I is interviewer
PK is me.
I: Do you hate America?
PK: I strongly disagree with its policies and am sickened at the destructive nature of the society.
I: Do you hate America?
PK: Look, I said I don’t support its national security policy. Your question implies that one who dissents from a country’s policies is somehow disloyal.
I: You can read into my simple question whatever you want, but I am asking you professor, do you hate America?
PK: America is more than the government. Americans tend to conflate the government with the country. I conflate the people with the country. The dead soldiers with the country, the Katrina Hurricane victims are the real people. The starving masses…
I: “Starving masses,” please professor.
PK: Excuse me. Dying and starving in New Orleans and all over the United States. The poverty rate is about 12.7% and the numbers of Americans living in poverty is about 37,000,000. The poverty rate is increasing in this “rich” country; for four years it has increased, as its wealth is squandered on war and empire which is destroying this country. I mean destroying it. Four years in a row an increase in poverty and our president lives in public housing at our expense and poor people are beggars within a few blocks away. Also, where is the hyperpower peace dividend with the demise of European communism?
They have used the Sept. 11 attacks to fight criminal wars, increase the war budget, pass a traitorous Patriot Act, and turn this country into a semi-democracy with suspended professors, Americans in prison without habeas corpus, military tribunals for POW in Cuba, torture Nazi-style in Bagram, Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo. Babies die due to lack of health care, seniors have no drug coverage and our leaders live like kings and queens. Where is the presence of their loyalty to America? It’s more than missiles, aeroplanes, napalm and more generals that privates if you know what I mean. I do not recognise their legitimacy.
I: This is becoming almost revolutionary. Do you think poverty is a uniquely American problem?
PK: Yes, because we can afford to root it out and eliminate it. We have the capacity to establish health care for all Americans, we don’t even have it for all our children, drug prescription benefits, real ones for the elderly. Yes the richest country in the world has one of the largest numbers of impoverished people and I find this a condition of evil. I consider it a state of sin. The numbers of people without health care is now 45,800,000, an increase from 45 million in the past year alone. Our leaders only care about guns and death and military might and are virtually incapable of empathising and working for the people of this country. I won’t tolerate it by silence. No, never. How did we get this way?This used to be a country that I loved and adored. I still do but we have a very sick culture and a leadership culture that dreams of Empire. When will Americans rise up and take power and control from these people?
I: When did you become a radical?
PK: Yessir, it sure is radical to denounce poverty, to denounce imperialism, to denounce state terrorism, to denounce a hyperpower that sees the world as a geostrategic construct. That sure is radical, is not it? Oh please. Let’s talk about issues and stay away from labels. They simply stereotype and mean nothing. Were the revolutionaries radical who sought independence from Britain? Is it radical to want the nation returned to the people? Is it radical to want food, housing, education, clothing, decent living conditions for all Americans? If that is radical, it only confirms my contempt, my utter contempt for the Democratic-Republican party that has no courage, vision or progressive values.
I: Would you like to see sir a communist state in the U.S? Are you a communist, a supporter of communist dictatorship? Is that what you want?
PK: You are a piece of work. They must have legalised marijuana for you or something! You sound like the mob that pressured folks to suspend me because I stood up for peace, free speech, denunciation of the impending war, denunciation of racist wars and denunciation of “the aggressive baby-killing tactics of collateral damage.” If you stand for nothing, you will fall for anything. Believe me. I would like to see the United States become a hybrid of the best features of communism, anarchism and socialism. Not the communism that ensued after the Russian Revolution or the epic Maoist victory in China in 1949, but a communism/anarchism similar to the ideas of Benjamin Tucker. Individual ownership of private property but without a state or at most a Thoreauvian state, that is very limited. Tucker was an anarchist perhaps more than a communst but one who was against total collectivisation. I am actually closer to Tucker than say Mikhail Bakunin who was more collectivist and prone to desiring violent social convulsions. I am a pacifist and desire, a state with limited power and individuals, living in free association with one another but with some mix of collective and individual self-ownership living in peace.
I: Is that practical and are you really telling the truth in not wanting a Soviet-style state? Or are you really a libertarian?
PK: Only an imbecile would want a Soviet-style state!! I am not a libertarian but I do share some of their more progressive views on limited state intervention. As they say a liberal likes the state when it advances their values and a conservative likes a state when it advances their values.
I am opposed to abusive state power yet I see only modest differences between the USA and Soviet Russia in terms of violent nationalism, uncontrolled hatred of different cultures, while some differences in terms of rights and freedoms and so-called social contracts. I am sympathetic to the Marxian, pure anarchist tradition of limited government and peoples being essentially free and self-governing. I also have some streaks, socialist, even Republican values if I dig deep enough. I am not this or that but I attempt to emphasise issues and not ideological labels. Yet to contradict myself, when the state advances the human condition and serves as an equaliser of conditions and works for justice and peace, then on those issues, I can toss the anarchism and pure communism in the trash and embrace good ol’ democratic socialism.
I: Do you hate the military? You were suspended for anti-military views expressed in an e-mail.
PK: (Laughing) Proud of it. I wish it had happened ten years ago as I told the press in an interview recently. So much for free speech right? I am deeply troubled by the military as an institution and its devastating impact on the United States and the world. I am revolted by its power, sweep and capacity to attract unlimited funds in a nation that cannot afford it. I am saddened at its success in sapping the objective potentialities of many Americans to see the military as not emblematic of sacrifice and love of country but of destruction and a vital strategic threat to the U.S.
I: Do you believe people in the military are baby-killers and that those who wear the uniform are criminal? Do you hate people who wear the uniform Dr. Kirstein?
PK: I quoted myself a few moments ago in terms of “baby-killing tactics” without individualising it. Also you can drop the “Dr” and “professor” stuff. Titles simply separate people and creates hierarchies based on power. I believe wars kill babies, and that if the United States reflected more on that, I would hope, but I am not optimistic, there would be fewer wars. Collateral damage, rules of engagement, force protection etc. are usually done at the expense of civilian casualties. Yes many soldiers, not all, do kill indiscriminately and some kill babies. I did not say all but enough for me to be very wary of the capacity to restrain human conduct when sent abroad to kill other humans. Also as we silence those who condemn baby-killing or who use that term freely, we end up silencing the critic and not the murderer: the butcher of babies and civilians who are Vietnamese, Iraqi, Afghani, Filipino, Colombian, Korean, Japanese, German and on and on etc.
I: Can you think of three good things to say about America? I wonder if you can do that given your let us say “critical assessment” of the greatest country that ever existed.
PK: You are some interviewer. Maybe you can get on the 700 Club with that advocate of murder and assassination, Pat Robertson. Whatever. Can you think of three bad things to say about America?
I: I ask the questions.
PK: I give the answers but look I will trade you one for one.
I: Oh all right. The Constitution.
PK: Doctor Martin Luther King Jr.
I: The Declaration of Independence.
PK: Noam Chomsky
I: The White House and the Mall. That’s four professor.
PK: The Grand Canyon, even if on occupied territory of the indigenous peoples, and Hawai’i. There is four!
I: Thank you Professor Kirstein.
PK: Thank you.