SUBJECT: ON "THE EMPIRE
STRIKES BACK" : FROM THE CENTER FOR THE ADVANCED
STUDY OF AMERICAN INSTITUTIONS AND SOCIAL MOVEMENTS,
Cosne d'Allier, France
Dear Colleagues and Friends of CEIMSA,
It was in the late 1960's that Lenny Bruce told his
listeners at the Comedy Store in
Today, many of us living amidst the debacle of superpowers have witnessed the line between realism and surrealism all but vanish. Dewight D. Eisenhower, Richard M. Nixon, Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush, Arnold Schwartzenegger --these names alone are enough to map the trajectory of American democracy over the past decades. The new battle cry of the militant ruling classes is : "War on the poor!" (both at home and abroad). The widely acknowledged shortcomings of Global Capitalism have given rise to tactics such as preventative wars and national security legislation which were conceived as a way to stabilize an increasingly unsteady political economy.
Another tactic essential to this utopian project of defending capitalism in the face of crises is the rewriting of history in conformity with familiar Hollywood themes like cowboys & Indians, or like heroic American war stories with ultimate victories against dark evils in Asia, Africa and Latin America, or like an idealized corporate social order where "father knows best", or like the multicultural adventures of the technologically elite crew on the Space Ship Enterprise, etc., etc.... Fictions such as these must be indistinguishable from real history if social class conflicts, caused by economic inequalities and political injustices, are to be successfully ignored by nations of consumers, and even then we must allow that the intellectual disarming of a people does not always guarantee their absolute submission to a "new order".
Defenders of the private profit motive (that shibboleth of capitalist status quo, now enshrined by neo-liberal ideologues who give eloquent testimony to the famous French axiom : plus ça change plus c'est la même chose) are doomed to fail, not because they will be successfully challenged and defeated by socialists or some other organized opposition, but because the environment in which we all live --progressives, as well as conservatives and reactionaries-- is being destroyed by the aggressive political economy which largely governs our everyday behavior.
Authoritarian capitalism, with its focus on social control and consumerism, is
self-defeating. As an economic system it is ultimately incompatible with life
on this planet. To quote Oscar Wild, when commenting on the wallpaper in the
dismal hotel room in
Frederick Engels' mechanical 19th-century formula attempting to prove that the "cure is in the disease" --that capitalism must inevitably collapse, and thereby give rise to a more equitable socialist society-- is no longer tenable. A militant ruling class is now in hot pursuit of a chimera, and the "collateral damage" they continue to inflict on all of us is paradoxically the path to their own destruction, as well. They simply do not care.
Here at the end of summer, only a few days before classes resume at the University of Grenoble, our Center for the Advanced Study of American Institutions and Social Movements shares with readers articles that we've received most recently giving analytical depth to some important aspects of American civilization.
Item A. is an article by Steven Weisman, published in NewPimp Times and forwarded to us by Professor Richard Du Boff, that deals with the Bush administration's concern for damage control over his entirely predictable Iraqi fiasco.
Item C. is an article by
investigative reporter (and sometimes-humorist) Greg Palast
who explains Lance Armstrong's bike ride with President Bush over the grave of
Casey Sheehan in
Item D. is an
essay by historian
Harvey Wasserman, first published last March by Free Press Magazine
and recently sent to us by Grenoble University
graduate student, Mike Arresta, who was part of the
CEIMSA Collective last year that translated Jim Hightower's book, Thieves
in High Places, for our French publisher. Here Mike is struck by
references made by the highly respected conservative
And finally, item E. is a
report sent to us by Dahr Jamail
< http://dahrjamailiraq.com/ >
on the desperate need for doctors this month in the killing fields of northern
Francis McCollum Feeley
Professor of American Studies/
Director of Research
Université Stendhal-Grenoble III
from Richard B. Du Boff
Some State Department
officials involved in public diplomacy for many years say that Ms. Hughes's
arrival will simply reinforce practices already being carried out . . . . Edward P. Djerejian,
a former ambassador and White House spokesman . . . headed a task force that
concluded in 2003 that hostility toward the
Begins Task of Repairing
by STEVEN R. WEISMAN
The teams, to be set up in the
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice
said in an interview this week that the units would "work to deal with
misinformation and misinterpretation." During the war in
For instance, Ms. Rice said, the
administration discovered that allegations of Koran desecration at the
"What we found with rapid
response is it does have to be 24-hour and at least a lot of it has to be in
the field, not back in
In addition, State Department officials say, Ms. Hughes, a former television reporter, plans to lead an interagency "public diplomacy" operating group, including top public affairs officials at the Pentagon, and to change the way Foreign Service officers are evaluated for promotion, placing more emphasis on public relations skills.
