Bulletin N°236


1 June 2006
Grenoble, France

Dear Colleagues and Friends of CEIMSA,
From the books we are reading on communication theory and systems analysis, we have learned that in open, goal-seeking systems the causes of events are found in the goals sought (taking into account the constraints encountered while seeking these goals). Anthony Wilden uses the example of the drive home : As we leave headed for our destination, he explains, we have many choices on how to proceed. We choose our path by rejecting alternative ways, but as we approach our destination our choices become more and more limited, until we have no alternative than to pull into the driveway (or dive into our bed, as the case may be). The cause of our actions is the goal we have set and the constraints we have encountered; not our original departure.

This week began with Pope Benedict XVI's homecoming visit to Germany. Arriving at the notorious Polish concentration camp, Auschwitz, the Pope declared himself  "a son of the German people". On Sunday, 28 May, on the same deathcamp grounds, he asked God why He remained silent during the "unprecedented mass crimes" of the Holocaust. As is often the case, what was not said was more important that what was actually said at this historic moment in Auschwitz. Pope Benedict XVI did not ask why the Church had remained silent. He did not ask why he himself had joined the Hitler's Youth organization. He did not question the political economy that gave rise to fascism, nor did he refer to the mass psychology of collaborators, which was a necessary part for this murderous system to flourish. Instead His Eminence focused on a small group of German leaders; he suggested that he was simply "a son of that people over which a ring of criminals rose to power by false promises of future greatness."  Some would argue that this version of the Nazi seizure of power in Germany is a falsification of history.

As state capitalism (aka corporatism) makes new inroads into our lives, attempting to obliterate collective memory and all possibilities for future resistance in the form of alternative ideologies, including radical critiques of the system of private control over capital, a new authoritarianism engulfs many of us, who are identified as the "enemies" of capitalism within capitalist institutions. We live in a time of corporate hegemony.

Italian fascist literature of the 1930s ignores the abject servility toward corporate power, which Pier Paolo Pasolini depicted as a classic sadomasochistic relationship. French collaboration literature in the 1940s conceals the quiet lives of desperation, the humiliation, the linguistic obfuscations of a conquered people, who were systematically starved by Nazi expropriations of food stuff which served to create a consumer society for civilians in Germany during the war --what Walter Benjamin called the fascist "aestheticizing of politics."

This history would offer useful information today on why not to collaborate with the new authoritarianism that many find to be descending upon us. Professor Anthony Wilden writes of this homogenization process which historically accompanies the capitalist drive for new markets:
  The genetic diversity of an individual or a population is guided, translated, and transformed by the
social diversity.... Social diversity works to preserve the system's personal, psychological, and economic
flexibility, and thus helps to maintain the single most important condition for long-range survival in relation
to the environment, which is of course all the more significant if the environment is changing or being changed
by society....
   Unlike our own society many of the other societies never chose to go beyond relationships of co-evolution
and co-adaptation with the natural environment, choosing instead what might be called 'social symbiosis' .... the
economic and ecological relations of those types of society ... if undisturbed by catastrophe, can last forever.
   It may be objected here that the other societies did not develop the flexibility to know how to survive modern
capitalism, but then as yet we don't know how to survive it either.
   Co-evolution did not of course exclude war, ritual murder, slavery, or cannibalism --we are not talking about the noble
savage of sixteenth-to-eighteenth-century romanticism. As Marvin Harris argues most convincingly in Cannibals and
Kings (1977), individual human beings and entire societies can be brought up to love war, killing, brutality, or human
flesh as easily as they can be brought up to hate and detest them, such is the vast power of society and culture over
the actual expression in real life of our genetic potential as organisms. (Wilden, 1987, p.105)

Below are articles recently received by CEIMSA which offer information on "what went wrong" with American society. They serve to illustrate some of the dangers that modern capitalist societies have generated in recent years.

Item A. is an exposé on the many civilian massacres (more than 250,000 Iraqi civilians have been murdered since the invasion of 2003) carried out by U.S. troops and private U.S. security forces in Iraq.

Item B. is an article sent to us by Dr. John Gerassi of Queens College, New York City, reminding us of a history of nuclear proliferation, Britain's sales of nuclear materials to Israel.

Item C. is an excerpt from Noam Chomsky's new book, Failed States, sent to us by Stenhdhal University Professor Sheila Whittick.

Item D. is a science fiction piece seeking real understanding of "what went wrong" in America after the 1960s, sent to us by Frédéric Méni, student in American Studies at the University of Grenoble 3.

Item E. is an essay on the investigation of secret police spying at the University of California-Santa Cruz campus.

And, finally, item F. is an historical perspective of "what went wrong" in the American left from Stanley Aronowitz, and sent to us with comments by San Diego community organizer, Monty Kroopkin.

Francis McCollum Feeley
Professor of American Studies/
Director of Research
Université Stendhal-Grenoble III

from Dahr Jamail :
Date : 30 May 2006
Subject : Iraq Dispatches: Countless My Lai Massacres in Iraq
http://dahrjamailiraq.com **

Countless My Lai Massacres in Iraq
by Dahr Jamail

The media feeding frenzy around what has been referred to as "Iraq's My Lai" has become frenetic. Focus on US Marines slaughtering at least 20 civilians in Haditha last November is reminiscent of the media spasm around the "scandal" of Abu Ghraib during April and May 2004.

Yet just like Abu Ghraib, while the media spotlight shines squarely on the Haditha massacre, countless atrocities continue daily, conveniently out of the awareness of the general public. Torture did not stop simply because the media finally decided, albeit in horribly belated fashion, to cover the story, and the daily slaughter of Iraqi civilians by US forces and US-backed Iraqi "security" forces has not stopped either.

Earlier this month, I received a news release from Iraq, which read, "On Saturday, May 13th, 2006, at 10:00 p.m., US Forces accompanied by the Iraqi National Guard attacked the houses of Iraqi people in the Al-Latifya district south of Baghdad by an intensive helicopter shelling. This led the families to flee to the Al-Mazar and water canals to protect themselves from the fierce shelling. Then seven helicopters landed to pursue the families who fled … and killed them. The number of victims amounted to more than 25 martyrs. US forces detained another six persons including two women named Israa Ahmed Hasan and Widad Ahmed Hasan, and a child named Huda Hitham Mohammed Hasan, whose father was killed during the shelling."

The report from the Iraqi NGO called The Monitoring Net of Human Rights in Iraq (MHRI) continued, "The forces didn't stop at this limit. They held an attack on May 15th, 2006, supported also by the Iraqi National Guards. They also attacked the families' houses, and arrested a number of them while others fled. US snipers then used the homes to target more Iraqis. The reason for this crime was due to the downing of a helicopter in an area close to where the forces held their attack."

The US military preferred to report the incident as an offensive where they killed 41 "insurgents," a line effectively parroted by much of the media.

On that same day, MHRI also reported that in the Yarmouk district of Baghdad, US forces raided the home of Essam Fitian al-Rawi. Al-Rawi was killed along with his son Ahmed; then the soldiers reportedly removed the two bodies along with Al-Rawi's nephew, who was detained.

Similarly, in the city of Samara on May 5, MHRI reported, "American soldiers entered the house of Mr. Zidan Khalif Al-Heed after an attack upon American soldiers was launched nearby the house. American soldiers entered this home and killed the family, including the father, mother and daughter who is in the 6th grade, along with their son, who was suffering from mental and physical disabilities."

This same group, MHRI, also estimated that between 4,000 and 6,000 Iraqi civilians were killed during the November 2004 US assault on Fallujah. Numbers which make those from the Haditha massacre pale in comparison.

Instead of reporting incidents such as these, mainstream outlets are referring to the Haditha slaughter as one of a few cases that "present the most serious challenge to US handling of the Iraq war since the Abu Ghraib prison scandal."

Marc Garlasco, of Human Rights Watch, told reporters recently, "What happened at Haditha appears to be outright murder. The Haditha massacre will go down as Iraq's My Lai."

Then there is the daily reality of sectarian and ethnic cleansing in Iraq, which is being carried out by US-backed Iraqi "security" forces. A recent example of this was provided by a representative of the Voice of freedom Association for Human Rights, another Iraqi NGO which logs ongoing atrocities resulting from the US occupation.

"The representative … visited Fursan Village (Bani Zaid) with the Iraqi Red Crescent Al-Madayin Branch. The village of 60 houses, inhabited by Sunni families, was attacked on February 27, 2006, by groups of men wearing black clothes and driving cars from the Ministry of Interior. Most of the villagers escaped, but eight were caught and immediately executed. One of them was the Imam of the village mosque, Abu Aisha, and another was a 10-year-old boy, Adnan Madab. They were executed inside
the room where they were hiding. Many animals (sheep, cows and dogs) were shot by the armed men also. The village mosque and most of the houses were destroyed and burnt."

The representative had obtained the information when four men who had fled the scene of the massacre returned to provide the details. The other survivors had all left to seek refuge in Baghdad. "The survivors who returned to give the details guided the representative and the Red Crescent personnel to where the bodies had been buried. They [the bodies] were of men, women and one of the village babies."

The director of MHRI, Muhamad T. Al-Deraji, said of this incident, "This situation is a simple part of a larger problem that is orchestrated by the government … the delay in protecting more villagers from this will only increase the number of tragedies."

Arun Gupta, an investigative journalist and editor with the New York Indypendent newspaper of the New York Independent Media Center, has written extensively about US-backed militias and death squads in Iraq. He is also the former editor at the Guardian weekly in New York and writes frequently for Z Magazine and Left Turn.

"The fact is, while I think the militias have, to a degree, spiraled out of US control, it's the US who trains, arms, funds, and supplies all the police and military forces, and gives them critical logistical support," he told me this week. "For instance, there were reports at the beginning of the year that a US army unit caught a "death squad" operating inside the Iraqi Highway Patrol. There were the usual claims that the US has nothing to do with them. It's all a big lie. The American reporters are
lazy. If they did just a little digging, there is loads of material out there showing how the US set up the highway patrol, established a special training academy just for them, equipped them, armed them, built all their bases, etc. It's all in government documents, so it's irrefutable. But then they tell the media we have nothing to do with
them and they don't even fact check it. In any case, I think the story is significant only insofar as it shows how the US tries to cover up its involvement."

