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Anti-Capitalist Meetup: The Mouse Has Roared – Greece post-Elections by NY Brit Expat

By: Anti-Capitalist Meetup Sunday February 1, 2015 2:30 pm

The Greeks have said enough! Hope has defeated fear and SYRIZA has won the election and have beaten New Democracy and the fear-mongers, as expected. This is a major victory for anti-austerity forces which could change the economic and political landscapes.

However, they did not win an outright majority (they were short 2 seats) and were forced into coalition with a right-wing, nationalist (pro-Greek Orthodox) anti-austerity party, the Independent Greeks (referred to as ANEL from now on).
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Irrespective of this, we do have quite a lot to celebrate! The election of SYRIZA is a shot directly across the bow of neoliberalism and its flagship of ideas, aka as the austerity project. The European ruling class (which includes mainstream political leaders) are a wee bit shaken especially Germany. Whether or not the Troika is forced to negotiate the debt successfully, this is a victory and it is forcing the ruling class in Europe to take stock over whether austerity (and destroying the working class) is more important than the EU project. The stakes are literally that high!

While it is possible that the ruling class thinks they can live without Greece (all EU private banks are protected), the question is whether they can live without Spain (elections in December 2015 and Podemos and Izquerida Unida do not have the same issues as KKE and SYRIZA), Portugal, Italy, and Ireland. Moreover, since none of these countries want to leave the Eurozone (forget the European Union), is holding onto a monetarist (Euro) and neoliberal agenda more important than the whole project? Is insisting on shrinking economies to cover debt more important than allowing economic growth (commensurate with rising incomes) to pay for some of the debt? The reality is that Greece cannot pay the debt as is; attempting to force it to do so has created an humanitarian crisis and has destroyed the Greek economy. If they do not renegotiate now, Greece will never be able to pay back the debt!

Needless to say, if people think that winning an election was difficult, that was a cakewalk compared to what comes next. As Stathis Kouvelakis (SYRIZA’S Central Committee and a leading member of the SYRIZA’s Left Platform) says in his reporting of the elections:

“The new government (whose composition was unknown at the time of writing) will have to deal with truly staggering obstacles. The coffers are empty and the state’s revenues are collapsing quicker than expected. It will very soon become apparent that the financing plan set out in the ‘Thessaloniki programme’ was based on very over-optimistic estimates (or even simply wrong ones). The goal, here, was to give the impression that the programme could be realised half by redirecting the European credits (which are earmarked, some of them already allocated, and whose payment is entirely dependent on EU agreement) and half through a more effective collection of tax receipts, without tax reform and without a need for increased budget deficits. The government’s strategic orientation toward the EU is also rather unclear. Yesterday Tsipras was keen to reassure the EU and the markets, speaking of a ‘sincere dialogue’ and ‘mutually advantageous solution’. He didn’t mention the word ‘debt’ (http://www.europe-solidaire.org/spip.php?article34188).”

The Coalition with ANEL, the response of the international left, the Left Platform of SYRIZA

When I wrote before the elections on Greece, I had raged against the sectarian stupidity that the KKE and ANTARSYA had shown by not running on the SYRIZA list and the KKE’s outright refusal to talk (forget join) in a coalition government with SYRIZA respectively. I had expressed my worries that SYRIZA would win the election, but come up short on seats which would force them into coalition with a right-wing anti-austerity party; alas it did not require a crystal ball that this could be a strong possibility.

Governing as a minority government is difficult as an understatement. Even more so when it is not normal that individuals in various parties could be drawn to support you in a specific measure or piece of legislation; constant negotiation with political enemies means far less ability to manoeuvre and keep to one’s programme. Given that they could not even count on the sectarian KKE to abstain on votes (KKE seems to want them to fail just for a “we told you so” moment), it would be impossible. A minority government would have a rather short life or would wind up hopelessly compromised. So, if you want to yell at anyone, the KKE is an excellent target as their 15 seats would have done it and created a true hard-left, but that would mean that the Left could actually get passed its sectarianism and that seems to be almost impossible even in the best of times.

It became rather obvious that Tsipras and those around him had planned for this possibility in advance as a government was formed (as Athenian said) with ANEL the next morning following the elections
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Needless to say, this has raised quite a bit of consternation in the left; both inside and out of Greece (see: http://www.leninology.co.uk/2015/01/syriza-anel-coalition.html; http://www.workersliberty.org/node/24596; http://www.criticatac.ro/lefteast/coalition-of-syriza-with-anel-2/; http://rs21.org.uk/2015/01/26/on-the-deal-between-syriza-and-anel/; http://thepeopledemand.org/?p=819, and of course, http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2015/01/27/gree-j27.html (who oppose broad left parties in principle).

The left are clearly concerned about both the nature of ANEL’s right-wing politics (which is not friendly to immigrants and there is more than a whiff of hostility to those not belonging to the Greek Orthodox church witnessed by their leader’s (Panos Kammenos) statement “that Jews, Muslims and Buddhists do not pay taxes.” There is a serious worry about SYRIZA’S ability to get though the watered down Thessaloniki programme which they ran on in 2015, dependent upon a right-wing party for votes, forget the 40 Point Plan of 2012.

By the way, it also probably caused the mainstream media some distress as they had to re-write the “ultra-left seize Greece meme” that was inevitably going to follow a SYRIZA victory.

What is good news is that at least 30 elected MP are members of the Left Platform; and if there is strong support on the streets for SYRIZA staying in the left, this will hinder a right-ward drift (the former is something that is feared by the European ruling class; witness this article in the Financial Times (http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/f8753d64-a4e2-11e4-b943-00144feab7de.html#axzz3QQvtOD7b). One serious issue is the decline in street protests recently; hopefully this will change once some positive changes in the life of the Greeks start.

In an interview before the election with Sebastian Budgen in Jacobin Magazine, Stathis Kouvelakis said the following about the role of the Left Platform; I strongly encourage comrades to read the whole piece:

“Even the minimal platform presented at the Thessaloniki congress and slightly updated by Tsipras recently: even sticking to that means going to a major confrontation, which means of course being supported by and stimulating popular mobilization on the one hand, and mobilizing the party and other social and political subjects in the whole process.

This is the role, I think, of the Left Platform: to play, to be a catalyst in this kind of dialectic between what will happen at the level of government and what will happen at the level of society. And this is the mission, perhaps the historical mission, if things go well, of the Left Platform. We have a more coherent force within the party that can act as a catalyst of energies and prevent a gap from opening up between what’s going on at the level of grassroots mobilization and at the level of government (https://www.jacobinmag.com/2015/01/phase-one/).

