The China Rose

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Brilliant message: Rev. Louis Farrakhan on 9-11

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IN CASE SOMEONE IS WONDERING – A Note from China Rose

Is the phrase “The Synagogue of Satan” quoted by Rev Farrakhan the most egregious example of anti-Semitism in the New Testament? Lets’s take a look.

The phrase Synagogue of Satan, is followed by a clear explication: “they who say they are Jews but are not.” Thus fake Jews are comprise Synagogue of Satan, not real Jews. So you cannot look at this phrase and see it as a blanket condemnation of every Jew. But it does condemn the poseurs. The problem that John’s vision reveals is people who claim to be Jews, but do NOT have a clue what being a Jew really means. The controversy over who is a Jew, and what that means continues to this day. Why is the nature of Jewish identity so disputed? Is being Jewish supporting Israel and AIPAC, amassing piles of money, following customs and traditions, living in Israel, being a cultured liberal, or embracing the  tenets of the Talmud? Reform, Conservative or Orthodox? Is it ethnicity, religion, national pride? Are Ashkenazism Jews at all? What about Zionism? Can a campaign to dominate a geographical region by force be a pre-condition of qualifying to be Jewish?

John the Revelator’s metaphor suggests that all the above are pretenders and frauds and comprise the Synagogue of Satan. “Satanic” not because Jews are inherently evil, which is a ridiculous interpretation. It is a Satanic Synagogue because it substitutes worldly affiliations for spiritual, carnal values for Biblical. If there is one theme that persists from Old to New Testament it is this: God’s ways are not Man’s Ways, Don’t Trust in Man and in the succinct words of Jesus, “My Kingdom is Not of This World”  From the very beginning – the flight from Egypt – there were pretenders, worshippers of the Golden Calf, the self-deceived, who thought they could break God’s laws and get away with it.

While it is true that very few Jews are following their own precepts, it’s also true for Gentiles.

If there is anything that sets Jews apart, it is the level of hypocrisy required to maintain that their Jewishness makes them better than anyone else, and that being “the chosen ones” means they don’t have to study the Bible and read the phrases about God’s condemnations & judgements of a nation that was “uncircumcised in heart.” Jesus was aware of that hypocrisy, despised it and condemned it. Being Jewish, He was surrounded with it. But He was not the first. Most of the Hebrew prophets had already experienced the lethal hypocrisy of the their Jewish leaders. Their lives were threatened when they exposed it.

Isaiah 6:5 So I said: “Woe [is] me, for I am undone! Because I [am] a man of unclean lips, And I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, The LORD of hosts.”

God’s condemnations of the people of Israel and imprecations against them for their hypocrisy occur thoughout the people. The Book of Isaiah is a good case in point.  http://tinyurl.com/y35lthj   Read at least Chapter 1 if you think Jews have a free pass from God to do whatever they want and remain in God’s grace. In short the Synagogue of Satan refers to hypocrisy based on selfish motives and self-deceit. Unfortunately, this synagogue is still taking new members.

ISAIAH 1:2-4

2 Hear, O heavens! Listen, O earth!
For the LORD has spoken:
“I reared children and brought them up,
but they have rebelled against me.
3 The ox knows his master,
the donkey his owner’s manger,
but Israel does not know,
my people do not understand.”

4 Ah, sinful nation,
a people loaded with guilt,
a brood of evildoers,
children given to corruption!
They have forsaken the LORD;
they have spurned the Holy One of Israel
and turned their backs on him.

13 Stop bringing meaningless offerings!
Your incense is detestable to me.
New Moons, Sabbaths and convocations—
I cannot bear your evil assemblies.

14 Your New Moon festivals and your appointed feasts
my soul hates.
They have become a burden to me;
I am weary of bearing them.

15 When you spread out your hands in prayer,
I will hide my eyes from you;
even if you offer many prayers,
I will not listen.
Your hands are full of blood;

16 wash and make yourselves clean.
Take your evil deeds
out of my sight!
Stop doing wrong,

Alice Walker in Gaza – March 2009: “sadistic, brutal, horrible…”

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This is part 3 of a series…

Poet and Author Alice Walker Speaking in Gaza.

Thanks to Gilad Atzmon and Democracy Now for airing this segment

The Jewish Diaspora is Turning Against Israel

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The Jewish Diaspora is Turning Against Israel

by Antony Loewenstein, John Docker and Ned Curthoys   –  newmatilda.com –   31 March 2010

It’s not just major western allies who are talking tough with Israel – evidence suggests ordinary Jews are also withdrawing their support from the rogue state

Earlier this month the Sydney Morning Herald’s chief correspondent Paul McGeough quizzically asked if there are any “major allies” left for Israel to offend. With the abuse of passports in the Dubai Mossad scandal, Israel has caused anger in Britain, Ireland, Australia, France and Germany.

