Subject: ON 'THE IRON LAW OF OLIGARCHY' AND 'MOBBING'--TWO CATASTROPHIC TRENDS IN OUR ERA OF CRISIS CAPITALISM.
19 December 2012
Dear Colleagues and Friends of CEIMSA,
The first President of the Third Republic, Adolphe Thiers (1797-1877), for whom thousands of streets across France are named, was no friend of public education. He was a young arrivist under King Louis-Philippe in the 1830s, when his favorite term for the people was “the vile multitude” and the idea of public education he likened to “building a fire under a great pot that is empty.” Thiers was an enthusiastic supporter of the brutal suppression of the Paris Commune in “Bloody Week” of May 1871 (which cost some 30,000 lives in Paris, alone) and he remained an Orleanist monarchist until 1872, when he was elected President of the Republic. Some historians describe this politician as a “vicious neurotic,” concerned with the intellectual pollution which compulsory, public, secular education, free of charge, might produce. “Just think,” he once told a friend, “how much a man must do to get half a line in a book on world history.”(Gordon Wright, France in Modern Times, 1995, p.114)
Only Franz Kafka (1883-1924) can truly capture the paradoxes of French political culture, where the concept of Destiny still governs the thinking of many people.
“Many complain,” wrote Kafka, before the First World War,
that the words of the wise are always merely parables and of no use in daily life, which is the only life we have. When the sage says: ‘Go over,’ he does not mean that we should cross to some actual place, which we could do anyhow if the labor were worth it; he means some fabulous yonder, something unknown to us, something too that he cannot designate more precisely, and therefore cannot help us here in the very least. All these parables really set out to say merely that the incomprehensible is incomprehensible, and we know that already. But the cares we have to struggle with every day: that is a different matter.
Concerning this a man one said: ‘Why such reluctance? If you only followed the parables you yourselves would become parables and with that rid of all your daily cares.’
Another said: ‘I bet that is a parable.’
The first said: ‘You have won.’
The second said; ‘But unfortunately only in parable.
The first said: “No, in reality; in parable you have lost. (Kafka, Parables and Paradoxes, 1961, p.11)
Reality is the subject of Gail Pursell Elliot’s book, School Mobbing and Emotional Abuse: See it, Stop it, Prevent it with Dignity and Respect (2003). Elliot begins with the premise that Anger is a “secondary emotion” by which she means that it is derived from other emotions, such as pain, fear, humiliation, disgust, etc. The author describes the mobilization of such feelings by an astute individual in a way that the target is constantly hit and no one need take responsibility for the consequences. It becomes a habitual action with no apparent cause, much like chickens participating in a “pecking order” that often ends in death with no guilty party identified.
Mobbing is a form of bullying, except that it is practically invisible. “Death by a thousand cuts” is achieved without intense malice and often without resistance on the part of its victim. It occurs usually as a routine habit, with many participants endorsing it as “normal behavior.” To understand this imperialist concept of entitlement, and how the necessary violence to put this concept into action quickly becomes a systemic way of life, with no noticeable causes or effects, readers could do worse than to read Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness(1899) and King Leopold's Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror, and Heroism in Colonial Africa (1999) by Adam Hochschild. You may discover how in our 21st Century the proverbial chickens have, indeed, come home to roost….
The 7 items below offer CEIMSA readers a glimpse of the patterns which are now being woven into the fabric of our future lives. We will soon feel the constraints and the compulsions of living in this time-space matrix, the production of which we have tried to ignore until now . . . .
Item A. is an article from Truth Out on “The War against Teachers,” by Henry A. Giroux
Item B., from Reader Supported News, is an article on the violability of the human brain, by Chloe Diggins and Clint Arizmendi.
Item C., sent to us by Edward S. Herman, is an article by Andrew J. Bacevich, visiting professor at the University of Notre Dame, on “How We Became Israel.”
Item D. is an article from Truth Dig, “Thank You Bradley Manning”, by Robert Scheer.
