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[Middle English, from Old English lyft-, weak, useless (in lyftdl, paralysis).] --Source: The American Heritage® Dictionary

Achieving Our Country : Leftist Thought in Twentieth-Century America (1998) - Richard Rorty

  • Achieving Our Country : Leftist Thought in Twentieth-Century America (1998) - Richard Rorty [Amazon.com]

    Achieving Our Country: Leftist Thought in Twentieth-Century America is a book by American philosopher Richard Rorty. In this book, Rorty differentiates between what he sees as the two sides of the Left, a critical Left and a progressive Left. He criticizes the critical Left, which is exemplified by post-structuralists such as Michel Foucault and postmodernists such as Jean-François Lyotard. Although these intellectuals make insightful claims about the ills of society, Rorty holds that they provide no alternatives and even present progress as problematic at times. On the other hand, the progressive Left, exemplified for Rorty by John Dewey, makes progress its priority in its goal of "achieving our country." Rorty sees the progressive Left as acting in the philosophical spirit of pragmatism. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Achieving_Our_Country [Jun 2006]

    Fahrenheit 9/11 (2004) - Michael Moore

    Fahrenheit 9/11 (2004) - Michael Moore [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

    Fahrenheit 9/11: Moore's latest movie, Fahrenheit 9/11, examines America in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, particularly the record of the Bush administration and alleged links between the families of George W. Bush and Osama bin Laden. Ironically, President Bush's approval rating rose on the weekend that Fahrenheit 9/11 was released. Fahrenheit was awarded the Palme d'Or, the top honor at the Cannes Film Festival; it was the first documentary film to win the prize since 1956. Moore later announced that Fahrenheit 9/11 would not be in consideration for the 2005 Academy Award for Documentary Feature, but instead for the Academy Award for Best Picture. He stated he wanted the movie to be seen by a few million more people, preferably on television, by election day. Since Nov. 2 was less than nine months after the film's release, it would be disqualified the Documentary Oscar. Moore also said he wanted to be supportive of his 'teammates in non-fiction film'. However, Fahrenheit received no Oscar nomination for Best Picture. The title alludes to the classic book Fahrenheit 451 (about a future totalitarian state in which books are banned; books begin to burn at that Fahrenheit temperature) and the pre-release subtitle of the film confirms the allusion: "The temperature at which freedom burns" --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Moore [Jun 2005]

    Moore's Fahrenheit 911
    Mocking the Moral Crisis of Capitalism

    By DOUGLAS VALENTINE via Counterpunch

    "The question is not what goal is envisaged for the time being by this or that member of the proletariat, or even by the proletariat as a whole. The question is what is the proletariat and what course of action will it be forced historically to take in conformity with its own nature.

    Karl Marx, "The Holy Family"

    They wept! They roared with laughter! At inappropriate times they applauded, the politically correct, white middle class audience at the Academy Theatre in avante guard Northampton, MA, home of Smith College, and many fine restaurants.

    But, then again, Michael Moore was preaching to the choir, wasn't he? And that's the first of two big problems with Fahrenheit 911.

    The other big problem is this frivolous film's utter futility.

    Let's be realistic. Moore says the purpose of his incoherent mockumentary is to get Bush out of office ­ which, in and of itself, "t'is a consummation devoutly to be wish'd." But the political passing of George W. Bush has no meaning, for even if the public shuffles him off, it's still left with Long John Kerry, and the strangling coil of oppressive laws, secret decrees, and eternal imperialistic war (with its attendant corruption) that Bush has wrapped so tightly around America's neck.

    "Ay, there's the rub."

    Kerry is just another "money-grubbing, ass-kissing, bromide-mouthing" politician, as Gail Sheehy might say, and he is as acceptable to the Establishment as Bush. With Kerry in office, the war on terror and the occupation of Iraq will continue apace, with perhaps a little more of the stolen loot going to our anxious allies waiting avariciously in the wings. In the larger scheme of things, Fahrenheit 911 changes nothing: Halliburton keeps its blood-soaked contracts, the Republicans control both houses of Congress, and no neo-conmen go to the gallows for stealing $20 billion in oil revenues from the Iraqi people (I'm curious to know how Christopher Hitchens rationalizes that?), or for the massive war crimes they have committed. Kerry's performance during the Iran-Contra investigation assures the rich political elite of a continuing cover-up.

