Bulletin #181


Subject : On "Socialism or Barbarism?" : from the Center for the Advanced Study of American            Institutions and Social Movements, Grenoble, France.


5 April 2005

Grenoble, France


Dear Colleagues and Friends of CEIMSA,


Years ago, as a graduate student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, I was part of a team of students working under Professor Harvey Goldberg, the biographer of Jean Jaurés. We were preparing a study of the anarchosyndicalist movement in France at the turn of the century, and our preliminary readings quickly brought our attention to the anti-war movement at the start of the 20th Century and which grew during the years before the First World War.


In a series of seminars at Madison we discussed our readings on the historical context of the French labor movement and discovered that what was most remarkable about this period in French history was the courage and creativity of pacifists who broke through the barriers of virulent French nationalism and religious bigotry in the era of "Rerum Novarum" (1891) in order to establish authentic socialist communities and to resist militarism and war.


On the other hand, the European military industries were booming by 1910, and to many people war seemed inevitable. Still there was hope, and the French socialist Jean Jaurés served as a beacon of light to remind workers of their "historic mission".


The anarchosyndicalists were woven into tight communities, and working-class intellectuals had a great influence on cultural formations in French society before and during the First World War. [My own research of this phenomenon was published under the title, Rebels with Causes (Peter Lang, 1990).] Nevertheless, war came --and it arrived with the force of a tsunami, pulling in its wake an unimaginable debris of death and destruction --more than 30 million casualties in the period of four years-- and this was only the beginning: the next war would produce nearly 100 million casualties. [Two very good histories of this "century of war" are written by Gabriel Kolko and Eric Hobsbawm. Both historians have made original efforts to find the words to describe and analyze this unprecedented level of violence that boggles the imagination and challenges our very capacity to understand human behavior.


Today, at the start of the 21st Century, we are faced with still another challenge. Over the past 50 years, military technology has developed to such a point that an increasing number of intellectuals are actually expressing a sober alarm over the dangers which this technology and its small base of political control present to the survival of our species (and of many other species, as well). [Please see the CEIMSA publication of Bill Moyers' recent address at Harvard Medical School, "No Tomorrow", and of Noam Chomsky's preface to "Hegemony or Survival".]


If the scientific analyses of militarism before the First World War are any indication, these contemporary warnings bode ill for the future. Historical evolution is never an automatic mechanism, but the powerful forces which are available to mobilize war and destruction should not be underestimated. Anyone who is knowledgeable of what happened in Europe in 1914, must be aware of the dangers which lie ahead, fermenting scarcely below the surface of capitalist societies. Delusions offer little hope for the future....


We at CEIMSA have recently received several articles which can be recognized as symptoms of a larger, global problem that is looming over the world today. Samuel Huntington's jingoistic book, Who Are We : The Challenges to America's National Identity (Simon and Schuster, 2004) is but one harbinger of the imminent catastrophe of war in our era high technology.


Below, item A., is an article sent to us by our research associate Professor Richard Du Boff on the ideology of Pope Jean-Paul II during his 27-year tenure as Head of the Roman Catholic Church in the counter-revolutionary period of Thatcher-Reagan, following the Vietnam War.


Item B. is an article by British scholar, Terry Eagleton, on the historical significance Pope

Jean-Paul II.


Item C. offers readers more on the American politics of sado-masochism at the Abu Ghraib Prison compound, located outside of Baghdad.


Item D. is a report by Jim Hightower (from Austin, Texas) on the social class nature of the war in Iraq, where American soldiers are also the victims of U.S ruling-class greed and violence.


Item E. is a discussion of the criminal conditions children are suffering in Iraq today at the hands of corporate America.


Item F. is an analysis of the far-flung consequences of defining the terrorist attack of 9/11 as a "War" to be fought, rather than as a "crime" to be investigated. As a result, the highly profitable construction of a gulag-style prison system on an international scale will remain part of our international landscape for the indefinite future.


And finally, item G., is a contemporary update on the illegal colonial expansion of America's closest ally, Israel, in the on-going war against the Palestinian people.




