Subject: ON MILITARY MADNESS, CAPITALIST CUNNING, AND HUMANITY'S HOPES.
12 April 2007
Dear Colleagues and Friends of CEIMSA,
I and my ten Ph.D. students are happy to share with you the very positive news that we have just accepted an invitation to join the dynamic research center, CREA, at the University of Paris X-Nanterre.
In 2004 we escaped the monopoly formation of a single anglophone research center at Stendhal University, mismanaged by a self-serving administrator, and we affiliated with a progressive research laboratory at the University of Savoy-Chambéry. This week, we have moved again, this time to the University of Paris, where we were offered full membership privileges at this larger research center, the home of specialists who share more directly our own interests. To get a more complete idea about CREA activities at the University of Paris X-Nanterre and to see the fit with our own group, CEIMSA, we invite readers to visit the two Internet links below :
Occasionally, CEIMSA readers write a reply to articles or statements in our Bulletins. We received the comment below from Michel Wilson (Conseiller technique at the Conseil Rgional Rhne-Alpes, specialist in dveloppement durable, nergie, environnement) in response to my introduction to the CEIMSA Bulletin #321 :
Francis, I wonder what the Communist Chinese peasant, if per chance after surviving the Japanese fascist had escaped to the Maoist cultural revolution or Tiananmen Square repression, would have thought about the "Communist-Capitalist Paradise" which has been built by the Chinese Communist Party.
Any ideological system which is not based on the absolute respect of individual rights and promotion of human development has to be suspect, from my point of view!
Michel Wilson's point is well taken. Today, democratic movements of resistance to capitalism (both private and state capitalism) are on the increase, along with growing consciousness of the mechanisms of labor exploitation and military expansion. While tactics of resistance reflect a healthy survival instinct, new strategies must be developed to de-privatize and to democratize the political economy in order to disarm the corporations that have been waging war against all of us for too long (and destroying the environment in the process).
The growing militarization of society, the increasing authoritarianism and regimentation of the population into illegitimate hierarchies require that more attention be given to the structures of military morale and particularly to the criminal activities of imperialist armies (both private and state-controlled). The price of formal discipline in time of war, according to B. H. Liddell in his classic book on military strategy, is "loss in individual intelligence and initiative . . . [and] lack of independent courage." (p. 292)
What role in this movement of democratic resistance will be played by "the people of the book"? (as the world has named that small group of people following Judeo-Christian teachings) Israel and the United States of America are identified in The Fateful Triangle, as key players in a perilous escalation toward global destruction. This imperialist penetration (both cultural and military) is one example of the need for more scientific study of military discipline. Israel is a nation of some 2 million-plus families, most of whom have immigrated from one of a dozen countries. Today they include an ever increasing number of non-Jews who, for one reason or another, have emigrated from their homelands to "The Promised Land" looking for new opportunities.
Military morale in this heterogeneous warrior state has long been a subject of study in military science. In 1957, retired British Army officer, Robert Henriques, sought "to explain the origin of the distinctive spirit of the Israeli Army." In his book, One Hundred Hours to Suez, he wrote:
Although Israeli units can be extremely smart on a
ceremonial parade, there is very little discipline in
the ordinary sense. Officers are often called by their
first name amongst their men, as amongst their colleagues;
there is a very little saluting: there are a lot of unshaven
chins; there are no outward signs of respect for superiors;
there is no word in Hebrew for "sir". . . . A soldier genuinely
feels himself to be the equal of his officer --indeed of any
officer-- yet in battle he accepts military authority without
Robert Henrique went on to observe that experience in the British and American armies had taught him that "first-class discipline in battle depends on good discipline in barracks." The Israeli Army seemed to refute this basic principle. "I cannot explain," he wrote, "I cannot begin to understand, how or why it works." (pp. 23-24) It would seem, that if brought up with the necessary self-esteem a person can maintain his belief in equality even in an authoritarian system based on a strictly defined division of labor and a hierarchy of power.
The late General Moshe Dayan, the Israeli Chief of Staff, spoke to this issue when asked what accounted for the highly developed integration of individuals of varying national origins, including Jews of Oriental stock, in this citizen army, in whose formal and informal reserves every able-bodied Israeli man and woman is enrolled. His reply was, "The Bible"
--not in the religious sense, but in the historical, philosophical, and cultural sense of an ancient text known to all, a source of spoken and written style continually recalled in everyday metaphor and popular wisdom-- the Bible as the source of a shared epistemology, mythology, and ideology mediating all relations between Jews, and between Jews and their environments, including the Arab states.
The first English commander to understand and put to use this intimate connection between discipline, strength of character, and ideological commitment was Oliver Cromwell, who attempted to exterminate the Irish with his New Model Army
, after its victory over the Royalists in the first phase of the English Civil War (1642-46). [See Anthony Wilden, Man and Woman, War and Peace
(1987), pp. 244-48.]
This week, exceptionally, we have attached with our CEIMSA Bulletin a PDF file (Item G.
) which contains an important article by Professors Edward Herman and David Peterson offering readers a "definitive critique" of the forces behind the infamous war in Former Yugoslavia. These two well-informed American scholars, provide in these pages an analysis of the "U.S./NATO role in the exploitation of the Yugoslavian tragedy" and of the Western Liberal-Left Intellectual and Moral Collapse that made this crime against humanity possible. [Please visit CEIMSA Scholarly Publications, vol. IV
The additional 6 items
below all speak to our contemporary need "to get a plan", "to map out an objective", "to collectively create a strategy" in order to democratically take back the authority we have lost over our lives, our human rights which have been usurped by corporate interests and the professional representatives of these interests for too long.
is an article from the Council for the National Interest Foundation
which contains important information on the structural limitations of the upcoming international Middle East peace conference which is scheduled to take place next month.
is an essay sent to us by NYU Professor Bertell Ollman
explaining the importance today of Wilhelm Reich's research on sexual repression and "repressive tolerance" before the Second World War.
, from the Information Clearing House
, is a personal testimony from the vicious Israeli attack on the unarmed American spy ship, the USS Liberty,
in an attempt to answer "Whos Afraid of the Israel Lobby?"
, from Counter Punch
, is another indictment of AIPAC activities in the United States Congress, by William Cook.
sent by Dr. Jim O'Brien
at Historians Against War
, is an article describing the criminalization of the pacifist movement in the U.S.
, is a link to the Anti-War.com article in which Gabriel Kolko
discusses the "mythical foundations of Israel".
offers readers a pdf attachment
of the 6-part analysis, written by Professors Edward Herman and David Peterson
, of "The Dismantling of Yugoslavia," a definitive study that was just published by The Monthly Review Foundation.
Finally, we urge readers to visit the Democracy Now!
pod cast featuring 2 interviews : one with Congolese Human Rights Activist Christine Schuler Deschryver
on "Sexual Terrorism and Africa's Forgotten War." In a war that has already killed over 4 million people, Christine Schuler Deschryver describes how women continue to be the victims of "sexual terrorism" in the Congo. John Homes, the UN undersecretary general for humanitarian affairs, called the sexual violence in the Congo "the worst in the world."
and the second with chief political columnist and a senior analyst for the Israeli daily Ha'aretz,
Akiva Eldar, who questions whether the Israeli Lobby in Washington is contributing to the security of Israel, comments on military censorship in Israel, and calls for a nuclear-free Middle East.
Francis McCollum Feeley
Professor of American Studies/
Director of Research
Universit Stendhal - Grenoble 3
from Council for the National Interest Foundation :
11 October 2007
Subject: Stop Gap Peace Talks?
Stop Gap Peace Talks?
The New "International Peace Conference" on the Palestinians
By Terry Walz
The lurching and heaving by the U.S. on the path to an upcoming international Middle East peace conference is baffling those who have long hoped for an end to the violence between Israelis and Palestinians. Never has a conference been so peculiarly and fitfully envisaged and planned, with so many pieces deliberately left out of place at such a late date. This is beginning to resemble grand guignol entertainment, with Mother Rice pulling the strings of America's various puppets - Ehud, Tzipi, Mahmoud, Tony and, of course W - and one wonders what horrors will be left on the stage when the actors move off.
Part of the problem is that so many of the main characters are deeply flawed. Condoleezza Rice's track record is getting the Israelis to concede anything to the Palestinians is negligible. Her half dozen excursions into the Middle East are often misunderstood by both Israelis and Arabs. Her strategic vision is tied too closely to the Israelis and the neocons, to which she is neonatally linked. Tony Blair was President Bush's greatest backer in Iraq, and his reputation in influencing the President's thinking on Palestine is remains unapparent. Now it is thought he doesn't enjoy Israeli support, so the hand he may be dealing at the conference could contain unexpected jokers. Ehud Olmert and his foreign minister, Tzipi Livni, are part of a government that has little popular support in Israel. Mahmoud Abbas relies on what have thus far been meaningless concessions from Israel to bolster the feeble support he enjoys among his own people.
