From Joe Bageant’s blog.
‘America is run by gangsters,’ he said
Greetings from Sydney, Australia. I heard your interview on our ABC radio a while back and finally bought your book, Deer Hunting with Jesus. Nearly finished it and I can’t agree more with your sentiments.
I have been over to the USA four times and travelled around the back blocks a bit, including your area. I feel a sadness for the average citizen there. They haven’t got a clue as to what’s going on. I feel the USA has become a giant military camp to protect world capitalism and the citizens are not aware they have been conscripted. I have also travelled around Asia a bit. I’ve had deeper conversations about world affairs with Indonesian fishermen, Thai taxi drivers and even Tibetan peasants in far western China than I could get out many of the “middle class, educated” people I have met in the USA.
It is pretty humbling when a fellow in Laos running a small tourism venture can talk about world and local politics, exchange rates, government policies (including European and American) and how this will affect his plans, and, he can do it in at least three languages — Lao, French and pretty good English. It is tme to shut up and listen. The Thai taxi driver in Chiang Mai just about spat out the window on US policies and politics. “America is run by gangsters,” he said.
I have a habit of finding myself in drinking situations when I travel and was particularly taken with your “learning through drinking” program. In Thailand on the banks of the Mekong River I found myself talking with a bunch of motor-tricycle drivers at their local “depot”, or garage. My father had a few garages and I am a motor mechanic by trade and have had motorbikes all my life so we had plenty in common, except our language but with the help of a few bottles of whisky and someone’s sister who was learning English at school, we solved many of the worlds pressing problems.
At a road house in Oregon (USA) I met a local fellow who was an American native. He was big on hunting and fishing and had canoed all over his area all his life (he thought he was about 70 and that is another story). His pet gripe was the authorities telling him he had to start wearing a life jacket and crash helmet when he went on the water. This opened a can of worms (and another beer) and he said how pissed off he was that the governments had the time to come down on his lifestyle which hurt no one but himself if he had some misfortune and yet the rest of the country and the big issues were all too hard. He too wondered why the best land was being taken over and had many of the same ideas and concerns you put forward.
We little guys of the world can feel it. The tightening, I mean. And when we honestly talk about it between us, we become an implied threat to power. And if we take action, then of course we become “terrorists.” That’s because the property of those with the most property is always more valuable than the lives of those with less or none. In the big picture of human civilization, this is true everywhere in the world, even Australia.
I’m no super fan of Derek Jensen, though I agree with nearly everything he writes. To quote Jensen:
“It is acceptable for those above to increase the amount of property they control — in everyday language, to make money — by destroying or taking the lives of those below. This is called production. If those below damage the property of those above, those above may kill or otherwise destroy the lives of those below. This is called justice.”
That’s the brutal on-the-ground truth about human civilization, governments and money. And it’s getting worse as the world’s population increases and resources diminish. Most people around the world understand this at least at some gut level. We in the so-called “developed countries” don’t kick up much sand about it because in the larger picture, we are on the receiving end of most of the goods and materials (however unsustainable that may be.)
Read all of it here.