Category Archives: News

Past As Prologue in Ukraine

Communism & Reaction, Fascism & War, Finance & Community in ‘Little Russia’

ukraine

repost from Social Policy, Fall 2014 issue

PREFATORY NOTE

1One of the little pieces of art that my wife and I create has this inscription on it: “The Needle of Consciousness Will Penetrate Next to Nothing If Our Thirst for Knowledge Does Not Outweigh Our Fear of Honesty.”  In particular, when we investigate the intertwining of geography, history, culture, and economics in some definite conflicted place, we must ask—and be willing to discover without fleeing—“At what point can we pinpoint the inception of patterns similar to those currently present?”

Do organizers pose such questions?  I know that I have.  Perhaps, often enough though, faith that people themselves know this background and the press of the present combine to make a shrug an easy enough answer.

The current moment’s crushing weight is irremediable.  But, at least on this side of the Atlantic—and throughout that portion of Europe that the United States ‘freed’ through the Marshall Plan and other means—most folks are unaware of anything akin to nuanced Ukrainian reality.  They see pictures of death raining from on high.  They hear repeated imprecations that what Reagan hypocritically called ‘Evil Empire’ has again ascended to the political pinnacle.  They have little other than horror or distorted nonsense to guide them, in other words.

The intention of these pages is to provide some context in this context, as it were.  I tell my students, “Context is king.”  And the only way to grasp such underpinnings is through examining the past.

 

BY WAY OF INTRODUCTION

Commitment to historical grounding provides the foundation as we search out scraps of understanding about why things are unfolding among the monumental complexities of Ukraine as they are.  For whether one relies on Consortium News’ excellence or on writers who cover this ‘beat’ for Global Research or other ‘progressive’ outlets, or instead gravitates toward the Times’ drivel or other ‘establishment’ non-sequiturs, the litany of reportage makes no sense of what’s taking place.

2Certainly, the former group presents wisps of comprehensible explication: vaguely defined lure of empire; desperate drive for hydrocarbon stocks; desire to tame and dismember Russia; fierce determination to forestall the looming threat of BRICS, the Eurasian Union, and so forth.  And obviously these are compelling components of a plausible explanation.

But they do not elicit a full-bodied account. If such rationale truly rule, if Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa, or the union of China and Russia and all in between were really core issues here, then—unless they are complete idiots, buffoons of legendary stupidity—our present world’s rulers would not act so as to necessitate a stronger BRICS, a Eurasian Union powerful enough to destroy their empire.

So what is going on?  This essay contends that analysts must wrestle with historical timelines to create a fabric out of today’s seemingly disconnected threads.  From facts and reasoning that concern these issues, a hypothesis appears—four parts, stemming from just before1900 until World War Two’s evisceration and slaughter yielded a ‘Cold War.’

  • First, Ukraine’s longstanding radicalism, even Bolshevism, peaked during this timespan; simultaneously, anti-communism emerged as the official ‘Western’ response to these socialist inclinations, a visceral hatred capable of fostering mass murder.
  • Second, ‘international communism’ so terrified big-business that ‘free-market’ advocates embraced fascist means as a predominant way to shape policy, if not always openly to contextualize public relations.
  • Third, Earth’s self-anointed rulers recognized that cycles of collapse and destruction fundamentally grounded political economy, with one depression, war, and bloodletting following another—implosions and attendant opportunistic explosions that also contributed to Nazism and its ‘fellow-travelers.’
  • Fourth, financiers—cold-blooded and cool-headed impulsion to own, control, and dispose of everything in existence their primary drive—also came to the fore during these decades of working class uprising, fascist response, and militarization of underlying economic relations, all of which now serves as nexus for Armageddon on Europe’s fertile Southeast plains.

This four-piece dynamic explains how Ukraine came to be what it is today; it rests on historical reality.  Ukrainians themselves—in Crimea, Donetsk, Odessa, especially, will nod in recognition at what shows up here.  We need to acknowledge these nods.

This analysis in turn rests on evidence from the past ten thousand years, till the end of the eighteen hundreds, in which other important factors have also played a role.  These other components persist, too, though we leave their discussion for another time and place.

As well, this contextualization interweaves with seven decades of a so-called ‘American Century.’  Zbigniew Brzezinsky ‘champions’ this “New-Rome” vision.  His monograph, The Grand Chessboard, summarizes in very businesslike language imperial plutocrats’ perspectives.

Landscape

“Russian recovery is essential … . But any recovery of its imperial potential would be inimical… .  Moreover, this issue (could cause) differences between America and some European states, especially as the EU and NATO expand.  Should Russia be considered a candidate for eventual membership …? And what then about Ukraine?  The costs of the exclusion of Russia could be high — creating a self-fulfilling prophecy in the Russian mindset — but the results of dilution of either the EU or NATO could also be quite destabilizing.”

Today’s narrative focuses primarily on parts one and two of the analytical quatrain above.  Foundations will appear for the third and the fourth components, but these will only qualify as the most basic abstracts.  Social Policy readers may anticipate, should fortune favor such, a Part Two to the present initial installment.

As things stand, today’s plus-or-minus five thousand words barely initiate the empirical exploration of this fifty-year evolution of the present pass.  The explication here does constitute a testable set of assertions, though, that starts to add things up so the final tally tallies, so to speak.

Honestly, our lives may well depend on such bottom-line comprehension.

 

REDDISH HUES

To the soil and spirit of Eastern Ukraine and Southeast Russia, no better English-language introduction exists than Mikhail Sholokhov‘s And Quiet Flows the Don.  Love, treachery, landlust, loyalty, social-conservatism, and revolution course through the novel in frank and graphic succession.

4A key role in the story, though the character appears near the end, is a Chernigov-Province Ukrainian, a Communist machine gunner who successfully converts Grisha-the-Cossack to Communism, while they are in a hospital recovering from wounds that almost blinded them.  Grisha, the tale’s spiritual center, regains his sight and for the first time in his life opens his eyes.

“Most terrible of all, Grigory began to think Garanzha was right, and that he was impotent to oppose him.  He realized with horror that the intelligent and bitter Ukrainian was gradually but surely destroying all his former ideas about the tsar, the country, and his own military duty as a Cossack.  Within a month of the Ukrainian’s arrival the whole system on which Grigor’s life had been based was a smoking ruin.  It had already grown rotten, eaten up with the canker of the monstrous absurdity of the war, and it needed only a jolt.  That jolt was given, and Grigory’s artless straightforward mind awoke.”

A primary character throughout the novel, moreover, Ilya Bunchuk, a Cossack from the Don region immediately adjacent to Ukraine, was another clever, forthright Marxist-Leninist.  Machine-gun expertise, because such knowledge defended the revolution, was also his forte.  His physical prowess, choice of arms, and dedicated revolutionary consciousness, in fact, closely paralleled those of an actual comrade from Odessa, who rose to become Minister of Defense and member of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union Central Committee, General Rodion Malinovsky.

5The war’s mayhem, for the Cossacks and Ukrainians, occurred largely on the terrain of ‘Little Russia.’  At one point, survivors of an engagement, having seen half their number literally cut to pieces by Austrian machine-gunners in Galicia, returned to find Golovachev, the Division Chief-of-Staff, showing off snapshots of the action that he had taken and developed.  A lieutenant struck him in the face and then collapsed in sobs.  “Then Cossacks ran up and tore Golovachev to pieces, made game of his corpse, and finally threw it into the mud of a roadside ditch.  So ended this brilliantly inglorious offensive.”

But these communistic proclivities did not spring forth full-blown from the Russian Revolution or from Russia’s and Ukraine’s horrific experience of WWI.  The radicalism that permeated Ukrainian culture also contributed to the area’s being a center of the 1905 uprising against the Czar, where the insurrection on the Battleship Potemkin took place in Sevastopol.  As the nineteenth century turned into the twentieth in fact, what we now know as Ukraine—which was then ‘Little Russia’—was home to diverse radicals and militants.

One whom many Ukrainians consider a ‘national poet,’ Ivan Franko, embraced Marxism, socialism, and internationalism on occasion, while also feeling the populist pull toward nationalistic pride and rejection of Russian preeminence.  In displaying the complexities of Ukraine, he demonstrated the fierce core of a ‘to-the-ramparts’ orientation.  Many other commentators also note the late-nineteenth century prevalence of socialist, communist, and other anti-establishment movements and analyses among Ukrainians, with the common emergence of revolutionary leaders here such as Leon Trotsky.

6But these fiery threads of contrariness go back further still in regional history.  Partly, this relates to the role of Jewish culture in the region, on the one hand serving as exploitative agency for the czar’s tax-collections, on the other hand yielding the wage-earners and artists and thinkers who rejected their forebears’ legacy to become the region’s first proletarians and gadfly intellectuals.

Not that these veins of insurrection were the only elements of Ukrainian life, on the contrary, deeply reactionary forces, loyal to czar or Archduke or church, also existed.  Many Jewish people feared and loathed their neighbors.  Memories of discrimination and murder, of double-dealing and betrayal, were also part and parcel of the lives that unfolded here.  Yet, central conduits of these bubbling cauldrons of contrariety were radical; citizens more often than not spit at the czar, studied Marx, plotted revolution.

Part of this red strain also results from the mines that are today part of the very locus of contemporary carnage in the area, and in the 1870’s gave birth to wildcat strikes and syndicalist actions that spread through all Ukraine.  Nikita Khrushchev came into the world in East Ukraine, outside Donetsk; his father worked the mines, and young Nikita followed him at age sixteen as war engulfed the entire region.

The bloody mess of World War sparked the seething spirit of rebellion among workers and soldiers, Cossacks, Jews, Russians, Ukrainians, and the mélange of nationalities that inhabit these lands.  Extensive, well-rooted stalks of revolt blossomed in showers of blood, from abbatoirs of human flesh.

7Khrushchev joined the Red Army rather than continue mining coal, returning a seasoned Party activist who helped build socialism in Ukraine throughout the 1920’s.  In addition, many of his associates and opponents also started out nearby.  One of his longstanding comrades, as noted above, could have been the prototype for Sholokov’s character, Ilya, the machine gunner.  The burly, earthy, much-beloved Malinovsky, from an Odessa-area peasant family, frequently paralleled Bunchuk‘s profile.

As the Bolsheviks wrested control of Russia from capital’s predominance and signed a peace treaty with Germany—fueling a sense of betrayal among the rulers of Europe that was volcanic in its intensity —Ukraine on its own  also accepted German terms, but only after its political leaders pocketed plus-or-minus fifty million francs of bribes from France to desist parlaying with Berlin.

The agreement with Germany basically turned over Europe’s ‘grainbasket’ to the Triple-Alliance and threatened to boost the planned German offensive in Spring 1918.  That Ukraine so blithely instituted this arrangement, from which attacks on Jewish residents increased and criminalization of dissent also flowed, showed in this instance the power of local nationalists and counterrevolutionaries.

As Germany’s defeat approached, however, in no small part because of Bolshevik organizing efforts, Ukrainians revolted and before the final defeat of ‘White-Army reactionaries,’ Kiev also entered the communist camp.  The industrialized East, in particular, led the way in these developments, overturning the ‘patriots’ who had parlayed with German militarists.

Before the Armistice with Germany, meanwhile, England and the United States intervened in Russia to ‘free’ allies trapped among reds and to wreak havoc on the Bolsheviks.  With increasing intensity during the Winter of 1918-19, all of the enemy combatants and allies of the just-finished capitalist slaughter turned savagely on the Soviets.

The White Armies persisted partially because of ‘Western’ support.  Otherwise, the revolution would likely have triumphed by the cessation of hostilities on the Western Front.  Meanwhile, Americans invaded Siberia; Austrians, British, and minor contingents from elsewhere led armed incursions into Mother Russia and the Caucasus; France joined Greece and Turkey in trying to consolidate Ukraine, which might permit recovery of some of the fifty million pilfered francs.

8Such interventions elicited powerful outcries.  These attacks targeted workers who wanted to find different ways to do business, after years of mass murder in the service of profit.  In London, in Berlin, in New York, pamphleteers and demonstrators shouted out for wage-earners at home to stand in solidarity with revolutionaries abroad.  Lenin, Trotsky and others made direct appeals to fellow toilers far afield.

Jacob Abrams, who near Kiev had played some significant part in 1905 unrest, fled to Brooklyn to escape Russian-Ukrainian secret police and encountered political authorities every bit as thoroughgoing as anything on Europe’s Eastern fringes.  In New York, he joined anarchists, socialists, communists who remonstrated against assaults on the barely-born Soviet Union.

All these workers and writers and thinkers abhorred the war when it came.  They even more stringently objected to the intervention against the Bolsheviks, in which the United States, as noted, had joined with Germany and Turkey, its recent enemies, as well as with its various allies.

To make their objections concrete, Abrams and his comrades printed flyers that called out Woodrow Wilson—“The President was afraid to announce to the American people the intervention in Russia. …too much of coward to …say, ‘We Capitalistic nations cannot afford to have a proletarian republic in Russia.’ …This is not new.  The tyrants of the world fight each other till they see a common enemy—working class enlightenment—as soon as they see a common enemy they combine together to crush it”—and defended the rights of Russians to act as they saw fit.  “Workers in the ammunition factories, you are producing bullets, bayonets, cannon to murder not only the Germans but also your dearest, best, who are in Russia and are fighting for freedom.”

Though “Great War” had finished, the U.S. still maintained plus-or-minus ten thousand soldiers in Siberia and Caucasian Russia.  And the ‘Sedition Act’ was more intrusive and threatening than ever.

Thus, Jacob Abrams and his fellows faced the wrath of the U.S. Palmer-Raid police state; he and all of his cohorts confronted twenty or more years in prison, a sentence that represented a sick travesty of “free speech,” according to Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes’ minority opinion.  Eventually, Abrams and his co-defendants accepted deportation back to ‘Little Russia,’ from whence the peripatetic Ukrainian perambulated to Mexico to play chess with Leon Trotsky before the latter’s assassination.  He and his comrades irritated the Soviets as they had the Americans, so that their complicated cases, which again intersected with Ukraine in various ways, have no easily identifiable ‘good guys’ or ‘bad guys’.

In a sense though, Ukraine spread a anarcho-social-democratic, revolutionary web that covered the planet, a phenomenon that occurred because such militancy indisputably permeated Ukrainian culture and society.  That some rank-and-file hourly employees in the West felt similarly is equally verifiable.  An additional palpable empirical reality was the United States’ outraged response to this, as if its imprimatur ought also to have spanned the globe.

9The U.S. and its allies and enemies from the recent carnage evinced a fury and horror at Bolshevism that went much further than rhetoric and intervention, though, as the following section demonstrates.  In the recent war, nationalist fervor had been adequate.  “Over there!” complemented “Willy the Happy Hun,” and all but a handful of non-Bolshevik-infected socialists joined up and went to war as patriots, just as Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler did in Italy and Austria.

But after the Soviet ‘cowardice’ in surrendering, H.G. Wells and George Kennan were just two of hundreds of annalists who documented the vituperation that greeted Boshevism among the upper classes, the landed and moneyed sets.  At the level of Winston Churchill or Henry Ford, down through the coteries of capital to many a floor manager or shopkeeper, the portrayal of Commies as execrable scum was rife.

In sum, then, the multilayered, often contradictory radicalism of the Ukraine, together with the visceral hatred of these socialistic or anarchistic tendencies on the part of ruling interests further West, expresses a pattern.  This dynamic persisted, as the next sections amply demonstrate, and it today underlies a continuing fury on the part of the privileged and powerful at Eastern Ukraine and Russia.

This connection with the present, in terms of analogous interventions, is obvious.  Not by accident are the Ukrainian sectors now under attack realms where streets bear the names of Lenin and Stalin.  Not by chance is this the part of Ukraine where those who are community leaders still imagine a social democratic society.

Moreover, the general historical connection between Ukraine and Russia is also indubitable.  Communism and the Soviet way were every inch Ukrainian, ‘Little Russian’ attributes.

Just as many residents in 1900 rejected “Ukrainian nationalism,” so too now such ideation is far from overwhelmingly prevalent.  Indeed, the 16th edition of Britannica had only this to say about Ukraine: “The name formerly given to a district of European Russia, now comprising the governments of Kharkov, Kiev, Podolia, and Podova.  The portion East of the Dnieper became Russian in 1686, and the portion West of that in 1793.”

Kiev, Kharkov, Little Russia, and more merited many pages of narrative, however, noteworthy as dispositive circumstantial evidence of the interpenetration of ‘Great Russia’ and ‘Little Russia.’  The rubric of nationalism, in other words, was at least in part a construction of those who wanted soldiers to march and shoot as instructed.

