Bulletin N°420



18 October 2009
Grenoble, France

Dear Colleagues and Friends of CEIMSA,
As I continue to read the monumental study of post-depression Germany by Franz Neumann (1900-1954), I am increasingly impressed. His meticulous report on this research entitled, Behemoth, The Structure and Practice of National Socialism 1933-1944(1942), is a virtual gold mine of information and analysis on how the capitalist class --only 75 years ago-- attempted to solve its economic problems with political ideology and bureaucratic restructuring.

In chapter IV of this book, called "The Command Economy," Neumann concludes:

National Socialism could, of course, have nationalized private industry. That, it did not do and did not want to do. Why should it? With regard to Imperialist expansion, National Socialism and big business have identical interests. National Socialism pursues glory and stabilization of its rule, and industry, the full utilization of its capacity and the conquest of foreign markets. German industry was willing to co-operate to the fullest. It had never liked democracy, civil rights, trade unions, and public discussion. National Socialism utilized the daring, the knowledge, the aggressiveness of the industrial leadership, while the industrial leadership utilized the anti-democracy, anti-liberalism and anti-unionism of the National Socialist party, which had fully developed the techniques by which masses can be controlled and dominated. The bureaucracy marched as always with the victorious forces, and for the first time in the history of Germany the army got everything it wanted.
Four distinct groups are thus represented in the German ruling class: big industry, the party, the bureaucracy, and the armed forces. Have they merged into a unit? Is the ruling class one compact body? Is their rule integrated within and accepted by the masses? What are the methods of mass domination?(p.361)
These are some of the questions Neumann attempts to answer in the third and final section of his report, which he entitled: "The New Society".

In this section of his book on National Socialism, Neumann begins with a critique of a book by Austrian economist Emile Lederer (1882-1939), State and Masses: The Threat of the Classless Society (1940). "If one believes [as Lederer does] that Germany's economy is no longer capitalistic under National Socialism," Neumann observes, "it is easy to believe further that her society has become classless."
     Lederer rejects attempts to define National Socialism as the last line of defense of capitalism, as the rule of the strong man, as the revolt of the middle classes, as domination by the army, or as the ascendency of the untalented. For him, it is a 'modern political system which rests on amorphous masses.'It is the masses 'which sweep the dictator into power and keep him there' (p.18). The masses are therefore the actors, not the tools of a ruling class.(p.365)   .  .  .

     Lederer is wrong, however, though a little of the truth sifts into some of his formulations. Occasionally one feels that even he realizes that the so-called spontaneity of the masses and their active participation in National Socialism are a sham and that the role of the people is merely to serve as an instrument of the ruling group.   .  .  .
The essence of National Socialist social policy consists in the acceptance and strengthening of the prevailing class character of German society, in the attempted consolidation of its ruling class, in the atomization of the subordinate strata through the destruction of every autonomous group mediating between them and the state, in the creation of a system of autocratic bureaucracies interfering in all human relations. The process of atomization extends even to the ruling class in part. It goes hand in hand with a process of differentiation within the mass party and within society that creates reliable élites in every sector. Through these élites, the regime plays off one group against the other and enables a minority to terrorize the majority.
National Socialism did not create the mass-men; it has completed the process, however, and destroyed every institution that might interfere. Basically, the transformation of men into mass-men is the outcome of modern industrial capitalism and of mass democracy. More than a century ago the French counter-revolutionaries, de Maistre and Bondal, and the Spaniard Donoso Cortes, asserted that liberalism, Protestantism, and democracy, which they hated, bore the seeds of the emotionally motivated mass-man and would eventually give birth to the dictatorship of the sword. Mass democracy and monopoly capitalism have brought the seeds to fruition. They have imprisoned man in a network of semi-authoritarian organizations controlling his life from birth to death, and they have begun to transform culture into propaganda and salable commodities.