Following the naming (http://greece.greekreporter.com/2015/01/27/greek-government-announces-new-cabinet/) of the cabinet (https://euobserver.com/beyond-brussels/127392#.VMjlukk-eIOt.facebook) and their swearing in (www.euronews.com/2015/01/27/tsipras-anti-austerity-government-sworn-in), things have moved swiftly. ANEL was not given any economic positions, these are held by SYRIZA. As expected, New Democracy and To Potemi (The River) denounced their choices and priorities.

The cabinet is a bit short on women as an understatement (as are the numbers of women from SYRIZA in the Parliament), but there are some in serious positions, just not enough. Whether that is a reflection of numbers of women in SYRIZA, the willingness and time for women to do this work or machismo culture, I am not clear; but according to Kouvelakis, SYRIZA has strong connections with the women’s movement, LGBT movement, and migrant communities. At this point, this must be noted and watched to see what happens and how/if women’s issues are addressed. A positive point is the appointment of a class and gender specialist, Rania Antonopoulos as a deputy minister as she is a supporter of full employment focusing on social infrastructure (e.g., child-care provision).

What has been done so far?

As SYRIZA said, their first priority was dealing with the humanitarian crisis and they have got off to a roaring start (try to ignore the word “blitzkrieg” she begs flinching):

“One by one they were rolled back, blitzkrieg-style, mercilessly, ruthlessly, with rat-a-tat efficiency. First the barricades came down outside the Greek parliament. Then it was announced that privatisation schemes would be halted and pensions reinstated. And then came the news of the reintroduction of the €751 monthly minimum wage. And all before Greece’s new prime minister, the radical leftwinger Alexis Tsipras, had got his first cabinet meeting under way.

After that, ministers announced more measures: the scrapping of fees for prescriptions and hospital visits, the restoration of collective work agreements, the rehiring of workers laid off in the public sector, the granting of citizenship to migrant children born and raised in Greece. On his first day in office – barely 48 hours after storming to power – Tsipras got to work. The biting austerity his Syriza party had fought so long to annul now belonged to the past, and this was the beginning not of a new chapter but a book for the country long on the frontline of the euro crisis (http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jan/28/alexis-tsipras-athens-lightning-speed-anti-austerity-policies?CMP=share_btn_fb).”

One of the first groups that will be rehired are the Greek cleaners sacked from the finance ministry in 2013; SYRIZA had already came out in support of their struggle and their reinstatement following SYRIZA’s victory is more than symbolic as their sacking was part of austerity measures and this shows SYRIZA’s support for public sector workers and trade unions.
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In many senses, this was the easy stuff as they tore up the memorandum pledges. It is what happens next that is where things get tricky as that is out of direct Greek control and depends on two things: the Troika (i.e., the ECB, the IMF, and the EU) and whether negotiations on debt reduction happen (and whether they are successful) and whether the Greek economy begins to rebound after shedding the shackles imposed by austerity.

One obvious issue is getting revenue to fund these policies and to create economic growth; this will be needed irrespective of running deficits (which will certainly bring them into conflict with EU neoliberal polices). The majority of the expected capital flight happened before the elections. Getting taxes out of the ruling class (especially the shipping industry magnates) is not going to be easy. The shipping industry has been given tax breaks and those need to be reined in; however, these are the ones that can easily move their bases of operations and they have been threatening just that. Tax evasion and avoidance is common and it will require international support and agreements to get hands on that money. The most common tax base for governments (what many call the middle class) have been deeply economically eroded and essentially is tapped out.

Debt Negotiations and Economic Revival

Undoubtedly, this will be where many bumps and potholes in the road. There are several points that fall under this discussion: debt negotiations on Greek debt and with whom (the Troika, the EU, the ECB or the Eurogroup), divisions amongst mainstream European politicians, and the possibility of Grexit (greek exit) from the Eurozone if all else fails and what that would entail for Greece and its implications for the rest of the Eurozone.

SYRIZA has decided to separate two things that are constantly interwoven in discussions on this issue; addressing the debt and membership in the Euro. SYRIZA is arguing that resolving the issue of the debt can be done independently from discussing membership in the Eurozone. “It is the debt that is the problem, not the Euro.” This is not only a pragmatic position due to the fact that the vast majority of Greeks do not want to abandon the Euro; leaving the Euro itself will not solve the debt crisis or stop austerity unless they default on the debt at the same time which will involve serious economic repercussions for the Greek working class. Moreover, that will only affect Greece, there is a desperate need for the whole of the EU to abandon austerity and neoliberalism and that will require a political shift by the working class in other countries in the EU to the left. Now, Greece may be forced to leave the Eurozone (and that may be a credible threat to force concessions or it may not), but at the moment, Grexit is not on the table, but is an undercurrent to all the discussions.

As Tsipras hits the road (he is travelling to Italy, Cyprus, France to meet with their Prime Ministers and Brussels to meet with EC President Jean-Claude Juncker), the next steps are being watched with interest.

The Debt

It is not only the Greeks and heterodox economists that know the debt cannot be paid off; some right-wing economists are also clear on this issue and this is leading to splits within the ruling class about how to deal with the Greek debt.

An excellent piece on the economic options available to Greece has been written by Őzlem Onaran in which she explains the situation. She outlines three different possibilities on the debt:

1) “The most important point of clash will be over debt. For a start, the financial markets seem to expect that the European elite could be pushed for a clause that would increase the maturity of the debt, decrease the interest rate, offer a lengthy grace period without debt servicing, or even link debt servicing to economic growth by setting a ratio to GDP. That is without touching the taboo of accepting a debt write-off. Olli Rehn, the Finnish ex-EU commissioner, who was a key player in the Greek bailout deal gave signals of the acceptability that the debt repayment deadlines could be extended for quite long periods giving reference to the payment of the British World War II debt to the US. However, SYRIZA’s election pledge aims to write-off the greater part of public debt and calls for a “European Debt Conference” as happened for Germany in 1953 after World War II.

2) There is also an interesting progressive option suggested by the chief economists of SYRIZA, Yiannis Milios and Dimitris Sotiropoulos and Spyros Lapatsioras, that aims to go around the taboo of debt write-off, while arriving at the same result of substantially reducing debt: “Our main strategy is for the ECB to acquire a significant part of the outstanding sovereign debt (at market prices) of the countries in the Euro Area (EA) and convert it to zero-coupon bonds. No transfers will take place between individual states; taxpayers in any EA country will not be involved in the debt restructuring of any foreign Eurozone country. Debt will not be forgiven: individual states will agree to buy it back from the ECB in the future when the ratio of sovereign debt to GDP has fallen to 20 percent. The sterilisation costs for the ECB are manageable. This model of an unconventional monetary intervention would give progressive governments in the EA the necessary basis for developing social and welfare policies to the benefit of the working classes. It would reverse present-day policy priorities and replace the neoliberal agenda with a programme of social and economic reconstruction, with the elites paying for the crisis. The perspective taken here favours social justice and coherence, having as its priority the social needs and the interests of the working majority.”

