Annual Fundraising Appeal
Over the course of 21 years, we’ve published many unflattering stories about Henry Kissinger. We’ve recounted his involvement in the Chilean coup and the illegal bombings of Cambodia and Laos; his hidden role in the Kent State massacre and the genocide in East Timor; his noxious influence peddling in DC and craven work for dictators and repressive regimes around the world. We’ve questioned his ethics, his morals and his intelligence. We’ve called for him to be arrested and tried for war crimes. But nothing we’ve ever published pissed off HK quite like this sequence of photos taken at a conference in Brazil, which appeared in one of the early print editions of CounterPunch.
100716HenryKissingerNosePicking
The publication of those photos, and the story that went with them, 20 years ago earned CounterPunch a global audience in the pre-web days and helped make our reputation as a fearless journal willing to take the fight to the forces of darkness without flinching. Now our future is entirely in your hands. Please donate.

Day11

Yes, these are dire political times. Many who optimistically hoped for real change have spent nearly five years under the cold downpour of political reality. Here at CounterPunch we’ve always aimed to tell it like it is, without illusions or despair. That’s why so many of you have found a refuge at CounterPunch and made us your homepage. You tell us that you love CounterPunch because the quality of the writing you find here in the original articles we offer every day and because we never flinch under fire. We appreciate the support and are prepared for the fierce battles to come.

Unlike other outfits, we don’t hit you up for money every month … or even every quarter. We ask only once a year. But when we ask, we mean it.

CounterPunch’s website is supported almost entirely by subscribers to the print edition of our magazine. We aren’t on the receiving end of six-figure grants from big foundations. George Soros doesn’t have us on retainer. We don’t sell tickets on cruise liners. We don’t clog our site with deceptive corporate ads.

The continued existence of CounterPunch depends solely on the support and dedication of our readers. We know there are a lot of you. We get thousands of emails from you every day. Our website receives millions of hits and nearly 100,000 readers each day. And we don’t charge you a dime.

Please, use our brand new secure shopping cart to make a tax-deductible donation to CounterPunch today or purchase a subscription our monthly magazine and a gift sub for someone or one of our explosive  books, including the ground-breaking Killing Trayvons. Show a little affection for subversion: consider an automated monthly donation. (We accept checks, credit cards, PayPal and cold-hard cash….)
cp-store

or use
pp1

To contribute by phone you can call Becky or Deva toll free at: 1-800-840-3683

Thank you for your support,

Jeffrey, Joshua, Becky, Deva, and Nathaniel

CounterPunch
 PO Box 228, Petrolia, CA 95558

Mocking Atrocities

Banal, Joking Murderers

by WILLIAM MANSON

The “evil” of banality: the complacent acceptance of everyday “life” in the U.S. as trivial, demeaning, laughable.  If “work” is often senseless and mind-numbing, the average, sublimely ridiculous American has plenty of panem et circenses—a cornucopia of snacks, amusements and games which may soothe his otherwise  beleaguered, suffocating self.  As part of a societal-wide, infantile regression, supposedly mature adults spend their “free” time playing with toys (gadgets) and sating their inordinate (“oral-receptive”) appetites for food, drink, and constant chatter.

A playful, flippant attitude prevails, both in the workplace and at home.  “Making a mockery” of everything, from financial mega-fraud to torture and war: both wildly comic entertainers and hyper-manic TV commercials project a wisecracking, smart-alecky “attitude.”  Nothing is to be taken “seriously.”

Mild satire and parody certainly help people to laugh at what they might otherwise feel depressed and hopeless about: feeling trapped in a Kafka-esque maze of daily frustrations and perplexing problems.  Yet, unlike defiantly scathing, morally activating satire—such as, for instance, Jonathan Swift’s A Modest Proposal–such satire pacifies rather than mobilizes, providing a temporary relief which lulls citizens into taking “less seriously” matters which they should in fact confront with a fierce probity and unflinching lucidity.

TV sitcoms and the like can be said to offer a kind of low-grade therapy—if by therapy we refer merely to a temporary catharsis of tension rather than real insight.  Indeed, as Freud wrote in his book on jokes: humor, by suddenly juxtaposing incongruous thoughts, momentarily dissolves an inner inhibition–thereby providing a sudden release of tension (laughter).  By abruptly revealing absurdity or “non-sense,” a joke momentarily dis-inhibits the mental forces of tension and conflict —and, in so doing, provides a (temporary) release which may feel liberating.  Think, for instance, of the absurd wordplay and spontaneous dis-order of a classic Marx Bros. film.  Freudians have insisted, however, that catharsis alone does not “cure”—only a deep analysis of the causes of conflict may offer the real understanding that leads to constructive change (personal, socio-political).

When faced with probing questions about his war on Iraq, President Bush could often “dis-arm” his critics with a joking rejoinder or by turning on his roguish, Texan “charm.” No doubt the perpetrators at Abu Ghraib often laughed and joked as they tormented the victims placed at their disposal.

Lying mass murderers—the contemporary equivalents of Mussolini et al.—have in recent years appeared on comedic TV talks shows (Letterman, Stewart, ad nauseam).  They exchanged inconsequential platitudes with their hosts, who gently kidded them (or timidly questioned them) about their past policies and “mistakes.”  Think of Rumsfeld, Petraeus, and other unprosecuted war criminals.  Young military recruits—conned into “defending their country” against a non-existent threat—were deliberately sent to their deaths.  Bombs and missiles were rained down on tens of thousands of ordinary people and innocent children—pulverizing and burning their bodies.  And then, in the dreadful aftermath: their victimizers—having sent the torments of hell upon them—blithely went on shallow TV talk shows to “express concern” about vaguely attributed “mistakes.”  All in the lighthearted, bantering setting of a TV studio: the antithesis of a Nuremberg-type war crimes tribunal where they should have been sitting in the dock.

William Manson, a psychoanalytic anthropologist,  formerly taught social science at Rutgers and Columbia universities. He is the author of The Psychodynamics of Culture (Greenwood Press).