National Socialism claims to have stopped this trend and to have created a society differentiated not by classes but according to occupation and training. That is absolutely untrue. In fact, National Socialism has carried to its highest perfection the very development it pretends to attack. It has annihilated every institution that under democratic conditions still preserves remnants of human spontaneity: the privacy of the individual and of the family, the trade union, the political party, the church, the free leisure organization. By atomizing the subject population (and to some extent the rulers as well), National Socialism has not eliminated class relations; on the contrary, it has deepened and solidified the antagonism.
Neumann goes on to examine the function of the new National Socialist bureaucracy, which he concludes played a destructive role in human relationships within German society, in the interest of the old ruling class.
     Bureaucratization, correctly understood, is a process operating in both public and private spheres, in the state as well as in society. It means that human relationships lose their directness and become mediated relationships in which third parties, public or private functionaries seated more or less securely in power, authoritatively prescribe the behavior of man. It is a highly ambivalent process, progressive as well as reactionary. The growth of bureaucracy in public life is not necessarily incompatible with democracy if the aims of the democracy are not limited to the preservation of individual rights, but also include the furtherance of certain social goals. Even in the social sphere the growth of private organizations is not entirely retrogressive. It brings some kind of order into an anarchic society and thereby rationalizes human relations that would otherwise be irrational and accidental.(p.368) .  .  .

What National Socialism has done is to transform into authoritarian bodies the private organizations that in a democracy still give the individual an opportunity for spontaneous activity. Bureaucratization is the complete depersonalization of human relations. They become abstract and anonymous. On this structure of society, National Socialism imposes two ideologies that are completely antagonistic to it: the ideology of the community and the leadership principle.(p.369)

In the 6 items below are voices from the permanent-war front of contemporary capitalism, where confusion and fear still govern the behavior of many victims, while others are attempting to introduce democratic conversations, instead of alibis, into the melée.

Item A. is an update on U.S.-Israel relations from Information Clearing House.
Item B. is an essay by Professor Richard Wolff on the economics of political alienation in the USA.
Item C. is a report sent to us by Jean Mister on the recent repression of democratic movements in Puerto Rico, with 8 Internet links which document his observations.
Item D. is an article by investigative reporter Greg Palast on "Health Care" in the US and the Obama couple.
Item E. is an interview from Electric Politics with 9/11 author David Ray Griffin whose recent book discusses "the unanswered questions".
Item F., sent to us by Council for the National Interest Foundation, is the recording of a live broadcast from CNI's Jerusalem Calling, entitled "The Voices of Jerusalem Women Speak."

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

from Information Clearing House :
Date: 17 October 2009
Subject: Update on the Israel Lobby in Washington, D.C.

"Is This How The United States Supports Israel?

Video Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen

Click to view


from Richard Wolff :
Date: 14 October 2009
Subject: Political Alienation in the USA.

Economic Crisis and Political Alienation
by Rick Wolff

On September 15, 2009, New York City's 3.2 million registered Democrats were eligible to vote in their Primary election.  Only 11 percent of them voted.  Excepting the mayoralty -- virtually conceded to Michael Bloomberg, a nominal Republican and real billionaire -- all important city posts were being decided since New Yorkers vote overwhelmingly Democratic.  These include New York City Council seats, the controller, and the public advocate.  The Council has real power over city life.  The controller manages $82 billion in city workers' pension assets and is the official bookkeeper for New York's annual $60 billion budget.  The public advocate is the key official charged with keeping the rest of urban government even minimally honest (and also replaces a mayor who becomes incapacitated).  In the September 29, 2009 runoff election for comptroller and public advocate, only 7 per cent of registered Democrats voted.

These elected city officials significantly fund and shape public education, police and fire departments, public transportation and health conditions, and so on.  Mass alienation from governance and politics has reached remarkable levels in a city inundated with media attention to these issues.  Moreover, New York City has some good-quality and also some genuinely diverse media; serious coverage and real criticism have at least some outlets.  They are less ignored, repressed, or marginalized than in so many US cities and towns.