As upcoming paragraphs reveal, Communists struggled both to accept and transcend the many ‘nationalisms’ that they inherited.  And many people in these places understood, revered, fought for, and have remained committed internationalists, in a word ‘Reds’ such as those whom capitalist cronies throughout the world have detested from the very start.

 

FASCIST BLUES

When Winston Churchill spoke of wanting to “strangle the Bolshevik infant in its crib,” he was thus, at least by extension, referring to Ukraine.  This resort to high-handed violence, mass murder as a social policy, might seem bizarre given the decimation that had for four years eviscerated the populations of Europe.  But its anomalous nature does not undermine its actuality.

10This detestation led to all manner of tactics against the young Soviet regime.  Agents from the war period merely adjusted their caps slightly and continued spying and provoking and so forth. Economic warfare occasionally manifested in trade and such, but especially Germany desperately needed any relationships that was not immediately worth less as a result of reparations; this dependency on Bolshevik New Economic Policy commodities and currency fostered Soviet growth and survival.

Both this inherent need for connection and the infiltration of spies that it permitted affected Ukraine, at once beneficence and affliction.  Soviet food supplies in any event depended on this fertile region of large and productive farms.  And the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, including the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, moved forward, which mortified and further infuriated the upper reaches of capital’s ruling classes no end.

So the intrepid murderers who placed themselves at the apex of ‘freedom-and-plutocracy’ needed some other way to eviscerate the Reds.  Not by accident did the rise of various Nazi strains follow immediately on the victory of Bolshevism.  All manner of ‘scholarly’ writing conflates communism and fascism in some shape, form, or fashion.  For our purposes, this should suffice about such attempts: they are at best pathetic and wrong, all too often intellectually dishonest or worse, apologies for Nazism.  But the fascist ‘triumph’ did indeed come to pass.

This fascist ascendancy flowed from many sources, for example that national patriotism had lost its ‘divide-and-conquer’ allure, after various mechanisms had annihilated tens of millions of workers ‘for God and country.’  Some new motivation, more potent, at once authoritative and authoritarian, was necessary.

This new embrace of madness and mayhem devolved into the rise of a new form of capitalism, which utilized the wheat stocks, or fasces, that pervaded Roman symbology and represented ‘strength in unity.’  Hence the world birthed fascism, which came to the fore as an explicit assault on the rise of working class movements that sought power over capital.

Churchill was just one of dozens of Western business and political leaders ‘charmed’ by Il Duce.  FDR praised the “fine Italian gentleman.”  The corporate press often and the business press almost unanimously promoted the Italian model.  Churchill gave the clearest rationale for such attitudes, which seem—to put the matter mildly—bizarre in hindsight“(Italy under Mussolini) has provided the necessary antidote to the Russian poison.  Hereafter no great nation will be unprovided with an ultimate means of protection against the cancerous growth of Bolshevism.” 

11Mussolini’s initial foray into fascist State power served as something akin to an experiment.  In the end, it did not meet the many-pronged necessities that big business was seeking: economic stagnation continued; the capacity actually to war against communism was missing; fascism in Italy remained insular rather than expansionist.  Further North and East, however, a perfect storm was brewing.

Capital’s early fascination with Hitler did not begin and end with German manufacturers and merchants.  Quite the contrary, from the early 1920’s, this artist and poet and believer in Germany’s volksreich attracted influential patrons from further afield than Central Europe.

The Rapallo Treaty between Germany and Russia, meanwhile, showed the risk of permitting even a ‘liberal’ German polity free rein in the aftermath of Versailles.  Trade and even collaboration with communists rooted and grew.

This then is the context for the origins of Mein Kampf and the conflation of Jewishness and banking by social reactionaries.  As opportunities dissipated, as jobs disappeared, as those who had lived gaily and sweetly found themselves hungry and fearful, the attraction of ‘strong policies’ that squashed unions, eliminated immigrants, emphasized warlike investment became irresistible for many.  But this social setting for fascism did not pay the tab.

Who Financed Hitler is one of many sources that prove that the potent attraction that industrial and even finance capital felt for Adolf Hitler elicited his ascendancy.  Again, this took place not only among German titans but throughout the haute bourgeoisie in the ‘free world’ as a whole.

A fascinating case study in this regard concerns Henry Ford’s admiration and support for the Austrian corporal and his National Socialist machine.  Readers may find a thorough introduction to this tale here.  Hitler kept a portrait of Ford behind his desk, the only such depiction in his office.  Mein Kampf itself owed allegiance to Ford’s monograph on “international jewry,” which the industrialist had bequeathed to the Nazi leader without strings.  Ford Motor Company laid the basis for the expansion of military production that, as Ford and Hitler both agreed, would have the primary purpose of annihilating the Soviet Union.

12Under such circumstances, that a centenarian survivor of the French resistance might, in relation to the upsurge of fascism in the world, recently points an accusatory finger at the wealthy is unsurprising.  That Indignez Vouz’s condemnation is not better known evidences both the propaganda or evasion that characterizes ‘established’ explication about these matters, and the confusion or ignorance that is almost universal concerning these issues.

“’When I try to understand what caused fascism, what caused the invasion by it and by Vichy, I tell myself that the wealthy, with their selfishness, have been terribly afraid of the Bolshevik revolution. They have been guided by their fears.’  In relation to Nazism, ‘the sense of history is the irresistible path of disaster to disaster.’”

While this decade-long fertilization of the fascist curse was occurring in the West, moreover, a parallel seeding of the ground took place on the fringes of Russia.  Even inside the Soviet state, agents operated to lay the basis for upheaval in the present and collaboration with Nazis in the future.

The Georgian uprising and other cases of sallies against the Russians occurred throughout this period.  The Polish State, weeks after its creation, with tens of thousands of its citizens languishing from Typhus and a million and a half of its children eating from the bread bowl of the American relief fund, decided to invade the Soviet Union and seize Moscow, though in the event, the Poles decided to seize Ukraine first.

George Kennan is just the most cogent, easily available chronicler to detail this sort of madness, which actually sounds strikingly like some of the developments of recent history.   The Russians begged for negotiations.  The Poles assaulted and won Kiev, where ragged pieces of a pro-Western administration remained.

The ‘victorious’ advances of anti-communist forces fell to pieces, however, and elicited the Red Army’s counterattack to the gates of Warsaw.  Embedded French advisers, dispensing American money and British arms and ordnance, eventually drive the Bolsheviks back.  Weary of carnage, all sides agree to a truce.

“So much for the Russian-Polish War.  It was really only a delayed phase of the Russian intervention and civil war: delayed because the Poles did not want to be associated in any way with the White Russian opponents of the Bosheveki, and preferred to tackle the Soviet Communists themselves.”

The Arcos imbroglio is merely another instance of this sort of hostile relationship.  The All-Russian-Cooperative Society was a British firm.  However, just as the ‘free world’ spied on and agitated in and near the Soviet Union, so too did Russian agents seek access to useful intelligence and contacts in London or New York, in many cases with Ukrainian agents.  And after all manner of dramatic testimony of illicit activity and unwelcome trading came to light, the English MI-5 authorized a general raid of and destruction of the outfit.

The events even extended to the U.S.  “Jacob Moness was arrested in New York after information recovered by the Metropolitan Police in the ARCOS raid of 1927 implicated him in a worldwide Soviet espionage organization. The American authorities discovered a large number of documents at Moness’s New York apartment. These provided considerable proof of Soviet espionage networks in the US and revealed that the Russians’ principal interest in the US lay in their armed forces and defence industries.”

Thus, in a way that inextricably intersected with the products and personnel and prospects of Ukraine, a treacherous dynamic was in place between Europe and the U.S., on the one hand, and Soviet compatriots, on the other.  This was transpiring, more to the overall point, in the context of absolute acceptance—and frequent monetary and constant political support—for Nazi initiatives and parties in German and Italy and throughout the Balkans and Eastern Europe.

ssssA contemporary socialist chronicle sums up some of this overall dynamic. “What was the real situation in the 1930s?  The appeasement policy was not the result of some failure to stand up to the dictator Hitler, but involved a very definite set of calculations.  British accommodation to the Nazi regime was based on the hope that Hitler would carry out the program outlined in his book Mein Kampf and launch a war against the Soviet Union, from which British imperialism would be able to benefit.  Britain had pursued the overthrow of the Soviet regime from the day after the revolution of October 1917.  There was no more passionate supporter of this goal than Churchill, who advocated military intervention by the imperialist powers to “strangle the Bolshevik infant in its cradle.”

The overall point of noting these attempts aggressively to assault and brutalize Russia is that Nazism as well existed to strike blows against the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, including Ukraine, where Nikita Khrushchev was a rising leader in the Soviet leadership.  These developments represented an explicit strategy, having nothing to do with any real hope for such ‘values’ as democracy.  They did opportunistically enlist nationalist critics and opponents of Russia, but this is a different issue from the central choice to ally with fascism.

Of course, none of these points rebut the fact that Joseph Stalin was one of history’s monstrous criminals.  His most strident accuser ended up being Nikita Khrushchev, because this ardent comrade and proponent of a people’s socialism was aware of the damage that ‘Uncle Joe’ had done to this cause.

More to the point of this narrative, Stalin’s viciousness resulted in the starvation of literally millions of Ukrainians when he forced the concentration of agricultural production in the region.  This mass murder is of course inexcusable.  Still, substantial numbers of Ukrainians support social democracy and recognize that this tremendous brutality occurred in a context of significant attacks on the Soviets and forced isolation of the Russians from trade and other sources of growth and exchange.  Agents of the West, moreover, used the horror at what happened to build their intelligence arms and abilities in Ukraine, which in turn supported Hitler’s work when the time came for the Germans to invade.

In fact, the fascist gangs that presently plunder East Ukraine and sit in the halls of power in Kiev in many cases emanate directly from Stepan Bandera and his ilk.  Such ‘liberal’ outposts as New York Review of Books have the temerity to play down Bandera’s fascism and label him a hero: nor is NYRB alone in such amelioration of Nazis.

13The biographical facts are accessible in many places.  Bandera came of age in the aftermath of the Soviet’s coming to power.  He and his family, near the Polish border, were strongly nationalistic and accepted German help and funds.  They participated in various actions during the Soviet years and orchestrated multiple slaughters of Poles and Jews and Communists until the Nazis themselves turned against Bandera and had him interned for the rest of the war.  He died as a result of cyanide poisoning at the hand of the KGB in 1959.

The key facts here—those which more than any of the others ‘define’ this fellow—were the alliance with Nazis early on; the insistence on an ethnically ‘pure’ nation in an area with literally dozens of nationalities; the promulgation of mass murder.  No matter what extenuating circumstances exist, one can no more ground a polity’s present on such a past, without fascism, than one can hail to Hitler as a hero and escape the Nazi brush.

Anyhow, as in the case of Bandera, more generally too, laying the groundwork for WWII, German interests in some cases merely networked with former or current English or French operations.  Intelligence networks on the borders of and perhaps inside of the U.S.S.R. thus played a sinister role in preparing for what was one obvious ultimate purpose of Nazism, the utter evisceration of the Soviet Union and elimination of a Communist regime there.

The recruitment of local residents on the road to invading Russia was obviously a part of this process.  Trade contacts, communication with public officials—such as police, administrative officials, public health functionaries, and more—and other means facilitated Western, and ultimately Nazi, access to knowledge of and power inside of Ukraine and other areas at the borders of Soviet control.  These connections soon enough came into play.

Flugzeuge Junkers Ju 87The horrors of the war period in Ukraine stagger the imagination.  The worst massacres, the most casual brutality, the most hideous violence and nonchalant bigotry took place in and around Ukraine. And for two years, Ukraine was a Nazi locus, till the Red Army—with tens of thousands of eager Ukrainian recruits—rooted them out.

One way of thinking about such things is to state that on June 29-30, 1941, German and Ukrainian operatives undertook the monumental task of slaughtering 33,000 Jews and Communists at Babi Yar, near Kiev.  The hourly rate boggles the mind: a thousand corpses per hour; twenty thousand hasty burials per day; such statistics induce nausea.

The summary murder of as many as 50,000 more in Odessa a month later—this time with Romanian and local troops and police—imposes a similar psychic space.  That both of these events—most people killed and the third-largest massacre of the entire Holocaust—occurred in Ukraine exemplifies both the complicated mayhem that the region is capable of manifesting and the presence in these places of agents with whom Nazis had for some time been in contact.

Another way to look at these developments is through the lens of literature.  Here is Mikhail Sholokhov.

“His entire face was a cry; bloody tears were raining from his eyes that had been forced out of their sockets. …(O)ne leg, torn away at the thigh, was dragged along by a shred of skin and a strip of scorched trouser; the other leg was gone completely.  He crawled slowly along on his hands, a thin, almost childish scream coming from his lips… . No one attempted to go to him.

‘Both legs gone!’

‘Look at the blood!’

’And he’s still conscious.’

Uryupin touched Grigory on the shoulder… . (and) drew Grigory along by the sleeve… .  Under Zharkov’s belly the pink and blue intestines were steaming.  The tangled mass lay on the sand, stirring and swelling.  Beside it the dying man’s hand scrabbled at the ground.”

The point of any such capsulization, whether empirical or narrative, however, includes the following idea.  These facts and atrocities resulted from consciously adopted directives.  They were not accidents; nor miscalculations; nor mistakes.

The carnage’s aftermath, too, came down to a policy by the U.S. almost the obverse of its post-WWI invasion, taking the form of recruiting and finding homes around the world for thousands, or tens of thousands of German, Ukrainian, Romanian, and other fascist adherents.  To an extent, such choices were religious, paralleling the Catholic Church’s well-documented embrace of Nazi forms and dreams.  To an extent, these moves were tactical, ‘lesser-of-two-evil’ comradeship with the followers of Hitler and the promulgators of holocaust.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATo wrap up this section, therefore, one might note that out of an initial revulsion for a locus of revolutionary critique grew a response that we now define as fascist, a deployment of tools-to-rule that persists to today and will keep on appearing tomorrow.  A deeper penetration of the annals of this process will—without a single doubt—further prove that the United States explicitly and completely allied itself with fascism as the primary means of undercutting socialists, communists, and other anti-capitalists, both in Ukraine and more generally.

The connection with the present should be palpable.  The social basis for fascist thinking is as simple to manifest as the massive uptick in downward mobility among the erstwhile ‘middle-classes,’ which is to say the shop-owners and insurance agencies and other small operators who collapse sooner or later as crisis follows crisis and the rich get richer.  Unemployed and otherwise disaffected workers also join in.  The ideological basis often comes down to an appeal to honor the nation, and, more particularly the state.

In the world of the here and now, and for the better part of a century, any fiercely nationalistic furor has skated along this route, a road to hell paved with good intentions perhaps.  To insist on the nation, as a category superior to humanity, always now invites the Nazi wolf into the fold.  These forces in Ukraine today not only have such obvious and discernible social and ideological roots, however, but they also both symbolically and actually have ties to the Banderas and Von Brauns and the predators whom the U.S. extricated following Germany’s collapse in 1945.

 

TSUNAMIS FROM CAPITALISM’S COLLAPSES

As noted at the outset, the brevity of the next two components of this argument result from exigencies of time and space.  Much more remains to develop above.  Even more so is that true below.

The ‘received wisdom’ in 1914 was that war was impossible. Integration would prohibit it.  Except it did not do so.  Among the topics and evidence important to consider here are the following.

  • Economic Consequences of the Peace, John Maynard Keynes’ prescient warning  about particularly Britain’s and France’s attempts to extract reparations from Germany.
  • The Kellogg Briand Pact, which ‘outlawed’ war in the late 1920’s and ‘30’s.
  • The Merchants of Death ideation, both as an independent scholarly explication and as the result of the Senator Gerald Nye extensive committee hearings about the banking boons that resulted from financing Europe’s war.
  • The Manhattan Project, as a prototypical embodiment of conjoining State and War and production.
  • The Marshall Plan, which both unleashed the productive capacity that had burgeoned from the corpses that war created and acted to forestall Soviet involvement with Western Europe’s imperial states.
  • The governmental reorganization —DOD, CIA, NSA, AEC, & more all began between 1945 and 1950—that put into ongoing practice what the Manhattan Engineering District had foretold.

16This short overview, then, establishes a three-part intersection that prevailed throughout this time and space: economic crisis, technological and organizational development, and the political commitment to warfare-Keynsianism.  A continuation of these forces still marks the here and now.

The connection with the present day is therefore as simple to show as the ouster of Victor Yanukovich after he refused an IMF ‘loan’ and instead accepted a Russian plan.  No sooner had Petro Poroschenko taken charge than he set in motion the political networking and quid pro quos to accede to the Western loan that Yanukovich had rejected.

