Subject : ON CULTURAL REVOLUTIONS AND ECONOMIC DEMOCRACY.
2 January 2008
Dear Colleagues and Friends of CEIMSA,
One of the pro-democracy graffiti from the walls of the western cultural revolution of the1960s insisted that bureaucracies were like shelves: "The higher they are placed, the less use they serve." Top-down (anti-democratic) authorities are an anathema for creativity, for productivity, and ultimately for social stability.
The Chilean economist, Orlando Letelier discussed the necessary link between the "free-market economy" and the authoritarian state of Augusto Pinochet, just months before Letelier was assassinated in Washington D.C., on 21 September 1976. Observing from exile the rapid impoverishment of his homeland, as a result of Milton Friedman's Chicago Boys and their extraordinary access to General Pinochet's forces of repression, he wrote that:
during the last three years several billions of dollars were taken from
the pockets of wage earners and placed in those of capitalists and land-
owners . . . concentration of wealth is no accident, but a rule; it is not
the marginal outcome of a difficult situation --as the junta would like
the world to believe-- but the base for a social project; it is not an
economic liability but a temporary political success. [cited by Naomi
Klein (2007), p.86]
Naomi Klein, in her new book, The Shock Doctrine, The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, expands on Letelier's comment:
What Letelier could not know at the time was that Chile under Chicago
School rule was offering a glimpse of the future of the global economy,
a pattern that would repeat again and again, from Russia to South Africa
to Argentina: an urban bubble of frenetic speculation and dubious accounting
fueling superprofits and frantic consumerism, ringed by the ghostly factories
and rotting infrastructure of a development past; roughly half the population
excluded from the economy altogether; out-of-control corruption and cronyism;
decimation of nationally owned small and medium-sized businesses; a huge
transfer of wealth from public to private hands, followed by a huge transfer of
private debts into public hands. In Chile, if you were outside the wealth bubble,
the miracle looked like the Great Depression, but inside its airtight cocoon the
profits flowed so free and fast that the easy wealth made possible by shock therapy-
style "reforms" have been the crack cocaine of financial markets ever since. And
that is why the financial world did not respond to the obvious contradictions of
the Chile experiment by reassessing the basic assumptions of laissez-faire. Instead,
it reacted with the junkie's logic: Where is the next fix?(87)
In Klein's view state terrorism is one tactic in the economic warfare, known as "The Free Market Economy."
Anthony Wilden offers a clear analysis of these tactics, such as how social distinctions become imaginary oppositions, and how the imaginary symmetry of oppositions are turned into illegitimate dependent power hierarchies which are maintained only by the use of force or the threat of violence. At this point there is no place for reason, discussion, or negotiations: the new rule simply reads : "Might makes right." Under these conditions, Wilden observes in his book, Man and Woman, War and Peace, a heavy silence reigns supreme, as is often the case in wife abuse, incest, rape, military crimes, or in capitalist crisis management.
The Extinction Rule, formulated by Wilden, can be applied by anyone to test for the orientation of a dependent power hierarchy : by mentally abolishing one or more levels, one can readily note which other level(s) will necessarily become extinct as a result. Thus we find, for example, that the extinction of organic nature necessitates the extinction of inorganic nature, and the removal of nature eliminates society, but, if society self-destructs, nature (both organic and inorganic) would continue to exist. (p.33)
In modern economics, if we were to abstract the "three structural components of the production system" by separating capital, land, and creativity (labor potential), we would be able to distinguish real power hierarchies from the imaginary ones: Land (standing for photosynthesis, which is the source of almost all energy on earth) is indispensable to labor power (creativity), and creativity is the source of capital (tools). Within the capitalist system, these "three factors of production" --land, labor, and capital-- are symmetrized into antagonistic oppositions of "either/or" relationships at a single level, and they are made to appear interchangeable. The next maneuver is to construct an imaginary hierarchy (i.e. an illegitimate dependent power hierarchy) where the real hierarchy has been inverted, and now capital exploits creativity to exploit nature, in competitive "either/or" relationships which require coercion. The maneuvers to imaginary symmetries and toinverted dependent power hierarchies can be compared to real dependent hierarchies
Ontology : Epistemological errors :
(Step # 1) (Step # 2)
Real Dependent Hierarchies Imaginary Symmetrical Imaginary Dependent Hierarchies
Oppositions (requiring coercion)
/ \ / \
nature SOCIETY < > NATURE society
/ \ / \
/ \ / \
labor CAPITAL < > LABOR capital
/ \ / \
The 6 items below were received by CEIMSA at the end of the year. They speak to the epistemological errors which govern our thinking and necessitate the constant use of force to maintain the social order, which a growing number of people consider illegitimate.
Item A., sent to us by Professor Fred Lonidier at the University of California-San Diego, is a a re-reevaluation of the 60s generation in light of the "the hard times ahead," by Jim Smith, writer for the Journal of Peace and Freedom, in Venice, California.
Item B. is an article by Greg Palast on post-U.S.-imperialist strategies in Latin America in the name of humanity.
Item C., an article by Professor David Nobel sent to us by Keith Goshorn, from Santa Cruz, California.
Item D. is a pod cast from Information Clearing House, on the imperialist history of warfare against the new "indispensable enemy," Islam.
Item E., sent to us by Elisabeth Chamorand, is an article by Jason Leopold, "Military Evangelism Deeper, Wider Than First Thought."
Item F. is an article by Lenni Brenner, on Condeleza Rice and her observations on "racial segregation Israeli style."
For a latey 18th-century discussion of the effects of surveillance on the bodies and minds of people, see Jeremy Bentham's classic essay :
And for an illustration of the subversive effect of humor, we offer at the beginning of this new year, a link to Bertell Ollman's Internet site, "Dialectical Marxism" :
Francis McCollum Feeley
Professor of American Studies/
Director of Research
Université Stendhal - Grenoble 3
from From: Fred Lonidier :
Date: Fri, 21 Dec 2007 14:22:24 -0800
Subject: THE GREATEST GENERATION? NOT WHO YOU THINK
THE GREATEST GENERATION? NOT WHO YOU THINK
By Jim Smith
They stopped a war, ended racial segregation, set off an explosion of creativity in arts and music, and changed the world.
The World War II generation? Think again. It was the much maligned generation of the 60s that did all this, and more.
While we respect the generation of our fathers and grandfathers, we cannot pretend that their achievements during WWII had the breath or depth of the achievements of the 60s generation of their sons and daughters. Every nation invents myths about itself. Some of the biggest whoppers have to do with World War II. It's true that the generation called the greatest fought fascism and were on the winning side. Yet 80 percent of the war against Germany was fought on the eastern front by the Soviet Union. The Russians, beginning in 1941, fought, retreated, and ultimately overcame the greatest war machine in the world, the German army. The U.S. and the British fought on the European continent against the Germans for scarcely 11 months. The U.S. did bear the brunt in the Pacific against a much inferior foe, Japan. That engagement ended not in glory, but in the shame of using atomic weapons against a civilian population for the only time in history.
