Subject: Corporate Censorship : “There is no royal road to science, and only those who do not dread the fatiguing climb of its steep paths have a chance of gaining its luminous summits.”
20 October 2015
Dear Colleagues and Friends of CEIMSA,
As we continue our voyage through the first quarter of this century –a mere dent in the new millennium-- I would argue that the necessary skills which we must acquire are related to the old pre-industrial skills of “sifting-and-winnowing”, for we are obliged to go through vast mountains of debris from the past and to separate the chaff from the grain if we are to understand the present and anticipate future possibilities. What is there of value to retain and what can we safely discard as useless? This intellectual discretion can be learned by various modes of education --in public schools, religious schools, charter schools, alternative experimental schools, or in no school at all . . . . But it must be learned! for above the entrance to our new age is written, “Buyer Beware!”
Midway upon the journey of our life,
I found myself within a forest dark,
For the straight forward pathway had been lost.
--from Dante’s Inferno
We can no longer get along simply by mimicking a chosen role model, by following the “successful” example; we now must equip ourselves with the ability to perform some kind of socio-economic analysis of society, to determine if we are entering a toxic area and if it represents a significant danger to us. Scientific knowledge is essential and common sense is no longer sufficient; we must learn to share our knowledge and to keep our minds open for new interpretations of information and effective ways to verify or to prove false. The ability to learn and to grow intellectually is of course a collective experience; what stifles curiosity and discourages systematic examination should be rejected. We must learn to draw conclusions and make decisions that foster new levels of understanding and cooperation. We can only do this by developing the skills of “sifting and winnowing” and thereby preparing ourselves to participate in collective discussions.
After a close re-reading of the late Eric Hobsbawm’s book, Age of Extremes (1994), I turned to my worn-out copy of Sir James Frazer’s classic, The Golden Bough (1890). It was an interesting coincidence to find that Hobsbawm’s discussion of social regressions at the end of the “short 20th Century” was much illustrated in Theodor Gaster’s abridged edition of the British anthropologist’s original field work on ‘ancient, and primitive myth, magic, religion, ritual, and taboo’; towards the end of which he warns against the persistent influence of pre-scientific thinking :
WE are at the end of our enquiry, but as often happens in the search after truth, if we have answered one question, we have raised many more; if we have followed one track home, we have had to pass by others that opened off it and led, or seemed to lead, to far other goals than the sacred grove at Nemi. Some of these paths we have followed a little way; others, if fortune should be kind, the writer and the reader may one day pursue together. For the present we have journeyed far enough together, and it is time to part. Yet before we do so, we may well ask ourselves whether there is not some more general conclusion, some lesson, if possible, of hope and encouragement, to be drawn from the melancholy record of human error and folly which has engaged our attention in this book.
If then we consider, on the one hand, the essential similarity of man’s chief wants everywhere and at all times, and on the other hand, the wide difference between the means he has adopted to satisfy them in different ages, we shall perhaps be disposed to conclude that the movement of the higher thought, so far as we can trace it, has on the whole been from magic through religion to science. In magic man depends on his own strength to meet the difficulties and dangers that beset him on every side. He believes in a certain established order of nature on which he can surely count, and which he can manipulate for his own ends. When he discovers his mistake, when he recognizes sadly that both the order of nature which he had assumed and the control which he had believed himself to exercise over it were purely imaginary, he ceases to rely on his own intelligence and his own unaided efforts, and throws himself humbly on the mercy of certain great invisible beings behind the veil of nature, to whom he now ascribes all those far-reaching powers which he once arrogated to himself. Thus in the acuter minds magic is gradually superseded by religion, which explains the succession of natural phenomena as regulated by the will, the passion, or the caprice of spiritual beings like man in kind, though vastly superior to him in power.