Once again, like Abu Ghraib, a few US soldiers are being investigated about what occurred in Haditha. The "few bad apples" scenario is being repeated in order to obscure the fact that Iraqis are being slaughtered every single day. The "shoot first ask questions later" policy, which has been in effect from nearly the beginning in Iraq, creates
trigger-happy American soldiers and US-backed Iraqi death squads who have no respect for the lives of the Iraqi people. Yet, rather than high-ranking members of the Bush administration who give the orders, including Bush himself, being tried for the war crimes they are most certainly guilty of, we have the ceremonial "public hanging" of a few
lowly soldiers for their crimes committed on the ground.

In an interview with CNN on May 29th concerning the Haditha massacre, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Peter Pace commented, "It's going to be a couple more weeks before those investigations are complete, and we should not prejudge the outcome. But we should, in fact, as leaders take on the responsibility to get out and talk to our troops and make sure that they understand that what 99.9 percent of them are doing, which is fighting with honor and courage, is exactly what we expect of them."

This is the same Peter Pace who when asked how things were going in Iraq by Tim Russert on Meet the Press this past March 5th said, "I'd say they're going well. I wouldn't put a great big smiley face on it, but I would say they're going very, very well from everything you look at …"

Things are not "going very, very well" in Iraq. There have been countless My Lai massacres, and we cannot blame 0.1% of the soldiers on the ground in Iraq for killing as many as a quarter of a million Iraqis, when it is the policies of the Bush administration that generated the failed occupation to begin with.

A must read article on this topic which addresses US and International Law concerning this atrocity is "The Haditha Massacre" by Marjorie Cohn posted here < http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/053006J.shtml>.

Marjorie Cohn is a professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law, President-elect of the National Lawyers Guild, and the US representative to the executive committee of the American Association of Jurists.

Addenda : "Civilian Slaughter Update"
May 31, 2006

On Tuesday, May 30 Truthout < http://www.truthout.org/> published my article "Countles My Lai Massacres in Iraq
< http://www.dahrjamailiraq.com/hard_news/archives/newscommentary/000399.php#more >."

Here are a couple of recent pieces of information to augment that story :

        1. Today the AP has just released this story:

                2 Iraqi women killed by coalition troops : < http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20060531/ap_on_re_mi_ea/iraq_women_killed >
"BAGHDAD, Iraq - Two Iraqi women were shot to death north of Baghdad
after coalition forces fired on a vehicle that failed to stop at an
observation post, the U.S. military said Wednesday. Iraqi police and
relatives said one of the women was about to give birth."
        2. And on May 29, Al-Shaqiyah TV reported from Iraq : < http://www.dahrjamailiraq.com/mideastwire/index.php?id=139>
"US forces killed five civilians and wounded two others in the city
[Ramadi] today. A source at Al-Ramadi State Hospital said that among the
dead were a child and a woman. An Iraqi officer in Al-Ramadi said that
the US forces were beefing up their presence on the periphery of
Al-Ramadi, noting that the city will soon come under siege 'ahead of an
all-out attack such as the one that targeted Al-Fallujah' in 2004."

from John Gerassi :
Date : 30 May 2006
Subject : Have you read this?

I'm sure you've seen this, but in case...
Cheers tito
Britain's dirty secret
by Meirion Jones
[Exculsive - Secret papers show how Britain helped Israel make the A-bomb in the 1960s, supplying tons of vital chemicals including plutonium and uranium. And it looks as though Harold Wilson and his ministers knew nothing about it.]

Mirage jets swoop from the sky to destroy the Egyptian air force before breakfast; tanks race across the desert to the Suez Canal; Moshe Dayan, the defence minister, poses with eyepatch after the Jerusalem brigade has fought its way into the Old City. These are the heroic images of the Six Day War and they defined Israeli daring: here was a people who, it seemed, risked everything on a throw of the dice. Years later the world discovered that there was an insurance policy.
They had a secret weapon - two, to be precise. In the weeks before Israel took on the Arab world in June 1967 it put together a pair of crude nuclear bombs, just in case things didn't go as planned. Making them required not only Israeli ingenuity but also plenty of help from abroad. It has been known for some time that the French helped build Israel's reactor and reprocessing plant at Dimona, but over the past year our research team at BBC Newsnight has unearthed something no less astonishing and much closer to home - top-secret files which show how Britain helped Israel get the atomic bomb.
We can reveal that while Harold Wilson was prime minister the UK supplied Israel with small quantities of plutonium despite a warning from British intelligence that it might "make a material contribution to an Israeli weapons programme". This, by enabling Israel to study the properties of plutonium before its own supplies came on line, could have taken months off the time it needed to make a weapon. Britain also sold Israel a whole range of other exotic chemicals, including uranium-235, beryllium and lithium-6, which are used in atom bombs and even hydrogen bombs. And in Harold Macmillan's time we supplied the heavy water that allowed Israel to start up its own plutonium production facility at Dimona - heavy water that British intelligence estimated would enable Israel to make "six nuclear weapons a year".
After we exposed the sale of the heavy water on Newsnight last August, the government assured the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that all Britain did was sell some heavy water back to Norway. Using the Freedom of Information Act, we have now obtained previously top-secret papers which show not only that Norway was a mere cover for the Israel deal, but that Britain made hundreds of other secret shipments of nuclear materials to Israel in the 1950s and 1960s.
Tony Benn became technology minister in 1966, while the plutonium deal was going through. Though the nuclear industry was part of his brief, nobody told him we were exporting atomic energy materials to Israel. "I'm not only surprised," he says, "I'm shocked." Neither he nor his predecessor Frank Cousins agreed to the sales, he insists, and though he always suspected civil servants of doing deals behind his back, "it never occurred to me they would authorise something so totally against the policy of the government".
The documentary evidence is backed by eyewitness testimony. Back in August 1960, when covert photographs of a mysterious site at Dimona in Israel arrived at Defence Intelligence Staff (DIS) in Whitehall, a brilliant analyst called Peter Kelly saw immediately that they showed a secret nuclear reactor. Today Kelly, physically frail but mentally acute, lives in retirement on the south coast, and as he leafs through the "UK Eyes Only" reports he wrote about Israel for MI5 and MI6, he smiles. "I was quite perceptive," he says. Kelly recognised that the Dimona reactor was a French design, and he very soon discovered where the heavy water needed to operate it had come from. When we explain that the government has told the IAEA that Britain thought it was selling the heavy water to Norway he laughs heartily.
What really happened was this: Britain had bought the heavy water from Norsk Hydro in Norway for its nuclear weapons programme, but found it was surplus to requirements and decided to sell. An arrangement was indeed made with a Norwegian company, Noratom, but crucially the papers show that Noratom was not the true buyer: the firm agreed to broker a deal with Israel in return for a 2 per cent commission. Israel paid the top price - £1m - to avoid having to give guarantees that the material would not be used to make nuclear weapons, but the papers leave no doubt that Britain knew all along that Israel wanted the heavy water "to produce plutonium". Kelly discovered that a charade was played out, with British and Israeli delegations sitting in adjacent rooms while Noratom ferried contracts between them to maintain the fiction that Britain had not done the deal with Israel.
The transaction was signed off for the Foreign Office by Donald Cape, whose job it was to make sure we didn't export materials that would help other countries get the atom bomb. He felt it would be "overzealous" to demand safeguards to prevent Israel using the chemical in weapons production. Cape is 82 now, tall, clear-headed and living in Surrey. He told us the deal was done because "nobody suspected the Israelis hoped to manufacture nuclear weapons", but his own declassified letters from March 1959 suggest otherwise. They show, for example, that the Foreign Office knew Israel had pulled out of a deal to buy uranium from South Africa when Pretoria asked for safeguards to prevent it being used for making nuclear weapons. It also knew the CIA was warning that "the Israelis must be expected to try and establish a nuclear weapons programme". Just weeks later, however, Britain started shipping heavy water direct to Israel: the first shipment left in June 1959 and the second in June 1960.
There was another problem: the Americans. There was no US-Israeli alliance in those days and Washington was determined to prevent nuclear weapons proliferation. If Britain told the Americans about the Israeli deal they would stop it. Donald Cape decided on discretion: "I would rather not tell the Americans." When Newsnight told Robert McNamara - John F Ken-nedy's defence secretary - about this he was amazed. "The fact Israel was trying to develop a nuclear bomb should not have come as a surprise, but that Britain should have supplied it with heavy water was indeed a surprise to me," he said.
Kelly's reports for the Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC) on "secret atomic activities in Israel" show that Britain's defence and espionage establishment had no doubt about what was going on in Israel. Kelly wrote of underground galleries at the Dimona complex; there were such galleries. He correctly described the French role in the project. He identified the importance of the heavy water: with 20 tons of this material, he estimated, Israel could have a reactor capable of producing "significant quantities of plutonium". British intelligence also knew about the reprocessing facility at Dimona and stated: "The separation of plutonium can only mean that Israel intends to produce nuclear weapons." Kelly even discovered that an Israeli observer had been allowed to watch one of the first French nuclear tests in Algeria.
Kelly and his colleagues, however, found their views were being challenged. Chief of the challengers was Michael Israel Michaels (such was his middle name, literally), who was a senior official at the science ministry under Lord Hailsham during the Macmillan government, and went on to serve at the technology ministry under Benn. He was also Britain's representative at the IAEA.
In 1961 Michaels was invited to Israel by the Israeli nuclear chief Ernst David Bergmann, and while there was given VIP treatment. He met not only Bergmann but Shimon Peres, the deputy defence minister, and David Ben-Gurion, the prime minister - the three fathers of the Israeli atomic bomb. Peter Kelly had warned his superiors that Israel might use the Michaels trip as part of a disinformation campaign to show "everything is above board", and this is what appears to have happened. Michaels's report gave Israel the all-clear, and he handed it to Hailsham at an important moment, two days before Ben-Gurion met Macmillan at Downing Street. Kelly later took the report apart line by line and concluded by offering his own prediction that Israel might have a "deliverable warhead" by 1967.
In 1962 the Dimona reactor started operating (thanks to the heavy water Britain had delivered), yet Michaels continued to protest Israel's innocence. The Israelis, meanwhile, were allowing the US to make inspection visits to Dimona once a year to demonstrate that it was not being used for military purposes, but Kelly saw that this, too, was a con. The tours were "heavily stage managed", he wrote in 1963, and "important developments were concealed". He was right: we now know that false walls screened parts of the plant from the inspectors.
Three years later, at the beginning of 1966, something extraordinary happened. The UK Atomic Energy Authority made what it called a "pretty harmless request" to the government: it wanted to export ten milligrams of plutonium to Israel. The Ministry of Defence strongly objected, with Defence Intelligence (Kelly's department) arguing that the sale might have "significant military value". The Foreign Office duly blocked it, ruling: "It is HMG's policy not to do anything which would assist Israel in the production of nuclear weapons."

