Subject: ON REASON, REVOLUTION, AND DEMOCRATIC SOCIALISM vs. THE COMMAND ECONOMY.
Henry VIII got rid of the opposition to his claim for royal supremacy by 'violence faite aux âmes, c'est-à-dire propagande.' Propaganda is violence committed against the soul. Propaganda is not a substitute for violence, but one of its aspects. The two have the identical purpose of making men amenable to control from above. Terror and its display in propaganda go hand in hand. That is the theme of the leading theorist of National Socialist propaganda and the dictator of the German radio, E. Hadamovsky (1904-1945).
By itself, propaganda can never change social and political conditions; it acts in conjunction with other, and far more important factors. National Socialist propaganda did not destroy the Weimar democracy. Nor could the best counter-propaganda of the democratic parties and groups have saved the Republic.
. . . .
A democratic movement cannot beat terror by counter-terror; it must rely on the state machine to suppress terror. That the republican leaders did not succeed in inducing the state machine to stop National Socialist terror will remain the most severe indictment of Weimar. The democracy collapsed chiefly because of the ineptness of the democratic movement and the strength of the reaction. More recently, France was not beaten by propaganda. Its collapsed was the result of the disintegration of French morale and of the military superiority of the German army. . . . .
The superiority of National Socialist over democratic propaganda lies in the complete transformation of culture into salable commodities. A democracy can never completely divorce propaganda from truth because there are competing propaganda machines and they must ultimately prove their value by actual performance in the social life of a nation. National Socialism has no political or social theory. It has no philosophy and no concern for the truth.
. . . .
Such versatility is unattainable in a democracy. National Socialist propaganda will always be superior because National Socialist culture is propaganda and nothing else, while democratic culture is a mixture. National Socialist propaganda cannot be beaten by a democratic super-propaganda, but only by a superior democratic policy that eliminates the soft spots [such as racial and religious antagonisms, clashing economic interests, competing political groups].
Worse still, attempts to fight fascism, primarily by propaganda methods are almost invariably connected with an abandonment of democratic convictions. A recent work by Serge Chakotins (1883-1973) is a case in point. He divides the population into 10 per cent possessing an active attitude and 90 per cent who are 'lazy-minded or tired out or their whole attention is absorbed by the difficulties of every-day life,' and are thus reduced to a mere biological level. Should a democracy remain on this biological level, and the 90 per cent be nothing more than tools to be controlled by propaganda, [then] force and power would be the prerequisite of success. Chakotin admits that. Within Germany proper, National Socialist propaganda has other aims than the mere penetration of 'soft spots' [in the social structure]. Through synchronization of all cultural activities, National Socialism subjects the German people to unceasing tensions.The insistence upon activism in place of thinking means that men shall never have the freedom and time to think for themselves. Action without thought is possible only if it is directed and controlled action, except in short periods of genuine mass spontaneity. Thus controlled it is pseudo-action, for it is not man who acts but a bureaucratic machine. That is the technique of National Socialism --to make the action of an authoritarian apparatus appear as the spontaneous activity of the masses.(pp.436-438)
The flight from reason, the willful obedience to authority figures, and conditioned indifference –these were not the effects of Fascism in Germany, but rather its cause. This psychology had already begun to develop under the social conditions of liberal economic consolidation. Fascism was the product of monopoly capital formation in the absence of bourgeois democratic traditions, in a country where the middle class was hungry for advantage and for privilege, and ridiculed all notions of justice and fair play. The German middle class whined for the spoils of conquered territories in Eastern Europe (which were denied them by their industrialists masters), while the working class was brought in tow when The Party shattered their labor unions, closed their press, and illiminated other vital assoications. The former were recycled, many of them into Gestapo police and inspectors; the latter became military cannon fodder for the would-be Empire.
In the 7 items below, CEIMSA readers will recognize some of these elements of Fascism as the political impacts of monopoly capital development in our own lives. Whether far away or close to home, the power elite who make decisions that greatly affect our lives are entirely unaccountable for the damage they inflict on us. Many of us remain stupefied before this fact, so contrary is it to all that we have been taught to believe. Under such circumsances, collaboration seems the only "rational choice," but as a flock of sheep, avoiding the sharp canine teeth of a snarling German shepherd, cannot be said to have made rational decisions, so we must not confuse reason with biological necessity.
Item A. is a link to the video documentary Plan Colombia: Cashing in on the Drug War Failure, Directed by Gerard Ungerman and Narrated by Ed Asner.
Item B., is an interview with Iranian Nobel Laureate Dr. Shirin Ebadi, a prominent human rights lawyer and democracy activist from Iran. She was at Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado, to give the keynote address at a conference on Women's and Human Rights in Islam.
Item C., sent to us by historian Jim O'Brien, representing the Historians Against the War, in which he shares Internet links to articles that provide historical background on HAW-relevant topics.
Item D. is an audio broadcast from the Council for the National Interest Foundation, featuring "Jerusalem Calling" where radio host Alison Weir and Middle East journalist Jeffrey Blankfort discuss the media's role in the Middle East, focusing on American media propaganda, Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts, and the power structure of the Israel Lobby.
