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" If envy were the cause of terrorism, Beverly Hills [and] Fifth Avenue ... would have become targets long ago. "

Fareed Zakaria, Newsweek
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"Those in power are blind devotees to private enterprise. They accept that degree of socialism implicit in the vast subsidies to the military-industrial-complex, but not that type of socialism which maintains public projects for the disemployed and the unemployed alike."

William O. Douglas, former U.S. Supreme Court Justice, 1969
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"Leaders symbolize what the country stands for. As corruption becomes routine in Washington in both parties, it trickles down as a corrupting influence in everyone's lives... Democracy is the ultimate casualty, and the sapping of democratic life is the most serious contribution of corporate ascendancy to our spiritual decline. As democracy ebbs, Americans retreat into private cocoons, feeling helpless to make a difference... In a democracy, civic participation and the belief in one's ability to contribute to the common good is the most important guarantor of public morality. When that belief fades, so too does the vision of the common good itself."

Charles Derber, Corporation Nation