A month before the conference is supposed to open in Annapolis, the invitation list remains undisclosed. For a while it was thought Syria would be invited; then the Israelis found a link with North Korea and secretly bombed an undisclosed site - so an invitation may not be forthcoming after all. In any event, President Bashar al-Assad recently announced Syria would not come even if it did receive an invitation unless the Golan Heights was on the agenda.
Close Bush ally Saudi Arabia may or may not attend, pending the substance of the agenda, which remains unknown. Lebanon may be invited, but its government is being challenged to the core by Hizbullah, which is not invited. For sure, Hamas will not be invited, and in an extraordinary irony, the Israelis, with the backing of the U.S., have declared the area a "hostile zone," threatening even to cut off water and electricity. A substantial part of the Palestinian electorate, whose fate the conference will decide, is being besieged.
Even a group of Israeli writers have called for negotiating a ceasefire with Hamas at the same time as negotiating a peace with the Palestinian Authority.
Given such a cast and set of circumstances, how can the conference be allowed to proceed?
Three former assistant secretaries of state for the Near East - Tom Pickering, Edward Walker, and Robert Pelletreau - nevertheless offered suggestions two weeks ago to Secretary Rice on how to enhance the murky outlook. The text is available on the Israel Policy Forum website and is ably discussed on Daniel Levy's blogsite, Prospects for Peace. Among its several valuable points, their proposal urges Secretary Rice to extend an invitation to Hamas, and to set up constructive steps that would encourage the leadership to buy into a peace with Israel. It also suggests that the conference not be a one-shot meeting, as Camp David II was, but that it be broken up into several meetings, staged over time, allowing the contending parties the time to negotiate more substantially with each other. Finally, they propose a mechanism for the continuing conference, making sure that proposed steps are followed up.
The Israelis now seem to embrace this idea and are speaking of a negotiation spread over the period of a year. Prime Minister Olmert mentions the willingness of the Israelis to make concessions, but this may merely be an attempt to strengthen his hand in the Knesset without revealing his hand, which could be bitterly opposed. More tellingly, Foreign Minister Livni has talked over the last several months about the need to lower expectations. Is she setting the stage for a non-event or are the Israelis really interested in making a deal?
Actions speak louder than words, of course, and while they press a peace agenda and proclaim Mahmoud Abbas and Salim Fayyad acceptable "peace partners," the siege of 1.4 million Gazans proceeds unabated. The Israel Defense Forces moved into northern Gaza and launches regular attacks against "extremist" positions, causing death and injury to civilians. Twelve Gazans died in the last two weeks of September. Qassam rockets are lobbed into Israel, but rarely injure anyone while they increase fear and make retaliation popular. The wall continues to be built separating "Arab" and "Jewish" Jerusalem - for the latest reports, see B'tselem, the Israeli human rights group. Land continues to be confiscated by the state to build roads. Since the beginning of the year, 450 Palestinians have died, according to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights. Up to 10,000 colonists, according to the reports of the Foundation for Middle East Peace, have moved last year into Jews-only settlements on the West Bank and Jerusalem.
What then can anyone expect from such an international conference? While any effort to bring peace to the region must be embraced, it can only be hoped that the invitation list, the agenda, the scope of the talk, whatever emerges from the meeting will not be a repeat of Oslo, which also entailed a series of follow-up meetings. Oslo had the great bonus of bringing back the nationalist leader Yasir Arafat. Who can the new international conference produce who will mean anything to the Palestinians?
Council for the National Interest Foundation
1250 4th Street SW, Suite WG-1 Washington, DC 20024
800.296.6958 202.863.2951 Fax: 202.863.2952
from Bertell Ollman :
Date: Sat, 29 Sep 2007
Subject: More on the historical significance of Wilhelm Reich.
In regard to your last mailing on Reich, you might want to share with your readers an article of mine that provides a fuller view of the history and ideas you touch upon in your commentary, and of their importance for Marxist theory and possibly - the jury is still out - for socialist practice. See below. (Sorry, I wasn't able to separate the article from the packaging. Hopefully, you can.)
Social and Sexual Revolution
Social and Sexual Revolution: from Marx to Reich and Back
arx claimed that from the sexual relationship "one can...judge man's whole level of development...the relationship of man to woman is the most natural relation of human being to human being. It therefore reveals the extent to which man's natural behavior has become human."1
The women's liberation movement has provided ample evidence to show that in our society this relationship is one of inequality, one in which the woman is used as an object, and one which does not bring much satisfaction to either party. As predicted, these same qualities can be observed throughout capitalist life. Inequality, people treating each other as objects, as instances of a kind (not taking another's unique, personalizing characteristics into account), and the general frustration that results are major features in the alienation described by Marx.
Yet Marx himself never tried to explain what we may now call "sexual alienation." Pointing to the fact of exploitation and indicating that this is typical of what goes on throughout capitalist society is clearly insufficient. We also want to know how the capitalist system operates on the sexual lives and attitudes of people, and conversely, what role such practices and thinking plays in promoting the ends of the system. What is missing from this dialectical equation is the psychological dimension which, given the state of knowledge in his time, Marx was ill equipped to provide.
Half a century after Marx's death, the task of accounting for sexual alienation was taken up by Wilhelm Reich. Born in Austrian Galicia in 1897, Reich came to Vienna after World War I to study medicine, and in 1920, while still a student, became a practicing psychoanalyst. By 1924, he was director of the Viennese Psychoanalytic Society's prestigious seminar in psychoanalytic technique and highly regarded for his contribution in this field. Almost from the start of his career as an analyst, however, Reich was troubled by Freud's neglect of social factors. His work in the free psychoanalytic clinic of Vienna (1922-30) showed him how often poverty and its concomitantsinadequate housingg, lack of time, ignorance, etc.contribute to neuroses. He soon became convinced that the problems treated by psychoanalysis are at their roots social problems demanding a social cure. Further investigation brought him to Marxism and eventually, in 1927, to membership in the Austrian Social Democratic Party.
Reich's voluminous writings in his Marxist period (roughly 1927-1936) sought, on the one hand, to integrate basic psychoanalytic findings with Marxist theory, and on the other, to develop a revolutionary strategy for the working class based on this expansion of Marxism. The chief of these writings are "Dialectical Materialism and Psychoanalysis," 1929 (in opposition to the Communist-inspired caricature, Reich argues that Freud's psychology is both dialectical and materialist); Sexual Maturity, Abstinence and Conjugal Morality
,1930 (a critique of bourgeois sexual morality); The Imposition of Sexual Morality
; 1932 (a study of the origins of sexual repression); The Sexual Struggle of Youth
, 1932 (a popular attempt to link the sexual interests of young people with the need for a socialist revolution); The Mass Psychology of Fascism
, 1933 (an investigation of the character mechanisms that underlie the appeal of fascism); What is Class Consciousness?
, 1934 (a redefinition of class consciousness that emphasizes the importance of everyday life); and The Sexual Revolution
, 1936 (along with a revised edition of Sexual Maturity, Abstinence and Conjugal Morality
, a history of the sexual reforms and subsequent reaction in the Soviet Union).
The social revolution is only a prerequisite (and not a sufficient condition) for the sexual revolution, but Reich believed that recognition of their close relationship, particularly among the young, helped to develop consciousness of the need for both revolutions. With the exception of Character Analysis
(1934), which psychoanalysts still regard as a classic in their field, and a few related articles, Reich's early work was devoted almost entirely to the attainment of such a consciousness.
Not content to debate his ideas, in 1929 Reich organized the Socialist Society of Sexual Advice and Sexual Research. A half dozen clinics were set up in poor sections of Vienna, where working-class people were not only helped with their emotional problems but urged to draw the political lessons which come from recognizing the social roots of these problems. Moving to Berlin in 1930, Reich joined the German Communist Party and persuaded its leadership to unite several sexual-reform movements into a sex-political organization under the aegis of the party. With Reich, the chief spokesperson on sexual questions, lecturing to working-class and student audiences throughout the country, membership in the new organization grew quickly to about forty thousand.
By the end of 1932, however, the Communist Party decidedwhetheer to placate potential allies against fascism or because of the general reaction that was then overtaking the Soviet Unionthat Reich's atteempt to link sexual and political revolution was a political liability. Interpretations which were previously considered "sufficiently" Marxist were now declared un-Marxist, and party organs were prohibited from distributing Reich's books. In February 1933, despite the support of his co-workers in Sex-Pol, Reich was formally expelled from the party.
If the Communist leaders found Reich's stress on sexuality intolerable, his psychoanalytic colleagues were no more appreciative of his Communist politics. Badly frightened by the import of Reich's Mass Psychology of Fascism
(1933)and, as difficult as it is to believe today, still hoping to make their peace with fascismthe International Psychoanalytic Association expelled Reich the following year.
