I don’t nearly post enough of my art, but here are a few animated icons I’ve done fairly recently
If you’re reading this, you probably follow the news. So you’ve probably heard of the latest iteration of the “crisis at the border”: tens of thousands of children, many of them unaccompanied by an adult, crossing the desert from Mexico into the United States, where they surrender to the Border Patrol in hope of being allowed to remain here permanently. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s detention and hearing system has been overwhelmed by the surge of children and, in some cases, their parents. The Obama Administration has asked Congress to approve new funding to speed up processing and deportations of these illegal immigrants.
Even if you’ve followed this story closely, you probably haven’t heard the depressing backstory — the reason so many Central Americans are sending their children on a dangerous thousand-mile journey up the spine of Mexico, where they ride atop freight trains, endure shakedowns by corrupt police and face rapists, bandits and other predators. (For a sense of what it’s like, check out the excellent 2004 film “Maria Full of Grace.”)
NPR and other mainstream news outlets are parroting the White House, which blames unscrupulous “coyotes” (human smugglers) for “lying to parents, telling them that if they put their kids in the hands of traffickers and get to the United States that they will be able to stay.” True: the coyotes are saying that in order to gin up business. Also true: U.S. law has changed, and many of these kids have a strong legal case for asylum. Unfortunately, U.S. officials are ignoring the law.
The sad truth is that this “crisis at the border” is yet another example of “blowback.”
Blowback is an unintended negative consequence of U.S. political, military and/or economic intervention overseas — when something we did in the past comes back to bite us in the ass.9/11 is the classic example; arming and funding radical Islamists in the Middle East and South Asia who were less grateful for our help than angry at the U.S.’ simultaneous backing for oppressive governments (The House of Saud, Saddam, Assad, etc.) in the region.
More recent cases include U.S. support for Islamist insurgents in Libya and Syria, which destabilized both countries and led to the murders of U.S. consular officials in Benghazi, and the rise of ISIS, the guerilla army that imperils the U.S.-backed Maliki regime in Baghdad, respectively.
Confusing the issue for casual American news consumers is that the current border crisis doesn’t involve the usual Mexicans traveling north in search of work. Instead, we’re talking about people from Central American nations devastated by a century of American colonialism and imperialism, much of that intervention surprisingly recent. Central American refugees are merely transiting through Mexico.
"The unaccompanied children crossing the border into the United States are leaving behind mainly three Central American countries, Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala. The first two are among the world’s most violent and all three have deep poverty, according to a Pew Research report based on Department of Homeland Security (DHS) information,” reports NBC News. “El Salvador ranked second in terms of homicides in Latin America in 2011, and it is still high on the list. Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador are among the poorest nations in Latin America. Thirty percent of Hondurans, 17 percent of Salvadorans and 26 percent of Guatemalans live on less than $2 a day.”
The fact that Honduras is the biggest source of the exodus jumped out at me. That’s because, in 2009, the United States government — under President Obama — tacitly supported a military coup that overthrew the democratically elected president of Honduras. “Washington has a very close relationship with the Honduran military, which goes back decades,” The Guardian noted at the time. “During the 1980s, the US used bases in Honduras to train and arm the Contras, Nicaraguan paramilitaries who became known for their atrocities in their war against the Sandinista government in neighbouring Nicaragua.”
Honduras wasn’t paradise under President Manuel Zelaya. Since the coup, however, the country has entered a downward death spiral of drug-related bloodshed and political revenge killings that crashed the economy, brought an end to law, order and civil society, and now has some analysts calling it a “failed state” along the lines of Somalia and Afghanistan during the 1990s.
"Zelaya’s overthrow created a vacuum in security in which military and police were now focused more on political protest, and also led to a freeze in international aid that markedly worsened socio-economic conditions," Mark Ungar, professor of political science at Brooklyn College and the City University of New York, told The International Business Times. “The 2009 coup, asserts [Tulane] professor Aaron Schneider, gave the Honduran military more political and economic leverage, at the same time as the state and political elites lost their legitimacy, resources and the capacity to govern large parts of the country.”