Such apparently rational and natural choices as Yanukovich’s flow from the way that repeated prosperous bubblings collapse into destitution.  Nevertheless, under the present relations of power and property, any similar decision is fundamentally impermissible.  It violates the basic nature of the standard operation procedures, agendas, and needs of the powers-that-be.  Soon enough, planes explode in midair and threats of utter annihilation replace the saber rattling of yore.  And the past becomes a foggy plain, full of the stench of rotted corpses and the fear of instant death, that no one wants to venture to view.

The financiers who sit at society’s peak—at least on occasion—make sure that inhibitions against any deeper examination are powerfully present—in the news, in the halls of government, in the political and financial contextualization of such matters. After all, these bankers and traders and arbitrage experts hold levers of power that permit such obfuscation and deflection to proceed apace.

 

THE CIA-BANKING NEXUS AND ITS TARGETING CRIMEA

A grand compromise drove this supremacy of banking and finance.  This entente allowed unions and other working-class empowerment.  Social security became the norm.  Its shadow, however was a ‘national socialism’ with which it must eventually clash, even as the hope among both some financiers and many industrialists was that unleashing Germany against Stalin’s Russia would eliminate the threat of organized communism while at the same time making fascism weak enough or tractable enough to manage.

The connection with the present day contains readily identifiable elements.  The non-governmental organizations that sowed the fields that we are now readying to reap in Ukraine emanated from the likes of Pierre Omidyar and George Soros on ‘the left’ and from more obviously reactionary sorts as the Hoover Foundation and the Council for Foreign Relations on ‘the right ,’ not to mention various opportunistic outsiders, from Ukrainian-Israeli billionaires to the legal-eagle sons of Vice Presidents.

‘Left’ and ‘right’ are directions to turn.  They do not represent any necessary polarity of opposition.  Not so communist and capitalist, which, particularly as the moneybags’ stranglehold on policy becomes unstoppable, manifest a Manichean necessity of conflict to the bitter end.

 

A CONCLUDING INVITATION TO CONTINUING CONVERSATION

Another piece of art that my wife and I produced has this to say.  “The Complex Convolutions of Contemporary Social Crises Mandate Inclusive, Forthright, & Complete Conversations, Freewheeling Debates That Foster Popular Empowerment & Enlightenment, Which in Turn Yield Potent Democratic Action; Unfortunately for Human Prospects, All Inclusive Discursive Movements Elicit Often Fierce & Official Resistance: Hypocritical ‘Gatekeepers,’ Polite Hosts, & Timid Citizens Mainly Either Proscribe or Avoid Any Discussion That Threatens to Touch on Sensitive Issues Critical to Human Survival—Humanity’s Epitaph Might Soon Enough Read, ‘They Could Have Solved Their Problems, But Didn’t Care to Talk About Them.’”

17

This essay invites ongoing conversation.  Unlike Goldilocks, it does not pretend to have everything ‘just right.’

It develops a set of arguments that flow from intuition and observation and match aspects of evidence and knowledge about a place and time, some of which just showed up on my radar screen and some of which I’ve dug out with the help of my wife and other colleagues.  This place and time, Ukraine more or less immediately prior to the present pass, must interest us, at least if our common thriving, even survival, has any appeal at all.

 

 

 

Photo Captions/Credits

  1. Art – personal collection
  2. Map – http://ukrmap.su/en-uh10/1066.html
  3. “Begin Brzezinski Camp David Chess” by Original uploader was Perceval at en.wikipedia – Transferred from en.wikipedia; transferred to Commons by User:IngerAlHaosului using CommonsHelper.. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Begin_Brzezinski_Camp_David_Chess.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Begin_Brzezinski_Camp_David_Chess.jpg
  4. “Stanley Wood CossackCourage” by Stanley L. Wood (1866 – 1928) [1] – http://www.greatwardifferent.com/Great_War/Stanley_Wood/Stanley_Wood_08.htm. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Stanley_Wood_CossackCourage.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Stanley_Wood_CossackCourage.jpg
  5. “Don Cossacks monument Luhansk” by Riwnodennyk – Own work. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Don_Cossacks_monument_Luhansk.JPG#mediaviewer/File:Don_Cossacks_monument_Luhansk.JPG
  6. “Shestviye u Narvskikh vorot” by Неизвестен – Первая русская революция 1905 года. М., 1925 г.. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Shestviye_u_Narvskikh_vorot.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Shestviye_u_Narvskikh_vorot.jpg
  7. Kruschev – “1916. Khrushhev-s-zhenojj-efrosinejj” by Unknown – http://foto-history.livejournal.com/1686834.htmlhttp://www.moskva-put.net/attraction/kremlin/generalnye-sekretari-ck-kpss-v/nikita-sergeevich-hruschev/. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:1916._Khrushhev-s-zhenojj-efrosinejj.jpg#mediaviewer/File:1916._Khrushhev-s-zhenojj-efrosinejj.jpg
  8. “The hand that will rule the world” by Ralph Chaplin – Industrial Workers of the World journal “Solidarity” (June 30, 1917 issue). Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:The_hand_that_will_rule_the_world.jpg#mediaviewer/File:The_hand_that_will_rule_the_world.jpg
  9. “In for a trimming” unknown; public domain – http://rationalrevolution.net/articles/rise_of_american_fascism.htm
  10. He Would Turn the Clock Back 1,000 Years: (1919) public domain http://rationalrevolution.net/images/bolciv.png
  11. Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini, June 1940 (NARA) Public Domain: via com
  12. “Ford assembly line – 1913” by Unknown – http://www.gpschools.org/ci/depts/eng/k5/third/fordpic.htm. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Ford_assembly_line_-_1913.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Ford_assembly_line_-_1913.jpg
  13. “Stamp of Ukraine Stepan Bandera 100 years” by The stamp was designed by Vasil Vasilenko [2]. It most likely uses this photo. – own scan by Vizu. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Stamp_of_Ukraine_Stepan_Bandera_100_years.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Stamp_of_Ukraine_Stepan_Bandera_100_years.jpg
  14. Bundesarchiv Bild 101I-646-5188-17, Flugzeuge Junkers Ju 87″ by Opitz – This image was provided to Wikimedia Commons by the German Federal Archive (Deutsches Bundesarchiv) as part of a cooperation project. The German Federal Archive guarantees an authentic representation only using the originals (negative and/or positive), resp. the digitalization of the originals as provided by the Digital Image Archive.. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0-de via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Bundesarchiv_Bild_101I-646-5188-17,_Flugzeuge_Junkers_Ju_87.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Bundesarchiv_Bild_101I-646-5188-17,_Flugzeuge_Junkers_Ju_87.jpg
  15. “Marshall Plan poster” by E. Spreckmeester, published Economic Cooperation Administration – Source. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Marshall_Plan_poster.JPG#mediaviewer/File:Marshall_Plan_poster.JPG
  16. Money, from org
  17. Art, personal collection

Trayvon & Troy & Suicidal Systems That We Choose Not to Change

Introduction

Every homicide is a suicide. As Trayvon Martin’s mother stated“Trayvon was my son, but Trayvon was your son too.” What should be obvious is that a culture or a species that specializes in such ultimately suicidal outbursts as the wanton killing of Trayvon Martin is at risk of extinction. Trayvon’s dirge, in other words, plays for all of us.

Furthermore, that modern human polities, bristling with weapons of mass destruction in the hands of rulers who project their ‘terroristic’ tendencies onto faceless others-towelheads, sand-niggers, Islamofascists, and like ‘nonentities’-might be particularly prone to self-destruction is worth considering. Any such consideration, of course, requires that people give a good Goddamn about these matters.

More pertinent to this narrative-since in some sense, many tens of millions of people do ‘care’ about what went down in Sanford, Florida-such consideration also premises that people are willing to dig deeply enough into these persistent instances of immolation to figure out what causes and patterns are at work in them. Mere compassion and concern yield little that might avert such mayhem in the days and months and centuries to come-that is, if our thanatopic tendencies do not first manifest themselves so robustly as to wipe us all from the planet, like some sort of ‘pink slime’ that blights the natural order.

Similarly, mere knee-jerk reaction-in which mediated manipulation focuses attention on ‘all the usual suspects’-will never move us a millimeter in the direction of justice and democracy and popular personal and collective power. And if we fail to find a fashion to inch society toward social justice and democracy, then no force on earth will stop Trayvon’s face from appearing again, in slightly different guise, on the morning talk shows and the infinite plethora of portals on the World Wide Web that thrive on such reportage. In essence, we all risk facing Trayvon’s destiny.

Troy Davis’ recent murder by the state of Georgia chillingly illustrates this assertion; at least anyone willing to listen with his heart and ponder with her brain will see the irrefutable logic at play, easy enough to state in simple language . Young, swarthy men, whose wildness and toughness is an inevitable attribute of all youthful manhood’s manifesting itself, represent both a uniquely contemporary and a classically resplendent and grotesque instantiation of scapegoating.

Readers might think about the following additional cases, all of which have come to pass more or less in tandem with Trayvon’s soulless culling from our family.

   Staff Sgt. Robert Bale’s carnage against sixteen Afghans, mainlywomen and kids;
   The continued outcry against the ongoing Guantanamo incarceration of Omar Khadr, whose likely killing of a U.S. soldier apparently obviates all need for due process or openness in relation to the then-15 year old, who is now 24 and still has never faced trial or gotten independent legal counsel;
   The Mississippi conviction of and doling out a life sentence toDeryl Dedmon, a White teenager who hatefully drove down a Black man at random, as part of a ‘posse’ of young paragons of racial purity, none of whom-thus far-has had to stand before the bar of justice;
   Yesterday’s carnage in the Bay Area, in which a disaffected former student mowed down seven people and wounded three others at an Asian religious college.

A thorough expansion of such a list as this could easily run into the hundreds or thousands of cases-in Ohio’s schools, in various police jurisdictions, and in the innumerable murder-suicides that typify American life, all in the past few weeks or so. And in a sense, they are all Trayvon; their victims are all Trayvon; their legacies threaten all humanity with Trayvon’s end.

Whether these terrible, merciless matters of savagery and slaughter appear in the costume of the robed judges who ignore all the evidence of their senses in order to kill Troy, or in the confused glance of the pathetic worm who shot down Trayvon himself, or in some other way that random killshots come along, what is happening concerns a denial, projection, justification, expiation, and psychic management of political, economic, and historical crimes. The variations on the theme may be, practically speaking, endless. Nevertheless, Trayvon, blameless and wanting little more than life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, appears in all of them.

Those who wish to shun this history of racketeering and brutality project its violence onto victims. This in turn justifies or explains the entire dynamic, albeit in a way that is objectively baseless and prospectively hopeless. The wild brouhaha that ensues in the aftermath of every such explosive manifestation then serves to expiate the sense of sinfulness of a modern culture always on the verge of meltdown. Thus, the complete cycle-from denial to pretenses of penance-manages life today-like some ancient cleansing ritual that avoids grappling with the real issues in play-without necessitating the transformation that has to occur if we’re to survive, if we’re all to avoid ending up as Trayvon did.

A Plausible Explanatory Nexus

Yet we do want to find out facts, even if the data we search out facilitates no change whatsoever. We long for everything to fit in some orderly, coherent way that forces no one really to assume responsibility. We seem to want a story that doubles as indictment and exculpation, as both a justification of forgetting and a basis for keeping a false consciousness intact.

This humble correspondent happened to be in the right place at the right time to uncover evidence that absolved Troy Davis. Herepeatedlymade this point, in writing and speech, to no avail. The honesty of this narrative and the accuracy of these allegations of innocence were immaterial. In fact, they violated the sacrosanct apprehension of institutional honor without which we’d be much more likely to riot in the streets and so forth. Hence, this humble correspondent watched with a sickening sense of horror as Georgia-and the majority of Georgians-made themselves into cold-blooded murderers.

He has no such inside knowledge in relation to George Zimmerman, who ‘stood his ground’ and blew Trayvon Martin away. Moreover, he hasn’t any resources to pursue a full recounting. This is true at the same time that the ubiquity of those who ask pointless questions and develop heated non-sequiturs as argument is ever more prevalent. In this context, nevertheless, this humble correspondent can construct a reasonable depiction of what happened-a ‘creative delineation’ that can serve as a first step toward a potent response to this entire typical expression of American social insanity and criminal duplicity.

Judgmental, officious, aggressive, and impotent people are everywhere apparent these days. Many of them exude the initial noisome qualities as a mask for the final characteristic. The result is always depressing, and often these sorts describe their maladies as one form or other of ‘Depression.’

We might contemplateMr. Zimmerman in such terms. Unemployed, unable to complete his criminal justice studies, or otherwise gain entrance to the fraternity of those who wear badges, despite his issuing from a father who wore judicial garb, he promulgated the mythos that he could address the issues of powerlessness and pointlessness in his existence by externalizing them, blaming shadowy intruders who were ready to invade his realm and upset the fake semblance of security and comity that supposedly prevailed there. His pugnacity and righteousness, which led him to show enough audacity to justify gunning down an unarmed youth on a harmless commercial mission-skittles and soda, appear as something akin to a cover for the worthlessness that his face showed him to feel.

Ah, but the booking photo is not the ‘real’ Mr. Z, folks might say. Another shot, quite popular among the fascists and reactionaries who dominate the web and the media, purported ‘liberal’ proclivities thereof notwithstanding, shows George with ahuge smile: “George and the Giant Grin,” the caption might read.

When this humble correspondent looked at that depiction, the reaction was, like, an instantaneous ‘gulp!…Killer!’ This was primordial, beyond any rational decision-making nexus.

But maybe one is not skilled at detecting fake and lethal smiles. Certainly, no one else seems to be writing about this.

Let’s hear a few kudos for the BBC. This still arguably authentic news organization provides a 20-person line-up to test the capacity to detect counterfeit affability. This humble correspondent got 16 out of twenty , and only called one ‘genuine’ smile fake.

Based on the easily available images of George Z’s facial expressions, including of the blurred video of his entry at the police station in Florida, and on multiple descriptions of his rage reactions in various situations, a rational participant might see Zimmerman as a prime candidate for medication for ‘depression.’ He looks that way, acts that way, and blows people away that way.

Blunted affects are a common side-effect of anti-depressantsImpotence inevitably accompanies the use of some of them, not likely to be the sweetest outcome for this son-of-a-judge who had to be grappling with the ‘loser’ label for most of the last decade or so. Whatever the state of his pharmacological profile, Mr. Zimmerman has not been a happy camper for some time. In the event, here is a plausible story: maybe ‘medicine’ has played a role; perhaps not, but whatever the case may be, this psychosocially pathetic exemplar was acting out his psychopathology in predictably homicidal fashion, given his place in the bigger picture of the ‘American way.’

He was tiring of the plus or minus ten 911 calls a year that did not climax appropriately, from the point of view of George’s infuriated nihilism, in ‘getting the bad guy.’ “These assholes always get away,” he says moments before putting a bullet through Trayvon’s heart. With or without detailed premeditation, he may very well have imposed a script something like the following on the timeline of the evening of February 26th, an imposition that guaranteed a fulfilling release of the tensions in his life.

GEORGE: There you are; you’re not getting away this time….
TRAYVON: I don’t know what you’re talking about, I…
GEORGE: (Whispering, though with a furious spit)Nigger.
TRAYVON: What the fuck?
GEORGE: (Still whispering forcefully)Coon!
TRAYVON: Fuck you, motherfucker!
GEORGE: (Screaming)Help!
TRAYVON: (Baffled)What the hell?
GEORGE: Help me! Please, help me! (He moves closer and closer to Trayvon, his pistol at his side.)
GEORGE: God, someone please help me!!!
(He is within a meter of Trayvon, who adopts a defensive stance as the stranger approaches, raising his shooting arm as he closes the distance between them.) Helllllllllllppppp!!! BOOM!!!!

What happens next, in this rendering, is akin to a dress rehearsal, except that it represents a costuming after the fact instead of before the performance. George lies on his back next to the dying Trayvon, the young man’s death throes the most gratifying experience for George in many, many years. He stalwartly bangs his head on the concrete, until he can feel abrasions and blood. He then turns over, as Trayvon’s last bubbling bleed-out comes about and slams his face, nose first, against the pavement, satisfied when he himself begins to bleed out his nostrils.

The police arrive to find a bloodied and disoriented Mr. Zimmerman, a dead Mr. Martin, and the rest is ‘stand-your-ground’ history. But another view is obviously possible. Maybe Trayvon went ballistic.

After all, the criminally fraudulent and intentionally delusional actions of Trayvon’s school, in the thrall of the so-called ‘War-on-Drugs’ that permits among its many heinous consequences the criminalization of education, had recently led to his ten-day suspension. A baggie in his possession had detectable ‘traces’ of THC. This had caused a ‘grounding’ at home, a state in which, over and over again, young adults languish angrily here in the ‘land of the free and the home of the brave.’