First from Denmark, then from Sweden and Norway, Reich continued his efforts to influence the course of working-class protest against fascism. Most of his writing of this time appears in the Zeotscjroft fur politische Psychologie and Sexualokonomie
, a journal he edited from 1934 to 1938. From about 1935 on, however, Reich's interest in politics was gradually giving way to a growing interest in biology, spurred by the belief that he had discovered the physical basis of sexual energy (libido). From being a psychoanalyst and Marxist social philosopher, Reich became a natural scientist, a metamorphosis that was to have drastic effects on both his psychoanalysis and social philosophy. Reich emigrated to America in 1939. Each year added to his spiritual distance from Marx and Freud. After a new round of persecution by the authorities, this time in connection with his scientific research, he died in an American prison in 1957.2
Reich's later work, as fascinating and controversial as it is, lies outside the bounds of this essay, which is concerned, solely with his Marxist period. What does concern us is that the break with his Marxist past led him to dilute much of the class analysis and politically radical content of whatever works of this period he chose to republish. Consequently, The Sexual Revolution
(1945) and The Mass Psychology of Fascism
(1946), until recently the only "Marxist" works available in English, give a very misleading picture of Reich's Marxism. Two recent pirate editions of The Mass Psychology of Fascism
, both taken from the 1946 English version, and a new translation of the third German edition, exhibit the same fault, as does The Invasion of Compulsory Sex Morality
(Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1971), which takes account of textual revisions Reich undertook in 1952. Only "Dialectical Materialism and Psychoanalysis" (Studies on the Left
, July-August 1966) and "What is Class Consciousness?" (Liberation
, October 1971) are exempt from this criticism, but besides being difficult to obtain, these essays in themselves are hardly adequate as an introduction to Reich's Marxism, Sex-Pol: Essays 1929-1934
offers the English-speaking reader his or her first opportunity to become acquainted with Reich's contribution to Marxist theory.
As indicated above, I believe Reich's main efforts as a Marxist were directed to filling in the theory of alienation as it applies to the sexual realm. Reich himself would have been surprised by such a judgment, since he was only partially familiar with this theory and seldom employed the vocabulary associated with it. The German Ideology
and 1844 Manuscripts
, which contain Marx's clearest treatment of alienation, because available only in 1928 and 1931 respectively, and it seems as if Reich never read the latter work. Still fitting rather neatly into this Marxian matrix is his discussion of the split between the individual and his natural sexual activity, reflected in part by the split between spiritual and physical love (likewise between tenderness and eroticism); the fact that sexuality comes under the control of another (repression and manipulation); of its objectification in repressive structures (symptoms as well as social forms); of the reification (neurotic attachment) connected with each; of people treatment of one another as sexual objects and the dissatisfaction this breeds; of the role money plays in purchasing sexual favors (which is only possible because they are no longer an integral part of the personality); and of the incipient conflict between repressors and repressed. Moreover, by using the theory of alienation Marx tried to showin keeping with hiis dialectical conceptionthat people were not only prisoners of their conditions but of themselves, of what they had been made by their conditions. It is perhaps in marking the toll of sexual repression on people's ability to come to grips with their life situation (and, in particular, on the working class' ability to recognize its interests and become class-conscious) that Reich makes his most important contribution to Marx's theory of alienation.3
In his investigation of sexual alienation, Reich was greatly aided by Freud's four major discoveries: 1) human psychic life is largely under the control of the unconscious (this show itself in dreams, slips of the tongue, forgetting and misplacing thingsall have a "meaning""); 2) small children have a lively sexuality (sex and procreation are not identical); 3) when repressed, infantile sexuality is forgotten but doesn't lose its strength, its energy (this only gets diverted into various psychic disturbances which are beyond conscious control); 4) human morality is not of supernatural origins but is the result of repressive measures taken against children, particularly against expressions of natural sexuality.
To these basic discoveries, Reich soon added two of his own. Psychoanalysis of the time was puzzled by the fact that many severely disturbed people had a "healthy" sex life, i.e., in the case of men, had erections and experienced orgasm. On investigation, Reich found that none of these people enjoyed sex very much or experienced a full release of tension in orgasm. He concluded that the notion of potency should not be restricted to the ability to erections and ejaculations but should be expanded to include "orgiastic potency", which he defined as "the capacity for complete surrender to the flow of biological energy without any inhibition, the capacity for complete discharge of all dammed-up sexual excitation."4
Without orgiastic potency, a lot of the sexual energy built up through the natural functioning of the body is blocked and made available for neuroses and other kinds of irrational behavior.
Reich also noted that orgiastic impotence in his patients was always coupled with distinctive waysincluding both beliefs and bodily attitudesof warding off instinctual impulses. He labeled these defensive behavior patterns "character structure." The origins of character structure lay in the ways an individual protected himself or herself from the repressive force and techniques used in early socialization, particularly in the area of sexuality. If at the start, character structure develops in response to real or imagined threats in one's environment, once it gets established its main function is to control impulses coming from within the individual that threaten the emotional equilibrium that has been established.
Such instinctual control is not without its price. According to Reich, it makes "an orderly sexual life and full sexual experience impossible."5
All the inhibitions, fears, awkward mannerisms and stiffness associated with character structure interfere with the capacity to surrender oneself in the sexual act, and in this way reduce the pleasure and discharge of tension achieved in orgasm. The same dulling effect makes it possible for people to do the repetitive and boring work which is the lot of most people in capitalist society, while reducing the impact on them, on their beliefs and feelings, of later life experiences.
Drawing upon his clinical experience, Freud had already pointed out a number of disturbing personality traits and problems that result from sexual repression. Specifically mentioned are the "actual" neuroses, tension and anxiety ("modern nervousness"), attenuated curiosity, increased guilt and hypocrisy, and reduced sexual pleasure and potency. On one occasion, he goes so far as to claim that repressed people are "good painfully the initiative of strong characters.6
Though Freud never took this observation any further, it served Reich as the basis for much of his later work. For Reich, the most important effects of sexual repression are submissiveness and irrationality: it "paralyzes the rebellious forces because any rebellion is laden an anxiety" and "produces by inhibiting sexual curiosity and thinking in the child, a general inhibition of thinking and critical faculties."7
But if the human cost of repression is so great, the question arises: Why does society repress sexuality? Freud's answer is that it is the sine qua non
of civilized life. Reich replies that sexual repression's chief social function is to secure the existing class structure. The criticism which is curtailed by such repression is criticism of today's society, just as the rebellion which is inhibited is rebellion against the status quo.
Closely following Marx, Reich declares, "Every social order creates those character forms which it needs for its preservation. In class society, the ruling secures its position with the aid of education and the institution of the family, by making its ideology the ruling ideology of all members of the society." To this Reich adds the following "it is not merely a matter of imposing ideologies, attitudes and concepts....Rather it is a matter of a deep-reaching process in each new generation, of the formation of a psychic structure which corresponds to the existing social order in all strata of the population."8
In short, life in capitalism is not only responsible for our beliefs, the ideas of which we are conscious, but also for related unconscious attitudes, for all those spontaneous reactions which proceed from our character structure. Reich can be viewed as adding a psychological dimension to Marx's notion of ideology: emotions as well as ideas are socially determined. By helping to consolidate the economic situation responsible for their formation, each serves equally the interests of the ruling class.
Within the theory of alienation, character structure stands forth as the major product of alienated sexual activity. It is an objectification of human existence that has acquired power over the individual through its formation in human conditions. Its various forms, the precise attitudes taken, are reified as moral sense, strength of character, sense of duty, etc., further disguising its true nature. Under the control of the ruling class and its agents in the family, church and school who use the fears created to manipulate the individual character structure provides the necessary psychological support within the oppressed for those very external practices and institutions (themselves products of alienated activity in other spheres) which daily oppress them. In light of the socially reactionary role of character structure, Reich's political strategy aims at weakening its influence in adults and obstructing its formation in the young, where the contradiction between self-assertiveness and social restraint is most volatile. The repressive features of family church and school join economic exploitation as major targets of his criticism.
To avoid the kind of misunderstanding that had bedeviled most discussion of Reich's ideas, I would like to emphasize that Reich's strategy is not a matter of "advocating" sexual intercourse. Rather, by exhibiting the devastating effects of sexual repression on the personality and on society generally, he wants people to over turn those conditions which make a satisfactory love life (andthough its connection to character structurehappiness and fulfillment) impossible. In a similar vein, Reich never held that a full orgasm is the summum bonum
of human existence. Rather, because of the psychological ills associated with orgastic impotence, the full orgasm serves as an important criterion by which emotional well-being can be judged. Furthermore, with the relaxation of repression, Reich does not expect everybody to be "screwing" everybody all the time (a fear Freud shares with the Pope), though such relaxation would undoubtedly lead—as it already has in partto people making love more frequently with others whom they find attractive.
Many of Reich's critics make it a point of honor never to engage him in intelligent debate, simply assuming that any position which is so "extreme" must be erroneous. Among those from whom we deserve better are Herbert Marcuse, who remarks "sexual liberation per se
becomes for Reich a panacea for individual and social ills," and Norman Brown who says of Reich "This appearance of finding the solution to the world's problem in the genitals has done much to discredit psychoanalysis; mankind, from history and from personal experience, knows better."9
Reich's masterly analysis of the social function of sexual repression is duly lost sight of behind these unsupported caricatures.