Of course the WWII generation should be praised for playing a role in the defeat of fascism, but here at home they left racial segregation and jim crow laws untouched, and allowed home-grown fascism in the guise of McCarthyism to grow into the biggest threat to our civil liberties of all time, the Bush regime notwithstanding.
Why is the 60s generation the greatest? Because it tore down a lot of walls that needed tearing down. The Freedom Riders - both Black and white - invaded Mississippi without the support of the U.S. Army or National Guard. Some were killed, many were beaten. Yet they were the vanguard of a movement that succeeded in changing laws, and the way people think. They exhibited just as much courage and heroism as did many WWII troops being ordered to advance on enemy positions.
The same thing happened in the fields and barrios of the Southwest. Tens of thousands joined Cesar Chavez's struggle for the rights of farmworkers. And in the cities, mass marches, strikes and demonstrations did for Mexican-Americans and Puerto Ricans what the civil rights movement did for Blacks.
Gay Liberation made the headlines on June 28, 1968 when gay and transgender people stood up to police harassment at the Stonewall Inn in New York.
The Women's movement flowed from millions of women entering the workforce in the 60s, and from women intellectuals taking on the male establishment.
The American Indian Movement was reminding the rest of us that they had not all been victims of genocide and were again capable of fighting for their land and
The student movement began at UC Berkeley in the early 60s with militant demonstrations against the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), and went on to fight for free speech on campus. Thousands of 60s students turned universities into democratic institutions, at least for a time. By 1970, students staged the largest strike wave in U.S. history by shutting down more than 500 colleges and universities in opposition to the war in Vietnam. Students became the backbone of the struggle to end the war in Vietnam. The 60s generation drove one president (Lyndon Johnson) from office, and in one of its last acts, created an atmosphere in which another president (Richard Nixon) had no choice but to resign. Scarcely, a few months later, the 60s generation in Vietnam liberated their entire country, finally ending the war on April 30, 1975.
The 60s generation made one mistake, and it was a whopper. We thought the millennium had arrived, that the Age of Aquarius was upon us, where peace would replace war and love would replace hate. We underestimated those who had a class interest in keeping millions working meaningless jobs to feed their burgeoning profits.
In large parts of the U.S., especially the mid-west and the south, the 60s cultural revolution had hardly penetrated. Here a love-it-or- leave-it silent majority remained that could easily be manipulated by conniving politicians and corporations. The few "heads" in these small towns were "California Dreamin" and soon joined a great migration to the coast. A bohemian necklace of communities formed along the Pacific from Canada to Mexico, where alternate ways of living were the norms and "straight" people were an oddity. This coalescing of the "tribes," and a "back to nature" movement assumed that the battle was over with corporate Amerika, and that we had won. While we dropped-out to enjoy art, life, and each other, think tanks were plotting how to smash our longing for freedom.
In truth, we had not won, we had only begun to change society and humankind. The empire struck back by creating inflation that forced people to go back to work to pay the bills. They flooded our beautiful new communities with drugs that numbed us instead of providing visions. They cranked up the scare machine: don't pick up hitchhikers, don't sleep with your friends, don't trust other races, and don't listen to people who live a different lifestyle.
In the end, the 60s generation had stopped a war, made racism a dirty word, and showed us how to dream of peace, equality and a better world. We may not have set the world free, but our greatness lies in the fact that we tried. Oh, how we tried! And we left a subversive blueprint for any future generation to follow.
Now, 40 years down the road, the environment - Mother Earth - is conspiring with us to force a profound change on the world. We may well be entering a period where giant corporations, chain stores and extravagant consumption are like dinosaurs stumbling to their end. It may be time for a new generation to capture the title of "greatest," by finishing what we of the 60s generation started, and by saving the planet in the process.
Jim Smith is an activist and contributing writer for the Journal of Peace and Freedom and the Venice (CA) Beachhead newspaper.
Portside aims to provide material of interest to people on the left that will help them to interpret the world and to change it.
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from Greg Palast :
Date: Mon, 24 Dec 2007
Subject: A Quechua Christmas Carol
Good and Evil at the Center of the Earth: A Quechua Christmas Carol
by Greg Palast
[Quito] I don't know what the hell seized me. In the middle of an hour-long interview with the President of Ecuador, I asked him about his father.
I'm not Barbara Walters. It's not the kind of question I ask.
He hesitated. Then said, "My father was unemployed.”
He paused. Then added, "He took a little drugs to the States... This is called in Spanish a mula [mule]. He passed four years in the states- in a jail.”
He continued. "I'd never talked about my father before."
Apparently he hadn't. His staff stood stone silent, eyes widened.
Correa's dad took that frightening chance in the 1960s, a time when his family, like almost all families in Ecuador, was destitute. Ecuador was the original "banana republic" - and the price of bananas had hit the floor. A million desperate Ecuadorans, probably a tenth of the entire adult population, fled to the USA anyway they could.
"My mother told us he was working in the States."
His father, released from prison, was deported back to Ecuador. Humiliated, poor, broken, his father, I learned later, committed suicide.
At the end of our formal interview, through a doorway surrounded by paintings of the pale plutocrats who once ruled this difficult land, he took me into his own Oval Office. I asked him about an odd-looking framed note he had on the wall. It was, he said, from his daughter and her grade school class at Christmas time. He translated for me.
"We are writing to remind you that in Ecuador there are a lot of very poor children in the streets and we ask you please to help these children who are cold almost every night.”
It was kind of corny. And kind of sweet. A smart display for a politician.
Or maybe there was something else to it.
Correa is one of the first dark-skinned men to win election to this Quechua and mixed-race nation. Certainly, one of the first from the streets. He'd won a surprise victory over the richest man in Ecuador, the owner of the biggest banana plantation.
Doctor Correa, I should say, with a Ph.D in economics earned in Europe. Professor Correa as he is officially called - who, until not long ago, taught at the University of Illinois.
And Professor Doctor Correa is one tough character. He told George Bush to take the US military base and stick it where the equatorial sun don't shine. He told the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, which held Ecuador's finances by the throat, to go to hell. He ripped up the "agreements" which his predecessors had signed at financial gun point. He told the Miami bond vultures that were charging Ecuador usurious interest, to eat their bonds. He said ‘We are not going to pay off this debt with the hunger of our people. ” Food first, interest later. Much later. And he meant it.
It was a stunning performance. I'd met two years ago with his predecessor, President Alfredo Palacio, a man of good heart, who told me, looking at the secret IMF agreements I showed him, "We cannot pay this level of debt. If we do, we are DEAD. And if we are dead, how can we pay?" Palacio told me that he would explain this to George Bush and Condoleezza Rice and the World Bank, then headed by Paul Wolfowitz. He was sure they would understand. They didn't. They cut off Ecuador at the knees.
But Ecuador didn't fall to the floor. Correa, then Economics Minister, secretly went to Hugo Chavez Venezuela's president and obtained emergency financing. Ecuador survived.
