Bulletin N° 360
Bastille Day 2008
Dear Colleagues and Friends of CEIMSA,
Several months ago, I came across an article about a private company in Germany that was developing a product that would solve the problem of an apparent incompatibility between high tech hardware and the human mind. The much publicized Winter Soldier Hearings in the United States last spring had alerted these businessmen to the fact that there existed a faulty articulation between military technology and the human "software," which had had a devastating effect on the private lives of the perpetrators of mass murders. These hearings immediately brought to mind the controversy over the numbers of Vietnam veterans whose self-inflicted deaths (including documented suicides) were due to their war experiences. It was estimated that by 1979, the number of self-inflicted deaths by veterans had exceeded the number of U.S. soldiers actually killed in combat during this war. The large number of severe depressions and suicides on the part of Iraqi war veterans seem to be equally alarming, and some enterprising young German entrepreneurs apparently saw in it an opportunity to make some money by attempting to correct this glitch in the link between high tech weapons and the human mind. If a solution to this problem were discovered, if the human "software" could be "debugged" and seamlessly joined to the appropriate technology, then this company could guarantee that the mind of the perpetrator would be fully compatible with the effects of military hardware designed for mass annihilations, and a handsome profit might be harvested from military contracts with the Pentagon and other interested parties. The German company's research involves developing tests which are designed to screen men and women according to the effects of specific weapons, in order to assure that no negative psychological feedback might occur to give warfare the wrong image.
It is well known today that many employees in the military industry moonlight in the video arcade business, to pick up a few extra dollars. From the video arcade, the school house is only one hop, skip and a jump away, and the new generation of entrepreneurs, it would seem, intends to program the "software" between the ears of tomorrow's students, to "debug" their minds and make them more "user friendly" to the demands of tomorrow's technology, thus integrating their "power of positive thinking" to weapon systems.
One avant guard group in this new market strategy are former employees of the Israeli Defense Forces, who, after expensive training and invaluable experience, are for hire on the world market to provide services that would support existing illegitimate dependent power pyramids by the use of violence. The marketing of Israeli "software" (and hardware) in the surveillance and security industries is described in Naomi Klein's book, The Shock Doctrine, the Rise of Disaster Capitalism (2007), pp. 423-442. The biochemical formatting of the human brain is discussed in Antonio Damasio's classic work, Descartes' Error: Emotion, Reason, and the Human Brain (1995), and in Ari Folman's animated documentary on the Sabra and Chatila massacre of 1982, Valse avec Bachir (2008), we see again the problem of high tech warfare and incompatible "software" depicted this time in "post-humanist" terms. [For an interesting discussion of post-human cognitive research visit the audio presentation of a lecture on this subject by UCLA Professor Katherine Hayles.] Another, more loving description of the Palestinian people at the time of the Sabra and Chatila massacres is Jean Genet's "Four Days at Chatila," which is available in both French and in English translation.
Who can doubt today that large corporations are at war with the rest of us, and that companies in the military industry are only one part of this offensive, and that if we do not actively collaborate with their strategies to maximize their own private profits, we risk being crushed by them. The military industry exists as just one part of this systemic attack on most of us living in our era of late capitalism.
Given the complexity of financial connections around the world --a recent example of which was the revelation of the Bush family's investments in the Bin Laden family fortune-- it would be difficult not to suspect that the recent saber rattling in Washington, D.C. for an attack on Iran has significantly benefited capital investors in the global arms market, who continue to sell weapons to Iran at a considerable profit, whether a real war materializes of not. War profiteering was not invented yesterday!
The threat of violence is an essential structural element in the capitalist system today, which is based on artificial scarcities and where survival depends on the "magnanimity" of those holding the weapons. (The antithesis of this arrangement is, of course, industrial democracy, which, as Herbert Marcuse reminds us, is now beyond the pale of social imagination.
In our present period of capital-accumulation-in-crisis, we are subjected to increasingly authoritarian demands to adjust to the requirements of "state-of-the-art" technologies, or else . . . . But just what is this technology that our "software" must accommodate, and in what direction is it evolving?
A short walk around the neighborhood and through community parks will inform most people that television entertainment and video games are the paramount experiences serving almost exclusively as sources of information replacing real human contact. Virtual reality has displaced material relationships as a source of information, and imaginary understandings, rather than real and sentient relationships, serve as the principle cause of social behavior.