Another related misinterpretation, which is widespread among Marxists and must be taken more seriously, holds that Reich replaces "economic determinism" with "sexual determinism." At the time of his expulsion from the Communist Party, a spokesperson for the party declared, "You begin with consumption, we with production; you are no Marxist."10
It is only fitting that special attention be given to an objection which calls into question his entire enterprise.
Marxist theory offer Reich two complementary ways of responding: either the notion of production can be differently defined to include sexuality (which his Communist Party critic restricted to a form of consumption), or the interaction between the "base" and such elements of the "superstructure" as sexuality can be emphasized to being out the hitherto neglected importance of the latter. Reich's strategy, as found in several of his works, takes advantage of both possibilities. On the one hand, he points out that Marx's materialism logically precedes his stress on economic factors, such as production, and that sex is a "material want." On the other hand, while willingly declaring even for sexual practices the primacy "in the last instance" of economic factors (work, housing, leisure etc.), he argues that the social effects of sexual repression are far greater than have previously been recognized.
Marx's materialism is first and foremost a matter of beginning his study of society with the "real individual," who may be viewed strictly as a producer but is just as often seen as both producer and consumer.11
In his only methodological essay, Marx is at pains to show that production and consumption are internally related as aspects of the individual's material existence and that information which generally appears under one heading may be shiftedin order to satisfy some requirement of inquiry of expositionto the other with no loss of meaning.12
Likewise, the "real individual" has both subjective and objective aspectshe feels as well as doesand again, because of this s interrelatedness his life situation can be brought into focus by emphasizing either feelings or actions. Based essentially on methodological considerations, this choice simply subsumes those aspects not directly named under those, which are.
Perfectly in keeping with this broader notion of materialism is Reich's claim that "Mankind exists with two basic psychological needs, the need for nourishment and the sexual need, which, for purposes of gratification, exist in a state of mutual interaction."13
Stressing the active component, Engels had said as much" "According to the materialist conception, the determining factor in history is, in the final instance, the production and reproduction of the immediate essentials of life. This, again, is of a two-fold character. On the one side, the production of the means of existence...on the other side, the production of human beings themselves, the propagation of the species."14
The social organization of each epoch, according to Engels, is determined by both kinds of "production."
So little is this dual basis of Marx's conception of history appreciatednot least by Marx's followersthat the editor of of the Moscow edition of Origins of the Family, Private Property and the State
, where this remark appears, accuses Engels of "inexactitude," a serious admission for any Communist editor to make in 1948.15
Reich, too, is not altogether satisfied with Engel's formulation. The parallel Engels draws between production and procreation as determining forces in history requires some emendation. For if people produce in order to satisfy the need for food, shelter, etc., they do not engage in sex in order to propagate the species. Goods are not only the result of production but its aim. Sex, however, is almost always engaged in for pleasure or to relieve bodily tension. For the greater part of human history the link between sexual intercourse and paternity was not even known. Beyond this, sexual desire, which makes it appearance in early childhood, precedes the possibility of procreation in the life of everyone. Consequently, as a material need, as a subjective aspect of the "real individual," sex is essentially the drive for sexual pleasure. It is, therefore, how society responds to the individual's attempt to satisfy his hunger and obtain sexual pleasure that determines the social organization of each epoch.16
Besides accepting Marx's notion of "material forces" (however extended), Reich, as I have indicated, also accepted the primacy "in the last instance" of economic factors (narrowly understood). To grasp the latter admission in the proper perspective one must replace the causal model into which it is often forced with a dialectical one. On the basis of the dialectic, mutual interaction (or reciprocal effect) exists between all elements in reality. This basic assumption does not rule out the possibility that some elements exert a proportionately greater effect on others or on the whole as such. As Marx discovered, this was generally the case for economic factors. His claim regarding the primacy of economic factors is an empirical generalization based on a study of real societies, and not an a priori truth about the world. Consequently, Marx himself could call attention to the predominant role that war and conquest seem to have played in the development of ancient societies, and Engels could say that before the division of labor reached a certain point, kinship groups bore the chief responsibility for determining social forms.17
Reich, who made a special study of primitive societies, concurs with Engels' judgment, though his qualification shows him to be even more of an "economic determinist" in this matter than Engels. Basing himself primarily on the anthropology of Malinowski, Reich emphasizes the importance of the marriage dowry (arranged as a form of tribute between previously warring primal hordes) in establishing both clan exogamy and the incest taboo; whereas Engels, under the influence of Morgan and Darwin, attributes both developments to natural selection.18
If Reich's research into the social origins of neuroses, beginning with his work in the free psychoanalytic clinic of Vienna, led him to accept the primacy in the last instance of economic factors, the same research made him want to alter the weight Marx attached to at least one of the elements in this interaction. Marx had mentioned sex as a natural and human power, as a way of relating to nature, along with eating, seeing, working and many other human conditions and functions. He did declare, as we saw, that the quality of the sexual relationship offers the clearest insight into the degree to which man the animal has become a human being. Yet, the only power whose influence is examined in any detail is work.
Reich does not by any means seek to belittle the importance Marx attributes to work, but he does wish to accord greater importance to sexuality, particular in affecting people's capacity for rational action. For very different reasons, Marx and Freud had underestimated the influence on character and social development of the area of life investigated by the other. The result was that "In Marx's system, the sexual process led a Cinderella existence under the misnomer 'development of the family.' The work process, on the other hand, suffered the same fate in Freud's psychology under such misnomers as 'sublimation,' 'hunger instinct' or 'ego instincts.' "19
For Reich, synthesizing Marx and Freud meant breaking out of the prison imposed by such categories to redistribute causal influence in line with the basic discoveries of both men.
Sartre has recently remarked that most Marxists treat people as if they were born at the time of applying for their first job.20
Writing as a Marxist psychoanalyst, it is chiefly this distortion that Reich sought to correct.
The attack on Reich as a sexual determinist has led most Marxist critics to overlook the real differences that exist between Marx's materialist conception of history and Reich's. The chief of these has to do with the different time periods brought into focus. Whereas Marx concentrated on the social-economic forms that have come into existence in the West in the last two to three thousand years (slavery, feudalism, capitalism), Reichwhile accepting Marx's division generally operates with a periodization based on social-sexual developments, whose three main stages are matriarchy, patriarchy (covering the whole of recorded history) and communism. Though they overlap, these two ways of dividing time are not fully integrated, either conceptuallyso thhat one is forced to think of one or the otheror practicallysoso that one is forced to think of one of the otheror practicallyso thathat followers of Marx and Reich often dismiss economic or psychological factors (depending on the school) in accounting for social change.
This contrast between the two thinkers is nowhere so clearly drawn as in their treatment of contradictions. At the core of Marx's materialist conception of history, insofar as it passes beyond methodology (how best to study social change) to a set of generalizations on how changes occur, is his stress on the reproduction of the conditions of social existence, which at a certain point begins to transform the old order into a qualitatively new one. For Marx, the content of contradictions is always provided by the particular society in which their resolution takes place.
As a kindred thinker to Marx, Reich too is particularly attuned to contradictory tendencies in the material he examines. Yet, with few exceptions, the contradictions he believes will be resolved in capitalism possess a content that is derived from patriarchal society as such. This is the case with the contradiction between repression strengthening marriage and family and, in virtue of the sexual misery caused, undermining them; and likewise of the contradiction he sees between repression producing a character structure which inclines youth to accept parental authority (and by extension all forms of authority) and simultaneously provoking sexual rebellion against parents (and by extension all forms of authority).
Without roots in the particular society in which they are found (capitalism), it is not altogether clear how these contradictions contribute to the demise of this society, nor why its demise will necessarily lead to the resolution of these contradictions. And adding that repression is greater in the capitalist era does not solve the problem. Even sexual alienation is affected, for to the extent that its peculiarly capitalist features are overshadowed by patriarchal ones it becomes, for the time span with which Marx is concerned, an ahistorical phenomenon. Thus, a form of sexual alienation, as Reich was forced to admit, could exist even in the Soviet Union, still a patriarchal society.21
Reich's errorfor all the use he made of Marx's analysis lies in conceptualizing his findings apart from the findings of Marxist sociology, rather that integrating the two within the same social contradictions. He himself offers a good example of the alternative when he speaks of the capitalist economy fostering family ideology while simultaneously undermining it through inner family tensions caused by unemployment and forcing women to go to work. In this way, that is, through the operation of typical capitalist trends, the family whose ideological function is necessary to capitalism is rendered increasingly dysfunctional.22
Such examples in Reich's work, however, remain the exception.
