Bulletin N° 215
Subject : ON LESSONS FROM
THE POLITICAL ECONOMY OF WARS : FROM THE CENTER FOR
THE ADVANCED STUDY OF AMERICAN INSTITUTIONS AND SOCIAL
MOVEMENTS, GRENOBLE, FRANCE.
26 November 2005
Dear Colleagues and Friends of CEIMSA,
Long before George Orwell wrote his famous novel, 1984, statecraft had already included the practice of keeping one segment of the population "fat, dumb and happy" so that it would remain indifferent to the suffering of the masses and could be counted on to support police/military repression. One can go back to early 16th-century political theory, to Niccolo Machiavelli, to see an explicit sketch of how a successful ruler must adopt these repressive tactics of "divide and govern" by catering to the desires of some, against the needs of others.
One modern-day pupil of Machiavelli adopted this strategy against the advice of his own military elite. Hitler's fascist state apparatus systematically diverted funds from Nazi military operations (even when the German army was in dire economic need in
Hitler insisted upon the continuation of civilian output, extended even to the production of cosmetics, and as late as 1943 --when military defeat was imminent and the Nazi leadership publicly endorsed a civilian austerity plan to finance the "total war" effort-- the rulers created loopholes so that "those who profited from the war could continue much as before." Many members of the political elite, writes Kolko, continued to savor "their little pleasures, or voyage to
The Nazi state found the resources to subsidize consumer society in Germany by plundering the occupied regions of France, Belgium, The Netherlands, Poland, and Italy --countries where malnutrition, illness and premature death was common among the civilian population even in those relatively rich regions which produced ample quantities of food. This was the direct result of German state capitalist policy of using consumerism as a political instrument to prevent the rise of a revolutionary socialist movement in the homeland, such as had been witnessed by Hitler himself in Germany at the end of World War I.
What follows is a series of articles which CEIMSA has recently received describing the current status of that classic Capitalist Trinity : Militarism, Xenophobia, & Opportunism.
Item A. is an excerpt from insider advice at Jane's Defense Weekly (May 2005) available for investors in military industries. The ROW ["rest of the world"] military budgets combined are now less than the annual
Item B. is a description of the "revolution" currently under way in the media industry, according to John Pilger, editor of the new anthology, Tell Me No Lies: Investigative Journalism and Its Triumphs.
Item C. is an essay on the contemporary politics of xenophobia, sent to us by Professor Edward Herman.
Item D. is a mainstream press account which illustrates the tactical use of powerful financial institutions by the capitalist state to create illusions of prosperity in times of crisis. In his article, "State Coffers Swelling Again," veteran NYT journalist John Broder, illustrates the perversion of Keynesian economic theory in the hands of a cynical power elite, whose aim is not to eliminate poverty by means of public employment, but rather to weaken any progressive forces which might surface to challenge the very structure of the
As always, we invite readers to comment/critique the articles we have selected.
Francis McCollum Feeley
Professor of American Studies/
Director of Research
Université Stendhal-Grenoble III
from Jane's Defense Weekly :
04 May 2005
By Guy Anderson Editor of Jane's Defence Industry
Defence expenditure in the
Its report - 'The Defence Industry in the 21st Century' by PwC's global aerospace and defence leader Richard Hooke - adds that "the US is in the driving seat", raising the prospect of a future scenario in which it could "dominate the supply of the world's arms completely".
Less than two per cent of the
Hooke says: "The message for management teams in all this - apart from the obvious for US contractors to monopolise the industry - is that they will fail to maximise value if they fail to define accurately the business segment in which they operate.
"For Europe and the
202 of 389 words
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from John Pilger
Tr u t h o u t | Perspective
Friday 25 November 2005
A News Revolution Has Begun
by John Pilger
The Indian writer Vandana Shiva has called
"insurrection of subjugated knowledge." The insurrection is well
under way. In trying to make sense of a dangerous world, millions of
turning away from the traditional sources of news and information and
the world wide web, convinced that
journalism is the voice of rampant power. The great scandal of
Such honesty has yet to cross the
An admission by the US State Department on 10 November that its forces had used white phosphorus in Fallujah followed "rumours on the internet," according to the BBC's Newsnight. There were no rumours. There was first-class investigative work that ought to shame well-paid journalists. Mark Kraft of insomnia.livejournal.com found the evidence in the March-April 2005 issue of Field Artillery magazine and other sources. He was supported by the work of film-maker Gabriele Zamparini, founder of the excellent site, thecatsdream.com.
