Bulletin N° 271


20 November 2006
Grenoble, France

Dear Colleagues and Friends of CEIMSA,
When I was a young man and full of myself I used to shock the people I met by announcing that I was a revolutionary socialist, by which I meant not that I was a violent man --in fact, I think that violent acts have served to prevent or limit revolutions more often than they have served to fulfill revolutionary promises. No, I called myself a revolutionary socialist simply because I thought that I understood the system better than anyone who was not a revolutionary socialist. I remember thinking that I had the intelligence to understand (if not the power to command) the deep structural changes in the American political economy which would be required if the quality of our lives was to be improved. It was long over-due, I thought, to replace the worn-out Standard of Living Index with a new Quality of Life Index, and no one could make me forget this fact, I told myself, not even by blowing smoke in my face.

I thought I understood how all corporate interests --and not just military corporate interests-- waged war on the rest of us and sometimes asked us to die for their higher order of profits.

As I grow older, it seems like the number of victims of disinformation has increased. Like some kind of intellectual vacuum cleaner, it has gone to work on our environment, and as a result of this "nettoyage" a new, arrogant and aggressive style of management has taken hold of the institutions, which no longer bothers even to justify itself. It would seem that a gangster-like rapport de force is enough to solicit loyalty in this sleazy opportunistic atmosphere : "You don't want to get hurt, do you?" is the language of rapport de force, and it was a memorable phrase from one of those favorite Saturday afternoon gangster movies in the 1960s. We heard it echo around our school for while when I was a kid. Another memorable threat was, "This is a small town, and we have a long memory!" This was a cliché out of the mouth of a small town Southern sheriff depicted in another TV series on the civil rights movement when bigots sought to intimidate local citizens.

Society has since become suffused with the ideology of retribution --an ideology of "might makes right."  Respectable "gangsters" have prepared the mind for the unjust act. They ignore the common basis of social organization, like "natural justice" in English common law and "due process" in the more advanced capitalist democracies. The result of this unconscious learning in today's institutions is disastrous to civil society. As Anthony Wilden has observed, the traditional recourse to justice through "due process," the protection stemming from the process of being assumed innocent until proven guilty has been displaced by an intense moral outrage and a self-righteousness which escalates counter-revolutionary violence to a new pitch.
The result of this unconscious learning is disastrous to civil society. As if by the inherent godliness of priests, or the
awful majesty of law, or the divine right of kings, the ideology of retribution --the self-righteous punishment of real
and imaginary wrongs-- turns into what every colonizer recognizes as the strategy of colonialism: The absolute right
of "absolute good" (the colonizers) to do absolutely anything to absolutely anyone they have defined as criminal, immoral,
animal, or evil.(Wilden, 1987, p.324)
If modern societies are derived from class struggle and, in fact, exist as the material crystallization of this conflict, then these residues today contain a degree of alienation as has rarely been seen before in western democracies. The emotionally numbing effect of war activities on both sides of the conflict can no longer be ignored. A more congenial society will happen only when the causes of class warfare are removed, which, of course, will involve removing the causes of poverty and not simply eliminating the poor, which is the tactics now adopted from New Orleans to Gaza. The private profit motive must be replaced by something more constructive, and as Gills Deleuze wrote many years ago in his two-volume work, Capitalisme et Schizophrénie, the "désire désiré par le corps plein sans organ" (also known as corporate strategy) must be replaced by human bodies, containing a multitude of human desires which govern a great diversity of human behaviors. This is not an ideal; it is a condition of survival.

Reaching back to what sometimes seems to have been our "pre-history," when the nature of intellectual work was to seek an understanding of "causes and effects," the psychology of empire-building was usually acknowledged with the same pathos as the work of sand castle architects before the rising tide.

Lenni Brenner, in his Preface to the 1988 edition of his book, The Lesser Evil, critiqued the composition of the Democratic Party in the U.S. with the following account :

     Thomas "Tip" O'Neill, the ex-Speaker of the House, once said that in any other country the Democrats
would be five parties. So, perhaps in some conservative milieus, there are those who believe in America's oldest
party. But not among liberals or peace activists. And not among academics and other intellectuals. Not in my experience.