Marxists have always managed better to explain the transition from slavery to feudalism and from feudalism to capitalism than to explain the onset of class society and, as events show, its eventual replacement by communism. It is just such developments, however, that Reich's work does most to illuminate. Yet, while Reich's contradictions occur in patriarchal times and the main contradictions Marx uncovered take place in capitalism, Reich's contribution to Marx's analysis can only be peripheral and suggestive. If Reich's "sexual economy" is ever to become an integral part of Marxism, the peculiarly capitalist qualities of sexual repression, including its distinctive forms and results within each social class (making allowances for racial, national and religious differences), must be brought out in greater detail. And, conceptually, from a patriarchal social relation, sexual repression must be broken down into slave, feudal, capitalist and even "socialist" social relations, in order to capture its special contribution to each periodas well as the opportunities available in each period for its transcendence. Most of this research and work of reformulation is still to be done.23
Aside from the accusation that Reich's theory is of sexual determinism, another potentially telling criticism raised by many radicals today has to do with the relevance of his ideas in light of all the changes in sexual behavior that have occurred since he wrote. Have Reich's teachings missed their revolutionary moment? Reimut Reiche, in his book Sexuality and the Class Struggle
, argues that the spread of sexual education, the availability of birth control pills and abortions, the easy access to cars (if not rooms) in which to make love, etc. have made it impossible to link the denial of a satisfactory sex life with the requirements of the capitalist system. The market has been able to absorb even these needs, turning their satisfaction into a profitable business venture for some section of the capitalist class. For him, the focus of interest has changed from finding out why sexuality is being denied to discovering how in the very means of its satisfaction it is being manipulated to serve the ends of the capitalist system.24
Neither Reimut Reiche's optimism regarding the extent to which repression has diminished nor his pessimism as to the extent capitalism is able to exploit what ever new freedom exists seems fully justified. A recent poll of eighteen-year-old college students in the United States, for example, show that 44 percent of the women and 23 percent of the men are still virgins, and one expects that a far greater percentage have known only one or a few encounters.25
Radicals tend to believe that on sexual matters, at least, their generally liberated attitudes and practices are shared by most of their age peers. This is a serious mistake.
As for capitalist reforms blunting the revolutionary edge of sexual protest, it must be admitted that this can happen. What remains to be seen, however, is whether the new contradictions embodied in these reforms simply make the old situation more explosive. How long can the pill be easily obtainable, venereal diseases curable, etc., and youth still frightened by the dangers of sexual intercourse? At what point in making marriage unnecessary for sex will young people stop getting married in order to have sex? When will the rebellion that has known some success in sexual matters be directed against intolerable conditions elsewhere? Put in Reichian terms, how long could capitalism survive with a working class whose authoritarian character structure have been eroded through modifications in their sexual lives?
The revolutionary potential of Reich's teachings is as great as everperhaps greater, now that sex is accepted as a subject for seriious discussion and complaint virtually everywhere. The origins of the March Twenty-second Movement in France illustrate this point well. In February 1967, the French Trotskyist, Boris Frankel, spoke on Reich and the social function of sexual repression to a crowd of several hundred students at the Nanterre branch of the University of Paris. I can personally attest to the enthusiastic response of the audience, for I was there. In the week following the talk, Reich's booklet, The Sexual Struggle of Youth
, was sold door to door in all the residence halls. This led to a widespread sex-educational campaign basedas Danny Cohn-Bendit tells uson Reich's revolutionary ideas, and resulted in the occupation by men and women students of the women's dorms to protest against their restrictive rules.26
Other struggles over other issues followed, but the consciousness which culminated in the events of May 1968 was first awakened in a great number of Nanterre students in the struggle against their sexual repression.
The same struggle is being repeated with local variations at universities and even high schools throughout the capitalist world. Generally lacking, however, is the clear consciousness of the link between restrictions on sexual liberty and the capitalist order that one found at Nanterre. Reich's teachings, whatever their shortcomings, are the indispensable critical arm in forging these links.
- Karl Marx, Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844, trans. By Martin Milligan (Moscow, 1959, 101.
- There is no good biography of Reich available. The only English-language account of Reich's life to which I can in good conscience refer readers is Paul Edward's brief essay, "Wilhelm Reich," in The Encyclopedia of Philosophy, VII, Paul Edwards, ed. (New York, 1967), 104-115. A more detailed study by Constantine Sinelnikov, L'Oeuvre de Wilhelm Reich, which also contains a good bibliography of Reich's Marxist writings, will soon be brought out in English.
- For a fuller treatment of the theory of alienation, see my book, Alienation: Marx's Concept of Man in Capitalist Society.
Wilhelm Reich, The Function of the Orgasm, trans. By T.P. Wolfe, (New York, 1961), p. 79. First published in 1948, contains a very useful account of the development of Reich's psychology and particularly of his changing relationship to Freud.
- Wilhelm Reich, Character Analysis, trans. By T.P. Wolfe (New York, 1970), pp. 148-149
- Sigmund Freud, "Civilized' Sexual Morality and Modern Nervousness," Collected Papers, II, trans. By J. Riviere (Long, 19 48), p. 92.
- Wilhelm Reich, Mass Psychology of Fascism, trans. By T.P. Wolfe, (New York, 1946), p. 25 Character Analysis, XXLL.
- Character Analysis, XXLL.
- Herbert Marcuse, Eros and Civilization, (New York, 1962), p.128; Norman O. Brown, Life Against Death, (New York, 1961,. 29.
- Wilhelm Reich, "What Is Class Consciousness," Sex-Pol Essays 1929-1934, ed. by Lee Baxandall and trans. By A. Bostock (New York, 1971) p. 350.
- Karl Marx and Frederich Engel, The German Ideology, trans. By R. Pascal (London, 1942), p. 7.
- Karl Marx, A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy, trans. By N. I. Stone (Chicago, 1904), pp. 274-292. Marx also says that the forces of production have their subjective side, which is the "qualities of individuals," and refers to the "communal domestic economy" which replaces the family in communist society as a "new productive force." Karl Marx, Pre-Capitalist Economic Formations, ed. By E.J. Hobsbawm and trans. By Jack Cohen (New York, 1965), p. 95; and The German Ideology, p.18.
- Wilhelm Reich, "The Imposition of Sexual Morality," Sex-Pol, p.232.
- Friedrich Engels, "Origins of the Family, Private Property, and the State," Marx / Engels Selected Writings, II (Moscow, 1951), 155-156.
- Ibid. p. 156
- "The Imposition of Sexual Morality," Sex-Pol, p. 231-233
- Marx, Pre-Capitalist Economic Formations, p. 83; Engels, Selected Writings, II, p. 156
- "The Imposition of Sexual Morality," Sex-Pol. 183-225
- Wilhelm Reich, People in Trouble, (Rangely, Maine, 1953), p.45
- Jean Paul Sartre, Critique de la raison dialectique (Paris, 1960), p. 47
- For Reich's account of the sexual reforms and subsequent reaction in the Soviet Union, see this book The Sexual Revolution, trans. By T.P. Wolfe (New York, 1951).
- Wilhelm Reich, La lutte sexuelle des jeune, (Paris, 1966) trans. From the German, p. 121.
- For further discussions of the conceptual difficulties involved in integrating Reich's theories into Marxism, see my article, "The Marxism of Wilhelm Reich: or the Social Function of Sexual Repression," particularly the final section, republished as chapter seven of my book Social and Sexual Revolution.
- Reimut Reiche, Sexualite et lutte de classes, trans. By C. Parrenin and R.J. Rutten (Paris, 1971).
- Quoted in "The International Herald Tribune" (Paris, Aug. 13. 1971)
- Daniel Cohn Bendit, Obsolete Communism and the Left Wing Alternative. Trans. A Pomerans (London, 1969), p. 29. Reich's Sexual Struggle of Youth is now banned in some French high schools.
So Whos Afraid of the Israel Lobby?
by Ray McGovern
irtually everyone: Republican, DemocratConservative, Liberal. The fear factor is non-partisan, you might say, and palpable. The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) brags that it is the most influential foreign policy lobbying organization on Capitol Hill, and has demonstrated that time and againand not only on Capitol Hill.
Seldom has the Lobbys power been as clearly demonstrated as in its ability to suppress the awful truth that on June 8, 1967, during the Six Day War:
o Israel deliberately attacked the intelligence collection ship USS Liberty, in full awareness it was a U.S. Navy ship, and did its best to sink it and leave no survivors;
o The Israelis would have succeeded had they not broken off the attack upon learning, from an intercepted message, that the commander of the U.S. 6th Fleet had launched carrier fighters to the scene; and
o By that time 34 of the Libertys crew had been killed and over 170 wounded.
Scores of intelligence analysts and senior officials have known this for years. That virtually all of them have kept a forty-year frightened silence is testament to the widespread fear of touching this live wire. Even more telling is the fact that the National Security Agency apparently has destroyed voice tapes and transcripts heard and seen by many intelligence analysts, material that shows beyond doubt that the Israelis knew exactly what they were doing.
The Ugly Truth
But the truth will outeventually. All it took in this case was for a courageous journalist (of the endangered species kind) to listen to the surviving crew and do a little basic research, not shrinking from naming war crimes and not letting senior U.S. officials, from the president on down, off the hook for suppressingeven destroyingdamning evidence from intercepted Israeli communications.