And thrived. But Correa was not done.
Elected President, one of his first acts was to establish a fund for the Ecuadoran refugees in America - to give them loans to return to Ecuador with a little cash and lot of dignity. And there were other dragons to slay. He and Palacio kicked US oil giant Occidental Petroleum out of the country.
Correa STILL wasn't done.
I'd returned from a very wet visit to the rainforest - by canoe to a Cofan Indian village in the Amazon where there was an epidemic of childhood cancers. The indigenous folk related this to the hundreds of open pits of oil sludge left to them by Texaco Oil, now part of Chevron, and its partners. I met the Cofan's chief. His three year old son swam in what appeared to be contaminated water then came out vomiting blood and died.
Correa had gone there too, to the rainforest, though probably in something sturdier than a canoe. And President Correa announced that the company that left these filthy pits would pay to clean them up.
But it's not just any company he was challenging. Chevron's largest oil tanker was named after a long-serving member of its Board of Directors, the Condoleezza. Our Secretary of State.
The Cofan have sued Condi's corporation, demanding the oil company clean up the crap it left in the jungle. The cost would be roughly $12 billion. Correa won't comment on the suit itself, a private legal action. But if there's a verdict in favor of Ecuador's citizens, Correa told me, he will make sure Chevron pays up.
Is he kidding? No one has ever made an oil company pay for their slop. Even in the USA, the Exxon Valdez case drags on to its 18th year. Correa is not deterred.
He told me he would create an international tribunal to collect, if necessary. In retaliation, he could hold up payments to US companies who sue Ecuador in US courts.
This is hard core. No one - NO ONE - has made such a threat to Bush and Big Oil and lived to carry it out.
And, in an office tower looking down on Quito, the lawyers for Chevron were not amused. I met with them.
"And it’s the only case of cancer in the world? How many cases of children with cancer do you have in the States?" Rodrigo Perez, Texaco's top lawyer in Ecuador was chuckling over the legal difficulties the Indians would have in proving their case that Chevron-Texaco caused their kids' deaths. "If there is somebody with cancer there, [the Cofan parents] must prove [the deaths were] caused by crude or by petroleum industry. And, second, they have to prove that it is OUR crude – which is absolutely impossible.” He laughed again. You have to see this on film to believe it.
The oil company lawyer added, "No one has ever proved scientifically the connection between cancer and crude oil." Really? You could swim in the stuff and you'd be just fine.
The Cofan had heard this before. When Chevron's Texaco unit came to their land the the oil men said they could rub the crude oil on their arms and it would cure their ailments. Now Condi's men had told me that crude oil doesn’t cause cancer. But maybe they are right. I'm no expert. So I called one. Robert F Kennedy Jr., professor of Environmental Law at Pace University, told me that elements of crude oil production - benzene, toluene, and xylene, "are well-known carcinogens." Kennedy told me he's seen Chevron-Texaco's ugly open pits in the Amazon and said that this toxic dumping would mean jail time in the USA.
But it wasn't as much what the Chevron-Texaco lawyers said that shook me. It was the way they said it. Childhood cancer answered with a chuckle. The Chevron lawyer, a wealthy guy, Jaime Varela, with a blond bouffant hairdo, in the kind of yellow chinos you'd see on country club links, was beside himself with delight at the impossibility of the legal hurdles the Cofan would face. Especially this one: Chevron had pulled all its assets out of Ecuador. The Indians could win, but they wouldn't get a dime. "What about the chairs in this office?" I asked. Couldn't the Cofan at least get those? "No," they laughed, the chairs were held in the name of the law firm.
Well, now they might not be laughing. Correa's threat to use the power of his Presidency to protect the Indians, should they win, is a shocker. No one could have expected that. And Correa, no fool, knows that confronting Chevron means confronting the full power of the Bush Administration. But to this President, it's all about justice, fairness. "You [Americans] wouldn't do this to your own people," he told me. Oh yes we would, I was thinking to myself, remembering Alaska's Natives.
Correa's not unique. He's the latest of a new breed in Latin America. Lula, President of Brazil, Evo Morales, the first Indian ever elected President of Bolivia, Hugo Chavez of Venezuela. All "Leftists," as the press tells us. But all have something else in common: they are dark-skinned working-class or poor kids who found themselves leaders of nations of dark-skinned people who had forever been ruled by an elite of bouffant blonds.
When I was in Venezuela, the leaders of the old order liked to refer to Chavez as, "the monkey." Chavez told me proudly, "I am negro e indio" - Black and Indian, like most Venezuelans. Chavez, as a kid rising in the ranks of the blond-controlled armed forces, undoubtedly had to endure many jeers of "monkey." Now, all over Latin America, the "monkeys" are in charge.
And they are unlocking the economic cages.
Maybe the mood will drift north. Far above the equator, a nation is ruled by a blond oil company executive. He never made much in oil - but every time he lost his money or his investors' money, his daddy, another oil man, would give him another oil well. And when, as a rich young man out of Philips Andover Academy, the wayward youth tooted a little blow off the bar, daddy took care of that too. Maybe young George got his powder from some guy up from Ecuador.
I know this is an incredibly simple story. Indians in white hats with their dead kids and oil millionaires in black hats laughing at kiddy cancer and playing musical chairs with oil assets.
But maybe it's just that simple. Maybe in this world there really is Good and Evil.
Maybe Santa will sort it out for us, tell us who's been good and who's been bad. Maybe Lawyer Yellow Pants will wake up on Christmas Eve staring at the ghost of Christmas Future and promise to get the oil sludge out of the Cofan's drinking water.
Or maybe we'll have to figure it out ourselves. When I met Chief Emergildo, I was reminded of an evening years back, when I was way the hell in the middle of nowhere in the Prince William Sound, Alaska, in the Chugach Native village of Chenega. I was investigating the damage done by Exxon's oil. There was oil sludge all over Chenega's beaches. It was March 1991, and I was in the home of village elder Paul Kompkoff on the island's shore, watching CNN. We stared in silence as "smart" bombs exploded in Baghdad and Basra.
Then Paul said to me, in that slow, quiet way he had, "Well, I guess we're all Natives now."
Well, maybe we are. But we don't have to be, do we?
Maybe we can take some guidance from this tiny nation at the center of the earth. I listened back through my talk with President Correa. And I can assure his daughter that she didn't have to worry that her dad would forget about "the poor children who are cold" on the streets of Quito.
Because the Professor Doctor is still one of them.
Watch the Palast investigation, Rumble in the Jungle: Big Oil and Little Indians, on BBC Television Newsnight, now on-line via www.GregPalast.com - and Thursday's US broadcast of Democracy Now.
