Bulletin N° 818
“The 5 Filters of the Mass Media Machine”
Subject : ENTITLEMENTS vs. RIGHTS: SEVENTY YEARS OF “JUST MOWING THE GRASS.”
9 October 2018
Dear Colleagues and Friends of CEIMSA,
In the fourth and final part of E. P. Thompson’s epic study from the social history of English Victorian society, William Morris, Romantic to Revolutionary (1955), we are treated to a richly descriptive discussion of “Necessity and Desire” and a critical analysis of original contributions made by William Morris (1834-1896) to the founding of the British socialist movement.
By contrast, the ignoble years of Maragret Thatcher (1925-2013) in English history - her ruinous reign as Prime Minister, from 1979 to 1990 - reflect a counterrevolutionary movement on the part of international capitalist forces at the end of the Vietnam War; it was an orchestrated strategy to defeat Socialist ideology and capture a subserviant labor market around the world, transforming active citizens into would be consummers. One aspect of this Neoliberal crusade to save the capitalists’ political hegemony from collapse involved the financialization of daily life. In England, Thatcher’s “reforms,” following the Falkland Island War of 2 April – 14 June 1982 (which saved her failing government and brought her greater popular support in elections), included the introduction of user fees for home heating in Great Britain, litterally nickle-and-diming the poor, so that low-income families would often face the choice of whether to buy food for the family or put their coins in the meters recently installed in their apartments to activate a central heating system that could warm their home for a few hours. California Governor Ronald Reagan, Thatcher’s uneducated reactionary counterpart in the U.S., introduced the same policy of advancing user fees and privatizing public assets with a vengeance - "the poor must feel the pain," it was decided, if they were to have some access to the necessities of life, such as food, medical care and public education. The politics of TINA (“There Is No Alternative” to capitalism) oversaw the dismantling of the historic “Social Contract,” as the capitalist political economy began its descent into the stage of universal barbarism before the turn of the last century. And this class war continues, as morbidity rates rise and life expectancy declines . . . .
It is in this contemporary context that the history of the pioneers of 19th-century Anglo-Saxon Socialism can shed light on the experiences of those who were present at the Creation, so to speak - personalities like William Morris who forged the contours of the modern Revolutionary Socialist movement in the furnace of Necessity & Desire.
Thompson begins this discussion by citing Lenin on the fate of many revolutionaries whose ideas after their death are co-opted to fit conveniently into the liberal canon of the day.
‘During the lifetime of great revolutionaries the oppressing classes have invariably meted out to them relentless persecution and received their teaching with the most savage hostility, most furious hatred and ruthless campaign of slanders. After their death, however, attempts are usually made to turn them into harmless saints, canonizing them, as it were, and investing their name with a certain halo . . . while at the same time emasculating and vulgarizing the real essence of their revolutionary theories and blunting their revolutionary edge.’(cited on p.735)
Such was the case of William Morris, who during his life as an uncompromised socialist militant was attacked, ridiculed, censored, and misquoted; only to be embraced, after his death, as a misguided artist whose real contributions were in the realm of the plastic arts and poetry, and not political thought.
[He] was the first creative artist of major stature in the history of the world (to take his stand, consciously and without shadow of compromise, with the revolutionary working class: to participate in the day-to-day work of building the Socialist movement: to put his brain and his genius at its disposal in the struggle. In the Socialist world of the future, Morris’s writings and example will be remembered to England’s honour.
It is no small matter for a man of fifty, in the face of the ridicule of society, the indifference of family and friends, to set aside the work he loves and fashion his life anew. But this was what Morris did . . . .(p.841)
Thompson’s assessment of Morris’s contribution to Socialist theory is summed up after careful inspection of his writings: those critics who have attempted to depoliticize William Morris lose their credibility after the analysis by Thompson:
Morris’s claim to importance as a political theorist rests upon two grounds. First, he was one of the earliest, and remains one of the most original and creative thinkers within the Marxist tradition in England. Second, he was a pioneer of constructive thought as to the organization and manifestation of social life within Communist society.
No one familiar with Socialist theory can doubt that Morris stood squarely within the Marxist tradition, despite certain secondary circumstances which have clouded the issue. . . . The evidence is to be found, not in coloured reminiscences or second-hand opinions, but in Morris’s own political writings. His approach to Socialism was not Utopian, but Scientific.
‘Socialism is a theory of life,’ he wrote in the first of his four remarkable letters to Rev. George Bainton (1888), ‘taking for its starting point the evolution of society . . . of man as a social being’:
‘Since man has certain material necessities as an animal, Society is founded on man’s attempts to satisfy those necessities; and Socialism . . . points out to him the way of doing so which will interfere least with the development of his specially human capacities . . . . The foundation of Socialism, therefore, is economical.’
If his economic theory was faulty and he had imbibed (in his early days with Scheu) Lassalle’s doctrine of ‘the iron low of wages,’ his historical understanding was superior to that of any English contemporary. Always his teaching illustrated and directed attention to the essential discoveries of Scientific Socialism.
First, he was at pains to explain in every general discussion of theory the labour theory of value, the root source of capitalist exploitation. Let those who doubt this only read Chapters X and XI of The Dream of John Ball, and they cannot fail to be convinced. Or, if the imaginative dialogue confuses them, let them turn to any of Morris’s basic lectures – such as ‘True and False Society’, ‘Monopoly: or How Labour is Robbed’, or ‘The Dawn of a New Epoch’ – or to Socialism: Its Growth and Outcome, and they will receive a plain enough answer.
Second, the whole of Morris’s Socialist writing is a rich storehouse of illustrations of the class struggle, both in past history and in his own time. This, indeed, was to him the point of prime importance, distinguishing revolutionary Socialism from mere Reformism. Referring directly to Sidney Webb and the Fabians, he wrote in 1889:
‘What is the real gate which will pull up these soft Socialists, who so long as they are allowed to steal the goose will not object to give the giblets to the poor? This is the barrier which they will not be able to pass, so long as they are in their present minds, the acknowledgement of the class war. The ‘Socialists of this kind are blind as to the essence of modern society. They hope for a revolution, which is not the Revolution, but a revolution which is to ignore the facts that have led up to it and will bring it about. . . .
