Friday, May 1, 2009
DVD review: The Baader Meinhof Complex by Rob Mackie for The Guardian
A very lengthy history of the far-left terrorist group that shocked Germany from 1968 onwards. It is written by director Uli Edel and Bernd Eichinger, who also did the screenplay for the impressive Downfall; its Hitler, Bruno Ganz, is present here again as the voice of reason and boss of the federal police. The kicking-off point for this group's radicalisation is seen as the brutality of the police reaction to a protest at the visit of the shah of Iran. Like most of the violence and explosions in the film's 145-minute running time, it is convincingly real. Featuring more smoking than you'll ever see in an episode of Mad Men, even when its antiheroes are in prison, it is an interesting re-enactment of a startling historical period often overlooked today.
Tens of thousands of May Day protesters have taken to the streets across Europe, clashing with police in several cities amid mounting social unrest over the global economic crisis.
Traditional Labour Day demonstrations were reported to have turned violent in Germany, Greece and Turkey, while thousands of protesters rallied in Russia, France and Spain.
In Berlin, demonstrators hurled bottles and rocks at police on Friday, injuring a number of officers, while clashes were also reported in Hamburg.
The protests were fuelled by the worsening financial crisis, especially in Germany, where the economy is expected to shrink by six per cent this year.
"No one could have imagined that this crisis could have been so profound," Michael Sommer, head of the DGB trade union federation, told a crowd in Berlin.
"There is no light at the end of the tunnel."
About 5,000 officers were on standby in the German capital, where counter-demonstrations were also expected to cause havoc.
Clashes between police and demonstrators were taking place in the Turkish city of Istanbul, with hundreds of protesters battling riot police in the streets.
Security forces fired water cannons and arrested several protesters, largely made up of union and left-wing activists.
The violence has overshadowed the landmark return of annual labour rallies to the city's central Taksim Square, where on May 1, 1977, suspected rightwing snipers killed 34 people.
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Glenn Greenwald writes in Salon :
There are few things rarer than a major politician doing something that is genuinely courageous and principled, but Jim Webb's impassioned commitment to fundamental prison reform is exactly that. Webb's interest in the issue was prompted by his work as a journalist in 1984, when he wrote about an American citizen who was locked away in a Japanese prison for two years under extremely harsh conditions for nothing more than marijuana possession. After decades of mindless "tough-on-crime" hysteria, an increasingly irrational "drug war," and a sprawling, privatized prison state as brutal as it is counter-productive, America has easily surpassed Japan -- and virtually every other country in the world -- to become what Brown University Professor Glenn Loury recently described as a "a nation of jailers" whose "prison system has grown into a leviathan unmatched in human history."
What's most notable about Webb's decision to champion this cause is how honest his advocacy is. He isn't just attempting to chip away at the safe edges of America's oppressive prison state. His critique of what we're doing is fundamental, not incremental. And, most important of all, Webb is addressing head-on one of the principal causes of our insane imprisonment fixation: our aberrational insistence on criminalizing and imprisoning non-violent drug offenders (when we're not doing worse to them). That is an issue most politicians are petrified to get anywhere near, as evidenced just this week by Barack Obama's adolescent, condescending snickering when asked about marijuana legalization, in response to which Obama gave a dismissive answer that Andrew Sullivan accurately deemed "pathetic." Here are just a few excerpts from Webb's Senate floor speech this week (.pdf) on his new bill to create a Commission to study all aspects of prison reform:
Let's start with a premise that I don't think a lot of Americans are aware of. We have 5% of the world's population; we have 25% of the world's known prison population. We have an incarceration rate in the United States, the world's greatest democracy, that is five times as high as the average incarceration rate of the rest of the world. There are only two possibilities here: either we have the most evil people on earth living in the United States; or we are doing something dramatically wrong in terms of how we approach the issue of criminal justice. . . .Webb added that "America's criminal justice system has deteriorated to the point that it is a national disgrace" and "we are locking up too many people who do not belong in jail."