For a copy of Palast's prior reports from Venezuela for BBC and Democracy Now, get " The Assassination of Hugo Chavez," on DVD, filmed by award-winning videographer Richard Rowley.
from Keith Goshorn :
Date : 19 December 2007
I'm glad to see that you posted the letter by Beshara Doumani on reclaiming academic freedom passed on to you by Elisabeth Chamorand . . . [T]hat letter by Doumani was accessed through Norman Finkelstein's website, and there was another relevant letter following that one but most of it was somehow lost and we see only various headers for other postings on the website. This second letter that was supposed to be there was by Israeli professor Neve Gordon describing why Finkelstein would not have been denied tenure had he been teaching in Israel the way he was at Depaul University, and also making some acute comments about what has happened through the advanced corporatization of the US university. That letter from N. Gordon (which evidently cannot be cut and pasted for some reason) is accessible at:
Sometimes the Left is its own worst enemy, particularly when it uses its enemy’s tactics to silence internal dissent. In response to recent challenges to the current crusade against global warming, this dogmatic tendency of the left, here rooted in a naive scientism, has resurfaced with a vengeance. In its resolute repudiation of corporate “deniers,” the left has allied itself wholeheartedly with the “advocates,” adopting a stridency intolerant of doubt or dissent. Those on the left who dare to
disagree are instantly denounced as deluded or, worse, deniers themselves. Perhaps most importantly they are accused (by Justin Podur in his response to challenges
by Denis Rancourt, David Noble, and Alexander Cockburn) of launching “an attack on science,” of adopting an “anti-science tone”, and taking “anti-science positions.” George Monbiot, admitting his own scientific incompetence, repeatedly derides Cockburn for not grounding his dissenting views upon the allegedly irrefutable foundation of "peer-reviewed scientific journals," for only then, he avers, could we be sure "that they are worth discussing." The source of this new orthodoxy is an exaggerated
reverence for science, which has in fact marked socialism since its inception, when supposed scientific verities served as the antidote to religion and religion-based power. Among the earliest socialists, for example, the followers of atheist Robert Owen, turned their devotion from God to steampower: “science was heard and the savage hearts
of men were melted; the scabs fell from their eyes, a new life thrilled through their veins, their apprehensions were enobled, and as science spoke, the multitude knelt in love and obedience.” The so-called “scientific socialism” of Marxism followed this furrow for over a century. But such primitive faith in science has long since been powerfully challenged on the left, by fifty years of sustained critical analysis of, and direct confrontation with, the social construction and political realities of presumedly
objective scientific enterprise. It is thus indeed remarkable, and alarming, how readily the left regresses into reflexive reliance upon its formative substitute religion.
From the late nineteenth-century on, the professionalizing practice of science was increasingly monopolized by a privileged elite and harnessed to the pecuniary ends of corporate capitalism, both subverting whatever liberatory potential it might ever have had. But periodically there have emerged popular challenges to this class-bound institutionalization of science. Taking the United States as a prime example, following the First World War and throughout the 1930's there was continuing criticism of the nefarious military uses of science, the corporate command over the agenda of science, and the private monopolization of the patented fruits of science. World War Two constituted a pivotal moment for this popular challenge, with its unprecedented government-sponsored mobilization of the nation's scientific resources for the war effort. For the first time, and forever thereafter, the taxpayer became by far the major source of funds for scientific endeavor, through a new system of government contracts and grants. And, in a democracy, if the taxpayer was paying for science, the taxpayer would have to have a degree of control over the content and agenda of science. Indeed, corporate and scientific leaders had in the past eschewed public support of their activities precisely for that reason, out of fear that reliance upon the public purse would bring with it public interference and oversight. Now, however, the scale of the financial support available made it too good to refuse, or ever give up. The problem was what to do about democracy.
During the war the problem was solved through military security. Under wartime pressures, the direction of science was vested in a civilian agency but dominated by leaders of the elite academic and professional institutions with close ties with major corporations. The chairman of the Office of Scientific Research and Development (OSRD), Vannevar Bush, an official of MIT and a director of Raytheon and AT&T, was the embodiment of this elite assemblage. Predictably, the lion's share of contracts and grants went to the elite private universities and the largest corporations, along with patent rights to the most lucrative inventions. But by the middle of the war, just when the privileged few had begun to plan for the postwar continuation of this largesse, those left out of the arrangement and opposed to the wholesale corporate subsidy it entailed, had begun strenuously to object, and to propose a more egalitarian and democratic peacetime scientific establishment. Led by New Deal senator Harley Kilgore they put forth a plan for a postwar National Science Foundation that emphasized lay control over science and political accountability. It was to be headed by a presidentially appointed director advised by a board whose members would include citizens representing consumers, labor, and small businesses as well as large corporations and scientists. The agency would let contracts to firms and universities on an equitable basis and would retain public ownership of all patents. Kilgore envisioned the new agency as a democratic means to socially responsive science.
This democratic proposal alarmed Bush and his elite academic and corporate colleagues who formulated a counter proposal, for National Research Foundation (later, also called the National Science Foundation). Central to this plan was an agency that guaranteed professional rather than lay control over science, was insulated from political accountability, and gave its director discretion over the awarding of patent ownership. In essence, the Bush agency was designed to guarantee public support for scientists and, indirectly, for the corporations they served as well - without public control, a regime of science run by scientists and paid for by the taxpayer. The two proposals for a postwar agency were debated in Congress for several years after the war. Kilgore's bill was backed by President Truman. The Bush bill was passed by a Republican-controlled Congress in 1947 but was vetoed by Truman, who stated, "the proposed National Science Foundation would be divorced from control by the people to an extent that implies a distinct lack of faith in democratic processes." In 1950 a compromise version of the Bush bill was passed and signed by Truman, now once again under (cold)wartime exigencies. The new agency included a presidentially-appointed director but a board composed only of scientists committed to continuing the comfortable patterns established by the OSRD during the war. As a bulwark against democratic oversight and lay involvement in the awarding of scientific contracts and grants, the agency adopted a new mechanism of exclusion: "peer review." Only peers - fellow privileged professionals, whatever their unacknowledged ties to commercial enterprise - could be involved in deciding upon the merits and agenda of science.
Peer review was a relatively novel concept. Editors of journals had in the past, at their own discretion on an ad hoc basis, referred manuscripts to anonymous reviewers before publication to aid them in their decisions, but this would now become required and routinized into standard practice. Peer review certainly had its benefits, such as credibility (peer review as PR), convenient credentialling (no need to read it if it has been peer reviewed), and consensus-building (through mutual back-scratching). But it also had its costs, such as prior censorship (by interested parties), and, especially, the coercive encouragement of conformity. If peer review served to immunize science from democratic scrutiny and intervention, it also imposed a measure of like-mindedness upon the scientific community itself, mistakenly celebrated as nonsensus. Invariably, this tended to narrow the scope of respectable discourse and, hence, of the scientific imagination, inbreeding often entailing a degree of enfeeblement. A safeguard against error, it might also eliminate eccentric approaches and illuminating mistakes, often the key to significant discovery. And if intended to insure that only correct papers were permitted to be published, why then the need for the community of science at all? Peer review before publication would suffice to guarantee that only the truth prevailed. Such perils of peer review were early detected and condemned by the physicist Albert Einstein, after his arrival in America. Having submitted a co-authored paper to the journal Physical Review, he was dismayed to learn that it had bean sent by the editor to an anonymous reviewer. "We had sent our manuscript for publication and had not authorized you to show it to specialists before it is printed," an irate Einstein wrote the editor. “On the basis of this incident I prefer to publish the paper elsewhere.” Einstein never again contributed to that journal. In Germany he had published in a journal edited by Max Planck, whose editorial philosophy was “to shun much more the reproach of having suppressed strange opinions than of having been too gentle in evaluating them.”
