Subject : ON NEGOTIATING WITH SOPHISTS, IMPOSTERS, AND OTHER DISINGENUOUS OPPORTUNISTS.
1 July 2013
Dear Colleagues and Friends of CEIMSA,
Today marks the twelfth year of CEIMSA activities on the Internet. We have published more than five hundred and seventy CEIMSA Bulletins, and fifty-two Newsletters, and, since 2001, our Center for the Advanced Study of American Institutions and Social Movements has organized many dozens of Conferences --local, regional, and international.
We live in a era of massive fraud and distortion, when original ideas have become scarce, and rhetoric is used to conceal rather than reveal. At every turn we are discouraged from apprehending what lies behind the words we confront, and penetrate into their meaning and significance. Such was the linguistic climate of Vichy France, some 70 years ago, and so it is today. A shallow imitation of thought, uttered timidly and without deep feelings, aside from the pragmatic worry about “go-along-and-get-along” and above all to keep your head down and appear normal. It’s a shallow game of displacing compassion with mathematical calculations and authenticity with superficial precision. As illegitimate hierarchies govern much of our thinking, servility and obedience have naturally become expected rules of behavior. We try to second guess what our “superiors” want to hear and then overproduce it in great abundance, in floral and ornate exhibits of neo-rococo exuberance for all to applaud. We are increasingly ruled by our own fears and alienation.
David Graeber, in his book, Debt, The First 5,000 Years, quotes an Inuit from Greenland who gave a portion of his hunt to a European ethnologist, who had returned from the hunt with no food and had thanked him profusely: “Up in our country we are human!” said the hunter.
And since we are human we help each other. We don’t like to hear anybody say thanks for that. What I get today
you may get tomorrow. Up here we say that by gifts one makes slaves and by whips one makes dogs. (cited on p.79)
For the many years that I have been teaching, I have argued and practiced the idea that social science must return to the human dimension. In my book on The Uses of Social Science in America’s Concentration Camps (1999), I argued that aesthetics must remain a central element in the practice of social science, and really of any scientific activity. Science, as much as painting and poetry and music, is a cultural activity, with the same social constraints. Einstein was no more objective than Picasso or Stravinsky --each creator used his medium, whether mathematics and the known laws of physicists, or pigment and space and the past uses of geometric forms, or vibrations and time and sound frequencies known to musical instrument, in expressing what he considered to be an important discovery. This is the genuine creative act of an artist or a scientist, who wishes to make an original contribution to his/her cultural milieu stemming from a deep need to go beyond the present and at the same time remain coherent with the past. One characteristic that all successful cultural practitioners share --whether in science or in the arts-- is courage, the will and the capacity to go beyond convention, into the realm of the unknown, determined to remain intelligible to a sentient public. This is cultural production at its best and it is dependent on a network, a social milieu that recognizes the value of what is being produced.
I argued in 1999 that fascist aesthetics is unable to transcend contemporary systems of belief, to make new discoveries that might challenge traditional biases. On the contrary, this cultural activity is locked into a timid functionalist mode of literal thinking, identifying constituent parts of a dominant paradigm; then reducing them to immutable elements of an authoritarian mental construct. New paradigms in art and in science appear historically when the predominant mental construct grows increasingly irrelevant to the numerous and embarrassing exceptions that have become visible. In the face of discord and contradiction, some people simply give up on reason and go insane, while others abandon the old paradigm in search of a new, more comprehensive construct that will explain the newly perceived realities.
My argument was that this fascist tendency on the part of American social scientists, while cloaked in liberal tolerance, was manifest in the Japanese American internment camps, which were accurately called “concentration camps” by US government officials, at the same time that Nazi Germany used the identical term to describe the enclosures where many Europeans were sent to their death. Just because the same extreme measure of genocide did not occur in the United States in the 1940s, does not mean that it could not have occurred. The dispute for some time now has been over the question: Was genocide not employed against Japanese Americans because of the mitigating presence of American social scientists in the US camps, or did the cause for their eventual release lie elsewhere.
A dispute between Roger Daniels (at the University of Cincinnati) and I arose when in an adhominun attack on my book (which he appears not to have read) he complained that I had stolen his ideas. This “book review” was published by Col. Bruce Vandervort in The Journal of Military History at Virginia Military Institute. The accusation was unfounded; such ideas as I developed in this book could never have entered Daniels’ “cosmology of liberal thought." As the author of several books on Japanese Americans and the Japanese-American internment, he certainly did serve as an important source of information (for which I gave him due recognition in dozens of footnotes) but it is equally evident that his work did not inspire a new analysis of this event. Quite the contrary, he trotted out the old and tired clichés of “self-correcting” liberal democracy. In the mid-18th Century, Voltaire mocked such ideas as “the best of all possible worlds,” and I made bold to do the same some two-hundred-and-fifty years later, which earned me the wrath of certain liberals and their “silent majority” allies.