Item E. is a discussion of US foreign policy by Noam Chomsky on the Canadian television series, Hot Type, hosted by CBC personality, Evan Solomon.
Item F., from Information Clearing House, is an exposé by Tom Engelhardt on how the US intelligence community has come out of the shadows.
Item G., from GRITtv, is video interview with Eugene Jarecki, discussing "the failure of capitalism."
And finally, we offer readers a careful look at lessons from 19th-century European history, when one oligarchy successfully plundered central African communities, systematically killing untold millions of people in the name of European civilization (and private profits).
Adam Hochschild on King Leopold's Ghost
Francis McCollum Feeley
Professor of American Studies/
Director of Research
from Truth Out :
Date: 17 December 2012
Subject: The War against Teachers.
If the United States is to prevent its slide into a deeply violent and anti-democratic state, it will, among other things, be required fundamentally to rethink not merely the relationship between education and democracy, but also the very nature of teaching, the role of teachers as engaged citizens and public intellectuals and the relationship between teaching and social responsibility.
The War Against Teachers as Public Intellectuals in Dark Times
Henry A. Giroux
from: Reader Supported News :
Date: 13 December 2012
Subject: The violability of the human brain.
It's been fashionable in military circles to talk about cyberspace as a 'fifth domain' for warfare, along with land, space, air and sea. But there's a sixth and arguably more important warfighting domain emerging: the human brain.
Hacking the Human Brain: The Next Domain of Warfare
Chloe Diggins and Clint Arizmendi
from Edward S. Herman :
Date: 13 December 2012.
Subject: How We Became Israel.
How We Became Israel
by Andrew J. Bacevich
Peace means different things to different governments and different countries. To some it suggests harmony based on tolerance and mutual respect. To others it serves as a euphemism for dominance, peace defining the relationship between the strong and the supine.
In the absence of actually existing peace, a nation’s reigning definition of peace shapes its proclivity to use force. A nation committed to peace-as-harmony will tend to employ force as a last resort. The United States once subscribed to this view. Or beyond the confines of the Western Hemisphere, it at least pretended to do so.
A nation seeking peace-as-dominion will use force more freely. This has long been an Israeli predilection. Since the end of the Cold War and especially since 9/11, however, it has become America’s as well. As a consequence, U.S. national-security policy increasingly conforms to patterns of behavior pioneered by the Jewish state. This “Israelification” of U.S. policy may prove beneficial for Israel. Based on the available evidence, it’s not likely to be good for the United States.
Here is Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu describing what he calls his “vision of peace” in June 2009: “If we get a guarantee of demilitarization … we are ready to agree to a real peace agreement, a demilitarized Palestinian state side by side with the Jewish state.” The inhabitants of Gaza and the West Bank, if armed and sufficiently angry, can certainly annoy Israel. But they cannot destroy it or do it serious harm. By any measure, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) wield vastly greater power than the Palestinians can possibly muster. Still, from Netanyahu’s perspective, “real peace” becomes possible only if Palestinians guarantee that their putative state will forego even the most meager military capabilities. Your side disarms, our side stays armed to the teeth: that’s Netanyahu’s vision of peace in a nutshell.
Netanyahu asks a lot of Palestinians. Yet however baldly stated, his demands reflect longstanding Israeli thinking. For Israel, peace derives from security, which must be absolute and assured. Security thus defined requires not simply military advantage but military supremacy.
From Israel’s perspective, threats to supremacy require anticipatory action, the earlier the better. The IDF attack on Iraq’s Osirak nuclear reactor in 1981 provides one especially instructive example. Israel’s destruction of a suspected Syrian nuclear facility in 2007 provides a second.