Last May, David Edwards and David Cromwell of medialens.org posted a
correspondence with Helen Boaden, the
of news. They had asked her why the BBC had remained silent on known
committed by the Americans in Fallujah.
"Our correspondent in Fallujah at the time
Once the unacknowledged work of Mark Kraft and Gabriele Zamparini had appeared in the Guardian and Independent and forced the Americans
clean about white phosphorous, Wood was on Newsnight describing their admission as "a public relations disaster for the
The BBC and most of the British political and media establishment invariably cast such a horror as a public relations problem while minimizing the crushing of a city the size of Leeds, the killing and maiming of countless men, women and children, the expulsion of thousands and the denial of medical supplies, food and water - a major war crime.
The evidence is voluminous, provided by refugees, doctors, human rights groups and a few courageous foreigners whose work appears only on the internet. In April last year, Jo Wilding, a young British law student, filed a series of extraordinary eye-witness reports from inside the city. So fine are they that I have included one of her pieces in an anthology of the best investigative journalism.* Her film, "A Letter to the Prime Minister," made inside Fallujah with Julia Guest, has not been shown on British television. In addition, Dahr Jamail, an independent Lebanese-American journalist who has produced some of the best frontline reporting I have read, described all the "things" the BBC failed to "see." His interviews with doctors, local officials and families are on the internet, together with the work of those who have exposed the widespread use of uranium-tipped shells, another banned weapon, and cluster bombs, which Campbell would say are "technically legal." Try these web sites: dahrjamail.com, zmag.org, antiwar.com, truthout.org, indymedia.org.uk, internationalclearinghouse.info, counterpunch.org, voicesuk.org. There are many more.
"Each word," wrote Jean-Paul Sartre, "has an echo. So does each silence."
John Pilger's new book, Tell Me No Lies: Investigative Journalism and Its Triumphs, is published by Vintage.
From Edward Herman :
Sent: Thursday, November 24, 2005
Subject: Ha'aretz (
What sort of
Frenchmen are they?
by Dror Mishani and Aurelia Smotriez
PARIS - The first thing the French-Jewish philosopher Alain Finkielkraut said to us when we met one evening at Paris' elegant Le Rostand cafe, where the interior is decorated with Oriental-style pictures and the terrace faces the Luxembourg Gardens, was "I heard that even Haaretz published an article identifying with the riots."
This remark, uttered with some vehemence, pretty much sums up the feelings of Finkielkraut - one of the most prominent philosophers in
events through the media, keeping up with all the news reports and commentary, and has been appalled at every article that shows understanding for or identification with "the rebels" (and in the French press, there are plenty). He has a lot to say, but it appears that
he can say in
Indeed, in the lively intellectual debate that has been taking place on the pages of the French newspapers ever since the rioting started, a debate in which France's most illustrious minds are taking part, Finkielkraut's is a deviant, even very deviant, voice.
Primarily because it is not emanating from the throat of a member of Jean Marie Le Pen's National Front, but from that of a philosopher formerly considered to be one of the most eminent spokesmen of the French left -one of the generation of philosophers who emerged at the time of the May 1968 student revolt.
In the French press, the riots in the suburbs are perceived mainly as an economic problem, as a violent reaction to severe economic hardship and discrimination. In
that most of these youths are blacks or Arabs, with a Muslim identity. Look, in
revolt with an ethno-religious character.
"What is its origin? Is this the response of the Arabs and blacks to the racism of which they are victims? I don't believe so, because this violence had very troubling precursors, which cannot be reduced to an unalloyed reaction to French racism.