It has even managed to annoy the United States, announcing on 8 March, the day of US vice president Joe Biden’s arrival in Jerusalem, that 1600 hundred new homes for Israeli Jews would be built in East Jerusalem — that is, on illegally occupied and annexed Palestinian land. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called the announcement “an insult to the United States”, and President Obama reportedly gave Israeli PM Binyamin Netanyahu an icy reception during last week’s visit to the White House. The implication is clear: if Israel is rapidly losing moral legitimacy in the world, so might its close ally, sponsor, and defender in the United Nations.

Some years ago the American political scientists John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, in the London Review of Books, warned that Americans must see that continuing total support for Israel will harm their own national interests, jeopardising “not only US security but that of much of the rest of the world”. With that situation now playing out, western countries are finally beginning to question their traditional subservience to Israel.

Another of Israel’s powerful allies, however, has been steadily moving away from the rogue state for a number of years. The international Jewish Diaspora no longer automatically backs every Israeli action. In what was at first a trickle and is now a broad stream of dissent, Diaspora Jews are regaining their independence and questioning Israel’s moral and intellectual foundations. Refusing the leadership of the blindly pro-Israeli Zionist organisations, they have formed groups of “independent Jewish voices”, including in Australia, suggesting that Israel does not act in the name of all Jews, as it claims to do.

A recent US study found that only 54 per cent of non-Orthodox Jews under 35 were “comfortable with the idea of a Jewish state” — compared to more than 80 per cent of those over 65. Another study, conducted by progressive Jewish lobby J Street, found significant opposition among American Jews to continued settlement building in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. As well, high-profile Jewish activists and intellectuals such as Naomi Klein, Judith Butler, and Ronnie Kasrils, are energetically joining in the international movement of boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel, which was launched by Palestinian civil society in 2005 and inspired by the non-violent anti-racist, anti-colonial philosophies of Gandhi and Martin Luther King.

In Australia, following similar initiatives in the United States and Britain, prominent Jews have signed a petition rejecting the 1950 Israeli Law of Return whereby people of Jewish descent can migrate to and become citizens of Israel. They are also expressing anger that Israel will not permit the right of return of Palestinian refugees and exiles as sanctioned by international law.

The petition, signed by ethicist Peter Singer, actor Miriam Margolyes, feminist Eva Cox, academic and pioneering gay rights activist Dennis Altman, writer Susan Varga, and others (including the three of us), argues that the Israeli Law of Return is “a form of racist privilege that abets the colonial oppression of the Palestinians … We renounce this ‘right’ to ‘return’ offered to us by Israeli law. It is not right that we may ‘return’ to a state that is not ours while Palestinians are excluded and continuously dispossessed”.

The petition sits within an interesting historical context. In 1961 the famous German Jewish philosopher Martin Buber — who was forced to leave Germany in 1938, went to live in Palestine and was himself a cultural Zionist — wrote to prime minister David Ben-Gurion protesting against the persistent refusal of the Israeli government to accept and implement UN Resolution 194. Buber considered that Israel’s refusal to abide by international humanitarian law brought dishonour upon the Zionist movement and the Israeli state. For many decades Buber had put forward the idea that Palestine should become a bi-national state with equal citizenship for Arabs and Jews.

In the present, Jewish intellectuals such as the American Jewish philosopher Judith Butler, have looked to alternative traditions of critique such as those of Martin Buber to pose against the mainstream Zionist ideals that inspired the coming into existence of Israel as a militantly nationalist and aggressive settler-colonial state.

But while she still admires Buber, in a recent interview for the liberal Israeli newspaper Haaretz, Butler was quoted as saying that we now have to go beyond the notion of bi-nationalism to consider “even multiculturalism. Maybe even a kind of citizenship without regard to religion, race, ethnicity, etc.”

She continues: “It is no longer the question of ‘two peoples’, as Martin Buber put it. There is extraordinary complexity and intermixing among both the Jewish and the Palestinian populations.”

In our view, although we don’t necessarily speak here for our fellow petition-signatories, renunciation of the Israeli Law of Return by Jews in the Diaspora, and Israel’s immediate compliance with a vast array of relevant international law including UN Resolution 194, would be definite steps towards what Judith Butler envisages as “a kind of citizenship without regard to religion, race, ethnicity, etc”. The kind of citizenship, we might note, that is taken for granted as basic to those very same western democracies that have enabled Israel’s rogue status until now.