The elephant in the bedroom in many discussions on the criminal justice system is the sharp increase in drug incarceration over the past three decades. In 1980, we had 41,000 drug offenders in prison; today we have more than 500,000, an increase of 1,200%. The blue disks represent the numbers in 1980; the red disks represent the numbers in 2007 and a significant percentage of those incarcerated are for possession or nonviolent offenses stemming from drug addiction and those sorts of related behavioral issues. . . .
In many cases these issues involve people's ability to have proper counsel and other issues, but there are stunning statistics with respect to drugs that we all must come to terms with. African-Americans are about 12% of our population; contrary to a lot of thought and rhetoric, their drug use rate in terms of frequent drug use rate is about the same as all other elements of our society, about 14%. But they end up being 37% of those arrested on drug charges, 59% of those convicted, and 74% of those sentenced to prison by the numbers that have been provided by us. . . .
Another piece of this issue that I hope we will address with this National Criminal Justice Commission is what happens inside our prisons. . . . We also have a situation in this country with respect to prison violence and sexual victimization that is off the charts and we must get our arms around this problem. We also have many people in our prisons who are among what are called the criminally ill, many suffering from hepatitis and HIV who are not getting the sorts of treatment they deserve.
Importantly, what are we going to do about drug policy - the whole area of drug policy in this country?
And how does that affect sentencing procedures and other alternatives that we might look at?
It's hard to overstate how politically thankless, and risky, is Webb's pursuit of this issue -- both in general and particularly for Webb. Though there has been some evolution of public opinion on some drug policy issues, there is virtually no meaningful organized constituency for prison reform. To the contrary, leaving oneself vulnerable to accusations of being "soft on crime" has, for decades, been one of the most toxic vulnerabilities a politician can suffer (ask Michael Dukakis). Moreover, the privatized Prison State is a booming and highly profitable industry, with an army of lobbyists, donations, and other well-funded weapons for targeting candidates who threaten its interests.
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National Security Archive Update, May 1, 2009 "How Much is Enough?": The U.S. Navy and "Finite Deterrence"
Washington, DC, May 1, 2009 - President Obama's recent call for a "world without nuclear weapons" immediately raised questions of how do you get there, what does deterrence actually require before you get there, and how many nuclear weapons would that involve at each step. Exactly these questions of "how much is enough" were fifty years ago in secret debate within the U.S. government, when Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Arleigh Burke argued that a small force of mainly nuclear missile-launching Polaris submarines was enough for deterrence. Burke and Navy leaders developed a concept of "finite" or "minimum" deterrence--highly relevant to today's debate--that they believed would make the United States safer because it would dissuade nuclear attacks while removing pressures for a dangerous "hair-trigger" posture.
In early 1960, when President Eisenhower's budget director Maurice Stans was told that the U.S. Navy's Polaris missile-launching submarines could "destroy 232 targets, which was sufficient to destroy all of Russia," he asked defense officials, "If POLARIS could do this job, why did we need other... ICBMs, SAC aircraft, and overseas bases?" According to Stans, the answer "he had received... [was] that was someone else's problem." An electronic briefing book of declassified documents obtained through archival research and published for the first time by the National Security Archive shows how the U.S. Navy, tried to take responsibility for this "problem" by supporting a minimum deterrent force that would threaten a "finite" list of major urban-industrial and command centers in the heart of the Soviet Union.
With their capability to destroy key Soviet targets, Burke believed, the virtually undetectable and invulnerable Polaris submarines could "inflict terrible punishment" and deter Moscow from launching a surprise attack on the United States or its allies. By contrast, Burke saw land-based missile and bombers as vulnerable to attack, which made the U.S.-Soviet nuclear relationship dangerously unstable. While he did not propose eliminating all strategic bombers and ICBMs, he believed that a force of about 40 Polaris submarines (16 missiles each) was a reasonable answer to the question "how much is enough?" Although the Kennedy administration rejected Burke's concept, years later former Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara revived it by arguing that 400 nuclear weapons were "enough" to deter a Soviet attack.
The Archive's briefing book includes:
* A report by Admiral Roy Johnson arguing that the proper basis of deterrence lay in the "assured delivery of rather few weapons" which was "sufficient to inflict terrible punishment." Even "10 delivered weapons would produce a major disaster with fully a quarter as many casualties as the first hundred."