Francis McCollum Feeley

Professor of American Studies

Director of Research

Université Stendhal-Grenoble 3

Grenoble, France





Date: Mon, 4 Apr 2005

From: Richard B. Du Boff

Subject: Media objectivity embalmed with Pope


[RBD] Media coverage of this great lover of the virgin (black as she is, in Poland) is beyond la nausée . . . The NewPimp Times had all it could do to run that snivelling piece by Nagourney ("New Pope Could Influence Political Life in America", April 4). Locally, our ABC-TV affiliate here in Philadelphia ran some of the footage of his visit in 1979, when he was greeted by Frank ("get them black asses off the street") Rizzo, and told the assembled masses that "God called men to the service of the church, and not women"--and got a prolonged standing ovation. BBC coverage, as usual, has been the worst: the only interview in which his "conservative legacy" was raised was with a right-wing priest at Georgetown, who smilingly explained that critics "don't understand the traditions of the church." Only France-2 had any coherent coverage of his criminal legacy--women in the church, divorce, birth control, abortion, homosexuality, stem cell research, and his stonewall refusal to deal with the long tradition--a real one, this--of priests banging on little boys (which seems to have replaced banging of women, if not a 1-to-1 basis...). The France-2 report wasn't nearly long enough but did show him visiting New York in 1995 and inveighing against "abortion, artificial birth control, euthanasia, and the culture of death," and visiting Nigeria, where he condemned the same awful things, and was immediately followed up by the archbishop of Lagos who forbade his male flocks to use condoms (they "lead directly to sexual license")--in a nation ravaged by AIDS.   




April 4, 2005





- An eight page slobbering special section in the NY Times, Cokie Roberts oozing from the Vatican, endless coverage on cable TV: not since the death of Ronald Reagan has the media so blatantly displayed its hypocritical indifference to objectivity when the occasion suits it. In fact, Pope John Paul II was part of a western shift to the right that accompanied the rise of Reagan and Thatcher that would undo much of the social progress of the 1960s and 1970s and greatly increase hatred of the west in the rest of the world.


True, the Pope opposed a number of imperial wars by the United States, helped the Poles free themselves from the Soviets, and favored an economic approach far to the left of the new class of robber barons in drag as free market capitalists and proponents of globalization.


But if the Pope had dealt with blacks the way he dealt with women and gays he would be remembered as a racist. And if he had been judged by the standards of American corporatism he would have been considered a failure. During his term, the number of nuns declined byj 48%, the number of priests by 26%. Weekly church attendance went from nearly 50% of members to 27% and polling found that Catholics having a "great deal of confidence in those running organized religion" declined from 47% to 18%, about the same as for those of other religions.


The Pope repeatedly suppressed progressive forces within the church and helped to defeat those outside of it - including forward thinking politicians in this country. His stands on contraception and abortion resulted in unnecessary death to many and even great misery to others. Despite what you read in the media, he was not a good Pope for our times.



[Next, a rare exception to the hyperbole of most of the press]

WASHINGTON TIMES - Many liberal Catholics who opposed John Paul II during his papacy have continued to condemn the late pope for his staunch traditional positions against contraception, abortion and female clergy. Joy Barnes, head of the Women's Ordination Conference, a Catholic group that supports the ordination of female priests, said, "The church took significant steps backward in the struggle for women's equality" under John Paul. Linda Pieczynski, a spokeswoman for the liberal Catholic group Call to Action, blamed John Paul for having "created an atmosphere of fear and mistrust, particularly among theologians and liberal Catholics who would have liked freer discussion, particularly on issues of human sexuality."


Those views were echoed yesterday on ABC's "This Week" by former New York Gov. Mario Cuomo. "There are a lot of people who feel that rules with respect to women should have changed a long time ago," the Democrat said. "And the church does have the capacity to change. It always haswhen it felt it necessary. But it takes a long time. There's a lot of impatience with some Catholics." The Rev. Andrew Greeley, an outspoken critic of the Catholic hierarchy, accused John Paul of "repression" of

dissent within the church, which he called "one of the great blunders in Catholic history." "He tried to stabilize [the church] by resorting to the old techniques of repression," Father Greeley told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "But it didn't work, and it destabilized the church even more, and it polarized it." Chester Gillis, a Georgetown University theology professor, said that under John Paul, a disconnect emerged among American Catholics as they chose cultural principles over obedience to the pope.


"If they have friends who are gay and they think they're very good people, they judge that as more weighty than the pope's voice," Mr. Gillis said on NBC's "Meet the Press." One liberal Catholic group We Are Church, issued a statement on John Paul's death declaring: "The direction in which he took the church internally was very distressing for those who had hopes for real reform." Similar criticism was heard from dissident Catholics in other countries. In France, a left-wing group called We Are Also the Church accused the late pope of befriending dictatorships and colluding in economic and social oppression. In addition to "supporting, even giving his blessing to, Latin American dictatorships," the group said, John Paul "was completely out of touch with changes in values and in philosophical and scientific conceptions of life."



