Author Archives: Luciana Bohne

Welcome to Trumpland: Obama’s legacy

A new gang is in power in Washington. No one quite knows how or why, but the old gang is fighting back with all of its might. A charlatan heads the new gang; he says he opposes everything the old boss did. He says he will set it all right at home and in the global neighborhood, yet his cabinet of consiglieri is stacked with muscular Pentagon Telamon Ajaxes, avaricious bankers and Wall Street vultures, and the mother of all archaic fossil-fuel planetary polluters—Exxon Mobil. Continue reading

Crossing the Acheron: Back to Vietnam

In classical mythology, the Acheron is one of the rivers of the Underworld. It marks the boundary between the living and the dead. The ferryman, Charon, ferries the dead across the Acheron to a place where they lose memory. Nothing of what made them human remains—happiness, suffering, love, hatred, guilt, regret, redemption, betrayal, forgiveness. Continue reading

The democratic swindle: Hillary or Trump?

“Do you think we would be better off under Hillary or Trump,” asked the members of my Writing Group, at the meeting first Sunday in October. Continue reading

Psychological warfare: Of barrel bombs and osmium tetroxide

The MSM is proliferating the fib that President Assad is dropping chlorine barrel bombs on Syrian civilians—40 gallons of household bleach and 2.5 gallons of food grade vinegar, to be precise, if he’s using the formula. This ridiculous nonexplosive bomb, which no one has ever seen, reminded me of another psy-op pseudo weapon introduced to the gullible MSM news-slurper in the Iraq context in 2004. Continue reading

The elective affinities of Hillary Clinton

A grotesque power-fest at the Democratic Party Convention in Philadelphia left me feeling about Hillary Clinton the way P. G. Wodehouse’s Bertie Wooster felt about his Aunt Agatha—“the one who chews broken bottles and kills rats with her teeth.” There is something disquieting and secretively lascivious about her open-mouthed cackle. She doesn’t so much laugh as lusts. She reminded me, too, of the mythical basilisk in the bestiary at the convention—the queen among the serpents. The basilisk of legend, wearing a king’s crown on his head, is only twelve-fingers long, but his venom withers all living plants in his wake. His gaze is enough to kill, according to Pliny the Elder. Only the droppings of a weasel have the potent odor to kill him, but it didn’t work with this basilisk. Her weasel endorsed her, embraced her, kissed her. His odor and her venom neutralized each other and merged into the unity party of the Serpent and the Weasel. Continue reading

Amazing Brexit: Identity and class politics

From its inception in 1951 as the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC), through its phase as the European Economic Community (EEC) formed in 1958, to the treaty known as the Single European [Market] Act of 1986, setting the birth of the European Union (EU) for 1992, the planners of the free-trade area in Europe knew that the consequences would be unemployment and migration—the result of curbing the power of unions, depressing wages, and removing the social safety net. If there is a culprit in the Brexit vote it’s the “free trade” orthodoxy of the EU and its assault on the welfare state and workers’ rights. Continue reading

The great leap backward: America’s illegal wars on the world

Can we face it in this election season? America is a weapons factory, the White House a war room, and the president the manager of the neoliberal conspiracy to recolonize the planet. It exports war and mass poverty. On the economic front, usurious neoliberalism; on the military front, illegal wars. These are the trenches of America’s battle for world domination in the 21st century. Continue reading

The fire each time

Prometheus stole fire from the gods and gave it to mankind, and suddenly there was light, and warmth, and the gathering at the hearth. The gods never forgave, and ever since periodically they thrust a torch into villains’ hands and watch the hearths burn and bring the roofs down. Civilization weeps, in Troy, Hiroshima, Vietnam, Iraq, Libya, Syria. Continue reading

The cowards’ wars

They come; they see; people die. They laugh. Or say it was worth it. Their maps are not a territory inhabited by living beings; they are military targets. Continue reading