‘It is most important that young Socialists should have this fact of the class-war always before them. It explains past history, and in the present gives us the only solid hope for the future. And it must be understood that it is only by the due working out of this class-war to its end, the abolition of classes, that Socialism can come about. . . . The middle-class semi-Socialists, driven by class instinct, preach revolution without the class struggle; which is an absurdity and an impossibility.’
The bourgeois objection that Socialists themselves create the class-war, he brushed aside with the contempt it deserves:
“Who or what sets class against class? The whole evolution of society. That is, the existence of the classes;’
It was in historical understanding, above all, that Morris excelled; and his theory was ever anchored to the class-sturggle as to a rock:
‘They are already beginning . . . to stumble about with attempts at State Socialism. Let they make their experiments and blunders, and prepare the way for us by so doing . . . . We - sect or party, or group of self-seekers, madmen, and poets, which you will – are at least the only set of people who have been able to see that there is and has been a great class-struggle going on. Further, we can see that this class-struggle cannot come to an end till the classes themselves do: one class must absorb the other. Which, then? Surely the useful one, the one that the world lives by, and on. . . .’
This was at the core of his teaching.
Third, Morris was never deluded for a moment with theories of the neutrality, the ‘supra-class’ character, of the State, which were later to lead Keir Hardie and his comrades into confusion. Look for example, at Chapter XI (‘Concerning Government’) in News from Nowhere, or at the central arguments in ‘The Policy of Abstention’ . . . . The privilege of the capitalist class, Morris never tired of repeating,
“is but the privilege of the robber by force of arms, is just the thing which it is the aim and end of our present organization to uphold; and all the formidable executive at the back of it, army, police, law courts, presided over by the judge as representing the executive, is directed towards this one end – to take care that the richest shall rule, and shall have full license to injure the commonwealth to the full extent of his riches.’(pp.790-792)
Toward the end of the final section of this book, Thompson returns to an observation made by Lenin in 1919 :
‘I have no doubt at all that many workers who belong to the best, most honest and sincerely revolutionary representatives of the proletariat are enemies of parliamentarism and of any participation in parliament. The older capitalist culture and bourgeois democracy are in a given country, then the more comprehensible this is, since the bourgeoisie in old parliamentary countries has excellently learned the arts of hypocrisy and fooling the people in a thousand ways. . . .
‘I am personally convinced that to renounce participation in the parliamentary elections is a mistake for the revolutionary workers of England, but better to make that mistake, than to delay the formation of a big workers’ Communist Party. . . .’(cited on p.793)
Thompson continues this discussion on the political theory of William Morris by quoting the English labor union leader Tom Mann (1856-1941), who wrote his recollections of William Morris in 1934:
‘Morris was the man who enabled me to get a really healthy contempt for parliamentary institutions and scheming politicians. Prior to this I saw clearly the need for a complete change from private ownership of the means of production, distribution, and exchange, but this was to be done by parliamentary action on the basis of getting a majority of the voters to declare for it, and I was among the simples who thought it would then come off. I did not see that Parliament is an essentially capitalist institution and will perish with the capitalist system, as neither did I see that the ruling class was and will be ever ready to use their legislative institution on any hour on any day to change the Constitution to suit themselves.’(cited on p.793)
And he goes on to conclude that,
On these three fundamental points Morris’s writings are absolutely clear and absolutely revolutionary in their standpoint – the labour theory of value, the class struggle and the theory of the State. These three points included, in his own manner of presentation, a fourth essential point, the dictatorship of the proletariat. ‘What I did that was new,’ Marx wrote to Weydemeyer in 1852,
‘was to prove: (1) that the existence of classes is only bound up with particular historical phases in the development of production; (2) that the class struggle necessarily leads to the dictatorship of the proletariat; (3) that his dictatorship itself only constitutes the transition of the abolition of all classes and to a classless society.’(cited on p.794)
Morris understood and elaborated on the first and last of Marx’s three points. The second point was implied when he spoke of “the Revloution.”
“It was upon these foundations,” Thompson stresses, that William Morris
“built his rich interpretation of history and of life. Nor did he shrink (like some who profess ‘Marxist’ principles) from any of the revolutionary conclusions which flow from these principles. Above all, his writings and life reveal inflexible opposition to imperialism and chauvinism in any form. (p.794)
. . .
In one further point Morris’s political writings and his practice anticipated the theory of this century – in his search for the best type of organization an leadership for the party of revolution.(p.795)
Indeed the life and times of William Morris seem to offer an abundance of lessons for our own 21st-century conundrums, which we agonize over instead of addressing collectively and in a practical manner. Perhaps it is simply the case that the “dialectics of desire and necessity” have yet to be resolved . . . .
Morris differentiated between the organic relationships in pre-capitalist societies and the increasingly mechanical relationships under the capitalist political economy. Capitalist production necessitates,
‘the creation of surplus value being the one aim of the employers of labour, they cannot for a moment trouble themselves as to whether the work which creates that surplus value is pleasurable to the worker or not. In fact in order to get the greatest amount possible of surplus value out of the work . . . it is absolutely necessary that it should be done under such conditions as make . . . a mere burden which nobody would endure unless upon compulsion.’(cited on p.750)
He went on to explain that the system of “wage-slavery,” which accompanied the industrial revolution, “destroyed the attractiveness of labour for the craftsman and the beauty of the product,”
‘by lengthening the hours of labour: by intensifying the labour during its continuance; by the forcing of the workers into noisy, dirty crowded factories; by the aggregation of the population into cities and manufacturing districts . . . by the leveling of all intelligence and excellence of workmanship by means of machinery. . . . All this is the exact contrary of the conditions under which the spontaneous art of past ages was produced.’(ibid.)