In such a context, the ‘angry young man’ might easily ‘snap’ to the fore, as it were. So here’s another conceivable script. The ethnic slurs in this iteration are optional, though they certainly would add to the impetus to violence.

TRAYVON: ‘Chu following me for?
GEORGE: (Surprised)Stay back there nigger; I got something for you.
TRAYVON: (Angry)Fat chump, I could kick your ass.
GEORGE: Fucking coon; I’ll kill your ass. (Trayvon is on him in a second, tackling him and pounding him in one fell swoop). Helllppp!
TRAYVON: Cracker pig. (He hits him again, pushing his head into the cement.)
GEORGE: (Yelling)Help me! (He pulls his pistol, still screaming.) Somebody, help!!
TRAYVON: (Unaware of the weapon, whipping the larger man)Pussy! BOOM!!!!

Clearly, the thirty to ninety seconds that ended in a discharged weapon and a mortally wounded Trayvon Martin might have included, literally, an infinite number of details. Without doubt, these facts occurred at least somewhat differently from what this humble correspondent has estimated. On the other hand, arguably, the two categories of scenario depicted here represent something like what probably transpired in the chilly dark of Trayvon’s last seconds of life.

No matter what, we can never assure ourselves that we have reconstructed the events of that night with total fealty to the facts as they unfolded. In fact, one way of viewing the entire affair is that we are not meant ever to figure it out entirely. Instead, the manifest intention of the entire outpouring of attention over the event is to cause people to bicker about details and miss the points that, truly, do matter. In any case, with hundreds of millions of web portalsnow leading to “Trayvon Martin,” the overwhelming majority of them do have this sort of diversionary effect.

Various Pointless or Insipid Responses

Absolutely one of the two most common perspectives that result from the constant litany of murder, of which Trayvon’s execution is one instance, is that we ought to make weapons illegal or at least diminish the presence of guns in America. Such perspectives in relation to Trayvon, ranging from New York Times cartoons to breast-beating editorials hither and yon, number in the hundreds of thousands or more. Unfortunately, examined in even the most open-minded fashion possible, attacking guns as the source of the carnage that has claimed Trayvon is weak and stupid.

The weakness stems from various factors. Disingenuous is a charitable label for such critiques. Here we are in the world’s primary instigator of armed mayhem, in the planet’s most fully-stocked arms bazaar, where as much as half the productive economy relates in one way or other to merchandising death through weapons, and ‘liberals’ and pacifists are wont to say that the problem is hand-guns and other firearms in the possession of common citizens. It is tantamount to saying that the primary problem in European Nazi territories in the 1930′s and ’40′s was the presence of occasional armed gangs who would attack and terrorize Jewish people.

In a milieu that celebrates and institutionalizes armed violence, focusing on ‘grassroots’ emanations of such cruelty and brutality is at best a dodge from the primary underlying machinations of mayhem. More pertinent, such feints are typical in their effect, inasmuch as they focus public attention with absolutely zero attendant risk of enforced alteration of established relationships of oppression and opprobrium. The hue and cry for gun-control, in other words, will never in a million years attack the problems of poverty, of class-and-color-based incarceration, of the emergence of police-state mentality as de rigueur politics, of the idiotic corruption and cupidity of the ‘War-on-Drugs,’ or any of the other real factors lurking beneath Trayvon’s murder.

In an entirely different vein, the importance of Second Amendment, whatever one’s personal attitude toward weapons and violence, is utterly missing in the blame placed on citizen-owned ordnance. Whatever the analytical and evidentiary failings of Libertarians and different stripes of ‘patriots,’ they understand implicitly that the government, as currently constituted, represents an enemy force, and an occupying force, in their communities. Whether one listens to Dead Prezor Hank Williams Junior, this message resonates from the masses. “As long as the army, navy, air-force, and marines got gatt, we’re gonna pack heat too.”

Nor is such a view wrong-headed or useless. One need look no further than the bulging prisons, the lengthening unemployment lines, and the growing army of bailed-out plutocrats for confirmation that governing bureaucracies and administrators operate according to protocols different from those which would assist the interests of common people. The ‘right to keep and bear arms’ enshrined in the Bill of Rights was a nod to this pattern of rulers’ imposition on the ruled, a check in the system of checks and balances that retains resonance even in this day of purported commitment to non-violent means of dispute resolution.

The stupidity of focusing on pistols and bullets flows from the fact that winning a political battle that puts the criminalization of weapons at its center will, inevitably, further divide working people and ruin their capacity to stick up for themselves in relation to the most heavily armed police and military forces on earth. This tactic-divide and conquer-shows up repeatedly in such matters as this, helping to insure that the learning and insight that are possible from such horrors never leads anywhere productive for the victims.

The most common response to this situation, however, even more prevalent than bemoaning the ubiquity of ‘Gatt’ on the streets and in the neighborhoods of our society, is twofold, either a furious denunciation of ‘racism’ in this case or a denial that ‘racial’ motives make much of a difference here. The search for a mechanism of blame, on the one hand, and the attempt to preclude any measure of accepting responsibility, on the other hand, are a false duality, again perfect for keeping people who need to unite separate and wrangling.

Explications that revolve around the presence or absence of race or racism are as hopeless as accounts that blame the victim, or his clothes. Anyone who doubts the presence of White-supremacist thinking in this country needs a mental-health exam, stat. Anyone who fails to recognize that social privilege accompanies White skin is similarly deficient in brain functioning.

Nonetheless, even though such factors are obvious rationale for understanding what went on here, they simply don’t go nearly far enough. Moreover, they obscure critical points that concern politics and economics instead of social relations. Most problematically, such perspectives guarantee that theentire nauseating roller-coaster ride will make its rounds again, in the next ‘bread-and-circuses’ interlude that fails to examine what Richard Wright made clear in Native Son, his classic novel of scapegoating young men of color.

Can we listen to Wright’s communist attorney for Bigger Thomas and hear parallels, from all directions, to what is happening today? This humble correspondent is dubious, but the parallels are omnipresent if one is but willing to think about it.

“Crimes of even greater brutality and horror have been committed in this (area). Gangsters have killed and have gone free to kill again. But none of that has brought forth an indignation equal to this.

…Wh(at), then, fanned this hate into fury? Whose interest is th(e) thoughtless and misguided mob(in Trayvon’s case both the defenders and assailants of George Zimmerman)serving?

The State’s Attorney, knows for he promised the Loop bankers that if he were reelected demonstrations for relief would be stopped! The Governor of the State knows, for he has pledged the Manufacturer’s Association that he would use troops against workers who went out on strike! The Mayor knows, for he told the merchants of the city that the budget would be cut down, that no new taxes would be imposed to satisfy the clamor of the masses of the needy. …

There is guilt in the rage that(overflows here). …All of them-the mob and the mob-masters; the wire-pullers and the frightened; the leaders and their pet vassals-know and feel that their lives are built on a historical deed of wrong against many people, people from whose lives they have bled their leisure and their luxury.”

In terms of the historical and political-economic attributes, Bigger Thomas and Trayvon Martin represent a merely slightly divergent manifestation of fate. The first takes place in an era of Klan justice, whereas the second happens in the presence of an extremely brilliant and sympathetic Black President. But both young men represent the culmination of historical and material forces that must be part of what we deal with if we want to make things better.

Why, in Political Terms, ‘What Really Happened’ Does Not Matter

Thus, for citizens capable of contemplating Wright’s challenge, the relative ‘guilt’ or ‘innocence’ of George Zimmerman is immaterial, just as the remote possibility that Trayvon ‘blew up’ matters not a whit. The central issues that emerge from Trayvon Martin’s killing concern the wasted lives-White, Black, and Hispanic-that flow from the present U.S. methodology as foreseeably as does the inevitability that some of these lives laid waste will in turn ‘waste’ the chances of others, with the pull of triggers, the plunging of needles, and otherwise.

Equally significant as the faultiness of popular consciousness are the motives and rule of those in charge. As Wright recognized, and as we ought to emphasize so emphatically that all misleading distraction is easy to throw away, those at the helm of society-mediators, interpreters, executives, pontificators, administrators, pundits, and more-gain leverage, political space, and key social objectives in continuing our confusion about what Trayvon’s death means. Once these patterns become clear, neither the sick victimization of Trayvon, nor the soulless wastage of George Zimmerman’s life, is germane to our improving things. Only transformation of revolutionary scope can lead anywhere useful. Those who would address error, poor management decisions, better laws, and the like are, at best, promulgating futility.

“It’s not a ‘mistake,’” is something we should shout out. An absolute principle in law and science is that if a process or dynamic or a reaction appears often enough, then its appearance is part of the plan, a component portion of the overall dynamic in play. To put the case most baldly, in avoiding a reality orientation to the past and present political economics of American society, Trayvon’s death was our choice, and until we shift our approach and relate to each other differently, worsening horror will also amount to our preference.

A nation of murderers and accomplices-of victims and bystanders who blame others in a way that locks in persistent sadism, spite, and inhumanity-is the ineluctable fruition that will blossom from Trayvon’s death unless we adjust the ways that we see and understand.

Can we undertake to accomplish such a transformation is vision and consciousness? Human viability likely depends on figuring out how to answer affirmatively.

The Surface Meaning of Trayvon Martin’s Death and the Popular Response to It

A depth-reporting investigation of the Trayvon phenomenon would reveal that it has many simulacra in recent memory. O.J. Simpson, Columbine, Nidal Hasan: the list of greater and lesser ‘madmen’ who have gone on killing sprees would run in to the hundreds in North America in the last decades or so alone. The most obvious upshot of such continued brutalization is fairly easy to state; it’s the ‘American way,’ in its most essential aspect.

“We can sell this:” the spectacularization and commodification of murder for the passive and powerless has subsumed every aspect of American culture, from YouTube to ‘Reality TV,’ from stand-up to talk-talk-talk-talk radio. As horrifying as this admission is, only one blind to what happens in the aftermath of an incident will deny the likelihood of this conclusion. A combination of ‘bread-and-circuses’ and scapegoating is at work here.

The benefits to those atop the heap, as it were, are many. They make money from nothing. They divert attention from the underlying problems that would strip them of power were we collectively to address them. They divide those who can only stand against entrenched wealth and privilege if they find a way to unite. The list goes on and on.

For those who want to ‘defend’ George Zimmerman, a Spanish aphorism is apt. “No hay peor ciego que el que no quiere ver.” The English translation is apropos for those who would demonize Mr. Martin. ‘Nothing is worse than a blind man who does not want to see.’

Nor is the innocence of Trayvon Martin central here. His sanctity as a human being was undermined by the standard operating procedures of everyday America. Only by rejecting that SOP can we honor Trayvon and gain anything that is not specious from his death.

The Deeper Meaning of Trayvon’s Murder and the Inauthenticity in Response

Would anyone dare suggest that slavery was just a mistake? That lynch-law was merely a series of unintended errors? That mass incarceration that targets Blacks and other ‘minorities’ is somehow ‘accidental?’ At the absolute best, interpretations of this ilk would elicit waves of revulsion.

Yet almost everything that appears near the top of the millions of citations that ponder this travesty is making just this sort of argument. If we get rid of the ‘mistake’ of ‘stand-your-ground,’ the moral error of ‘racism,’ then all will somehow heal. Or, alternatively, if we either recognize that George Zimmerman was only confused or overzealous, or-obviously worse-acknowledge that many or most Blacks are somehow ‘criminal,’ then we’ll stop blowing the entire incident out of proportion.

While the intellectual integrity of the former analyses are much more credible than the latter sorts of scrutiny, the point to take away from thinking about the matter is that neither is adequate to overturn further instances of havoc against future Trayvons. Most critically, this inadequacy is equivalent, in that neither type of assessment delves deeply enough into the matter to locate the lynchpin of the nearly infinite recurrence of such lynchings in this culture.

 

Miley’s Brand & What It Means

            Who would have thought that spindoctorjimbo would ever write about Miley Cyrus?  While she served as something like a role model for my daughter—presumptions of privilege and wealth, libertine lifestyle, flashy au courant style—her imprimatur has remained ‘outside the contemplative box’ for the likes of this humble correspondent(THC).  Still, Cyrus’ recent work, “Liberty Walk,” and commentary on it, command a reply from the spindoctor’s pen, as it were.

            Certainly, this brouhaha contains interesting economic underpinnings and impacts.  Equally so, the political meaning of the piece and its interpretation are noteworthy.  Finally, the social implications of the situation are especially interesting.  Although these three categories are actually inseparable, a brief examination that uses this economic-political-social rubric gives THC a chance to say his piece.

from Miley Cyrus Liberty Walk

           The overarching economic fact of the last forty years, more or less, has been that capital’s leadership has failed to deliver on its promises for most inhabitants of the planet.  This is to say that more and more marginalization of working people has occurred, while the so-called middle-class section of the laboring masses has found its toehold on decent living conditions increasingly tenuous.

            This economic quagmire has manifested in a variety of fascinating and important ways.  A few of these follow here:

  • Only through the repeated expansion and monetization of credit have economic leaders averted total meltdown, and even this persistent reliance on a ‘bubble system’ appears now to be breaking down.
  • While every civilian productive sector has confronted glut after glut, each sector—agriculture, energy, textiles, metals, everything—has also created massive productivity gains that could readily serve community purposes instead of existing exclusively for profit.
  • This contradiction has necessitated, on the one hand, an ever-growing reliance on militarized spending, including the massive expansion of the ‘Prison-Industrial-Complex’ via the ‘War-on-Drugs,’ the ‘War-on-Sex,’ etc., and, on the other hand, a burgeoning focus on fetishized commodification, ranging from plastic surgery and Viagra to tanning beds and hyper-inbred pets, and so on and so forth, ad infinitum.
  • Objectively, Ms. Cyrus’ slickly produced and fetchingly packaged music extravaganza fits into this second category of the ‘functioning’ economy of capitalism now.

from Miley Cyrus Liberty Walk

This précis of the contemporary moment, though condensed and capable of plenty of amplification, allows an observer to ponder an aspect of Miley’s most recent effort to ‘build her brand.’

            Meanwhile, the central political fact of the present period—again, the last four decades or so—has been a dismantling of ‘liberalism’ as constituted in ‘safety nets’ and ‘New Deals’ and a concomitant surge in repressive, even fascistic, laws and approaches to politics.  Inevitably, in inchoate ways here in Central North America and in more organized fashion in parts of the world less ‘liberated’ by the constraints of being the imperial center and the misled ‘bastion’ of ‘freedom and patriotism,’ resistance to this amped-up oppression has risen among the working folks for whom capitalism isn’t working very well anymore anyhow.

from Miley Cyrus Liberty Walk

 This subjugation to plutocracy has, as in the economic sphere above, shown-up in myriad ways of note and import.  A few of these follow here:

  • Even as ‘information’ has proliferated and become one of the current, purported ‘freedoms,’ actual access to data and knowledge has suffered severe diminution, at the same time that various whistleblowers—and ‘Wiki-Blowers’ have sought to counteract this trend toward both secrecy and fee-based exclusion from facts.
  • Even as international political norms have become ubiquitous in all areas of politics, so that on the surface all and sundry are subject to the rule of law, in actuality, imperial crimes occur with increasing impunity—ranging from the mundane frauds of everyday life—three hundred dollar seat-belt tickets to make people ‘safer’—to the most murderous plunder—mass carnage in Fallujah that served both to open new territory for capital’s untrammeled sway and to cover up capital’s complicity in creating what it saw fit to destroy there.
  • Even as the celebration of ‘the blessings of liberty’ have advanced on every front, political participation and the forms of democracy have become ever more tenuous, especially in the ‘belly-of-the-imperial-beast’ here in the United States; what with mass disfranchisement, purposeful political paralysis, and decreasing legitimacy of dissent, even the façade of majority rule is at risk.
  • Even as any promise in the Bill of Rights takes center stage in all established mediation of power and justice, progressively more draconian suppression of real rights—from the negative capacity to avoid ‘unreasonable’ searches and seizures to the positive autonomy to speak and organize for a better world—continues to manifest itself; the Patriot Act is only an ongoing explication of this long standing and now seemingly intractable trend.
  • Even as capital has, in these varied ways, arrogated ever-greater legitimacy to its hegemony, protest to this arrogant disregard for human rights and social potential has increased, especially in recent years, as the economy has spiraled downward.
  • Non-assaultive political and economic responses of bourgeoisie rulers to such outbursts of discontent has operated in tandem: the packaging of radical-chic and the lionizing of ‘liberty’s guardians’—especially those in places like Cuba and China and Egypt—has always proceeded in both the marketplace and in every arena of power politics.
  • Objectively, Miley Cyrus’s work operates both as real dissension and as an easily-packaged deflection and cooptation of discord; to an extent, her own coming of age has made resistance to the machinations of domination unavoidable, simultaneously as her ‘brand’ had to seek to commoditize and neutralize this nevertheless honest disagreement with the powers-that-be.