3) The Greek Debt Audit Campaign launched in 2011 had gone one step further by calling to stop all public debt repayments until the human, social, economic and cultural rights of all inhabitants in Greece are upheld, and form an official international and independent audit commission composed of experts but also representatives of social and labour movements with an ultimate aim to cancel all illegitimate, odious, or unsustainable parts of the public debt. Although the idea is still relevant, it has not been a theme of mobilisation for the majority of SYRIZA so far (http://socialistresistance.org/7111/syrizas-economic-options).”

Killing the Troika

The appointment of Yanis Varoukfakis, as finance minister is an interesting one. Contrary to his description as hard-left in many mainstream reporting, he is actually a post-Keynesian game theorist. There are many Marxist economists in SYRIZA holding a wide range of positions on how to address the debt and whether or not to stay within the Euro to deal with restructuring the Greek economy. Most probably this is a sign of how they intend to deal with the negotiations over the debt. Paul Mason says that the confrontation is not over the debt itself, but over its resolution and SYRIZA’S refusal to deal with the Troika as a body and refuses to accept their austerity programme as a precondition for debt renegotiation.

When Varoukfakis met Jeroen Dijsselbloem (the President of the Eurogroup), Varoukfakis made it clear that instead that negotiations would happen individually with the various European bodies with the time-table decided by the Greeks and has given 1 month notice that this will not happen on the 28th of February when new negotiations with the Troika were set to begin; that if the ECB wants to set the stage for the collapse of Greek banks they should do so.

It is a “game” of high stakes and “who blinks first” and it the issue of what is more important to the leaders of the EU and Eurozone, the EU and Euro or the neoliberalism and monetarism that they have used to undermine workers’ incomes (wages plus benefits) and conditions of work or the EU and Euro itself. Given the EU Stability and Growth Pact, and the limits placed on debt and deficits for members of the EU (and Eurozone), renegotiation of the Pact could force through the possibility of progressive forms of addressing the crisis beyond the austerity measures which have destroyed so much of the state sectors and social welfare states and the gains for which workers fought so hard.

At the end of the press conference following their meeting, Varoufakis and Dijsselbloem whispered to each other during their rather tepid hand-shake that Varoufakis killed the Troika, we can only hope this is not an exaggeration; but I have a feeling that like Dracula in every Hammer vampire movie, the Troika is not easily slain and there is still quite a fight ahead.
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Paul Mason argues that:

“Syriza, and its ally Podemos in Spain, which also has a chance to gain power this year, want Europe to be a full fiscal union. Yanis Varoufakis, the Syriza finance minister, has proposed for example that the Greek banks be “Europeanised” – with banks in Cyprus, Greece and Spain handed over to the ECB to recapitalise direct.
So long term, Syriza’s leaders know the fate of their government lies not just in debt renegotiation, but in the ability to make QE apply to Greece, to grab a part of any infrastructure money that comes out of the commission, and in forcing a strategic policy change in Germany which leads to a banking and fiscal risk-recycling union (http://blogs.channel4.com/paul-mason-blog/tsipras-reverse-shock-doctrine/3155).”

Division among mainstream political leaders

As mentioned earlier, there is a bit of division amongst mainstream political leaders in Europe on debt negotiation; this arises simply due to the fact that Greece cannot pay its debt and the issue will not resolve itself by the continued destruction of the Greek economy. Austerity itself is making it impossible for the Greeks to pay; it has destroyed any possibility of economic recovery. So, the choices are stark; either continue destroying Greece (and for that matter the economies of Europe) or abandon austerity and allow some recovery which the working class (the majority) can share in.

Angela Merkel has already rejected debt relief. The same cannot be said for all as some members of the Eurogroup have left the door open for partial renegotiation based on repayments following economic growth (which is what SYRIZA is demanding).

“We have common goals; ensuring that Greece as a nation can stand on its own two feet, clean up its finances, and become a jobs generator again. A Greece that is growing, and can pay its debts,” said the EU’s Economic Commissioner Pierre Moscovici (http://www.euronews.com/2015/01/26/eurogroup-leaves-door-open-for-syriza-to-at-least-partially-renegotiate-if-/).”

The problem is convincing Angela Merkel and the German working class (and for that matter the working classes of Europe). These are different issues.

Merkel’s intransigence (irrespective of Germany’s benefit from debt forgiveness) is based on her belief in the neoliberal programme of monetarism combined with breaking the backs of workers; after all it was export-led growth and the undermining of German workers income that, in her mind, kept the German economy so dominant in Europe.
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An interesting article by Joschka Fischer of the German Greens argues the following:

“Though no one can say what a Greek default would mean for the euro, it would certainly entail risks to the currency’s continued existence. Just as surely, the mega-disaster that might result from a eurozone breakup would not spare Germany.
A compromise would de facto result in a loosening of austerity, which entails significant domestic risks for Merkel (though less than a failure of the euro would). But, in view of her immense popularity at home, including within her own party, Merkel is underestimating the options at her disposal. She could do much more, if only she trusted herself.

In the end, she may have no choice. Given the impact of the Greek election outcome on political developments in Spain, Italy, and France, where anti-austerity sentiment is similarly running high, political pressure on the Eurogroup of eurozone finance ministers – from both the right and the left – will increase significantly. It does not take a prophet to predict that the latest chapter of the euro crisis will leave Germany’s austerity policy in tatters – unless Merkel really wants to take the enormous risk of letting the euro fail (http://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/syriza-greece-eu-crisis-by-joschka-fischer-2015-01#KM9QSGBfY3VaQ3ld.99).”

On the other hand, the European working class have been sold a pile of lies: that austerity is the only choice and that the bailout of Greece actually helped the Greeks, protecting them from “their own incompetence.” These lies are what must be defeated; the truth is that the bail-out was a bank bail-out and that the interests of the German working class are the same as those in Greece, Spain, etc. That is the role of the German left, those in Die Linke and those outside, to break the consensus behind austerity among the working class and to challenge the neoliberal agenda. That is the job of all of the left in Europe. To do this requires solidarity and the recognition of class interests and that is the only thing that can break the back of neoliberalism. Whether that happens will depend not only on the battles between political leaders behind closed doors or played out in the mainstream media, but importantly on the mobilisation of the working class in all countries in solidarity and in their own interests and their ability to pressurise the ruling class.