Despite its defects, peer review became the hallmark of the exclusive scientific establishment (and, eventually - and disastrously - of all of academia), and for a short while the hegemony of the elite remained relatively secure. But it did not long remain unchallenged. By the late 1950's growing concerns about the abuse and misuse of science and its deleterious effects, both intended and unintended, focused increasing attention on the responsibility of scientists, ultimately crystallizing into something new: criticism of science itself. Campaigns against the atomic and hydrogen bombs, nuclear power, radiation, pesticides and other petrochemicals, as well as pollution and environmental degradation, thus gave rise to unprecedented scrutiny of scientists themselves and, eventually, to critical studies of the historical, social, political, and cultural context, and epistemological framework, of western science.
In 1962 Rachel Carson, mother of the modern environmental movement, published Silent Spring, her landmark expose on the dangers of pesticides. Carson's enormously influential book, serialized in the New Yorker, directly and courageously challenged the then sacrosanct petrochemical industry and the complicit scientific establishment that supported it. Carson had no Ph.D. and her work was not peer-reviewed. That same year 1962 Thomas Kuhn published his equally influential critical study of the history of western science, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Introducing the concept of scientific "paradigm" and "paradigm shift," Kuhn argued that scientific theories were not the product of some detached, disinterested community of truth-seekers, but of more familiar social and cultural forces and contexts, which tended to encourage conformity and discourage dissent and bold departures. While Carson's work heightened ecological awareness and propelled the environmental movement into popular focus, Kuhn's work, wittingly or not, opened the pandora's box on the politics of science, giving rise to troublesome questions about supposed truths and paving the way for popular challenges to the authority of the expert. The convergence of these developments was epitomized by the audacious efforts of “ordinary housewife” Lois Gibbs and her neighbors in the Love Canal community of upstate New York, who came to their own independent, and correct, conclusions about the dangers of the toxic waste dump in their midst, rejected the dismissive reports of state and federal scientists and, ultimately, after gaining national media attention and taking federal authorities hostage, succeeded in their demands for subsidized relocation.
Throughout this period, the left newly informed by ecological and feminist sensibilities, belatedly came to understand that the verities of science and technology were in fact contingent, like everything else. Scholars and activists on the left played a major role in opening up and exploring this newly revealed realm of power and ideology. Their efforts implicated science in the depredations and deformations of corporate capitalism, and, at the same time, disclosed a more expansive and emancipatory understanding of the range of scientific possibilities, of alternatives, of different kinds of science, of a "science for the people." By the late 1970's, however, with the launching of a broad corporate counter-offensive against government regulation, in the name of competitiveness and marked by a strident reaffirmation of faith in science (renamed “innovation”) and the authority of experts, this new critical comprehension of the nature of science came under sustained attack for being “anti-science.” The corporate agenda and corporate propaganda dominated the terrain and the discourse for a decade and a half, marginalizing the left and drowning out its new critical voices. Ultimately, the corporate message congealed into a single word, which hinted at a unified corporate-controlled world: "globalization."
Alas, to the delight of the dialecticians, this unity invariably elicited its opposite, the “anti-globalization” or “global justice” movement.Erupting worldwide in the wake of the Zapatista rebellion against neoliberalism, this new movement took aim against all manifestations of the corporate agenda as well as its institutional and ideological foundations. Once more the critical voices re-emerged, amplified, against the ravages of capitalism, the market, and the corporation. And here again science and technology came under critical surveillance and challenge, with a particular focus on genetic engineering and genetically-modified organisms. As Rachel Carson had confronted the petrochemical industry and its scientific penumbra so now activists confronted agribusiness and the so-called “life science” industry and their academic attendants, exposing the error of their ways and, in the process, the politics of science.
In the midst of the corporate globalization movement, the giants of the oil and gas industry, fearing a threat to their soaring profits, launched their campaign of denial against the spectre of global warming. At the height of the anti-globalization movement, other corporate players, seeing new profit-making opportunities in the same spectre, launched their opposing campaign of advocacy and alarm. (For a fuller discussion, see my article "The Corporate Climate Coup.") Meanwhile, in the face of mounting repression, a war on terror, corporate cooptation, and the need to divert energies into an anti-war movement, the global justice movement eroded. With the dissipation of that movement, its critical revolutionary voices were once again marginalized, along with its radical critique of science. In remarkably short order, debate within the left on the issue of climate change became a mere reflection of the orchestrated duel between corporate rivals, deniers and advocates, shorn of any radical substance of its own. Regressing instead, in apparent disarray and desperation, to the false securities of its former innocence, the left has all but abandoned the field on its own terms, avoiding any confrontation with power. Relying now upon the weapons of the left's erstwhile enemies to defend their own witting or unwitting complicity, its mainstream mavens, ever protective of their respectability astride the corporate wave, condemn and dismiss the remnant of critics of science as “anti-science” and disregard dissenting arguments on the grounds that they have not been subjected to “peer review.” In light of such a dismal display, it is perhaps time for the left once again to put science in perspective, and aside, and return to the revolution.
Historian David F. Noble teaches at York University in Toronto. His latest book is Beyond the Promised Land (2005). Like all of his other publications, this article has not been peer-reviewed.
from Information Clearing House :
Date: 21 December 2007
Subject: Clash of the Worlds : Mutiny
Exploring how past conflicts between a Christian West and Islam can help explain more recent violence. This series looks at three great clashes between a Christian British Empire and Islam. the Indian Mutiny of 1857, the Mahdi uprising in 1880s Sudan and the creation of the state of Israel in the first half of the twentieth century. The first programme tells the story of the Indian uprising in which both sides committed atrocities in the name of their faiths.
It is an excellent rule to begin an article with the most important point. But this time, I find it necessary to begin with an introduction, and, moreover, with a personal introduction.
I am reputed to be an enemy of the Arabs, who wants to have them ejected from Palestine, and so forth. It is not true.
Emotionally, my attitude to the Arabs is the same as to all other nations polite indifference. Politically, my attitude is determineed by two principles. First of all, I consider it utterly impossible to eject the Arabs from Palestine. There will always be two nations in Palestine â€“ which is good enough for me, provided the Jews become the majority. And secondly, I belong to the group that once drew up the Helsingfors Programme, the programme of national rights for all nationalities living in the same State. In drawing up that programme, we had in mind not only the Jews, but all nations everywhere, and its basis is equality of rights.
