Bulletin N° 574
Subject: ON THE SYSTEM IN WHICH WE LIVE, AND THE SYSTEM WHICH LIVES WITHIN US.
14 July 2013
Dear Colleagues and Friends of CEIMSA,
Two-hundred-and-twenty-four years ago, social revolution took off in France and the world has never been the same. This is not to say that the 18th-century revolutionaries of France were aiming at the accomplishments of today’s Fifth Republic, as the fulfillment of their program. Some, perhaps, would have been satisfied; but today’s political economy and the social order it inspires was far from the minds of most French revolutionaries, when they embraced the cause of liberté, égalité, fraternité !
The question in the minds of most of us today is: What went wrong?
Speaking of another revolutionary period, that of 17th-century England, Christopher Hill observed in the Introduction to his classic study of modern social history, The World Turned Upside Down (1972), that “the long-term consequences of the Revolution were all to the advantage of the gentry and merchants, not the lower fifty percent of the population on whom I try to focus.”(p11)
Historians are interested in ideas not only because they influence societies, but because they reveal the societies which give rise to them. Hence the philosophical truth of the ideas is irrelevant to the historian’s purpose, though all of us have our preferences . . . .
By studying some of the less conventional ideas which surfaced during the English Revolution, the object of this book is to obtain a deeper insight into English society than the evidence permits either before 1640 or after 1660, when the censorship ensured that really subversive ideas were not published. In so far as the attempt is successful it may tell us something not only about English history in this period of unique liberty, but also about the more ‘normal’ periods which preceded and followed it –normal because we are again ignorant of what the common people were thinking.(pp.14-15)
To study why revolutionary movements fail is to look at only half the picture; the other part of this puzzle must include such questions as: Why do they arise, in the first place? And what remains of these aspirations after co-optation and repression institutionalize bitter compromises.
Class antagonism was exacerbated by the financial hardships of the years from 1620 to 1650, which … [have been] described as economically among the most terrible in English history.(p.17)
Hill suggests that we have much to learn from ordinary people; if we just discipline ourselves to listen attentively, we might discover how “narrow provincialism” dominates our world view and “realize that most of our history is written about, and from the point of view of, a tiny fragment of the population, and makes us want to extend in depth as well as in breadth.”
Each generation, to put it another way, rescues a new area from what its predecessors arrogantly and snobbishly dismissed as ‘the lunatic fringe’. . . . Historians, in fact, would be well-advised to avoid the loaded phrase, ‘lunatic fringe’. Lunacy, like beauty, may be in the eye of the beholder. There were lunatics in the seventeenth century, but modern psychiatry is helping us to understand that madness itself may be a form of protest against social norms, and that the ‘lunatic’ may in some sense be saner than the society that rejects him. . . .
During the brief years of complete liberty of the press in England it may have been easier for eccentrics to get into print than ever before or since. Before 1641, and after 1660, there was a strict censorship. In the intervening years of freedom, a printing press was a relatively cheap and portable piece of equipment.(pp. 13-14)
The French Revolution, like that of the English more than a century earlier, produced many contradictions and bitter disappointments, not all of which have been forgotten. The forces that produced these revolutions --the rebellions within the revolutions—originate, as always, with the innate capacity of our species and our interactions with the specific environment we have inherited. The forces of order have again and again proven their capacity to repress and divert our attention away from the original demands for economic equality and political justice. Nevertheless, these demands lie latent within us, just beneath the surface, and without sufficient distractions and intimidations these conscious objectives find their voice in the people rising up with anger and determination to collectively take control over their lives by sharing resources and entering into public discussions from an authentic diversity of viewpoints. [For a description of Gracchus Babeuf and his contribution to the legacy of the French Revolution, please see CEIMSA Bulletin #535.]
In the 7 items below readers will certainly recognize the limitations of the French Revolutionary ideals, as judged by the results. Today, we see most glaringly the effects of the lack of freedom, the lack of equality, the lack of social solidarity. What happened, we might ask, to this legitimate human urge? Where did it come from? And where did it go?
Item A., sent to us by Reader Supported News, is a July up-date by William Boardman on the toxic radiation spreading from the remains of the Fukushima power plant.