* A speech by Arleigh Burke where he argued that Polaris submarines would mitigate the vulnerabilities of strategic forces, but would also "provide time to think in periods of tension" making possible gradual retaliation as well as opportunities for "political coercion, if we like, to gain national objectives more advantageous than simple revenge."
* The record of Burke's conversation with the Secretary of the Navy, where, having lost a major bureaucratic conflict over the direction of nuclear targeting, he declared that Air Force leaders were "smart and ruthless ... it's the same way as the Communists; it's exactly the same techniques."
* Burke's inside "Dope" newsletter to top Navy commanders where he declared that hair-trigger nuclear response capabilities and preemptive nuclear strategies were "dangerous for any nation" because they could initiate a "a war which would not otherwise occur."
This is the first in a series of electronic briefing books that will document moments during the Cold War when top officials considered radical changes in the U.S. nuclear posture, involving significantly smaller strategic forces. More powerful forces and conflicting policy imperatives defeated these proposals, but they are nonetheless worth revisiting because their proponents raised searching questions about nuclear strategy that were never properly addressed during the Cold War.
Visit the Archive's Nuclear Vault for more information.
From Budgetary Implications of Marijuana Prohibition in the United States :
New Report Projects $10-14 Billion Annual Savings and Revenues
Savings/Revenues Projected in New Study by Harvard Economist Could Pay For:
**Implementing Required Port Security Plans in Just One Year
**Securing Soviet-Era "Loose Nukes" in Under Three Years
Replacing marijuana prohibition with a system of taxation and regulation similar to that used for alcoholic beverages would produce combined savings and tax revenues of between $10 billion and $14 billion per year, finds a June 2005 report by Dr. Jeffrey Miron, visiting professor of economics at Harvard University.
The report has been endorsed by more than 530 distinguished economists, who have signed an open letter to President Bush and other public officials calling for "an open and honest debate about marijuana prohibition," adding, "We believe such a debate will favor a regime in which marijuana is legal but taxed and regulated like other goods."
Chief among the endorsing economists are three Nobel Laureates in economics: Dr. Milton Friedman of the Hoover Institute, Dr. George Akerlof of the University of California at Berkeley, and Dr. Vernon Smith of George Mason University.
Dr. Miron's paper, "The Budgetary Implications of Marijuana Prohibition," concludes:
**Replacing marijuana prohibition with a system of legal regulation would save approximately $7.7 billion in government expenditures on prohibition enforcement -- $2.4 billion at the federal level and $5.3 billion at the state and local levels.
**Revenue from taxation of marijuana sales would range from $2.4 billion per year if marijuana were taxed like ordinary consumer goods to $6.2 billion if it were taxed like alcohol or tobacco.
These impacts are considerable, according to the Marijuana Policy Project in Washington, D.C. For example, $14 billion in annual combined annual savings and revenues would cover the securing of all "loose nukes" in the former Soviet Union (estimated by former Assistant Secretary of Defense Lawrence Korb at $30 billion) in less than three years. Just one year's savings would cover the full cost of anti-terrorism port security measures required by the Maritime Transportation Security Act of 2002. The Coast Guard has estimated these costs, covering 3,150 port facilities and 9,200 vessels, at $7.3 billion total.
"As Milton Friedman and over 500 economists have now said, it's time for a serious debate about whether marijuana prohibition makes any sense," said Rob Kampia, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project in Washington, D.C. "We know that prohibition hasn't kept marijuana away from kids, since year after year 85% of high school seniors tell government survey-takers that marijuana is 'easy to get.' Conservatives, especially, are beginning to ask whether we're getting our money's worth or simply throwing away billions of tax dollars that might be used to protect America from real threats like those unsecured Soviet-era nukes."
[ ... ]
An Open Letter to the President, Congress, Governors, and State Legislatures
We, the undersigned, call your attention to the attached report by Professor Jeffrey A. Miron, The Budgetary Implications of Marijuana Prohibition. The report shows that marijuana legalization -- replacing prohibition with a system of taxation and regulation -- would save $7.7 billion per year in state and federal expenditures on prohibition enforcement and produce tax revenues of at least $2.4 billion annually if marijuana were taxed like most consumer goods. If, however, marijuana were taxed similarly to alcohol or tobacco, it might generate as much as $6.2 billion annually.