Ms. Rice suggested further that the
administration would increase funds for educational exchanges and try to make
it easier to get visas for such programs. This year, the administration has
asked Congress for $430 million to bring students, academics, cultural figures
and others to the
In recent years, State Department officials say, proportionately more of these programs have been focused on the Middle East and South Asia, which now account for about 25 percent of the financing.
Though President Bush and Ms. Rice
promised a revamped "public diplomacy" drive in January, it has taken
months for Ms. Hughes to begin her job, partly because she has wanted to get
her son ready for college. In the summer of 2002, Ms. Hughes resigned from the
White House to take her family back to
Ten days ago, Ms. Hughes laid out
her plans for public diplomacy at a meeting with Mr. Bush at the president's
Other officials, asking not to be
identified because the plans are not final, provided some details,
including information about what they said were Ms. Hughes's plans to travel to
She has met with Muslim students,
clerics and academics in
Various independent reports on the
problem of public diplomacy have said that most of
Ms. Rice, in the interview on
Wednesday, said that in the future, more weight would be given to public
diplomacy in the policy-making process but that this did not mean that the
"What I don't want to imply is that we're going to change policy because it's unpopular," Ms. Rice said. "It's a hard problem. Public diplomacy isn't going to help us with the fact that there's still some hard problems that we're going to have to deal with."
Some State Department officials
involved in public diplomacy for many years say that Ms. Hughes's arrival will
simply reinforce practices already being carried out. Among the officials
consulted by Ms. Hughes is Edward P. Djerejian, a
former ambassador and White House spokesman, who headed a task force that
concluded in 2003 that hostility toward the
Mr. Djerejian said that in talking with Ms. Hughes and Ms. Rice, it was clear that they understood that roughly 80 percent of the explanation for the poor American image stemmed from American policies, but that much could be done to improve the communication of those policies to affect the other 20 percent.
He said he expected that Ms. Hughes
would more closely track what was said about the
Some State Department officials said part of the problem in that episode was the difficulty of having the State Department defending policies on detaining suspected terrorists when the policies were made by the Pentagon.
Officials at Al Jazeera, for example, said they invited a Pentagon spokesman to discuss the Koran allegations but could not get anyone to go on the air. Pentagon public affairs officials countered that they were unaware of the requests from Al Jazeera.
Mr. Djerejian said his committee had recommended that a high-level official at the White House be in charge of the administration's public diplomacy but dropped that idea when Ms. Hughes was appointed at the State Department because of her closeness to the White House.
"Conceptually and strategically they are seized with the importance of this problem," said Mr. Djerejian, referring to Ms. Hughes and Ms. Rice. "They have the ability to do something about it because they have the ear of the president."
from: Edward Herman
(c) Guardian Newspapers Limited 2005
This powerful piece is not likely to show up in the NYT.
wealth of the west was built on
by Richard Drayton
These are timely questions in a
summer in which Blair and Bush, their hands still wet with Iraqi blood, sought
to rebrand themselves as the saviours
Beckford's experts estimated
was a useful benchmark, its basis was
mistaken. Not because it was excessive, but because the real debt is
incalculable. For without
Profits from slave trading and from
sugar, coffee, cotton and tobacco are only a small part of the story. What
mattered was how the pull and push from these industries transformed western Europe's economies. English banking, insurance,
shipbuilding, wool and cotton manufacture, copper and iron smelting, and the
masterful book, Africans and the Industrial Revolution in
In The Great Divergence, Kenneth Pomeranz asked why
The guinea coin paid homage in its
name to the west African origins of one flood of gold.
By this standard, the British pound since 1880 should have been rechristened
the rand, for
There are many who like to blame
It is remarkable that none of those in
that Patrice Lumumba, its elected leader, needed to "fall into a river of crocodiles".
African slavery and colonialism are
not ancient or foreign history; the world they made is around us in
economic terms that
This universe of risk, part of the black experience, is the afterlife of slavery. The reverse of the medal is what WEB DuBois called the
"wage of whiteness", the world of safety, trustworthiness, welcome that those with pale skins take for granted. The psychology of racism operates even among those who believe in human equality, shaping unequal outcomes in education, employment, criminal justice. By its light, such all-white clubs as the G8 continue to meet in comfort.