Why do 95 per cent of New Yorkers reject even the minimal political engagement of the voting process?  Long-standing structural obstacles to mass political participation are part of the problem (small, closed elites run the parties and select most candidates, proportional representation is absent, etc.).  Yet those obstacles are likely less not more exclusionary than in the past; they leave some space for intervention from below.  Moreover, today's economic crisis teaches laid-off workers, foreclosed ex-home-owners, bankrupt businesses, and all those now seriously threatened with these disasters how much they need state assistance.  Yet not only their participation but even their interest in government tumbles.

The city's tabloid press criticizes its readers for a "Who cares?" attitude and screams at them to "get your butts to the polls."  Otherwise, it says, liberals will be disproportionately numerous among those few who vote.

Useful insight has again eluded the tabloids.  The problem is hardly "who cares?"  The question is rather "why bother?"  Among the relevant answers, consider that, after all, the differences among the major candidates and between the two major parties are small.  The candidates' stated positions, when they articulate any, do not constrain them after they get elected.  Government help for average people seems constantly pinched and inadequate, while government attentiveness to the needs of the rich and powerful seems constantly obvious and indulgent.  During elections, candidates' promises to provide high-quality, needed public services and lower taxes are designed and promoted by highly paid consultants for maximum media exposure.  Once elected, the promises turn into pretenses staged by the same media consultants now on the government's payroll.  Taxpayers fund "their" government's manipulation and deception of them, and they know it.

Because no credible opposition or alternative to politics as usual has emerged for fifty years and because empty promises and pretenses have displaced real change, the mass of people are voting by their absence against the sorts of elections this society offers.  Formerly interested and engaged voters are burnt out.  Those who never voted or stopped years ago find nothing to change their behavior.  Whatever momentary hopes occasional candidates like Obama may raise, they evaporate once it becomes clear that no real alternative politics is underway.  While the economic crisis simultaneously underscores everyone's need for more and better government help, it also exposes how politics as usual precludes that from happening.  Financial corporations get massive, costly bailouts while public services "must" be cut because "the government lacks enough money to preserve, let alone expand them."

Since the 1970s, real wages stagnated while workers' productivity kept rising, providing employers with rising profits.  They used those profits to remake US politics ever more to their liking.  Flat wages drove US workers' families to send more family members out to do more hours of paid labor.  The lost time, exhaustion, and stress undermined working families' participation in politics.  Flat wages also led to massive worker borrowing and thus rising debt anxiety.  Holding together family and finances became ever more difficult; it absorbed what time and energy remained after work.  Politics became ever more irrelevant and remote from workers' real lives.  It disappeared as an activity and resurfaced instead as spectacles made for TV couch potatoes.

In contrast, the employers' record post-1970s profits financed both costly TV campaigns by candidates and the endless lobbying of elected officials.  Corporations made direct outlays for these purposes.  Their top managers and major shareholders, major beneficiaries of rising corporate profits, did likewise.  As the playing field of production, wages, and profits tilted ever more against workers and for employers, managers, and shareholders, so the political game shifted likewise.  Eventually even the expensively promoted TV spectacles of "political events" began losing their worker audiences.  Perhaps we will look back on the 2008 presidential campaign as a last gasp of a dying system of political spectacles.  Perhaps New York City's extremely low voter turnout represents the bursting of a political bubble alongside the economy's bursting real estate and credit bubbles.

One political lesson of this situation is clear.  No existing political party or grouping speaks for and to this deeply alienated political majority.  Something new and different might overcome that majority's deep and well-founded suspicions of politics.  To do so, a new political project would have to dare to make clear its fundamental difference from and opposition to politics as usual and to the basic economic and social conditions that produced that politics in the decades since the 1970s.

Rick Wolff is a Professor Emeritus at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst and also a Visiting Professor at the Graduate Program in International Affairs of the New School University in New York.   He is the author of New Departures in Marxian Theory (Routledge, 2006) among many other publications.  Check out Rick Wolff’s documentary film on the current economic crisis, Capitalism Hits the Fan, at www.capitalismhitsthefan.com.  Visit Wolff's Web site at www.rdwolff.com, and order a copy of his new book Capitalism Hits the Fan: The Global Economic Meltdown and What to Do about It.

from Jean Mister :
Date: 16 October 2009
Subject: Puerto Rico.