Antony Loewenstein is a Sydney-based freelance journalist, author and blogger and author of My Israel Question.
John Docker is honorary professor in the History Department, University of Sydney, and is author of The Origins of Violence: Religion, History and Genocide.
Ned Curthoys is a research fellow in the Australian National University and co-editor of Edward Said: the Legacy of a Public Intellectual.

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Real Men Love Palestine: Malcolm X Quotes

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Malcolm X

http://mundosonhos.wordpress.com/2010/02/25/real-men-love-palestine/.

Malcolm X on Zionism – Egyptian Gazette, September 17, 1964

“The Zionist armies that now occupy Palestine claim their ancient Jewish prophets predicted that in the “last days of this world” their own God would raise them up a “messiah” who would lead them to their promised land, and they would set up their own “divine” government in this newly-gained land, this “divine” government would enable them to “rule all other nations with a rod of iron…”

“The modern 20th century weapon of neo-imperialism is “dollarism.” The Zionists have mastered the science of dollarism: the ability to come posing as a friend and benefactor, bearing gifts and all other forms of economic aid and offers of technical assistance. Thus, the power and influence of Zionist Israel in many of the newly “independent” African nations has fast-become even more unshakeable than that of the 18th century European colonialists… and this new kind of Zionist colonialism differs only in form and method, but never in motive or objective….”

“Did the Zionists have the legal or moral right to invade Arab Palestine, uproot its Arab citizens from their homes and seize all Arab property for themselves just based on the “religious” claim that their forefathers lived there thousands of years ago? Only a thousand years ago the Moors lived in Spain. Would this give the Moors of today the legal and moral right to invade the Iberian Peninsula, drive out its Spanish citizens, and then set up a new Moroccan nation … where Spain used to be, as the European zionists have done to our Arab brothers and sisters in Palestine?

In short the Zionist argument to justify Israel’s present occupation of Arab Palestine has no intelligent or legal basis in history … not even in their own religion. Where is their Messiah?

Malcolm X Resources

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Zizek on Avatar – Max Ajil

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from PULSEMEDIA

Žižek on Avatar with one comment:  Here’s something Slavoj Žižek and I have in common. We’ve both seen Avatar. I was not totally bewitched by it, maybe because balancing a pair of 3-D spec ta cles on top of another set of glasses while sitting two meters from the screen, tilting my head at a 30-degree angle in order to see it, detracted a bit from the visual experience. But still, Avatar was excellent: a sledge hammer of an assault on American corporate imperialism, the exo-skeleton clad high-explosive-wielding security forces a straight for ward proxy for the American Army, engaged in a murderous resource grab. Dud dialog and slightly heavy-handed (the never-to-be-obtained mineral named Unobtanium)? Sure, fine. But the plot’s lack of subtlety wasn’t the point, not amidst its political content, presented alongside stunning visuals: hallucinogeni- cally colorful flora, chunks of mountains phantasmagorically floating in a thick fog, and blooms of shimmering jelly-fish-like spirit-seeds that alight on the protagonist, Jake Sully, blessing him, and eventually anointing him. Their presence prevents the Na’vi—Hebrew for prophet—princess from shooting him dead with a bow and arrow. The Na’vi are humanoid blue creatures living in a pre-lapsarian relationship with their planet, capable of connecting to the biosphere and its fauna through their hair. They link directly to Aywa, the earth-goddess, a direct analog for James Lovelock’s Gaia. “We have nothing they need,” says Jake, bemoaning the inability of the corporate mer can tilists to make an exchange to get the Na’vi out from the tree in which they make their home. Indeed: “You are so stupid!” the Na’vi princess lashes into Sully. Fair enough. They had already destroyed their planet—earth in 2154—and what could be dumber than to destroy your home and render it unlivable?

Can an ecological criticism of corporate imperialism be more powerful than to simultaneously highlight its genetic avaricious ness and its viral nature, destroying the world that birthed it? Žižek did not like Avatar, but perhaps we saw different films. (Perhaps also one of us saw it and the other did not). When he glancingly touches on the film’s theme, he gets it really wrong. He writes that Pandora is “populated by aborigines who live in an incestuous link with nature… (The latter should not be confused with the miserable reality of actual exploited peoples.)” What an “incestuous” link with nature could mean is unclear. Meanwhile “actual” exploited peoples, usually invisible in the Žižekian imaginary, do tend to have more sustain ble consumption and production patterns, if we take per-capita CO2 emissions as any metric. Meanwhile, Žižek’s approach to ecology is habitually poorly considered. Stuffed underneath the gestures to stereotypes about aborigines is a stunning lack of awareness about what kind of planning patterns might truly be sustainable. Small communities living in home- ostatic relation ships withnature? Small is Beautiful? That’s just treacle, and anyway, there’s some posturing to do.