The struggle ahead will not be an easy one …

 

Boston Bombing News: “Real progress” or “Quixotic undertaking”?

By: lauraw Sunday February 1, 2015 12:55 pm

Many thanks to pbszebra for faithfully passing on daily Tweets from some of the more responsible journalists attending the Tsarnaev trial. (Tweets in bold followed by my comments.)

“Judge O’Toole acknowledges Tsarnaev jury questioning is going slower than anticipated, but is not discouraged. ‘Making real progress.’”

MissieB31 retweeted: “O’Toole hired cos of #Mahenna. Which will break first? Ortiz’s leash or O’Toole’s resolve?”

“They’re calling 9000 potential jurors for James Holmes trial in Colo., compared to just 1350 for #Tsarnaev.” … “They are up to Juror 246 the 109th to be interviewed. That means teams have gone into second panel from 1,373.”

“Finding fair jurors in Boston a quixotic undertaking” masslawyersweekly.com

Prospective jurors in Boston via @AnnoCNN: “We all know he’s guilty so quit wasting everybody’s time.”

Common sense says this trial should be moved out of Boston. At the very least, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev should get the same chance for an impartial jury as is being afforded to “Joker” killer Holmes, who shot up a theatre full of children watching a Batman movie.

But Judge George O’Toole has repeatedly thrown common sense to the winds.

O’T gained the status of “terror expert judge” when he presided over the Tarek Mehanna trial and listened stone-faced to Tarek’s impassioned and moving statement about why he translated Al Qaeda writings into English. Perhaps before he was assigned to the Tsarnaev trial, someone should have given O’Toole a voir dire examination to examine his core beliefs.

“On first day of individual jury examination, O’Toole asked all questions. Starting Friday [the 9th?] without explanation, lawyers allowed to follow up.”

“Both government and Tsarnaev’s team are trying to vet out jurors who can’t follow ‘innocent until proven guilty.’ It’s not just the defense.”

Sounds a bit like the defense has been holding the judge’s feet to the fire. But of course O’T must stick to the letter of the law in spite of his obvious bias, treading delicately to avoid being overturned on appeal.

“Bruck: ‘For many people the trial of guilt or innocence is over, it took place in the news media.’” … “Tsarnaev defense says 68% of jurors called believe he’s guilty without hearing ‘a shred of evidence.’”

Juror 59: ‘I feel like even if I was shown evidence, I already feel like he’s guilty and that he should have the death penalty.”

“Seeing the Boylston St. surveillance video from Lord & Taylor helped 186 form opinion that Tsarnaev is guilty, along with him in the boat.” … “Juror 116: ‘He was there, he was on the street, he was in the boat so I assume he’s guilty.’”

On the face of it, the dramatic events of that week in April 2013 were pretty persuasive, and the mainstream media has taken full advantage of the drama. They have never bothered to dig deeper, to examine the many, many inconsistencies in the story. That job was left to the “conspiracy theorists.”

Yes, Dzhokhar was on the street. So were hundreds of other people. Yes, he had a backpack (which did not match the FBI’s own description of the lethal bag). Did he walk back and forth and drop the pack? Genck’s Criminal Complaint tells it one way. The NatGeo video reconstruction, which Juror 186 mistakenly took to be the real thing, tells it another. Go figure.

How did he end up in the boat? The Feds claim they feared the brothers would “run” after being outed on TV. Yes, Dzhokhar “ran.” He ran to his car and drove 60 miles north from Dartmouth to Boston, running directly into the arms of the Boston police. I’m guessing he has told his defense counsel the real story of the brothers’ actions that night. I look forward to hearing it.

“Some people seem ‘very eager’ to be on the Boston bombing jury.” … “Defense tells court [it] fears stealth jurors who want conviction ‘and perhaps to bask in glow of public adulation following verdict.’”

“Juror 244: ‘I kinda like conspiracy theories.’ Judge: ‘Let’s move on.’”

I kinda yearn for a stealth juror on the innocence side. Isn’t it too bad that Dzhokhar-friendly Juror 244, who admitted to visiting “conspiracy” sites, couldn’t have been a bit less honest? (I know, I know. That isn’t how the justice system is supposed to work.)

Numerous jurors have said they already believe he is guilty, but “think” they can put their feelings aside and be impartial. Bruck calls this sort of speculation a “meaningless mental exercise.” Conrad is trying to tease out the ones who can actually be open-minded. She “wants to focus on each juror’s strength of belief, why they believe him guilty, and why they say they would be able to put that aside.”

“Juror 129 ‘not for or against the death penalty, what worries me is would I be too wishy washy.’”

“Most are really thoughtful and also very conflicted re: how they feel re: sentencing someone to die.”

The few jurors, so far, who are thoughtful enough to be genuinely open-minded about guilt or innocence, are often absolutely opposed to the death penalty and thus disqualified. I am reminded of MargoS’s analysis that a death penalty trial by its very nature slants the jury in the direction of finding the defendant guilty.

“Judge puts damper on defense detailed questioning of #Tsarnaev jurors. Bruck protests, says some ‘may harbor biases they’re not disclosing.’”

“Conrad grilling juror 251 on social media posting about Muslims. [In] photo from Calvin and Hobbs cartoon strip. Calvin holds American flag and is urinating on something with Arabic writing. Defense asks [251’s] opinions on Islam. ‘I know nothing about it,’ he says. Prosecution objects, calls it ‘badgering the witness.’”

“Two strongly pro death penalty Tsarnaev jurors questioned have expressed strong antiMuslim feelings as well.”

“Tsarnaev juror dismissed for profane tweet following Boston bombing manhunt.”

How can Islamophobia NOT be a factor in this trial?

Prospective jurors have been asked if they have followed the attacks in Paris. Some say they haven’t. Some say they have, but it won’t affect their opinions in this trial. I’m not sure I believe this. In the “Europe Strong” event, a massive crowd (ironically including governmental terrorist Netanyahu) linked arms to demonstrate against Muslim terrorism. That TV footage looked not unlike the anniversary photo of the BMB victims. How could this not stir emotions?

I also wonder about ISIS. And, “American Sniper.” On one hand, we have so-called Muslims cutting heads off. On the other, a movie hero (a so-called Christian) reveling in the joy of killing Iraqi woman and children. His real-life model, stone-cold killer Chris Kyle, wrote that basically they all deserved to die, and he wishes he could have killed more. Since the release of this movie, threats against Muslims in America have tripled.

Global Islamophobia aside, the Boston jury pool does have a realistic reason to feel angry at the suspect being presented to them as the person who attacked their city. Is it even possible to seat a jury in Boston, and if so, can they truly set their emotions aside … especially with Judge O’T in charge?