"Let's take, for example, the incidents at the soccer match between
["black-white-Arab" - a reference to the colors on
"Anyway, this team is perceived as a symbol of an open, multiethnic society and so on. The crowd in the stadium, young people of Algerian descent, booed this team throughout the whole game! They also booed during the playing of the national anthem, the
`Marseillaise,' and the match was halted when the youths broke onto the field with Algerian flags.
"And then there are the lyrics of the rap songs. Very troubling lyrics. A real call to revolt. There's one called Dr. R., I think, who sings: `I piss on
and violence is now coming out in the riots. To see them as a response to French racism is to be blind to a broader hatred: the hatred for the West, which is deemed guilty of all crimes.
In other words, as you see it, the riots aren't directed at
"No, they are directed against
Alain Finkielkraut, 56, has come a long way from the events of May 1968 to the riots of October
group known as "the new philosophers" (Bernard Henri-Levy, Andre Glucksman, Pascal Bruckner and others) - young philosophers, many of them Jewish, who made a critical break with the Marxist ideology of May 1968 and with the French Communist Party, and
denounced its impact on French culture and society.
In 1987, he published his book "The Defeat of the Mind," in which he outlined his opposition to post-modernist philosophy, with its erasure of the boundaries between high and low culture and its cultural relativism. And thus he began to earn a name as a "conservative" philosopher and scathing critic of the multicultural and post-colonial intellectual currents, as someone who preached a return to
Over time, he also became a symbol of the "involved intellectual," as exemplified by the postwar Jean-Paul Sartre - a philosopher who doesn't abstain from participation in political life, but instead writes in the newspapers, gives interviews and devotes himself
to humanitarian causes such as halting the ethnic cleansing in
Do you think that the source of the hatred for the West among the French who are taking part in the riots lies in religion, in Islam?
"We need to be clear on this. This is a very difficult question and we must strive to maintain the language of truth. We tend to fear the language of truth, for `noble' reasons. We prefer to say the `youths' instead of `blacks' or `Arabs.' But the truth cannot be
sacrificed, no matter how noble the reasons. And, of course, we also must avoid generalizations: This isn't about blacks and Arabs as a whole, but about some blacks and Arabs. And, of course, religion - not as religion, but as an anchor of identity, if you will -
plays a part. Religion as it appears on the Internet, on the Arab television stations, serves as an anchor of identity for some of these youths.
"Unlike others, I have not spoken about an `intifada' of the suburbs, and I don't think this lexicon ought to be used. But I have found that they are also sending the youngest people to the front lines of the struggle. You've seen this in
But why? For what reason?
"Why have parts of the Muslim-Arab world declared war on the West? The republic is the French version of
"We are witness to an Islamic radicalization that must be explained in its entirety before we get to the French case, to a culture that, instead of dealing with its problems, searches for an external guilty party. It's easier to find an external guilty party. It's tempting to tell yourself that in
But what appears to disturb Finkielkraut even more than this "hatred for the West," is what he sees as its internalization in the French education system, and the identification with it by French intellectuals. In his view, this identification and internalization - which are expressed in shows of understanding for the sources of the violence and in the post-colonial mindset that is permeating the education system - are threatening not only France as a whole, but the country's Jews, too, because they are creating an infrastructure for the new anti-Semitism.
Dieudonne [a black stand-up artist, who caused an uproar with his anti-Semitic statements - D.M.]. Today he is the true patron of anti-Semitism in
"But what does Dieudonne really want? He wants a `Holocaust' for Arabs and blacks, too. But if you want to put the Holocaust and slavery on the same plane, then you have to lie. Because [slavery] wasn't a Holocaust. And [the Holocaust] wasn't `a crime against
humanity,' because it wasn't just a crime. It was something ambivalent. The same is true of slavery. It began long before the West. In fact, what sets the West apart when it comes to slavery is that it was the one to eliminate it. The elimination of slavery is a
European and American thing. But this truth about slavery cannot be taught in schools.
"That's why these events sadden me so greatly; not so much because they happened. After all, you'd have to be deaf and blind not to see that they would happen. But because of the interpretations that have accompanied them. These dealt a decisive blow to the
France I loved. And I've always said that life will become impossible for Jews in
happened to it?"