     Let's give the cynics their due. They're at least half right. A preliminary peek at the record shows the party to be
steeped in evil. I was born during the Roosevelt administration. He put all the Japanese-Americans on the West
Coast in concentration camps. Today no one defends that. Harry Truman dropped the atom bomb twice on civilians.
Later he slaughtered tens of thousands in defense of the Korean despot Syngman Rhee. Jack Kennedy invaded Cuba.
Lyndon Johnson covered himself with the blood of the Vietnam War. Jimmy Carter backed the sleazy Marcos, armed
the Saudis, the world's last absolute monarchy, conspired with the Shah's torture regime, and continued to recognize
the genocidal Pol Pot of Cambodia, even in exile and disgrace.
     "OK," it will be said, "but liberals weren't for these crimes. Often they weren't 'for' these Democrats. They were
voting against their Republican opponents. And weren't they indeed lesser evils to the likes of Goldwater or Nixon or
Reagan? So there, brother Brenner. A little charity toward thy neighbor. Realistically, in this world an honest to God
lesser evil is about as close to a saint as politics produces."
     But should Japanese-Americans have voter for their jailer because the Republicans were to the right of Roosevelt?
And are the Democrats always the lesser evil? ... Isn't it the liberals who howl loudest for increased aid to Israel, despite
the fact that it finally admitted that it arms South Africa and intends to continue to do so?(pp.v-vi)

He went on to illustrate the inadequacies of U.S. electoral democracy from the earliest years :

     In 1784, while a member of Congress, Thomas Jefferson proposed that slavery be prohibited in the western territories
after 1800. These included what is now Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee and Kentucky, as well as the land north of the
Ohio River. However, under the rules of the then Articles of Confederation, seven state delegations had to vote for it.
Because one of its delegates was ill, New Jersey couldn't vote, and the bill failed by one state. Jefferson's disappointment
was naturally profound:
The voice of a single individual . . .  would have prevented this abominable crime
from spreading . . . .
Thus we see the fate of millions unborn hanging on the tongue of one man, and
Heaven is silent in that awful moment! (p.7)

In his 1976 preface to Werner Sombart's classic book, Why is there no Socialism in the United States? (1906), Michael Harrington wrote:
     I would argue ... that there is a social-democratic movement in the United States today. That is, Sombart's belief that
eventually America would produce such a movement has been confirmed, albeit in a hidden and disguised fashion. There
is a growing recognition in Europe ... that social democracy and Socialism are not synonymous. Let the former term stand
for a movement that mobilizes workers on behalf of State intervention, planning and social priorities within capitalism, and
the latter be a description of a political movement which seeks to transform capitalism fundamentally.
     Given that definition, a labor party --a social democracy-- appeared in the United States during the Great Depression.
Its peculiarity was that it organized within the Democratic Party. Yet it is a distinct entity, with class criteria ... and a social-democratic programme not that different from the immediate programme of the German or British social democracy.
... [A] basic question concerns whether or not this invisible social democracy will become Socialist --or whether, as not a few American conservatives hope, it will turn sharply to the Right in the name of the 'social issue' (race, abortion, feminism,
sexual politics, and the like).
     Obviously Werner Sombart did not anticipate the problems and possibilities of contemporary America. But he did ask the
right questions.(pp.xi-xii)

For an informative analysis of "political capitalism" and a critical discussion of methods for studying it, we recommend Professor Gabriel Kolko's essay on "The Lost Democracy".

And for a examination and commentary on the limits of contemporary electoral politics in the U.S. please see the items below :

In item A. Robert Fisk critiques the intellectual limitations of press coverage in the Middle East.
Item B. is an essay by University of Massachusetts Professor of Economics, Richard Wolf, on U.S. election fraud, all over again.
Items C. and D. are two short articles sent to us by the President of The International Endowment for Democracy, NYU Professor of Politics Bertell Ollman, on the 2006 elections as a harbinger of things to come.....

And, finally, in this Bulletin we recommend the following Internet site for access to the Index to Traprock Peace Center’s Audio Files :

Traprock Peace Center archives

Francis McCollum Feeley
Professor of American Studies
Director of Research
Université Stendhal-Grenoble 3

from Robert Fisk :
12 November 2006
New America Media

Journalists' Coverage of Middle East Shallow and Distorted
by Robert Fisk
DEARBORN, MI – J ournalists in the "West" should feel a burden of guilt for much that has happened in the Middle East because they have, with their gullibility, sold a fictitious version of events.