Item B., sent to us by George Kenney, in an audio interview with Melvin A. Goodman, a senior fellow at the Center for International Policy, on the logic of the current US policy of National Insecurity.
Item C., from Mark Crispin Miller (News from the Underground), is an article on “The ‘Underwear bomber,’ an agent for the CIA.”
Item D., from Mark Crispin Miller, is a report on Edward Snowden’s attempt to obtain asylum in Russia (with a short video from his news conference at the Moscow Airport, published by The New York Times -12/07/2013).
Item E., from The Nation Magazine, is an article on the mass hunger strike in the California prison system.
Item F., from Truth Out, is an article by Peter Dreier on “The Billionaires' War Against Public Education .”
G., from Reader Supported News, is an
article by US Senators Elizabeth Warren and Jack Reed on the
predatory practices of high-interest student loans.
And finally, on this anniversary of the French Revolution, we offer readers a journey into the past: Peter Brook’s adaptation of the Peter Weiss’ inquiry into the meaning of REVOLUTION :
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 Reader Supported News :
Date:12 July 2013
Subject: Toxic Radiation spreading in Japan.
Radiation levels remain high and no one knows for sure how to bring them down, or even if they can be brought down by any means other than waiting for however long it takes.
Fukushima Radiation Leaks Rise Sharply
by William Boardman
From George Kenney :
Date: 12 July 2013
Subject: US Policy of National Insecurity.
It's always good to hear from people who've been inside the system at high levels, who can criticize it objectively but also sharply. For a total of over 35 years Dr. Melvin A. Goodman was with the CIA and, later, the National War College. Currently he's a senior fellow at the Center for International Policy. His most recent book is titled National Insecurity: The Cost of American Militarism (City Lights Books, 2013). Mel says the government should think strategically about national security, but doesn't, and that it's up to us to fix things. My question, still, is how to do that… In any case, Mel's tour d'horizon of recent history is about as accurate as any such history has a right to be -- it's quite an extraordinary scholarly vision. And kudos to him for actively engaging the public!
If you like the show, as always, please forward the link.
From Mark Crispin Miller :
Date: 13 July 2013
Subject: "Underwear bomber" was working for the CIA.
Bomber involved in plot to attack US-bound jet was working as an informer with Saudi intelligence and the CIA.
'Underwear bomber' was working for the CIA
From Mark Crispin Miller :
Date: 13 July 2013
Subject: Snowden to seek asylum in Russia.
Snowden wants asylum in Russia,
ready to meet condition not to damage US
NSA leaker & former CIA employee Edward Snowden has asked for political asylum in Russia, saying he could not fly to Latin America, according to human rights activists who met the whistleblower at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport.
According to Tatyana Lokshina of Human Rights Watch, Snowden seeks to stay in Russia as he “can’t fly to Latin America yet.”
When asked if the NSA leaker has any more revelations, Lokshina responded: “He says that his job is done.”
Snowden asked the human rights activists to petition the US and European states not to interfere with his asylum process, she said. The former NSA contractor also asked to intervene with President Putin on his behalf, Lokshina added.
Snowden said he is ready to ask Russia for political asylum and that he “does not intend to harm the US,” according to Russian State Duma MP Vyacheslav Nikonov.
“No actions I take or plan are meant to harm the US... I want the US to succeed,” Snowden said.
Эдвард Сноуден. Фото: Татьяна Локшина из " Human Rights Watch" (Guardian) pic.twitter.com/OsfTHxn16B
— Rundschau (@Rundschau) July 12, 2013
Snowden said he does not rule out moving to live in a Latin American country. However, the recent incident in which the Bolivian President Evo Morales’ plane was grounded in Austria on suspicion that the NSA leaker was on board discourages Snowden from going there now.
“First, he said that he was dissatisfied with European countries after the Bolivian president’s plane was inspected. He wants to seek political asylum, at least temporary shelter, in Russia. But his further actions are unclear,” Nikitin said.