Since you view this as an Islamic assault, how do you explain the fact that Jews have not been attacked in the recent events?
"First of all, they say that one synagogue has been attacked. But I think that what we've experienced is an anti-republican pogrom. They tell us that these neighborhoods are neglected and the people are in distress. What connection is there between poverty and
despair, and wreaking destruction and setting fire to schools? I don't think any Jew would ever do a thing like this."
Finkielkraut continues: "What unites the Jews - the secular, the religious, the Peace Now crowd, the Greater Land of Israel crowd - is one word: shul (synagogue; used here as religious study hall). That's what holds us all together as Jews. And I have been
just horrified by these acts, which kept repeating themselves, and horrified even more by the understanding with which they were received in
"Imagine for a moment that they were whites, like in
"Moreover, there's a contradiction here. Because if these suburbs were truly in a state of total neglect, there wouldn't be any gymnasiums to torch, there wouldn't be schools and buses. If there are gymnasiums and schools and buses, it's because someone made an effort. Maybe not enough of one, but an effort."
Still, the unemployment rate in the suburbs is very extreme: Almost 40 percent of young people aged 15-25 have no chance of finding a job.
"Let's return to the shul for a moment. When parents send you to school, is it in order for you to find a job? I was sent to school in order to learn. Culture and education have a justification per se. You go to school to learn. That is the purpose of school. And
these people who are destroying schools - what are they really saying? Their message is not a cry for help or a demand for more schools or better schools. It's a desire to eliminate the intermediaries that stand between them and their objects of desire. And
what are their objects of desire? Simple: money, designer labels, sometimes girls. And this is something for which our society surely bears responsibility. Because they want everything immediately, and what they want is only the consumer-society ideal. It's what they see on television."
Declaration of war
Finkielkraut, as his name indicates, is himself the child of an immigrant family: His parents came to
the start of the second intifada and the rise in anti-Semitism in
His standing as a key spokesperson within the Jewish community in
"I was born in
But do you, of all people, who fight against anti-Jewish racism, maintain that the discrimination and racism these youths are talking about doesn't actually exist?
"Of course discrimination exists. And certainly there are French racists. French people who don't like Arabs and blacks. And they'll like them even less now, when they know how much they're hated by them. So this discrimination will only increase, in terms of housing and work, too.
"But imagine that you're running a restaurant, and you're anti-racist, and you think that all people are equal, and you're also Jewish. In other words, talking about inequality between the races is a problem for you. And let's say that a young man from the suburbs
comes in who wants to be a waiter. He talks the talk of the suburbs. You won't hire him for the job. It's very simple. You won't hire him because it's impossible. He has to represent you and that requires discipline and manners, and a certain way of speaking.
And I can tell you that French whites who are imitating the code of behavior of the suburbs - and there is such a thing - will run into the same exact problem. The only way to fight discrimination is to restore the requirements, the educational seriousness. This is the only way. But you're not allowed to say that, either. I can't.. It's common sense, but they prefer to propound the myth of `French racism.' It's not right.
"We live today in an environment of a `perpetual war on racism' and the nature of this anti-racism also needs to be examined. Earlier, I heard someone on the radio who was opposed to Interior Minister Sarkozy's decision to expel anyone who doesn't have French citizenship and takes part in the riots and is arrested. And what did he say? That this was `ethnic cleansing.' During the war in
They bestirred themselves solely to support the Palestinians. And to talk about `ethnic cleansing' now? There was a single person killed in the riots. Actually, there were two [more], but it was an accident. They weren't being chased, but they fled to
an electrical transformer even though the warning signs on it were huge.
"But I think that the lofty idea of `the war on racism' is gradually turning into a hideously false ideology. And this anti-racism will be for the 21st century what communism was for the 20th century. A source of violence. Today, Jews are attacked in the name of anti-racist discourse: the separation fence, `Zionism is racism.'
