17 October 2011
Dear Colleagues and Friends of CEIMSA,
The effect historical ignorance and social amnesia are having on American political culture is sometimes beyond belief. It is as if a cultural variant of some ANTI-MATTER, a virtual BLACK HOLE, had invaded society, threatening to disappear the best among us, or worse to reduce all of us to a superficial appearance, a mere caricature of ourselves. The lack of substance is unsettling.
In an eloquent analogy made at a recent gathering of anarchists on the Grenoble campus, Professor Ronald Creagh remarked that each one of us is a universe of experiences, that the words from one another which we hear and try to understand are only approximations, emanating from spaces of experience unknown to us. Because in large part our experiences are not identical, our inner spaces are different, as are our explorations thereof, and for this reason, he suggests, we can only approximate an understanding of one another's words. This high respect for the integrity of the other is in counter distinction to the philistine ideal promoted by "bourgeois democracy", the idea that individual "equality" can be compared to the uniform properties of electrons which are interchangable, that we are all equally disposable.
A recent reminder of this one-dimensional world view was an encounter on October 8 at Liberty Plaza, when American culture was strangely invaded by collective amnesia. The occasion was the appearance of Jeffrey Sachs, speaking to "The Other 99 Percent".
This scene could be compared to French students being taught that German tourists visited France in large numbers between 1941 and 1945, instead of explaining the actual policies of systematic starvation and human hunting parties that invaded this nation.
The falsification of history, the collective amnesia, is the responsibility of all of us who without historical knowledge reproduce the flimsy relativism of our daily lives, contributing to an ever widening social disorientation.
Who is Jeffrey Sachs?
In 1985, Sachs was a rising star in the Economics Department at Harvard University, becoming one of the university's youngest tenured professors. That year a delegation of political leaders from inflation-plagued Bolivia visited him, where upon he assured them that he could "turn around their inflation crisis in a day." Sachs was famous for quoting John Maynard Keynes
at the time of the hyperinflation in Post-World War I Germany, when unemployment was at 30 percent: "there is no subtler, no surer means of overturning the existing basis of society than to debauch the currency. The process engages all the hidden forces of economic law on the side of destruction;" Sachs shared Keynes' view that "it was the sacred duty of economists to suppress those forces of destruction at all costs." Professor Sachs know almost nothing about Bolivia and its history of colonial exploitation, the repression of its indigenous population and the modest victories of the 1952 revolution, but despite this ignorance he was convinced that he knew enough, that in addition to hyperinflation (now up to 14,000 percent), Bolivia suffered from "socialist romanticism" --"the same delusion of developmentalism that an earlier generation of U.S.-trained economists had tried to stamp out in the Southern Cone. Armed with a hybrid doctrine of Keynesianism
and Milton Friedmanisms
, Sachs began to produce an abundance of contradictions in Bolivia the moment he got off the plane in La Paz. His service to US imperialist policy in Bolivia was acknowledged, and soon he was carrying his disastrous ideological campaign, supported by mega-dollars, to Eastern Europe. [Naomi Klein, The Shock Doctrine
(Penguin, 2007), pp. 142-145.]
Russian economist, Georgi Arbatov, writes this of Sachs' role in the Russian debacle of 1992: "[T]he country was taken by surprise by the "Chicago School" program prepared by Yegor Gaidar, and approved in haste by President Yeltsin. On January 2, 1992, Gaidar launched the shock therapy program to inject laissez-faire capitalism immediately into the Russian economy. The West cheered, perhaps for ideological reasons. Influential Western experts, including Jeffrey Sachs and Aders Aslund, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank, and the leaders of the G7 all gave their blessings. [L. Klein, et al., p.170.]
Co-editor Marshal Plamer describes Jeffrey Sachs as "the most influential foreign adviser to the Russian government, dismissed criticism of radical reform as 'politically motivated rather than analytically sound.' Attributing the difficulties to 'the legacy of the old regime,' he said that the inefficiency of the Soviet system implied that 'enormous scope exists for increases in average living standards within a few years' and, according to Sachs, the key was to end inflation by government austerity 'accompanied by rapid privatization of enterprises and swift opening of international trade'." Plamer goes on to describe economists warned Sachs that "Russia had more capability than China to guide transition in a deliberate manner and that radical change would be more destructive to the productive capacity that was already in place."(L. Klein, et al., p.6)
- [J]ust two weeks before the dissolution of the Soviet Union, December 11, 1991, Yeltsin, and Gaidar had a fateful meeting with seven foreign economic advisers. Jeffrey Sachs, the leader of the advisory group, promised that "it would be possible to mobilize fifteen to twenty billion dollars per year in international support" if Russia adopted a "big bang" approach to transition, [L. Klein, et al., eds., The New Russian, Transition Gone Awryed (Stanford U. Press, 2001), p.3.]
Noam Chomsky writes on page 147 of his book, Hegemony or Survival" (Penguin, 2004), in the third paragraph: "The UN Development Program estimates ten million excess male deaths during the 1990s, approximately the toll of Stalin's purges sixty years earlier, if these figures are near accurate. [Chomsky's sources for statistics on Russia are cited in footnote #4, page 274 of "Hegemony or Survival" : UN Development Program cited by Duncan Green and Matthew Griffith, International Affairs 78, no. 1 (2002), and David Powell, Current History, October 2002.]
Who is Noam Chomsky?
Well, according to one Masters memoire recently defended at Grenoble University, he is the author of "an asocial approach" to linguistics, which is a "sterile activity" that rejects the relationship between language and the employer of language --mention: très bien!