Michaels was furious. He wrote "to protest strongly" against the decision, saying that small quantities of plutonium were not important and anyhow if we didn't sell it to the Israelis someone else would. Michaels could be a bulldozer - he was short and bald, described as pugnacious and hard-headed by colleagues - and he won his battle. Eventually the Foreign Office caved in and the sale went ahead.
What is most surprising about the position adopted by Michaels is that, as the new documents show, a few years earlier he had taken the direct opposite view of the value of small quantities of plutonium. In 1961 he received a JIC report suggesting that Israel would take at least three years to make enough plutonium and then another six months to work out how to make a bomb. In the margin beside the claim about the six months he wrote: "This surely is an understatement if the Israelis have no plutonium on which to experiment in advance." Then it occurred to him that a friendly power might give Israel a sample of plutonium to speed up the process: "Perhaps the French have supplied a small quantity for experimental purposes as we did to the French in like circumstances some years ago" (see panel, above). What this shows is that Michaels, in the full knowledge of how useful it could be for weapons development, went on to persuade the British government to sell Israel a sample of plutonium.
Today, Tony Benn can hardly believe that Michaels never referred the nuclear sales to him. Going through his diaries, Benn finds dozens of references to meetings with Michaels which show that he didn't trust him even then. "Michaels lied to me. I learned by bitter experience that the nuclear industry lied to me again and again." Kelly believes that Michaels knew all along what Israel was doing, but since he died in 1992 we can't ask him. According to his son Chris, after Michaels retired from the IAEA in 1971 the Israelis found him a job in London for a couple of years.
The atomic files give details of hundreds more nuclear deals with Israel. Many are small orders for compounds of uranium, beryllium and tritium, as well as other materials that can be used for both innocent and military purposes. In November 1959 someone at the Foreign Office allowed through the export of a small quantity of uranium-235 to Israel, apparently without realising that it was a core nuclear explosive material just like plutonium.
Some materials may have been for advanced bombs. In 1966 UKAEA supplied Israel with 1.25 grams of almost pure lithium-6. When combined with deuterium, this material provides the fusion fuel for hydrogen bombs. Britain also supplied two tons of unenriched lithium, from which lithium-6 is extracted - enough for several hydrogen bombs. Deuterium, incidentally, is normally extracted from heavy water, which, of course, Britain had already shipped to Israel.
Throughout this period, Defence Intelligence repeatedly complained that Israel was the only country getting nuclear export licences "on the basis of the meaningless phrase 'scientific and research purposes'". The Department of Trade tried to exempt Israeli deals completely on the grounds that these were government-to-government transactions, but DIS was outraged, saying such deals were meant only for "people like most of our Nato partners who can be trusted . . . Israel however is a very different kettle of fish." In August 1966 the Israeli armed forces ordered advanced radiation dosimeters. The Foreign Office said yes and overruled the strong objections of the British MoD that they were obviously for use by troops. DIS wanted to know why Israel was always given special treatment, adding: "We feel quite strongly about all this."
Tony Benn wonders whether these deals could have gone ahead without the knowledge of the British prime ministers of the time, Macmillan, Sir Alec Douglas-Home and Wilson. The evidence is unclear. The newly declassified papers show that in 1958 a member of the board of UKAEA said he was going to refer the heavy-water deal to the authority's executive, which reported directly to Macmillan, but there is no record that this happened. We know that Lord Hailsham learned about the heavy-water deal after it had gone through and concluded that Israel was "preparing for a weapons programme".

Benn's initial reaction to whether Wilson knew about the atomic exports to Israel was that it was "inconceivable". Then he hesitated, observing, "Harold was sympathetic to Israel," but concluded that no, he probably did not know. Benn believes that the exports were probably pushed through by civil servants working with the nuclear industry.
There was no plausible civilian use for heavy water, plutonium, U235, highly enriched lithium and many of the other materials shipped to Israel. The heavy water allowed Israel to fire up Dimona and produce the plutonium that still sits in Israel's missile warheads today. The small sample of plutonium could have shaved months off the development time of the Israeli atomic bomb in the run-up to the Six Day War.
In a letter this year to Sir Menzies Campbell, the Foreign Office minister Kim Howells has quietly conceded Britain knew the heavy water was going to Israel. He has yet to find time to tell the IAEA that, or indeed to tell it about the plutonium or the uranium-235 or the enriched lithium. Howells and his boss, Jack Straw, are too busy telling the IAEA about the dangers of nuclear proliferation in another corner of the Middle East.

Meirion Jones produced Michael Crick's report for Newsnight (BBC2) on the Israeli nuclear sales, which is broadcast on 9 March
How we helped the French
In May 1954 the French were fighting and losing their colonial war against Ho Chi Minh's armies in Vietnam. At home they were slowly establishing a nuclear infrastructure, but the setbacks in Indochina convinced some that they needed the atomic bomb and they needed it quickly.
On 6 May, therefore, as the final battle at Dien Bien Phu neared its climax, France's nuclear bosses sent a request to the chairman of the British Atomic Energy Authority. It was a shopping list of items that would help them build nuclear weapons, including a sample quantity of plutonium "so we can take the steps preparatory to the utilisation of our own plutonium". Britain knew about these things: it had exploded its own bomb less than two years earlier.
Before the letter even arrived the French had lost the battle and the war. Later that year the French prime minister, Pierre Mendes France, made the formal decision to build the atomic bomb. It took another year to negotiate the deal, but in the end Britain agreed to supply nuclear materials, including enriched uranium. Among the most important parts of the agreement was an arrangement for the British to check the blueprints and construction of French plutonium production reactors.
According to one source, this not only helped the French get their military plutonium reactor at Marcoule into operation quickly but it also averted a disaster, for the British found defects which could have caused a catastrophic explosion at the Rhone Valley site. The same source says that when Charles de Gaulle came to power in 1958 he personally thanked Harold Macmillan for the team's work.
There remained France's request for plutonium. In 1955 Britain agreed to export ten grams but "we would not tell the US that we were going to give the French plutonium nor about any similar cases". France exploded its first atomic bomb in 1960.

from Sheila Whitticks :
Date 31 May 2006
Subject: Edited extract from Failed States,  by Noam Chomsky.

Hi Francis,
You've probably already seen this but just in case you haven't here it is.
Have a good day,

Why it's over for America
by Noam Chomsky

[An inability to protect its citizens. The belief that it is above the law. A lack of democracy. Three defining characteristics of the 'failed state'. And that, says Noam Chomsky, is exactly what the US is becoming. In an exclusive extract from his devastating new book, America's leading thinker explains how his country lost its way ]

05/30/06 " The Independent" -
- -- The selection of issues that should rank high on the agenda of concern for human welfare and rights is, naturally, a subjective matter. But there are a few choices that seem unavoidable, because they bear so directly on the prospects for decent survival. Among them are at least these three: nuclear war, environmental disaster, and the fact that the government of the world's leading power is acting in ways that increase the likelihood of these catastrophes. It is important to stress the government, because the population, not surprisingly, does not agree.

That brings up a fourth issue that should deeply concern Americans, and the world: the sharp divide between public opinion and public policy, one of the reasons for the fear, which cannot casually be put aside, that, as Gar Alperowitz puts it in America Beyond Capitalism, "the American 'system' as a whole is in real trouble - that it is heading in a direction that spells the end of its historic values [of] equality, liberty, and meaningful democracy".

The "system" is coming to have some of the features of failed states, to adopt a currently fashionable notion that is conventionally applied to states regarded as potential threats to our security (like Iraq) or as needing our intervention to rescue the population from severe internal threats (like Haiti). Though the concept is recognised to be, according to the journal Foreign Affairs, "frustratingly imprecise", some of the primary characteristics of failed states can be identified. One is their inability or unwillingness to protect their citizens from violence and perhaps even destruction. Another is their tendency to regard themselves as beyond the reach of domestic or international law, and hence free to carry out aggression and violence. And if they have democratic forms, they suffer from a serious "democratic deficit" that deprives their formal democratic institutions of real substance.

Among the hardest tasks that anyone can undertake, and one of the most important, is to look honestly in the mirror. If we allow ourselves to do so, we should have little difficulty in finding the characteristics of "failed states" right at home.

No one familiar with history should be surprised that the growing democratic deficit in the United States is accompanied by declaration of messianic missions to bring democracy to a suffering world. Declarations of noble intent by systems of power are rarely complete fabrication, and the same is true in this case. Under some conditions, forms of democracy are indeed acceptable. Abroad, as the leading scholar-advocate of "democracy promotion" concludes, we find a "strong line of continuity": democracy is acceptable if and only if it is consistent with strategic and economic interests (Thomas Carothers). In modified form, the doctrine holds at home as well.

The basic dilemma facing policymakers is sometimes candidly recognised at the dovish liberal extreme of the spectrum, for example, by Robert Pastor, President Carter's national security adviser for Latin America. He explained why the administration had to support the murderous and corrupt Somoza regime in Nicaragua, and, when that proved impossible, to try at least to maintain the US-trained National Guard even as it was massacring the population "with a brutality a nation usually reserves for its enemy", killing some 40,000 people. The reason was the familiar one: "The United States did not want to control Nicaragua or the other nations of the region, but it also did not want developments to get out of control. It wanted Nicaraguans to act independently, except when doing so would affect US interests adversely."

Similar dilemmas faced Bush administration planners after their invasion of Iraq. They want Iraqis "to act independently, except when doing so would affect US interests adversely". Iraq must therefore be sovereign and democratic, but within limits. It must somehow be constructed as an obedient client state, much in the manner of the traditional order in Central America. At a general level, the pattern is familiar, reaching to the opposite extreme of institutional structures. The Kremlin was able to maintain satellites that were run by domestic political and military forces, with the iron fist poised. Germany was able to do much the same in occupied Europe even while it was at war, as did fascist Japan in Man-churia (its Manchukuo). Fascist Italy achieved similar results in North Africa while carrying out virtual genocide that in no way harmed its favourable image in the West and possibly inspired Hitler. Traditional imperial and neocolonial systems illustrate many variations on similar themes.

