Bulletin N°702





15 June 2016
Grenoble, France


Dear Colleagues and Friends of CEIMSA,


Bertell Ollman attempts to decoded bourgeois social discourse in his analytical study of Marxist dialectics, Dance of the Dialectic: Steps in Marx's Method (Chicago, 2003), where in chapter 5, “Putting Dialectics to Work: The Process of Abstractiion in Marx’s Work,” he describes five levels of abstraction employed by Marx from a hierarchy of generalities, beginning with level 1, the abstraction of “unique character traits.” At level 2, the abstractions focus on the specific qualities of groups of people and of communities, stemming from activities and conditions in their daily lives in “modern capitalist society.” The next level of generality (according to Ollman this 3rd level offers abstractions which are usually ignored entirely by bourgeois writers) takes into account both objective and subjective experiences which the capitalist political economy has historically reproduced –the private ownership of the means of production, chattel slavery and wage slavery, the insatiable quest for private profits through the commoditization of virtually everything, the expansion of investment opportunities, etc, etc…. In this 500-year period new social relationships which seldom existed were produced and perpetuated. At the 4th level, social relationships within class-divided society, as it has existed for the past 5,000 years (as distinct from relationships in “modern capitalist society” as well as from relationships in “classic capitalist society”), is the generality from which qualities of relationships are abstracted. The 5th level of generality represents the “human condition,” the human relationships and necessary skills developed for survival which have evolved among our species over the past 100,000 years. In this analytic framework taken from his study of Marx’s writings, Ollman concludes :


So it is that for bourgeois ideology people are either all different (level 1) or all the same (level 5). While for Marx, whose abstractions of extension usually include a significant number of social relations, choosing the levels of generality of capitalism (level 3), modern capitalism (level 2), and class society (level 4) was both easy and obvious, just as privileging these levels led to abstractions of extension that enabled him to take in at once sweep most of the connections that attention to these levels brings into focus.(p.99)


Recently I purchased two books that two good friends had recommended on separate occasions, and when I began reading these books, I did not regret the decision, for they are truly interesting, although in Ollman’s categories they are decidedly limited by the bourgeois priorities of the authors. It is true that The Sixth Extinction, An Unnatural History (New York, 2014), by Elizabeth Kolbert does not include the recognition of capitalist relationships in modern society; and that Yuval Noah Harari’s best seller, Sapiens, A Brief History of Humankind (London, 2011), does not take into account the ineluctable role played by social class struggle in the evolution of our species.


Kolbert, for instance, offers the following abstraction from level 1 (psychology) and level 5 (“the human condition”) to explain the devastating impact that mankind continues to inflict on the environment:


In 1949, a pair of Harvard psychologists recruited two dozen undergraduates for an experiment about perception. The experiment was simple: students were shown playing cards and asked to identify them as they flipped by. Most of the cards were perfectly ordinary, but a few had been doctored, so that the deck contained, among other oddities, a red six of spades and a black four of hearts. When the cards went by rapidly, the students tended to overlook the incongruities; they would, for example, assert that the red six of spades was a six of hearts, or call the black four of hearts a four of spades. When the cards went by more slowly, they struggled to make sense of what they were seeing. Confronted with a red spade, some said it looked ‘purple’ or ‘brown’ or ‘rusty black.’ Others were completely flummoxed.


The symbols ‘look reversed or something,’ one observed.


 ‘I can’t make the suit out, whatever it is,” another exclaimed. ‘I don’t know what color it is now or whether it’s a spade or heart. I’m not even sure now what a spade looks like! My God!’


The psychologists wrote up their findings in a paper titled “On the Perception of Incongruity: A paradigm.”  Among those who found this paper intriguing was Thomas Kuhn. To Kuhn, the twentieth century’s most influential historian of science, the experiment was indeed paradigmatic: it revealed how people process disruptive information. Their first impulse is to force it into a familiar framework: heart; spades; clubs: Signs of mismatch are disregarded for as long as possible –the red spade looks ‘brown’ or ‘rusty.’ At the point the anomaly becomes simply too glaring, a crisis ensues –what the psychologists dubbed the ‘My God!’ reaction.