I am prepared to take an oath binding ourselves and our descendants that we shall never do anything contrary to the principle of equal rights,
and that we shall never try to eject anyone. This seems to me a fairly peaceful credo.
But it is quite another question whether it is always possible to realise a peaceful aim by peaceful means. For the answer to this
question does not depend on our attitude to the Arabs; but entirely on the attitude of the Arabs to us and to Zionism.
Now, after this introduction, we may proceed to the subject.
Voluntary Agreement Not Possible
There can be no voluntary agreement between ourselves and the Palestine Arabs. Not now, nor in the prospective future. I say this with such conviction, not because I want to hurt the moderate Zionists. I do not believe that they will be hurt. Except for those who were born blind, they realised long ago that it is utterly impossible to obtain the voluntary consent of the Palestine Arabs for converting "Palestine" from an Arab country into a country with a Jewish majority.
My readers have a general idea of the history of colonisation in other countries. I suggest that they consider all the precedents with which they are acquainted, and see whether there is one solitary instance of any colonisation being carried on with the consent of the native population. There is no such precedent.
The native populations, civilised or uncivilised, have always stubbornly resisted the colonists, irrespective of whether they were civilised or savage.
And it made no difference whatever whether the colonists behaved decently or not. The companions of Cortez and Pizzaro or (as some people will remind us) our own ancestors under Joshua Ben Nun, behaved like brigands; but the Pilgrim Fathers, the first real pioneers of North America, were people of the highest morality, who did not want to do harm to anyone, least of all to the Red Indians; and they honestly believed that there was room enough in the prairies both for the Paleface and the Redskin. Yet the native population fought with the same ferocity against the good colonists as against the bad.
Every native population, civilised or not, regards its land as its national home, of which it is the sole master, and it wants to retain that mastery always; it will refuse to admit not only new masters but, even new partners or collaborators.
Arabs Not Fools
This is equally true of the Arabs. Our peace-mongers are trying to persuade us that the Arabs are either fools, whom we can deceive by masking our real aims, or that they are corrupt and can be bribed to abandon to us their claim to priority in Palestine, in return for cultural and economic advantages. I repudiate this conception of the Palestinian Arabs. Culturally they are five hundred years behind us; they have neither our endurance nor our determination; but they are just
as good psychologists as we are, and their minds have been sharpened like ours by centuries of fine-spun logomachy. We may tell them whatever we like about the innocence of our aims, watering them down and sweetening them with honeyed words to make them palatable, but they know what we want, as well as we know what they do not want. They feel at least the same instinctive jealous love of Palestine, as the old Aztecs felt for ancient Mexico, and the Sioux for their rolling Prairies.
To imagine, as our Arabophiles do, that they will voluntarily consent to the realisation of Zionism. In return for the moral and material conveniences which the Jewish colonist brings with him, is a childish notion, which has at bottom a kind of contempt for the Arab people; it means that they despise the Arab race, which they regard as a corrupt mob that can be bought and sold, and are willing to give up their fatherland for a good railway system.
All Natives Resist Colonists
There is no justification for such a belief. It may be that some individual Arabs take bribes. But that does not mean that the Arab people of Palestine as a whole will sell that fervent patriotism that they guard so jealously, and which even the Papuans will never sell. Every native population in the world resists colonists as long as it has the slightest hope of being able to rid itself of the danger of being colonised.
That is what the Arabs in Palestine are doing, and what they will persist in doing as long as there remains a solitary spark of hope that they will be able to prevent the transformation of "Palestine" into the "Land of Israel."
Some of us have induced ourselves to believe that all the trouble is due to misunderstanding - the Arabs have not understood us, and that iss the only reason why they resist us; if we can only make it clear to them how moderate our intentions really are, they will immediately extend to us their hand in friendship.
This belief is utterly unfounded and it has been exploded again and again. I shall recall only one instance of many. A few years ago, when the late Mr. Sokolow was on one of his periodic visits to Palestine, he addressed a meeting on this very question of the "misunderstanding." He demonstrated lucidly and convincingly that the Arabs are terribly mistaken if they think that we have any desire to deprive them of their possessions or to drive them our of the country, or that we want to oppress them. We do not even ask for a Jewish Government to hold the Mandate of the League of Nations.
One of the Arab papers, "El Carmel," replied at the time, in an editorial article, the purport of which was this :
The Zionists are making a fuss about nothing. There is no misunderstanding. All that Mr. Sokolow says about the Zionist intentions is true, but the Arabs know that without him. Of course, the Zionists cannot now be thinking of driving the Arabs out of the country, or oppressing them, not do they contemplate a Jewish Government. Quite obviously, they are now concerned with one thing only -- that the Arabs should not hinder their immigration. The Zionists assure us that even
immigration will be regulated strictly according to the economic needs of Palestine. The Arabs have never doubted that: it is a truism, for otherwise there can be no immigration.
This Arab editor was actually willing to agree that Palestine has a very large potential absorptive capacity, meaning that there is room for a great many Jews in the country without displacing a single Arab. There is only one thing the Zionists want, and it is that one thing that the Arabs do not want, for that is the way by which the Jews would gradually become the majority, and then a Jewish Government would follow automatically; and the future of the Arab minority would depend on the goodwill of the Jews; and a minority status is not a good thing, as the Jews themselves are never tired of pointing out. So there is no
The Zionists want only one thing, Jewish immigration; and this Jewish immigration is what the Arabs do not want.
This statement of the position by the Arab editor is so logical, so obvious, so indisputable, that everyone ought to know it by heart, and it should be made the basis of all our future discussions on the Arab question. It does not matter at all which phraseology we employ in explaining our colonising aims, Herzl's or Sir Herbert Samuel's.
Colonisation carries its own explanation, the only possible explanation, unalterable and as clear as daylight to every ordinary Jew and every ordinary Arab.
Colonisation can have only one aim, and Palestine Arabs cannot accept this aim. It lies in the very nature of things, and in this particular regard nature cannot be changed.
The Iron Wall
We cannot offer any adequate compensation to the Palestinian Arabs in return for Palestine. And therefore, there is no likelihood of any voluntary agreement being reached. So that all those who regard such an agreement as a condition sine qua non for Zionism may as well say "non" and withdraw from Zionism.
Zionist colonisation must either stop, or else proceed regardless of the native population. Which means that it can proceed and develop only under the protection of a power that is independent of the native population - behind an iron wall, which the native population cannot breach.
That is our Arab policy; not what we should be, but what it actually is, whether we admit it or not. What need, otherwise, of the Balfour Declaration? Or of the Mandate? Their value to us is that an outside Power has undertaken to create in the country such conditions of administration and security that if the native population should desire to hinder our work, they will find it impossible.
And we are all of us ,without any exception, demanding day after day that this outside Power should carry out this task vigorously and with determination.
In this matter there is no difference between our "militarists" and our "vegetarians". Except that the first prefer that the iron wall should consist of Jewish soldiers, and the others are content that they should be British.