To achieve the traditional goals in Iraq has proven to be surprisingly difficult, despite unusually favourable circumstances. The dilemma of combining a measure of independence with firm control arose in a stark form not long after the invasion, as mass non-violent resistance compelled the invaders to accept far more Iraqi initiative than they had anticipated. The outcome even evoked the nightmarish prospect of a more or less democratic and sovereign Iraq taking its place in a loose Shiite alliance comprising Iran, Shiite Iraq, and possibly the nearby Shiite-dominated regions of Saudi Arabia, controlling most of the world's oil and independent of Washington.

The situation could get worse. Iran might give up on hopes that Europe could become independent of the United States, and turn eastward. Highly relevant background is discussed by Selig Harrison, a leading specialist on these topics. "The nuclear negotiations between Iran and the European Union were based on a bargain that the EU, held back by the US, has failed to honour," Harrison observes.

"The bargain was that Iran would suspend uranium enrichment, and the EU would undertake security guarantees. The language of the joint declaration was "unambiguous. 'A mutually acceptable agreement,' it said, would not only provide 'objective guarantees' that Iran's nuclear programme is 'exclusively for peaceful purposes' but would 'equally provide firm commitments on security issues.'"

The phrase "security issues" is a thinly veiled reference to the threats by the United States and Israel to bomb Iran, and preparations to do so. The model regularly adduced is Israel's bombing of Iraq's Osirak reactor in 1981, which appears to have initiated Saddam's nuclear weapons programs, another demonstration that violence tends to elicit violence. Any attempt to execute similar plans against Iran could lead to immediate violence, as is surely understood in Washington. During a visit to Tehran, the influential Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr warned that his militia would defend Iran in the case of any attack, "one of the strongest signs yet", the Washington Post reported, "that Iraq could become a battleground in any Western conflict with Iran, raising the spectre of Iraqi Shiite militias - or perhaps even the US-trained Shiite-dominated military - taking on American troops here in sympathy with Iran." The Sadrist bloc, which registered substantial gains in the December 2005 elections, may soon become the most powerful single political force in Iraq. It is consciously pursuing the model of other successful Islamist groups, such as Hamas in Palestine, combining strong resistance to military occupation with grassroots social organising and service to the poor.

Washington's unwillingness to allow regional security issues to be considered is nothing new. It has also arisen repeatedly in the confrontation with Iraq. In the background is the matter of Israeli nuclear weapons, a topic that Washington bars from international consideration. Beyond that lurks what Harrison rightly describes as "the central problem facing the global non-proliferation regime": the failure of the nuclear states to live up to their nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT) obligation "to phase out their own nuclear weapons" - and, in Washington's case, formal rejection of the obligation.

Unlike Europe, China refuses to be intimidated by Washington, a primary reason for the growing fear of China on the part of US planners. Much of Iran's oil already goes to China, and China is providing Iran with weapons, presumably considered a deterrent to US threats. Still more uncomfortable for Washington is the fact that, according to the Financial Times, "the Sino-Saudi relationship has developed dramatically", including Chinese military aid to Saudi Arabia and gas exploration rights for China. By 2005, Saudi Arabia provided about 17 per cent of China's oil imports. Chinese and Saudi oil companies have signed deals for drilling and construction of a huge refinery (with Exxon Mobil as a partner). A January 2006 visit by Saudi king Abdullah to Beijing was expected to lead to a Sino-Saudi memorandum of understanding calling for "increased cooperation and investment between the two countries in oil, natural gas, and minerals".

Indian analyst Aijaz Ahmad observes that Iran could "emerge as the virtual linchpin in the making, over the next decade or so, of what China and Russia have come to regard as an absolutely indispensable Asian Energy Security Grid, for breaking Western control of the world's energy supplies and securing the great industrial revolution of Asia". South Korea and southeast Asian countries are likely to join, possibly Japan as well. A crucial question is how India will react. It rejected US pressures to withdraw from an oil pipeline deal with Iran. On the other hand, India joined the United States and the EU in voting for an anti-Iranian resolution at the IAEA, joining also in their hypocrisy, since India rejects the NPT regime to which Iran, so far, appears to be largely conforming. Ahmad reports that India may have secretly reversed its stand under Iranian threats to terminate a $20bn gas deal. Washington later warned India that its "nuclear deal with the US could be ditched" if India did not go along with US demands, eliciting a sharp rejoinder from the Indian foreign ministry and an evasive tempering of the warning by the US embassy.

The prospect that Europe and Asia might move toward greater independence has seriously troubled US planners since World War II, and concerns have significantly increased as the tripolar order has continued to evolve, along with new south-south interactions and rapidly growing EU engagement with China.

US intelligence has projected that the United States, while controlling Middle East oil for the traditional reasons, will itself rely mainly on more stable Atlantic Basin resources (West Africa, western hemisphere). Control of Middle East oil is now far from a sure thing, and these expectations are also threatened by developments in the western hemisphere, accelerated by Bush administration policies that have left the United States remarkably isolated in the global arena. The Bush administration has even succeeded in alienating Canada, an impressive feat.

Canada's minister of natural resources said that within a few years one quarter of the oil that Canada now sends to the United States may go to China instead. In a further blow to Washington's energy policies, the leading oil exporter in the hemisphere, Venezuela, has forged probably the closest relations with China of any Latin American country, and is planning to sell increasing amounts of oil to China as part of its effort to reduce dependence on the openly hostile US government. Latin America as a whole is increasing trade and other relations with China, with some setbacks, but likely expansion, in particular for raw materials exporters like Brazil and Chile.

Meanwhile, Cuba-Venezuela relations are becoming very close, each relying on its comparative advantage. Venezuela is providing low-cost oil while in return Cuba organises literacy and health programs, sending thousands of highly skilled professionals, teachers, and doctors, who work in the poorest and most neglected areas, as they do elsewhere in the Third World. Cuba-Venezuela projects are extending to the Caribbean countries, where Cuban doctors are providing healthcare to thousands of people with Venezuelan funding. Operation Miracle, as it is called, is described by Jamaica's ambassador to Cuba as "an example of integration and south-south cooperation", and is generating great enthusiasm among the poor majority. Cuban medical assistance is also being welcomed elsewhere. One of the most horrendous tragedies of recent years was the October 2005 earthquake in Pakistan. In addition to the huge toll, unknown numbers of survivors have to face brutal winter weather with little shelter, food, or medical assistance. One has to turn to the South Asian press to read that "Cuba has provided the largest contingent of doctors and paramedics to Pakistan", paying all the costs (perhaps with Venezuelan funding), and that President Musharraf expressed his "deep gratitude" for the "spirit and compassion" of the Cuban medical teams.

Some analysts have suggested that Cuba and Venezuela might even unite, a step towards further integration of Latin America in a bloc that is more independent from the United States. Venezuela has joined Mercosur, the South American customs union, a move described by Argentine president Nestor Kirchner as "a milestone" in the development of this trading bloc, and welcomed as opening "a new chapter in our integration" by Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. Independent experts say that "adding Venezuela to the bloc furthers its geopolitical vision of eventually spreading Mercosur to the rest of the region".

At a meeting to mark Venezuela's entry into Mercosur, Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez said, "We cannot allow this to be purely an economic project, one for the elites and for the transnational companies," a not very oblique reference to the US-sponsored "Free Trade Agreement for the Americas", which has aroused strong public opposition. Venezuela also supplied Argentina with fuel oil to help stave off an energy crisis, and bought almost a third of Argentine debt issued in 2005, one element of a region-wide effort to free the countries from the control of the US-dominated IMF after two decades of disastrous effects of conformity to its rules. The IMF has "acted towards our country as a promoter and a vehicle of policies that caused poverty and pain among the Argentine people", President Kirchner said in announcing his decision to pay almost $1 trillion to rid itself of the IMF forever. Radically violating IMF rules, Argentina enjoyed a substantial recovery from the disaster left by IMF policies.

Steps toward independent regional integration advanced further with the election of Evo Morales in Bolivia in December 2005, the first president from the indigenous majority. Morales moved quickly to reach energy accords with Venezuela.

Though Central America was largely disciplined by Reaganite violence and terror, the rest of the hemisphere is falling out of control, particularly from Venezuela to Argentina, which was the poster child of the IMF and the Treasury Department until its economy collapsed under the policies they imposed. Much of the region has left-centre governments. The indigenous populations have become much more active and influential, particularly in Bolivia and Ecuador, both major energy producers, where they either want oil and gas to be domestically controlled or, in some cases, oppose production altogether. Many indigenous people apparently do not see any reason why their lives, societies, and cultures should be disrupted or destroyed so that New Yorkers can sit in SUVs in traffic gridlock. Some are even calling for an "Indian nation" in South America. Meanwhile the economic integration that is under way is reversing patterns that trace back to the Spanish conquests, with Latin American elites and economies linked to the imperial powers but not to one another. Along with growing south-south interaction on a broader scale, these developments are strongly influenced by popular organisations that are coming together in the unprecedented international global justice movements, ludicrously called "anti-globalisation" because they favour globalisation that privileges the interests of people, not investors and financial institutions. For many reasons, the system of US global dominance is fragile, even apart from the damage inflicted by Bush planners.

One consequence is that the Bush administration's pursuit of the traditional policies of deterring democracy faces new obstacles. It is no longer as easy as before to resort to military coups and international terrorism to overthrow democratically elected governments, as Bush planners learnt ruefully in 2002 in Venezuela. The "strong line of continuity" must be pursued in other ways, for the most part. In Iraq, as we have seen, mass nonviolent resistance compelled Washington and London to permit the elections they had sought to evade. The subsequent effort to subvert the elections by providing substantial advantages to the administration's favourite candidate, and expelling the independent media, also failed. Washington faces further problems. The Iraqi labor movement is making considerable progress despite the opposition of the occupation authorities. The situation is rather like Europe and Japan after World War II, when a primary goal of the United States and United Kingdom was to undermine independent labour movements - as at home, for similar reasons: organised labour contributes in essential ways to functioning democracy with popular engagement. Many of the measures adopted at that time - withholding food, supporting fascist police - are no longer available. Nor is it possible today to rely on the labour bureaucracy of the American Institute for Free Labor Development to help undermine unions. Today, some American unions are supporting Iraqi workers, just as they do in Colombia, where more union activists are murdered than anywhere in the world. At least the unions now receive support from the United Steelworkers of America and others, while Washington continues to provide enormous funding for the government, which bears a large part of the responsibility.