The 5 Items below will serve as an antidote to the forces of mental and physical destruction that have been set loose by neoliberal policy makers both locally and globally.
Item A. is a film by Alisa Miller, head of Public Radio International, which has been published by Information Clearing House, discussing the peculiar censorship in the U.S. media.
Item B., from Jim O'Brien representative of Historians Against War, announces the October 21-22 "Peace in Asia and the Pacific" conference to be held in Washington, D.C. this month.
Item C., from Diana Johnstone, is a 20-minute documentary on the origins of NATO's war in Lybia.
Item D. is a communication sent by Francis Feeley to colleagues teaching English in European institutions of higher education and who are members of the professional association, Société des Anglicistes de L'Enseignement Supérieur (SAES).
Item E. is a message from The University of Paris X graduate student, Grace Kpohazounde, describing her walk home Saturday afternoon, after working on her thesis in the New York City library all day: "watching Occupy Wall Street (OWS) protesters and the huge police deployment at Times Square."
And finally, a powerful Internet video on OWS today, sent to us by Professor John Gerassi (the apparent editorial change at MoveOn is belated, but nevertheless welcomed) :
Professor of American Studies/
Université de Grenoble-3
Director of Research
Université de Paris-10
from Information Clearing House :
Date: 10 October 2011
Subject: Who determines the way we see the world?
Alisa Miller, head of Public Radio International, talks about why -- though we want to know more about the world than ever -- the US media is actually showing less. Eye-opening stats and graphs.
from Jim O'Brien :
Date: 7 October 2011
Subject:: [haw-info] October 21-22 "Peace in Asia and the Pacific" conference in Washington, D.C.
The following message is from Joseph Gerson of the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), which initiated the October 21-22 conference described below. Historians Against the War is one of the sponsoring organizations of this conference, which begins Friday evening the 21st and runs all day Saturday the 22nd.
Join us in Washington, D.C. October 21 & 22 for the Peace in Asia and the Pacific: Alternatives to Asia-Pacific Militarization conference.
"Asia will return to its historic status, with more than half of the world's population and half of the world's economic output. America must be present there. Markets and economic power rest on political frameworks, and American military power provides that framework."
-- Joseph Nye, Harvard University
"China isn't making new claims, but it is now enforcing claims from 1919. It's a tectonic shift."
-- Frank Jannuzi, Senate Foreign Relations Committee staff
We're humbled by the leading peace activists and scholars from eight Asian and Pacific nations who will be joining us at American University. They come from China, Guam, Hawaii, Japan, Korea, the Philippines, Vietnam, and of course the U.S. of A. (See list below.)
It will be an important conference helping to bring the U.S. peace movement into the Asia-Pacific century. You can find additional information and register at
Why Asia and the Pacific?
-- We have to ensure that, unlike the 20th century, the competition between a rising power (China) and a declining power (the U.S.) doesn't lead to catastrophic war. Each nation's military planning (and Japan's) now centers on a possible war with the other.
-- The Northeast and Southeast Asian arms races -- led by the U.S. -- are intensifying. They are dangerous and costly.
-- The U.S. and South Korea recently conducted a provocative military exercise that included capturing North Korea's leader.
-- The U.S., China, Vietnam, and the Philippines are engaging in equally provocative military exercises in the mineral-rich and strategically important South China Sea.
-- Midst the U.S. economic and budget crisis, the Pentagon plans to build still more military bases in Australia, Guam, Korea, Japan, and Okinawa, with expanded military access agreements in the Philippines, Singapore, and Vietnam.
Speakers include: Jean Athey, Jackie Cabasso, Chen Duming, Wooksik Cheong, Shan Cretin, Herbert Docena, Ding Yifan, John Feffer, Bruce Gagnon, Joseph Gerson, Ikaika M. Hussey, Aura Kanagis, Junko Kayashige, Peter Kuznick, Judith LeBlanc, Hyun Lee, Ngo Vinh Long, Zia Mian, Youn-Ae Pak, Gareth Porter, Shen Dingli, David Steinberg, Hiroshi Taka, Jason Tower, Wang Hanling. The full conference agenda is at http://afsc.org/document/peace-asia-and-pacific-agenda-0
Join us if you can!
For the conference organizers
American Friends Service Committee
from Diana Johnstone :
Date: 15 October 2011
Subject: LIBYA: ABSOLUTE MUST SEE!!!
This documentary film exposes how "human rights" NGOs brought about UN-backed NATO war on Libya with NO PROOF of alleged crimes.
from Francis Feeley :
Date: 15 October 2011
Subject: [SAES] News from OWS in Manhattan and beyond.
Below are three historic documents pertaining to "The Other 99 Percent" movement on Wall Street and beyond:
1) The moment they learned the “cleaning” was postponed (Friday morning, 14 October 2011)
2) Wall Street Occupation Goes Global Saturday, 15 October 2011
3) A lesson on the politics of co-optation: the political role played by media such as "MoveOn.org"
to subvert the movement
And of course, OccupyTogether.org
offers continuous updates across the nation.
from Grace Kpohazounde :
Date: 16 October 2011
Subject: Occupy Together.
Hello Professor Feeley,
Yesterday, Saturday, the "Occupy Wall Street" movement in New York was in Times Square. I ran into the crowd after i left the library at around 6:30 pm and was impressed by the huge police deployment to control the protesters.
The atmosphere was electric with protesters chanting "we are the 99%" and displaying slogans that read "We want our bailout money", "Fuck Greed", "the 1% are bleeding us dry", "bring back the greenbacks"!
It is amazing that the movement is spreading worldwide and this is definitely a right step towards social change.
Have a good Sunday.