The fact that marijuana prohibition has these budgetary impacts does not by itself mean prohibition is bad policy. Existing evidence, however, suggests prohibition has minimal benefits and may itself cause substantial harm.
We therefore urge the country to commence an open and honest debate about marijuana prohibition. We believe such a debate will favor a regime in which marijuana is legal but taxed and regulated like other goods. At a minimum, this debate will force advocates of current policy to show that prohibition has benefits sufficient to justify the cost to taxpayers, foregone tax revenues, and numerous ancillary consequences that result from marijuana prohibition.
*Affiliations listed are only for purposes of identification.
| || ||Affiliation|| |
|Milton||Friedman||The Hoover Institution, Stanford University||Nobel Laureate|
|George A.||Akerlof||University of California, Berkeley||Nobel Laureate|
|Vernon L.||Smith||George Mason University||Nobel Laureate|
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Commentary: Legalize drugs to stop violence
CAMBRIDGE, Massachusetts (CNN) -- Over the past two years, drug violence in Mexico has become a fixture of the daily news. Some of this violence pits drug cartels against one another; some involves confrontations between law enforcement and traffickers.
Recent estimates suggest thousands have lost their lives in this "war on drugs."
The U.S. and Mexican responses to this violence have been predictable: more troops and police, greater border controls and expanded enforcement of every kind. Escalation is the wrong response, however; drug prohibition is the cause of the violence.
Prohibition creates violence because it drives the drug market underground. This means buyers and sellers cannot resolve their disputes with lawsuits, arbitration or advertising, so they resort to violence instead.
Violence was common in the alcohol industry when it was banned during Prohibition, but not before or after.
Violence is the norm in illicit gambling markets but not in legal ones. Violence is routine when prostitution is banned but not when it's permitted. Violence results from policies that create black markets, not from the characteristics of the good or activity in question.
The only way to reduce violence, therefore, is to legalize drugs. Fortuitously, legalization is the right policy for a slew of other reasons.
Prohibition of drugs corrupts politicians and law enforcement by putting police, prosecutors, judges and politicians in the position to threaten the profits of an illicit trade. This is why bribery, threats and kidnapping are common for prohibited industries but rare otherwise. Mexico's recent history illustrates this dramatically.
Prohibition erodes protections against unreasonable search and seizure because neither party to a drug transaction has an incentive to report the activity to the police. Thus, enforcement requires intrusive tactics such as warrantless searches or undercover buys. The victimless nature of this so-called crime also encourages police to engage in racial profiling.
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~ Athens events ~
By Julio Godoy
ATHENS, Apr 30 (IPS) - European unions are facing a difficult choice this May Day between holding protests to protect workers' interests, or holding off to avoid a further deepening of the economic recession.
The dilemma is before all European unions, but their national histories and their structures are leading them to act differently despite efforts to coordinate responses to the economic crisis.
In Athens, graffiti calling for May Day protests is all over the city's walls. Athens has been seeing violent demonstrations since December, when a 15- year-old was shot dead by police officers in the course of a demonstration.
The riots marked the build-up to a general strike called against privatisation, tax increases and pension cutbacks imposed on instructions from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
Now, more violent protests are expected May Day in Athens and other Greek cities. Police and union leaders in Germany and France are also warning of violent protests.
"On May Day evening, there will be leftist extremists who will violently attack police forces and private property," Berlin police chief Dieter Glietsch warned at a press conference earlier this week.
"What is happening in Greece since December could happen in France," Georges Martin, spokesperson for the French Workers' General Union told IPS. "A social bomb is waiting to explode in France."
There have been explosions before. Immigrant youth have carried out violent demonstrations during the Christmas and New Year season for years now, burning private automobiles and attacking police patrols.
"All these explosions waiting to happen in Europe have a common reason: the social consequences of globalisation," says Jean Techau from the German Foundation for Foreign Policy in Berlin.
"The global economic crisis is affecting all European states at the same time," Techau told IPS. "This has never happened before."
Techau says Spain and France are seeing a dramatic rise in unemployment, a sharp economic downturn, ethnic segregation of immigrants, and public finances eroded by large deficits.