The “Reverence” for Life of Man” Morris saw as the foundation of all art:
‘Art is man’s embodiment of interest in the life of man; it springs from man’s pleasure in his life; pleasure we must call it, taking all human life together, however much it may be broken by the grief and trouble of individuals. . . .’(cited on p.762)
Labor exploitation and class warfare necessarily stifled this “reverence for life;” the difference between the “impersonal state” and the “simple and limited kinship group” made apparent the alienating existence of the former and the “organic and personal life” of the latter. This contrast in quality of life becomes palpable:
‘The difference between these opposing circumstances of society is, in fact, that between an organism and a mechanism. The earlier condition in which everything, art, science . . . law, industry, were personal, and aspects of a living body, is opposed to the civilized condition in which all these elements have become mechanical, uniting to build up mechanical life, and themselves the product of machines material and moral.’(cited on p.784)
The capitalist system had to completely replaced if people were to fulfill their human potentials and becoming conscious of the intolerable constraints upon their lives was the first step workers must take in order to develop a revolutionary class consciousness. Morris held no illusions that under severe depravation and fear of starvation workers could be reduced to agreeing that the entire English countryside should be converted into one arificial hothouse for industrial farming that guaranteecd suficient production for their sustenance, thus abandoning the reason to live for the guarantee of survival. This he saw as the great danger of State Socialism.
Democratic Socialism – the only real socialism – thrived necessarily upon diversity and personal initiatives; it reflected the desires of ordinary people and a revolutionary aesthetics which must always accompany economic necessity in order to assure the uncompromised transition from alienated capitalist society to truely communist communities.
The 26 + items below reflect the overdue death throes of Capitalism and the embryonic cries of Socialism, struggling to be born in this climate of unabashed Barbarism, where socialist structures cannot yet replace capitalist “civilization” and the barbaric crimes against humanity continue unabated. Why, we must ask, is it that Socialism has not yet gained the necessary strength to be born? And how much damage must we continue to endure before the Revolution?
Professor emeritus of American Studies
Director of Research
University of Paris-Nanterre
Center for the Advanced Study of American Institutions and Social Movements
The University of California-San Diego
German Far-Right Uses ‘Judeo-Christian’ Values to Polish its Racism
with Shir Hever
The far-right German party identity Alternative fur Deutschland, or Alternative for Germany, made significant gains in the 2017 elections and entered the German parliament as the country’s fourth-largest party and as its largest opposition party with 12.6 percent of the vote. The party, known by its initials AFD, recently announced that it will launch a Jewish chapter next Sunday when it holds a party meeting in the town of Wiesbaden. Although it is not clear how many, or even if any, German Jews intend to join this Jewish chapter of the party, which will be called JAFD, the German media is covering the story very intensively. Germany’s media are fascinated because of the seeming contradiction between the far right party, the AFD, that openly promotes racist policies, and the aspect of a religious minority in Germany, the Jews, who were persecuted in Germany and subjected to genocide by the Nazis.
How does the AFD plan to draw Jews into its ranks? The AFD does so by claiming to be the only party in Germany that is truly supporting the state of Israel. Josef Schuster is the head of the organization Zentralat der Juden, or Central Council of Jews, in Germany, an organization that claims to represent the Jewish community and its interests. Here is his response to the question: How do you define anti-Semitism?
Everything Is A Hoax
by Paul Craig Roberts
Encounters With Gideon Levy, Israel’s Most Infamous Journalist
by Robert Fisk
Gideon Levy is a bit of a philosopher king although, sitting in his postage stamp garden in a suburb of Tel Aviv, straw hat shading mischievous dark eyes, there’s a touch of a Graham Greene character about Haaretz’s most provocative and infamous writer. Brave, subversive, sorrowful – in a harsh, uncompromising way – he’s the kind of journalist you either worship or loathe. Philosopher kings of the Plato kind are necessary for our moral health, perhaps, but not good for our blood pressure. So Levy’s life has been threatened by his fellow Israelis for telling the truth; and that’s the best journalism award one can get.
He loves journalism but is appalled by its decline. His English is flawless but it sometimes breaks up in fury. Here’s an angry Levy on the effect of newspaper stories: “In the year of ’86, I wrote about a Palestinian Bedouin woman who lost her baby after giving birth at a checkpoint. She tried at three different [Israeli] checkpoints, she couldn’t make it and she gave birth in the car. They [the Israelis] didn’t let her bring the baby to the hospital. She carried him by foot two kilometres to the Augusta Victoria [Hospital in east Jerusalem]. The baby died. When I published this story – I don’t want to say that Israel ‘held its breath’, but it was a huge scandal, the cabinet was dealing with it, two officers were brought to court…”
Then Levy found ten more women who had lost babies at Israeli checkpoints. “And nobody could care less any more. Today, I can publish it and people will yawn if they read it at all. [It’s] totally normalised, totally justified. We have a justification now for everything. The dehumanisation of the Palestinians has reached a stage in which we really don’t care. I can tell you, really, without exaggeration, if an Israeli dog was killed by Palestinians, it will get more attention in the Israeli media than if 20 Palestinian youngsters would be shot dead by snipers on the fence – without doing anything – in Gaza. The life of Palestinians has become the cheapest thing. It’s a whole system of demonisation, of de-humanisation, a whole system of justification that ‘we’ are always right and we can never be wrong.”
"The Problem In The Middle East Began With The Creation Of The State Of Israel" Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad
HARDtalk's Zeinab Badawi speaks to the world's oldest head of government, Malaysia's Prime Minister, Mahathir Mohamad. He was Prime Minister for more than 20 consecutive years until 2003.
Mowing the grass in Gaza
by Efraim Inbar & Eitan Shamir
Gaza: Teen killed by Israeli tear gas canister
Gaza health ministry says 24 others were wounded after Israeli forces fired live bullets and tear gas at protesters.
What Syria Continues to Teach Us
by Danny Haiphong
Leftists should turn their attention to the New Guard Fascists -- the enemies of the people at the top of the class structure and the armed body, the state, that protects the class structure.