Early this year, Gordon Brown told
Dr Richard Drayton is a senior
lecturer in imperial and extra-European history since 1500 at
from: Greg Palast
Subject: Armstrong Bikes With President Over Sheehan Grave
ARMSTRONG BIKES WITH PRESIDENT OVER SHEEHAN GRAVE
by Greg Palast
Crawford, Texas - Celebrity bike champ Lance Armstrong joined President George W. Bush this weekend at the Crawford Ranch to celebrate the thirtieth day of the President's vigil against Cindy Sheehan, the mother of a soldier killed in action in Iraq.
Armstrong, fresh from his victory in the Tour De France, is seen here with Mr. Bush riding across the symbolic gravesite of Casey Sheehan, deceased Army specialist, son of the bereaved Mrs. Sheehan.
"We must stay the course," said a resolute Mr. Bush who vowed to "extend my vacation as long as necessary to accomplish this mission" and force Sheehan to give up her siege of the Western White House.
Armstrong set an upbeat tone when he said, "You know, I overcame cancer to become a hot-shot biker. It takes hard work and a belief in yourself that says, "Never give up, never say 'die.'"
A Presidential spokesman said that given the Commander-in-Chief's limited work schedule and attention span, he would not have time to see Mrs. Sheehan. However, a place in the schedule had to be made for Mr. Armstrong because the celebrity peddler, like the President, has several major corporate sponsors with urgent needs.
Armstrong said he thought it inappropriate to politicize the office of the president, noting that his own appearance at the ranch was arranged by the Discovery Channel, "for craven commercial purposes only."
Mr. Bush, backing over the symbolic
gravestone, said he understood the difficulty of military families with kin in
Greg Palast is the author of the New York Times bestseller, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy. Subscribe to his commentaries at www.GregPalast.com.
from Mike Arresta
Subject: Bush and Rove equals Hitler
Here's an interesting article from the Free Press Magazine which unveils some obvious parallels between Bush/Rove's tactics "to bring democracy overseas" and Hitler/Goebbels' fascist methods to shut down what's against their wishes.
Senator Byrd is correct to equate Bush with Hitler
by Harvey Wasserman
The U.S. Senate's senior Constitutional scholar has correctly equated Bush with Hitler, and the usual attack dogs are howling. But they are wrong, and Americans must now face the harsh realities of an increasingly fascist and totalitarian GOP.
Octogenarian Senator Robert Byrd of
Anti-Defamation League Director Abraham Foxman has played the holocaust card for the Republicans, saying "It is hideous, outrageous and offensive for Senator Byrd to suggest that the Republican Party's tactics could in any way resemble those of Adolph Hitler and the Nazi Party.
GOP Chair Ken Mehlman has labeled Byrd's remarks "reprehensible and beyond the pale," remarks joined by Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum. Santorum is best known for equating sexuality between consenting gays with bestiality between humans and dogs.
But Byrd is one of the few in either house of Congress to truly understand the Constitution and to advocate for the Bill of Rights. He points out that like Hitler, Bush is pursuing a strategy designed to win absolute rule by one party and one leader. Hitler's central slogan "Ein Volk, Ein Reich, Ein Fuhrer" -- one people, one government, one dictator -- accurately describes the current GOP strategy of Karl Rove, Bush's Joseph Goebbels.
Now the Republicans have renominated extreme right-wing judges to high courts from which they were barred prior to the 2004 election. With enhanced majorities in Congress, the GOP is moving to gut rules put in place to protect the rights of minorities within the government. For the GOP, as for Hitler, such safeguards are annoying barriers to absolute power.
These judges are consistent in their eagerness to protect the power and privilege of private corporations at the public expense, while simultaneously promoting the invasion of individual rights by the government. Masquerading as "free market/small government" advocates, GOP conservatives -- like Hitler's Nazis -- promote an all-powerful central government run by and for the corporations that sponsor them while crushing individual rights and liberties.
While Bush advocates for "democracy" overseas, the GOP is crushing it at home. These judicial nominees mean to further solidify Republican control of the court system, which they have added to their grip on the Executive, both houses of Congress and the media. The GOP is also gutting safeguards within the FBI and CIA, turning them into a personal police force that could parallel Hitler's Gestapo.
Because the regime wraps itself in the rhetoric of our democratic roots, it's emotionally difficult for Americans to equate Bush with Hitler. He is not, after all, running death camps like the ones Hitler used to exterminate millions of Jews, Gypsies, gays, unionists, Jehovah Witnesses, the elderly and infirm, birth defected and handicapped. But the distinction may be lost on the tens of thousands of Iraqis who have died in the wholesale slaughter there, and whose land has been carpeted with radioactive depleted uranium which will kill for centuries.