Yet alongside perceived threat, perceived opportunity can provide sufficient motive for anticipatory action. In 1956 and again in 1967, Israel attacked Egypt not because the blustering Colonel Gamal Abdel Nasser possessed the capability (even if he proclaimed the intention) of destroying the hated Zionists, but because preventive war seemingly promised a big Israeli pay-off. In the first instance, the Israelis came away empty-handed. In the second, they hit the jackpot operationally, albeit with problematic strategic consequences.
For decades, Israel relied on a powerful combination of tanks and fighter-bombers as its preferred instrument of preemption. In more recent times, however, it has deemphasized its swift sword in favor of the shiv between the ribs. Why deploy lumbering armored columns when a missile launched from an Apache attack helicopter or a bomb fixed to an Iranian scientist’s car can do the job more cheaply and with less risk? Thus has targeted assassination eclipsed conventional military methods as the hallmark of the Israeli way of war.
Whether using tanks to conquer or assassins to liquidate, adherence to this knee-to-the-groin paradigm has won Israel few friends in the region and few admirers around the world (Americans notably excepted). The likelihood of this approach eliminating or even diminishing Arab or Iranian hostility toward Israel appears less than promising. That said, the approach has thus far succeeded in preserving and even expanding the Jewish state: more than 60 years after its founding, Israel persists and even prospers. By this rough but not inconsequential measure, the Israeli security concept has succeeded. Okay, it’s nasty: but so far at least, it’s worked.
What’s hard to figure out is why the United States would choose to follow Israel’s path. Yet over the course of the Bush/Clinton/Bush/Obama quarter-century, that’s precisely what we’ve done. The pursuit of global military dominance, a proclivity for preemption, a growing taste for assassination—all justified as essential to self-defense. That pretty much describes our present-day MO.
Israel is a small country with a small population and no shortage of hostile neighbors. Ours is a huge country with an enormous population and no enemy, unless you count the Cuban-Venezuelan Axis of Ailing Dictators, within several thousand miles. We have choices that Israel does not. Yet in disregarding those choices the United States has stumbled willy-nilly into an Israeli-like condition of perpetual war, with peace increasingly tied to unrealistic expectations of adversaries and would-be adversaries acquiescing in Washington’s will.
Israelification got its kick-start with George H.W. Bush’s Operation Desert Storm, a triumphal Hundred-Hour War likened at the time to Israel’s triumphal Six-Day War. Victory over the “fourth largest army in the world” fostered illusions of the United States exercising perpetually and on a global scale military primacy akin to what Israel has exercised regionally. Soon thereafter, the Pentagon announced that henceforth it would settle for nothing less than “Full Spectrum Dominance.”
Bill Clinton’s contribution to the process was to normalize the use of force. During the several decades of the Cold War, the U.S. had resorted to overt armed intervention only occasionally. Although difficult today to recall, back then whole years might pass without U.S. troops being sent into harm’s way. Over the course of Clinton’s two terms in office, however, intervention became commonplace.
The average Israeli had long since become inured to reports of IDF incursions into southern Lebanon or Gaza. Now the average American has become accustomed to reports of U.S. troops battling Somali warlords, supervising regime change in Haiti, or occupying the Balkans. Yet the real signature of the Clinton years came in the form of airstrikes. Blasting targets in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Serbia, and Sudan, but above all in Iraq, became the functional equivalent of Israel’s reliance on airpower to punish “terrorists” from standoff ranges.
In the wake of 9/11, George W. Bush, a true believer in Full Spectrum Dominance, set out to liberate or pacify (take your pick) the Islamic world. The United States followed Israel in assigning itself the prerogative of waging preventive war. Although it depicted Saddam Hussein as an existential threat, the Bush administration also viewed Iraq as an opportunity: here the United States would signal to other recalcitrants the fate awaiting them should they mess with Uncle Sam.