Their constant references to a "fence" instead of a wall, to "settlements" or "neighborhoods" instead of colonies, their description of the West Bank as "disputed" rather than occupied, has bred a kind of slackness in reporting the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Just as it did in Iraq when so many reporters from the great Western newspapers and TV stations used U.S. ambassador Bremer's laughable description of the ferocious insurgents as "dead-enders" or "remnants" - the same phrase still being used by our colleagues in Kabul in reference to a distinctly resurgent Taliban which is being helped, despite General Musharraf's denials, by the Pakistani intelligence service, the ISI.

Much worse, however, is the failure to enquire into the real policies of governments. Why, for example, was there no front-page treatment of this year's Herzliya conference, Israel's most important policy-making jamboree? Most of the important figures in the Israeli government - they had yet to be electe - were in attendance.

The conference was the place where Ehud Olmert first suggested handing over slices of the West Bank: "The choice between allowing Jews to live in all parts of the land of Israel" - the "land of Israel" in this context included the West Bank - "and living in a state with a Jewish majority mandate giving up part of the land of Israel. We cannot continue to control parts of the territories where most of the Palestinians live."

However, most speakers agreed that the Palestinians would be given a state on whatever is left after the huge settlements had been included behind the wall. Benjamin Netanyahu even suggested the wall should be moved deeper into the West Bank. But the implications were obvious.

A Palestinian state will be allowed, but it will not have a capital in East Jerusalem nor any connection between Gaza and the bits of the West Bank that are handed over. So there will be no peace, and the words "Palestinian" and "terrorist" will, again, be inextricably linked by Israel and the U.S.

There were articles in the Israeli press about Herzliya, including one by Sergio Della Pergola in which he warned of the "menace" to Israel of Palestinian birth rates and advised that "if the demographic tie doesn't come in 2010, it will come in 2020." Earlier conferences have discussed the possible need for the revoking of the citizenship rights of some Israeli Arabs.

Already this year, "Haaretz" has reported an opinion poll in which 68 per cent of Israeli Jews said they would refuse to live in the same building as an Arab - 26 per cent would agree to do so - and 46 per cent of Israeli Jews said they would refuse to allow an Arab to visit their home.

The inclination toward segregation rose as the income level of the respondents dropped - as might be expected - and there was no poll of Palestinian opinion, though the Palestinians might be able to point out that tens of thousands of Israelis already do live on their land in the huge colonies across the West Bank, most of which will remain, llegally, in Israeli hands.

All these details are available in the Arab press - and of course, the Israeli press, but are largely absent from our own. Why? Even when Norman Finkelstein wrote a damning academic report on the way Israel's High Court of Justice "proved" the wall – deemed illegal by the Hague - was legal, it was virtually ignored in the West. So, for that matter, was the U.S. The academics' report on the power of the Israeli lobby, until the usual taunts of "anti-Semitism" forced the American mainstream to write about it, albeit in a shifty, frightened way. There are so many other examples of our fear of Middle Eastern truth.

Is this really the best that we journalists can do? Save for the indefatigable Seymour Hersh, there are still no truly investigative correspondents in the U.S. press. But challenging authority should not be that difficult. No one is being asked to end the straightforward reporting of Arab tyrannies. We ae still invited to ask - and should ask - why the Muslim world has produced so many dictatorships, most of them supported by "us." But there are too many dark corners into which we will not look. Where, for example, are the CIA's secret torture prisons? I know two reporters who are aware of the locations. But they are silent, no doubt in the interests of "national security."

And so on we go with the Middle East tragedy, telling the world that things are getting better when they are getting worse, that democracy is flourishing when it is swamped in blood, that freedom is not without "birth pangs" when the midwife is killing the baby.

It's always been my view that the people of this part of the earth would like some of our democracy. They would like a few packets of human rights off our supermarket shelves. They want freedom. But they want another kind of freedom - freedom from us. And this we do not intend to give them. Which is why our Middle East presence is heading into further darkness. Which is why I sit on my balcony and wonder where the next explosion is going to be. For, be sure, it will happen.