News items: The defense filed a sealed reply to O’T’s angry response to their third Change of Venue request. Apparently they are citing, in addition to jury questionnaire responses, a collection of harsh juror Tweets and Facebook posts which once again prove that a CofV is needed.

In another interesting move, the Boston Globe’s legal team has filed a motion asking for public access to the Court’s legal rulings on challenges for cause. They just want to know how many jurors are still in, and how many are definitely out. So far the judge has kept this a deep dark secret.

 

Exporting Sherman’s March

By: David Swanson Sunday February 1, 2015 6:15 am

Sherman statue anchors one southern corner of Central Park (with Columbus on a stick anchoring the other):
Sherman-2

Matthew Carr’s new book, Sherman’s Ghosts: Soldiers, Civilians, and the American Way of War, is presented as “an antimilitarist military history” — that is, half of it is a history of General William Tecumseh Sherman’s conduct during the U.S. Civil War, and half of it is an attempt to trace echoes of Sherman through major U.S. wars up to the present, but without any romance or glorification of murder or any infatuation with technology or tactics. Just as histories of slavery are written nowadays without any particular love for slavery, histories of war ought to be written, like this one, from a perspective that has outgrown it, even if U.S. public policy is not conducted from that perspective yet.

What strikes me most about this history relies on a fact that goes unmentioned: the former South today provides the strongest popular support for U.S. wars. The South has long wanted and still wants done to foreign lands what was — in a much lesser degree — done to it by General Sherman.

What disturbs me most about the way this history is presented is the fact that every cruelty inflicted on the South by Sherman was inflicted ten-fold before and after on the Native Americans. Carr falsely suggests that genocidal raids were a feature of Native American wars before the Europeans came, when in fact total war with total destruction was a colonial creation. Carr traces concentration camps to Spanish Cuba, not the U.S. Southwest, and he describes the war on the Philippines as the first U.S. war after the Civil War, following the convention that wars on Native Americans just don’t count (not to mention calling Antietam “the single most catastrophic day in all U.S. wars” in a book that includes Hiroshima). But it is, I think, the echo of that belief that natives don’t count that leads us to the focus on Sherman’s march to the sea, even as Iraq, Afghanistan, and Gaza are destroyed with weapons named for Indian tribes. Sherman not only attacked the general population of Georgia and the Carolinas on his way to Goldsboro — a spot where the U.S. military would later drop nuclear bombs (that very fortunately didn’t explode) — but he provided articulate justifications in writing, something that had become expected of a general attacking white folks.

What intrigues me most is the possibility that the South today could come to oppose war by recognizing Sherman’s victims in the victims of U.S. wars and occupations. It was in the North’s occupation of the South that the U.S. military first sought to win hearts and minds, first faced IEDs in the form of mines buried in roads, first gave up on distinguishing combatants from noncombatants, first began widely and officially (in the Lieber Code) claiming that greater cruelty was actually kindness as it would end the war more quickly, and first defended itself against charges of war crimes using language that it (the North) found entirely convincing but its victims (the South) found depraved and sociopathic. Sherman employed collective punishment and the assaults on morale that we think of as “shock and awe.” Sherman’s assurances to the Mayor of Atlanta that he meant well and was justified in all he did convinced the North but not the South. U.S. explanations of the destruction of Iraq persuade Americans and nobody else.

Sherman believed that his nastiness would turn the South against war. “Thousands of people may perish,” he said, “but they now realize that war means something else than vain glory and boasting. If Peace ever falls to their lot they will never again invite War.” Some imagine this to be the impact the U.S. military is having on foreign nations today. But have Iraqis grown more peaceful? Does the U.S. South lead the way in peace activism? When Sherman raided homes and his troops employed “enhanced interrogations” — sometimes to the point of death, sometimes stopping short — the victims were people long gone from the earth, but people we may be able to “recognize” as people. Can that perhaps help us achieve the same mental feat with the current residents of Western Asia? The U.S. South remains full of monuments to Confederate soldiers. Is an Iraq that celebrates today’s resisters 150 years from now what anyone wants?

When the U.S. military was burning Japanese cities to the ground it was an editor of the Atlanta Constitution who, quoted by Carr, wrote “If it is necessary, however, that the cities of Japan are, one by one, burned to black ashes, that we can, and will, do.” Robert McNamara said that General Curtis LeMay thought about what he was doing in the same terms as Sherman. Sherman’s claim that war is simply hell and cannot be civilized was then and has been ever since used to justify greater cruelty, even while hiding within it a deep truth: that the civilized decision would be to abolish war.

The United States now kills with drones, including killing U.S. citizens, including killing children, including killing U.S. citizen children. It has not perhaps attacked its own citizens in this way since the days of Sherman. Is it time perhaps for the South to rise again, not in revenge but in understanding, to join the side of the victims and say no to any more attacks on families in their homes, and no therefore to any more of what war has become?

 

NFL’s brain injury scandal and 3 changes needed now

By: fairleft Sunday February 1, 2015 5:25 am

Jets-Eagles, 2009. By Ed Yourdon. Flickr. Creative Commons with attribution.

Hey it’s Super Concussion Sunday so listen up couch potatoes!

The science says the NFL can probably solve much, maybe most of its massive and immoral brain injury problem, but for whatever reason — arrogance? — it is dragging its feet and mostly refusing to do so. The game will never be completely rid of concussions and sub-concussive injuries, of course, but there are good ideas that if implemented can make football far safer. It’s time, NFL owners (and college football factory presidents). You need to do your best, and do it now, to make the game as safe as it can be while keeping the look of the game roughly, but probably only roughly, the same.

1. Soften helmets and pads

We can start with the helmet. Why isn’t the NFL transforming the hard plastic shell model that is the core problem? Remarkably, “the noggin-protectors of yore do at least as good of a job as modern helmets at staving off concussions.” So the leather helmet of the 1940s protects players better than what almost all NFL players wear toda? What an indictment of the NFL and the helmet maker it has commercial ties to, Riddell. I’m not suggesting a return to the old-style helmets, but I definitely am saying — and so should queazy fans, the players and the government — that what was good about leather helmets, their ‘give’, should be incorporated into football helmets. And exactly that kind of innovation has already been worked on extensively, but unfortunately ignored by the NFL and Riddell.