El Salvador and Guatemala, also narcostates devastated by decades of U.S. support for oppressive, corrupt right-wing dictatorships, are suffering similar conditions.
(Photo Credit: AP | Supporters of ousted Honduras’ President Manuel Zelaya clash with soldiers near the presidential residency Tegucigalpa, Monday, June 29. 2009. Police fired tear gas to hold back thousands of Hondurans outside the occupied presidential residency as world leaders appealed to Honduras to reverse a coup that ousted the president.)
Minimum wage should be linked to the poverty level.
This is basic economic fact.
A business that claims it can’t afford to pay a living wage to its workers is admitting that by definition it fails to meet its basic operating expenses. That major multinational corporations can be “successful” while failing to meet a basic operating expense is only possible because We The People pick up their greedy/lazy slack through taxes and charity.
And yet somehow it’s everybody else who’s a moocher and a looter…
And this corrosive greed is a big part of what’s slowly poisoning the U.S. economy. Money being hoarded at the top and put in “safe” investments and bank accounts is money that does nothing for no one. It’s just an elaborate means of keeping score. Money put into the hands of the workers does what money is meant to do: it circulates. It gets spent. The same dollar will go through dozens of sets of hands, touching dozens of lives, feeding dozens of people and sparking profits for dozens of businesses. The same dollar, in the hands of the rich, will generally do… nothing. It won’t create jobs. It won’t fund innovations. It won’t start businesses.
Less than 1% of corporate revenues become wages for workers. Less than 3% of the wealthy are actually entrepreneurs (people who risk their money on business ventures that create jobs).
But 100% of the working class spends their money. That money creates jobs. That money fuels innovations. That money becomes profits. That money keeps the economy ticking.
We have been lied to about who are the parasites and who are the drivers of the economy. We have largely accepted a view of money as a means of keeping score and the economy as something that must have winners and losers, rather than money being a proxy for barter and an economy being a way to divide the labor of society and distribute the load of living
"A business that claims it can’t afford to pay a living wage to its workers is admitting that by definition it fails to meet its basic operating expenses."
"Less than 1% of corporate revenues become wages for the workers."
Cartel: An association of manufacturers or suppliers with the purpose of maintaining prices at a high level and restricting competition.
Liberals and conservatives are two factions of the same team (read capitalists); we just perceive them as markedly different because of the degree to which the spectrum of political possibilities has been narrowed. A complex system of normalized indoctrination exists in our lives which ensure radical (read communist and anarchist) solutions are weeded out, or marginalized in one way or another.
The end result is a set of normalized choices manifested in a political cartel, or an association of political parties with the purpose of maintaining concentrated political power and restricting or repressing competition. What is valued as acceptable within this cartel comprising the modern political sphere then is a tiny spectrum which reflects only the range of needs of private corporate power and nothing more.
Creating the Cartel
“The oppressed are allowed once every few years to decide which particular representatives of the oppressing class are to represent and repress them.”
― Karl Marx
Think of politics as a market for power. In this market ideas are currency.
As CrimethInc elaborated, “[I]deas function as capital in much the same way money does. Individuals who can get others to “buy in” to their ideas obtain a disproportionate amount of control over their surroundings; large conglomerates can come to rule large parts of the world this way, just as corporations do — indeed, there can be no entrenched political or financial power without ideological capital to back it up.”
What would happen then if the market was rigged by its very nature and some individuals could bolster their idea(s) to gain control of all others?
Revisiting CrimethInc, they explain “Little “start-up companies” of competing ideas can enter the market to contest such [idea] monopolies, and sometimes one unseats the reigning creed to become the new dominant paradigm; but as in any capitalist system, power tends to flow upward to the top of a hierarchy, from which the masters, the ones qualified to employ it, decide matters for everyone else.”