A report from Puerto Rico.

1. During the past week there have been dozens of labor, community and student protests against the government of Luis Fortuño. This in response to his decision to fire more than 20,000 public sector workers this year.

He has based his recent policies on the draconian Law 7 which allows him to fire public workers, disregard union contracts and dismantle public agencies. The purpose is to privatize the profitable and strong public sector agencies and destroy the unions. It is neoliberalism on a raw and ruthless level!
The response has been unprecedented unity by labor and community organizations against his administration.
2. The more progressive unions are united behind the Frente Amplio de Solidaridad y Lucha (FASyL) which also includes many community organizations, environmentalists, religious and student groups. The unions include the 40,000 Teachers Federation of Puerto Rico, the 5,000 members of the public sector electric company, some 4,000 public sector water authority workers, University of Puerto Rico staff workers and professors and other unions. The Socialist Front, Refundacion Comunista, the Movimiento Socialista de Trabajadores and the Moviminto Al Socialismo are also in the FASyL.
3. AFL (USA) unions are also organizing the strike. They include the Federacion de Trabajadores de Puerto Rico, Union General de Trabajadores, Servidores Publicos Unidos, the UAW and others. These have been the most conservative unions in the past and have aggressively raided Puerto Rican unions. In the past the have refused unity with the progressive Puerto Rican unions. But now they have been the hardest hit by the firings. They are very undemocratic and are controlled by leaders which the rank and file cannot remove. On the other hand, most of the unions in the FASyL (the Puerto Rican unions) change their leaders through internal elections every few years.
All opposition political parties, including the bourgeois Popular Democratic Party and the Puerto Rican Independence Party have endorsed the general strike are are mobilizing their members..
In recent weeks the government has sent the police to attack students and a working class community of squatters. This is part of what has increased the popular anger in recent months.

8 Videos follow :

A. Video of mothers chaining themselves and blocking a major San Juan avenue protesting against the government.
B. Video of labor leaders annoucing marches from 8 concentration points. Major rally at Plaza Las Americas shopping center which employs 10,000 persons and will be shut for the day. Leaders promise more demos.
C. Video of high school students being attaked by police after they protested the presence of the governor at a public housing across the street by throwing eggs and rocks at his delegation. Residents also protested but do not appear in video.
D. Video: Teachers walk out before the strike.

E. Police attack residents of Villas del Sol.
F. Without provocation cops attack students who are just hanging out on a week night.
G. AFL union leaders clash with cops in protest in front of governor's mansion in San Juan.
H. Student assembly endorses general strike and blocks traffic.

from Greg Palast :
Date: 15 October 2009
Subject: The S-Word and Dr. Kevorkian's Accountant.

Health care Rx from my socialist fire department
by Greg Palast

Greg Palast interviews Wendell Potter
Wendell Potter tells Greg Palast health insurers' dirty secret. (Photo: BobFest)

Tell me where it hurts, Mr. President.

What's killing you, Barack, is what's killing us all: an evil germ called "Medical Loss Ratio."

"Medical Loss Ratio" [MLR] is the fancy term used by health insurance companies for their slice, their take-out, their pound of flesh, their gross - very gross - profit.

The "MLR" is the difference between what you pay an insurance company and what that insurer pays out to doctors, hospitals and pharmacists for your medical care.

I've totted it up from the raw stats: The "MLR," insurance companies' margins, is about to top - holy mama! - a quarter trillion dollars a year. That's $2.7 trillion over the next decade.

Until the 1990's, insurers skimmed only about a nickel on the dollar for their "service," Wendell Potter told me. Potter is the CIGNA insurance company PR man who came in from the cold to tell us about what goes down inside the health insurance gold mine. Today, Potter notes (and I've checked his accuracy), porky operators like AIG have kicked up their Loss Ratio by nearly 500 percent.