- John Paul's greatest papal role models were apparently a pope from the sixth century and nineteenth-century Pope Pius IX, who was disparaged by many as anti-Semitic but whom he beatified. It was during Pius' reign that the Church had promulgated the doctrine of papal infallibility, which John Paul cherished. His conservative authoritarianism has polarized both the Church and the world's view of Catholicism. He is celebrated for his inclusionism; he had to reach outside the Western world, where the Church's grip is seriously eroded. He was the 'rock star' pope, a charismatic showman who did not so much embrace as seduce. He will be remembered for peddling the Church's dogma by personal appearance, by travelling alot. You can't blame a man for that; I wish my job involved more international travel. But it is not an achievement in itself, any more than there was any inherent heroism in being the first Polish Pope. Catholic intellectualism fared poorly indeed under this pope. He is credited with contributing to the downfall of Communism, which is quite a stretch in any sense other than that he came from a former Communist country. His greatest legacy, and it is a dubious one at that, may have been to hold the line against liberation theology. To put it simply, this was a papacy in which faith was stood to oppose both justice and thoughtfulness.


Especially because over ninety percent of the cardinals electing the next pope were appointed by him, he is likely to be succeeded by another who largely fits the very same mold, ad infinitum. The Catholic Church grows quickly bankrupt in the Western World.








A British Obituary of Pope John Paul II : The Pope has blood on his hands

 by Terry Eagleton

(April 04, 2005)




John Paul II became Pope in 1978, just as the emancipatory 60s were declining into the long political night of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher. As the economic downturn of the early 70s began to bite, the western world made a decisive shift to the right, and the transformation of an obscure Polish bishop from Karol Wojtyla to John Paul II was part of this wider transition. The Catholic church had lived through its own brand of flower power in the 60s, known as the Second Vatican Council; and the time was now ripe to rein in leftist monks, clap-happy nuns and Latin American Catholic Marxists. All of this had been set in train by a pope - John XIII - whom the Catholic conservatives regarded as at best wacky and at worst a Soviet agent.


What was needed for this task was someone well-trained in the techniques of the cold war. As a prelate from Poland, Wojtyla hailed from what was probably the most reactionary national outpost of the Catholic church, full of maudlin Mary-worship, nationalist fervour and ferocious anti-communism. Years of dealing with the Polish communists had turned him and his fellow Polish bishops into consummate political operators. In fact, it turned the Polish church into a set-up that was, at times, not easy to distinguish from the Stalinist bureaucracy. Both institutions were closed, dogmatic, censorious and hierarchical, awash with myth and personality cults. It was just that, like many alter egos, they also happened to be deadly enemies, locked in lethal combat over the soul of the Polish people.


Aware of how little they had won from dialogue with the Polish regime, the bishops were ill-inclined to bend a Rowan-Williams-like ear to both sides of the theological conflict that was raging within the universal church. On a visit to the Vatican before he became Pope, the authoritarian Wojtyla was horrified at the sight of bickering theologians. This was not the way they did things in Warsaw. The conservative wing of the Vatican, which had detested the Vatican Council from the outset and done its utmost to derail it, thus looked to the Poles for salvation. When the throne of Peter fell empty, the conservatives managed to swallow their aversion to a non-Italian pontiff and elected one for the first time since 1522.


Once ensconced in power, John Paul II set about rolling back the liberal achievements of Vatican 2. Prominent liberal theologians were summoned to his throne for a dressing down. One of his prime aims was to restore to papal hands the power that had been decentralised to the local churches. In the early church, laymen and women elected their own bishops. Vatican 2 didn't go as far as that, but it insisted on the doctrine of collegiality - that the Pope was not to be seen as capo di tutti capi, but as first among equals.


John Paul, however, acknowledged equality with nobody. From his early years as a priest, he was notable for his exorbitant belief in his own spiritual and intellectual powers. Graham Greene once dreamed of a newspaper headline reading "John Paul canonises Jesus Christ". Bishops were summoned to Rome to be given their orders, not for fraternal consultation. Loopy far-right mystics and Francoists were honoured, and Latin American political liberationists bawled out. The Pope's authority was so unassailable that the head of a Spanish seminary managed to convince his students that he had the Pope's personal permission to masturbate them.


The result of centring all power in Rome was an infantilisation of the local churches. Clergy found themselves incapable of taking initiatives without nervous glances over their shoulders at the Holy Office. It was at just this point, when the local churches were least capable of handling a crisis maturely, that the child sex abuse scandal broke. John Paul's response was to reward an American cardinal who had assiduously covered up the outrage with a plush posting in Rome.


