Sunday, March 25, 2012

Gore Vidal, "Imperial America: Reflections on the United States of Amnesia."

"Certain of our rights, such as freedom of speech, were said to be inalienable. But a significant minority has never accepted the idea of so much freedom for so many. That is why, from 1791 to the present day, the ongoing drama of our Republic has been the relentless attack of the prosperous few upon the rights of the restless many - often masked as the righteous will of the minority against the deviant few. The current Supreme Court is clearly dedicated to the removal or alienation
of as many of our inalienable rights as possible on the specious ground that what the founders did not spell out as a 'right' was not a right at all, but some sort of unpatriotic, unAmerican activity."

"For thirty years I have made the same proposal to correct the great corruption. No candidate or party may buy time or space in the media. Give free media time and space to all candidates. Limit national election campaigns to four or six of eight weeks, which is more or less, what the other First World countries do. A single act of Congress could make our elections unbuyable. However, those who have been elected by the present system are not about to change it."

"When Japan surrendered, the United States was faced with a choice: Either disarm, as we had done in the past, and enjoy the prosperity that comes from releasing so much wealth and energy to the private sector, or maintain ourseles on a full military basis, which would mean a tight control not only over our allies and such conquered provinces as West Germany, Italy, and Japan but over the economic - which is to say the political - lives of the American people. As Charles
E. Wilson, a businessman and politician of hte day day, said as early as 1944'Instead of looking to disarmament and unpreparedness as a safeguard against war, a thoroughly discredited doctrine, let us try the opposite: full preparedness according to a continuing plan.'

The accidental president, Harry Truman, bought this notion. Although Truman campaigned in 1948 as an heir to Rossevelt's New Deal, he had a 'continuing plan.' Henry Wallace was onto it, as early as: 'Yesterday, March 12, 1947, marked a turning point in American history, for it is not a Greek crisis that we face, it is an American crisis. Yesterday, President Truman... proposed, in effect, American police Russia's every border. There is no regime too reactionary for us
provided it stands in Russia's expansionist past. There is no country too remote to serve as the scene of a context which may widen until it becomes a world war.' But how to impose this? The Republican leadership did not like the state to be hte master of the country's economic life while, of the Democrats, only a few geopoliticians, like Dean Acheson, found thrilling the prospects
of a military state, to be justified in the name of a holy war against something called communism in general and Russia in particular. The fact that the Soviet Union was no military or economic threat to us was immaterial. It must be made to appear threatening so that the continuing plan could be set in motion in order to create the National Security State in which we have been living
for the past forty years."

"The business of our third republic is war, or defense, as it's been euphemistically called since 1949. As a result, of the thirty five years since the end of WWII, the United States has managed to be at war (hot and cold) for thirty; and if the Bank has its way, we shall soon be at war again, this time on a really large scale. But then, as Banksman Grover Cleveland observed so presciently almost a century ago, 'the United States is not a country to which peace is necessary.'"

"The day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the Supreme Being as his father,in the womb of a virgin, will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter." - Thomas Jefferson

"Twenty times, in the course of my late reading, have I been on the point of breaking out. 'This would be the best of all possible worlds, if there was no religion in it.'" - John Adams

"As Ben Franklin observed brightly, sooner or later,every republic becomes a tyranny. They liked reading history, the Framers."

"With the surrender of Japan in 1945, thelast official war ended. But the undeclared wars - or "police actions" - now began with a vengeance, and our presidents are very much on the march. Through secret organizations like the CIA, they subvert foreign governments, organize invasions of countries they do not like, kill or try to kill foreign leaders while spying, illegally, on American
Citizens. The Presidents have fought two major wars - in Korea and Vietnma - without any declaration of war on the part of Congress."

"Thomas Jefferson thought that there should be a contsitutional convention at least
once a generation because 'laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths disclosed, and manners and opinions change with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also, and keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him as a boy, as a civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors.'"

"The fact that the country is so much larger than it was makes for an appearance of variety. But the substance of the two-party system or non-system is unchanged. Those with large amounts of property control the parties which control the state which takes through taxes the people's money and gives
a certain amount of it back in order to keep the populace docile while reserving a sizable part of tax revenue for the oligarchy's use in the form of 'purchases' for the defense department, which is the unnumbered, as it were, bank accounts of the rulers."

"The welfare system is the price that the white majority pays in order to exclude the black minority from the general society."

"I belong to a minority that is now one of hte smallest in the country and, with every day, grows smaller. I am a veteranof WWII. And I can recall thinking, when I got out of the Army in 1946, Well, that's that. We won. And those who come after us will never need to do this again. Then came the two mad wars of imperial vanity - Korea and Vietnam. They were bitter for us, not to mention for the so called enemy. Next we were enrolled in a perpetual war against what seemed
to be the enemy-of-the-month club. This war kept major revenues going to military procurement and secret police, while whitholding money fromus, the taxpayers, with our petty concerns for life,libery, and the pursuit of happiness.
But no matter how corrupt our system became over the last century - and I lived through three quarters of it - we still held on to the Constitution and, above all, to the Bill of Rights. No matter how bad things got, I never once believed that I would see a great part of the nation - of we the people, unconsulted and unrepresented in a matter of war and peace - demonstrating in such numbers against
an arbitrary and secret goverment, preparing and conducting wars for us, or at least for an army recruited from the unemployed to fight in. Sensibly, they now leave much of the fighting to the uneductated, to the excluded."

"[Ben] Franklin urged the [Constitutional] convention to accept the Constitution despite what he took to be its great faults, because it might, he said, provide good government in the short term. 'There is no form of government but what may be a blessing to the people if well administered, and I believe farther that this is likley to be wll administered for a course of years, and can only end in Despotism, as other forms have done before it, when the people shall become so corrupted as to need despotic Government, being incapable of any other.'"

"We had promised to give the Filipinos their independence from Spain. Then we changed our mind, killing some 200,000 of them inthe process of Americanizing them."

"Last September Congress received from the [Bush] Administration a document called the the National Security Strategy of the United States. As the historian Joseph Stromberg observed, 'It must be read to be believed.' The doctrine preaches the desirability of the United States becoming - to use Adam's words - dictatress of the world. It also assumes that the President and his lieutenants
are morally entitled to govern the planet. It declares that our best defense is a good offense.' The doctrine of pre-emption is news declared: 'As a matter of common sense and self-defense, America will act against such emerging threats before they are fully formed.'

'To us it was an empire of incalculable value but it might have been obtained by other means. The Southern rebellion was largely the outgrowth of the Mexican war. Nations like individuals, are punished in the most sanguinary and expensive war in modern times.' - Ulyssses S. Grant, veteran of the Mexican war, speaking on that war.

"We have never had a left, or even much of a coherent right. We tend to divide between up and down. The downs may now be on the rise."

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