“New guard fascism controls the levers of the economy, media, and military within the imperialist orbit.”
Syria continues to make gains against the jihadist mercenaries that flooded the country beginning 2011 with the help of US imperialism and its allies. The imperial ruling classes did not expect Idlib to be the last gasp of air for their efforts to destroy Syria and balkanize the region. It is this province where Turkey and its imperialist friends, including the United States, have lent critical support to jihadist proxies. It is also where the future of a thirty-plus year imperialist strategymay experience its greatest failure to date. The Syrian people have survived the imperial onslaught with much to teach us.
US imperialism and its allies have two choices in Syria. Either continue their current ineffectual attempt to hold back the liberation of Syria or escalate militarily. Both options come at great risk. The former ends all ambitions of overthrowing the Syrian government and further spreading the chaos of imperial domination throughout the region. The latter probably won’t lead to the overthrow of the Syrian government but willlead to dangerous military confrontations with the Russian Federation. This may be too risky for even the most blood thirsty war-hawks in Washington, Riyadh, Tel Aviv, Ankara, and the rest of the NATO-aligned countries. However, the left shouldn’t count on the good intentions of the imperialists when the profits of Wall Street and the war economy are at stake.
Russia’s New Missile Defense System in Syria
May Change Balance of Power in Middle East
by Patrick Cockburn
Russia has completed delivery of a S-300 surface-to-air missile system to Syria in a move likely to change the balance of forces in the skies over the Syrian battlefields.
“The work was finished a day ago,” Russian defence minister Sergei Shoigu told President Vladimir Putin in a meeting broadcast on television.
The decision to supply the sophisticated anti-aircraft system came in response to the shooting down of a Russian Ilyushin reconnaissance plane with the loss of all 15 on board by Syria on 17 September in an incident 22 miles off the Syrian coast for which Russia holds Israel ultimately responsible.
The friendly fire loss of the Russian plane is unsurprising since three of the world’s most powerful air forces – Russia, US and Israel – are frequently flying in or close to Syrian air space. In addition, there are Turkish and Syrian planes, backed up, in the case of Syria, by a ground-to-air defence system. With five air forces operating in close proximity some mishap always appeared inevitable.
Israel has expressed regret at the death of the Russian air force personnel and is concerned that the S-300s may make it more risky for its planes to continue a campaign against Iranian facilities in Syria. The missiles have the capacity to track dozens of targets at a distance of hundreds of miles. The state-owned manufacturer Almaz-Antey says they can also shoot down cruise and ballistic missiles.
“We have not changed our strategic line on Iran,” said Israeli education minister Naftali Bennett, a member of prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s security cabinet. “We will not allow Iran to open up a third front against us. We will take actions as required.”
Mr Putin has succeeded hitherto in maintaining good relations and a high level of cooperation with Syria, Turkey and Israel, despite their conflicting objectives in Syria.
Relations between Israel and Russia have been frayed by the 17 September shoot down when the Russians claimed that Israeli F-16s had used the reconnaissance flight of the Russian plane off Latakia to make an attack.
More is at stake than future Israeli air operations over Syria. US military power in the northern tier of the Middle East – notably in Syria and Iraq – stems primarily from the massive destructive power of its air force and its ability to use its planes and missiles at will.
by Paul Craig Roberts
In my September 24 column, “Truth Is Evaporating Before Our Eyes,” https://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2018/09/24/truth-is-evaporating-before-our-eyes/ I used the destruction of the CBS news team that broke the Abu Ghraib story and the story of President George W. Bush’s non-performance of his Texas Air Force National Guard duties to demonstrate how accusations alone could destroy a Peabody Award winning, 26 year veteran producer of CBS News, Mary Mapes, and the established news anchor Dan Rather.
I have many times written that it was President Bill Clinton who destroyed the independent US media when he permitted 90 percent of the US media to be concentrated in six mega-corporations that were in the entertainment and other businesses and not in the news business. This unprecedented concentration of media was against all American tradition and destroyed the reliance that our Founding Fathers placed on a free press to keep government accountable to the people.
Until I read Mary Mapes book, Truth and Duty (St. Martin’s Press, 2005), I was unaware of how this monopolization of the media in violation of the Sherman Anti-trust Act and American tradition had proceeded to destroy honest reporting.
by Ann Garrison
Pacifica radio stations are known as havens for leftwing thought and action, but the Berkeley station and the national Pacifica board have yet to come to the defense of Wikileak’s Julian Assange.
“Pacifica has incrementally moved to the right, along with the rest of the country.”
The following resolution has been submitted for a vote to the national board of directors of Pacifica, a non-commercial radio network of five high-power metropolitan stations—in Berkeley, Los Angeles, Houston, New York City, and Washington, DC. Pacifica has over 200 affiliate stations in other cities, towns, and college and university campuses across the US. The resolution has also been submitted to Pacifica station KPFA’s local station board in Berkeley.
The US National Press Club, Overseas Press Club of America, Reuters, and Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press all deserted Assange in 2011 , two years into Obama's presidency. After more than six years of political asylum inside London’s Ecuadorian Embassy, he is in poor health and in danger of extradition to stand trial in the US for publishing leaked confidential documents, many of which were also published by the New York Times, the London Guardian, and other prominent media outlets. He could even be tried and sentenced “in camera,” with neither press nor human rights observers present.
“Assange is in poor health and in danger of extradition to stand trial in the US for publishing leaked confidential documents.”
Pacifica was founded by pacifist Lew Hill in the 1940s after World War II. It has a long, proud history as a radical, edgy alternative to corporate and state media that has opposed most US wars and austerity measures since. So one might think that passing this resolution would be a slam dunk, but it hasn’t been. As I wrote in “We Love the CIA!—Or How the Left Lost its Mind,” Pacifica has incrementally moved to the right, along with the rest of the country, ever since Ronald Reagan’s presidency, and during the neoliberal, hawkish presidencies of Democrats Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.
Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg and other whistleblowers, writers, editors and union and media activists have endorsed the resolution, but majorities on the Berkeley board and the national board have prevented roll call votes or any votes at all without explaining why. If you’d like to see this resolution passed by the Pacifica National Board and the KPFA Local Station Board, please write to email@example.com and copy firstname.lastname@example.org
John Pilger On ‘Approved News,’ Syria, Iran, Austerity And Julian Assange
On this episode of Going Underground, legendary journalist John Pilger discusses Syria and it’s ally Iran and the Trump administration’s policies towards the two countries, the Venezuela crisis, Julian Assange, austerity and the concept of ‘approved news’ and unapproved opinions!
Kavanaugh Is a Corporation Masquerading as a Judge
by Ralph Nader
How D.C. Prep School Culture Builds Men Like Brett Kavanaugh
by Ilana Novick
Brett Kavanaugh, who is alleged to have sexually abused Christine Blasey Ford during his days at Georgetown Prep, is not an anomaly, or an accident. An entire ecosystem for white, male children of wealthy families exists that both encourages abusive behavior and covers it up.
Deirdre Bowen would know. In a USA Today op-ed, Bowen, now a law professor at Seattle University, details the world of D.C.-area private schools and the people who attended them, including the underage drinking, the violence and the expectation that women should suffer in silence from the consequences.
“The students at these elite schools are groomed to be charismatic, upstanding leaders in society,” Bowen writes. “This, however, does not mean that the upstanding leaders of today could not have committed unspoken venialities in their youth.”
Bowen writes that she, like Kavanaugh, “was raised in Montgomery County, Maryland. Like him, I attended Beach Week, the week of debauchery when Catholic high school students take over Ocean City before the public school kids get out for the summer. Like him, I hosted and went to parties where underage drinking was the norm. To be honest, getting wasted was the norm.”
Community Organizers weigh in on the Supreme Court Nomination.
Flake Demanded FBI Probe Soon After Being Confronted by Sexual Assault Survivors
Senator Flake’s remarks shocked his Republican colleagues, who were hoping to quickly push ahead with a full confirmation vote for Kavanaugh. Flake’s move to stall the vote came just hours after he was confronted in a Senate elevator by two survivors of sexual assault.
You Don’t Know Brett: Ten Lessons From the Kavanaugh Hearings
by Kristine Mattis
The Brett Kavanaugh hearings proved to be yet another shameless foray into political theatre–not much more than a spectacle of the utmost proportions. Surrounding one highly credible and candid witness (Blasey Ford), we saw self-serving members of Congress jockeying for future positions with their sometimes ridiculous, sometimes laughable, and sometimes overwrought rhetoric. We saw a very typical entitled rich white man acting as if he had worked hard his whole life and deserved every great fortune he has received. He seemingly had no regrets or mistakes in his past (or present, or future, presumably.)
It’s fairly obvious that Kavanaugh cannot be trusted. He has already perjured himself in the past. We didn’t need to hear the Republicans spew their litany of erroneous, misogynist, religious-tinged nonsense. We didn’t need to hear the Democrats attempt to be heroes, however disingenuous they may be. (Ahem – does Juanita Broaddrick ring a bell?) What I think we need to hear are some simple truths about how people and our society generally function, which could put the Kavanaugh hearings in a non-partisan context.
Here are ten lessons from life in America that we might keep in mind. . . .
Ten Items Corroborate Dr. Blasey Ford’s Allegation
by Doug Johnson
Along with the usual smears, name calling, and flat dismissals put forward by rape culture warriors, defenders of Brett Kavanaugh, and Kavanaugh at times himself, have repeatedly argued that Dr. Christine Blasey Ford contradicted herself in the number of people she placed at the party, that those people have said it never happened, and that she has provided no evidence to support her story. The first argument is terribly weak and barely worthy addressing. Remembering the exact number of people there is not a central part of the story, and she’s named several of them that will become relevant in what follows.
The second argument (they’ve all denied it under penalty of perjury) was horribly handled by Democratic Senators yesterday, and could be the topic of another post. For starters, Mark Judge didn’t deny it under penalty of perjury as his lawyer, not he himself, submitted a cursory statement to the Senate Judiciary committee. (Update: Judge and lawyer sent a new letter, signed by Judge and released by Chuck Grassely, before midnight last night. As below, still no reason whatsoever he shouldn’t be scrutinized under Senate questioning or court room cross-examination.) There are problems with each of the other supposed denials too, but that isn’t the subject here. So, without further ado, let’s go in reverse order of strength to the 10 items that corroborate Dr. Blasey Ford’s allegation that Brett Kavanaugh tried to rape her. The claim that “there is no corroboration” is consistently bandied about on news programs, by senators, and on social media by people who, apparently do not know what the term corroborate means (hint: ‘to confirm or give support to’ is a lot wider category than “eye witness testimony”).
10. Kavanaugh (and His Closest Defenders) Own Admissions
With some of the wilder allegations of rape or sexual assault leaked, it seems, by Senate Republicans, Kavanaugh said things like, “I was not in Newport, haven’t been on a boat in Newport. Not with Mark Judge on a boat, nor all those three things combined. This is just completely made up, or at least not me. I don’t know what they’re referring to.” Fair enough. Corroboration would mean things like showing he was on a boat at the relevant time in Newport with Mark Judge. This isn’t the case with Blasey Ford’s allegation. Kavanaugh admits that he at least knew her and socialized with her in passing, further acknowledging that he doesn’t deny that these things happened to her, it just wasn’t him. As such, close associates of his tried a failed doppelgänger theory on for size. Admitting he knew Blasey Ford and acknowledging her credibility in so far as she claims to have been sexually assaulted are minimally corroborative.
9. Kavanaugh’s Own Speeches
Kavanaugh went on Fox News and tried to suggest that maybe he had a beer here and there, but that generally he was a virgin who focused on sports, going to church every Sunday, and service projects. We’ll get to some responses to that shortly, but his own speechesabout hard-partying ways at both Yale and Georgetown Prep cut against that portrayal and corroborate Dr. Blasey Ford’s suggestion that he was the kind of person who could get wildly drunk and aggressive. “What happens on the bus stays on the bus” and “what happens at Georgetown Prep stays at Georgetown prep.”