A few years ago, an article in the French newspaper, Le Monde, decried that the French nation of 1789 would not have tolerated the inequalities, the injustices and the general abuse that the contemporary descendents now tolerate. What supports have been installed to stabilize this inflated unbalanced structure, without improving the function of the system? The traditional answers are the media, consumerism, and competition; or (put in the negative) alienation, anomie, and ontological insecurity. Another explanation is that communities are dissolving, the roots are drying up, and influence comes from the barrel of a gun. We live in an era, as every school child knows, of hunter-killer robots: the video arcades and nightly news reports inform us that we can either become one of them or be done in by them. Our lives are given very little meaning outside of the predominant values of militarism and rapport de force. As the "power of negative thinking" has been displaced by the will to obey and the desire to collaborate with the most powerful, we are reduced to the freedom of choosing between masters.
With the 7 items below which we at CEIMSA share with you on this Bastille Day 2008, we celebrate once more the "old order" of social solidarity, "back when a friend was a friend, and seldom was heard etc., etc. . . . " Oh well, nanotechnology has removed that illusion, as our molecules are being rearranged to accommodate appropriate structures for further servitude and reliable obedience. Occasionally, however, we push up to the surface for oxygen and to witness the fratricide by parties who have long ceased to consider one another as brothers and sisters, due to expert programming during the Information Revolution in their wasteland.
On a more positive note, we may remember what the American President Abraham Lincoln observed a hundred and fifty years ago, when he told his followers, "the only difference between a slave and a free worker is the latter's right to go on strike, to withhold his labor." Lincoln made a lot of contradictory statements in his short life (he was barely 57 when he died), but this statement stands eternal. The right to withhold labor (like a consumer boycott) is a powerful negative, which if done correctly can generate a positive social force. Such negative thinking appears as "idealism" today, totally off the chart in the control rooms, where "reality" is carefully monitored. In fact, negative thinking is the basis of all positive social theory, as the following selections will illustrate.
Item A. is a short video of stand-up comedian George Carlin, who may be described as a class-conscious Lenny Bruce, whose motto was "how to talk dirty and influence people".
Item B. includes three reports on the historic connections between the Bush family and the German fascist political system: the London Guardian report, the brief Sarasota Herald Tribune from Florida, and the You Tub video report by John Buchanan, a Miami-based magazine journalist.
Item C. is a short annimation based on Howard Zinn's "A People's History of American Empire: what the classroom didn't teach me!"
Item D., sent to us by Truth Out, is an article by Bill Moyers on the betrayal of the media in today's struggle for democracy.
Item E. is an announcement to American working families from the militant American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees Union (AFSCME) concerning a national labor action beginning on 14 July, sent to us by Professor Fred Lonidier.
Item F., from Montgomery Reed Kroopkin, delegate of Service Employees International Union Local 221, is an article of the labor action planned Los Angeles for 14 July, addressing the economic debacle in the USA today.
Item G., also from Monty Kroopkin, is an Internet link to the AFSCME locals call for general strike against the war.
And finally, we recommend to the French-speaking readers of CEIMSA-IN-EXILE the French Peace Movement site, Le Mouvement de la Paix, below:
And for our English-speaking readers, they can do no better than visit the dynamic Internet site, Democracy Now!, for an up-to date war crimes and gangster politics in the U.S.A.
Francis McCollum Feeley
Professor of American Studies
Director of Research
Université Stendhal Grenoble 3
from Information Clearing House :
Date: 6 July 2008
Subject: Standup Comedien, George Carlin in "Class Struggle".
The game is rigged! Nobody seems to notice, nobody seems to care.
Who Owns You?
(3 Minute Video)
From: Jean Mister
Date: 20 May 2008
Subject: Bush's links to the Nazis.