The problem of elections arose in Palestine much in the way it did in Iraq. As already discussed, the Bush administration refused to permit elections until the death of Yasser Arafat, aware that the wrong man would win. After his death, the administration agreed to permit elections, expecting the victory of its favoured Palestinian Authority candidates. To promote this outcome, Washington resorted to much the same modes of subversion as in Iraq, and often before. Washington used the US Agency for International Development as an "invisible conduit" in an effort to "increase the popularity of the Palestinian Authority on the eve of crucial elections in which the governing party faces a serious challenge from the radical Islamic group Hamas" (Washington Post), spending almost $2m "on dozens of quick projects before elections this week to bolster the governing Fatah faction's image with voters" (New York Times). In the United States, or any Western country, even a hint of such foreign interference would destroy a candidate, but deeply rooted imperial mentality legitimates such routine measures elsewhere. However, the attempt to subvert the elections again resoundingly failed.

The US and Israeli governments now have to adjust to dealing somehow with a radical Islamic party that approaches their traditional rejectionist stance, though not entirely, at least if Hamas really does mean to agree to an indefinite truce on the international border as its leaders state. The US and Israel, in contrast, insist that Israel must take over substantial parts of the West Bank (and the forgotten Golan Heights). Hamas's refusal to accept Israel's "right to exist" mirrors the refusal of Washington and Jerusalem to accept Palestine's "right to exist" - a concept unknown in international affairs; Mexico accepts the existence of the United States but not its abstract "right to exist" on almost half of Mexico, acquired by conquest. Hamas's formal commitment to "destroy Israel" places it on a par with the United States and Israel, which vowed formally that there could be no "additional Palestinian state" (in addition to Jordan) until they relaxed their extreme rejectionist stand partially in the past few years, in the manner already reviewed. Although Hamas has not said so, it would come as no great surprise if Hamas were to agree that Jews may remain in scattered areas in the present Israel, while Palestine constructs huge settlement and infrastructure projects to take over the valuable land and resources, effectively breaking Israel up into unviable cantons, virtually separated from one another and from some small part of Jerusalem where Jews would also be allowed to remain. And they might agree to call the fragments "a state". If such proposals were made, we would - rightly - regard them as virtually a reversion to Nazism, a fact that might elicit some thoughts. If such proposals were made, Hamas's position would be essentially like that of the United States and Israel for the past five years, after they came to tolerate some impoverished form of "statehood". It is fair to describe Hamas as radical, extremist, and violent, and as a serious threat to peace and a just political settlement. But the organisation is hardly alone in this stance.

Elsewhere traditional means of undermining democracy have succeeded. In Haiti, the Bush administration's favourite "democracy-building group, the International Republican Institute", worked assiduously to promote the opposition to President Aristide, helped by the withholding of desperately needed aid on grounds that were dubious at best. When it seemed that Aristide would probably win any genuine election, Washington and the opposition chose to withdraw, a standard device to discredit elections that are going to come out the wrong way: Nicaragua in 1984 and Venezuela in December 2005 are examples that should be familiar. Then followed a military coup, expulsion of the president, and a reign of terror and violence vastly exceeding anything under the elected government.

The persistence of the strong line of continuity to the present again reveals that the United States is very much like other powerful states. It pursues the strategic and economic interests of dominant sectors of the domestic population, to the accompaniment of rhetorical flourishes about its dedication to the highest values. That is practically a historical universal, and the reason why sensible people pay scant attention to declarations of noble intent by leaders, or accolades by their followers.

One commonly hears that carping critics complain about what is wrong, but do not present solutions. There is an accurate translation for that charge: "They present solutions, but I don't like them." In addition to the proposals that should be familiar about dealing with the crises that reach to the level of survival, a few simple suggestions for the United States have already been mentioned: 1) accept the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court and the World Court; 2) sign and carry forward the Kyoto protocols; 3) let the UN take the lead in international crises; 4) rely on diplomatic and economic measures rather than military ones in confronting terror; 5) keep to the traditional interpretation of the UN Charter; 6) give up the Security Council veto and have "a decent respect for the opinion of mankind," as the Declaration of Independence advises, even if power centres disagree; 7) cut back sharply on military spending and sharply increase social spending. For people who believe in democracy, these are very conservative suggestions: they appear to be the opinions of the majority of the US population, in most cases the overwhelming majority. They are in radical opposition to public policy. To be sure, we cannot be very confident about the state of public opinion on such matters because of another feature of the democratic deficit: the topics scarcely enter into public discussion and the basic facts are little known. In a highly atomised society, the public is therefore largely deprived of the opportunity to form considered opinions.

Another conservative suggestion is that facts, logic, and elementary moral principles should matter. Those who take the trouble to adhere to that suggestion will soon be led to abandon a good part of familiar doctrine, though it is surely much easier to repeat self-serving mantras. Such simple truths carry us some distance toward developing more specific and detailed answers. More important, they open the way to implement them, opportun- ities that are readily within our grasp if we can free ourselves from the shackles of doctrine and imposed illusion.

Though it is natural for doctrinal systems to seek to induce pessimism, hopelessness, and despair, reality is different. There has been substantial progress in the unending quest for justice and freedom in recent years, leaving a legacy that can be carried forward from a higher plane than before. Opportunities for education and organising abound. As in the past, rights are not likely to be granted by benevolent authorities, or won by intermittent actions - attending a few demonstrations or pushing a lever in the personalised quadrennial extravaganzas that are depicted as "democratic politics". As always in the past, the tasks require dedicated day-by-day engagement to create - in part recreate - the basis for a functioning democratic culture in which the public plays some role in determining policies, not only in the political arena, from which it is largely excluded, but also in the crucial economic arena, from which it is excluded in principle. There are many ways to promote democracy at home, carrying it to new dimensions. Opportunities are ample, and failure to grasp them is likely to have ominous repercussions: for the country, for the world, and for future generations.

An edited extract from Failed States,  by Noam Chomsky (Hamish Hamilton)
© 2006 Independent News and Media Limited

from Frédéric MÉNI :
Subject :  An update on the H. G. Wells piece.
Date: Wed, 31 May 2006

Dear Professor Feeley,
After looking at the Shape of Things to Come, according to H.G. Wells, and after reading the references to Anthony Wilden in your recent bulletins, I discovered this piece of science fiction which refers to Dr. Wilden's work and offers a rich bibliography on post-capitalist research into society and nature.
I thought it might be of interest.
Yours truly,
Frédéric Méni

Marooned on Mars: Mind-spinning books for software engineers
by William J. Clancey(*)

(*)Chief Scientist, Human-Centered Computing
NASA/Ames Research Center
Moffett Field, CA 94035 (*)
On leave from the Institute for Human-Machine Cognition, University
of West Florida, Pensacola.
Automated Software Engineering Journal, published by Kluwer Academic
Publishers, Volume 7, 2000

I've just arrived on Mars, with 500 days before the next return shuttle. Fortunately, we have email and internet access to Earth (the line is fast, but there's a twenty minute delay on average, almost like time-sharing in the 70s). My powerbook fits fine on my lap, but slouching on the habitat's long couch, I prefer holding a book in my hands, settling down with gleeful anticipation with a warm drink nearby (it's -70c today). So I brought along an armload of books, some for reference, some to read and study again, and others to share with the next generation, as we build our colony. All are mind-spinning, just what we need for opening a new world with new ways of thinking.
To start, I brought along Burrough's (1998)D ragonfly: NASA and the Crisis Aboard MIR (New York: HarperCollins Publishers), the story of the Russian-American misadventures on MIR. An expose with almost embarrassing detail about the inner-workings of Johnson Space Center in Houston, this book is best read with the JSC organization chart in hand.

Here's the real world of engineering and life in extreme environments. It makes most other accounts of "requirements analysis" appear glib and simplistic. The book vividly portrays the sometimes harrowing experiences of the American astronauts in the web of Russian interpersonal relations and literally in the web of MIR’s wiring. Burrough’s
exposition reveals how handling bureaucratic procedures and bulky facilities is as much a matter of moxie and goodwill as technical capability. Lessons from MIR showed NASA that getting to Mars required a different view of knowledge and improvisation­long-duration missions are not at all like the scripted and pre-engineered flights of Apollo or the Space Shuttle. Thanks to the efforts of the Human-Centered Computing group at NASA/Ames, the days when engineers separated power, dials, and ethernet ports on opposite sides of the Space Station are past. Why, for our nine month voyage to Mars they even designed the kitchen table to stay open all day! (On the Space Station we had to stow it after every meal to get access to storage below.)

Dragonfly shows the crazy antics of real-world operations; what's the theoretical foundation for improving the design of complex systems? Here I'm well-supplied. Though heavy (using half of my allotted bookcase), I brought along Shapiro's (1992) multiple-volume Encyclopedia of Artificial Intelligence. (New York: John Wiley and Sons.)
The technical quality of this reference is unsurpassed. Whether you're looking for details about Hidden Markov Models or hermeneutics, it's here, with clarity, accuracy, and good citations. Although well-versed on many of the topics, I find myself turning to this encyclopedia for historical and technical details. With this book for reference, we've created "intelligent" operations assistants in the Mars habitat­built with agents and reusable inference engines­a far cry from the monolithic computer system at
Houston's Mission Control, which was ported and changed piecemeal for 30 years (in the name of safety). Speaking of learning from the past, I've also brought thAe CM Turing Award Lectures: The First Twenty Years 1966-1985(N ew York: The ACM Press). I came upon this volume when a friend mentioned Hoare's lecture, "The Emperor's Old Clothes." Hoare shares his stark experience: "The entire Elliott 503 Mark II software project had to be abandoned...equivalent to one man's active working life, and I was responsible, both as designer and manager, for wasting it" (p. 150). Building on this experience, Hoare fervently appeals to us not to allow ADA into the real world. Fortunately for me, NASA was never much for programming fads, so we're not flying ADA on Mars. Anyway, after I searched for Hoare's lecture on the web, I found a collection of other Turing Award lectures and decided I wanted to read and study them all. (I hope we'll soon get the next volume.) Now although I'm an accomplished programmer (I'm using Visual Basic for Applications to link the astrogeologists' datasheets and reports), my professional role for the Mars base has gravitated to the philosophy of engineering design. So the bulk of my Martian collection is more about design as a creative process. Here's the core collection:

Alexander, C., et al. (1977). A pattern language. New York: Oxford University Press.
Bamberger, J. (1991). The mind behind the musical ear . Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Schön, D. A. (1987).Educating the reflective practitioner San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers.
Wilden, A. (1987). The rules are no game. New York: Routledge and Kegan Raul.