We all demand that there should be an iron wall. Yet we keep spoiling our own case, by talking about "agreement," which means telling the Mandatory Government that the important thing is not the iron wall, but discussions. Empty rhetoric of this kind is dangerous. And that is why itis not only a pleasure but a duty to discredit it and to demonstrate that it is both fantastic and dishonest.
Zionism Moral and Just
Two brief remarks:
In the first place, if anyone objects that this point of view is immoral, I answer: It is not true; either Zionism is moral and just ,or it is immoral and unjust. But that is a question that we should have settled before we became Zionists. Actually we have settled that question, and in the affirmative.
We hold that Zionism is moral and just. And since it is moral and just, justice must be done, no matter whether Joseph or Simon or Ivan or Achmet agree with it or not.
There is no other morality.
In the second place, this does not mean that there cannot be any agreement with the Palestine Arabs. What is impossible is a voluntary agreement. As long as the Arabs feel that there is the least hope of getting rid of us, they will refuse to give up this hope in return for either kind words or for bread and butter, because they are not a rabble, but a living people. And when a living people yields in matters of such a vital character it is only when there is no longer any hope of
getting rid of us, because they can make no breach in the iron wall. Not till then will they drop their extremist leaders whose watchword is "Never!" And the leadership will pass to the moderate groups, who will approach us with a proposal that we should both agree to mutual concessions. Then we may expect them to discuss honestly practical questions, such as a guarantee against Arab displacement, or equal rights for Arab citizens, or Arab national integrity.
And when that happens, I am convinced that we Jews will be found ready to give them satisfactory guarantees, so that both peoples can live together in peace, like good neighbours.
But the only way to obtain such an agreement, is the iron wall, which is to say a strong power in Palestine that is not amenable to any Arab pressure. In other words, the only way to reach an agreement in the future is to abandon all ideas of seeking an agreement at present.
Last update - 20:59 27/12/2007
What's the hurry?
by Aluf Benn [ mailto:email@example.com] (Jerusalem) & Shmuel Rosner
The Annapolis summit and the efforts to revive the peace process have
exacerbated the tension that already existed between Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Olmert's personal charm doesn't work
on Rice, and the Prime Minister's Office is anxious about her tendency to push
ahead too quickly with political contacts.
The latest point of friction had to do with the conference of donor countries to the Palestinians that took place in Paris last week. Rice wanted to proceed from the conference to Jerusalem, to make sure that the political process hadn't withered and died after the fanfare in Annapolis. There was a decision already. What made her change her mind and not come? One version has it that she received a message from the White House not to rush things, to give the Israelis and Palestinians some time to work things out without her.
Olmert's bureau denies that Israel intervened to block Rice's visit. David Welch, her aide on Middle East affairs, who had visited Israel a few days before
that, felt that in any event, she wouldn't be able to achieve much with a lightning visit so soon after Annapolis. The Americans say they don't want Rice's
visits to become just a worthless routine. It was clear that this time, nothing much could come of it.
In private conversations - and as she said in Annapolis - Rice tends to compare the Israeli occupation in the territories to the racial segregation that used to be the norm in the American South. The Israel Defense Forces checkpoints where Palestinians are detained remind her of the buses she rode as a child in Alabama, which had separate seats for blacks and whites. This is an uncomfortable comparison, of course, for the Israelis, who view it as"over-identification" on her part with Palestinian suffering. For some leaders of American Jewish organizations, who weren't all that fond of Rice to begin with, her use of this image was the last straw. Rice is now marked as an enemy. It's also easier for them to blame her, rather than the president, for an approach that's not to their liking.
But Rice's anger at Israel really derives from more current events: She was deeply offended at the height of the Second Lebanon War, while preparing to
leave for Beirut to pull together a cease-fire, when the IDF killed Lebanese civilians during the bombing of Kafr Kana. Her trip was canceled at the last
minute, the war went on for more than another two weeks, and some who know her say that Rice never forgave Israel for this slap in the face.
In recent months, she's been heard grumbling about Israel's foot-dragging in carrying out good-will gestures toward Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud
Abbas. The tension became more open in connection with the Annapolis summit, say Israeli sources.
Rice changed the title of the event from "an international meeting" to a"summit," despite Israel's express objections. She supported the Palestinian position, which called for the establishment of a Palestinian state in tandem with the implementation of the road map. Israel balked, and managed to win consent
for "sequential" implementation - that is, first a war on terror and then a Palestinian state.
When the leaders met with President George W. Bush prior to the official start of the summit, Olmert said that if he had any disagreements with Rice, he
would turn to the president. "You'll get the same answer from him," Rice said. Olmert insisted on his right to appeal to the White House. Bush listened and
didn't say anything, but officials in Washington advise that one shouldn't attach too much importance to this silence. Bush likes Olmert, but he likes Rice a
lot more. Something very serious would have to happen for the president to override her authority. And she's smart enough not to clash with Israel without
first checking with the president just how far she can go.
Israel needs an unofficial channel of communication, a "Rice bypass road," to the White House. Steve Hadley, the national security advisor, who was Rice's
deputy during Bush's first term, is very close to her and wouldn't operate behind her back.
And there is no Jewish leader in the Republican Party who, like Max Fisher in the past, has sufficient enough influence to just phone up the president and
quietlytake care of things. Most Jewish Republicans who have a degree of access to the White House are not fans of the political process, and some are busy
promoting the campaign against a division of Jerusalem, an effort that Olmert perceives as a personal campaign against him and in favor of Benjamin Netanyahu.
Which basically leaves Olmert as the guy who can communicate with Bush.
Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni is maintaining her own channel of communication with her American counterpart, even if it appears that their initial mutual
infatuation has faded. At the Prime Minister's Office, the focus is now on Bush's January 9th visit. Expected to top the agenda is the Iranian threat and the
ramifications of the American intelligence report that said Iran is not planning to develop a military nuclear capability. On the Palestinian issue, those in Olmert's circle believe that Bush will make do with some nice words and not bug his hosts with demands to evacuate outposts and remove checkpoints. Rice
will have to deal with these troubles after Bush goes back home. And she apparently has every intention of doing so.
Thanks for dinner
On Wednesday afternoon, Olmert bid farewell to his spokesperson to the foreign press, Miri Eisen, and as usual, peppered his talk with plenty of jokes and
He patted the head of Yiftah, Eisen's oldest child, and described how he
showed him the autographed shirt he received from Ronaldinho, the Brazilian soccer
Afterward, he met with the five members of the Meretz Knesset faction. It's
hard to believe that on the same day, the 2008 state budget was passed in the
Knesset, five days before the deadline, without creating any political noise or revolts within the coalition.
"The days of the budget" used to be a synonym for crisis. Not with Olmert: This is the second year in a row that the budget has quietly slipped through the
political system. Before the good-bye party for Eisen, the prime minister sat down with Finance Minister Roni Bar-On, Interior Minister Meir Sheetrit and
budget director Kobi Haber.