More subtly, in going after Saddam, Bush was tacitly embracing a longstanding Israeli conception of deterrence. During the Cold War, deterrence had meant conveying a credible threat to dissuade your opponent from hostile action. Israel had never subscribed to that view. Influencing the behavior of potential adversaries required more than signaling what Israel might do if sufficiently aggravated; influence was exerted by punitive action, ideally delivered on a disproportionate scale. Hit the other guy first, if possible; failing that, whack him several times harder than he hit you: not the biblical injunction of an eye for an eye, but both eyes, an ear, and several teeth, with a kick in the nuts thrown in for good measure. The aim was to send a message: screw with us and this will happen to you. This is the message Bush intended to convey when he ordered the invasion of Iraq in 2003.
Unfortunately, Operation Iraqi Freedom, launched with all the confidence that had informed Operation Peace for Galilee, Israel’s equally ill-advised 1982 incursion into Lebanon, landed the United States in an equivalent mess. Or perhaps a different comparison applies: the U.S. occupation of Iraq triggered violent resistance akin to what the IDF faced as a consequence of Israel occupying the West Bank. Two successive Intifadas had given the Israeli army fits. The insurgency in Iraq (along with its Afghan sibling) gave the American army fits. Neither the Israeli nor the American reputation for martial invincibility survived the encounter.
By the time Barack Obama succeeded Bush in 2009, most Americans—like most Israelis—had lost their appetite for invading and occupying countries. Obama’s response? Hew ever more closely to the evolving Israeli way of doing things. “Obama wants to be known for winding down long wars,” writes Michael Gerson in the Washington Post. “But he has shown no hesitance when it comes to shorter, Israel-style operations. He is a special ops hawk, a drone militarist.”
Just so: with his affinity for missile-firing drones, Obama has established targeted assassination as the very centerpiece of U.S. national-security policy. With his affinity for commandos, he has expanded the size and mandate of U.S. Special Operations Command, which now maintains an active presence in more than 70 countries. In Yemen, Somalia, the Philippines, and the frontier regions of Pakistan—and who knows how many other far-flung places—Obama seemingly shares Prime Minister Netanyahu’s expectations: keep whacking and a positive outcome will eventually ensue.
The government of Israel, along with ardently pro-Israel Americans like Michael Gerson, may view the convergence of U.S. and Israeli national-security practices with some satisfaction. The prevailing U.S. definition of self-defense—a self-assigned mandate to target anyone anywhere thought to endanger U.S. security—is exceedingly elastic. As such, it provides a certain cover for equivalent Israeli inclinations. And to the extent that our roster of enemies overlaps with theirs—did someone say Iran?—military action ordered by Washington just might shorten Jerusalem’s “to do” list.
Yet where does this all lead? “We don’t have enough drones,” writes the columnist David Ignatius, “to kill all the enemies we will make if we turn the world into a free-fire zone.” And if Delta Force, the Green Berets, army rangers, Navy SEALs, and the like constitute (in the words of one SEAL) “the dark matter … the force that orders the universe but can’t be seen,” we probably don’t have enough of them either. Unfortunately, the Obama administration seems willing to test both propositions.
The process of aligning U.S. national-security practice with Israeli precedents is now essentially complete. Their habits are ours. Reversing that process would require stores of courage and imagination that may no longer exist in Washington. Given the reigning domestic political climate, those holding or seeking positions of power find it easier—and less risky—to stay the course, vainly nursing the hope that by killing enough “terrorists” peace on terms of our choosing will result. Here too the United States has succumbed to Israeli illusions.
Andrew J. Bacevich is a visiting professor at the University of Notre Dame.
from Truth Dig :
Date: 15 December 2012
Subject: Thank You Bradley Manning”, by
by Robert Scheer
Keep an American soldier locked up naked in a cage and driven half mad while deprived of all basic rights, and you will be instantly condemned as a barbaric terrorist. Unless the jailer is an authorized agent of the U.S. government, in which case even treatment approaching torture will go largely unnoticed. Certainly if a likable constitutional law professor happens to be president, all such assaults on human dignity will easily pass muster.