In fact, we know specifically that the helmet innovation that did incorporate that ‘give’ or flexibility, the ProCap, was quashed by the NFL & Riddell. I have no idea why this story was largely ignored when it came out two years ago, but I think any reasonable person reading “Helmets Preventing Concussion Seen Quashed by NFL-Riddell” would conclude that the NFL and its partner Riddell ignored and ‘quashed’ not only the Pro Cap, which appeared to reduce concussions by about a third, but also a competing helmet design that was vastly superior on concussions to Riddell’s leading helmet. Regarding the ProCap, the inventor’s company paid Penn State’s Biomechanics Laboratory “to conduct studies on dummy heads with and without ProCaps. The conclusion: ProCap reduced impacts of collisions by as much as a third.” The lab’s founder, Richard Nelson, wrote in the report he sent to ProCap, “It is my opinion that the ProCap should be mandatory for all football players.” Nonetheless, the NFL began warning players in 1996 that using the ProCap risked “catastrophic neck injuries, including possible death.” The NFL’s 2013 player’s manual continued with the same warning, and Riddell salespeople were still warning people off of the ProCap in 2012.

Taking in and using innovations like ProCap won’t solve all or even most of the NFL’s brain injury problems, but they’re a big step in the right direction, as the lab data show. And the move away from hard plastic shells should be extended to shoulder and knee pads. We need to make padding that protects players but also does make their heads, shoulders, and knees into (intentional or unintentional) weapons.

2. Outlaw the three-point stance

New rules recently introduced — that, for instance, bar helmet-to-helmet contact — also help, and the NFL has reported that concussions are down 25% since last year. We need to understand, though, that concussions are only part of the bigger problem, which is the constant jarring of the brain that causes chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE): “frank concussions [those transmitted by a single blow to the head] are only one piece of the larger CTE problem. The most recent science indicates that the accumulation of separate sub-concussive hits is as damaging as a single frank concussion.”

Jeff Nessbaum in Atlantic Magazine suggests an excellent idea related to the following quote, which continues directly from the one above: “And the vast majority of those hits take place in the trenches, between offensive and defensive linemen who start in a low stance and fire up and at each other when the ball is snapped. For most linemen, this fierce helmet-to-helmet collision takes place on nearly every play.” Nessbaum suggests the way to alleviate that constant jarring is to eliminate the three-point stance, where offensive and defensive linemen put one hand on the ground and, when the ball is snapped, typically fire out toward each other. In contrast, when players stand upright (in a ‘two-point’ stance) they typically rely on vision, speed, leverage and agility and tend not to make their bodies and heads into battering rams.

As Nussabum writes, this innovation will change the way offensive and defensive lines play the game, but in a positive way that enhances offenses and dynamism, which is what most fans want to see. Frankly, though, most fans wouldn’t care much about the change, since we tend to focus on what the skill players are doing rather than on the interior linemen.

3. Shrink the size of players

My own suggestion is to greatly cut back on the size of players. The NFL could set weight limits on players so average weights returned to what they were in the 1960s. Football was fine back then so I don’t see how this would affect ‘the essence of the game’ at all. Specifically, I think the maximum weight for ‘LARGE’ players (no more than five on the field at a time) should be set at 280 for players over 6’6”, and then should be ratcheted down to 270 for those 6’4” to 6’6”, 260 for those 6’2” to 6’4”, and 250 for players under 6’2”. For other players the weights should be ratcheted down another 15-20 percent from the preceding. I realize these restrictions seem severe on first look, but actually it’s the out-of-control enormity of present day players that’s way out of whack. ‘Forcing’ a young man to keep his weight no more than 25% above the norm for his height seems reasonable (and contributes to that player’s long-term health, by the way). And, of course, radically reducing average player weight meaningfully decreases the severity of the collisions that cause concussions and sub-concussive brain injury.

I’m happy to entertain any other ideas you have for making the game safer, or on the NFL or football in general. But, by the way, you probably should not attack the third idea with the notion that “you can’t do that, it discriminates against large people.” That’s just incorrect. Businesses can regulate such matters out of safety considerations. and that is the whole motivation of my proposal.

Slave or Free, a Tale of Trade Treaties

By: Synoia Sunday February 1, 2015 12:11 am

What you do or do not do will affect your children, and their children and their children.

The question being re-asked is: People over Property or Property over People? If we pick the wrong choice, we will stand to lose all those rights which we hold dear, and which are our only protection from government and private tyranny. As we will show, this is a worldwide problem, not limited only to Americans, so we suggest that everyone pay some attention.

We are all familiar with the concept brought into very public discussion by Occupy Wall Street: Inequality and the excessive financial gains of the 0.1%.

Video:Syriza a Rare Game Changer-A Challenge to the Money Masters Cabal

By: jbade Saturday January 31, 2015 10:45 am

Syriza, the Greek left, has the potential to be a rare game changer for the world. In flipping the bird to the Banksters, Greece may join Iceland in freeing it’s people from decades of austerity, generations long debt burden and negative interference by those whose only interest is to exploit  your people/natural resources. The Danes should receive an honorable  mention for making the banksters eat their bad investments and suffer additional tax an regulatory burdens as response to their conduct in the financial crisis.

This is like the Mafia, no one leaves/defies the “family” of banksters. Retribution for defiance will be harsh, coordinated and sustained. Unfortunately for the banksters they were engaged in such harsh, coordinated and intended to sustain the brutal austerity/resource stripping policies it forwards on every country they “help!”. That forced the Greeks and Icelanders to act with the righteous belief that it could not be worse than what banksters have in store for them.

There are more reasons to be hopeful that the death-grip of the 1%/banksters has on mankind is starting to falter. The Brazilians paid off their IMF/bankster loan and wer smart enough to reject the IMF’s subsequent pleas to re-enslave themselves, demonstrating an absolutely glorious understanding of how to grow nations economy for the benefit of the country/it’s people.

The banksters/Wall Street own two-thirds of all industry by one means or another. That is done by design. Their parasitic grip on the economy is so damaging  to all those who labor under its model corporate fascism. This warmongering cabal of bankers  work on the concept of producing scarcity and dependency, not abundance and freedom.

I watched this video more than a decade ago. It  is factually without flaw. It is for all intent and purpose and accounting of how 80 individuals own over half the accumulated wealth of the world. Our enslavement at the hands of banksters/politicians is all but a given as the current system demands such outcome, as articulated in this excellent documentary.

What is the most common factor in whether or not you are bombed, in a humanitarian fashion, by the USA? Clue-it’s not oil—-It is whether or not you have submitted to having a Central Bank(the fed) that is aligned with the the US Federal Reserve(IMF)ect.

Libya “No Central Bank” had just offered no interest loans to African nations to help free them from the IMF ?Banksters Cabal

Iran -No Central Bank-  Trading oil for Gold

Russia -No Central Bank

Syria – No central Bank

Iraq- No Central Bank until we bombed them into accepting one- Saddam wanted to trade Gold for Oil-a big no-no

China- has not a full participant in in The Central Banking Cabal

When we bombed Libya into the fifth century  virtually the only thing we did after the devastation was to make sure that Libya was forced to take a central bank, the deal was negotiated with the Rebels, they received three magic beans for selling out to the banksters.