The mainstream media have now published an expos based largely on interviews with those most intimately involved. A lengthy article by Pulitzer Prize winning investigative reporter John Crewdson appeared in the Chicago Tribune and Baltimore Sun on Oct. 2 titled New revelations in attack on American spy ship. (http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/world/chi-liberty_tuesoct02,0,6015776.story) To the subtitle goes the prize for understatement of the year: Veterans, documents suggest U.S., Israel didnt tell full story of deadly 1967 incident.
Better 40 years late than never, I suppose. Many of us have known of the incident and cover-up for a very long time and have tried to expose and discuss it for the lessons it holds for today. It has proved far easier, though, to get a very pedestrian Dog-Bites-Man article published than an article with the importance and explosiveness of this sensitive story.
A Marine Stands Up
On the evening of Sept. 26, 2006, I gave a talk on Iraq to an overflow crowd of 400 at National Avenue Church in Springfield, Missouri. A questioner asked what I thought of the study by John Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago and Stephen Walt of Harvard titled The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy. The study had originally been commissioned by The Atlantic Monthly. When the draft arrived, however, shouts of Leper! were heard at the Atlantic. The monthly wasted no time in saying thanks-but-no-thanks, and the leper-study then wandered in search of a home, finding none among American publishers. Eventually the London Review of Books published it in March 2006.
I had read that piece carefully and found it an unusual act of courage as well as scholarship. Thats what I told the questioner, adding that I did have two problems with the study:
o First, it seemed to me the authors erred in attributing virtually all the motivation for the U.S. attack on Iraq to the Israel Lobby and the so-called neo-conservatives running our policy and armed forces. Was Israel an important factor? Indeed. But of equal importance, in my view, was the oil factor and what the Pentagon now calls the enduring military bases in Iraq, which the White House and Pentagon decided were needed for the U.S. to dominate that part of the Middle East.
o Second, I was intrigued by the fact that Mearsheimer and Walt made no mention of what I believe to be, if not the most telling, then perhaps the most sensational proof of the power the Lobby knows it can exert over our government and Congress. In sum, in June 1967, after deliberately using fighter-bombers and torpedo boats to attack the USS Liberty for over two hours in an attempt to sink it and kill its entire crew, and then getting the U.S. government, the Navy, and the Congress to cover up what happened, the Israeli government learned that it couldliterallyget away with murder.
I found myself looking out at 400 blank stares. The USS Liberty? And so I asked how many in the audience had heard of the attack on the Liberty on June 8, 1967. Three hands went up; I called on the gentleman nearest me.
Ramrod straight he stood:
Sir, Sergeant Bryce Lockwood, United States Marine Corps, retired. I am a member of the USS Liberty crew, Sir.
Catching my breath, I asked him if he would be willing to tell us what happened.
Sir, I have not been able to do that. It is hard. But it has been almost 40 years, and I would like to try this evening, Sir.
You could hear a pin drop for the next 15 minutes, as Lockwood gave us his personal account of what happened to him, his colleagues, and his ship on the afternoon of June 8, 1967. He was a linguist assigned to collect communications intelligence from the USS Liberty, which was among the ugliestand most easily identifiableships in the fleet with antennae springing out in all directions.
Lockwood told of the events of that fateful day, beginning with the six-hour naval and air surveillance of the Liberty by the Israeli navy and air force on the morning of June 8. After the air attacks including thousand-pound bombs and napalm, three sixty-ton torpedo boats lined up like a firing squad, pointing their torpedo tubes at the Libertys starboard hull. Lockwood had been ordered to throw the extremely sensitive cryptological equipment overboard and had just walked beyond the bulwark separating the NSA intelligence unit from the rest of the ship when, he recalled, he sensed a large black object, a tremendous explosion, and sheet of flame. The torpedo had struck dead center in the NSA space.
The cold, oily water brought Lockwood back to consciousness. Around him were 25 dead colleagues; but he heard moaning. Three were still alive; one of Lockwoods shipmates dragged one survivor up the hatch. Lockwood was able to lift the two others, one-by-one, onto his shoulder and carry them up through the hatch. This meant alternatively banging on the hatch for someone to open it and swimming back to fish his shipmate out of the water lest he float out to sea through the 39-foot hole made by the torpedo.
At that Lockwood stopped speaking. It was enough. Hard, very hardeven after almost 40 years.
What Else We Know
John Crewdsons meticulously documented article, together with the 57 pages that James Bamford devotes to the incident in his book Body of Secrets and recent confessions by those who played a role in the cover-up, paint a picture that the surviving crew of the USS Liberty can only find infuriating. The evidence, from intercepted communications as well as testimony, of Israeli deliberate intent is unimpeachable, even though the Israelis continue to portray the incident as merely a terrible mistake.
Crewdson refers to U.S. Navy Captain Ward Boston, who was the Navy lawyer appointed as senior counsel to Admiral Isaac C. Kidd, named by Admiral John S. McCain (Sen. John McCains father) to inquire into all the facts and circumstances. The fact that they were given only one week to gather evidence and were forbidden to contact the Israelis screams out cover-up.
Captain Boston, now 84, signed a formal declaration on Jan. 8, 2004 in which he described himself as outraged at the efforts of the apologists for Israel in this country to claim that this attack was a case of mistaken identity. Boston continued:
The evidence was clear. Both Admiral Kidd and I believed with certainty that this attack...was a deliberate effort to sink an American ship and murder its entire crew...Not only did the Israelis attack the ship with napalm, gunfire, and missiles, Israeli torpedo boats machine-gunned three lifeboats that had been launched in an attempt by the crew to save the most seriously woundeda war crime...I know from personal conversations I had with Admiral Kidd that President Lyndon Johnson and Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara ordered him to conclude that the attack was a case of mistaken identity despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.
Why the Israelis decided to take the draconian measure of sinking a ship of the U.S. Navy is open to speculation. One view is that the Israelis did not want the U.S. to find out they were massing troops to seize the Golan Heights from Syria, and wanted to deprive the U.S. of the opportunity to argue against such a move. Another theory: James Bamford, in Body of Secrets, adduces evidence, including reporting from an Israeli journalist eyewitness and an Israeli military historian, of wholesale killing of Egyptian prisoners of war at the coastal town of El Arish in the Sinai. The Liberty was patrolling directly opposite El Arish in international waters but within easy range to pick up intelligence on what was going on there. And the Israelis were well aware.
As for the why, well, someone could at least approach the Israelis involved and ask, no? The important thing here is not to confuse what is known (the deliberate nature of the Israeli attack) with the purpose behind it, which remains a matter of speculation.
Bowing to intense pressure from the Navy, the White House agreed to award the Libertys skipper, Captain William McGonagle, the Medal of Honor....but not at the White House, and not by the president (as is the custom). Rather, the Secretary of the Navy gave the award at the Washington Navy Yard on the banks of the acrid Anacostia River. A naval officer involved in the awards ceremony told one of the Liberty crew, The government is pretty jumpy about Israel...the State Department even asked the Israeli ambassador if his government had any objections to McGonagle getting the medal.
Adding insult to injury, those of the Liberty crew who survived well enough to call for an independent investigation have been hit with charges of, you guessed it, anti-Semitism.
Now that some of the truth is emerging more and more, others are showing more courage in speaking out. In a recent email, an associate of mine who has followed Middle East affairs for almost 60 years, shared the following:
The chief of the intelligence analysts studying the Arab/Israeli region at the time told me about the intercepted messages and said very flatly and firmly that the pilots reported seeing the American flag and repeated their requests for confirmation of the attack order. Whole platoons of Americans saw those intercepts. If NSA now says they do not exist, then someone ordered them destroyed.
Leaving the destruction of evidence without investigation is an open invitation to repetition in the future.
As for the larger picture, visiting Israel this past summer I was constantly told that Egypt forced Israel into war in June 1967. This does not square with the unguarded words of Menachem Begin in 1982, when he was Israels prime minister. Rather he admitted publicly:
In June 1967, we had a choice. The Egyptian army concentrations in the Sinai approaches do not prove that [Egyptian President] Nasser was really about to attack us. We must be honest with ourselves. We decided to attack him.
Israel had, in fact, prepared well militarily and mounted provocations against its neighbors, in order to provoke a response that could be used to justify an expansion of its borders. Israels illegal 40-year control over and confiscation of land in the occupied territories and U.S. enabling support (particularly the one-sided support by the current U.S. administration) go a long way toward explaining why it is that 1.3 billion Muslims hate us.
Ray McGovern works for Tell the Word, the publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in Washington, DC. He was a CIA analyst for 27 years and is now on the Steering Committee of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS). He spent some time in Israel and the West Bank this summer.
from Counter Punch :
Date: 5 October 2007
Subject: More on he AIPAC.
("It Doesn't Get Any Worse Than That, Ray")
by William Cook
ay Suarez ( PBS News Hour Reporter, October 2, 2007
): "You're saying that the national legislature of this country, rather than doing the will of the citizens of the United States, passed that Iran resolution, sanctioning the Republican Guard, because of the American-Israeli Political Action Committee?"