Events in 21st-century America have vindicated my systemic critique of liberal US domestic policy during the Second World War, the period of “Friendly Fascism” has indeed come of age.
The 8 items below offer readers an opportunity to evaluate the strategies and tactics of professionals in their collaboration and in their resistance to inhumanities in ther context of the early 21st-century.
Item A., sent to us by Code Pink, is a video of co-founder, Diane Wilson, demonstrating civil disobedience on the White House lawn in opposition to Obama’s Guantanamo Prison policy.
Item B., sent to us by George Kenney, creator of Electric Politics, is an interview with Dr. Jeff Herbst, President of Colgate University, “ imaginary states.”
Item D., from Bill Moyers, is a historical perspective on “Plutocracies, the beginning, the middle, and the end.”
Item E., sent to us by Ronald Creagh in the June edition of his journal, Divergences2
Item F.. from Reader Supported News, is an article by Deborah Charles on the Edward Snowden leaks.
Item G., from GRITtv, is an interview with Rick Wolff on “A Cure for Capitalism.”
Item H., from Jim O’Brien, is a list of current articles of interest selected by Historians Against the War.
And finally, we offer readers a re-look at
The World According to Monsanto
Professor of American Studies
University of Grenoble-3
Director of Research
University of Paris-Nanterre
Center for the Advanced Study of American Institutions and Social Movements
The University of California-San Diego
From Code Pink :
Date: 1 July 2013
Subject: Civil Disobedience on the White House Lawn.
July 1, 2013
Dear Francis ,
Watch the YouTube video of Diane hopping the White House fence!
Tell Cliff Sloan: Free the Gitmo prisoners cleared for release!
The situation in Guantanamo Prison is dire. Over 100 men are still on an open-ended hunger strike that began in February, and at least 40 of them are being force-fed. Compelled to take drastic action, last week cofounder of CODEPINK Diane Wilson jumped the White House fence in attempt to deliver her message to the White House front door. Watch the video of her brave action here.
Inspired by Diane? Share this video with your friends on Facebook and Twitter. Then, sign and share this letter to the State Department's new Guantanamo envoy Cliff Sloan and tell him that the prisoners cleared for release must be sent home now. This is Sloan's first week on the job, and we want to let him know how Americans feel about indefinite detention taking place in our name. Can you help us reach 10,000 signatures?
From George Kenney :
Date: 28 June 2013
Subject: The Democratic Republic of Congo.
This will definitely be the last show on the Congo for a long while. I felt I was required, however, to talk with Jeff Herbst, who's written extensively and quite eloquently to the effect that the Congo is not a real country and that, if we are at all concerned with the well-being of some sixty million Congolese, we should stop treating it as such. In addition to being the President of Colgate University Jeff is an academic expert on Africa, having written scores of books and more articles than I can count (seriously, just reading his CV is enough to make me feel exhausted). I'd argued with three previous recent guests who are experts on the Congo that the place is not a real country, without my making any inroads, so it's with a real sense of satisfaction that, first, I managed to discover Jeff's work and then that I was able to talk with him.
If you enjoy this podcast, as I hope you do, please forward the link.
Thanks very much for listening!
From Democracy Now ! :
Date: 9 April 2013
Subject: Animal Rights.
From Bill Moyers :
Date: 19 October 2012
Subject: American Plutocracies.
From Ronald Creagh :
Date: 30 June 2013
Subject: The June publication of Divergences2.