After being interned like some wild animal in that cage in Kuwait, Pfc. Bradley Manning was transferred to the Quantico, Va., Marine base and further subjected to conditions that his lawyer termed “criminal.” Not all that far from the White House, and yet our ever-enlightened president seems not to have noticed that this soldier, whose alleged criminal offense is that he attempted to inform the public of crimes committed in its name, has been held in an environment clearly created to destroy his very sense of self.
As Manning’s lawyer, David Coombs, a lieutenant colonel in the Army reserves and a veteran of 12 years of active duty, put it: “Brad’s treatment at Quantico will forever be etched into our nation’s history as a disgraceful moment in time.” Coombs warned that the most serious charge facing his client, “aiding the enemy,” is a “scary proposition” designed to “silence a lot of critics of our government.”
Who is that “enemy” other than the public that came to be informed about the true nature of the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan by news reports based on a trove of documents allegedly made available to the WikiLeaks website by Manning? The documents were labeled secret, but as the many important news reports based on them revealed, they contained information that an enlightened public had a need and right to know.
Yet for too many in the mainstream media, led by the example of the editors of The New York Times, the recent military courtroom proceedings where Manning’s lawyer finally got to document the government’s attempt to destroy his client were largely a nonevent. Conveniently so, given that the Times and other major news outlets that were thrilled to exploit the information that Manning uncovered are deeply afraid of being associated with the brave whistle-blower himself.
Not all, however. The British Guardian—which features Glenn Greenwald, today’s most compelling writer on civil liberties—has taken seriously the plight of the man alleged to be one of the paper’s sources. But why haven’t others? As Margaret Sullivan, the public editor of The New York Times, asked: “Why did readers of The Times have to turn to Ed Pilkington of The Guardian, or to one of the great number of other news organizations that sent reporters, to hear Private Manning tell of the Mordor into which he had been drawn—where he had to stand naked, in chains, in the ‘maximum custody’ brig at Quantico, Va., imploring his prison guards for something as simple as toilet paper, or, earlier, in a ‘cage’ in Kuwait?”
While the Times is to be applauded for running Sullivan’s devastating critique, the replies from individual editors responsible were lame. Asked why the paper didn’t send a reporter to cover this rare opportunity to learn Manning’s side of the story, Times Washington bureau chief David Leonhardt said, “We’ve covered him and will continue to do so. But as with any other legal case, we won’t cover every single proceeding.”
Really? This is hardly just another legal case, for it goes to the heart of the First Amendment freedoms on which the Times has relied so heavily during its storied history.
If the public had a right to know the information that Manning allegedly revealed, as the Times demonstrated by publishing important stories featuring it, then the source should be honored rather than scorned. As Sullivan wrote: “To its credit, The Times published article after article based on the very information that Private Manning provided to WikiLeaks, just as it had published the Pentagon Papers that Mr. [Daniel] Ellsberg leaked during the Vietnam War.”
Manning is in the same position as was Ellsberg, who four decades ago leaked to The New York Times details of government lies and crimes in Vietnam. Both men had access to material classified as secret, but both believed they had an obligation to puncture the veil of government secrecy when it was employed to deceive the public.
What is protected in the First Amendment is not the right of commercial enterprises to exploit the news for profit, but rather of citizens to become informed. That requires the courage of heroic sources, including Bradley Manning.
from: Francis Feeley :
Date: 18 December 2012
Subject: Chomsky on US foreign policy.
Hot Type was a Canadian television series, which aired weekly on CBC Newsworld. Hosted by Evan Solomon, the program profiled books and literature.
from Information Clearing House :
Date: 17 December 2012
Subject: Political power and who controls it.
In the past, American presidents pursued “plausible deniability” when it came to assassination plots like those against Congolese leader Patrice Lumumba, Cuba’s Fidel Castro, and Vietnam’s Ngo Dinh Diem. Now, assassination is clearly considered a semi-public part of the presidential job
from GRITtv :
Date: 10 December 2012
Subject: The failure of capitalism….