The greatest crime of his papacy, however, was neither his part in this cover up nor his neanderthal attitude to women. It was the grotesque irony by which the Vatican condemned - as a "culture of death" - condoms, which might have saved countless Catholics in the developing world from an agonising Aids death. The Pope goes to his eternal reward with those deaths on his hands. He was one of the greatest disasters for the Christian church since Charles Darwin.



Terry Eagleton is professor of cultural theory at Manchester University.





Go directly to our home page: http://www.truthout.org



The Pentagon's Secret Stash of Torture Photos







Date: Wed, 30 Mar 2005 16:14:11 -0500 (EST)

From: Jim Hightower Grassroots Action Network updates@updates.jimhightower.com  






The scandals of George W's Iraq attack continue to come home to haunt us.  Not only did he use false pretenses to get congress to rush into his invasion, not only did he send our men and women into battle without the protective gear they need to save their lives, not only did he grossly understate the depth of opposition our troops would face during the ongoing occupation, not only did he completely miscalculate the number of troops required to pursue his ideologically-motivated mission - but now we learn that he rushed America into the hell of war without preparing for the medical needs of thousands of soldiers who are coming home with severe wounds.







From: "t r u t h o u t" messenger@truthout.org   

Subject: FOCUS - Iraqi Children Fared Better Under Saddam - Report

Date: Thu, 31 Mar 2005



FOCUS - Iraqi Children Fared Better Under Saddam – Report







Go directly to our home page: http://www.truthout.org

Subject: Afghanistan: 'One Huge US Jail'



Afghanistan: 'One Huge US Jail'






The Rush to War - What Did Bush Know








Israeli Attacks 

    by John Petrovato April 03, 2005 



Over the past week American viewers have consumed endless images of Terry Schiavo as she lay on her bed in a vegetative state. Scenes of protests outside the hospital and multitudes of political pundits on news programs waded in to give analysis and opinions. People came out in droves to decry the euthanasia of one woman who has been in a vegetative state for 15 years. As Americans were consumed by the media circus surrounding the case, unimaginable tragedy for hundreds of thousands of otherwise healthy people around the world went unnoticed by the media.


Meanwhile, international organizations such as the United Nations have reported that some 30,000 people are now dying daily from lack of food and water. Further, thousands more die every day from treatable illnesses. Beyond death caused by poverty, state-sponsored terror against civilian populations by governments military or by militia groups is occurring on almost every continent.


Of personal interest was the upswing of attacks against non-combatant Palestinians by both the Israeli military as well as Israeli civilians who are illegally residing in the Palestinian West Bank. While the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been a regular segment on U.S. news programs, over the past week very little has been reported. One friend told me: you must be pleased that things are very quiet in Palestine looks like peace may be on its way . It is common to assume that peace and quiet is the norm in places that aren t being covered by the media. Unfortunately, such is very far from the truth. Below I want to relate some of the violence that has occurred against both Palestinians and international human rights observers in the West Bank over the past few days. Most of these stories have not been covered by the media and thus begs the question: why does the media cover nearly every incident of violence against Israeli s (both civilians and military) but not of Palestinians when they are the victims?


As reported on numerous Palestinian and international human rights web sites, as well as by foreign journalists, there has been an upswing of attacks by armed Israeli civilians against unarmed Palestinian civilians. For instance, on Friday, March 25, armed groups of Israeli Talmudic settlers from the Yitzar settlement (outside of Nablus in the center of the West Bank) attacked the Palestinian village of Asira Al-Qibliya. Wearing black masks and screaming, the Israeli settlers went into people s homes, threw rocks through people s windows and beat Palestinians.


Masked Israeli settlers were also attacking villages in the Hebron area as well. On March 24, Israeli settler militias attacked shepherds and international peace activists (including two Americans) who were merely attempting to document the attacks while the Israeli military did nothing to stop them. KL , a Danish ISM activist wrote of the incident:


Three young soldiers get out just to stand around and do nothing, despite the fact that we repeatedly ask, as the settlers begin to kick and beat us. Not until a grown man has thrown himself on top of our female American friend and punched her many times in the face, neck and chest, does one of the soldiers help to get him off of her. Afterwards the soldier decides to help the man find his glasses. We draw back toward the village with the shepherds, as the screaming settlers try to get past the soldiers. We phoned the police as soon as the two youngsters got out of the pick-up, and were positively surprised that they promised to come quickly. I had heard that the police often don't really handle cases involving settlers out of fear. My positive attitude toward the Israeli Police did not last long. It took several calls before they finally showed up one and a half hour later. We tried to explain to them what happened, but soon the settlers came driving down again and started yelling in Hebrew at the police. Before we knew it, the police had taken our passports, the settlers were going home, and we are on our way to the police station . (Electronic Intifada, April 1, 2005).