But as time goes on this explanation in its turn proves to be unsatisfactory. For it assumes that the succession of natural events is not determined by immutable laws, but is to some extent variable and irregular, and this assumption is not borne out by closer observation. On the contrary, the more we scrutinize that succession the more we are struck by the rigid uniformity, the punctual precision with which, wherever we can follow them, the operations of nature are carried on. Every great advance in knowledge has extended the sphere of order and correspondingly restricted the sphere of apparent disorder in the world, till now we are ready to anticipate that even in regions where chance and confusion appear still to reign, a fuller knowledge would everywhere reduce the seeming chaos to cosmos. Thus the keener minds, still pressing forward to a deeper solution of the mysteries of the universe, come to reject the religious theory of nature as inadequate, and to revert in a measure to the older standpoint of magic by postulating explicitly, what in magic had only been implicitly assumed, to wit, an inflexible regularity in the order of natural events, which, if carefully observed, enables us to foresee their course with certainty and to act accordingly. In short, religion, regarded as an explanation of nature, is displaced by science.
But while science has this much in common with magic that both rest on a faith in order as the underlying principle of all things, readers of this work will hardly need to be reminded that the order presupposed by magic differs widely from that which forms the basis of science. The difference flows naturally from the different modes in which the two orders have been reached. For whereas the order on which magic reckons is merely an extension, by false analogy, of the order in which ideas present themselves to our minds, the order laid down by science is derived from patient and exact observation of the phenomena themselves. The abundance, the solidity, and the splendor of the results already achieved by science are well fitted to inspire us with a cheerful confidence in the soundness of its method. Here at last, after groping about in the dark for countless ages, man has hit upon a clue to the labyrinth, a golden key that opens many locks in the treasury of nature. It is probably not too much to say that the hope of progress—moral and intellectual as well as material—in the future is bound up with the fortunes of science, and that every obstacle placed in the way of scientific discovery is a wrong to humanity.
Yet the history of thought should warn us against concluding that because the scientific theory of the world is the best that has yet been formulated, it is necessarily complete and final. We must remember that at bottom the generalizations of science or, in common parlance, the laws of nature are merely hypotheses devised to explain that ever-shifting phantasmagoria of thought which we dignify with the high-sounding names of the world and the universe. In the last analysis magic, religion, and science are nothing but theories of thought; and as science has supplanted its predecessors, so it may hereafter be itself superseded by some more perfect hypothesis, perhaps by some totally different way of looking at the phenomena—of registering the shadows on the screen—of which we in this generation can form no idea. The advance of knowledge is an infinite progression towards a goal that for ever recedes. We need not murmur at the endless pursuit:
Fatti non foste a viver come bruti
Ma per seguir virtute e conoscenza.
(You were not made to live as brutes,
But to follow virtue and knowledge.)
Great things will come of that pursuit, though we may not enjoy them. Brighter stars will rise on some voyager of the future—some great Ulysses of the realms of thought—than shine on us. The dreams of magic may one day be the waking realities of science. But a dark shadow lies athwart the far end of this fair prospect. For however vast the increase of knowledge and of power which the future may have in store for man, he can scarcely hope to stay the sweep of those great forces which seem to be making silently but relentlessly for the destruction of all this starry universe in which our earth swims as a speck or mote. In the ages to come man may be able to predict, perhaps even to control, the wayward courses of the winds and clouds, but hardly will his puny hands have strength to speed afresh our slackening planet in its orbit or rekindle the dying fire of the sun. Yet the philosopher who trembles at the idea of such distant catastrophes may console himself by reflecting that these gloomy apprehensions, like the earth and the sun themselves, are only parts of that unsubstantial world which thought has conjured up out of the void, and that the phantoms which the subtle enchantress has evoked to-day she may ban to-morrow. They too, like so much that to common eyes seems solid, may melt into air, into thin air.