Bin Laden doesn't matter any more, alive or dead. Because, like nuclear scientists, he has invented the bomb. You can arrest all of the world's nuclear scientists but the bomb has been made. BinLaden created al-Qaeda amid the matchwood of the Middle East. It exists. His presence is no longer necessary.

And all around these lands are a legion of young men preparing to strike again, at us, at our symbols, at our history. And yes, maybe I should end all my reports with the words: Watch out!
Robert Fisk’s new book is "The Conquest of the Middle East."

From Richard Wolf :
From: "Rick Wolff" <rdwolff@worldnet.att.net>
Subject: US election analysis from GlobalMacroscope.com
Date: Wed, 15 Nov 2006
Exit Poll Revelations
by Rick Wolff

E xit polls conducted at last week’s elections reveal the contradictions and limits of the Democrats’ victories. As reported in The New York Times (November 9, 2006, page P7), the four fifths of US voters who are white preferred Republicans (52 to 48 percent), while Blacks, Hispanics, and Asians chose Democrats (by 89 to 11, 70 to 30, and 62 to 38 respectively). Looking at voters’ income levels showed that the lower the family income, the larger the Democratic margin. Families earning below $15,000 preferred Democrats over Republicans by 69 to 31 percent. As incomes rose, the Democratic advantage fell: families with incomes over $100,000 – 23 per cent of voters - preferred Republicans over Democrats by 52 to 48 percent.  Democrats owe their victories in no small measure to the poorer and the less white among us.
Yet, consider these contradictory numbers for families with very high annual incomes ($ 150,000 – 200,000). Those living in the East preferred Democrats by 63 to 37 percent, a remarkable shift from 2004 when they preferred Republicans by 50 to 48 percent. For Eastern families earning over $200,000, the 2006 results showed a preference for Democrats of 50 to 48 percent compared to 2004 when those families preferred Republicans by 56 to 40. Exit polls in the South, West, and Mid-west, while less extreme, showed similar shifts. Many of the richest Americans changed their party preferences over the last two years.
The richest Americans provide most of the contributions funding Congressional campaigns, The Democrats got more votes in no small part because they got more money from those richer households: money used to offset both heavy Republican spending on TV advertising and media “reportage” that favored Republicans.
The exit polls therefore pose an obvious question: why did so many of the richest families switch their contributions and their votes to Democrats? Slate magazine’s Daniel Gross refers to “angry, well-off, well-educated yuppies, generally clustered on the coasts, who were funneling windfalls from Bush tax cuts into the campaigns of Democrats and preparing to vote for those who would raise taxes on their capital gains, their incomes, and their estates.” [http://www.slate.com/id/2153272/] Gross thinks that hatred of Bush trumped their economic self-interest. If so, the question is why. Here is one possible answer.
What Bush accomplished was rarely a problem for his richest constituents. It was rather the manner, speed, and costs of his accomplishments that provoked their growing criticism, distaste, and derision. In Iraq, he had dared to go further and faster to transform US foreign policy from multilateral diplomacy to aggressive unilateral militarism. Likewise, he went further and faster in widening the domestic gap between rich and poor, a daring demolition of what remained of the New Deal welfare state. These goals were popular with most rich Americans from 2000 through 2004. Moreover, 9/11/2001 gave Bush the political cover and capital to pursue these goals further and faster. But as 9/11/2001 receded into history, Bush’s pursuit produced a predictable backlash.
The war and occupation provoked violent resistance inside Iraq that the US could not contain. More importantly, it increased political, diplomatic, and ideological opposition to the US nearly everywhere. As the war dragged on and its costs rose, so too did criticism. Beyond harsh denunciations of that criticism, Bush moved to prevent potential domestic opposition by curtailing civil liberties and expanding federal power to wage an endless war against terrorism. The transformation of US foreign policy into a military unilateralism thus took on higher costs (political, cultural, as well as economic; foreign and domestic) than rich Americans (as well as others) were content to pay. They wanted US foreign interests to be advanced, but henceforth more slowly, multilaterally, and diplomatically than the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld approach.
Much the same happened to the Bush economic policies (tax changes, relaxed industrial regulations, cheap labor immigration, subsidies to favored industries, encouragement of job outsourcing, and so on). Together such policies accelerated the declining conditions of most middle and lower income families. Increasingly stressed by longer and harder work and mounting debts, those families had begun to complain about, criticize, and oppose Bush policies. The richest Americans had benefited from Bush economics far more than the rest of the population, as widening wealth and income disparities showed. Rumblings of mass discontent made many of the richest Americans determined somehow to soften and slow the Bush economic program. Otherwise it might be ended or, worse still, reversed.
The elections of 2006 may thus continue the basic Bush shifts in foreign policy and domestic economic change but less quickly, less sharply, less offensively. The elections weakened the Bush approach and removed some of its most aggressive leaders (e.g. Rumsfeld). The elections empowered Democrats to slow and soften Bush policies and thereby hopefully to reduce opposition to them. The richest Americans’ votes and contributions to Democrats represented their demand that the Bush program be drastically moderated. Bush, his cabinet, and their neo-con gurus were not trusted to achieve the required moderation quickly (even the James A. Baker III- Lee Hamilton commission redesigning Iraq policy was too slow, too little, and too late). Many of America’s richest concluded that financing and voting for Democrats was necessary.
Bush and “his” Republicans had gone far to reconstitute a pre-1929 kind of US capitalism and to reposition the US as the world’s dominant unilateralist military power as well as economic center. However, en route to these welcomed gains, they had overshot the mark in ways deemed dangerous by many of the richest Americans. Thus, they turned to the Democrats to mollify all those offended, frightened, or damaged by Bush’s programs while consolidating and solidifying those same programs’ achievements. The classical oscillation between the two parties should once again serve well. Republicans can console themselves with the knowledge that once the Democrats have done their job, Republicans can reasonably expect America’s richest to switch back and support their approach yet again.