Yes, refusing to subject your country, your people to a parasitic banking cabal who is there for the sole purpose of  denying wealth and power to the masses to assure they maintain dominion over mankind, will not be tolerated.

So we should all admire those who voted in Syriza, those who have done what Americans do not/would not even dare to dream of-  voting to replace the ruling class with a political party who is not part of the Bankster’s machine, this is one of the few times in my life that the people have risen up for “change”, actual change. Venezuela, Argentina and Brazil are countries who, in varying degrees, rejected the Bankster Cabal. The Northern European Countries also have fared better at stopping the extraction of their countries wealth.

We should honor our Syrizian brothers and sisters as they partake in the Herculean task of challenging the Bankers for the benefit of all Mankind, a task we in the US show no signs of , in anyway, challenging. The little guy, Greece, with their Icelandic brothers as their guides go forth to do battle with the banksters in an effort to save mankind from the banksters continuing and increasingly successful efforts to deliver us into serfdom.

Good luck Syriza, your battle is ours- we apologize that most are to stupid, immoral to understand or care about what we leave for those who follow

 

My Big Fat Greek Debt

By: Pluto Friday January 30, 2015 5:25 pm

Alexis Tsipras is the newly elected Prime Minister of Greece since 26 January 2015. One of the young leftwing radicals of the Syriza party, Alexis Tsipras is sweeping away the age of austerity. He made good on his promises to voters in a startling fashion:

One by one they were rolled back, blitzkrieg-style, mercilessly, ruthlessly, with rat-a-tat efficiency. First the barricades came down outside the Greek parliament. Then it was announced that privatisation schemes would be halted and pensions reinstated. And then came the news of the reintroduction of the €751 monthly minimum wage. And all before Greece’s new prime minister had got his first cabinet meeting under way.

After that, ministers announced more measures: the scrapping of fees for prescriptions and hospital visits, the restoration of collective work agreements, the rehiring of workers laid off in the public sector, the granting of citizenship to migrant children born and raised in Greece.

On his first day in office – barely 48 hours after storming to power – Tsipras got to work. The biting austerity his Syriza party had fought so long to annul now belonged to the past, and this was the beginning not of a new chapter but a book for the country long on the frontline of the euro crisis.

Then, today, the coup d’état. Alexis Tsipras wrote an “Open Letter to Germany: That Which You Were Never Told About Greece.”

It’s a letter of the times we live in. A letter of the moment for all mankind being crushed by the corrupt elite financiers of the world. It’s a declaration of independence.

Authored by Alexis Tsipras via Syriza.net

Most of you, dear [German] readers, will have formed a preconception of what this article is about before you actually read it. I am imploring you not to succumb to such preconceptions. Prejudice was never a good guide, especially during periods when an economic crisis reinforces stereotypes and breeds biggotry, nationalism, even violence.

In 2010, the Greek state ceased to be able to service its debt. Unfortunately, European officials decided to pretend that this problem could be overcome by means of the largest loan in history on condition of fiscal austerity that would, with mathematical precision, shrink the national income from which both new and old loans must be paid. An insolvency problem was thus dealt with as if it were a case of illiquidity.

In other words, Europe adopted the tactics of the least reputable bankers who refuse to acknowledge bad loans, preferring to grant new ones to the insolvent entity so as to pretend that the original loan is performing while extending the bankruptcy into the future. Nothing more than common sense was required to see that the application of the ‘extend and pretend’ tactic would lead my country to a tragic state. That instead of Greece’s stabilization, Europe was creating the circumstances for a self-reinforcing crisis that undermines the foundations of Europe itself.

My party, and I personally, disagreed fiercely with the May 2010 loan agreement not because you, the citizens of Germany, did not give us enough money but because you gave us much, much more than you should have and our government accepted far, far more than it had a right to. Money that would, in any case, neither help the people of Greece (as it was being thrown into the black hole of an unsustainable debt) nor prevent the ballooning of Greek government debt, at great expense to the Greek and German taxpayer.

Indeed, even before a full year had gone by, from 2011 onwards, our predictions were confirmed. The combination of gigantic new loans and stringent government spending cuts that depressed incomes not only failed to rein the debt in but, also, punished the weakest of citizens turning people who had hitherto been living a measured, modest life into paupers and beggars, denying them above all else their dignity. The collapse of incomes pushed thousands of firms into bankruptcy boosting the oligopolistic power of surviving large firms. Thus, prices have been falling but more slowly than wages and salaries, pushing down overall demand for goods and services and crushing nominal incomes while debts continue their inexorable rise. In this setting, the deficit of hope accelerated uncontrollably and, before we knew it, the ‘serpent’s egg’ hatched – the result being neo-Nazis patrolling our neighbourhoods, spreading their message of hatred.

Despite the evident failure of the ‘extend and pretend’ logic, it is still being implemented to this day. The second Greek ‘bailout’, enacted in the Spring of 2012, added another huge loan on the weakened shoulders of the Greek taxpayers, “haircut” our social security funds, and financed a ruthless new cleptocracy.

Respected commentators have been referring of recent to Greece’s stabilization, even of signs of growth. Alas, ‘Greek-covery’ is but a mirage which we must put to rest as soon as possible. The recent modest rise of real GDP, to the tune of 0.7%, signals not the end of recession (as has been proclaimed) but, rather, its continuation. Think about it: The same official sources report, for the same quarter, an inflation rate of -1.80%, i.e. deflation. Which means that the 0.7% rise in real GDP was due to a negative growth rate of nominal GDP! In other words, all that happened is that prices declined faster than nominal national income. Not exactly a cause for proclaiming the end of six years of recession!

Allow me to submit to you that this sorry attempt to recruit a new version of ‘Greek statistics’, in order to declare the ongoing Greek crisis over, is an insult to all Europeans who, at long last, deserve the truth about Greece and about Europe. So, let me be frank: Greece’s debt is currently unsustainable and will never be serviced, especially while Greece is being subjected to continuous fiscal waterboarding. The insistence in these dead-end policies, and in the denial of simple arithmetic, costs the German taxpayer dearly while, at once, condemning to a proud European nation to permanent indignity. What is even worse: In this manner, before long the Germans turn against the Greeks, the Greeks against the Germans and, unsurprisingly, the European Ideal suffers catastrophic losses.

Germany, and in particular the hard-working German workers, have nothing to fear from a SYRIZA victory. The opposite holds true. Our task is not to confront our partners. It is not to secure larger loans or, equivalently, the right to higher deficits. Our target is, rather, the country’s stabilization, balanced budgets and, of course, the end of the grand squeeze of the weaker Greek taxpayers in the context of a loan agreement that is simply unenforceable. We are committed to end ‘extend and pretend’ logic not against German citizens but with a view to the mutual advantages for all Europeans.