N° 35. JUNE 2013
“This Square is Our Home. The Organization of Urban Space in the Spanish 15-M Movement, Álvaro Sevilla-Buitrago
The Orwellian Warfare State of Carnage and Doublethink, Norman Solomon
Snowden Coverage: If U.S. Mass Media Were State-Controlled, Would They Look Any Different?, Jeff Cohen
Total Surveillance, Kate Epstein
Edward Snowden, William Blum
The Making of a Global Security State, Tom Engelhardt
Pope Francis and Argentina’s Dirty War: Nine Questions He Needs to Answer, Steve Weissman
The Clintons and the Rich Women, Jeffrey St Clair
Genetically Modified Democracy: Monsanto and Congress Move to Stomp on Your Rights, Ronnie Cummins
Zionism and the Shah: On the Iranian elite’s evolving perceptions of Israel, Lior Sternfeld
The Russians Came. The New Power Behind the Israeli Rightwing, Uri Avnery
Israel, Hawking and the Pressing Question of the Boycott. On the Freedom and Dissent, Ramzy Baroud
Israeli Propaganda, With Warts, Louis Proyect
The NSA spy scandal’s Israeli connection, Asa Winstanley
Women of the Wall. Breaking the Taboo, Uri Avnery
Kerry and Chutzpah, Uri Avnery
France condemns Israeli decision to build new settlements
Return to Homs, Patrick Cockburn
Living with No Future: Iraq, 10 Years Later, Dahr Jamail
Horror on the Roof of the World, Uzma Aslam Khan Dirty Wars and the Cinema of Self-Indulgence, Douglas Valentine
Lives of the Rich and Careless. Baz Lurhmann’s "The Great Gatsby", Kim Nicolini
Little Companies That Bring You Films That Matter, Louis J. Proyect
[*ON THE NET*]
Afghan Info War
National Security Service
Quis custodiet ipsos custodes
With remarkable prescience, sci-fi author Isaac Asimov wrote a story about an all powerful global computer system that gathered data on everyone with the aim of pre-empting criminal activity. When Asimov’s tales of a machine called Multivac first appeared, back in the days of the valves and punch cards of computing in the 1950s, the idea seemed far fetched - indeed pure science fiction.
Hollywood churns out endless thrillers with vaguely similar plotlines portraying all-seeing state machinery subverted for the corrupt political interests of a shadowy inner group who have hijacked the system. But the recurring Hollywood fiction is that the corrupt cabal is always undone by our hero - a brave lone agent with a conscience who against all odds survives all the digital dirty tricks and both long and close-range violence that ’the system’ can mete out. It has been a form of repeated social conditioning to persuade us that ubiquitous surveillance endows state (and corporate) security services with extraordinary powers, but that if anyone were to abuse these powers, there is always a hero somewhere to save the day.
The revelations of whistleblower Edward Snowden of the extent of the Prism program of data surveillance undertaken by the US National Security Agency have been greeted with faux surprise as if no-one was aware that secret services - with or without the collaboration of the major international corporations that virtually own the digital planet - really do vacuum up all our telephone calls, emails, texts, Tweets, Facebook postings and other internet traffic in super-computer searching for the keywords and clues that may pre-empt what the US machine views as criminal activity (or the state deems to be intelligence gathering).
Now no-one doubts that the sinister capacity to intercept, track and trace everyone’s actions and movements is an every day reality even if the whisteblower confirmation only reinforced what otherwise has been often dismissed in the past by the more incredulous as evidence of paranoia. Much was revealed a few years ago by Shane Harris in his book, The Watchers - The Rise Of America’s Surveillance State, listed as one of the best books of 2010 by The Economist. In a New York Times article last summer, Harris recalled how a Pentagon program called Total Information Awareness was exposed and supposedly dismantled a decade earlier in America’s post-9/11 panic. Only the National Security Agency, he claimed, still had much the same program running and was building a massive complex in the Utah desert to handle it. Nevertheless, he argued, Americans have surrendered their digital privacy in exchange for some expectation of pre-empting large scale terrorism. "These days, we are more likely to be outraged by airport screening, and its public inconvenience and indignity, than by unseen monitoring," Harris concluded.
What seems to be overlooked in much of the debate and the reportage headlining the feeble protests of innocence by Internet conglomerates and computer corporations, is that there are existing well-sourced accounts which help us to join together the dots and see the bigger picture. The reaction to Edward Snowden’s testimony of a corporate contracted conspiracy to spy on everyone, everywhere, is questionable, especially knowing how much was already revealed. In 2005 computer engineer Mark Klein, a whistleblower who retired from telecom giant AT&T, revealed how an Israeli company provided a secret system to ’enable the government to look at every individual message on the Internet and analyze exactly what people are doing.’
In 2009, security specialist James Bamford named names in his book The Shadow Factory: The NSA from 9/11 to the Eavesdropping on America . He identified two Israeli intelligence-linked companies at the centre of the mass monitoring and surveillance system servicing telecoms giant AT&T and Verizon and wrote: “Verint and Narus are super-intrusive conducting mass surveillance on both international and domestic [US] communications 24/7. What is especially troubling, but little known, is that both companies have extensive ties to a foreign country, Israel, as well as links to that country’s intelligence service – a service with a long history of aggressive spying against the U.S.”