These books are about the relation of artifacts, patterns, descriptions, notations, designs, and the process of invention. Paraphrasing Schön, the topic is not how to build, but what to build. Each teaches us about the relation of the mind­how ideas form and are related­and humanity's constructed environment. They fundamentally help us understand the relation of individual thoughts and social contexts and how change occurs on various scales­whether an incremental edit to a diagram, a reperceived and reinterpreted rearrangement of parts, or a reciprocated move in a social venture.

Alexander's book is about architectural patterns; yet really it shows how grammar descriptions (or policies) do not strictly generate the world of human artifacts and behavior, but serve as a kind of guide or map. Alexander's ideas are as valuable for designing work places and software tools, as courtyards and bedrooms. Ultimately, Alexander's claim is epistemological: The knowledge of good design is embodied in artifacts developed and improved in situ and can never be reduced to written
principles or laws. There are two reasons for this: First, we can always reinterpret past successes in new contexts to articulate new heuristics, and second, the thoughts and actions that produced the original artifacts were not themselves bounded by descriptive rules or plans. Unfortunately, a subgroup of software engineering has taken up the pattern language hammer by the wrong end of the handle: Instead of viewing the pattern perspective as an analytic, requirements analysis and evaluation technique (for explicating the context in which a tool must operate), they have reduced the idea to more descriptions that should be stored in a computer and used to generate I/O behavior. This can lead to precisely the wrong result­constraining work processes to follow a designer’s predescribed workflow regulations. Instead we should view the
patterns as improvised, situated arrangements (of facilities, deeds, and materials) and inquire about the aspects of workplace design that enable these patterns to develop. To apply Alexander properly, we need to view workplace patterns as rules of thumb that reflect locally grown relationships in tools and practices; nevertheless, as descriptions they are of broad value for inspiring future work system design. For example, could we develop a pattern language for computer network design in
different kinds of collaborative workplaces, such that the languagearticulates dimensions of size, risk, routine, and skills being employed? (See Clancey, 1995b, 1997b.)

Developed in the work of Bamberger and Schön, Alexander’s ideas about emergent organization are manifest as the "situated cognition" theory of knowledge and behavior. The upshot is that within every human action, there is a non-descriptive component, that is, a physical aspect that is not modeled and planned, but a neural level of coordination that reactivates and adapts perceptual categories, concepts, and motor actions. Now, that's a mouthful to be sure, but Bamberger and Schön unfold these ideas carefully with a series of simple examples from musicand art, showing the learner's perspective (and how this contrasts with the teacher's terminology and curriculum). (Bamberger and Schön don't really get to the neural memory level­you'll have to read my 1997 book to see the relation.)

Dewey (1896) said all this long ago, but change is slow on Earth. In important ways, computer science is partly responsible for the retrograde epistemology of the 1960s and 70s. The metaphor (and success) of the von Neumann architecture reified and reinforced ideas about memory, knowledge, and learning that­as psychological explanations­were outdated a century ago. The brain works in a different way than today's conventional computers. The brain doesn't execute programs in a literal
way, but reactivates perceptual-motor circuits "in line" and generalizes them at the same time. The implications are profound for software engineers (and especially AI specialists like myself). We cannot identify how our tools work with people (e.g., "expert systems" "knowledge bases"), and if we want to make progress in developing computers with human intelligence, we need a different memory-coordination mechanism (Clancey, 1995a, 1999a). For example, the simplest interpretation of
"knowledge management"­a trendy notion in business software today­is based on capturing, storing, and disseminating knowledge. But this equates knowledge with databases and models­a mistake that Dewey said was like confusing a carpenter with his tools. Perhaps now you can grasp Wilden's title, "The rules are no game." By one interpretation, the game­how people perceive and conceive of their actions­is different from the rules­written procedures of how to behave. The map is not the territory. This ultimately only makes sense from a human cognition standpoint when you realize how wrong the storage metaphor of knowledge is. What's neat about Wilden's book is that he shows how these metaphors have played out in cinematic and social-political settings. Perhaps the antagonism of conservative to liberal political parties has its origins in hierarchical neural processes by which conceptual systems develop: Assimilation (highlighting of general values) and differentiation (highlighting of diversity). These ways of relating ideas may develop in individuals as mental styles and thus different strategies for reconciling social problems. Such a philosophical analysis only makes sense when you realize that concepts in the human brain are not networks of word definitions, so again "knowledge" and "reasoning" involve real-time adaptive capabilities in people that the present-day computer architectures do not replicate. In particular, the idea of user models has been hampered by shortcomings in the theory of how individuals differ cognitively. On the one hand, non-verbal aspects of cognition are not adequately related to perception and language; and on the other hand, differences of knowledge are reduced to variations in descriptive models. Wilden's work is challenging because he starts with people and real-world experience, rather than tidy theories. Indeed, enough theory! Back to building a Martian colony. I brought along two books to round out my collection. The firstD, esign at Work:

Cooperative Design of Computer Systems (edited by Greenbaum, J., & Kyng, M., Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1991) is an experimental handbook, telling the story of a group of social and cognitive scientists who put their (sometimes rhetoric-heavy) ideas to practice. My favorite chapter is Wynn's "Taking practice seriously."

I smile every time I visualize her account of workflow diagrams, "There are people helping this block to be what it needs to be­to name it, put it under a heading where it will be seen as a recognizable variant, deciding whether to leave it in or take it out, whom to convey it to" (pp. 56–57). When you impose programmatic processes on people, you might make a mess of the workplace. Bannon's "From social factors to social actors" is equally provocative and mind-spinning. In fact it's all here, from interface
design to video interaction analysis, to scenario-based prototyping. Other books tell the story and other projects do it better, but as a primer on how to design software so it fits human purposes, this is the one I brought to reread and exploit.

Actually, with this collection so far, I’ve come full circle: These are the books that inspired our design of the Mars Arctic Research Station, an analog experiment on Devon Island in the Canadian Arctic (M.A.R.S., 1999). In this extreme setting, we studied scientists and engineers investigating a Mars-like impact crater. We established a baseline for their practices; then following the principles of design in the context of use and in situ evaluation, we prototyped tools that would facilitate life and work
on Mars (Clancey, in press). For instance, what tools are required to log and analyze rock samples in the field, and indeed to write journal papers before returning home? We showed that the Internet, which provided direct access to colleagues and the public, radically changed the role of “Mission Control” back on Earth.

My last book, Petroski's (1985) "To engineer is human: The role of failure in successful design" (New York: St. Martin's Press) has already been mentioned by two fellow Desert Island readers (Dobson, 1996; Ryan, 1996). But in developing software for space exploration and dealing with the many disasters that will face us on Mars, I want every colonist to read this book. Basically, the book is aboutp erspective, and provides a hopeful way of coping with inevitable setbacks. Somehow our society has
developed an aversion to failure, making it an indicator of incapability, rather than a stepping stone. For example, NASA's unofficial calculations predict that of an initial crew of six going to Mars, only five will survive to return. Society needs to be ready for that outcome. Somehow it's not enough to remind people of the countless ships and men who were lost in exploration just a few score years ago in searching for the Northwest Passage (Lopez, 1986). Somehow we have the idea that things are different now; we have perfected our methods, so mechanical parts andsoftware never fail. But then when they do, of course, we knock ourselves down, and think less of our society. Maybe this stems from a lack of external threat that would rally us to new efforts. Indeed, that's one reason why I jumped at the chance to go to Mars. Only really difficult challenges, where losses are inevitable, will reveal how limited our capabilities really are. Whether it's building rockets or robots, we have just begun.

It's a scary place here on Mars. One false move and I'm dead. A hundred steps from the base, I'm in a cold, empty world. All our designs, our automated systems, and our social ideas are young and forming, tenuous, yet growing. Most of the prevalent theory about knowledge and memory on which we build software tools for people is primitive and misleading. And our computer architectures are just making the first steps to selforganizing, "in place" circuitry. That's the critical and yet hopeful
attitude I want the next generation of software engineers to understand. Computer science has just begun.

Additional References
Clancey, W. J. (1995a). AI: Inventing a New Kind of MachineA. CM Computing Surveys, 27(3), 320-322.
Clancey, W. J. (1995b). Practice cannot be reduced to theory: Knowledge, representations, and change in the workplace. In S. Bagnara & C. Zuccermaglio & S. Stucky (Eds.),O rganizational Learning and Technological Change (pp. 16-46). Berlin: Springer. (Papers from the NATO Workshop, Siena, Italy, September 22-26, 1992.)
Clancey, W. J. (1997a). Situated Cognition: On Human Knowledge and Computer Representations. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Clancey, W. J. (1997b). The conceptual nature of knowledge, situations, and activity. In P. Feltovich & R. Hoffman & K. Ford (Eds.)Human and Machine Expertise in Context (pp. 247–291). Menlo Park, CA: The AAAI Press.
Clancey, W. J. (1999a). Conceptual Coordination: How the Mind Orders Experience in Time. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Clancey, W. J. (in press). Human exploration ethnography: The Haughton-Mars Project 1998-1999. Proceedings of the Second Annual Meeting of the Mars Society. Boulder, CO.
Dewey, J. ([1896] 1981). The reflex arc concept in psychology. Psychological Review, III (July), 357-370. (Reprinted in J.J. McDermott (ed.), The Philosophy of John Dewey, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, pp. 136-148.)
Dobson, J. (1996). Desert Island ColumnA. utomated Software Engineering Journal, vol. 3, no. 1/2 June.
Lopez, B. (1986). Arctic Dreams: Imagination and Desire in a Northern Landscape. New York: Bantam Books.
M.A.R.S. (1999). The Mars Arctic Research Station. http://www.marssociety.org.
Ryan, K. (1996). Desert Island ColumnA. utomated Software Engineering Journal, vol. 3, no. 3/4, August, pps. 391-393.
Zubrin, R. and Wagner, R. (1996). The Case for Mars. The Plan to Settle the Red Planet and Why We Must. New York: Free Press.

from Truthout :
Date : 28 May 2006
Subject :
Santa Cruz Sentinel

Pentagon Ordered to Expedite Handover of UC Spying Records
by Roger Sideman

       Trying to learn more about reports of military spying at UC Santa Cruz last year, campus group Students Against War scored a victory this week when a federal judge ordered the Department of Defense to expedite a public-records request made by the group.

