Wolf Country

William T. Hathaway

This year marks the 20th anniversary of wolf reintroduction in Yellowstone National Park. From 66 released originally they've increased to over 300 and are no longer endangered. That they thrive here is not surprising, for they are creatures of this raw land in a way that we aren't. Wolves are fitted to this environment, and so to understand them, we have to know the country that nurtures them.

The area from Yellowstone to central Idaho has one of the lowest densities of human population in the United States. Those who do live here are held in thrall by land and weather, too harsh for most of our species. The elements keep us ever on the defensive without even noticing us.

People claim to own this country, but she owns us. Daily she teaches us how small our power is: we are like children clinging to a shaggy bison, helpless riders on a massive beast. We had enough power to exile the wolves, but then the wilderness was no longer whole, the grazing herds became unhealthy, and we had to bring back these culling predators. The banishment was short from their time frame.


Strategies of containment

William T. Hathaway


A disgusting web game lets you 'kettle' four students using
the arrow keys to direct a line of police against them.

Many of us on the left have been kettled at demonstrations: surrounded by a wall of police, herded into a small area, and prevented from reaching our goal. The term is a translation of kesseln, the German military tactic of enclosing an enemy force within a tight cordon of troops and gradually wearing it down rather than attacking it directly.

But we are also kettled by the thought police, and that's even more insidious. This strategy of containment is used politically to confine potentially revolutionary energy into an area where it can't reach its goal. Instead of by cops, we are corralled by institutions that purport to be progressive or even socialist. This pseudo-left diverts our energies away from organizing a militant working class and towards supporting the Democratic Party. Democrat congressman Dennis Kucinich referred to this when he described his calls for a more peaceful US foreign policy as a way to keep peace activists within "the big tent" -- the Democratic Party.

The Democrats like to have a few seeming progressives like Kucinich in their ranks to create the illusion that they are the party of change.


Forging a Socialist-Islamist Alliance - Review

William T. Hathaway

From Postmodernism to Postsecularism: Re-emerging Islamic Civilization by Eric Walberg, Clarity Press, 2013.

Most western Middle East experts see Islam as a problem for the West -- a source of terrorism, religious fanaticism, unwanted immigrants -- and they see their job as helping to change the Middle East so it's no longer a problem for us. Eric Walberg, however, recognizes that this is another instance of the Big Lie.

The actual problem is the multifaceted aggression the West has been inflicting on the Middle East for decades and is determined to continue, no matter what the cost to them and us will be. His books and articles present the empirical evidence for this with scholarly precision and compassionate concern for the human damage done by our imperialism.

His latest book, From Postmodernism to Postsecularism: Re-emerging Islamic Civilization, is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand our ongoing war on the Muslim world -- from Libya to the Philippines, from growing beleaguered communities scattered across North America and Europe to South Africa and Australia -- from the perspective of those on the receiving end of America's violence today. It is a compelling representation of both the breathtaking sweep of fourteen centuries of Islamic civilization and the current state of the Muslim world.


Getting Ahead: An American Success Story

William T. Hathaway

This photo of my parents reveals much about their personalities (hers vivacious and outgoing, his withdrawn and closed off), their relationship (little real contact), and also the times (could be captioned Gender Roles in the 1950s: The Bathing Beauty and the Soldier).

The typicality of their lives reveals much about the USA. My mother was a farmer's daughter whose father lost the farm to the banks, and they had to scrabble along in the slums of the big city, St. Louis. All her life she yearned for her bucolic childhood when everything was "nice." My father was a coal miner and the son of a coal miner from West Virginia. He hated the mines so much that after the Second World War he stayed in the military as a professional soldier.

Both were imbued with the all-American drive to get ahead of the pack, to wrest advantage over others. My mother's great-great-grandfather had gotten ahead by owning slaves, using their stolen labor to become wealthy. Although he died decades before she was born, she spoke of him with patriarchal reverence, telling what a good master he had been. His slaves loved him so much that during the Civil War they protected him from Yankee soldiers by hiding him in a well, then hauling him back up when they were gone. She admitted that not all masters were that kind, though, and she felt slavery wasn't a good thing. But it was the only way for the Negroes to come to America. Most of the Europeans could afford to pay their way over, but the Africans didn't have money, so they signed up to be slaves in order to come here.

Deep down my mother knew this wasn't true, but she repeated it as a litany to shore up the family myth that great-great-grandfather had been a good man, hadn't done anything wrong in achieving his success.


Saga of a Dropout Doper

William T. Hathaway

The still ocean of awareness is the source of everything.

At the age of 15 I decided I was going to be a writer. I loved books, and writing them seemed to be the greatest thing in the world to do. Now after eight books it still does.

But at first I had a terrible time writing. My thoughts were all jumbled up. I couldn't concentrate. I did poorly in school because I couldn't hold my mind on the assignments. I was too caught up in my psychological stress and subconscious conflicts to be able to really write or study.

I started smoking marijuana, thinking I could blast my way through all my blocks with that. But it made them worse. When I was high I thought I was being very creative, but the next day when I read what I'd written, it was drivel. Eventually I flunked out of the University of Colorado, but I figured who needs college -- I want to be a bohemian artist. So I moved to the Lower East Side of Manhattan and wrote, painted, and drummed, but mostly got high. New York had many more kinds of dope than Boulder, and I tried them all, hoping for that creative breakthrough. But finally I realized I needed to get out of that whole scene if I ever wanted to do any good writing.