Liberals and conservatives wholeheartedly participate in the concentration of power when they take a set of political positions which express the basic ideas of capitalism and then present a range of indoctrination within that framework — so any “solution” only enhances the strength of capitalist institutionalization, ingraining it in our minds as the entire possible spectrum of choice that there is.
This is the purpose of electoral politics, to present from our capitalist masters individuals whose ideas keep the flow of power moving upward; to normalize indoctrination; to, in effect, control the market by maintaining the perceived pedigree of capitalist ideas and restricting competition through the marginalization and repression of ideas new or contradictory.
Extensive history of this tendency may be demonstrated through the violent anti-radical consensus of liberals and conservatives following the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution. Howard Zinn in A People’s History of the United States noted:
“In early September 1917, Department of Justice agents made simultaneous raids on forty-eight IWW [International Workers of the World] meetings across the country, seizing correspondence and literature that would become courtroom evidence. Later that month, 165 IWW leaders were arrested for conspiracy to hinder the draft, encourage desertion, and intimidate others in connection with labor disputes. One hundred and one went on trial [en masse] in April 1918; it lasted five months, the longest criminal trial in American history up to that time… [T]he jury found them all guilty. The judge sentenced [IWW president William “Big Bill”] Haywood and fourteen others to twenty years in prison; thirty-three were given then years, the rest shorter sentences. They were fined a total of $2,500,000. The IWW was shattered.”
Perhaps most telling though is the later liberal/conservative agreement, spurred forward by the Cold War policy of containment, on a mono-doctrine of imperialist foreign policy best described herein by a popularized euphemism of the time — “Partisanship ends at the water’s edge.”
"The United States was trying, in the postwar decade [of World War II], to create a national consensus — excluding the radicals, who could not support a foreign policy aimed at suppressing revolution — of conservatives and liberals, Republicans and Democrats, around the policies of the cold war and anti-Communism. Such a coalition could best be created by a liberal Democratic President, whose aggressive policy abroad would be supported by conservatives… [I]f the anti-Communist mood became strong enough, liberals could support repressive moves at home which in ordinary times would be seen as violating the tradition of liberal tolerance. (Zinn)"
Imperialist consensus not only generated cohesion on foreign policy, but, as alluded, it furthered a coordinated relationship of narrowed power between liberals and conservatives (Democrats and Republicans), providing the groundwork to enact within our own boarders gross political repression of all radical elements in American society. Repression of previous magnitude would continue against not only the IWW, but against the Socialist Workers Party, the AFL-CIO, the Teamsters, the Black Panther Party and American Indian Movement of the ’60s and ’70s, and most recently against Occupy Wallstreet.
“Government is the shadow cast by business over society.”
— John Dewey
Our political system is the wholesale of government to private corporate interest. Capitalism’s existence is predicated on expansion, and as such, when the natural boundaries of freedom and democracy infringe upon this imperative, it must co-opt government to facilitate its survival. The repression of radicals by liberals and conservatives, both abroad and domestically, has always served these capitalist ends, and will continue to do so.
This comes at a great disservice to the American underclasses, for no viable alternatives have entered the public lexicon for nearly a century. By keeping ideas narrowly framed within a capitalist paradigm, the monopoly of power rests completely within a tiny spectrum of political and economic possibilities, all of which enable and perpetuate a statist, classist society.
To paraphrase Noam Chomsky, if you want to change government you have to attack the substance of it, not the shadow. Attacking the shadow, government alone, does nothing because in a political cartel it does not matter who we elect — liberal or conservative — so long as the cement between private corporate power and government remains un-fractured. Until this basic obstacle is confronted, none of us will exist outside an illusion of choice.
I’m currently accepting commissions for the big move to Vancouver I’m likely going to be making! This is what I’m currently offering. I’ll draw/pixelate just about any character, so if you’re interested, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org! Reblogs are most definitely appreciated. :D
Thanks for looking!