"The risk of social revolt is in both countries very large," Techau said.
In Spain, May Day unions will protest jointly against de-localisation of industries, mass layouts and reduction of salaries. "To face the crisis, more employment, more public investment and more social protection" goes one slogan.
Michael Sommer, president of the German Unions' Federation, has warned that "if business corporations react to the crisis with mass layoff of workers, it is very likely that social revolt take place." Sommer said this was not a threat, but a comment on the prevailing atmosphere.
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a book by Eleanora I. McBean, Ph.D., N.D.
This booklet on Swine Flu hazards and fakery is part of a larger book on vaccination, titled, VACCINATION CONDEMNED BY COMPETENT DOCTORS. It is about time a large and comprehensive book of the long concealed facts about vaccination is brought forth. This is the largest and most informative book on the subject ever written in America. It contains data collected from medical records, army reports, and startling findings from researchers all over the world.
The book is intended to help combat the disastrous effects of vaccine promoters and their deceptive propaganda.
I have seen cancers caused by vaccinations, on the arms of people, exactly where the vaccine was injected. I have also seen paralysis and other tragedies caused by vaccinations. All these are unnecessary and avoidable by the application of information contained in the chapters of this book.
It will be noted that there are many repetitions of certain facts all through the book. There are two reasons for this. One is that some chapters are used as separate booklets like the chapter on SWINE FLU. The other reason is that the wrong information about vaccination has been drilled into the people from early childhood, so it is necessary to repeat the truth many times in order to re-program the thinking from false claims to the truth.
Truth wears no mask, she seeks neither place nor applause, bows to no human shrine; she only asks a hearing."----Anon
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Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) looks at one of the incidents that gave rise to International Workers Day--May 1 or Mayday.
The video only deals with the Haymarket Square confrontation with police and the aftermath where eight labor leaders were charged with murder. Four were hanged, one committed suicide and three had their sentences commuted.
Labor organizers had called a national strike for an eight-hour work day on May 1, 1886. In Chicago, workers held a parade and rally with over 80,000 participants.
On May 3, 1886, striking employees of the McCormick Reaper Works clashed with replacement workers. Police retaliated against the striking employees, killing two.
On May 4th, 1886, a rally of anarchists and labor activists in Chicago's Haymarket Square in support of the McCormick strikers turned deadly. An unknown assailant tossed a bomb into a throng of riot police who were advancing on the rally, killing one instantly. In the chaos that erupted, seven policemen were killed, sixty injured, and civilian casualties were likely as high.
The eight men were arrested and charged with murder at Haymarket. Though they all opposed Chicago's elite businessmen, whom they believed stood for "starvation of the masses, privileges and luxury for the few," the eight held very different ideas about what action to take. Some advocated change through violence, while others believed progress could come via social engineering. Despite their different beliefs, the trial, convictions and sentencing that followed would unite these "Haymarket Eight" in history.
At a convention of the American Federation of Labor (AFL) in 1888 the union decided to campaign for the eight-hour day once again. May 1, 1890 was agreed upon as the date on which workers would strike for an eight-hour work day and to commemorate the earlier fight for an eight hour day.
In 1889 AFL president Samuel Gompers wrote to the first congress of the Second International, which was meeting in Paris. He informed the world's socialists of the AFL's plans and proposed an international fight for a universal eight-hour work day.
In response to Gompers's letter the Second International adopted a resolution calling for "a great international demonstration" on a single date so workers everywhere could demand the eight-hour work day.
In light of the Americans' plan, the International adopted May 1, 1890 as the date for this demonstration. It has been celebrated around the world as Mayday--International Workers Day-- ever since.
Children herded like cattle into Maryland courthouse for forced vaccinations as armed police and attack dogs stand guard
(NaturalNews) Following the State of Maryland's threats against parents who refuse to have their children vaccinated, children were herded into a Price George County courthouse being guarded by armed personnel with attack dogs. Inside, the children were forcibly vaccinated, many against their will, under orders from the State Attorney General, various State Judges and the local School Board Director, all of whom illegally conspired to threaten parents with imprisonment if they did not submit their children to vaccinations.