Lisbon 1964: Scent of the future

Three images: a castle on a hill, a lamppost beneath my cheap hotel room in the early November evening illuminating a trench-coated man within its murky glow, a piazza with half a boy on a wooden platform on wheels. Continue reading

Faking history is a form of burning books

Written by Eugene Pottier in 1871, “The Internationale,” is the anthem of socialists, communists, anarchists, and social democrats. Anti-fascist Republicans sang it during the Spanish Civil War (1936-39). Continue reading

Little Oedipus and the Troika

Whatever happened to Syriza? Was it a good party that came to a bad end or a bad party that came to a bad end? It’s the difference between tragedy and farce. Continue reading

Barbarism advances

In October of 1930, Thomas Mann made “An Appeal to Reason” in The Berliner Taggeblatt: “This fantastic state of mind, of a humanity that has outrun its ideas, is matched by a political scene in the grotesque style, with Salvation Army methods, hallelujahs and bell-ringing and dervish-like repetition of monotonous catchwords, until everybody foams at the mouth. Fanaticism turns into a means of salvation, enthusiasm into epileptic ecstasy . . . and reason veils her face.” Continue reading

Becoming neorealism

One summer a small incident occurred on a visit to my village home that now comes to mind as I write of “neorealism.” After lunch in the courtyard, a man in his sixties appeared, out of nowhere it seemed, decorously clad in a black, over-sized suit and white shirt unbuttoned at the neck. Wordlessly he bowed, smiled, and proceeded to pick off or deadhead the red flowers from the potted geraniums, scattered around the courtyard. “Who is he?’ I asked one of my aunts. “We don’t know,” she said. “He’s been here since the end of the war. He’s harmless. He picks only red flowers.” Nothing more could be got out of her beyond an apologetic shrug. Continue reading

Where are you when we need you, Jean-Paul Sartre?

Dear Sartre, thank you for refusing the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1964, athough, I must say, Harold Pinter made spectacular use of its pulpit by hurling an uncompromising indictment against the Axis of Good. Continue reading

The long Ides of March of Aldo Moro

“Beware the Ides of March”—or even the day after. On the morning of 16 March 1978 in Rome’s central via Fani, the Red Brigades (BR) kidnapped Italian Prime Minister Aldo Moro, head of the Christian Democratic Party (DC), killing five agents of his entourage. The fifty-five days of his detention in a secret “people’s prison” and eventual assassination by his captors on 9 May 1978 marked the climax of over thirty years of internal and external opposition to post-fascist Italy’s chartering its own political and economic course by “parallel convergences.” It is worth revisiting this long and twisted story as an early template for the bad faith with which the US Empire deals with the world today. It is not a story for conspiracy-phobes. Continue reading

The neoliberal, imperialist West opened the way for Islamic State to invade Libya

Der Spiegel writes: “Libya is well on its way to becoming a failed state, making it the perfect prey for IS. Furthermore, Libya is close to Italy, has plenty of oil and offers a possible corridor to Boko Haram in Nigeria as well as to Islamists in Mali and in the Sahara. Indeed, if IS succeeds in solidifying its presence here, the terrorists could pose a threat to Southern Europe in addition to destabilizing all of North Africa.” Continue reading

The logic of the imperial security state

What to think of a policy that bombs countries and leaves them to their fate? Most observers of US foreign policy since 2001 regard this policy as a failure. They look upon the ruins of Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Somalia, Yemen, and see no victory parade, no reconstruction, no stable government, no democracy, and no human rights. Continue reading

Austerity or how the European Union and the Greek governing class destroyed Greece’s economy

An anecdote: in our travels through Greece in the 1980s, our daughter suffered from car-motion sickness. She wrote in her diary: “We left Delphi, and I felt sick. Mom stuffed me with bread, and I threw up. Dad told me a Greek tragedy, and I felt better.” She was twelve but understood catharsis. Continue reading