Without dipping so far into the future, we may illustrate the course which thought has hitherto run by likening it to a web woven of three different threads—the black thread of magic, the red thread of religion, and the white thread of science, if under science we may include those simple truths, drawn from observation of nature, of which men in all ages have possessed a store. Could we then survey the web of thought from the beginning, we should probably perceive it to be at first a chequer of black and white, a patchwork of true and false notions, hardly tinged as yet by the red thread of religion. But carry your eye farther along the fabric and you will remark that, while the black and white chequer still runs through it, there rests on the middle portion of the web, where religion has entered most deeply into its texture, a dark crimson stain, which shades off insensibly into a lighter tint as the white thread of science is woven more and more into the tissue. To a web thus chequered and stained, thus shot with threads of diverse hues, but gradually changing color the farther it is unrolled, the state of modern thought, with all its divergent aims and conflicting tendencies, may be compared. Will the great movement which for centuries has been slowly altering the complexion of thought be continued in the near future? or will a reaction set in which may arrest progress and even undo much that has been done? To keep up our parable, what will be the colour of the web which the Fates are now weaving on the humming loom of time? will it be white or red? We cannot tell. A faint glimmering light illumines the backward portion of the web. Clouds and thick darkness hide the other end. (pp.738-741)
Eric Hobsbawm at the turn of the century observes that, “science, through the technology-saturated fabric of human life, demonstrates its miracles daily to the late twentieth-century world. It is as indispensable and omnipresent . . . as Allah is to the pious Moslem.”
We may debate when this capacity of certain human activities to produce superhuman results became part of the common consciousness, at least in the urban parts of ‘developed’ industrial societies. It certainly did so after the explosion of the first nuclear bomb in 1945. However, there can be no doubt that the twentieth century was the one in which science transformed both the world and our knowledge of it. We should have expected the ideologies of the twentieth century to glory in the triumphs of science, which are the triumphs of the human mind, as the secular ideologies of the nineteenth century had done. Indeed, we should have expected even the resistance of traditional religious ideologies, the great redoubts of nineteenth-century resistance to science, to weaken. For not only did the hold of traditional religions slacken over most of the century, as we shall see, but religion itself became as dependent on high-science-based techno logy as any other human activity in the developed world. At a pinch, a bishop or imam or holy man in the 1900s could have conducted their activities as though Galileo, Newton, Faraday or Lavoisier had not existed, i.e. on the basis of fifteenth-century technology, and such nineteenth-century technology has raised no problems of compatibility with theology or holy texts. It became far harder to overlook the conflict between science and holy writ in a age when the Vatican was obliged to communicate by satellite and to test the authenticity of the Turin shroud by radio-carbon dating: when the Ayatollah Khomeini spread his words from abroad into Iran by means of tape cassettes, and when states dedicated to the laws of the Koran were also engaged in trying to equip themselves wiht nuclear weapons
The de facto acceptance of the most sophisticated contemporary science, via the technology which depends on it, was such that in fin-de-siècle New York sales of super-high-tech electronic and photographic goods became largely the specialty of Chassidim, a brand of eastern messianic Judaism chiefly known, apart from their extreme ritualism and insistence on wearing a version of eighteenth-century Polish costume, by a preference for ecstatic emotion over intellectual enquiry. In some ways the superiority of ‘science’ was even accepted officially. The Protestant fundamentalists in the USA who rejected the theory of evolution as unscriptural (the world having been created in its present version in six days) demanded that Darwin’s teaching should be replaced,
or at least countered by the teaching of what they described as ‘creation science’.
And yet, the twentieth century was not at ease with the science which was its most extraordinary achievement, and on which it depended. The progress of the natural sciences took place against a background glow of suspicion and fear, occasionally flaring up into flames of hatred and rejection of reason and all its products. . . .