Dear readers, I understand that, behind your ‘demand’ that our government fulfills all of its ‘contractual obligations’ hides the fear that, if you let us Greeks some breathing space, we shall return to our bad, old ways. I acknowledge this anxiety. However, let me say that it was not SYRIZA that incubated the cleptocracy which today pretends to strive for ‘reforms’, as long as these ‘reforms’ do not affect their ill-gotten privileges. We are ready and willing to introduce major reforms for which we are now seeking a mandate to implement from the Greek electorate, naturally in collaboration with our European partners.

Our task is to bring about a European New Deal within which our people can breathe, create and live in dignity.

A great opportunity for Europe is about to be born in Greece. An opportunity Europe can ill afford to miss.

Take that, neoliberals.

Is this guy great, or what?

Oh, and to his everlasting credit, Alexis Tsipras single-handedly attempted to block the European/US Vassal States’ ridiculous and self-destructive sanctions against Russia.

Speaking in May 2014 (ahead of Ukraine’s elections) new Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras made very clear why he is now against Germany’s push for further sanctions against Russia.

[The SYRIZA] party believes that the new government in Ukraine came to power as a result of a coup, and call it a junta.

“We should not accept or recognize the government of neo-Nazis in Ukraine,” the Athens News Agency quotes Tsipras who believes that the Ukrainian people should decide their future themselves.

Speaking about different peoples’ movements for self-determination, Tsipras said that the European left respected the right to self-determination, but nationalism and clashes could not lead to positive results.

“We in the EU should not give preference to changing borders, but must respect the position of the peoples, who have decided to create a Federation within the state,” said the SYRIZA leader.

Why Do We Fear Love?

By: Robert J. Burrowes Friday January 30, 2015 4:38 pm

Why do human beings fear love? That is, why do we fear loving ourselves and others, and why do we fear being fully loved ourselves?

If someone does not receive what they need emotionally as a child, their capacity to give will be limited accordingly. The less of what they need they actually get, the less they will be able to give (and the more they will take for themselves without consideration for others). In order to give, one must have experienced receiving during childhood. If we do not experience love in a way that is truly meaningful, then we will never be able to love ourselves. And if we do not love ourselves, we cannot truly love another.

So what does loving really mean? To me, love means to feel a deep and abiding commitment to nurture the full evolutionary potential in someone, whether ourselves or another. Love might have other elements in particular contexts, such as in a sexual relationship or between a parent and a child, but its most genuine manifestation is its desire to nurture.

If you do not love a child just for being themselves, they will never achieve their evolutionary potential. That is, if you do not love a child enough to let them make each one of their own life choices, no matter how trivial or profound this choice might be, or to have their full emotional response whenever this choice is denied them, then they will never become their ‘True Self’ and they will never learn to fully love. For a comprehensive explanation of this, see ‘Why Violence?’ and ‘Fearless Psychology and Fearful Psychology: Principles and Practice’.

So where does obedience fit into all of this? It doesn’t. Those who require obedience are frightened. And fear is the opposite of love. If you want someone to do what you want, you are frightened, not loving. The poets and songwriters have long told us that love is ‘letting go’. The person in your cage is not a loved companion; the individual who is genuinely free but chooses to stay feels loved.

One complicated variation of the fear of loving that sometimes arises is that a child may not be loved by one parent (or even both) and yet this or both parents will want the child to delude themselves that they are, in fact, loved. This might happen, for example, when a child is aware at some level that they are not loved by one parent and gets angry about this lack of love (which might be manifesting in any number of ways). However, the other parent, anxious to maintain their own delusion about being loved by their spouse, will interfere in the expression of the child’s anger by distracting the child from how they feel (for example, by counselling the child to be ‘understanding’) or by punishing the child for the expression of their feelings and the truth that this entails. Of course, this circumstance will manifest repeatedly in the form of ongoing differences between the parents and the child but the larger picture will be utterly obscure to all those involved (invariably including any professionals whose help they seek).

But apart from those people who are too afraid to love, some people learn to fear being loved. Why is this? Because being loved unconsciously reminds them of not being loved as a child. And this is frightening, extraordinarily painful and infuriating. This is the main reason that some people unconsciously seek out and marry violent partners. Tragically, for these people, the ongoing violence they experience in an abusive relationship is less painful than the many unpleasant feelings that would surface if they were now loved by their spouse. To reiterate: being loved now would raise the deeply suppressed feelings of sadness, fear, pain and anger that they were not loved during childhood.

This is also why many more people, quite unconsciously, go to considerable lengths to avoid feeling loved ‘too much’: it is just too painful to risk triggering the suppressed memories of a childhood devoid of (or at least terribly deficient in) love. And they will stay in a relationship that is devoid of love, or even violent, while the people around them cannot understand why they do so and encourage them to leave. As a generalisation, the people who work to support victims of domestic violence do not understand this aspect of the problem thus making their support work much less effective. Lack of Self-esteem and Self-love is only one dimension of the problem; fear of being loved is another.

Another reason someone might fear being loved is because it raises feelings about the ‘duties’ that derive from being loved. If, during childhood, being ‘loved’ was made conditional on the child behaving in a certain way in relation to the parent(s), then once the child is older they may fear being loved because it is unconsciously associated with the onerous responsibility to behave in particular, Self-denying ways. In some contexts, this might include interpreting any declaration of love to require a sexual response, whether or not this type of response was actually intended/invited.

Of course there are cultural constraints on who we can love too. In some societies, people of the same sex might avoid using the term ‘love’ in relation to each other for fear of being seen as homosexual. And, of course, in explicitly homophobic societies, homosexual individuals might also fear expressing their love.

Another category of people who are terrified of love consists of those individuals who offer trinkets designed to give them a sense of control over another person, rather than to offer gifts that will, in some way, be a response to what the other person actually needs. Of course, control is no substitute for love and cannot meet the trinket-giver’s needs but their fear of love stops them engaging more deeply.

If you wish to join the worldwide movement to end the violence that frightens us out of loving, you are welcome to sign the online pledge of ‘The People’s Charter to Create a Nonviolent World’.

Experiencing what it means to love and be loved, fully and unconditionally, requires us to feel our fear of love.

***

Biodata: Robert has a lifetime commitment to understanding and ending human violence. He has done extensive research since 1966 in an effort to understand why human beings are violent and has been a nonviolent activist since 1981. He is the author of ‘Why Violence?’ His email address is flametree@riseup.net and his website is here.