It seems the majority of Americans can only perceive the issue in terms of another Hollywood fantasy tale, and are even ready to support the intrusive monitoring of our digital world. But should they really welcome Israeli-linked internet spying as the price to be paid to counter terrorism on the scale of the attacks that brought down the World Trade Center?
Few will recall the strange incident of the five Israelis reported to be seen dancing with joy as they filmed the Twin Towers falling. They were deported in a deal with the Israeli government after they had been detained and interrogated for 71 days. Jewish media reports suggested they were agents, and one was reported to have spoken on Israeli television on his return stating;"Our purpose was to document the event."
Assuming they were not psychic, this begs one question. Asimov’s Multivac was created to detect criminal intentions and prevent the crime taking place, not document crime as it occurred. Does the massive Prism program mean security services actually prevent terror attacks or are there cases where despite having advance knowledge they have allowed events to take their course?
In the opening scenes of the Greek tragedy Agamemnon in Aeschylus’ Oresteia trilogy, the Watcher bemoans the fact that he has had to remain wearily vigilant throughout the night. Even with banks of super computers, watching on the scale of the Prism program still demands tireless human vigilance to be effective. But Juvenal’s Satire offers a more appropriate question that remains unanswered in all the current outrage over the NSA scandal: who is watching the watchers?
From Reader Supported News :
Date: 1 Jule 2013
Subject: Publishing of Snowden Documents Can't Be Stopped.
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said on Sunday that Edward Snowden made sure that the information he took about U.S. surveillance programs will continue to be published regardless of what happens to the former U.S. spy agency contractor.
Assange: Publishing of Snowden Documents Can't Be Stopped
by Deborah Charles
From GRITtv :
Date: 30 March 2013
Subject: A Cure for Capitalism.
Employment's up, wealth's up, but the benefits of both are increasingly concentrated in the hands of a few. Welcome to capitalism, says GRITtv regular, Richard Wolff. In this conversation he discusses the concentration of power in today's economy and suggests some alternatives, including "worker self-directed enterprises" if we want to democratize the economy, and US society.
Rick Wolff: A Cure for Capitalism?
From Historians Against the War :
Date: 30 March 2013
Subject: Recent articles of interest.
To members and friends of Historians Against the War,
Here are some notes, plus a set of links to recent articles of interest.
1. Many of the talks from the HAW-sponsored April 5-7 conference on "The New Faces of War" are now on-line in one form or another. (Several are in video format, recorded and edited by the Baltimore-based Indypendent Reader.) Links to all the available video- and audiotapes and on-line papers are available at http://www.historiansagainstwar.org/conf2013/talks.html.
2. An on-line petition is being circulated asking for reversal of the FBI's inclusion of Assata Shakur on its "10 Most Wanted Terrorists" list. The petition gives background; the FBI's announcement also stimulated an eloquent article by Alice Walker, "Sister Assata: This Is What American History Looks Like."
Links to Recent Articles of Interest
"Obama Isn't Bush or Nixon. He's in Hot Water for Acting Too Much Like Woodrow Wilson"
By Jeffrey Rosen, The New Republic, posted May 16
"Where Has All the Money Gone? How Contractors Raked in $385 Billion to Build and Support U.S. Bases Abroad since 2001"
By David Vine, TomDispatch.com, posted May 15
"History Lessons the West Refuses to Learn"
By Patrick Cockburn, CounterPunch, posted May 13
"Hard Hats, Hippies, and the Real Antiwar Movement"
By Penny Lewis, Chronicle of Higher Education, posted May 13
"The U.S. Can't Remake Syria"
By Andrew J. Bacevich, Boston Globe, posted May 8
"And Then There Was One: Imperial Gigantism and the Decline of Planet Earth"
By Tom Engelhardt, TomDispatch.com, posted May 7
"Dealing Remote-Control Drone Death, the US Has Lost Its Moral Compass"
By Lawrence Wilkerson and Akbar Ahmed, The Guardian, posted May 4
"The US and Chemical Weapons: No Leg to Stand On"
By Stephen Zunes, Foreign Policy in Focus, posted May 2
"'I'm Studyingthe Vietnam War...': The Veteran Voice in the Vietnam War History Curriculum"
By Jerry Lembcke, Zinn Education Project, posted April 25
Thanks to Mim Jackson, Rosalyn Baxandall, and Jerry Lembcke for suggesting articles that are included in the above list. Suggestions can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.