Mike Gravel (Democratic Presidential Candidate): "Wait a second. They'll (sic) be some information coming out about how this thing was drafted. So the answer is yes, the short answer. ... This is what's at stake with this resolution. And it's the height of immorality, irresponsibility, and the United States Senate, with the Democrats in charge, voted for the passage of this resolution. It doesn't get any worse than that, Ray.".
In asking his question, Ray Suarez implies that our Senators capitulated to the desires of AIPAC, knowing their vote negated the expressed will of the American people. Gravel, once a Senator from Alaska during the Vietnam War period, answers unhesitatingly, "yes," the short answer is yes. The obvious follow-up question would appear to be: "Why do you think that our Senators would vote against the expressed wishes of their constituents in favor of a special interest lobby?" It was never asked. Fortunately, Sy Hersh, in an interview with Amy Goodman that same day, responded to a question posed by Goodman, a question drawn from a Gravel criticism of Hillary Clinton for having voted for this resolution. Goodman pointed to the 76 votes in favor, both Republican and Democrat, asking Hersh to respond to Gravel's critique: "This is fantasy land," Gravel commented, "We're talking about ending the war. My god, we're just starting a war right today. There was a vote in the Senate today. Joe Lieberman, who authored the Iraq resolution, has authored another resolution, and it is essentially a fig leaf to let George Bush go to war with Iran. And I want to congratulate Biden for voting against it, Dodd for voting against it, and I'm ashamed of you, Hillary, for voting for it. You're not going to get another shot at this, because what's happened, if this war ensues, we invade, and they're looking for an excuse to do it." Goodman's question is simple enough, why would 76 senators vote for such a resolution. Hersh's response: "Money. A lot of the Jewish money from New York. Come on, let's not kid about it. A significant percentage of Jewish money, and many leading American Jews support the Israeli position that Iran is an existential threat. And I think it is as simple as that. ... That's American politics circa 2007."
Gravel understands the consequences of giving Cheney and Bush the freedom to attack Iran's Republican Guard as a terrorist organization rather than as the legally constituted military of the state existing to protect the citizens of that state. They need no act of Congress to attack a terrorist organization and, citing the Encarta encyclopedia description of terrorism, "These violent acts are committed by non-governmental groups or individuals that is by those who are neither part of or officially serving in the military forces ...," they have defanged the definition of terrorism as it cannot be applied to a nation state. Cheney and Bush are now free to invade Iran to wipe out the terrorist organization harbored by that country. Why pretend that an established arm of the government of Iran is a terrorist organization when the opposite is so evident? Because Cheney and Bush and their Neo-con/AIPAC alliance have not been able to convince the American people of the threat to the US should Iran eventually acquire nuclear capability. The Kyl-Lieberman resolution gives this administration license to attack Iran using the original resolution passed by the Congress for the invasion of Afghanistan since Iran now harbors terrorists that threaten America.
How serious is this possibility we might ask. Newsweek carried an article in the October 1 issue about Israel's "secret" raid on Syria. In it, Sam Gardiner, a former Air Force Colonel, seen as an expert in simulation of military exercises, makes this observation: "Even if Israel goes it alone (attacks Iran's nuclear facilities), we will be blamed (the United States). Hence we would see retaliation against U.S. interests." In short, the United States is tied to Israel and its interests by an umbilical cord that determines how and when we go to war and with whom. Iran is Israel's primary nemesis as well as its primary target. The "mysterious raid deep in Syria" magnifies this point; only the media control created by "a nearly impenetrable wall of silence around the operation" has kept the American public from understanding the potential consequences of the Kyl-Lieberman resolution that passed October 2, only a month after Israel's "raid." Should Syria have responded to this unwarranted aggression by a missile or bomb attack on Israel, the U.S. Congress would have been forced to determine how to respond. With the Kyl-Lieberman resolution in place, only Bush has to respond by citing the Iranian terrorist organization's ties to Syria and especially to Hezbollah. A threat to Israel is a threat to the U.S.
It is this reality that makes the recent study by Mearsheimer and Walt so dangerous to the Israeli lobbies, especially AIPAC. Indeed, they define AIPAC by encompassing the multitude of Jewish lobbies under that umbrella while adding in non-Jewish Neo-cons, Christian evangelicals of the far right and other sympathizers.
Gravel's awareness of this threat as expressed to PBS represents the rare occurrence when the reality of our total support for Israel's interests is aired in public. An objective consideration of the "raid" of September 6, 2007 by the Israeli Air Force against Syria as it would have been reported in the American press had it been Syria attacking Israel would not have been headlined "The Whispers of War." Indeed that report did not focus on Israel's disregard for international law or its consequences, but rather on how Israel can deliver nuclear or standard bombs as far as Iran. It went further to turn this unprovoked operation to Israel's cause by noting how that state's very existence is threatened by one atomic bomb, thus presenting Israel as the potential victim not the perpetrator of an action contrary to the United Nations' charter. Had Syria attacked Israel, the explosiveness of such an unprovoked and uncalled for attack against an innocent country would have made front page headlines and the cover of all our news magazines. Yet Israel's unprovoked and uncalled for attack on Syria is presented in U.S. News as "Israel takes a swipe at Syria," hardly an item that would make the American people aware that they were at risk for their ally's illegal action against a neighbor. And as if that were not enough, the significance of one nation bombing another without provocation becomes only the 10% hike in Ehud Olmert's ratings as opposed to the death and destruction caused by this illegal action with an accompanying photo, not of the death and destruction, but of Olmert giving blood for his countrymen. No outcry follows this despicable behavior by the Teflon state not from the United States, not from the United Nations, not from the EU, not from NATO. Only silence.
Consider for example the consequences of Israel using its United States' gifts of nuclear bunker buster bombs on Syria or Iran, both possible scenarios as this "raid" ( the name of an insect repellent) makes clear: "... huge amounts of radioactive material will be lofted into the air to contaminate the people of Iran and surrounding countries ... This fallout will induce cancers, leukemia, and genetic disease in these populations for years to come, both a medical catastrophe and a war crime of immense proportions,"(Dr. Helen Caldicott, Nuclear Power Is Not the Answer.) No outcry, only silence. Why?
What does AIPAC's control of our Congress mean for the American people? Arguably, that influence propelled the U.S. into war against Iraq with its inevitable consequences in death, destruction and debt leaving the nation bereft of a resolution; it has solidified perception around the world that Israel's defiance of the UN resolutions demanding that it obey international law regarding right of return for Palestinians and return of occupied territory is not just condoned by the U.S. but is the policy of the U.S., making the United States a co-partner in international crime; it has made Israel's illegal treatment of the Palestinians in its indiscriminate killing of children and women, in its use of extrajudicial assassination, in its imprisonment of a whole people resulting in extreme poverty, malnutrition, and disease, in its total control of the lives of these people who have no recourse to overcome the occupation since they have no means to do so, practices condoned by the United States, and turned the U.S. from a compassionate and morally responsible nation to one that is amoral and hypocritical; and, in absolute despair, it has placed America on the thresh hold of one more devastating war against a people that has done nothing against the United States, has not occupied another nations's territory, has not invaded another nation, and has signed the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, all actions that are diametrically opposed to those of our client state, Israel. Such is the sell out by our representatives of their constituents as they grovel, unlike Mike Gravel, before the insidious lobby that controls our fate. No outcry, only silence. Why?
Ultimately the question comes back to why those 76 senators voted for a resolution that "wipes the desires of the American people off the map," to borrow an intentionally falsified and reiterated translation of the Iranian President's message to his people. But those 76 are not alone. Virtually everyone of our representatives are subservient to the same lobbies, passing on average 100 resolutions per year favorable to Israel and written by the lobbyists, obsequiously fawning before AIPAC's annual meeting where its very existence is touted as of "significant benefit for both the United States and Israel," and where no one dares to question or criticize the state of Israel lest they suffer the fate of those who have, and lose their seats in Congress. This one might argue is coercion. Can it be documented? One need only research the congressional and senate races that put Paul Findley, Cynthia McKenny, Charles Percy and the few other renegades that dared to be critical of Israel out of their positions. "The handful of members of Congress who have been critical of Israel over the last 40 years have been publicly chastised with a figurative dunce cap or, worse, lost their seats to AIPAC-backed opponents" (NewsMax.com, May 1, 2006. "Israel the Third Rail of American Foreign Policy," Arnaud de Borchgrava, Editor at large of the Washington Times).
Interestingly, the United States defines terrorism (18 USC 2331) as "violent acts or acts dangerous to human life that ... appear to be intended (i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population; (ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; (iii) to affect the conduct of a government by assassination or kidnaping." Could one not make a case that our Congress in its total support for Israeli policies regardless of their negative impact on the country and its disregard for the expressed desires of its citizens as the Kyl-Lieberman resolution demonstrates is "influenced" by "intimidation and coercion" by these lobbies? Add to this reality the influence they wield in our media where they limit the perception of the public to the lies and mythologies they present that justifies the actions of the Israeli state, and the pervasiveness of the lobbies prevents the American people from controlling their own destinies. Does that not make them terrorists residing on K street in our nation's capitol?