 This pattern was, Kuhn argued in his seminal work, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, so basic that it shaped not only individual perceptions but entire fields of inquiry. Data that did not fit the commonly accepted assumptions of a discipline would either be discounted or explained away for as long as possible. The more contradictions accumulated, the more convoluted the rationalizations became. ‘In science, as in the playing card experiment, novelty emerges only with difficulty,’ Kuhn wrote. But then, finally, someone came along who was willing to call a red spade a red spade. Crisis led to insight, and the old framework gave way to a new one. This is how great scientific discoveries or, to use the term Kuhn made so popular, ‘paradigm shifts’ took place.(pp.92-93)



And on the first page of the book by Dr. Harari, who teaches at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, is found this statement of purpose: “I encourage all of us, whatever our beliefs, to question the basic narratives of our world, to connect past developments with present concerns, and not to be afraid of controversial issues.” His book is advertised as an international bestseller, published in more than 30 languages worldwide. The broad questions his research focuses on include: “What is the relation between history and biology? Is there justice in history? [and] Did people become happier as history unfolded?”(p.i)


While the stories told by these two authors are enjoyable and thoroughly empathetic, the subtext is chillingly politically neutral; neither work offers any insights into our contemporary context of horrific class struggles which are still under way, nor insights into the toxic phenomenon of Donald Trump and the Republican Party leadership, who no doubt have by now found common ground in agreeing that the world is “over-populated” and who are preparing to correct this demographic error in their own way.


The question has been posed: Are we experiencing an advanced level of class struggle or is it a life ‘short, nasty and brutish . . .  a war of all against all ?’ We live in dire times, and we ignore the effects of class warfare only to our own detriment and to the detriment of the environment.



In the 12 items below, CEIMSA readers will recognize the priority given to Ollman’s level 3 and level 2 generalities (life in class-divided society and life in the matrix of modern capitalist relationships), for as Howard Zinn has reminded us; “You can’t be neutral on a moving train.”





Francis Feeley

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






Abby Martin and Paul Jay - What Should Sanders Do Next?

Hillary Clinton becomes the presumptive presidential nominee of the Democratic Party, Martin and Jay discuss the strategy of voting for the lesser evil and the potential foreign policy of a Trump or Clinton administration





The Occupation of the American Mind
Israel’s Public Relations War in the United States, Narrated by Roger Waters.





War With Russia Without Public Debate?
NATO is continuing its military buildup and “exercises” on Russia’s borders, Moscow is taking “counter-measures,” while the US mainstream media remains silent.
by Stephen F. Cohen





American Committee for East-West Accord







German plans to lead NATO buildup ‘big mistake’ on anniversary of 1941 Nazi invasion – ex-Сhancellor






From: Diana Johnstone [mailto:diana.johnstone@wanadoo.fr]
Sent: Friday, June 10, 2016 10:12 AM
To: Jean Bricmont
Subject: Fwd: Our Ruling Class speaks!


Indeed.  Never mind elections, it’s all been decided.

Note this very significant recommendation for rationalising the Military Industrial Complex:

"The Pentagon must strike a difficult balance between consolidating its approximately 20 percent excess infrastructure capacity and maintaining a presence in as many communities as possible to ensure that connections to Americans’ daily lives remain strong."

Hillary has been chosen as saleswoman, but first there must be a charade to convince the American people that THEY chose her.

Note the “bi-partisan” War Party signatures.  




From: lastmarx2@gmail.com

Subject: [national] Our Ruling Class speaks!

Date: 10 Jun 2016 02:17:46 GMT+2

To: diana.johnstone@wanadoo.fr


Check out the "Coalition for Fiscal and National Security" statement of policy, signed by a bi-partisan collection of representatives of the ruling class and expressing their objectives and fears. Hillary is their candidate. -MM


Read " Strength at Home and Abroad: Ensuring America’s Fiscal and National Security " (issued a month ago) at 








Venezuela’s Struggle to Survive

by Lisa Sullivan

Amid a reassertion of U.S.-backed neoliberal policies in Latin America, Venezuela’s socialist government totters at a tipping point, beset by a severe economic crisis, but Lisa Sullivan sees a ground-up struggle of Venezuelans to survive.





NATO's Anakonda: A Beast That Preys on Its Own in Hungry Times?

by Finian Cunningham






Tick... Tick... Tick... The Doomsday Clock
Nuclear Weapons, Climate Change, and the Prospects for Survival
by Noam Chomsky





Which Corporations Control The World?


by International Business Guide
A surprisingly small number of corporations control massive global market shares. How many of the brands below do you use?






From: Edward S Herman


And this is in the supposedly liberal state of MA, But then Scott Walker has thrived in the progressive state of Wisconsin.

ed herman


From: Portside Labor <labor-moderator@PORTSIDE.ORG>
Sent: Sunday, June 12, 2016 8:02 PM
Subject: Kill Shot: Years of State Austerity Budgets Put UMass Boston in Jeopardy





Portside | Material of interest to people on the left.


Portside aims to provide varied material of interest to people on the left that will help them to interpret the world, and to change it.


Portside Labor




Kill Shot: Years of State Austerity Budgets Put UMass Boston in Jeopardy

Jason Pramas
June 11, 2016


Community needs to join Faculty Staff Union movement for a return to full funding.




, ,



There is only one appropriate response to the looming layoff of 400 unionized non-tenure track faculty at UMass Boston. Rebellion.