from Bertell Ollman :
Clear Evidence 2006 Congressional Elections Hacked
18 November 2006

Francis -
Here is the best thing I've seen so far on the elections last week.
See below for the piece on "Clear Evidence 2006..." for the most complete and serious overview of what really happened in the election. If not understood and acted upon, this small "victory" in 2006 will only lead to a massive defeat in 2008.

Clear Evidence 2006 Congressional Elections Hacked

A major undercount of Democratic votes and an overcount of Republican votes in
US House and Senate races across the country is indicated by an analysis of
national exit polling data. These findings have led the Election Defense
Alliance to issue an urgent call for further investigation into the 2006
election results - and a moratorium on deployment of all electronic election

from Bertell Ollman :
Subject: A bombshell from Jimmy Carter

Francis -
This  shocking admission from a former president deserves to be part of whatever mailing you send out with the last piece I just sent you. MCM's title below is a good one for this piece.

Carter Helps Monitor Nicaragua Presidential Election
By Debbie Elliot

. . . . DE: Mr. President, one final question, if you will. Here in the U.S., we have a very hotly contested election on Tuesday that could change the balance of power in the Congress. Voters across the country are concerned here about the voting process. Some have expressed concerns about voting machines and whether they will be working, others have accused officials of trying to intimidate certain groups of voters. Is there a need for a poll watching system of outside observers at U.S. elections?
        JC: As you may know after the 2000 election which was a total debacle, President Gerald Ford and I headed a major blue ribbon commission and recommended changes in the voting procedures that largely were passed by the Congress. And then, after the 2004 election, which still showed some major problems, former secretary of state James Baker and I headed a similar commission and made some recommendations, very few of which have yet been implemented. But there's no doubt in my mind that the United States electoral system is severely troubled and has many faults in it. It would not qualify at all for instance for participation by the Carter Center in observing. We require for instance that there be uniform voting procedures throughout an entire nation. In the United States you've got not only fragmented from one state to another but also from one county to another. There is no central election commission in the United States that can make final judgment. It's a cacophony of voices that come in after the election is over with, thousands or hundreds of lawyers contending with each other. There's no uniformity in the nation at all. There's no doubt that that there's severe discrimination against poor people because of the quality of voting procedures presented to them.
Another thing in the United States that we wouldn't permit in a country other than the United States is that we require that every candidate in a country in which we monitor the elections have equal access to the major news media, regardless of how much money they have. In the United States, as you know, it's how much advertising you can by on television and radio. And so the richest candidates prevail, and unless a candidate can raise sometimes hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars, they can't even hope to mount a campaign, so the United States has a very inadequate election procedure.