Politics, like economics, proffers onlookers with a lens for examining “Liberty Walk” and those who would deconstruct it.

from Miley Cyrus Liberty Walk

 Just as what Marcuse called ‘one-dimensionality’ has taken over economics and politics, so too compression and limitation have come to characterize the social realm.  This process is all-the-more astounding in its delicious contradictions and luscious paradoxes.

  • Thus maximum ‘diversity,’ ‘identity,’ and pluralistic mores coexist with straitjacketed uniformity and lack of individual capacitation.
  • Entirely new, ‘revolutionary’ developments of community have led to diminished social contact and collectivity.
  • Maximization of conformity has accompanied the most profound ‘desublimation’ of inhibition in every area of existence.
  • At once, surreality passes for reality and alienation passes for compassion and empathy.
  • Aggressive attacks on ‘depression’ and unhappiness yield the highest degree of cynicism and fatalism ever.

Wherever one looks, the processes of emiseration call forth countervailing tendencies, toward human fulfillment and the realization of the potential that exists in the combination of social labor and technique.  Yet, still, those in charge seek ways to subvert and divert these outpourings of social desire for justice and democracy.

            Once again, Miley Cyrus straddles both of these tendencies.  Hers are liberating tropes at the very same instant that they represent marketing fetishes and misleading triviality.

One cannot watch “Liberty Walk” without seeing the deepest challenge to capital’s sway.  Nevertheless, by itself, the effort therein is completely inadequate, since lacking a combination of dialogic capacity-building and conscious action-against-oppression, the song and its performance represent primarily another Walmart ledger entry, a further rationale for an i-Pod existence that lacks any creative or liberating outlet in the realm of the real.

When the State Murders the Innocent, When Will We Really Stand Up?

 Further Reflections on the Planned Judicial Murder of Troy Anthony Davis

Now and again, off and on, everything in this essay consists of ideas and facts that I have been conveying and reporting for years.  The text here basically accomplishes two things.  It presents the information that I received about Troy Anthony Davis when I was a reporter in Savannah on another assignment, in 2003.  It summarizes the meaning of that data, in relation to the likely murder of Troy Davis tomorrow.  It suggests what a rational, powerful response to Mr. Davis’ lawful and stupid and evil execution would be.  As I noted to start, none of this is new.  The lack of a media that has the resources to communicate such material adequately is another item that I have long sought to proffer, something in fact that I’ve been reporting for thirty-odd years as I’ve talked repeatedly about the need for Peoples Information Networks and Popular Action Networks with which they conjoin, especially in relation to the Southern U.S.

Several times in the Winter and Spring of 2003, I found myself in Savannah to cover the unjust and ludicrously biased disbarment of a powerful and prominent local Black attorney, Joyce Marie Griggs.  As the saying goes, that “is another story.”  However, as a result of that process–with its components of color prejudice, bigotry, and the elimination of threats to the powers-that-be–I learned what the true definition of a mistake is, in the context of one of several conversations about Troy Anthony Davis.  “A man who says, ‘we made a mistake,’ almost always is asking you to overlook that he has just violated you in the most profound way, robbed you of your humanity, and that he hopes to escape any consequences for such brutality.”

The speaker, a promoter of a Black Holocaust Museum in Savannah, was comparing the lynch-mob justice that had caught Troy Davis in its web, with the vast crimes of slavery and Jim Crow, responsible for the deaths of millions of Africans and African Americans.  He affirmed what three other Savannah residents, as well as Attorney Griggs, testified to as common knowledge ‘in the ‘hood’ in the city.

  •  First, Troy Davis did not kill Officer MacPhail.
  •    Second, the police knew this and had employed strong-arm tactics to gather the necessary ‘evidence’ to convict an innocent man.
  •  Third, the police, and many in the community, knew who had killed Officer MacPhail, one of the ‘witnesses’ against Davis.
  •  Fourth, this man–occasionally an informant for the police–had terrorized and threatened and eliminated people who had suggested that they would rat him out.
  •  Fifth, the Savannah police were notoriously brutal and corrupt, in the nature of an organized gang of thieves and dictators who operated rackets in the city for the upper classes.

As I have said, I have spoken and written about these matters before.  I have implored various individuals and agencies for help in investigating these allegations.  Even a hint of truth to most of them ought to exonerate Troy Davis, perhaps even extricate him from prison.  Nothing ever has come of these requests on my part; now and again, though, I have continued to write about this matter.

What these reported facts imply is clear.  The likely execution of Troy Davis tomorrow will be the most horrific sort of soulless, brutal, and evil act, a murder based on false witness and opportunism and hypocrisy and corruption.  Millions of Georgians, either through collusion or silence, will become accessories to a venal and vicious homicide.

Someday, within a couple of years at the most, Georgia will admit that it “made a ‘mistake,'” though unfortunately Mr. Davis will likely be dead.  If it manages the second time to nab the Black man–a career criminal, according to many witnesses–who did in fact gun down Officer MacPhail, then in a sense, this most bigoted of States will be getting ‘two-for-the-price-of-one’ in ridding itself of two African Americans.

That those who carry out this murder will argue that they were ‘mistaken’ cries out for a response.  What should people do about this murderous duplicity and criminal impunity on the part of constituted authorities?

Organizers of a ‘liberal’ bent have been beating the bushes to save Mr. Davis’ life.  They have, through a heroic effort, gathered 600,000 signatures calling for clemency, which the State Board of Pardons and Parole, predictably, ignored.  They have conducted vigils and marches and speaking tours.

Unfortunately, their tactical response otherwise has been tame.  ‘Write letters,’ they have advised.  ‘Make phone calls’ to complicit leaders, they have counseled.  ‘Quietly and peacefully protest,’ they have asked.  The time for such tactics has passed, in my estimation.  Here are some minimal ways that people should react, should Davis die by a ‘mistaken’ needle tomorrow.

  •  Everyone, in and out of Georgia, should do the utmost to boycott Georgia businesses, unless they have explicitly contributed to and participated in the effort to commute Davis’ sentence.
  •  No one except those who like to pal around with murderers should ever again go to college in Georgia, again unless an institution clearly fought for sparing Davis’ life.
  •  No convention should ever again occur in Georgia, until reparations and justice have been provided, except of course that those organizations that support judicial murder of the innocent ought to come only to Georgia.
  •  Everyone who can speak, write, and otherwise communicate should set aside time each year to continue condemning Georgia as in league with all that is satanic and wrong in the human condition.
  • Anyone who works for the state of Georgia, or does business for the State of Georgia, should quit their employment, or quit providing services to the State of Georgia, unless they want to support judicial murder of the likely innocent.

Again, this is a minimalist response, one which I have on other occasions embedded in both text and conversation.

However, the likely murder of Troy Anthony Davis demands a more stringent response.  This is also something that I have said in the past.

Self-defense is the very essence of much that passes for “human rights.”  As a matter of self-defense, citizens must begin to organize to take action that goes well beyond any ‘hat-in-hand’ request for assistance.  We must in fact, begin to organize to be able to show up, en masse and in force, to participate in bringing democracy–majority rule–to fruition, in some ways for the first time in U.S. history.

 Joe Hill is another victim of judicial murder.  Only recently, have scholars demonstrated ‘beyond a shadow of a doubt,’ the way that corrupt criminals in power ‘made a mistake’ and shot Joe Hill to death by firing squad in Utah.  He might well have advised us to consider thinking along the following lines.  ‘If 100 people showed up to blockade a prison and demand the release of those held within, the ‘forces-of-disorder’ in charge of the world would arrest them and put them behind bars; if a thousand people showed up at such a blockade, the authorities would arrest or shoot them down; they might even mow down ten thousand; but would they so easily be able to subvert the popular will if 100,000 or a million citizens showed up at the prison gates and demanded, with Moses, “Let my people go!”?

In any event, until we have the capacity and the will to manifest such a potent expression of majority rule, then we will never be able to say, as Georgia’s most magnificent preacher did before he too was cut down, “Free at last, free at last, thank God almighty, I’m free at last.”

Accessories–Before, During, and After the Fact

From Dr. Boyce Watkins, "Facts You May Not Know About the Troy Davis Case"

A fascination with, aversion toward, and utter confusion about the United States are all paradoxically possible at the same point in time.  To an extent, these seemingly incompatible feelings accompany the imperial position of hegemony that the U.S.A. currently occupies.  In this context, what happens in the U.S., particularly when lives are at stake and oppression appears irresistible, deserves the world’s compassionate attention.  Legal matters, especially when capital punishment is at issue, are typical of this sort of important development that mandates a closer look.

Though I’m not an attorney, as a wordsmith I know that a fascination with language and meaning is a lawyer’s stock in trade.  A while back, contemplating the term ‘accessory,’ in its criminal legal sense, seemed particularly apt in regard to the State of Georgia, where until recently I resided in the Southern U.S.  A wide-ranging and authoritative definition of ‘accessory’ shows up  in Black’s Law Dictionary and multiple other sources: “one who is not the chief actor in the offense, nor present at its performance, but in some way concerned therein, either before or after the act committed; one who aids, abets, commands, or counsels another in the commission of a crime.  Accessory after the fact–person who, knowing a felony to have been committed by another, receives, relieves, comforts or assists the felon, in order to enable him to escape from punishment, or the like.   Accessory before the fact–one who orders, counsels, encourages, or otherwise aids and abets another to commit a felony and who is not present at the commission of the offense.   Accessory during the fact–one who stands by without interfering or giving such help as may be in his power to prevent the commission of a criminal offense.”

Inasmuch as any Georgia resident, who is not actively protesting the pending execution of Troy Anthony Davis, either is or ought to be aware of this coming killing, such a one is quite likely about to become every sort of accessory to this still young man’s judicial murder, which, if Davis is innocent, is at the very least a negligent homicide.  Let me be completely clear: this means that not only would Governor Nathan Deal and most of the State’s legislature be culpable for what is as likely as not a major felony, it would mean that the several million Peach State occupants who are doing nothing would also be chargeable, in that their silence and inattention, or, in far too many cases of misguided vengefulness, their active support and direction, provided aid and comfort to the actual executioners.

    Undoubtedly, someone viciously killed Mark Allen MacPhail on August 19, 1989.  Just as obviously, a Savannah, Georgia jury convicted Troy Davis of that brutal murder in August, 1991.  Lacking physical evidence that Mr. Davis was the killer, however, or any circumstantial evidence other than his presence at the scene, where off-duty officer MacPhail was attempting to break up a parking lot melee, Chatham County prosecutors relied on the testimony of nine eyewitnesses to make the charges against Troy Anthony Davis stick.

Today, seven of those nine observers take back their testimony, admitting that they cannot state with any certainty who pulled the trigger and slayed an honest cop doing good work.  Several recanting witnesses speak of blatant police misconduct, including threats of imprisonment if they did not implicate Troy Davis.

Mark Allen MacPhail’s death is a fact; that someone gutlessly murdered him is a fact; Troy Anthony Davis’ conviction for that soulless crime is a fact.  But we should make no mistake: given copious other facts that are now at hand, including and in addition to the recantation of over three quarters of the eyewitnesses who formed the sole basis for the State’s pinning this act on Mr. Davis in the first place, his actual guilt is at best one possibility among many others to account for the cretinous and hateful destruction of Officer MacPhail’s life.

Thus, at the very least, a significant possibility exists, a possibility that any reasonable person would acknowledge adds up to a “reasonable doubt” that was unavailable to jurors in Savannah in August, 1991, that Mr. Davis, an innocent man, has served over twenty years in prison, almost all 240 of those months on death row, for something that he did not do.  Moreover, of course, all Georgians who do not insist that he receive clemency are in one way or another playing a role in a murder of Troy Anthony Davis that will be, if he is guiltless, at least as sinister and cruel and stupid as the killing for which he may unjustly soon lose his life.

In a word, passively or actively, millions of Georgians are about to become accessories before, during, and after the fact to a homicide that even those who count themselves staunch advocates of capital punishment can only claim is possibly, or at most probably, a justifiable taking of human life.  Obviously, these millions of ‘accessories’ will never face justice for their acts.  Procedural layers of contemporary law protect them as seamlessly as a kevlar vest would fend off a BB gun.

  Perhaps those who bother to read this missive will take comfort in their legal blamelessness, even as Troy Anthony Davis suffocates on a ‘cocktail’ of lethal poisons administered by agents of the Georgia citizenry.  Nevertheless, to execute a blameless bystander for a horrifying homicide merely compounds the crime; not only does no one responsible face justice, but also all of those who impassively watch the new killing become morally bankrupt, whatever escape clauses permit them to evade proper criminal blame.

I for one refuse to stand with the murderers, and I pray for an upwelling and outpouring of support to the same effect.  I’m not a particularly religious person, but if Troy Anthony Davis dies at the hands of Georgia’s criminal authorities on September 21 or the days that follow, then the vast majority of my former home-State’s citizenry deserve a common epithet delivered to the guilty: “May God have mercy on their souls.”

The equinox this year, in the event of Troy’s wanton execution, will portend an endless night of gruesome injustice.  What must result from that, sooner or later, is a fulfillment, whatever particular ‘war of attrition’ comes as

comeuppance for the arrogance of vicious murder by which Georgia operates, of Abraham Lincoln’s inquiry in his Second Inaugural.

“‘Woe unto the world because of offenses; for it must needs be that offenses come, but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh. If we shall suppose that American slavery(or Troy Davis’ murder by acts of omission and commission by Georgia’s people) is one of those offenses which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives … this terrible war as the woe due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to Him?  Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away.  Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash(or the hypodermic) shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said ‘the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.'”

   Why should someone who is not a U.S. citizen care about this?  One might just as easily pose the question of a resident of Maine, or California, who looks askance on the bigotry and brutality so characteristic of oxymoronic “Southern justice.”  The answer depends on the individual in question.  Does he or she complain about imperious American actions?  Or does he or she long for a world with more of a balanced distribution of power?  For the resident of other states: do they ever deplore that a cretin like George Bush stole the Presidency?  Do they ever wish for fairer criminal justic policies, a rejection of fascistic laws such as the U.S.A. Patriot Act, or a general diminution of the power of the ‘prison-industrial-complex?’

For non U.S. citizens or non Georgia residents who never ponder issues such as these, or who feel in fact that everything is more or less hunky-dory on the planet earth, the answer to the initial question about why some should care is simple.  “They needn’t care a bit about Mr. Davis’ murder by the State and the accessory status of Georgia’s citizenry.”

But for anyone else, anyone who knows, with Hamlet, that “something is rotten” indeed in the State-of-Everything-on-Earth, the answer to the first interrogatory above is simple, but not quite so easy.  To them, a concerned observer might suggest, “people who want significant reform need viewpoints that proffer something to fight the powers-that-be.  Being able to note, with complete accuracy, that most Georgians are culpable for an innocent man’s murder, because they are too vicious, lazy, bigoted, or ignorant to be other than criminal accessories to such a crime, sounds to me like ammunition in the battle about what kind of future we hope to fashion for our progeny.”

When I investigated this story in 2004, I uncovered evidence that the Savannah Police know precisely what they’re doing.  Executing an innocent man, while the killer is on their payroll is part of Departmental protocol somehow.  In any event, that’s my story, and I’m sticking to it, with an update that is more concerned with my work on the case, and actions available to those who oppose murdering innocent men, due out early next week.

Understanding 9/11 & Acting on That Insight/PART FOUR

In the previous three sections, readers will have considered, in Part One, an overall overview of the very idea of memorializing 9/11; the point there was that we cannot commemorate unless we understand.

Part Two, in investigating the 1945 Peace Treaty with Japan, proffered a ‘book-end’ for the period of time that 9/11 arguably closed; this assessment both cast an appraising eye back in time and recounted events that followed in the aftermath of WWII’s denouement, which effectively inaugurated the period that ranged to at least September 10, 2001.

Part Three contained two sections: the first utilized events in Santiago, Chile as a focal point for grappling with the second half of the period between 1945 and 2001, a time in which the contradictions and paradoxes of corporate, imperial imprimatur became increasingly difficult to manage, though the plutocrats did try; the second gave a lightning tour of the parameters of post-9/11 existence, a glum and grim decade that will surely appear like ‘the good old days’ unless working people manage to throw off corporate rule and bring something akin to participatory democracy to pass.

Today’s final piece of this little puzzle provides readers with conclusions to ponder and the nerdy reflections of this humble correspondent about what is most important in this material.  Paulo Freire, whose Pedagogy of the Oppressed ought to be universally mandatory reading, has contended that becoming fully human requires a dialogic nexus.  Whenever readers are ready would be a good time to start.