The international human rights activists have now been informed that they are not allowed to return to the area as the masked Israeli settlers charged that the two activists had beaten them.


Also in the Hebron area, the villagers of Yatta discovered that Israeli settlers had placed poisonous feed and pellets on Palestinian land. Investigated and confirmed by the Christian Peacemaker team, they reported that many animals have died and others have been injured by the poison.


On a different level, many towns and areas, such as Balata refugee camp, had been invaded and harassed by the Israeli military. Daily military incursions into Palestinian residential areas are common. The result is constant fear of unwarranted arrests or violence.


With such occurring on a daily basis it is astonishing to see that most Palestinians have kept their commitment to non-violence as their choice of resistance. Even over the past week or so, over a dozen protest marches and demonstrations have occurred throughout the West Bank.


On Wednesday, March 30, in commemoration of Palestinian Land Day , there was over half a dozen demonstrations that occurred. Hannah Mermelstein, a Boston-based activist, wrote of a march that she and other internationals attended in Salfit:


We marched with Women for Life , a Salfit women s group that formed in part to oppose the impending Wall in this region, to a polluted valley called Wadi Qana. Surrounded by settlements and outposts, this village was evacuated in the 1980s and most of the land and water has been stolen or completely contaminated by sewage from the settlements .


The Israeli government is doing its own part to dispossess Palestinians from their land for the benefit of Israeli civilians. Over the past week, it has been discovered that the Israeli government is in the process of building another 3,500 housing units in the West Bank. Authorized by Ariel Sharon, these housing units will be located between Maaleh Adumim and East Jerusalem. The project is designed to make Palestinian claims to Jerusalem less viable. Though Israel had invaded and annexed Jerusalem in 1967, the international community has refused to accept its legality. While applauding Sharon s bold moves for removing 5,000 settlers from the Gaza strip, American leaders have given little attention to the rapid growth and development of settlements in the Palestinian West Bank. Indeed the extension of the Gush Etzion settlement in the West Bank has been designed to take in the settlers who are being evacuated from Gaza.


Settlement building and expansions are in contradiction to the internationally backed road map . Further depressing is the fact that George W. Bush has made repeated statements of recent saying that large Israeli settlement blocs in the West bank need to be accepted as a reality for any future peace deal. This policy statement is in direct opposition to international law and the 4th Geneva Convention that states that an occupying power cannot transfer its own population into the territory that it is occupying.


Along with settlement expansions, Israel continues to build the controversial Separation barrier throughout the West Bank on Palestinian land, effectively annexing thousands of acres into the state of Israel. Thus even while it is widely recognized as illegal under international law, it continues to be built at an ever quickening pace. For the past few weeks, the wall is being built at the northern entrance to Bethlehem. The wall has segregated a number of Palestinian families from Bethlehem leaving them in no-man s land as they are not Israeli citizens and now have no access to Palestinian areas. The wall has also destroyed thousands of olive trees and other agricultural properties.


Thus, not only does the Wall continue to be built on Palestinian land further impoverishing the indigenous population for the benefit of a select ethnic group, the continued unchecked violence by both Israeli settlers and their military against unarmed and non-combatant Palestinian has continued daily. Of course we must not forget about the hundreds of roadblocks and dozens of military checkpoints in the West Bank that prevent people from attending school, going to work, or visiting family.


Of course the media is generally complicit to uncritical reporting. Most of their information comes from the Israeli government itself and few reporters leave Israeli proper or Jerusalem. During my three 6-week visits to the West Bank, foreign journalists were rarely seen. This should not be a considered a surprise. Israel regularly refuses journalists (as well as all foreign citizens and human rights workers) from traveling to Palestinian areas. Israel believes that part of its war with the Palestinians is a public relations war. Israeli officials actually speak openly about their need to control the way the conflict is represented in the United States and Europe. People who get all their news about the conflict from the mainstream media in the United States and Europe will never be able to understand this conflict. Without searching for alternative news sites that cover the events that occur there, most people in the west misunderstand the conflict as a war between two peoples or Israeli response to Palestinian violence without understanding the basic fact that the Palestinian people live under a harsh military occupation by a foreign army - an occupation which today is the longest running in history.



Francis McCollum Feeley

Professor of American Studies/

Director of Research at CEIMSA-IN-EXILE