Item E. is the Internet link to Robert Fisk's 2007 award-winning documentary film, Beirut to Bosnia.
Item F. is a report from The Real News by Greg Gordon, an investigative reporter covering Goldman Sachs and the financial elite in the USA.
Item G., sent to us by Electric Politcs, is an audio-recorded interview by George Kenney with former Iranian President Abolhassan Banisadr.
And finally, we conclude this CEIMSA bulletin by offering readers a look at the new November 4 edition of William Blum's
Francis McCollum Feeley
Professor of American Studies
Director of Research
Université Stendhal Grenoble 3
from Information Clearing House :
Date: 3 November 2009
Subject: "Plan Columbia."
Plan Colombia: Cashing in on the Drug War Failure documents what many believe to be dangerous hypocrisy on the part of the American government. The film gives particular attention to the reasons behind the drug trade (Colombia is the world's biggest cocaine exporter), which include illegal trade funded by radicals, the corrupt government, and the simple fact that most farmers harvest coca because they can't survive on the profits of legitimate food crops.
Ungerman also explores the link to America's notorious School of the Americas in Georgia and how targeted aerial fumigation has destroyed perfectly legal natural resources in the mission to eradicate drug crops. The film concludes that the U.S. military-industrial complex is cashing in on the violence they themselves perpetrate, while doing little to actually stem cocaine production.
from Truth Out :
Date: 4 November 2009
Subject: Women and Democracy.
Dr. Shirin Ebadi holds strong views about the vibrancy of the ongoing resistance and movement for democratic rights in her country - views that both the Islamic Republic and the larger mainstream media audience might find stunning. During our talk about the state of the pro-democracy resistance in Iran, Dr. Ebadi told me that the women-led movement in Iran is the strongest in the Middle East and that, despite the regime's claims to the contrary, it is 'invincible.' Although the participation of women in last summer's uprising was self-evident, what was less clear was the role that the underlying women's movement played in animating the events.
from Jim O'Brien :
Date: 21 October 2009
Subject: Links to recent anti-war articles of interest.
To members and friends of Historians Against the War,
This is the fourth biweekly mailing of links to articles that provide historical background on HAW-relevant topics. Suggestions for inclusion are welcome: they can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. Members of the working group for this project are listed below.
Carolyn (Rusti) Eisenberg
1) What the U.S. Military Cant Do :
By Nick Turse, TomDispatch.com, posted October 22
(historically based article on Afghanistan focusing on US militarys inability to seal the deal in previous wars)
2) Lessons from the Long War and a Blowback World :
By Tom Engelhardt, TomDispatch.com, posted October 18
3) Fighting the Taliban: What, Exactly, is Being Fought in Afghanistan? :
By M. Reza Pirbhal, CounterPunch.org, posted October 14
(long article on US involvement in Afghanistan and Pakistan by a Louisiana State U. historian)
4) Left and Right Against War :
By Murray Polner, History News Network 9hnn.com), posted October 12
5) Afghanistan - The Proxy War :
By Andrew Bacevich, Boston Globe, posted October 11
6) Apocalypse Then, Afghanistan Now :
By William Astore, TomDispatch.com, posted October 11
7) Obamas Prize, Wilsons Legacy :
By John Milton Cooper, History News Network (hnn.com), Posted October 11
8) War and Peace Prizes :
By Howard Zinn, The Guardian, posted October 9
9) Unintended Consequences in Nuclear Pakistan :
By Fred Branfman, TruthDig.com, posted October 9
10) Honduran Coup Regime in Crisis :
By Greg Grandin, CommonDreams.com, posted October 9
from Council for the National Interest Foundation <email@example.com> :
Date: 5 November 2009
Subject: CNI: Jerusalem Calling November 5th with political pilgrims from Damascus.
From: George Kenney :
Date: 30 October 2009
Subject: Subject: Podcast interview with former Iranian President Banisadr.
You have to be of a certain age to remember Abolhassan Banisadr, the first President of Iran following the 1979 revolution. After a falling out with the clerics in 1981 -- in large part over the hostage crisis -- Banisadr fled for his life, taking political asylum in France. Part of the deal with French authorities, of course, is that he not mess around in Iranian politics. But he's been a little bit more public recently, probably with tacit French blessings, and as it turns out he's got a lot to say. I should note, nevertheless, that he gives interviews only rarely (if you search the web you'll see that this is so), making today's podcast somewhat newsworthy in and of itself.
I talk with President Banisadr through an interpreter, Dr. Mahmood Delkhasteh, a recent Ph.D. from the London School of Economics and a close Banisadr confidant. Although I'm sure that Mahmood gave the best possible translation, on balance I decided that it's best to leave in all the Persian so that Persian speakers can hear Mr. Banisadr for themselves. And although I don't understand a word of it I also think that Mr. Banisadr's voice has sufficiently luminous qualities that listening should not be an undue burden to non-Persian speakers. Hopefully the half that's in English will make it all worthwhile.
As always, if you like the podcast please feel free to redistribute the link.