The State of Maryland has now turned to Gestapo tactics to force its medical will upon the People, stripping parents of any right to decide how they wish to protect their own children from infectious disease. Health authorities there have already announced their intent to essentially kidnap parents and throw them in jail, removing them from their children for up to thirty days if they continue to refuse to have their children vaccinated. This will all be conducted at gunpoint, with armed personnel and attack dogs at the ready, making sure nobody steps out of line, and suppressing any attempt at public dissent against the Orwellian vaccination policies.
The entire campaign against these parents is blatantly illegal. There is no law in Maryland requiring the vaccination of children, thus parents who refuse to do so may not be legally charged with violating any law. Instead, Maryland health and school authorities are using Gestapo-like tactics, threatening to charge the parents with child truancy violations, criminalizing them for daring to protect their children from the dangerous chemicals found in vaccines (including thimerosal, a chemical additive containing a neurotoxic form of mercury).
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Written on the occasion of the massacre carried out by
the British Government at Peterloo, Manchester 1819
As I lay asleep in Italy
There came a voice from over the Sea,
And with great power it forth led me
To walk in the visions of Poesy.
I met Murder on the way -
He had a mask like Castlereagh -
Very smooth he looked, yet grim;
Seven blood-hounds followed him:
All were fat; and well they might
Be in admirable plight,
For one by one, and two by two,
He tossed the human hearts to chew
Which from his wide cloak he drew.
Next came Fraud, and he had on,
Like Eldon, an ermined gown;
His big tears, for he wept well,
Turned to mill-stones as they fell.
And the little children, who
Round his feet played to and fro,
Thinking every tear a gem,
Had their brains knocked out by them.
Clothed with the Bible, as with light,
And the shadows of the night,
Like Sidmouth, next, Hypocrisy
On a crocodile rode by.
And many more Destructions played
In this ghastly masquerade,
All disguised, even to the eyes,
Like Bishops, lawyers, peers, or spies.
Last came Anarchy: he rode
On a white horse, splashed with blood;
He was pale even to the lips,
Like Death in the Apocalypse.
And he wore a kingly crown;
And in his grasp a sceptre shone;
On his brow this mark I saw -
'I AM GOD, AND KING, AND LAW!'
With a pace stately and fast,
Over English land he passed,
Trampling to a mire of blood
The adoring multitude.
And a mighty troop around,
With their trampling shook the ground,
Waving each a bloody sword,
For the service of their Lord.
And with glorious triumph, they
Rode through England proud and gay,
Drunk as with intoxication
Of the wine of desolation.
O'er fields and towns, from sea to sea,
Passed the Pageant swift and free,
Tearing up, and trampling down;
Till they came to London town.
And each dweller, panic-stricken,
Felt his heart with terror sicken
Hearing the tempestuous cry
Of the triumph of Anarchy.
For with pomp to meet him came,
Clothed in arms like blood and flame,
The hired murderers, who did sing
'Thou art God, and Law, and King.
'We have waited, weak and lone
For thy coming, Mighty One!
Our Purses are empty, our swords are cold,
Give us glory, and blood, and gold.'
Lawyers and priests, a motley crowd,
To the earth their pale brows bowed;
Like a bad prayer not over loud,
Whispering - 'Thou art Law and God.' -
Then all cried with one accord,
'Thou art King, and God and Lord;
Anarchy, to thee we bow,
Be thy name made holy now!'
And Anarchy, the skeleton,
Bowed and grinned to every one,
As well as if his education
Had cost ten millions to the nation.
For he knew the Palaces
Of our Kings were rightly his;
His the sceptre, crown and globe,
And the gold-inwoven robe.
So he sent his slaves before
To seize upon the Bank and Tower,
And was proceeding with intent
To meet his pensioned Parliament
When one fled past, a maniac maid,
And her name was Hope, she said:
But she looked more like Despair,
And she cried out in the air:
'My father Time is weak and gray
With waiting for a better day;
See how idiot-like he stands,
Fumbling with his palsied hands!
He has had child after child,
And the dust of death is piled
Over every one but me -
Misery, oh, Misery!'
Then she lay down in the street,
Right before the horses' feet,
Expecting, with a patient eye,
Murder, Fraud, and Anarchy.