The president of the Florida Holocaust Museum said Saturday that George W. Bush's grandfather derived a portion of his personal fortune through his affiliation with a Nazi-controlled bank. John Loftus, a former prosecutor in the Justice Department's Nazi War Crimes Unit, said his research found that Bush's grandfather, Prescott Bush, was a principal in the Union Banking Corp. in Manhattan in the late 1930s and the 1940s. Leading Nazi industrialists secretly owned the bank at that time, Loftus said, and were moving money into it through a second bank in Holland even after the United States declared war on Germany. The bank was liquidated in 1951, Loftus said, and Bush's grandfather and great-grandfather received $1.5 million from the bank as part of that dissolution. "That's where the Bush family fortune came from: It came from the Third Reich," Loftus said. Loftus made his remarks during a speech as part of the Sarasota Reading Festival. The author of "Unholy Trinity: The Vatican, The Nazis and the Swiss Banks," Loftus documented the Swiss bank accounts that harbored funds confiscated from Holocaust victims and the participation of Italian priests in smuggling Nazi war criminals to safe haven in Canada, Central and South America and the United States after the war. Although he said he had a file of paperwork linking the bank and Prescott Bush to Nazi money, Loftus did not provide that documentation Saturday. Loftus pointed out that the Bush family would not be the only American political dynasty to have ties to the "wrong side of World War II." The Rockefellers had financial connections to Nazi Germany, he said. Loftus also reminded his audience that John F. Kennedy's father, an avowed isolationist and former ambassador to Great Britain, profited during the 1930s and '40s from Nazi stocks that he owned. "No one today blames the Democrats because Jack Kennedy's father bought Nazi stocks," Loftus said. Still, he said, it is important to understand these historical connections for what they tell us about politics today. The World War II experience points out how easy it was then -- and remains today -- to hide money in multinational funds. That money flows into American politics today, he said, from "a series of multinational corporations behaving like pirates. They don't care about ideology; they care about money." Loftus' speech left many in tears. "I am absolutely shocked," said Nancy Krauss of Punta Gorda. "I wish this would have come out before the election. My husband voted for Bush. I don't think he would have voted for him if he would have known."
from Information Clearing House :
Date: 9 July 2008
Subject: A People's History of American Empire.
Empire or Humanity? What the Classroom Didn't Teach Me about the American Empire.
A People's History of American Empire
by Howard Zinn
from Truth Out :
Date 12 July
Subject: Is the Fourth Estate a Fifth Column?
Bill Moyers, from an adaptation of his keynote address at the National Conference for Media Reform, writes for In These Times: "Democracy without honest information creates the illusion of popular consent at the same time that it enhances the power of the state and the privileged interests that the state protects. And nothing characterizes corporate media today more than its disdain toward the fragile nature of modern life and its indifference toward the complex social debate required of a free and self-governing people."
Is the Fourth Estate a Fifth Column?
by Bill Moyers
San Diego-Imperial Counties Labor Council
AFSCME 3299 Service Workers Prepare for
5-Day Strike & NEED YOUR SUPPORT!
Why Are AFSCME Service Workers Striking July 14th- 18th?
After more than 11 months of negotiations, AFSCME service workers have called for a 5-day strike to in order to get a fair contract at the University. UC is refusing to guarantee any raise at all for most service workers and negotiations have been deadlocked since May. Service workers have been fighting for better lives for their families and better working conditions. The University has Unfair Labor Practices- but we know their actions are illegal, and we won't be intimidated!
AFSCME service workers are fighting to be treated like their peers who are doing the same jobs at other hospitals and community colleges across California. We are demanding:
from Monty Reed Kroopkin :
Date: 12 July 2008
Subject: Important Labor Rally July, 14th in L. A.! PLUS election protest filed.
SEIU siblings, other rank & file union activists, and friends,
I am forwarding this Rally announcement (below) well beyond the current circle of SMART activists. One need not be a member of SMART (or a member of SEIU) to join in opposing the idea of workers being forced by an international ("parent") union to leave the local union that members have worked hard to build, and be forced (against their own majority vote) to join another local union which the members consider weaker, less effective, and less democratically run.
Also, a copy of the official election protest filed against the recent rigged SEIU International Executive Board elections is below. This will probably be ignored by the SEIU internal appeal bodies, and end up in the hands of the federal Labor Department. We may also see some criminal prosecutions for misuse of union funds by Andy Stern's allies. The attached preliminary findings by the Dept. of Labor concerning only one SEIU local are but the tip of the iceberg. The other attachment, a statement by the union representing staff at SEIU headquarters, reveals that staff were ordered by high SEIU officers to violate federal labor laws and use union resources to campaign against Stern's opponents in the union.
For more information on the rigged SEIU convention, please see the article in Labor Notes at http://labornotes.org/node/1786 and also a report by Maya Morris at http://seiuvoice.org/article.php?id=462 . There are several background articles also to be found at the SMART website and at SEIU Members for Democracy's website http://www.democracy4seiu.org/
For union democracy and workers power,
Monty Reed Kroopkin
Steward, Local 221, SEIU --Service Employees International Union
and SMART organizer http://www.reformseiu.org/
---------- Forwarded Message ----------
Date: Thu, 10 Jul 2008 14:23:47 -0700 (PDT)
From: Maya Morris firstname.lastname@example.org
Subject: SMART-Important Rally July, 14th in Los Angeles!