RELEASE: Statement read by Edward #Snowden to human rights groups at Moscow airport today http://t.co/HEpWd0QFaG #snowden #nsa #prism
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) July 12, 2013
According to human rights lawyer Anatoly Kucherena, the request for political asylum has already been written by Snowden. Kucherena said he will provide legal support for the former NSA contractor seeking asylum.
The Russian authorities should be able to decide on Snowden’s asylum request in two to three weeks’ time, he added.
Meanwhile, Russia’s presidential human rights ombudsman Vladimir Lukin suggested that it would be better for Snowden to ask the UN or the ICRC for refugee status instead of seeking asylum in Russia. That way it won’t harm Russian-American relations, he added.
The US Embassy called several rights activists before their meeting with Snowden, asking to deliver the official American stance on his actions.
“It is true that I received a call from the American Embassy in the name of [US Ambassador to Russia Michael] McFaul, in which I was asked to deliver to Snowden the US official stand, which says he is not considered a rights activist, that he broke the law and therefore must be made accountable,” Lokshina confirmed to RIA Novosti.
However, Washington denied that US diplomats asked Human Rights Watch to deliver a message to Snowden.
“We simply explained our position on Snowden to a representative of Human Rights Watch,” a source at the US Department of State told Interfax.
Thirteen Russian and international human rights advocates and lawyers have gathered at Moscow Sheremetyevo Airport for a meeting with Snowden. The whistleblower said the living conditions were fine at the airport and he felt safe there, but he knows he can't stay there forever, according to Lokshina.
Another photo of #Snowden, copyright @hrw's @TanyaLokshina @Peter_Markovski @MarkMemmottNPR @superernie pic.twitter.com/jT2f9T4NQ0
— Jan Kooy (@KooyJan) July 12, 2013
Rights advocates who received letters from Snowden and agreed to come to the meeting included representatives of Amnesty International, Transparency International, Human Rights Watch and other organizations, as well as well-known Russian lawyers.
The meeting started behind closed doors in an undisclosed area of Sheremetyevo’s Terminal F.
Meanwhile, several hundred journalists have surrounded a gray ‘staff only’ door guarded by airport security, awaiting for comments from the meeting participants.
The Russian president’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov responded by saying the Kremlin has not yet received any formal asylum request from Snowden. The conditions for his staying in Russia remain the same as voiced by Vladimir Putin earlier, he added.
Should Snowden apply for asylum, Russia will consider his request, Peskov said.
Russia was one of over twenty countries to which Snowden sent asylum request according to Wikileaks. President Vladimir Putin said then Snowden may stay in Russia, if he wants to, but only if he stops activities aimed against the United States.
“There is one condition if he wants to remain here: he must stop his work aimed at damaging our American partners. As odd as it may sound from me,” Putin told a media conference in Moscow.
In Putin’s opinion, Snowden considers himself “a fighter for human rights” and it seems unlikely that he is going to stop leaking American secret data.
However, Russia is not going to extradite Snowden, the president underlined.
“Russia has never extradited anyone and is not going to do so. Same as no one has ever been extradited to Russia,” Putin stated.
“Snowden, by sincere conviction or for some other reason, considers himself to be a human rights activist, a fighter for the ideals of democracy and human freedom. Russian human rights activists and organizations, as well as their colleagues abroad acknowledge this. For this reason, extraditing Snowden to a country like the US where capital punishment is enforced is impossible,” Peskov explained to press.
From The Nation Magazine :
Date: 11 July 2013
Subject: Toxic Radiation spreading in Japan.
The strikers are calling for an end to long-term solitary confinement and better prison conditions.
From Truth Out :
Date: 9 July 2013
Subject: The War against Public Education.
Billionaires from the Walden family to Bill Gates to the Koch brothers have spent millions defaming public education. Now filmmakers Jim and Dawn O'Keefe offer an antidote..
The Billionaires' War Against Public Education
by Peter Dreier
From Reader Supported News :
Date: 11 July 2013
Subject: High Profits on Student Loans.
At a time when our economy's stability depends on having a highly skilled workforce, we should be investing in our students, not profiting from them.
Profits on Student Loans Ruin Long-Term Prospects
by US Senators
Elizabeth Warren and Jack Reed