When between her and her foes
A mist, a light, an image rose,
Small at first, and weak, and frail
Like the vapour of a vale:
Till as clouds grow on the blast,
Like tower-crowned giants striding fast,
And glare with lightnings as they fly,
And speak in thunder to the sky,
It grew - a Shape arrayed in mail
Brighter than the viper's scale,
And upborne on wings whose grain
Was as the light of sunny rain.
On its helm, seen far away,
A planet, like the Morning's, lay;
And those plumes its light rained through
Like a shower of crimson dew.
With step as soft as wind it passed
O'er the heads of men - so fast
That they knew the presence there,
And looked, - but all was empty air.
As flowers beneath May's footstep waken,
As stars from Night's loose hair are shaken,
As waves arise when loud winds call,
Thoughts sprung where'er that step did fall.
And the prostrate multitude
Looked - and ankle-deep in blood,
Hope, that maiden most serene,
Was walking with a quiet mien:
And Anarchy, the ghastly birth,
Lay dead earth upon the earth;
The Horse of Death tameless as wind
Fled, and with his hoofs did grind
To dust the murderers thronged behind.
A rushing light of clouds and splendour,
A sense awakening and yet tender
Was heard and felt - and at its close
These words of joy and fear arose
As if their own indignant Earth
Which gave the sons of England birth
Had felt their blood upon her brow,
And shuddering with a mother's throe
Had turned every drop of blood
By which her face had been bedewed
To an accent unwithstood, -
As if her heart had cried aloud:
'Men of England, heirs of Glory,
Heroes of unwritten story,
Nurslings of one mighty Mother,
Hopes of her, and one another;
'Rise like Lions after slumber
In unvanquishable number,
Shake your chains to earth like dew
Which in sleep had fallen on you -
Ye are many - they are few.
'What is Freedom? - ye can tell
That which slavery is, too well -
For its very name has grown
To an echo of your own.
'Tis to work and have such pay
As just keeps life from day to day
In your limbs, as in a cell
For the tyrants' use to dwell,
'So that ye for them are made
Loom, and plough, and sword, and spade,
With or without your own will bent
To their defence and nourishment.
'Tis to see your children weak
With their mothers pine and peak,
When the winter winds are bleak, -
They are dying whilst I speak.
'Tis to hunger for such diet
As the rich man in his riot
Casts to the fat dogs that lie
Surfeiting beneath his eye;
'Tis to let the Ghost of Gold
Take from Toil a thousandfold
More that e'er its substance could
In the tyrannies of old.
'Paper coin - that forgery
Of the title-deeds, which ye
Hold to something of the worth
Of the inheritance of Earth.
'Tis to be a slave in soul
And to hold no strong control
Over your own wills, but be
All that others make of ye.
'And at length when ye complain
With a murmur weak and vain
'Tis to see the Tyrant's crew
Ride over your wives and you -
Blood is on the grass like dew.
'Then it is to feel revenge
Fiercely thirsting to exchange
Blood for blood - and wrong for wrong -
Do not thus when ye are strong.
'Birds find rest, in narrow nest
When weary of their wingèd quest
Beasts find fare, in woody lair
When storm and snow are in the air.
'Asses, swine, have litter spread
And with fitting food are fed;
All things have a home but one -
Thou, Oh, Englishman, hast none!
'This is slavery - savage men
Or wild beasts within a den
Would endure not as ye do -
But such ills they never knew.
'What art thou Freedom? O! could slaves
Answer from their living graves
This demand - tyrants would flee
Like a dream's dim imagery:
'Thou art not, as impostors say,
A shadow soon to pass away,
A superstition, and a name
Echoing from the cave of Fame.
'For the labourer thou art bread,
And a comely table spread
>From his daily labour come
In a neat and happy home.
'Thou art clothes, and fire, and food
For the trampled multitude -
No - in countries that are free
Such starvation cannot be
As in England now we see.
'To the rich thou art a check,
When his foot is on the neck
Of his victim, thou dost make
That he treads upon a snake.
'Thou art Justice - ne'er for gold
May thy righteous laws be sold
As laws are in England - thou
Shield'st alike the high and low.