Hi SMART Activists!
We are asking SMART Activists in California to join us for a very important rally on Monday, July 14th in Manhattan Beach/Los Angeles to oppose union officials in Washington D.C. who want to force 65,000 homecare and nursing home workers out of their local union UHW-W despite their overwhelmingly voting to remain in UHW-W. One of SMART's core principals is that whenever SEIU is considering merging or re-organizing locals that these changes move forward only if each local union has a separate vote so that workers at each local can decide which local is the best to represent them.
On July 14th, the Washington officials are holding a hearing about their plan to move UHW-W's homecare and nursing home workers into Local 6434, a union with lower wages and benefits and it's critical that we have a large turnout to show SEIU International that we'll stay united around our principle of a vote by local union and no pooled voting!
Please contact me if you plan to attend this rally or if you need transportation from Northern California or want to know how to get buses from Southern California to the rally.
HEARING/RALLY LOCATION SPECIFICS
Manhattan Beach Marriott Hotel
1400 Parkview Avenue, Manhattan Beach, 90266
Date: July, 14th
Time: 8 a.m to 5 p.m
We hope you can join us!
Also find below a copy of the election protest that has been filed regarding SEIU International's Officer Elections at the 2008 Convention.
June 17, 2008
Andrew L. Stern, President
Service Employees International Union
1800 Massachusetts Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20036
Re: SEIU Officer Election Protest
Dear Brother Stern:
We write, pursuant to Article V, Section 4 of the SEIU Constitution, to protest the 2008 SEIU Convention election in Puerto Rico of the entire Stern slate, individually and collectively, for the reasons that follow.
1. Local delegations voting in favor of the Stern slate were accorded greater voting strength than that to which they were entitled. Thus, the voting strength of many supporting locals, like Local 6434, was calculated not just upon the number of dues-paying members, but also fee-payers, thereby inflating their voting strength.
2. Delegates pledged to vote for, and who in fact voted for, the Stern slate during the Convention were granted credentials despite the fact their own elections were unlawful under Title IV of the Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act. Thus, for example, a majority of the large Local 6434 delegation was comprised of ex officio delegates who were seated by the Convention Credentials Committee despite a protest based on the fact they had won their elective offices only by establishing an eligibility rule that precluded virtually 100 percent of the Local membership from running for office against them. So also were other Local delegations seated despite the fact their elections are being challenged and will likely be overturned by the U.S. Department of Labor. In addition, those delegates, known to support the candidacies of independents such as Brothers Rosselli and Rodriguez were either unseated or denied delegate credentials by your hand-picked Credentials Committee.
3. Enormous sums of SEIU and affiliate monies were spent in violation of Title IV on a concerted and defamatory campaign during the months and days preceding the Convention to attack and undermine the candidacies of UHW-W officers who spearheaded a debate on the wisdom of the SEIUs principles, programs, and fundamental organizing strategy. You and your public relations consultants deliberately sought to, and in fact created a hostile political climate in order to instill fear in any delegate who might support Sal Rosselli, Jorge Rodriguez, and other potential UHW candidates. You repeatedly accused them of all sorts of misdeeds, up to and including criminal conduct, in an effort to isolate them from those who would otherwise have supported them but for fear of being identified during the open balloting process, and subsequently becoming victims of similar retaliation.
Your costly, negative publicity campaign made it impossible for a fair election to occur within SEIU. This was accomplished by a barrage of press releases, press conferences, frivolous bad-faith lawsuits amounting to little more than publicity stunts, flyers, push polls and telephone surveys, as well as emails broadcast nationwide to SEIUs subordinate entities whose officers would be serving as ex officio delegates to the Convention. You inspired and encouraged a political feeding frenzy among subordinate officers and entities anxious to curry your favor, particularly including Local 6434 which was furnished with UHW membership mailing lists to enable it to pile on with its own attack directed at UHWs candidates for SEIU office in the hopes of affecting the outcome of both the UHWs May convention delegate elections, as well as, ultimately, the election of SEIU officers.
While SEIU extols its self-proclaimed democratic virtues and adherence to principles of fair play, it practiced a politically ugly double standard going into, and during, its 2008 Convention.
Larry Beven, Local 1021
Arturo Diaz, Local 721
Michael Fennison, UHW-W
Zev Kvitky, Local 2007
from Monty Kroopkin :
Date: 13 July 2008
Subject: AFSCME locals call for general strike against the war.
Please tell people about this.