8. People Blasey Ford Told Over the Last 1/2 Dozen Years . . . .
Senate Republicans Set Kavanaugh FBI Probe Scope, McConnell Says
by Laura Litvan & Steven T. Dennis
Eve Ensler to White Women Supporting Kavanaugh:
The 1% Will Earn the People's Hatred
by Glen Ford
Theory 101: Class Struggle in the Age of US Imperial Decline
by Danny Haiphong
The focus on separate “identities” has led to numerous academic theories and non-profit career opportunities but no real power for oppressed and working-class people.
“Paul Robeson and Huey P. Newton made common cause with oppressed people around the world and defended revolutionary movements in Russia, Vietnam, and Cuba from US and Western aggression.”
Who Owns US Technology?
The US Military-Industrial Complex’s Worst Nightmare:
by Federico Pieraccini
The tragic episode that caused the death of 15 Russian air force personnel has had immediate repercussions on the situation in Syria and the Middle East. On September 24, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu informed allies and opponents that the delivery of the S-300 air-defense systems to the Syrian Arab Republic had been approved by President Vladimir Putin. The delivery had been delayed and then suspended as a result of Israeli pressure back in 2013.
In one sense, the delivery of S-300 batteries to Syria is cause for concern more for Washington than for Tel Aviv. Israel has several F-35 and has claimed to have used them in Syria to strike alleged Iranian weapons transfers to Hezbollah. With the S-300 systems deployed in an updated version and incorporated into the Russian command, control and communications (C3) system, there is a serious risk (for Washington) that Israel, now incapable of changing the course of events in Syria, could attempt a desperate maneuver.
It is no secret that Greece purchased S-300s from Russia years ago, and that NATO and Israel have trained numerous times against the Russian air-defense system. Senior IDF officials have often insisted that they are capable taking out the S-300s, having apparently discovered their weaknesses.
Tel Aviv’s warning that it will attack and destroy the S-300 battery should not be taken as an idle threat. It is enough to look at the recent downing of Russia’s Il-20 surveillance aircraft to understand how reckless a desperate Israel is prepared to be. Moreover, more than one IDF commander has over the years reiterated that a Syrian S-300 would be considered a legitimate target if threatening Israeli aircraft.
At this point, it is necessary to add some additional information and clarify some points. Greece’s S-300s are old, out of maintenance, and have not had their electronics updated. Such modern and complex systems as the S-300s and S-400s require maintenance, upgrades, and often replacement of parts to improve hardware. All this is missing from the Greek batteries. Secondly, it is the operator who uses the system (using radar, targeting, aiming, locking and so forth) that often makes the difference in terms of overall effectiveness. Furthermore, the system is fully integrated into the Russian C3 system, something that renders useless any previous experience gleaned from wargaming the Greek S-300s. No Western country knows the real capabilities and capacity of Syrian air defense when augmented and integrated with Russian systems. This is a secret that Damascus and Moscow will continue to keep well guarded. Yet two years ago, during the operations to free Aleppo, a senior Russian military officer warned (presumably alluding to fifth-generation stealth aircraft like the F-35 and F-22) that the range and effectiveness of the Russian systems may come as a surprise.
The following are the words of Russian defense minister Sergei Shoigu concerning the deployment of the S-300 to Syria and its integration with other Russian systems:
"Russia will jam satellite navigation, onboard radars and communication systems of combat aircraft, which attack targets in the Syrian territory, in the Mediterranean Sea bordering with Syria. We are convinced that the implementation of these measures will cool hotheads and prevent ill-considered actions threatening our servicemen. Otherwise, we will respond in line with the current situation. Syrian troops and military air defense units will be equipped with automatic control systems, which have been supplied to the Russian Armed Forces. This will ensure the centralized management of the Syrian air defense forces and facilities, monitoring the situation in the airspace and prompt target designation. Most importantly, it will be used to identify the Russian aircraft by the Syrian air defense forces."
If the Israelis will follow through with their reckless attempts to eliminate the S-300 (if they can find them in the first place, given that they are mobile), they will risk their F-35s being brought down. The US military-industrial complex would suffer irreparable damage. This would also explain why Israel (and probably the US) has for more than five years put enormous pressure on Moscow not to deliver the S-300 to Syria and Iran. The US State Department’s reaction over the future purchase by Turkey and India of the S-400 confirms the anxiety that US senior officials as well as generals are experiencing over the prospect of allies opting for the Russian systems. This would allow for a comparison with weapons these allies purchased from the US, leading to the discovery of vulnerabilities and the realization of the US weapons’ relative inferiority.
Given Tel Aviv’s tendency to place its own interests above all others, it would not be surprising to find them using the possibility of attacking the S-300 with their F-35s as a weapon to blackmail Washington into getting more involved in the conflict. For the United States, there are two scenarios to avoid. The first is a direct involvement in the conflict with Russia in Syria, which is now unthinkable and impractical. The second – much more worrying for military planners – concerns the possibility of the F-35’s capabilities and secrets being compromised or even being shown not to be a match against air-defense systems nearly half a century old.
‘Hillary said so’: Iran slams Saudi Arabia as top ‘terrorist donor,’
quotes Clinton to back claim
Members of Al-Qaeda-affiliated terrorist group Jabhat al-Nusra in Syria. © Omar Haj Kadour / AFP
A fiery speech by an Iranian representative, responding to Saudi accusations at the UN General Assembly, blamed terrorist activity around the globe on Riyadh – and even quoted Hillary Clinton to back the claim.
Accusing Iran of supporting terrorism was a “strange and outlandish claim” by Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Jubeir, the Iranian representative said. He was addressing the United Nations in Arabic, explaining that he was doing so in order “to make sure that our position is rendered clear” to Riyadh.