The industries' slice is growing to nearly a quarter of your insurance bill. All of it just paperwork and profiteering.

President Obama is never going to pull the insurance company piggies from a trough this big, especially when the industry has made room for Congressional snouts.

So what's the Rx? Easy: Kill the pigs and call the fire department.

The only solution to Loss Ratio piggery is to kill the pigs: eliminate health insurers from the health industry entirely.

We can't cure our ills, as our president has attempted, by attacking the problem ass-backwards. No, Mr. Obama, we don't need HEALTH INSURANCE for everyone, we need HEALTH CARE for everyone. There's a giant difference. Instead of concentrating on PAYMENT, we need to focus solely on providing the health SERVICE.

From my London days writing for The Guardian, I can tell you the British do NOT have national health insurance. They have a National Health Service.

The government builds hospitals, hires doctors and, when you need the service, you just go and get it. It's kind of like the fire department. When your house is on fire, you don't call your fire insurance company, you call THE FIRE DEPARTMENT. We care first about the service, not the payment.

The British government hires the doctors, like firemen, and Brits use them, like firemen, as they need them.

It works. My mother-in-law, a nurse, on a visit to England, was stunned at the speed, quality and absence of mad paperwork to fix her broken arm.

But, you might say, that's, that's SOCIALISM! Well, yes, it is. And I'm not afraid to use the S-word: Socialized Medicine. Just like America's Socialized Fire Departments. (Fun fact: socialized, i.e. publicly funded, fire departments were 'invented' by the revolutionary Ben Franklin.)

And Yes We Can get socialized medicine passed into law.

Really. It's simple: we sneak it in with the kids.

We can learn from Lyndon Johnson's sale of Socialist Medicare. Johnson knew that no one could argue that Granny do without a doctor. Can the "Pro-Life" Republicans now tell us that pregnant moms and children ages 0 to 3 should be denied care? Therefore, to the Medicare program for those 65-or-older, we simply add "Kiddie Care," for those from Negative 9 months through age 3.

But instead of the wallet-busting Medicare system, in which doctors and hospitals are paid for each suture, bag of blood and pat on the head, Kiddie Care will be provided by Kiddie Care Service salaried doctors.

How do we get doctors (who now AVERAGE $240,575 a year) to take well-paid, but not pig-paid, posts? We grab'm while they're young. We pay doctors the full cost of their medical education; and we treat them as humans during internship, not as in the current system where interns are treated as medi-slaves. In return for the public paying for their medical education, the public gets the young doctors' ten-year commitment to work for the health service at a reasonable salary.

That's not my invention. The free-education idea for staffing a national health service had long ago been proposed by that wily old dog Ted Kennedy. (Damn, we miss him.)

Once the first wave of three-year-olds are about to turn four and their families face having to buy them health insurance, these millions of parents will become an unstoppable army of lobbyists screaming for the extension of Kiddie Care to age four, then to age five, then to age six and so on. Get it?

Yes, Mr. Limbaugh, I am another bleeding heart trying to sneak socialized medicine into America. Yes, I am trying to rid us of the "free-market" insurers who are causing the bleeding. Health insurers are as useful to our health care system as a bicycle is useful to a goldfish.

Free-Market Fantasia

There ain't no such thing as a "free market" in medical care, as there is a free market in food. You can eat peanut butter instead of dining at Maxime's. But you can't tell the surgeon, "No thanks, I can't afford a new kidney this week - I'll just have a broken arm."

A free-market for-profit insurance system means that, when you need a new pancreas, your fate is left to an insurance company computer programmed by Franz Kafka, Dr. Kevorkian and his accountant. It's you versus the Medical Loss Ratio. Good luck.

In olden days, doctors would attach leeches to suck a patient's blood. Today, we have insurance companies' Medical Loss Ratio. Both can kill you. If Obama and America want to end this sickness in the body politic, start with Dr. Kennedy's sure-fire cure: a national health service for kids - and get rid of the bloodsuckers.