CONCLUSIONS–Rationale for Continuity, Inevitability of Karma, & Transformative Possibility

The upshot of this analysis ought to operate essentially as a no-brainer.  ‘What is going on?’  The USA is continuing on a path that has always been one aspect of its tendencies, from the theft of North America and the enslavement of Africans through the wholesale slaughter of civilians on every continent save Australia and Antarctica.  This, put simply, is the pathway of imperial imprimatur, dressed up as ‘development’ and assistance and ‘freedom.’

‘Why did 9/11 happen?’  The comeuppance of ‘what goes around comes around’ had to take place.  Sowing the wind cannot but reap the whirlwind; this humble correspondent’s wife, whose grandfather died in a hail of Pinochet-inspired bullets, understands this much more deeply than do most hyper-privileged ‘middle-class’ Americans.  But obviously, even the fantasy of this ‘middle-class’s’ existence is on the wane.

‘Why has the aftermath of 9/11 made the world even less secure and more prone to mass collective suicide?’  The fundamental contradictions of SOP political economy, the vicious suppression of democracy while purporting to support majority rule, and misguided and mistaken consciousness all portend ill.  Only the last of these, a grappling with consciousness, can yield the possibility of transformation however.

Such conclusions are obvious to anyone who can stand the storm of condemnation that attends speaking truth to power.  In the midst of imperial arrogance, truly, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.

One might anticipate that, at least occasionally, intimations of such thinking would wend their way into the primary mediated expressions upon which most residents of the planet rely.  Not only has this been rarer than hen’s teeth, but the opposite is also manifestly the case: corporate views are practically universal in one form or another, from laudatory reporting on ‘tea-party’ fatuousness to superficial boosterism in regard to ‘Obama’s job initiative,’ from fetishistic accounts of individuated ‘art’ at Burning Man’s petty bourgeois celebration of nihilism to the latest Hollywood gossip, and on and on and on and on and on, apparently ad infinitum, world without end.

At the very least, one might hope that, confronted with crisis after crisis, with every indication that all the accepted nostrums are crashing and burning, organized contingents of citizens would begin to network with each other to contend for power.  Instead, through a combination of hypocrisy, bigotry, laziness, and willful ignorance, folks in the United States seem inclined to ‘worship false gods’ and rely on greedy, venal ‘leadership’ to rescue them from looming crises on every front.

One need not, thankfully, hope for a Western Hemisphere ‘Congress of Soviets’ to set things right.  On the contrary, homegrown models are readily available.  The Economic Bill of Rights is solid thinking for a transition in the direction of social justice and actual democracy.  Tens of thousands of individual initiatives to achieve justice and empower communities occur every day.  These have appeared in SERMCAP’s work and elsewhere that this humble correspondent has published.

As well, this humble correspondent is one of the many scattered grassroots thinkers who want to light a pathway toward something akin to sustainability and human flowering.  A “New Ten Commandments” is a recent example.  From number one, “The Golden Rule Reigns supreme,” to number four, “All Who Work Are Equal,” to number ten, “All Else Is Negotiable,” it represents a common-sensical, class conscious morality and ethics that might underlie democracy.

The epilogue to this hortatory set of ten rules serves as well as anything to close this brief section.  “The central task of the social reformer, or ‘progressive,’ as the first decades of the twenty-first century unfold, is to form relationships that are durable and pointed enough to begin, on the one hand, to dismantle the Imperial-Financial-Military-Prison-Pharaceutical-Industrial Complex, the various arms of which–the ‘War on Drugs, Homeland Security, Xenophobia-Incorporated, Operation Iraqi Liberation and similar exercises in military mass murder and social control, and so on and so forth–effect the enervation of the working class, both in terms of consciousness and in terms of action, and, on the other hand, to work to reconstitute the social and productive forces in that ‘Complex’–now turned to exploitation and repression and inanity–so that they can start to express humanity’s innate creative capacity to construct a human existence.”

As this series has hammered home, such a capacity to reform and resuscitate has to start with analysis and continue with conversation.  This humble correspondent is having his say herein.  He’d love to hear from folks.

AFTERWARD–The Dialogic Necessity of Exchanges That Deal with Ideology and Consciousness

W.E.B. Du Bois, genius that he was, estimated that “the great problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the color line.”  Perhaps the grand dilemma of the twenty-first century is the conundrum of false consciousness.

In saying this, as the final paragraphs of a series on ‘Understanding 9/11’ spin-out, this humble correspondent is remonstrating that we must either demonstrate a willingness to talk about all of these things together, holding fast to the standards of evidence and intellectual honesty of any debate that hopes to learn and teach something, or we face a more or less rapid decline as a species.  At the least, no ‘good life,’ as in an evolution of humans to include conscious agents who shape their lives and the world, can transpire if we refuse the mental labor that this series extols and proffers.

The title of one of William Appleman Williams volumes neatly summarizes the ideation and ideology of citizens of the United States in this regard, at least since the 1940’s.  The Great Evasion remains a timely manual for what Americans choose to ignore.  Survivors of the storm that is breaking upon us now may well recall the phrase and nod ruefully.

Williams was writing of the wisdom that Karl Marx evinced; he subtitled this slender volume, “an essay on the contemporary relevance of Karl Marx and on the wisdom of admitting the heretic into the dialogue about America’s future.”  Others who have followed the traditions of that thinking include, of course, this humble correspondent.  As well, readers not afraid of engaging the real, and its sexy cousin, the possible, may want to consult innumerable additional intellectuals.  Three will serve to close our interlude here.

**Jurgen Habermas has for decades sought the joining of art, science, and morality.  The conjunction depends, in the current context of rampant compartmentalization, on the only glue that can cause these things to stick together: honest and respectful conversation.

Against the opportunistic thugs of ‘neoconservatism’ and ‘neoliberalism,’ not to mention the hypocritical bourgeoisie who worship at the ‘cult of the expert,’ Habermas defends the modernist prospect: to comprehend reality, to work with others to shape that reality, to transform consciousness and reality in league with others so as to have a positive impact on the world.  He offers sage ideas to readers willing to listen.

“(W)ith the decisive confinement of science, morality, and art to autonomous spheres separated from the life-world and administered by experts,” precisely the protocols in place in all establishment government agencies and most Non-Governmental Organization granting agencies, “what remains from the project of cultural modernity”–learning so as to rescue ourselves from perdition–“is only what we would have if we were to give up the project of modernity altogether.”  And ‘to give up altogether’ is to invite, and to deserve, the long darkness that looms.

**Paulo Freire is another proponent and practitioner of mutual dialog in the service of empowerment and transformation.  In Pedagogy of the Oppressed, cited above, he sticks to the contention that only through mutual dialog is full humanity accessible.  He thus rejects the one-way manipulation of advertising, foreswears the ‘bank-deposit’ pretension of U.S. pedagogy, and overturns any reliance on the ‘cult of expertise’ that capital uses to hide its sins and justify its excesses.  Basically, in this view, we desperately need listening sessions in which the working class gets its chance to speak.

As one commentator summarized, “Freire’s life and work as an educator is optimistic in spite of poverty, imprisonment, and exile.  He is a world leader in the struggle for the liberation of the poorest of the poor: the marginalized classes who constitute the “cultures of silence” in many lands.  On a planet where more than half the people go hungry every day because nations are incapable of feeding all their citizens, where we cannot yet agree that every human being has a right to eat and to be housed, Paulo Freire toils to help men and women overcome their sense of powerlessness to act in their own behalf.”

**David Graeber is brilliant American anthropologist, teaching in Ireland, who reveals indelible connections among morality, money, debt, and governments, connections that ‘free-market’ flacks would have us believe are ‘theoretically’ unnecessary.  Ranging incisively through historical and anthropological evidence, he proves his negative case–that the ‘free market’ is a fraud–decisively, and makes a good start on supporting his positive point, that humans have long cycles defined by alternating uptake of commodity and debt monetary relationships.

Perhaps more in tune with the specific undertaking of this series, he has also written Toward an Anthropological Theory of Value: The False Coin of Our Own Dreams.  Therein, he insists on multidisciplinary analytical tools as the essential accompaniment of addressing the multiple, intersecting crises that our planet full of cousins faces.

Such nerdy fellows as these, and the multitudes of other men and women who refuse to compartmentalize and insist on wide-ranging analysis and honest political economy, can contribute to the capability to discuss the world intelligently.  But ultimately, much larger groups of folks are going to have to jump into the game, if we’re to have a prayer to rescue something for our progeny.  That, above all else, is the lesson of 9/11: Learn and Participate, or die.

Truly, the working people of all the Earth must find a basis for unity–winning a world and losing our chains simultaneously.  Otherwise, we will merit nothing less than the carnage that is already happening and will, more or less steadily, worsen during this period of darkness that could portend a new dawn or might preface a long and possibly endless night for the lucky fuckers here who are busy pissing away our birthright–consciousness and reason–out of a perverse combination of greed and fear and wanton self-righteous indulgence in infantile narcissism.

Understanding 9/11 & Acting on That Insight/PART THREE

In two previous installments, this humble correspondent has provided, first of all, an overall contextualization of how to think about this tenth anniversary.  Secondly, an oh-so-rudimentary–and yet lengthy and too-involved for many readers–examination has appeared here of the inception of the epoch that 9/11arguaby  brought to an end.  The previous post ranged back-and-forth from that sixty-six year old anniversary.

As was the case in Part Two, this humble correspondent’s lens chooses not to home-in on what members of the British general-staff first labeled the ‘Mid-East’.  That John Foster Dulles, not yet head of the State Department, and his brother, Allen Dulles, not yet head of the CIA were crucial to the popularization of the term in the U.S., is useful info.  But such bon mots, and the analysis which flows from them, are not present here.  This does not stem from lack of capacity to tell that part of the tale, nor from a belief that such narrative is unimportant.

Others, however, have covered that ground, as has this humble correspondent in a different context.  In fact, reviewing ‘leftist’ and ‘progressive’ attempts to tell the tale of 9/11, the focus is often more or less exclusively on Israel, Saudi Arabia, and so forth.  This direly imperils the attempt to know what is happening in relation to 9/11; the American empire spans the globe, and ‘changing Mid-East policy,’ reducing our ‘greed for oil,’ and other laudable reforms are no more enough to forestall future carnage than cutting out a lung cancer is an adequate response to a tumorous invasion that has metastasized to brain and liver and bones.

Thus, today, readers will encounter another pair of summations.  The first investigates, again with lightning speed, a significant ‘bump-in-the-road’ that followed by a few decades the ‘ides-of-September’ beginning of our age.  Miraculously enough, this occurrence also took place on September eleventh, though the vast majority of Americans are as ignorant of this dual conjunction of late Summer tragedy as they are of the Federalist Papers, the history of World War One, or any other matter, no matter how crucially relevant to their lives, that is unlikely to be popular in People Magazine, Facebook, or the sports and fashion newscape.

The second element of today’s posting confronts readers with the here-and-now.  As noted in Part One, Earth’s sojourners are headed toward dock at a definable bend of the river, a passage that does not have a pretty ending.  This portion of the series looks at those ends, dealing with plausible, arguably likely, results that will become increasingly inevitable in the lee of 9/11–which, in turn, represents the unfolding of a new chapter in world history–results that might manifest very differently were engaged and capacitated groups of citizens to show up to contend for power.

BODY #2–Adjusting to Contrariety and Contraction, Trying to Finance Miracles on the Installment Plan, Falling Back on the Old Standard–‘Divide & Conquer’

As noted on Sunday, USA elites’ expectations of an extended reign went smoothly enough for a quarter century.  As the Vietnamese intervention unraveled, however, at a cost of plus-or-minus a million butchered Asians, challenges to unilateral imposition of United States proclivities cropped up on every continent.

As one might expect in looking into any complicated phenomenon, this ‘falling-apart’ of one way of doing business had many components.  One could pick and choose among dozens of eventualities, or more, that help to explicate how things worked out as they did, why certain choices seemed attractive or even inevitable.  For purposes of this series, the focus falls on events in the Western hemisphere early in September, 1973.

Imperial Impunity in a State of Denial


Rebellions in Central America had long been heating up, regardless of the self-congratulation that typified U.S. agents’ beliefs about ‘successes’ in undercover operations–murder and mayhem, incorporated–in Guatemala and elsewhere over the years.  At the same time, further South, Chile had evinced the temerity to elect a socialist, Salvador Allende, who preached that he needn’t overthrow capitalism since he had won an election that allowed him to establish a constitutional socialist agenda.

Financiers and industrialists found the idea nauseating that, not only could a daring and savvy revolutionary fighter, such as Fidel Castro, once in a while win a bout with the mightiest nation on earth, but that elections themselves–which were so firmly under control stateside–might soon produce similar effects as had emanated from armed conflict.  In the course of 1973, these upper-crust malcontents made common cause with the higher strata of Chile’s military, which felt similar discontent at the developing radicalism of Chilean society.

In the event, roughly twenty-eight years after the conclusion of the slaughter of WWII, which in turn left the U.S. master of the whole world, the boards of directors and top bureaucrats of government secretariats–who, by the way, were almost to a man(or an occasional woman)exactly the same people–had little choice, in their view of the priorities in play, but to unleash a brutal unhinging of Salvador Allende and his companeras y companeros.   Senor Allende and many others faced summary execution on that day, 9/11/1973.

This gruesome torture and homicidal mania ultimately killed in excess of ten thousand, possibly many more, solidifying the idea in popular thinking  of the ‘desaparicidos,’ those who have simply vanished from the world.  Alberto Bolano, the masterful Chilean novelist and poet, writes about them, pushed from planes, taken on terminal jaunts into deserts and jungles, bundled up and trundled away to eliminate messy evidence of murder.  Thus, the ‘masters-of-the-universe’ in charge of America began a new chapter with thuggish killing many times greater than what took place a decade ago in New York and Washington.

The same sort of scenario, though stretched over more years, happened in relation to Iran–which rid itself of Reza Pahlavi, the storied psycho whom Dulles and Dulles and BP put into place in Persia in ’54–ten years in the aftermath of Chile’s descent into the inferno.  This Southwest Asia imbroglio involved an equally obvious criminal conspiracy, in which President-elect Ronald Reagan–the ‘gipper’ himself–played a formative, “October Surprise,” role.

The Iran-Contra chicanery, a vile and vicious hoax that supplied drug-financed ordnance for the decimation of tens of thousands of Nicaraguans who had demonstrated the insolence of seeking a democracy to replace U.S. corporate henchmen and killers like Anastasio Somoza, involved the highest levels of multiple executive departments of the U.S. Government.  A few, like Oliver North, were convicted of felonies–though North’s ‘sentence’ was “a fine, community service, and probation, and some spent time in prison, though they now reap thousands per appearance on a lecture circuit that celebrates criminal conspiracy in the name of anti-communism.

The invasion of Panama continued this trend, albeit in a slightly different vein.  The removal of Manuel Noriega from power occurred after he threatened to unleash torrents of information about the hypocrisy, venality, and misrepresentation that underpinned both the War on Drugs and our relations with Latin America generally, without doubt clouded now by “corruptions of memory”.

While imperial servants thus throttled one monster of our own making, whose vision in some ways paralleled that of another favorite Frankenstein–Saddam Hussein–U.S. money and policy, funneled as usual through the CIA, gave birth to the slimy upper-class cabal that would inflict the poison of 9/11 twenty-two years later.  Of course, anyone who looks into the matter discerns the facts, yet Americans remain almost utterly ignorant: Osama Bin Laden was a highly-paid contract employee of the U.S., to spread depredation and death against Russia.

“Charlie Wilson’s War” is farcically evil in many of its conveyances, at the same time that the film does ‘spin’ a tale that makes self-serving selections of reality a part of the narrative.  Bin Laden was ‘our guy’ before he was the ‘bad guy.’  For his multi-billion dollar wages, this scion of a Bush-connected oil family saw fit to plot attacks on the house of the ‘hand that fed him.’

This quick accounting deserves a much deeper attention and a complete unveiling of the as-yet ‘classified’ materials that continue to hide big sections of what actually makes up our past.  And many other cases remain to tell, so soon as citizens insist on the real story of their lives.  Finding new ways to practice death-worship and new techniques for perfecting theft and corruption, however, could not forestall the economic wreckage of the 1970’s, which is another characteristic of the new phase of things, for which Salvador Allende and countless others paid with their lives.

Falling Profits, Rising Debts, Declining Fortunes, Increasing Joblessness, Oh My!

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting States, naturally, was in significant part a creature of corporate capital and imperial convenience, in which ‘developing countries’ like Kuwait and Saudi Arabia get far more credit for ‘independence’ than is their due.  Its oil-shock and the fiscal precipice that loomed ahead of what Americans received due encouragement to blame OPEC for, both followed from and furthered a deconstruction of many elements of the famed, and critically important  Bretton Woods agreements, among them Nixon’s ending of the gold standard.