“Everybody knows that Saudi Arabia supports terrorism in a very blatant and widespread manner,” the diplomat said. He then added, unexpectedly, that “in the framework of WikiLeaks in 2009, Hillary Clinton is said to have stated that Saudi Arabia is the greatest donor to terrorist groups around the world.”
WikiLeaks did publish a memo by Clinton – which she put together in 2009, while she was US secretary of state – that said that “donors in Saudi Arabia constitute the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide… Saudi Arabia remains a critical financial support base for Al-Qaida, the Taliban… and other terrorist groups.”
WARNING! GRAPHIC IMAGES
Tehran, meanwhile, accuses Riyadh of being responsible for terrorist attacks “in the Middle East, North Africa and Europe” as well as of backing Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) and Al-Qaeda.
“It’s an open secret that the Yemen nation is suffering as a result of the direct machinations and maneuvers of Saudi Arabia,” the spokesman added.
Noam Chomsky: Facebook and Google Pose a Manifest Danger
by Jacob Sugarman
In “Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media” (1988), authors Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky identified what they called the “five filters of editorial bias”: Size, Ownership and Profit Orientation; the Advertising License to Do Business; Sourcing Mass Media News; Flak and the Enforcers; and Anti-Communism.
While the Soviet Union has since been relegated to the dustbin of history, Herman and Chomsky’s text has proved indispensable, with multinationals like Google, Amazon and Facebook tightening their stranglehold on the news industry and the economy at large. As Chomsky warns, these corporations’ eagerness to appease their advertisers and manipulate their users’ behavior has “very serious distorting effects” on the stories we consume. “I don’t think that’s a healthy development, but it is happening,” he says. “And that means essentially dividing much of the population … into cocoons [or] bubbles, into which they receive the information conducive [only] to their own interests and commitments.”
Last week, Chomsky explored this topic and more in an exhaustive interview (“American Dissident”) with The Intercept’s Jeremy Scahill. What follows are just a few of the activist author’s more trenchant observations and digressions.
“There’s an authentic constituency of corporate power and private wealth, and they’re being served magnificently by the executive orders [and] legislative programs that are being pushed through. [These] represent the more savage wing of the traditional Republican policies catering to private interests, private wealth, and dismissing the rest as irrelevant and easily disposed of. At the same time, [Trump] is managing to maintain the voting constituency by pretending, very effectively, to be the one person in the world who stands up for them against the hated elites. And this is quite an impressive con job. How long he can carry it off? I don’t know.”
Organized Human Life Survive?
Noam Chomsky’s lecture at St. Olaf College on 4 May 2018.
Hutchison Must Resign
Because starting World War III isn’t what Americans voted for
by Justin Raimondo
How crazy-stupid do you have to be to get up there on the podium and openly threaten Russia with a “preemptive” first strike? You don’t have to be Kay Bailey Hutchison, but it helps.
Our “Ambassador” to NATO – as if NATO is an actual country rather than a supra-national parasite – claims that Moscow is in violation of the INF treaty, and that, while she’s willing to give diplomacy a try, she is “prepared to consider a military strike if development of the medium-range system continued.”
So now the “Ambassador” to NATO is empowered to start World War III. Next we’ll have the Postmaster General ordering an invasion of Iran. The Ambassadress has exceeded her authority and caused an international incident that may come to haunt us: certainly she has endangered us all. In a civilized country like Japan, she would literally fall on her sword, but I’ll settle for her resignation.
Although Hutchison later denied that she was threatening a first strike, the meaning of her words is unmistakable:
“At that point, we would be looking at the capability to take out a (Russian) missile that could hit any of our countries. Counter measures (by the United States) would be to take out the missiles that are in development by Russia in violation of the treaty. They are on notice.”
This should put Americans on notice that, a) we are living in very dangerous times, and b) that the foreign policy of the United States has very little to do with the President of the United States. Commentators have remarked on what they dub our “two-track” foreign policy, and this is especially true when it comes to our stance toward Russia. What this “two-track” business means is that the President’s advisors have done everything possible to obstruct his preferred policy – the policy he campaigned and won on, which is peace with Russia. They lied to him about the number of Russian diplomats to be expelled, they actively subverted the White House summit with Putin, and they have blocked his oft-expressed desire to get out of Syria and reach some accord with Moscow about the future of the region.
Weaponized Communication at the UN: Talking With Richard Falk
by Daniel Falcone
Daniel Falcone: What are your general thoughts on Trump’s recent UN talk and how world opinion received it? What do you regard as the central theme? Trump seems determined to be one of the more militaristic statesmen in recent history while claiming to be an anti-establishment politician. What are your thoughts on what Trump said and were you surprised that certain diplomatic issues were left unsaid by the president?
Richard Falk: The Trump speech at the UN this year was a virtual mirror image of Trump’s overall political profile, slightly embellished by some idealistic sentiments of an abstract and vague character, and if the content analyzed, revealing glaring tensions between its abstractions and the concrete lines of policy being advocated.
At the same time, if compared with Trump’s first speech to the General Assembly a year earlier, it was somewhat less belligerent except with respect to Iran, a bit more ingratiating to other members and to the UN as an organization, yet essentially unchanged so far as its essential features of policy and prescription are concerned.
A central theme articulated by Trump throughout the speech and strongly stressed at the beginning and end was the primacy of a sovereignty-centered world order based on territorial nation-states. This amounts to a strong affirmation of Westphalian ideas of world order as these have evolved in Europe since the middle of the 17thcentury. The essential tone of the speech was awkwardly encapsulated in this pithy statement: “We reject the ideology of globalism and accept the doctrine of patriotism.”
It is far from clear what is meant by ‘the ideology of globalism,’ although it can be inferred from other formulations in the text, that it means rejecting any outlook that puts the region or world ahead of the interests of individual sovereign states. Trump leaves no doubt about this: “Sovereign and independent nations are the only vehicle where freedom has ever survived, democracy has ever endured, or peace has ever prospered. And so we must protect our sovereignty and our cherished independence above all.”
