By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
“It’s about the perpetuation of confusion,” I continue, “so to say that you support the troops when . . .”
“This is what I saw when I was the mayor of Cleveland and I took a stand to save the city’s municipal electric system,” he offers as a diversion. “Everywhere I turned, it was as though I was speaking heresy in saying that the people had a right to own their own electric system. You go back, the date would be December 15, 1978, when the biggest bank in town was trying to force me to accept their dictation that I would sell the city’s municipal electric system, giving the private utility in Cleveland a monopoly on electric power in northern Ohio, or [else] the bank was determined that it would put the city of Cleveland into default on loans that I hadn’t even taken out. What had happened was the entire social reality had been upended as these special-interest groups worked their way through the media, and people didn’t know what was right. It took 15 years for the truth to be sorted out. And if I hadn’t had that experience, I would have found it very difficult to stand up to a war based on lies. Because in human experience, there are very few things as powerful and compelling as a struggle for survival, and war touches that instinct and people respond, not with their highest faculties but from the lower limbic system. And that puts us in the position where public policy is guided from levels that reflect earlier stages of human evolution.”
“That’s why the idea of supporting the troops . . .”
“This is why we end up in war, because people don’t stop to think, ‘Hey, what are we doing? Is this necessary? Do we need to be doing this? Is this based on truth?’ ”
“So when people say that they support . . .”
“When I stood up and I wrote that analysis in October of 2002 that defiantly dismissed any call for war, there were many people who asked me, ‘Hey, what’s wrong with you? Of course, Iraq has weapons of mass destruction. Of course, Iraq had something to do with 9/11 — what’s wrong with you?’ And because I’d been through this before in Cleveland, I understood the way that an entire social reality could be manipulated to make wrong right. Hang on for a second, I gotta vote.”
While waiting for Kucinich to return, I put a gigantic asterisk, the size of an impossibly large sphincter, next to my troops question, figuring that the question is something to reintroduce later. After all, I have some questions about peace that I feel I need to ask, if only for the sake of allowing the congressman the opportunity to expound upon something without measuring his words.
“All right, sorry about that,” he says when he comes back to the line.
“Let’s talk a little bit about your running for the presidency on a peace platform,” I say. “Typically, peace to a politician is a trade agreement, which seldom has anything to do with real peace. You can have the absence of overt physical violence in a trade agreement, but then isn’t the commodification of people’s lives a kind of violence, not to mention the violence to the environment that usually goes hand in hand with modern commerce? Then there’s the question of what’s being traded. We’re at peace with Israel, for example, yet we sell them helicopters to perpetrate violence on Palestinians — what kind of peace is that?”
“You’re exactly right. What happens is this: I’m in Washington, and everywhere you turn, there are myths being made which are all now dealing in fear and terror, and, as a result, it’s destroyed other myths, which have to do with America’s benign position in the world — freedom, democracy.”
The myth of freedom and democracy? Was this a comment that revealed some compatibility between us or merely a slip of the tongue?
“So the dominant myths now are fear and terror,” he continues, “and if you don’t buy into them, you’re not a patriot.”
“Right,” I say, “you’re either with us or just like us.”
“And now I’m seeing a war gathering against Iran,” he says, “and it’s happening under everyone’s nose, and people are either oblivious to it or they feel that that’s just how it has to be.”
“Which goes to the heart of what I mean about our society’s concept of what real peace is,” I say. “Everybody will stand up and clap when they hear somebody talk about peace, because it’s widely understood to be the absence of war, of violence, which it is, but that can’t be its complete definition, just like the complete definition of love can’t simply be the absence of hate — peace shouldn’t be defined just in terms of what it’s not. If peace is defined only as the opposite of war, then doesn’t that automatically make war a necessity, because peace needs something to exist contrary to?”