The suspicion and fear of science was fuelled by four feelings: that science was incomprehensible; that (both) its practical (and moral) consequences were unpredictable and probably catastrophic; and that it underlined the helplessness of the individual, and undermined authority. Nor should we overlook the sentiment that, to the extent that science interfered with the natural order of things, it was inherently dangerous. The first two feelings were shared by both scientists and laymen, the last two belonged mainly to outsiders. Lay individuals could only react against their sense of impotence by seeking
out things which ‘science could not explain’ along the line of Hamlet’s ‘There are more things on heaven and earth . . . than are dreamed of in your philosophy’, by refusing to believe that they could ever be explained by ‘official science’, by hungering to believe in the inexplicable because it seemed absurd. At least in an unknown and unknowable world everyone would be equally powerless. The greater the palpable triumphs of science, the greater the hunger to seek the inexplicable. (pp.529-530)
Returning to Hobsbawm’s political observations, at the conclusion of his final major work, we are told that we cannot count on the rich to redistribute public wealth; this leaves us with little alternative as to how to create a just and egalitarian society. The relationships between social classes can be ignored only a great risk, and what is the role of state agencies in this relationship between private ownership and public interest?
Seen from the impersonal heights from which business economists and corporate accountants survey the scene, who needed the 10 percent
of the US population whose real hourly earnings since 1979 had fallen by up to 16 percent?
Again, taking the global perspective which is implicit in the model of economic liberalism, inequalities of development are irrelevant unless
it can be shown that they produce globally more negative than positive results. From this point of view there is no economic reason why,
if comparative costs say so, France should not shut down its entire agriculture and import all its foodstuffs . . . .(p.573)
Social distribution and not growth would dominate the politics of the new millennium. Non-market allocation of resources, or, at least,
a ruthless limitation of market allocation, was essential to head off the impending ecological crisis. One way or another, the fate of humanity
in the new millennium would depend on the restoration of public authorities.
This leaves us with a double problem. What would be the nature and the scope of the decision-making authorities –supranational, national,
subnational and global, alone or in combination? What would be their relation to the people about whom these decisions are made?(pp.577-578)
For those of us who have found useful the method of dialectical materialism, there is still much we can learn from logical positivism and the 19th-century optimism of faith in science and progress.
It certainly stands as an alternative to becoming the passive observers of our own destruction.
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
In a month of ‘New York Times’ coverage, Israeli military occupation goes nearly unmentioned
The US Strategy to Create a New Global
Legal and Economic System: TPP
It’s a corporate coup!
Must Watch Video
Bernie Blew It: He Sold Out Instead of Confronting Clinton
by Robert Scheer
We need a vision of transformational change
by ex-US Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney
"Jim O'Brien" <email@example.com>
Sent: Monday, 19 October, 2015 3:57:53 PM
Subject: [haw-info] HAW Notes 10/19/15: contact info regarding Ros Baxandall; links to recent articles of interest
Note: We wrote last Thursday to share with Historians Against the War members and friends the passing of feminist historian and antiwar activist Rosalyn Baxandall at age 76. For anyone wishing to write to her son, the contact information is as follows: mail, Phineas Baxandall, 595 Franklin St., Cambridge, MA 02139; email, firstname.lastname@example.org.
The following list of articles is dedicated to her memory. For years up until her diagnosis this summer with incurable cancer, she was a mainstay of suggesting articles for these lists.
Links to Recent Articles of Interest
By David Milne, Salon, posted October 18
By William J. Astore, The Contrary Perspective blog, posted October 17
The author is a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel and formerly taught at the U.S. Air Force Academy.
By Paul Pillar, LobeLog, posted October 16 (from The National Interest)
The author, a 28-year veteran of the CIA, is a visiting professor at Georgetown University in security studies; the article draws on the Soviet experience in Afghanistan.
By Andrew J. Bacevich, TomDispatch.com, posted October 13
The author is a professor emeritus of history and international relations at Boston University.
Interview with David Talbot, Democracy Now!, posted October 13
David Talbot is a former editor in chief of Salon and the author of a new book on Allen Dulles.
By Jon Schwartz, The Intercept, posted October 7
By Walter L. Hixson, History News Network, posted October 7
The author teaches history at the University of Akron.
By David M. Perry, The Guardian, posted October 6
The author teaches medieval history at Dominican University.
By Greg Grandin, The Nation, posted October 5
On the targeting of hospitals during the Vietnam War; the author teaches history at New York University.