As an emotional embodiment of this state-centric worldview is Trump’s stress, unusual in his wording, on ‘the doctrine of patriotism.’ Again, the meaning is clear even if the words chosen are rather odd. There is no doctrine of patriotism lying about waiting to be adopted. A claim of patriotism is normally associated with expressions of overriding, sometime blind, loyalty to a particular national political community, especially in relation to war and in terms of making sacrifices and lending support to one’s own country in situations of international conflict.
Against such a background, Trump’s next move in his address to this UN audience is exactly what we have come to expect from him. First, putting America forward as a model nation that demonstrates to the world what can, be achieved by way constitutional stability and prosperity, and what other states should mimic if they seek the best possible future for their respective societies.
And secondly, insisting that America will respect the sovereignty of others and cooperate for mutual benefits, but only on the basis of reciprocity and based on what he deems as fair, which require some drastic course corrections within and without the UN. Trump in his now familiar framing contends that the U.S. has in the past borne a disproportionate share of financial burdens at the UN, and elsewhere, but vows that this will not continue in the future. Whether in trade relations or foreign economic assistance, the United States will demand not only good balance sheet results, but shows of political support from those that are beneficiaries of American largesse.
Where Trump tramples on protocol, so much so that his comments provoke derisive laughter from the assembled delegates, occurs when he boasts so grossly about the achievements of his presidency. “In less than two years, my administration has accomplished more than almost any other administration in the history of our country.” To give more tangible grounds for this extraordinary moment of self-congratulation with representatives of the governments of the entire world sitting in front of him, Trump claims “America’s economy is booming as never before.” To substantiate such a boast Trump points to the record highs of the stock market and historic lows for unemployment, especially for minorities. He also points to counterterrorism successes in Syria and Afghanistan, and to border security in relation to illegal migration.
Maybe most distressing in the context of telling this global audience about how well the United States is doing under his leadership is Trump’s seeking credit for unabashed embrace of militarism. He speaks with pride, rather than shame, of record spending of $700 billion for the military budget, to be increased in the following year to $716 billion. Such expenditures are announced with no felt need for a security justification beyond the bald assertion “[our] military will soon be more powerful than it has ever been.”
There is here an unintended hint of a globalist element. Trump asserts his familiar trope that “[we] are standing up for America and for the American people. And we are also standing up for the world.” In other words, American militarism is a win/win proposition for all nations, provided, of course, that they are not identified as enemies to be sanctioned and destabilized from within and without.
I was also struck by what Trump left unsaid in his speech. There was no reference to his supposed ‘deal of the century’ with its pledge to deliver an enduring peace to Israel and Palestine. I can only wonder whether the evident content of the approach being long prepared by the White House seems so politically unacceptable that it has either been shelved or is in the process of being repackaged. Although it is probably foolish to speculate, the Kushner/Greenblatt/Friedman plan according to what is known, involved an unpalatable mixture of ‘economic peace’ incentives with some sort of arrangement to transfer Gaza to the governmental authority of Jordan and Egypt.
In effect, this strikes me as a pseudo-diplomatic version of the ‘Victory Caucus’ promoted so vigorously by Daniel Pipes and the Middle East Forum, but for the sake of appearances made to seem as if a new peace process. For Pipes, the road to peace is based on the prior renunciation of Palestinian political aspirations coupled with the acknowledgement both Israel is a state of the Jewish people and that international diplomacy had been tried within the Oslo framework for more than 20 years, and failed. . . .
by Glen Ford
New American Civil War?
All the Good
News (Ignored by the Trump-Obsessed Media)
by Gary Leupp
There is much good news in this world. But the U.S. mass media barely reports it.
Have you noticed? Syria is on the brink of defeating the U.S.-backed opposition forces now corralled into Idlib Province. The successes of the Syrian Arab Army and its allies have decisively stymied Washington’s 17-year-long year effort to dominate the Middle East through aggressive, illegal regime change operations justified by lies.
Meanwhile the Sadrists in Iraq in alliance with the Iraqi Communist Party are steering an independent national path that includes cordial ties and security cooperation with Iran, Syria and Russia. The Bush/Cheney dream (of securing Iraq as a U.S. and Israel ally) hasn’t materialized.
The Europeans, Chinese, Indians and Russians persist in expanding trade with Iran in defiance of arrogant U.S. threats. This too is good; an affirmation of international law in the face of U.S. violations. The very departure of the U.S. from the Iran deal, to say nothing of efforts to sabotage it through secondary sanctions, is illegal.
This too–have you noticed? A remarkable warming of relations between North and South Korea is underway! The North and South Korean heads of state have met three times in rapid succession and signed a host of significant agreements. This is an unqualified good, but the U.S. media pooh-poohs it, questioning whether any progress has really been made on denuclearization, wondering whether Trump sold out the store in Singapore. The desire to attack Trump trumps any natural inclination to share the joy of the Korean people at this dramatic relaxation of tensions. Instead of smiling about it, they glare, and express alarm that Trump might actually pull U.S. troops out of South Korea. Like that would be an irresponsible thing.
'A lot of women are extremely happy':
Donald Trump on Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation – video
IPCC climate change report calls for urgent action to phase out fossil fuels – live
World War 3 FEARS: Iranian General vows
to DESTROY Israel in FURIOUS attack
by James Bickerton
A TOP Iranian General has vowed to destroy Israel, warning “there will soon be no way to escape but the sea”, raising fears of a major outbreak of conflict in the volatile Middle East.
The U.N.'s Climate Report Exposes
How Badly Wrong Leaders Like Trump Have Got Climate Change
by Ban Ki-moon
Climate change is a global challenge demanding global solutions. No one country can face it alone, no matter that nation’s political, economic or military might. From the richest to the poorest, we all share one planet, and we all have a stake in its survival.
This is why the latest report from the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) makes for such alarming reading and demands immediate, concerted action from everyone — particularly our leaders.
The report sets out starkly that, without a rapid change of course, global temperatures will rise above the 1.5°C level that scientists view as the bare minimum to avert catastrophic climate change, including rising sea waters, desertification and droughts.