The war on Vietnam was just beginning, and the military draft was after me. I'd been reading a lot of writers whose first books were war novels, so I figured I would make a 180-degree change from my current scene. I joined the Special Forces to write a war novel. I was probably high when I got this idea, because it wasn't a very good idea.


Varieties of Violence

William T. Hathaway

Terrorists, serial killers, domestic murderers — their ghoulish deeds fill our news and popular entertainment, interspersed with wars, riots, and brutal repressions. Violence surrounds us.

Where does it come from?

The answer propagated by the mass media is that violence is human nature. It's just the way people are.

This view ignores anthropological evidence about societies that have lived in relative peace, and it also contradicts our knowledge of ourselves as human beings. In certain situations we may feel violent impulses, but we can control them; we know they are only a small part of our make-up.

The Norwegian peace researcher Johan Galtung denies that human nature condemns us to violence; instead he gives another explanation of its etiology based on three interacting forces: structural, cultural, and direct.


Wellsprings: A Fable of Consciousness

William T. Hathaway

WELLSPRINGS: A Fable of Consciousness
Selections from the Novel by William T. Hathaway

In 2026 as the earth is withering, an old woman and a young man heal nature through higher consciousness.

2026. The earth's ecosystem has broken down under human abuse. Water supplies are shrinking. Rain is rare, and North America is gripped in the Great Drought with crops withering and forests dying. In the midst of ecological and social collapse, an old woman and a young man set out to heal nature and reactivate the cycle of flow by using techniques of higher consciousness. But the corporations that control the remaining water lash out to stop them. A blend of adventure and mystic wisdom, Wellsprings: A Fable of Consciousness is a frightening but hopeful look into a future that is looming closer every day.

Long Beach

Pack my rucksack and get out of this place. Like the song says, "I'm leavin' LA, baby. Don't you know this smog has got me down." Taj Mahal. I found his album — one of those old black discs — in a box with a bunch of others in granddad's garage. Old record player with it, kind that goes around and 'round. Been listening to them ever since — all gramp's favorites from the sixties and seventies when he was a kid. Great songs ... despite the scratches.


The Fall of Empire

William T. Hathaway

"The Indian Uprising" by Donald Barthelme is an iconic short story of the 1960s heralding the defeat of the US empire and the end of white male dominance. Written as the USA was mired in a hopeless war, as Native-Americans and African-Americans were rebelling against oppression, and as women were breaking out of the traditional roles they had been confined to, the story predicted the victory of these insurgents over the feeble old order. Its experimental style full of dislocations and dissolutions captured the postmodern Zeitgeist.

As with many icons of the 1960s, the story and the unpatriotic tone it embodied fell out of favor in the 1990s. By then, the USA had recovered from its defeat by the Vietnamese and seemed headed for full-spectrum global dominance, the insurrectionary threat of groups such as the American Indian Movement and the Black Panther Party had been dissipated by assassinations, imprisonments, and token reforms, and mainstream feminism was more interested in joining the establishment than in overthrowing it. The story's predictions of the empire's demise seemed false, and its style that had once been groundbreaking seemed dated.

But now the USA is again mired in an imperialist war, millions of whites are joining blacks and natives in an expanding and increasingly militant underclass, and women are realizing that female politicians and corporate executives are serving the dominant system rather than changing it. These groups are beginning to combine into a major threat to the establishment, so the story has gained new relevance. The collapse of the power structure now seems prophetically close at hand, even cause for celebration, and the story's style is once again refreshing.


Murder Made Sexy

William T. Hathaway

The US Special Forces is a bizarrely gendered world, as I found out when I joined it to write a book about war. This all-male bastion is sexualized in a truly perverted way, particularly in its methods for turning young men into killers on command.

Being the epitome of patriarchy, the military creates soldiers by forcing them into the role of the lowliest creatures in patriarchy: women. The recruits' sense of personal power is stripped away, and they are required to obey commands from the men higher in the hierarchy and do the military's "housework": scrubbing and waxing floors, dusting windowsills, washing dishes, cleaning toilets to meet the standards of the commanders. They are forced to be obsessed with their appearance and to stand passively at attention while the older, more powerful men inspect them from a few inches away about how closely they've shaved, how neat their hair looks, how correctly they are dressed, often insulting them, calling them pussies and queers. This intimate domination stirs homosexual feelings and at the same time represses them, creating psychological conflicts that are then channeled into aggression. A confused inner rage is generated in the young men, then given an outlet: the enemy.


Comparing Evils

William T. Hathaway

"Comparing Evils" is a chapter from the book
RADICAL PEACE: People Refusing War
by William T. Hathaway

Jamal Khan is an Afghan journalist who fled his country because of Taliban persecution and now lives in Germany. We met in the apartment of a mutual friend from the Deutsche Friedens-gesellschaft, the German Peace Society. Jamal is mid-forties, thin, with curly brown hair, tan skin, and clear green eyes that take everything in.

Hathaway: "Do you miss your country?"

Khan: "Only when I'm drunk, which isn't very often. Then I get stupidly sentimental.

"Actually I'm not a big fan of any country. They're all inhuman. They exist mainly as platforms for power. The rulers promote cultural rituals that make people identify with the place they live. Then they manipulate the people's patriotic emotions to get them to fight wars for them.

"We cling to the identification because it gives us a sense of security, of belonging to something greater. But the insecurity we feel is actually generated by the power the rulers have over us.


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