    While watching the movie, I couldn't stop thinking about how Moore had evidence of the torture at Abu Ghraib, and didn't tell anyone! I wanted to stand up and scream: What's it all about, Mickey? Is it just for the moment, or the money, we live? Or is it the thrill of being catapulted into the stratosphere of American celebrity?

    I thought to myself: I should have seen it coming, when the nouveau riche glitterati gave the movie a twenty-minute standing ovation at Cannes. Anything that so pleases the perfect people in Porsches cannot, by definition, have any redeeming value.

    A monumental letdown, Fahrenheit 911 is a sick exploitation film that tells us nothing new about ourselves, and changes nothing in the world. Yes, the farcical clips of Bush making a fool of himself add comic relief to the melodramatic footage of Bush and his venal clique visiting vengeful tragedy upon the world, and profiting from it. And, to his credit, Moore courageously goes where no man in the corporate media has dared to go before: he loosely chronicles how the tragedy unfolded, while being extra careful not to mention Israel. Here's how the story goes: Bush steals the election, lets the main Saudi suspects in the 911 mass murder case escape because his "daddy" is in business with them, and then goes on a worldwide killing spree with the blessings of Major Generals Rather, Brokaw, and Jennings.

    You've heard it all before; any tenth grader from Freyburg, Maine could have told us that.

    To sum it up, Moore's swipes at Bush are irrelevant during the current crisis-du-jour of capitalism. How much time must we waste laughing at Bush, tripping over his tongue, before we grab our pitchforks and storm, as family-values proponent Dick Cheney might put it, the fucking White House?

    The answer, to judge from the reaction of the "progressive" and academically oriented audience I was sitting with, is over and over again. Which, again, is the saddest part of watching his film. I'm sure Moore didn't intend it, but his mockumentary is as much an indictment of his adoring, bourgeois fan club as it of the criminal Bush regime.

    Even the film's unstated premise ­ that the government, on behalf of the rich, creates employment and a disposed, easily indoctrinated lower class that will happily fight and die in imperialistic adventures ­ was put forth about a hundred and fifty years ago.

    Alas, to the earnest audience in Northampton, this subliminal message seemed like a revelation.

    So there we sat. When the clapping was over, there was no place to go (save one of those fine restaurants). Like Bush in Iraq, Fahrenheit 911 has no exit strategy. Nor was one ever intended. F-911, like the psychological warfare campaign we are subjected to by the Bush regime, is a cataract of powerful, contrived words and images that generate raw, predetermined emotions that result in a disturbing, but aimless, class-consciousness.

    Douglas Valentine is the author of The Hotel Tacloban, The Phoenix Program, and TDY. His fourth book, The Strength of the Wolf: The Federal Bureau of Narcotics, 1930-1968, is newly published by Verso. For information about Mr. Valentine, and his books and articles, please visit his web sites at www.DouglasValentine.com and http://members.authorsguild.net/valentine

    --http://counterpunch.org/valentine07022004.html [Jun 2005]


    Counterpunch is a biweekly newsletter published in the United States which covers politics from a radical left-wing point of view. It is also a popular website with more frequently added content.

    The newsletter was established in 1994 by the Washington DC-based investigative reporter Ken Silverstein. He was soon joined by the journalists Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair. In 1996 Silverstein left the publication and Cockburn and St Clair have since been co-editors.

    Running six to eight pages in length, the Counterpunch newsletter publishes primarily commentaries of Cockburn and St Clair with a regular contributions by others. It is noted for its highly critical coverage of both Democratic and Republican politicians, its extensive reporting of environmental and trade union issues, and the use of junk science. Counterpunch carries on the tradition of muckraking journalism of earlier investigative journalists such as I.F. Stone and George Seldes.

    Since coming online in 1998, the Counterpunch website has become one of the most frequently-visited radical sites on the Internet. It offers a large quantity of material not published in the newsletter; however, the newsletter continues to publish commentaries by St Clair and Cockburn which are not published on the web. The website is maintained on the basis of revenues generated by the newsletter.

    Notable contributors to Counterpunch have included Robert Fisk, the late Edward Said, Tim Wise, Ralph Nader, M. Shahid Alam, Ward Churchill, and Alexander Cockburn's two brothers, Andrew and Patrick, both of whom write on the Middle East, Iraq in particular. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Counterpunch_%28newsletter%29 [Jun 2005]

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