Bush is now operating a classic
concentration camp in
Bush now holds some 2.2 million
prisoners in the
Is this worthy of the Nazi label?
Fascism has long been clearly and simply defined as corporate control of the state, with strong totalitarian, militaristic, anti-feminist and anti-gay characteristics.
Both Mussolini's Fascists and Hitler's Nazis used acts of terror and alleged terror to grab absolute power. Ranting at Bolshevism as the GOP now does against Islam, the Nazis used the burning of the Reichstag much as the GOP has capitalized on the terror attacks of September 11.
George W. Bush does not spellbind huge Goebbels-massed rallies as Hitler did. But he does not tolerate groups that might ask embarrassing questions, and has packed the nation's bloviator corps with servile panderers. Rove uses the mass media to manipulate and deceive in ways suited to the trappings of American culture as surely as Goebbels shaped Hitler's speeches to the German volksgeist.
Bush has courted both people of
color and Jews. But his far right fundamentalist backers see all non-believers
as children of Satan who must ultimately perish in a "cleansing"
Armageddon that will allow only the chosen few into Heaven. Amidst the
psychotic twists of the Book of Revelations, these are people who love
The Bush/Rove view of science parallels that of Stalin. The Soviets slaughtered researchers whose data failed to confirm their theories. Today's GOP demands scientists fit their findings to the Bush/Rove gospel. The Bush EPA, Fish & Wildlife Service and other agencies routinely assault those who challenge corporate destruction of the earth. Despite the long-standing consensus on global warming, Bush's faith-based corporate-sponsored climatology insists CO2 emissions are no problem, the scientific equivalent of claiming the Nazi Holocaust never happened.
Like Hitler, Bush believes he talks to and for God. He has said at least twice in public that he does not oppose dictatorship as long as he can be the dictator. His family has long, well-documented financial and political ties to the Nazi regime, as well as to Osama bin Laden and a long list of oil-rich Islamic fundamentalists.
Senator Byrd's invocation of the Nazis to describe the Bush regime may be considered impolitic. But it's folly to ignore the important parallels.
By all accounts American democracy is hanging by a thin thread which Bush/Rove is laboring mightily to cut.
Sen. Robert Byrd is a conservative, uniquely learned man. When he equates Bush with Hitler, he speaks with great sadness and scholarship -- and must be heeded.
As those "W" bumper stickers morph into swastikas in the killing fields of Guantanamo, Iraq, and the American prison system, we must, at Sen. Byrd's urging, revive recent history's most vital vow: "Never Again."
Many of Harvey Wasserman's relatives
perished in the Nazi holocaust. His HISTORY OF THE
from Dahr Jamail
This is an appeal written by Iraqi Doctors concerning
what is happening in western
informative as well as an important appeal. Operations
in many of these areas are ongoing today, despite the
fact that this press release is a week old.
DOCTORS FOR IRAQ WARNS OF URGENT HUMANITARIAN CRISIS AS US/IRAQI
CONTINUE IN THE WEST OF
As US/ Iraqi military attacks
continue in Haditha, Rawa, Parwana and Heet in the West of
Iraq, Doctors for
Haditha, Rawa and Parwana have been under attack for the past three weeks with US/ Iraqi military activities intensifying over the past few days. The main hospitals in the area are reporting shortages of medicine oxygen, sugerical kits, anti-biotics and other basic medicines.
Civilians have fled to neighbouring towns and villages such as Ana and are in need
of basic foods, water and shelter. Shop keepers are unable to open their
premises because of the
Eyewitnesses and medical personal
have told Doctors For Iraq that snipers are operating
inside some of the seiged cities. Haditha
hospital estimates that at least eleven civilians were killed during the attack
and 15 injured. The
Local people say that US marines
invaded the town of
The military operations in the West of Iraq have left the healthcare system paralyzed. Hospitals in the area are unable to provide sufficient medical services for the population. The new military attacks are further compounding the suffering of people in the area.
Doctors for Iraqi is calling for an independent investigation into the serious breaches of the Geneva Convention, the alleged killing of
civilians and obstructing medical personal from carrying out there work.
We need urgent medical supplies to be delivered to the hospitals in the area.
For more information or to find out how you can send medical aid to the areas contact :
Dr. Salam Ismael
Or Aisha Ismael
More writing, photos and commentary at http://dahrjamailiraq.com
Francis McCollum Feeley
Professor of American Studies
Université Stendhal-Grenoble III
Director of Research at CEIMSA-IN-EXILE