We are well past the era of shots across the budgetary bow of public higher education in the Commonwealth. We are now in the era of kill shots. It is not possible to eliminate roughly one-third of the faculty of a major research university without destroying that university. One cannot run a school without teachers, after all. Teachers who are already denied the possibility of secure, properly-paid, full-time, tenure track faculty jobs—as has become the dominant practice at colleges across America.


So, the threatened faculty, the remaining faculty, the staff, their Faculty Staff Union (Mass Teachers Association), the other campus unions, the alumni, and—most importantly—the students and their families have to essentially declare war on state government. Now. The entire UMass Boston community needs to demand proper funding for the school. Or risk losing everything that generations of Bostonians have fought for. A public university of our own with an “urban mission” to provide a top flight education to its residents with as little expense to them as possible.


The proximate cause of the crisis is a combined $22.3 million deficit that the UMass Boston administration recently announced for this fiscal year and next. Their unfortunate response is to propose: increasing class sizes, raising tuition (yet again), and savagely cutting faculty jobs.


But the ultimate cause is the long term starvation of the public higher education budget by the Mass legislature. According to the Mass Budget and Policy Center, state funding for public higher education has fallen from $1,339,713,711 in FY 2001 to $1,187,476,006 in FY 2016 (numbers adjusted for inflation)—an 11.4 percent drop. Yet it’s worse than that statistic makes it seem since the budget was well below the FY 2001 figure every year between then and now. Meaning that the system has lost more than a billion dollars over the last decade and a half.


Put another way, the ultimate cause is ideological. And that ideology has a name: neoliberalism. Its central precepts of fiscal austerity, privatization, deregulation, and union busting in the service of making the rich richer have been followed with near-religious intensity for decades by both major political parties in state governments and in the federal government alike.


In the present context, neoliberalism translates to refusing to fairly tax corporations and the rich—which would allow our public higher education system to be funded to a tolerable standard—trying to run colleges like for-profit businesses instead of nonprofit services, and transferring once-public costs to individual families. Forcing students to take out increasingly burdensome loans to stay in school. A recipe for disaster, if ever there was one.


Writ large over the entire state government, the neoliberal ideology has led to one crisis after another—in the public health system, in public K-12 education, in the public transportation systems, etc., etc. And will continue to do so until the disastrous course its political partisans have put us on is reversed by popular political action.


All signs point to a small increase (1-1.5 percent) in state spending on public higher ed in the final FY 2017 budget, but nowhere near enough to make up for the years of cuts. Or even to keep up with inflation, let alone forestall the crisis at UMass Boston.


Saving UMass Boston—and the Mass public higher ed system—is going to take a real struggle. The Faculty Staff Union and its allies are doing a fine job of protesting the cuts. But they need solidarity. Lots of it. The kind of movement required has to be statewide and systemwide. And even that probably won’t be enough. A reform of the necessary scale will need help from outside the public higher ed community. It will need the newly emboldened radicals from the Bernie Sanders campaign, #BlackLivesMatter and other rising social movements to join the fight.


That’s a tall order to be sure. But every journey starts with a first step. Here’s how you can help:


Sign the UMass Boston Faculty Staff Union petition.

Get on the “Stop the Hikes and Cuts” bus at UMass Boston on June 15 and join the UMB community in protesting the upcoming UMass Board of Trustees meeting.

Drop an email to FSU@umb.edu to get more involved.


Pressure on the UMass Boston administration is already mounting. That might explain why UMB Chancellor Keith Motley told the Boston Herald this week that “he has not approved any cuts on campus and that most staff who received pink slips would be called back for the fall.” Cold comfort for the 400 faculty members currently in limbo, unsure of whether they should start preparing for classes as usual—or continue looking for new gigs in a tight academic job market. And with UMass President Marty Meehan guaranteeing that budget cuts are coming to the entire UMass system by July, it doesn’t seem like Motley will be able to avoid finalizing the faculty layoffs for very long.


Unless he proposes cutting the often-outrageous administration salaries across the board to help balance the budget as public higher ed advocates have long suggested. Wouldn’t hold your breath on that one.


For a community perspective on the crisis at UMass Boston, check out the testimonial from recent graduate Cady Vishniac.



Apparent Horizon is syndicated by the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism. Jason Pramas is BINJ’s network director.


Copyright 2016 Jason Pramas. Licensed for use by the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism and media outlets in its network.






Portside aims to provide material of interest to people on the left that will help them to interpret the world and to change it.





From: Mark Crispin Miller
Sent: Friday, 10 June, 2016 2:30:12 AM
Subject: [MCM] MCM with Abby Martin, talkin' propaganda—going viral!



Propaganda & Engineering Consent for Empire

Video - Empire Files

The manipulation of public opinion through suggestion can be traced back to the father of modern propaganda, Edward Bernays, who discovered that preying on the subconscious mind was the best way to sell products people don't need, and wars people don't want.

Abby Martin interviews Dr. Mark Crispin Miller, professor of Media Studies at New York University.