Isn't it obvious today that the direction of America's policies regarding Iran, and our almost certain to be pre-emptive invasion of this nation on behalf of Israel, is directed by the same coterie of men who pushed us into the disastrous war against Iraq -- Podhoretz, Wurmser, Perle, Feith, Crystal, Kagan, Krouthammer, Abrams and others too numerous to mention, the hounds of war that find no guilt in sending the sons and daughters of others to fight the wars they wage so eloquently in their heads as they sit in front of their computers guiding to their deaths those they never met.
The Hounds of War are gathered round
To forge the battle plan,
They pat each other on the back,
And grasp their fellow's hand.
To battle stations they disperse
To carry on the fray,
These warriors of the word sublime
That makes us weep or pray.
They swing behind the keyboard now
That spits out their deceit;
Their goal, the end they desire,
That makes their life complete.
These victors suffer no regrets
As they pen brilliant epithets,
And so they ply their lonely craft,
And carve another's epitaph.
William Cook is a professor of English at the University of La Verne in southern California and author of Tracking Depception: Bush's Mideast Policy. He can be reached at: cookb@ULV.EDU
from Jim O'Brien
Date: 9 October 2007
Subject: [haw-info] Repression at the US-Canada border
Francis, the article below describes an October 3 incident in which two well-known US anti-war activists, Medea Benjamin and Ann Wright, were denied entry into Canada. We are forwarding it partly because of the importance of the civil-liberties issues involved and also because Ann Wright, a military veteran and long-time US diplomat who resigned in protest of the Iraq invasion, has connections with our organization. She is on the Historians Against the War speakers list and attended the HAW national conference at the University of Texas in 2006.
The following story (found at http://www.opednews.com/articles/genera_rob_kall_071007_fbi_puts_antiwar_pro.htm ) is the most extensive of several articles that have appeared on the web in recent days.
A similar episode last month involved Alison Bodine, a US citizen who is active in the anti-war movement at the University of British Columbia and in the Vancouver community. A defense committee has been formed and is asking for support; details are at
If anyone else has experienced (or has seen documented) other recent instances of anti-war activists being harassed at the US-Canada border, please let us know.
for Historians Against the War
FBI Puts Antiwar Protesters on Criminal Database; Canada Uses It To Ban Protesters From Entry
by Rob Kall
Two well-respected US peace activists, CODEPINK and Global Exchange cofounder Medea Benjamin and retired Colonel and diplomat Ann Wright, were denied entry into Canada On October third. The two women were headed to Toronto to discuss peace and security issues at the invitation of the Toronto Stop the War Coalition. At the Buffalo-Niagara Falls Bridge they were detained, questioned and denied entry.
"In my case, the border guard pulled up a file showing that I had been arrested at the US Mission to the UN where, on International Women's Day, a group of us had tried to deliver a peace petition signed by 152,000 women around the world," says Benjamin. "For this, the Canadians labeled me a criminal and refused to allow me in the country."
"The FBI's placing of peace activists on an international criminal database is blatant political intimidation of US citizens opposed to Bush administration policies," says Colonel Wright, who was also Deputy US Ambassador in four countries. "The Canadian government should certainly not accept this FBI database as the criteria for entering the country." Both Wright and Benjamin plan to request their files from the FBI through the Freedom of Information Act and demand that arrests for peaceful, non-violent actions be expunged from international records. "It's outrageous that Canada is turning away peacemakers protesting a war that does not have the support of either US or Canadian citizens," says Benjamin.
"In the past, Canada has always welcomed peace activists with open arms. This new policy, obviously a creature of the Bush administration, is shocking and we in the US and Canada must insist that it be overturned. Four members of the Canadian Parliament--Peggy Nash, Libby Davies, Paul Dewar and Peter Julian-- expressed outrage that the peace activists were barred from Canada and vow to change this policy.
Ann Wright told OpEdNews that this was the second time the two Code Pink activists had been turned away from the border, the first event ocurring on August 19th.
Wright explained, "We decided to go to Canadian border to push the envelope to see if the Canadian Gov would not let us into Canada again until we had been "criminally rehabilitated."
To be criminally rehabilitated, they would have to do a huge amount of paperwork and state that they were no longer going to commit the "crimes" they were convicted of.
Wright told OpEdNews "We were told (by the canadian border agents) if we tried to enter Canada again, we would be officially deported from the country, which is "big trouble. 'We've warned you not to come back until we are criminally rehabilitated.'
Wright asserted, "We will never be criminally rehabilitated since we intend to continue to engage in non-violent peaceful protest of Bush administration policies, particular the war on Iraq and we intend to peacefully and nonviolently protest all of these until they end. They can lead to arrests for civil disobedience, like refusing to move from the fence in front of the whitehouse or standing up and speaking at congressional hearings."
Wright explained that the Canadians, by their own law, do not allow people in who have been convicted of various kinds of offenses.
If, when you are asked by a Canadian immigration officer if you have been arrested, they check the FBI database and that's how they found we were listed.
Wright added, "The fact that the FBI has put us on this list. The National Crime Information Center Computerized Index is a form of political intimidation. The list is supposed to be for felony and serious misdemeanor offenses.
"We don't qualify-- it's for sex offenders, foreign fugitives, gang violence and terrorist organizations, people who are on parole, a list of eight categories all together.
"It is very disturbing. We've asked our congressional representatives to investigate this."
According to Wright, there was almost no coverage of this in the US, except for an AP release. In Canada, Toronto's Globe and Mail and several other newspapers and three Canadian TV stations covered it.
from Gabriel Kolko :
Date 12 October
Subject: Israel: Mythologizing a 20th Century Accident.
Israel: Mythologizing a 20th Century Accident
by Gabriel Kolko
from Edward Herman :
Date : 1 October 2007
Subject: Herman and Peterson, "The Dismantling of Yugoslavia: A Study of Inhumanitarian Intervention..."
Attached here is a PDF copy of an article by me and David Peterson on “The Dismantling of Yugoslavia: A Study of Inhumanitarian Intervention (and Western Liberal-Left Intellectual and Moral Collapse),” which has just been published as the full October issue of Monthly Review. The article deals at some length with many of the leading claims that have been institutionalized as mainstream truths but which are eminently contestable.
For those who do not subscribe to Monthly Reviewand we recommend that you do subscribe to this outstanding journal!and want more than this long electronic copy, we would be happy to supply a hard copy upon request. (Contact either email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org .)
For those who'd like to order additional copies, please contact:
Mr. Claude M. Misukiewicz, Assistant Editor
Monthly Review Foundation
Monthly Review's October issue has an Editor's Note that provides a useful introduction to this article:
Notes from the Editors
It is almost unheard of for a whole issue of MR (other than occasionally one of our special July-August issues) to be devoted to a single contribution. The typical MR issue consists of a lot of short articles. We have no intention of changing that. Nevertheless, we are making a rare exception in the case of Edward S. Herman’s and David Peterson’s “The Dismantling of Yugoslavia,” which we regard as the definitive critique at this stage both of the U.S./NATO role in the exploitation and exacerbation of the Yugoslavian tragedy and of the “Western Liberal-Left Intellectual and Moral Collapse” that made this possible. So effective has been the media propaganda system at presenting the imperialist wars in Yugoslavia in the 1990s as “humanitarian interventions” that this not only bolstered support for the invasions and occupations in Afghanistan and Iraq (in defiance of international law), but is now being offered as a justification for further possible “humanitarian interventions” elsewhere, such as Iran, the Sudan (Darfur), Nigeria, and even Venezuela.
The widespread failure on the left to understand the dire implications of such “humanitarian wars” by the United States and the other leading imperial powers is firmly rooted in misconceptions about the Yugoslavian case. In the closing paragraph of her Fools’ Crusade: Yugoslavia, NATO, and Western Delusions (Monthly Review Press, 2002), Diana Johnstone warnedin words that should certainly give us pause todaythat “should the tough unilateralist approach of the second Bush presidency cause serious disaffection among allies, U.S. leaders have the option of returning to the soft approach of ‘humanitarian war’ that proved so successful in silencing critics and rallying support [in Yugoslavia]. To keep that option open, the partners in crime must continue to impose their own mythical version of the 1999 NATO crusade.” The fundamental issue associated with such interventions has been raised by Jean Bricmont in his newly published Monthly Review Press book Humanitarian Imperialism: Using Human Rights to Sell War. But a deeper understanding of the traps laid for those who today support humanitarian wars to be carried out by the imperial powers is only possible through a close examination of the Yugoslavian case itself, presented as the model for such interventions: hence, the overriding importance of Herman and Peterson’s “The Dismantling of Yugoslavia.”
[Please visit CEIMSA Scholarly Publications, vol. IV.]
Edward S. Herman