Our boys in Hong Kong

A not so angelic craziness

I woke up the other morning to read the news in the Guardian that the pope believes in angels. I took the headline on faith, and moved on. The Guardian introduced me to Joshua Wong, leader of the “the spontaneous nature of the civil disobedience,” in Hong Kong, as if to illustrate the pope’s charming belief. Continue reading

‘The Phoenix has landed’: What you need to know to fight for the survival of American democracy and your own

‘The Phoenix Program: America’s Use of Terror in Vietnam,’ by Douglas Valentine, was first published in 1990 and reprinted in 2000. In his introduction in 2000, Valentine described Phoenix: “This book is about terror and its role in political warfare. It will show how, as successive American governments sink deeper and deeper into the vortex of covert operations—ostensibly to combat terrorism and Communist insurgencies—the American people gradually lose touch with the democratic ideals that once defined their national self-concept. This book asks what happens when Phoenix comes home to roost.” Continue reading

A question of torture

U.S. District Court Judge Gladys Kessler’s ruling in May to suspend the force-feeding of Abu Wa’el Dhiab, a Guantanamo prisoner from Syria, was called “unprecedented” in the media. The ruling halted the prisoner’s forced removal from his cell (called “forcible cell extraction”) in order to be strapped down in a painful, though, state-of-the art, restraint chair. Through a tube inserted in his nose to his stomach, he would then be fed. She ordered one hundred videos of this vicious procedure on this single prisoner “to be preserved” until the next hearing. Continue reading

Putin’s speech on accepting Crimea into the Russian Federation, the end of American global propaganda

Vladimir Putin’s March 20 speech on the proposal of accepting Crimea into the Russian Federation sure tops the moronic and dishonest logorrhea that regularly issues from the mouths of the White House. No doubt this is because these speeches are written by hired public-relations hacks, whose mentality is grounded in ideas of branding and marketing. Continue reading

Do you remember Bosnia?

If you remember Bosnia from the 1990s, you may remember the much-publicized ethnic violence, massacres and rapes, and something savagely atavistic, dismembering a unified country once called Yugoslavia. It is now back on a pre-WW I map, the disunified “Balkans,” a mosaic of statelets reconstituted along ethno-nationalist lines: Croatia, Slovenia, Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia—and the British-UN protectorate of Bosnia-Herzegovina (BiH) and Republika Srpska (Serb Republic), a collage of Croat, Serb, and Muslim populations, each inhabiting its own ethnic space. Continue reading

Erotic capital: love and sex in the neoliberal age

First, let us remember what the political philosopher, Karl Marx, said (synthesized; he’s long-winded, like most Victorians) in the Communist Manifesto about capitalism: “It has resolved personal worth into exchange value, and in place of the numberless and feasible freedoms, has set up that single, unconscionable freedom—Free Trade. In one word, exploitation, veiled by illusions: naked, shameless, direct, brutal exploitation.” Continue reading

The mirror in the Brown Building: Remembering the Triangle fire (1911)

“The struggle of people against power,” wrote the Czech writer Milan Kundera “is the struggle of memory over forgetting.” To know is to understand, to understand is to act morally, to act morally is to effect change. In this sense, knowledge is power. Continue reading

Ash Wednesday in Pennsylvania: Ashes for the people; gold for the corporations

You remember what Ash Wednesday means in the Roman Catholic creed: it is the day the faithful begin a 40-day penance, called Lent, in preparation for the Resurrection of Christ on Easter. Did you think this custom was only prescribed in religious circles? Nah. It’s alive and well right here in the (nominally?) secular circles of Republican-governed Pennsylvania, where “mean and lean” means tightening the belt not for corporations—god forbid—but for ordinary working folks like you and me. The free-market fundamentalists have arrived to preach sacrifice for us and profit feasts for their sponsors. Continue reading

Blackmailing dissent: you’re either with Obama or you’re with the Tea Party

The Manichean heresy in early Christianity (Augustine had been a youthful adherent) divided the world into an earthly battleground of spiritual warfare between Satan and God, who shared power equally over the fate of humanity. Continue reading