No tension or stress was evident on their faces when they emerged from their meeting.
The vote in the Knesset plenum at the end of the evening was postponed by an hour, so Olmert would have time to attend the conference of the Or Yarok
(Green Light) road safety organization. Obviously, he didn't feel any pressure to be present beforehand to iron out any last-minute problems.
"You see, there is a functioning government," Olmert boasts. It's certainly easier to get a budget passed when the economy is booming and the state is
collecting a lot of taxes. And there's a personal aspect, too: Olmert, the "professor of politics," as Meretz members called him at the start of their meeting,
is more skilled than his predecessors at managing his relations with the coalition and the opposition.
He doesn't portray his ministers as a bunch of honor-obsessed idiots, as previous prime ministers have done, and the ministers don't complain about his
insensitivity and arrogance. Nor do they have any reason to. Cabinet secretary Oved Yehezkel, the coalition's maintenance man, is always at their disposal. Any
time a minister wishes to speak to or meet with the prime minister, he can expect an immediate response.
One minister from Labor, who was invited with his wife to have dinner with Ehud and Aliza Olmert, received the following treatment: The prime minister
showed up right on time, even though he was busy with security matters (of which the minister was aware). Earlier that evening, there'd been an unflattering
report about Olmert on television, but the prime minister ignored it and chatted with his guests as if nothing had happened. He even declined to take a call
from his media advisor. The next day, Olmert phoned the minister and told him that he'd had a wonderful evening. Another day passed, and Aliza Olmert called
the minister's wife to thank her for the lovely evening. And as if that weren't enough, on Sunday Yehezkel caught up with the minister as he was on his way to the cabinet meeting and said something like: I don't know what you two did, but he (Olmert) hasn't stopped talking about you for the past three days.
Instead of speaking to the public and granting interviews to the press - an approach that proved detrimental to Barak and Netanyahu as prime ministers -
Olmert invests his time in the "100 most influential people" who will affect his political survival.
He knows how to talk to win their sympathy. True, Olmert isn't yet popular in the polls, but his government is showing some impressive political stability
- so much so that the looming Winograd report doesn't even seem that threatening. The threat of early elections is also fading, as Minister Haim Ramon
proudly noted this week.
Who is weak?
Rice's exasperation with Israel's behavior stems primarily from the gap between expectations and results, and from the fast-dwindling time she has left on
the seventh floor of the U.S. State Department. Rice thinks that Israel received a lot and didn't give anything in return. As she sees it, the Bush administration gave Israel two important gifts in the president's April, 2004 letter to Ariel Sharon: implied recognition of the settlement blocs, and a demand that the refugees return to the Palestinian state and not to Israel. But Israel isn't responding with the proper counter-gestures. Here, however, they say that Rice received plenty and that she ought to be more patient. After all, within a month, Israel went to the major political event in Annapolis, and then the donor countries agreed to give the PA even more than she asked for. That's not bad for such a short time. What's her big rush?
The problem is that Rice embarked on this campaign in the belief that she would succeed in cutting the Gordian knot of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. She hoped that in Annapolis principles would be set down for a final-status accord, but Israel told her that wasn't going to happen. She thinks that the PA is
making satisfactory progress with the reform of its security forces, while officials in Israel say she's exaggerating and that the reform is still very far from accomplishing anything.
She wanted to Israel to make more good-will gestures, but the Israelis remind here that this will be hard to do as long as Qassam rockets continue to fall
She wanted to see outposts evacuated, and in Israel they blew her off, citing the danger it would pose to the coalition.
Whether Israel likes it or not, it has been cast in the role of the obstacle, as the one putting the brakes on - while Abbas and his prime minister Salam
Fayyad are seen as the ones who want to make progress. Rice, too, wants things to move.
The brakes bother her. Though there are times when she's convinced that it's appropriate, lately it's been ticking her off more.
Israel shouldn't be surprised by Rice's irritation. Rice can see just as well as the next person how easily the budget was passed in Israel, and has to be
asking herself whether the cliche about "a weak Olmert" isn't just an excuse for more foot-dragging.
This is where the difference between her and Bush is most noticeable. She's not a politician; he is. Even those of her disciples who believe she has a good
grasp of strategy in the Middle East - and there are many - will also admit that the political arena is foreign to her. Certainly the complex Israeli
political arena with its myriad players, big and small. And still, Rice's people ask: Not even one outpost?
One little pre-fab?
Rice is right in saying that Israel is not making good on its commitment on this matter, but in Israel they say that fulfilling the obligation would sabotage more important moves. Will the coalition's stability endure when the government tries to evacuate outposts, or to make serious progress in the negotiations with the Palestinians? Rice wants to believe that the answer is yes, but no one in Israel is willing to bet on it. The word in Olmert's bureau is that the coalition relies on the distinction between "theory and deed." As long as we're only talking with the Palestinians, everyone can sit comfortably in their cabinet seats. But a forceful evacuation of settlers, or far-reaching understandings with Abbas, could upset the partnership with Lieberman and Shas. Olmert is well aware of this, and prefers to maintain the coalition and the government over making any serious moves in the territories.
For Rice to understand this too, however, she'll have to be convinced each time anew.
Lenni Brenner was born into an Orthodox Jewish family. He became an atheist at 10, and a left political activist at 15, in 1952. He was arrested 3 times during 1960s Black civil rights sit-ins in the San Francisco Bay Area. He spent 39 months in prison when a court revoked his probation for marijuana possession, because of his activities during the Berkeley Free Speech Movement at the University of California in 1964.
Immediately on imprisonment, he spent 4 days in intense discussion with Huey Newton, later founder of the Black Panther Party, whom he encountered in the court holding tank. Later he worked with Stokely Carmichael (later Kwame Ture), the legendary "Black Power" leader of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, in the Committee against Zionism and Racism, from 1985 until Ture's death in 1998.
He is the author of 4 books, Zionism in the Age of the Dictators, The Iron Wall: Zionist Revisionism from Jabotinsky to Shamir, Jews in America Today, and The Lesser Evil, a study of the Democratic Party. His books have been favorably reviewed in 11 languages by prominent publications, including the London Times, The London Review of Books, Moscow's Izvestia and the Jerusalem Post.
He has written over 120 articles for many publications, including the American Atheist, New York's Amsterdam News, the Anderson Valley Advertiser, The Atlanta Constitution, CounterPunch, The Jewish Guardian, The Nation, The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, Middle East Policy, Middle East International, The Journal of Palestine Studies, The New Statesman of London, Al-Fajr in Jerusalem and Dublin's United Irishman.
In 2002 he edited 51 Documents: Zionist Collaboration with the Nazis.It contains complete translations of many of the documents quoted in Zionism in the Age of the Dictators and The Iron Wall.
In 2004 he edited Jefferson & Madison On Separation of Church and State: Writings on Religion and Secularism.
He blogs at : www.smithbowen.net/linfame/brenner
He can be reached at : BrennerL21@aol.com