'Thou art Wisdom - Freemen never
Dream that God will damn for ever
All who think those things untrue
Of which Priests make such ado.
'Thou art Peace - never by thee
Would blood and treasure wasted be
As tyrants wasted them, when all
Leagued to quench thy flame in Gaul.
'What if English toil and blood
Was poured forth, even as a flood?
It availed, Oh, Liberty,
To dim, but not extinguish thee.
'Thou art Love - the rich have kissed
Thy feet, and like him following Christ,
Give their substance to the free
And through the rough world follow thee,
'Or turn their wealth to arms, and make
War for thy belovèd sake
On wealth, and war, and fraud - whence they
Drew the power which is their prey.
'Science, Poetry, and Thought
Are thy lamps; they make the lot
Of the dwellers in a cot
So serene, they curse it not.
'Spirit, Patience, Gentleness,
All that can adorn and bless
Art thou - let deeds, not words, express
Thine exceeding loveliness.
'Let a great Assembly be
Of the fearless and the free
On some spot of English ground
Where the plains stretch wide around.
'Let the blue sky overhead,
The green earth on which ye tread,
All that must eternal be
Witness the solemnity.
'From the corners uttermost
Of the bounds of English coast;
>From every hut, village, and town
Where those who live and suffer moan,
'From the workhouse and the prison
Where pale as corpses newly risen,
Women, children, young and old
Groan for pain, and weep for cold -
'From the haunts of daily life
Where is waged the daily strife
With common wants and common cares
Which sows the human heart with tares -
'Lastly from the palaces
Where the murmur of distress
Echoes, like the distant sound
Of a wind alive around
'Those prison halls of wealth and fashion,
Where some few feel such compassion
For those who groan, and toil, and wail
As must make their brethren pale -
'Ye who suffer woes untold,
Or to feel, or to behold
Your lost country bought and sold
With a price of blood and gold -
'Let a vast assembly be,
And with great solemnity
Declare with measured words that ye
Are, as God has made ye, free -
'Be your strong and simple words
Keen to wound as sharpened swords,
And wide as targes let them be,
With their shade to cover ye.
'Let the tyrants pour around
With a quick and startling sound,
Like the loosening of a sea,
Troops of armed emblazonry.
Let the charged artillery drive
Till the dead air seems alive
With the clash of clanging wheels,
And the tramp of horses' heels.
'Let the fixèd bayonet
Gleam with sharp desire to wet
Its bright point in English blood
Looking keen as one for food.
'Let the horsemen's scimitars
Wheel and flash, like sphereless stars
Thirsting to eclipse their burning
In a sea of death and mourning.
'Stand ye calm and resolute,
Like a forest close and mute,
With folded arms and looks which are
Weapons of unvanquished war,
'And let Panic, who outspeeds
The career of armèd steeds
Pass, a disregarded shade
Through your phalanx undismayed.
'Let the laws of your own land,
Good or ill, between ye stand
Hand to hand, and foot to foot,
Arbiters of the dispute,
'The old laws of England - they
Whose reverend heads with age are gray,
Children of a wiser day;
And whose solemn voice must be
Thine own echo - Liberty!
'On those who first should violate
Such sacred heralds in their state
Rest the blood that must ensue,
And it will not rest on you.
'And if then the tyrants dare
Let them ride among you there,
Slash, and stab, and maim, and hew, -
What they like, that let them do.
'With folded arms and steady eyes,
And little fear, and less surprise,
Look upon them as they slay
Till their rage has died away.
'Then they will return with shame
To the place from which they came,
And the blood thus shed will speak
In hot blushes on their cheek.
'Every woman in the land
Will point at them as they stand -
They will hardly dare to greet
Their acquaintance in the street.
'And the bold, true warriors
Who have hugged Danger in wars
Will turn to those who would be free,
Ashamed of such base company.
'And that slaughter to the Nation
Shall steam up like inspiration,
A volcano heard afar.
'And these words shall then become
Like Oppression's thundered doom
Ringing through each heart and brain,
Heard again - again - again -
'Rise like Lions after slumber
In unvanquishable number -
Shake your chains to earth like dew
Which in sleep had fallen on you -
Ye are many - they are few.'
~ Source: Art of Europe ~
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