By Sami Zubaida, Informed Comment blog, posted October 1
Thanks to Rusti Eisenberg, Cyrus Bina, and an anonymous reader for flagging articles that are included in the above list. Suggestions can be sent to email@example.com.
The Drone Papers are a gold mine of horror, and of course tell us once again that in an international system of justice Obama and his team would be prosecuted for war crimes.
New Posts for October 19, 2015
This week The Drone Papers, Parts 1 - 4 are featured. These articles by Jeremy Scahill and others who write for The Intercept are based on information from an anonymous whistleblower.
Parts 5 -8 will be posted during the coming week.
Posts are also listed below with more information.
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Click each link for news. Updated regularly.
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Media for Justice and Peace
Hedges: Resistance will be local. It will be militant. It will defy the rules imposed by the corporate state. It will turn its back on state and NGO environmental organizations. And it will not stop until corporate power is destroyed or we are destroyed.
Hakim: We learnt to do something small and different from 14 years of the ‘same, old’ method of war, and exploitation. Afghan Peace Volunteers
Appealing the November 2014 federal conviction of prominent Palestinian-American activist Rasmea Odeh, lead defense attorney Michael Deutsch gave a powerful oral argument in front of a panel of three judges—Alice Batchelder, Karen Moore, and John Rogers—in Cincinnati, at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit.
Mint Press: Since 2012, trust has dipped sharply among adults under 50. Another study from this year, published by the Pew Research Center in June, supports the notion that younger people, especially those aged 18-33 (the “Millennial” generation), are increasingly turning to social media and alternate sources for the news.
Bernabe: It’s a sad state of affairs when the Western media provides humanitarian cover for the U.S. and NATO to fuel a brutal civil war — which has taken the lives of nearly 300,000 people — simply to create economic advantages for NATO states and allies while undermining stability in the Middle East — creating the greatest humanitarian catastrophe since World War II.
Blumenthal: So the Dahiya doctrine aims to, by attacking civilians, aims to demoralize the civilian population until they assent to the West Bank model. And the people in the Gaza Strip are incredibly resilient. They almost unanimously support resisting the occupation.
Letter: There is not a perfect solution to the tragedy of Afghanistan. War has been the norm for the people of Afghanistan for nearly 37 years. The answer to ending the violence there is political, not military. The U.S. must withdraw and give the nation of Afghanistan back to the people of Afghanistan.
Secret military documents expose the inner workings of Obama’s Drone Wars truthdig.com October 15, 2015 jules 2000 / Shutterstock Targeted killings carried out by unmanned drones, though still very controversial, have become a fixture of U.S. foreign policy. On Thursday, The Intercept published a report, “The Drone Papers,” which gives the public a close look […]
Scahill: The source said he decided to provide these documents to The Intercept because he believes the public has a right to understand the process by which people are placed on kill lists and ultimately assassinated on orders from the highest echelons of the U.S. government.
Begley: The first bomb dropped from an airplane exploded in an oasis outside Tripoli on November 1, 1911. grenade. … One hundred years later, the bombing is done by pilotless planes. They are controlled remotely, often half a world away. We have come to call them “drones.” On the inside, people call them “birds.”
Currier: The study, carried out by the Pentagon’s Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance Task Force, illuminates and in some cases contradicts the administration’s public description of a campaign directed at high-level terrorists who pose an imminent threat to the United States. It admits frankly that capturing terrorists is a rare occurrence and hints at the use of so-called signature strikes against unknown individuals exhibiting suspicious behavior.
Lt. General Michael Flynn: “Our entire Middle East policy seems to be based on firing drones. That’s what this administration decided to do in its counterterrorism campaign. They’re enamored by the ability of special operations and the CIA to find a guy in the middle of the desert in some shitty little village and drop a bomb on his head and kill him.”
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Up Times is also on Facebook! Check the Rise Up Times page for
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Tumblr. Find us on Twitter at Rise Up Times (@touchpeace).
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"Resistance is no longer an option, it is a necessity." Henry A. Giroux
"There is no such thing as a single-issue struggle because we do not live single-issue lives." Audre Lord