I Quit: A Personal Note

I learned of the Kiddie Care solution during my brief and ill-starred tenure at the Center for Hospital Administration Studies at the University of Chicago "Billings" Hospital. I couldn't make up that name. Years later, they hired Michelle Obama as their vice president for community affairs.

In my time, three decades ago, "Billings" handled the affairs of that poor community by shipping the uninsured, sometimes bleeding, to poor-folks hospitals. One wounded patient died on the poverty shuttle.

I quit, and swore that one day I'd write about it. I just did.

Forensic economist Greg Palast is author of the New York Times bestseller, "The Best Democracy Money Can Buy." His investigations for BBC TV and Democracy Now! can be seen by subscribing to Palast's reports at www.GregPalast.com. Hear Wendell Potter tell Greg Palast about health insurers' dirty secret here.

from George Kenney :
Date: 16 October 2009
Subject: Interview with David Ray Griffin on "9/11".

Dear Francis,
Within days of 9/11 happening I became convinced that something was very fishy about the whole thing. To be fair about it, I probably leaped to my conclusions somewhat prematurely, and I can well understand why many people have been skeptical regarding 9/11 skeptics. On the other hand, after eight years there's now literally a mountain of evidence that the official story cannot possibly be true.
But where to start in deconstructing our received narrative? David Ray Griffin may well have found its Achilles heel in his latest book, The Mysterious Collapse of World Trade Center 7: Why the Final Official Report About 9/11 Is Unscientific and False. If you read this book with an open mind I hope that at the very least you'd be willing to support a new, non-partisan, scientific investigation into what happened.
It's always great to talk with David -- this is the third time I've had him as a guest on the podcast -- and every time I learn a lot. It's also worth mentioning, for those who don't regularly follow 9/11 developments, that there's steady, on-going progress in assembling the evidence for some kind of inside job. Year after year, more and more pieces of the puzzle are falling into place. Perhaps certain aspects of what happened may never be known, but unlike, say, the Kennedy assassination, here, an argument built of irrefutable facts, that doesn't depend upon conjecture, stands up against anything the establishment can throw at it.
If you think that this podcast is worthwhile and interesting, maybe even important, please feel free to redistribute the link.
Thanks for listening!

Interview with author David Ray Griffin

from Council for the National Interest Foundation :
Date: 15 October 2009



BE SURE TO LISTEN LIVE 12-1P EDT AT: www.wsradio.com/cni TODAY!!!

Don't miss Today's broadcast of CNI: Jerusalem Calling, entitled "The Voices of Jerusalem Women Speak,"  from 12 noon to 1 pm EDT. CNI Board Member E. Faye Williams will be interviewing Jala Andoni, a Christian Palestinian woman living under the occupation, and Ruth El-Raz, an Israeli resident of Jerusalem. CNI members are encouraged to call in with questions and comments as the two women discuss their experiences. We will use this platform to discuss/debunk a plethora of issues regarding the Middle East Peace Process.

With current turmoil in the region concerning the Goldstone Report, protests in Jerusalem, and a UN Human Rights Council meeting on possible violations Isreali soldiers committed during Operation Cast Lead, today's show is sure to be informative.


WE NEED YOU! Please join us TODAY during our caller particapation segment! CNI supporters are encouraged to call in and participate in the LAST 20 MINUTE SEGMENT of the discussion. Just call 1-877-474-3302 to ask questions from our panel. We will be opening the phone lines up at 12:35 pm EDT for listeners to call in and ask questions!

Check out the radio show each and every Thursday from 12-1pm EST

Upcoming radio programs include:

October 22:  The show will be hosted by Anna Baltzer, author, Witness in Palestine; see CNI's website for more on the curious turnabout in her life history, first as an American Jew and later as a Fulbright scholar in Turkey and Women in Peace Service volunteer in Palestine.

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