This linking of economic decline and energy politics and massive deficit-spending has proved an unshakeable connection.  M. King Hubbert, ‘Mr. Peak Oil’ himself, early on saw this, although very few commentators, this humble correspondent excepted, note that he ended his life a devoted proponent of solar-energy and other legitimately renewable technologies.

The imposition of nuclear energy–and the continued budgeting of nuclear megadeath–thus has also shown up as a never-to-end aspect of this new age, never mind popular opposition, the potential for the end of human life on Earth as a result, and the unbearable expense of atomic technologies.  Anti-nuclear activists simply cannot explain such ‘nonsense’, since they eschew analyzing the historical and political-economic underpinnings of what they deplore; in similar fashion, they also fail to connect such matters with 9/11, preferring insularity and a narrow focus, no matter how impotent.

In the past forty years, every new ‘creation of wealth,’ about which stock-brokers and other financial accessories of a flailing capitalism crow constantly– the second half of the Reagan reign, under Bill Clinton until the dot.com implosion, and so on–has ineluctably caused a bursting bubble more nauseating and horrifying than the last one.  ‘Tea-Partiers’ and other reactionaries, Ron Paul included, importune about debt and ‘fiat currency’ and the evils of the Federal Reserve, completely missing that their parties and policies and leadership in the past has been at least equally as responsible as any Democrat has been for all such developments.

Capital’s travails extend to every single sector of the economy, from the most stolid to the most ‘innovative’.  Citizens intuit such contradictions and misrepresentation that are everywhere apparent.  Yet they have yet to develop their own capacity, as the working Americans who create all the wealth of the nation, to insist that a worker-friendly policy come to the fore.

As Pete Seeger and millions of adherents have intoned, in Ralph Chaplin’s International Workers of the World song of class solidarity, “It is we who plowed the prairies, built the cities where they trade, Dug the mines and built the workshops, endless miles of railroad laid.  Now we stand outcast and starving ‘mid the wonders we have made, But the union makes us strong.” In place of ‘solidarity forever,’ however, an initial chipping away at the rights of workers and the poor became an avalanche of crushing blows to workers’ perquisite.  The social effects of such developments were, of course, quite predictable.

Unraveling the Social Safety Net and Promoting Internecine Uproar

The War on Drugs is arguably the most successful criminal fraud  in history.  Quite logically, its initiation was exactly congruent both with the open decimation of popular politics in Chile and elsewhere and with the crashing of the vaunted ‘free market’ into repeated implosions of despondency, debt, and decline.

Additionally , the creation of a ‘black market’ that overwhelmingly victimized Blacks  and other poor and minority folks paralleled one case after another of attacking and beginning to dismantle FDR’s ‘New Deal’ policies.  Of course, some of them, for example labor’s right to organize, had already received death sentences, during the prior decades, in the form of ‘right-to-work’ amendments and so forth.

Liberal unemployment benefits and easily obtainable workmen’s compensation became increasingly dicey for many workers in many states.  America, more and more, began to resemble a debtor’s prison .

Moreover, welfare programs came under unparalleled attacks during each of the three Presidencies preceding 9/11.  In many ways, Bill Clinton’s handling of ‘welfare reform’ ended up being the most draconian.

These varied assaults on the viability of working class life–what many folks wrongheadedly and erroneously label ‘middle-class’ existence, which had remained a sine qua non of U.S. politics for four decades after the bruising battles of the 1930’s had occurred–picked up steam and began to eviscerate political support for the socially vulnerable.  At the same time, regulatory responses to structural problems of corporate profiteering–environmental agencies, ‘fairness’ laws of all types for ‘consumers,’ and ‘equal opportunity’ approaches to built-in inequality, became the norm.  Title VI, Title IX, and so forth helped to fuel an inescapable swamp of growing resentment between men and women, White and Black, immigrant and ‘native.’

Despite this threefold ruling-class response to the crises of the 1970’s, however, a return to Kennedy’s ‘Camelot’ or Ike’s ‘good old days’ never transpired.  Instead, as one crisis made way for a new inflationary miracle, each sickening pop of each new bubble led to precipices that apparently verged on unfathomable abysses.  And the people, rather than regularly and compliantly either shutting up or turning on each other, looked like they might find a basis for unity in a new sort of politics –spirituality, technology, and plain old class consciousness played a role here.

As the second millennium of the ‘current era’ came to a close, prospects had rarely appeared bleaker for the captain’s of capital and their cohorts in the manipulation of mass consciousness.  Of course, then the ‘unimaginable’ came to pass, just like in a movie of ‘evildoer terrorists’ who dared to assault the nicest folks on the planet.

Thus, a new groove seemed accessible to big business and its minions–the ‘homeland security’ spigot, a never-ending ‘war-on-terror,’ a blacklist flexible enough to encompass almost anybody who argued.  Those who refuse to recognize these actualities will have only themselves to blame if sufficient numbers survive to the new ‘dark ages’ that could easily loom ahead.  In many ways, such an imposed brutality might resemble Chile in the late 1970’s.

BODY #3–Revealing the iron Fist Inside the Velvet Glove, Preparing for a Dark Eternity

Interestingly enough, twenty-eight years to the day following one of history’s most-ignored mass-murders–carnage in the ‘Southern Cone’, American and United jets purportedly brought down the Twin Towers.  This heart-stopping drama, paradoxically and yet irresistibly, laid the basis for a reassertion of the most nakedly imperialistic elements of U.S. rule.

One can “deal in conspiracy facts,” in the vein of a Michael Ruppert.  His Crossing the Rubicon makes a prosecutor’s case for the notion that everything that transpired ten years ago was the result of a careful and well-thought out criminal enterprise.  ‘Malice aforethought’ is everywhere, in this view.

Or one can merely note how conveniently the prod–of planes that flew into buildings–“fit to a ‘t'” the needs and plans  of a ruling plutocracy steeped in blood and convinced of its own righteous omnipotence.  And people shouted their demands that the government respond to the victimization of Americans with a policy of retributive vengeance.  Either way, the track that ran on after 9/11 followed perfectly the course that the imperialists had long advocated.

Never mind that millions upon millions also protested the drive toward a ‘war without end.’  Corporate media, corporate government, and corporate enterprise blithely turned a mostly blind eye toward all who complained that ‘justice’ ought not to include serial killing of millions of innocents in the name of Americans who would never profit from the process like the capitalists who had designed and sought to implement such a program from the 1970’s on.  The components of this programmatic state-terror are starkly easy to view.

**National Security States and the Termination of ‘Freedom’**

The so-called Patriot Act just stands out as the easiest-to-see example of fascism in America resplendent.  ‘Homeland Security,’ the war on immigrants, and more have become a part of the log-rolling, money-making operations that defenestrate all pretense of ‘liberal’ bourgeois democracy.

**Instant Access to the National Treasury for Militarists, and Their Imprisonment-and-Pharmaceutical-Pacification Allies, and a Disenfranchisement of all Other Constituencies**

Operation Iraqi Liberation(O.I.L.)was too transparent even for an administration as filled with apparent morons as was that of Yale’s stupidest-ever graduate.  However, as the ‘hope’ that Barack-the-Magnificent embodied has proven to be the facade that thinkers such as this humble correspondent promised, anyone who cares to contemplate the matter can see that this dual process–everything for the ‘merchants of death,’ penury for everybody else–has continued and promises to be the sine qua non for many years to come, but for the rise of America’s ‘missing’ working class.

**Endless War and Guaranteed Bad Guys**

The ‘fall’ of communism, even as Hugo and Evo and Lula and Daniel joined Fidel in this hemisphere, and the Chinese showed themselves more astute as bourgeois producers than perhaps they had ever been as ‘Red’ levelers, necessitated a new locus of ‘evil.’  That Osama was ‘our creature’ from the get-go mattered not at all.  That the Iraqis were at odds with the Bin Laden racket was immaterial.  The ‘fix was in,’ and only a populist uprising that seemed like a worse wager than a drunken lotto-pick could turn the tide.

That this long-odds potential is real fits with many facts.  For the most part, though, all of these eventualities stand alone, alienated and isolated from each other.

Post-9/11/2001, Augusto Pinochet, another American darling mass-murderer, finally faced justice at the behest of Spain, which had undergone its own bout of bloodletting–For Whom the Bell Tolls anyone?–in a furious civil war that had at its heart the fascistic notion that pursuit of social democracy deserved a death-sentence.  Pinochet died before he had to confront a final accounting for the crimes that he committed as an accessory to the USA’s empire of blood.

Many Chileans do not remember 9/11 as do a likely majority of U.S. citizens.  One difference between the two groups is that the Chileanas and Chileanos are cognizant of what went down in 2001.  Would that we could say that even a significant fraction of North Americans were similarly aware about the ‘terrorist’ shit-storm, which the United States of America unleashed on thousands upon untold thousands of innocents, for the ‘crime’ of believing in social democracy.

Hundreds of cases like these exist.  Innumerable thousands of such stories go without adequate mediation.  Literally billions of residents of our lovely planet would be on the right side of a choice, were the dialog and democratic process to make such a choice in place.

The list of hopeful signs, separate and generally unconnected, is practically infinite.   Uniting them, in a mass movement for democracy and social justice, is the missing ingredient.  But that’s like saying when we have the butter and eggs and sugar and fixings to create the sweetest feed ever, flour is the missing ingredient for a cake.

Can we stand up, as in the song?  “They have taken untold millions that they never toiled to earn, But without our brain and muscle, not a single wheel can turn.  We can break their haughty power, gain our freedom when we learn That the union makes us strong.”

An organized solidarity, based on thorough and persistent analyses of the realities of this Earth, beckons citizen-workers to save their own lives, the futures of their children, and the possibility of a human community.  Truly, we have only to lose the chains of false consciousness that our ‘superiors’ yank with such legerdemain in enslaving us.

Understanding 9/11 & Acting on That Insight/PART TWO

The first piece of this four-part series offered both a call for collective responsibility and a selective summary of doubts and criticisms of the ‘standard’ responses to 9/11.  Today’s material begins, regarding the horrors of ten years ago, the analysis that is consistently missing from most accounts of the event.

While this humble correspondent is fully capable of accomplishing such a project in an exhaustively thorough fashion, present-day ‘attention-deficit’ readers howl at such a prospect.  “Just stick with the basics, keep it simple, and give us ‘the executive summary.'”  Therefore, what follows remains in every sense a brief, a precis, an overview.

Nevertheless, because the delving here will never fit in a Facebook quip, or prove congruent with Twitter protocols, many readers–the vast majority, in fact–will still cavil that what follows wallows in too much detail and expects folks to partake of too much complexity.  As my mother was fond of saying, “More’s the pity:” such readers deserve the crushing cretins whom their willful ignorance and cavalier inattention bring forth.

Paradoxically, and hilariously really, some of the same critics who moan about the difficulty of engaging this topic in anything other than an utterly superficial way, will look at bits and pieces of what unfolds below and they will shout righteously, “This is way too simplistic!  The reality is a lot more complex.”


To this sort of critique, one can only reply, “Well, duh.”  The present process seeks to walk the line between complete over-simplification and paralyzing analytical detail.  It will thus suffer the conundrums of trying to dig through too much, too quickly.

Other commentators might grumble, “There’s not much about the Palestinians or the Saudis or Afghanistan here; you just can’t leave those things out!”  This humble correspondent begs to differ.  He asks that would-be pupils like him, who insist on a thorough capacity to apprehend our world, read on and see for themselves if the explanatory nexus provided below seems reasonable.

To those happy readers who welcome the challenge that always attends grappling with reality–whether they find my thinking totally off-base, mainly wrong-headed, often insightful, or generally correct–the next step ought to be easy.  Let us continue talking about these matters, with the notion uppermost that citizen participation can only emanate from the learning curve that accompanies dialog.

So saying, the first of three analytical sections appears below. Today’s element deals with the broader historical context and immediate aftermath of what this humble correspondent argues was, sixty-six years ago, the onset of the modern period of time.  It consists of two sub-sections, one looking backward and the other forward, from 1945.

BODY #1–The Genesis and Early Functioning of America’s Plutocratic Predominance

The ides of September, 1945, in some real sense centered on the deck of the Battleship Missouri, marking there both a culmination and an outset.  The Japanese surrender, a version of which the country’s leadership had proffered through the Soviet Union earlier in the Summer, had not precluded the U.S. decision, five weeks earlier, to vaporize plus or minus 200,000 civilians–with many more tens of thousands long-term casualties–at Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  However, excluding the Soviets from the peace process, learning operationally how a new weapon performed, and demonstrating far and wide precisely the extent of American potency and ruthlessness were apparently adequate counterweights to the murder of several hundred thousand civilians.

Through a Glass Darkly

This event acts as a window on several previous periods of history.  Through its panes, the observer sees a clear ‘chain-of-title’ that connects this single greatest-act-of-homicide-ever with the origination of one version of the United States.  This is true even though such a development was, at the start, a future, domineering in design and imperious in attitude, about which George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Paine and many others had warned.

“Conquest is not in our principles.  It is inconsistent with government,” Jefferson wrote to a diplomat in Spain in 1790.  Perhaps naive, clearly  not spoken in the context of a modern-day peacenik, this thinking nevertheless repeatedly typified the nation’s second President.  That this vision now appears nonsensical does not negate the actuality that a program based on peace and mutuality was once the stated goal of leading Americans, who in these thoughts reflected common people.

Through the contradictions inherent in these thinkers’ ideation, and to fulfill the needs of a slaveocracy and merchant elite that equated trade with territorial expansion and military capacity, not to mention that the entire national prospectus depended on a continental-sized theft, the USA embarked on a different course from that highlighted in the ideas of high-minded ‘founding fathers.  The War With Mexico and the extermination of indigenous Americans allowed the nascent ‘manifest destiny’ of the U.S. to flex muscles as yet unable to rule the globe.

Thoreau’s On Civil Disobedience was merely one piece of a significant anti-war and anti-slavery dissent that confronted the move to dominate North America.  This is a tension from which today’s polarization around issues of war and peace is a lineal descendant.

In turn, the Civil War gave the first opportunity to join total war with industry and finance and government, as the North spilled theretofore unparalleled buckets of blood to quash secession and change the platform upon which White supremacy operated, from slavery to Jim-Crow-apartheid.  This iron-triangle–business, money, and the State–has reemerged again and again following the War Between the States, to become the underlying SOP of the U.S. economy and polity for the past seventy years or so.

This dynamic industrial capacity, seeking outlets around the world, countered a depressed economy in the 1890’s by ‘liberating’ Cuba and the Philippines and more, only to inaugurate tyrannical butchery with an American flavor that rivaled or surpassed Spain’s repression.  All of this transpired in the name of ‘opening doors’ to trade and helping benighted populations develop.


World War One, after the next period of fiscal panic, served as the fulcrum point for the supremacy of American industry and finance, as the European bloodletting, financed and supplied by the USA, left the continent in a shambles of upheaval and revolution.  The invasion of the Soviet Union in its infancy was a part of this process too, a “secret war against Bolshevism” precisely aligned with our present day ‘war on terror.’  Though Wilson booted any potential for U.S. world leadership, as J.M. Keynes documents in The Economic Consequences of the Peace, and the League of Nations did not fit with an ever arrogant and exceptionalist ruling-class political culture here, the war and many American leaders then did foresee the coming ‘American Century’ and more.

This is an excellent point in the flow of this series to make an important analytical point.  This essay has not presented much at all about the so-called ‘Mid-East.’  Surely the early U.S. interest in the “shores of Tripoli;” the consistent identification with the way that England’s empire filled the ‘void’ caused by the complete collapse of Ottoman rule, particularly in Iraq, but also in Egypt and elsewhere; the way that the ‘House of Bush’ and the ‘House of Saud’ have relational roots over eighty years old; and multiple other events and developments in and around the Eastern Mediterranean are of crucial consequence in explaining 9/11.

Well, of course that is true.  However, the nearly exclusive emphasis on such aspects of anglo-American and capitalist colonialism, ‘neo-colonialism,’ and so forth is a dangerous mistake, or worse.  The most thorough telling of these tales will never account for the phenomenon of imperialism as a whole; nor or they essential to an accounting of that complex reality of empire.

Instead, they are in the nature of a fetish.  Since those who would look only at these matters–too much ‘favoritism’ for Israel, too much ‘greed’ about oil, not enough ‘balance’ in relation to Palestine and democratic nationalism, and on and on and on–cannot, or do not desire to, explicate a robust account of U.S. imperialism, they substitute what seems a tasty treat in place of the intellectually nutritious diet that is actually essential to conceptual health and fitness about an event like 9/11.