"It's the same thing in
And what do you think about the steps the French government has taken to quell the violence? The state of emergency, the curfew?
"This is so normal. What we have experienced is terrible. You have to understand that the ones who have the least power in a society are the authorities, the rulers. Yes, they are responsible for maintaining order. And this is important because without them,
some sort of self-defense would be organized and people would shoot. So they're maintaining order, and doing it with extraordinary caution. They should be saluted.
"In May 1968 there was a totally innocent movement compared to the one we're seeing now, and there was violence on the part of the police. Here they're tossing Molotov cocktails, firing live bullets. And there hasn't been a single incident of police violence. [Since this interview, several police officers have been arrested on suspicion of using violence - D.M.] There's no precedent for this. How to
impose order? By using `common sense' methods, which by the way, according to a poll by
"But apparently it's already too late to make them feel ashamed, since on the radio, on television and in the newspapers, or in most of them, they're holding a prettifying mirror up to the rioters. They're `interesting' people, they're nurturing their suffering and they understand their despair. In addition, there's the great perversion of the spectacle: They're burning cars in order to see it on television. It makes them feel `important' - that they live in an `important neighborhood.' The pursuit of this spectacle ought to be analyzed. It's creating totally perverted effects. And the perversion of the spectacle is accompanied by totally perverted analyses."
Since the start of the riots in the suburbs, the press throughout
"They're saying that the republican model has collapsed in these riots. But the multicultural model isn't in any better shape. Not in
"This means that what we're seeing today is actually the failure of the `nice' post-republican model. But the problem with this model is that it is fueled by its own failures: Every fiasco is a reason to become even more extreme. The school will become even `nicer.' When really, given what we're seeing, greater strictness and more exacting standards are the minimum that we need to ask for. If not, before long we'll have `courses in crime.'
"This is an evolution that characterizes democracy. Democracy, as a process, and Tocqueville showed this, does not abide selfishness. Within democracy, it's hard to tolerate non-democratic spaces. Everything has to be done democratically in a democracy, but school cannot be this way. It just can't.. The asymmetry is glaring: between he who knows and he who doesn't know, between he who brings a world with him and he who is new in this world.
"The democratic process delegitimizes this asymmetry. It's a general process in the Western world, but in
Many of the youths say the problem is that they don't feel French, that
"The problem is that they need to regard themselves as French. If the immigrants say `the French' when they're referring to the whites, then we're lost. If their identity is located somewhere else and they're only in
lost. I have to admit that the Jews are also starting to use this phrase. I hear them saying `the French' and I can't stand it. I say to them, `If for you
"But if they have a French identity card, then they're French. And if not, they have the right to go. They say, `I'm not French. I live in
were the neglect and poverty, then they would go somewhere else. But they know very well that anywhere else, and especially in the countries from whence they came, their situation would be worse, as far as rights and opportunities go."
But the problem today is the integration into French society of young men and women who are from the third generation. This isn't a wave of new immigrants. They were born in
"This feeling, that they are not French, isn't something they get from school. In
"Take the language, for example. You say they are third generation. So why do they speak French the way they do? It's butchered French - the accent, the words, the syntax. Is it the school's fault? The teachers' fault?"
Since the Arabs and blacks apparently have no intention of leaving
"This problem is the problem of all the countries of
And what will happen in
"I don't know. I'm despairing. Because of the riots and because of their accompaniment by the media. The riots will subside, but what does this mean? There won't be a return to quiet. It will be a return to regular violence. So they'll stop because there is a
curfew now, and the foreigners are afraid and the drug dealers also want the usual order restored. But they'll gain support and encouragement for their anti-republican violence from the repulsive discourse of self-criticism over their slavery and colonization.
So that's it: There won't be a return to quiet, but a return to routine violence."
So your world view doesn't stand a chance anymore?
"No, I've lost. As far as anything relating to the struggle over school is concerned, I've lost. It's interesting, because when I speak the way I'm speaking now, a lot of people agree with me. Very many. But there's something in
from John Broder :
New York Times
25 November 2005
Francis McCollum Feeley
Professor of American Studies/
Director of Research