    In January, Students Against War asked the Pentagon to disclose whether it spied on San Francisco Bay Area student organizations, and release any information gathered on the organizations.

    U.S. 9th District Court Judge William Alsup ruled Thursday that such information is "of significant importance to public policy and public protest," impelling the Department of Defense to act more quickly on the student request.

    Students said they were pleased with the decision.

    "We're happy because it shows that being spied on has to be taken seriously," said Students Against War member Kot Hordynski, who sat in on Thursday's hourlong hearing in San Francisco. Hordynski said lawyers told him the Pentagon records, public under the Freedom of Information Act, could be handed over within three months.

    A lawsuit filed in March by the Northern California chapter of the ACLU, on behalf of Students Against War and a UC Berkeley anti-war group, asked the Department of Defense to promptly disclose information from an obscure Pentagon agency that included reports on protests and other peaceful civilian demonstrations in a database meant to detect terrorist activities.

    Among the incidents researched and described as a threat to U.S. security was an April 2005 protest against military recruiters at a UCSC job fair. The noisy sit-in temporarily shut down the job fair and resulted in the departure of the recruiters whose presence triggered the protest.

    The database, which a Pentagon fact sheet says is meant to capture information "indicative of possible terrorist pre-attack activity," came to light in December when NBC News obtained details on its contents.

    To support the student request for expediting the information, ACLU attorneys submitted several news stories to the Department of Defense, including an article from the Sentinel, to show the media has "a compelling need for information" to inform the public about alleged spy programs.

    The Department of Defense rejected a student request for expedited records on Feb. 13, just two days after it deleted mention of the Students Against War protest from its database at the request of Chancellor Denice Denton. The department's explanation stated that additional information was not worthy of "breaking news" and therefore there is no legal obligation to rush the process.

    "The public has a right to know the extent to which the Defense Department is spying on political protest," said attorney Amitai Schwartz, who argued the case for ACLU. "The court moved us one step closer to finding out the facts about what really happened."

    A Department of Defense representative would not comment on the decision Friday.

from Monty Kroopkin :
Date 28 May 2006
Subject: Stanley Aronowitz: "From the New Deal to the New Left"

Francis, I would be very interested to see your response.



It has been a very long time since we have been in touch, and I hope you are well. A friend sent me a copy of your piece "From the New Deal to the New Left". I might title my comment "From the First International to the World Social Forum". I concur that the subject of organization (and for what) is more urgent today than ever before.

It is also high time we again examine the theory of the state, the question of contesting for state power, and the objective of a global stateless society. The anarcho-syndicalist and libertarian communist positions on these issues need to be part of any serious discussion about political parties. I am not suggesting an either/or regarding party versus none. Rather, more thinking about the state of the state in the globalization process, and the implications for organization, as well as the problems and dangers of state power.

I put a high priority on union work, but I also vote and participate to some extent in the activity of electoral parties, not out of any delusion about bourgeois democracy, nor out of support for a goal of achieving state power, but because the monopolization of corporate control of major news media leaves little open space for mass communication of our alternative messages. Political parties can still break through that monopoly censor barrier, to a small extent, and in addition, the national culture still embraces door-to-door conversations conducted by political candidates and parties, whereas, canvassing door-to-door outside of an election campaign is much less warmly accepted. The Internet is a hugely important tool for reaching mass audiences and for one-to-one communication akin to door-to-door work, but it is not enough, and not certain it will remain accessible.

Political parties can have a vital role in mass education and in organizing, and can help to achieve significant reforms to alleviate suffering and increase degrees of justice, but I submit that unless the organizing is aiming at formation of a global union capable of replacing and displacing both state power and capitalism, then we will be not only misleading everyone, but setting our sights too low and risking the loss of support when only small gains are won.

Along with the question of a new party, we need to engage a serious discussion about the need for a new global union of workers. The national level of organization is archaic.

Yours in solidarity from my NSA party line,
Monty Reed Kroopkin
San Diego, Californias

-- I received a forwarded copy of:
Stanley Aronowitz

Situations: Project of the Radical Imagination
Vol. 1, No. 2    2006

From The New Deal To The New Left
by Stanley Aronowitz

THE UNITED STATES is the only nation in the "advanced" capitalist world without a significant left party. Although labor and socialist/communist parties have
long existed at the local level-- many cities had workingmen's parties; the Socialist Party made important electoral inroads at the turn of the 20th century; and the Communists were key organizers of the mass industrial union and other social movements in the 1930s and 1940s--in general Americans have been tied to the two-party system. The question is whether the absence of a left political formation of significant influence and constituency is a function of "American Exceptionalism"--as was first argued by the German sociologist, Werner Sombart whose book "Why is there No Socialism in the United States?" first appeared in1906, when the Socialists were in a  phase of rapid growth--or whether far more concrete, "subjective" influences have prevented the sustenance of a left party of national influence. Sombart's essential
argument is that in the absence of a feudal tradition class consciousness was never formed; in other words historical materialism applies only to Europe. America's artisan and yeoman past, which constituted a sustaining myth of individualism; its surfeit of natural resources, which permit cheap energy and cheap food; its mobility opportunities, which parallel Frederick Jackson Turner's frontier thesis; its populist urban political machines, which absorbed class discontent; and its ethnically diverse working class all constituted unbreachable obstacles to class solidarity. With two major exceptions-- the Progressive Party presidential campaign of 1948, and the Green
Party's 2000 campaign in behalf of Ralph Nader--by the end of World War II progressives and many radicals had been swept up in Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal
Coalition or had conceded that radicalism was incapable of attracting a popular constituency.

We saw the consequences of the absence of a coherent and forceful Left in the 2004 presidential election, when most on the left and the center-left rallied behind a centrist Democratic candidate while the third party forces were hopelessly divided. Leaving aside the historical left abdication of the space of the opposition to the Democrats, the fact is the Democrats do not occupy that space, except in electoral terms. Their campaign was bereft of sharply defined issues: they neither defended their social liberalism nor mounted an attack against the Bush administration's war and economic policies, which have been directed against the working class, and they barely mentioned the Bush betrayal of the environment or challenged his claim that the U.S. economy was on the mend.

The Left was led by the nose by the de facto American liberal party, which emerged as a serious political force during the primary season when former Vermont governor Howard Dean came out of nowhere to challenge the party establishment with his mild anti-Iraq War position and a grass-roots fund-raising campaign that helped energize a citizens' movement at the local level. The demise of Dean's presidential candidacy was not nearly as important as his legacy: the creation of a new middle class liberal movement that has taken the novel form of Internet communication both through a series of webzines (to add to the hard copy journals of opinion such as The Nation and The Progressive) and through issues organizing by MoveOn.org, which has shown phenomenal ability to assemble a mass online constituency that can be mobilized to write letters, visit legislators, and give money to promising electoral campaigns. But in the end they supported the centrist John Kerry, whose major domestic plank was to
offer tax breaks for employers who created jobs for the unemployed and who criticized Bush for not sending enough troops to get the job done in Iraq.

In order to explain this state of affairs, we must briefly address the historical choices that led large sections of the Left to abdicate the position of opposition. For the sad situations of the last two decades that produced liberal hegemony over what was once a promising radical movement were the outcome of a long process that can be traced to two signal events that shaped the American Left: the admission by Nikita Khrushchev that the "crimes" of Stalin against the peasantry, a large cohort of old Bolsheviks, and countless others marked the twenty five years of his undisputed rule; and the Left's response to the rise of fascism during the 1930s and 1940s, when most of its organizations suspended the class struggle, chose to give qualified support to liberal capitalism, and consequently subordinated itself to the Democratic
party. Under these circumstances, it is no wonder that the question of political organization was relegated to the back burner.

Since the 1960s, United States Left has, with few exceptions, accepted the view that the question of political organization was resolved by the collapse of communism initiated quite unintentionally by Khrushchev's revelations at the 1956 20th Soviet Party Congress of the repressive and sometimes terroristic character of Stalin's rule. Among its features was the moral and political corruption of the Bolshevik project, especially the vision of a society in which workers, peasants, and other exploited strata would, through popularly elected councils, manage all of the crucial economic and social functions. Particularly loathsome were the details surrounding the Moscow
Trials of 1936-1937, where the cream of the old Bolshevik revolutionaries were wiped out by a "legal" process that offered little room for defense, let alone dissent. Equally abhorrent was the knowledge of the formation of a new class of party apparatchiks and state bureaucrats who enjoyed a monopoly of power and material privilege. Far from a force for pointing the way to a more egalitarian future, the Communist Party became, itself, a new ruling class. These revelations drove thousands of dedicated communists from the American party after 1956, which, after a prolonged debate, remained staunchly apologetic for the Soviet oligarchy; more, the stain carried over to succeeding generations of young leftists for whom the concept of "party" was itself an epithet. Even as private property in the ownership of the means of material production was largely abolished, state "socialism" brought neither freedom nor prosperity to the mass of Soviet citizens. But the immense authority of the Soviet Union
on the Left--especially during the 1930s when its economic achievements were heralded as proof of the superiority of socialism over capitalism and the 1940s, when the Red Army vanquished the mighty Nazi war machine at Stalingrad--became a nightmare for millions of dedicated radicals and revolutionaries whose faith was shattered by the truths they had vehemently denied, or for which they had offered apologies for decades. The aftermath was not only mass resignations from many of the parties of the West, including the United States and the UK, but a slow but steady deterioration in the entire socialist project.

The end of "really existing" socialism triggered a tidal wave of criticism, confusion and recriminations that resulted in the stunning decline of once powerful mass Communist parties of Italy and France. The crumbling Soviet Empire prompted the Italian party to change its name to the Democratic Party of the Left, which preserved some of its electoral appeal but signaled a radical loss of confidence in its own heritage and vision. Soon after the name change, a new formation arose, the Rifondazione group that sought to retain the revolutionary aims of the historical Italian Communist Party. After 1991, the less flexible French party rapidly lost most of its electoral constituency and some of its trade union hegemony and, equally important, ceased to be a magnet for a considerable fraction of the intellectuals whose cultural and
ideological role in French society remains to this day important. What saved these parties from virtual extinction was their longheld ironic attitude towards the Soviet Union and its supplicants.