For a robust understanding, one needs a broader view, a more honestly political-economic and world-historical assessment.  A two-time Congressional Medal of Honor recipient, who rose to become the general who headed the United States Marine Corps for nearly a decade, offers citizens grist for folks who desire a deeper and broader concept.

Smedley Butler left the Marine Corps as the Great Depression unfolded.  The narrative that defined his life ensued.  And War Is a Racket shows the sort of depth and breadth that analysts desperately need, though Butler’s story remains one of the little-known keys to American history.

In the book, he spoke what had become his watchwords: “I Was a Gangster for Capitalism.”  Not coincidentally, he spent the last years of his life promoting a wide-ranging and thorough comprehension of capitalist empire, as he watched and spoke about the coming conflagration of 1939-1945.

In this vein, World War Two consolidated  the ‘wasted opportunities’ for totalitarian plutocracy that had evaporated at Versailles.  The ‘Science State,’ in which megadeath and technical knowhow wed, came to a triumphant and ecocidal fruition in the Manhattan Project, which has served as a model ever since for what Dwight Eisenhower warned could easily become a dictatorial “military industrial complex.”

Giving Birth to the Current Context

In addition to its function as a way of revealing the past, the end of WWII also operated as a midwife which assisted in the birth of the modern age, which America’s rulers saw as the beginning of their own ‘thousand year Reich.’  Eric Barnouw, whose Tube of Plenty examines the origins of television in part as an exercise in empire, is one of dozens of thinkers who review and explicate the connection between WWII’s completion and the rise of a USA ‘superpower’ bent on world domination.

As in the previous section, this humble correspondent is not focusing on Southwest Asia and Northern Africa.  The formation of the State of Israel, in which the U.S. played critical parts, the Suez-war, the invasion of Lebanon, and the ‘strategic partnership’ with Israel all contain important information about U.S. empire.

But they are no more the a satisfactory causal and investigative background for comprehending 9/11 than seeing a tumorous mass is a usefully comprehensive way to understand cancer.  The remainder of this section and this series seeks to proffer that adequate analytical background for understanding 9/11 as a natural expression of a ‘racket,’ run by the USA, in which occasional ‘gangland wars’ exact tragic tolls on the majority of citizens, whose lives in a sense depend on their manifesting a fuller knowledge of their world and its causes.

To begin, therefore, the centrality of secrecy in an erstwhile ‘open’ society over and over again showed up as a clear component of this hegemonic America.  In the formation of the Atomic Energy Commission, the Central Intelligence Agency, and the execution of the Rosenbergs for the crime of assisting the inevitable rise of the Soviets as a nuclear force, for example, the arrogation of knowledge to those with ‘clearance‘ became de rigeur.

The suppression of protest and any ideological deviation from the falsely-labeled ‘free market,’ especially if such dissent or divergence honestly supported social democracy, appeared repeatedly as well.  From the vicious depredations of the House Un-American Activities Committee to the crimes of impunity committed by the FBI in its Cointelpro operations to the totalitarian machinations of the ‘Patriot’ Act, an overarching, invasive attack against dissent has transpired in which subterfuge, subversion, and sabotage have been hallmarks of ‘the American way’ of government.

The deployment of innumerable agencies of murder in the guise of ‘foreign aid,’ ‘free information,’ and sophisticated ‘dirty tricks,’ hidden behind various covers, also characterized this period of time.  While any honest study must admit to this American inclination, what William Appleman Williams called The Tragedy of American Diplomacy, the overall ignorance about this palpable proclivity continues to astound those with even a sliver of knowledge.

Guatemala was one of the first to fall to American hit-men and thuggery. ‘Sanitized’ versions of original ‘intelligence’ plans are now accessible.  That such blithe employment of homicidal conspiracy to advance the interests of business, for example United Fruit, led to tens or hundreds of thousands of later killings, seldom becomes a part of the ongoing discussion.

Practically simultaneous with the skullduggery on the Central American isthmus, British Petroleum and the CIA joined hands to install a psychotic killer in Tehran, in place of an elected President who believed Iran’s border with Russia made economic ties useful and necessary.  Of course, any critique of contemporary Iran makes zero sense without the contextualization of this point.  Equally obvious should be the connection between condemnations of ‘terrorism’ so steeped in hypocrisy that they would be laughable if attempted by a child.

Among the dozens of additional instances of such murderous, yet hidden, imperial trickery, none caused more carnage or involved greater complications than did the quagmire of death that the United States plowed into in Southeast Asia.  The Pentagon Papers, as voluminous in its day as Wikileaks is now, is merely the tip of a large iceberg that demonstrates the imperial purpose of U.S. mayhem(v) inflicted on the Vietnamese.

In what might well have been the piece de resistance of cloak-and-dagger politics, had Fidel Castro been more like Salvador Allende, whom this series will discuss on the morrow, the U.S.’s ongoing attempts to unseat socialism in Cuba might have been another ‘masterful’ lesson in the art of mass homicide, instead of representing a prime failing of U.S. policy.  In passing, the fanatical obsession with ridding the world of one of its heroes has also suggested the threat-level that American business perceives in any attempt to brook its gaming of the Earth.

The tiny slice presented here of the evil and terror that have typified U.S. foreign policy makes a point about a period of time.  After WWII, the U.S. conducted such operations with an aplomb that befitted a nation with no rival that could even begin to demonstrate the same resources and reach.

A comprehensive examination of like cases would provide a litany of death and destruction that would make the consequences of a pair of jets’ flying into a couple of skyscrapers seem like a drop of blood in a lake of gore.  This is a harsh assessment.  However, it is a conclusion well-supported by a truthful accounting of what began with the end of the last worldwide bloodbath, from which the United States of America emerged as global kingpin.

Thus, MacArthur’s triumph aboard the Missouri offers a way of looking backward to the origins of the military industrial complex, the national security state, and the Uranium economy, among other things.  These roots flourished in the soil of the British empire and matured in the identification of capital with “open-door” trade policies and a complete accession to the development of the maximum industrial-war-making capacity imaginable.

As well, the treaty provides a way of tracing the development of the terroristic subterfuge that came to mark U.S. policy for the next several decades. The formation of the CIA, the overthrow of multiple legitimate governments, the promotion of war and terror as part of the enterprise of freedom, these and other ‘dirty tricks’ flow ineluctably from the ink on the peace treaty with Japan.

For two decades or so, U.S. leaders seemed almost as “untouchable” as the lawmen in the T.V. show, whose ‘whatever-it-takes’ methodology for derailing bad guys also rationalized the anti-communist, pro-imperialist, faux-free-market, profiteering ventures of U.S. rulers.  As the 1960’s yielded the ’70’s, however, and defeats such as in Vietnam, assassinations and upheaval exploded in the streets, troubling signs of economic stagnation affected most economic enterprise, and challenges to U.S. supremacy seemingly emerged from every direction, a transition became irresistible.

Hanging Together Beats Pulling Apart

Tennessee, tornado benefit          When at the end of April disaster struck Camp Creek, in the form of devastating tornados, death and destruction seemed inconsolable and irremediable.  Helping the scores of families who lost homes and property and loved ones fell to FEMA and the State of Tennessee.  Unfortunately, not all of the victims qualified for such disaster assistance as loans.

Thus, Hemlock Hollow Hostel’s Hattie Kinsey, ably assisted by Barbara Ann and Dre and others, including such storytellers as Larry and Gaylene and various local mountain song birds, stepped into the breach to raise money for the tornado victims as this years National Trails Day fundraiser.  The final tally for those who have suffered will exceed $2000.

How did Hattie and her co-venturers accomplish this feat.  A tasty, apple-wood smoke pulled pork and beef BBQ dinner was the feature of the day.  A silent auction raffled off various treasures to the highest bidder.  A rubber duck race on the adjacent rushing waters of Upper Paint Creek also generated significant cash, as well as prizes for the ‘owners’ of the winning toy quackers.  Food, stories, music, and fellowship all blended together in an upsurge of neighbor-to-neighbor generosity.

This willingness to reach out and give, when others in our community are suffering, is a hallmark of uplands’ folk.  We all know that horrific natural calamity can strike at any moment.  This spirit of giving certainly helps to fill gaps that one might hope would not be present in the provision of social disaster assistance, but which, perhaps inevitably, do exist.

Undoubtedly, many more stories lurk behind the surface of a scorching day, when the cooling waters of a mountain stream beckoned in the bright sunshine and the shady porch of Hemlock Hollow also offered shelter from the heat.  Perhaps at some point, more about these matters will be available to consider.  For now, anyone would have to offer kudos to all the helpers at Hemlock Hollow who collaborated to make this event come to pass.

Faux Popular Democracy in Capitalism’s Mediation of Merger Mania

Or, Why AOL Is a Perfect Huff-Po Partner That Is Horrible for Majority Rule

In this first of a five unit series—intro and conclusion plus three body parts–giving credit where credit is due is a good way to start.  Arianna Huffington’s How to Overthrow the Government performs a valuable service for anybody who both believes in popular empowerment and has an inkling that the rule-of-the-rich has gone too far.  The book offers at least a modicum of clear and apt guidance to those who would foment or fuel an uprising from below.

The likes of this humble correspondent would vociferously suggest that ‘the book doesn’t go nearly far enough.’  Less charitable, and equally historically and socio-economically aware, critics have argued that, analytically and conceptually, the volume is at best irritatingly cautious and generally vapid.  Nevertheless, the work offers some useful advice to those who want to return socially democratic political action to the grassroots.  At least it conceives of public engagement as a necessary predecessor of political change.

That said, the just-announced merger of Huffington Post and America Online is an entirely different kettle of fish.  Many honestly and erstwhile ‘progressive’ and ‘leftist’ commentators are celebrating this joining, or at least, giving it a ‘wait-and-see’ nod.

The only certain thing is that the writers and participants who have built Huffington Post won’t see a slender cent from among the thirty billion pennies, or billion and a half pennies in stock, that change hands in this bargain.  Several already wealthy people, whose political and ‘strategic’ leadership have, for better or worse, guided the site, will, on the other hand make out like proverbial bandits.

The idea that this $315 million conjunction, much to the benefit of Ms. Huffington’s coffers, might also represent ‘progress’ or be in the best interest of the ‘left’ arguably has much more to say about the deficiencies that attend the language of political description in the United States than it does with any rationally defensible consideration about promoting the needs of common people.  The notion that this is in the popular interest also speaks volumes about the lack of class leadership among working people, who prove willing all too often to rely on the likes of a rich globe-trotting fashion moll with the opportunistic instincts of a coyote.

‘Liberals’ also cozy up to hyper-imperialists such as Hilary Clinton, or so some would say; ‘progressives’ commonly make common cause with Barack-the-Magnificent, whose wars will soon eclipse those of his predecessor; the ‘left’ is a hodgepodge collection of folks who a lot of times are trying to avoid the label that is at least honestly descriptive, that of socialist, or social-democrat.

This humble correspondent considers himself ‘progressive,’ and he’ll only squirm and grit his teeth at the nearly meaningless moniker of ‘leftist.’  However, he is avowedly and unabashedly socialistic in his approach and his analytical proclivities.  He has no problem noticing an obvious fact: without some sort of struggle for social and economic democracy, the worlds working people face further devastation and possible annihilation.

And in this vein, the marriage of the modern defense and imperial establishment, in the form of America Online, with a fetishized, paltry, petty-bourgeois liberalism, in the form of Huffington Post, accomplishes a perfect union from the perspective of ‘free-market’, ‘free-enterprise’ fraud-mongers. As such, the following prediction makes sense: it will turn out to be a disaster for working people, for those who care about more than political labels and actually worry about substance.

One way or another, the lack of class leadership, and the explicit embrace of both imperial ideation and bourgeois marketing and markets, will mean at best ‘friendly’ misleadership for the average people of the planet who are suffering one body-blow after another to any hope that a ‘middle-class’ life will be even a credible fantasy.  One would have to acknowledge, at least as a possibility, that the time for a media of the people, by the people, and for the people is long overdue.

Such an admission ought then to portend a serious effort in such a direction.  Whether folks are, even now, ready to admit the obvious–‘But mommy, the king has nothing on!!–and whether, even now, such an acknowledgment will yield the radical, populist upsurge that recognition ought to call forth, remains to be seen.

For this humble correspondent, the remainder of the present introduction merely contextualizes, all too quickly, the historical and conceptual nature of the media marriage that has just transpired.  A four-piece unit on AOL’s background follows over the next few weeks, more or less.  Then, a three-chapter unit appears about Arianna Huffington and her love-child at Huff-Po.  A long single take on the merger itself will appear at that juncture, to complete the third substantive unit of this five-part series.  Finally, a conclusion will show up that, in the light of the insights and ideation of the intervening reporting and analysis, returns to some of the issues raised in today’s introductory paragraphs

A Far-Too-Brief Background Precis of the News Media Context From Which this ‘New Media’ Deal Has Devolved

People who fancy themselves media-literate, or even who believe that following the news is important, have a duty to understand how in the world the media that we take for granted has transmogrified to become the apparent digital phantasmagoria that it is today.  This is neither the time nor the place to go into copious detail.  On the other hand, readers may rest assured that more detail will be forthcoming.

For now, this humble correspondent proposes that people consider one simple fact: media springs from the rich dirt of politics like magic mushrooms pop up from cow dung.  Ever since the creation of the secret, and sacred, codes that underlay the first written forms, publication has been a battlefield; the priestly and royal control–extended imperiously–always met a challenge from below, in the form of vernacular articulations of one sort or another.

Need one consider such arcane interpretations of such facts as Derrida‘s “The Mystical Foundations of Authority?”  Or perhaps a more straightforward recollection, that law–the legitimation of force in favor of some stated ‘State,’ heretofore unheard of without social class divisions–is nothing without the capacity to record and annotate it, would serve as a ‘wake-up call’ about media’s social reality.  No matter what, from the ‘dawn of history,’ or text, as it were, the connection between writing and rule is unbreakable.

In any event, much more recently, since Gutenberg, for instance, every communication medium’s technological development and social deployment has entailed this combative dialectic.  The Bible may have been Johann’s first big project, but not too long afterward, the press itself helped Martin Luther affix his challenge to various posting places.

Thus, a pattern emerged that has, quite plausibly, come to stand for a central trait of capitalist evolution.  Put most simply, defining struggles over meaning, knowledge, and power all intersected with and emanated from the powers of technology and labor that inhered in the conglomeration of recorded speech and the media for presenting it; advantages in this contest, almost universally in the form of successful–or replicable–networks and paradigms that reached expanding ‘publics,’ served to influence, and often to determine, social, political, and economic outcomes.

For all of its frequent flaws of glaring bourgeois bias, Paul Starr’s The Creation of the Media: Political Origins of Modern Communications offers pupils of these matters a relatively elegant empirical bedrock for supporting the above conclusion.  From the concomitant downfall of strict censorship and the censorious Stuarts, to the simultaneous libertine upsurge of colonial textuality–newsy and both globally and locally aware–and a persistent rebellion, to the dialectically intertwined manifestation of knowledge, distribution, and publication forms that have seesawed their way through American history, this characterization of mediation seems, at least, reasonable.

The nearly universal initiation, co-optation, or capture of news-and-publishing outlets by the rising bourgeoisie took many forms.  However, this humble correspondent would insist that folks apprehend the undeniable veracity of the proposition that we have not come to today’s seemingly unstoppable effusion of hyper-monopoly in any other fashion than step-by-step, following original inclinations to their logical and predictable ends.

This is corroborated whether one adopts a biographical approach–from Horace Greely’s faux-Horatio-Alger-garnering of capitalist backing, to Hearst’s gold-mining, and gold-digging, parentage, and beyond, to the Luces, the Paleys and so forth and so on–to ascertaining information networks, or whether one prefers to examine the way that business and regulatory structures favor particular organization forms over others, or whether one chooses different, more intellectual and ideational formulations.  The history of media in America is, practically speaking–‘Citizen-Kane’ gossipy details notwithstanding, indistinguishable from the history of capitalism in America.

Advertising and marketing and propaganda together confirm this.  Power-politics and the specifics of character assassination and the sway of secrecy demonstrate this.  The opportunistic inclusion or exclusion of access to ‘legitimate’ or ‘unacceptable’ publics combine with criminal and civil media law again and again to prove this.

Forthcoming investigation will delve more deeply into the political economic and historical background that underpins the current media conundrums that afflict citizens.  The point of both this explication and what is to come is simple: in the realm of AOL’s conjunction with Huff-Po, such a conceptual, historical, and political-economic framework is critical to any understanding that is richer and deeper than either a ‘follow-the-yellow-brick-road’ optimism or a ‘lions-and-tigers-and-bears’ sense of panic.

Readers might want to stay tuned and remember the words of Betty Davis.  “Fasten your seat-belts; it’s going to be a bumpy night.”