This was not the case with the American party and its once-substantial periphery. Although it had sustained losses during the bleak first half of the 1950s, especially among its leading trade unionists (who were prohibited by law from holding union office if they were open Communists), Khrushchev's speech proved utterly devastating to its member rolls and to the remnants of its influence. The key reason was the fact that since the party's inception in 1919, the American Communists were true believers. Particularly damaging to its survival, even in a weakened state, was the slavish subordination of much of the leadership to the Soviet party which itself can be explained by, on the one hand, the strong representation of fiercely pro-Soviet immigrant and first generation Eastern Europeans within the party, and on the other by the almost complete lack of cultural and political circumspection within its ranks. The latter feature is a symptom of the degree to which American Communism was truly American: puritanical, humorless--for example it lacked the capacity for self-mockery--and selfabnegating when it comes to matters of religion and other forms of authority. For the party core, which was mostly bereft of theoretical and historical perspective, Marxism andCommunism were the twin pillars of their religion. Their fervent profession of Marxism scarcely hid the bald fact that few Communists enjoyed even a superficial mastery of Marx's critique of political economy, let alone the materialist conception of
history. Instead, many party faithful were imbued with Stalinist dogmatism culled from a few texts. And Stalin himself was elevated by the official line to the status of a demigod, which made it all the more difficult to change the party's course, especially when the authority of the Soviet party was being severely tested and its leading figures had no time for the troubled Americans. After several years of debate, two thirds of its membership left the party and its influence was reduced to a whisper.

Other parties of the Left were similarly enfeebled. The two main Trotskyist formations--the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) and the Independent Socialist League (ISL)--had suffered government attacks but mainly lost ground for two distinct reasons: the CP, whose relative strength once gave them a reason for being and sustained their opposition, was in shambles; and, like other socialists, many of its activists, especially of the ISL, became trade union and liberal functionaries, positions which drove them to silence, or worse, collaboration with the prevailing cold-war, liberal consensus. Others were pleased to find academic jobs, positions that had been either denied them by McCarthy -like university policies or by party discipline. Although the SWP experienced a brief revival during the anti- Vietnam War movement, managing to attract some young intellectuals and soldiers, it was unable to overcome the general decline of the Left or its own lack of any but tactical imagination.

Questions of political organization typically occupy social movements and political formations during periods of popular upsurge. The New Left which, in 1960, arose in the ideological vacuum produced by its ancestors-- many were "red diaper" babies imbued with their parents' will to change the world but not necessarily sympathetic to their way--were, in the zenith of their influence, obsessed with the question of what to do in the wake of the spread of the movement beyond the universities, to professions such as medicine, social work, and teaching and even into the ranks of young workers and members of the armed forces.Their decision not to form a new "party" of the left,
or even to build a national movement for a "democratic society" parallel to Students for a Democratic Society (SDS)--arguably the leading formation of the New Left--
was fateful for the future development of American radicalism for it was the first time since the 1930s that the Left had a popular base. Wini Breines has demonstrated that attempts to build a permanent organization failed was not the result of a mood drift but the outcome of a quite deliberate decision. The main voices of the New Left, including the leadership  of the mass anti-Vietnam War movement, were convinced that party formations would inhibit the mass character of the movement, lead to bureaucratization and worse, to the inevitable integration of the movement into the liberal mainstream. These views were fueled by the prevailing libertarian sentiment among many sections of the movement which disdained ideas such as party discipline and centralization, but also were conditioned by the tawdry history of international
communism. Since the Cold War was the ineluctable context for politics, the words of C. Wright Mills rang in the ears of many. In his influential Letter to the New Left, Mills left little room for doubt: do not become entangled in the "Russian Question" but build a movement directed to American society and particularly its politics and culture.(1)

And these arguments were tinged by more than a small dose of participatory democratic concepts, according to which power must reside in the "people" rather than in
tightly organized party elites composed chiefly of middleclass intellectuals. In SDS, "participatory democracy" stood in not only for a healthy affirmation of a politics that required the direct participation of the people "in the decisions that affect(ed) their lives," but also for a populist, even anarchist suspicion of a political center that might haveinfluence over the movement. These ideas were mixed in with a heavy dose of anti-intellectualism that permeated the later SDS.(2)

Of course, not every fraction of the Left was imbued with antipathy towards the concept of a revolutionary or radical party. For a brief moment the organizational question dominated conversations in the New Left and its leading organization, SDS. The debate was fomented by one of the sects, Progressive Labor (PL), a self-proclaimed Maoist organization founded in 1960 by a small group which had split from the Communist Party, accusing it of "revisionism," a term that connoted deviation from revolutionary politics. In its search for a wider political base, since 1966 PL had made SDS a special concentration. While most SDS leaders rejected PL itself as an organizational alternative to the relatively loose SDS structure, many were attracted to its argument that without a party to lead and unify the opposition to capitalism and imperialism, the movement would inevitably ebb and perhaps disappear.

Why was PL able to refocus the organization's attention away from its preoccupation with the Vietnam War towards a season of introspection? One factor was the enormous prestige of North Vietnam and the National Liberation Front, its South Vietnam affiliate. Several leading New Left figures, including SDS founder Tom
Hayden and Staughton Lynd, had visited Vietnam and returned with glowing reports about the anti- imperialist resistance and were impressed by its Communist leadership. The main debate within SDS in 1968 and 1969 was whether the organization should transform itself into a vanguard Marxist-Leninist party, or a revolutionary party directed to youth and blacks, or a "movement for a democratic society" which could carry the program of participatory democracy into the unions, community organizing, and the professions but which would maintain a decentralized structure. For anyone who would listen, Murray Bookchin's passionate pamphlet, Listen Marxist!, written in the heat of the controversy, provided readers with a grim reminder of the legacy of the Marxist-Leninist left, not only in the United States but in Spain and Russia itself. Bookchin suggested that the anarchist organizational form, the federation of independent groups which retained their autonomy, was most appropriate to a political formation that respected the tenets of participatory democracy. Bookchin reflected the viewpoint of a number of the relevant discussants but in the cauldron of ideological fire was largely

The breakup of SDS in 1970 was both a symptom of, and a tremendous force in, the collapse of the New Left. Excepting feminist and ecology movements which had yet
to peak, other movements were clearly in trouble. Massive demonstrations against the war may have forced a president from office, but the new administration of Richard Nixon had responded to certain defeat on the battlefield by widening the war. The killings of antiwar student protesters at Kent State in 1970 were a severe warning that the Nixon administration was in no mood for tolerance, even of whites. When Nixon, in the wake of massive resistance by draftees and objectors, abolished the draft, the  protests were visibly weakened. And the black freedom movement, whose civil rights wing was already co-opted by the legalistic hopes surrounding the Voting and Civil Rights Acts, was further disarmed when, after Martin Luther King's assassination, it failed to address the long festering deterioration of black living standards due to the
effects of de-industrialization of most major northern cities, the already evident abject failure of Brown vs. Board of Education to remedy de facto discrimination in
schools, and the obdurate refusal of organized labor to address its own racism. In the nadir of the mass street expressions of the movements after 1973, various
formations scrambled to preserve what they had already achieved and, fearing that efforts to build a coherent ideological and political left would anger their potential allies at a moment of advancing conservatism, tended to build coalitions with elements of the Democratic party. Thus, after a nanosecond's flirtation with third party electoral politics and something more than a flirtation with Leninist vanguardism, since the 1980s the main tendency of the Left has been to revert to single-issue politics represented, for example, by the current anti-Iraq War coalitions, by local level struggles such as fights against urban redevelopment, or by social movements such as the black freedom movement and feminism, which are on the defensive in the wake of right-wing assaults on their achievements of the 1955-1975 period.

It may be superfluous to remark that mass demonstrations against what has become an unpopular Iraq War, the impatience of large sections of Americans with the Bush administration's drift toward barbarism, the looming economic crisis, including gas inflation, the Bush administration's palpable incompetence and class/race bias during the Hurricane Katrina debacle, the impending bursting of the housing bubble that has made even the most blinky-eyed neo-liberals nervous, and the absolute paralysis of the center- right Democratic party, which seems unable to remember what political opposition is, have yet to inspire the Left to seek a voice that may spur a new wave of opposition that would clearly articulate a series of alternatives and begin a discussion of what a new society might look like. With social movements at or near a standstill,
and organized labor in decline and seriously divided, the problem of building a new Left and particularly its organizational aspects may appear merely an academic,
even utopian, exercise. On the contrary, I want to suggest that these questions take on urgency today precisely because the so-called "objective conditions" are ripe. If they have a utopian dimension, it is no more accidental than any proposal for fundamental structural change in the present political environment, when most radicals find themselves constrained to fight for something less than increments.

By objective conditions, I do not mean to repeat the mechanistic formulae of the old Left: economic crisis, war, and a certain degree of disarray among sections of the ruling class. Among these conditions are what in the traditional rhetoric one might term "subjective" --that is, the effects of the interventions of specific groups and individuals: the considerable evidence of popular disaffection from the war and renewed activity, exemplified by Cindi Sheehan's dramatic and media-savvy summer 2005 encampment at Bush's ranch and the astonishing outpouring of support, despite Times columnist Frank Rich's rue that "slick left-wing operatives" had succeeded in making her protest into a "circus"; the open, unprecedented acknowledgement among labor leaders and their intellectual acolytes that the unions are in crisis, even if their solutions are largely administrative; growing recognition in wide circles of the black freedom movement that the legal framework of civil rights established since Brown and
the Voting Rights legislation do not equality or even freedom make. In fact, in the aftermath of Katrina some agree with New York Congress member Charles Rangel that
federal neglect was a reminder that some conditions have changed little in the past forty years. And, miracles of miracles, some journalists have discovered that class plays an important role in American politics and culture.

(1) C. Wright Mills, "The New Left" in Power, Politics, and People, ed. Irving Louis Horowitz (New York: Oxford University Press, 1963); Wini Breines, Community and Organization in the New Left (South Hadley, MA: Bergin and Garvey, 1982).

(2) The irony of the populist anti-intellectualism of the New Left is that many of its protagonists were themselves trained intellectuals. Anti-intellectualism outlived its initial populist moment; it pervades the so-called "activist" Left to this day.

Francis McCollum Feeley
Professor of American Studies/
Director of Research
Université de Grenoble-3
Grenoble, France