Amidst a bewildering, figure-eight tour, selected stops on Titanic, The Matrix, Dances with Wolves, Reds, and Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Žižek writes, Cameron’s superficial Hollywood Marxism (his crude privileging of the lower classes and caricatural depiction of the cruel egotism of the rich) should not deceive us. Beneath this sympathy for the poor lies a reactionary myth, first fully deployed by Rudyard Kipling’s Captains Courageous. It concerns a young rich person in crisis who gets his (or her) vitality restored through brief intimate contact with the full-blooded life of the poor. What lurks behind the compassion for the poor is their vampiric exploitation. I had not thought to see the day when a major leftist intellectual disparages the best-selling movie of all time for its director’s deployment of insufficiently nuanced Marxist politics. Nor is the movie’s Marxism as “crude” as Žižek would have it. It’s obvious that capitalism rests on a systemic egotistical logic, and radicals tend to think that the lower classes will be the ones to make the revolution — hence, “privileged,” whatever that means.

Avatar’s fidelity to the old formula of creating a couple, its full trust in fantasy, and its story of a white man marrying the aboriginal princess and becoming king, make it ideologically a rather con­servative, old-fashioned film. Its technical brilliance serves to cover up this basic conser- vatism. It is easy to discover, beneath the politically correct themes (an honest white guy siding with ecologi­cally sound aborigines against the “military-industrial complex” of the imperialist invaders), an array of brutal racist motifs: a paraplegic outcast from earth is good enough to get the hand of a beautiful local princess, and to help the natives win the decisive battle. The film teaches us that the only choice the aborigi-gines have is to be saved by the human beings or to be destroyed by them. In other words, they can choose either to be the victim of imperialist reality, or to play their allotted role in the white man’s fantasy.

This is weird. There is nothing “con servative” about an audio-visually stunning attack on capitalist mi i­tarism. Why is the “military-industrial complex” rendered in scare quotes? Inveighing against the prevailing social system usually doesn’t fall under the umbrella of “political cor- rectness,” and the Aymara and Quechua in Bolivia would probably be surprised that their invocations of Pachamama are “political correct- ness.” The Ecuadorian CONAIE would be shocked to find that its denunciations of the Correa government’s policies towards the Yasuni-ITT are belittled as “ecologically sound” aboriginal tendencies.

Anyway, is it really true that “The film teaches us that the only choice the aborigines have is to be saved by the human beings or to be destroyed by them…the victim of imperialist reality” or a “role in the white man’s fantasy”? The people of Bil’in, mas querad ing as Na’vi several weeks ago in a self-conscious and cunning ploy to play to the Western imaginary, aim to save them selves, with, yes, Western solidar- ity activists supporting their efforts. Same with the Dongria Kondh.

Avatar has its issues. It is, in part, a film playing to a colonial mindset—the white man as hero. But the hero in a sci-fi bang-up thriller that viciously attacks a vicious social system in a manner that no one can miss. Moreover, Avatar re-codes typical imperialist memes. It is the natives who have an advanced society, and they who civilize the invader, who can only fight with the invaded, for their land, after becoming one of them. This is not so much against the typical pattern as the creation of a totally new one. Žižek knows his Freud/Lacan et al., and knows too that theoretical pyrotechnics can enliven any argument. Or at least impress other smart people. But he must also know that sometimes a cigar is a cigar, and a main stream critique of corporate imperialism is just that. Give it a rest. 6 Votes Written by Max Ajl March 19, 2010 at 1:39 pm Posted in Activism, Art, Ecology Tagged with avatar, Ecology, theoretical nonsense, Zizek « Yassin

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Splitting the Sky Goes to Trial

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Splitting the Sky, who attempted a citizen’s arrest of George W Bush for crimes against humanity, will be tried today in a Canadian court.

=Citizen’s Arrest of Alleged War Criminal George W. Bush in Canada

Splitting the Sky, indigenous activist, seized by security forces in Canada last year when he attempted to make a citizen’s arrest of George W. Bush will have his day in court on Monday, March 8th. According to Professor Anthony J. Hall, this case will demonstrate whether Canada is ruled by law or fear and highlight the need for new principles, the Calgary Principles to amend the victor’s justice of the Nuremberg Principles, in light of the new impunities for high level crimes against humanity and the Earth in this era, and the need to protect and honor civil resistance to those high crimes.

Dacajaweiah, John Boncore, or Splitting the Sky, is not a man of few words. If you read his hefty 653-page autobiography, it is very clear that he has lived an extraordinary life and has survived more than his share of violence, to find deep within himself a well of energy and spirit enabling him to not only endure hardships, but to serve his people and the land in the timeless struggle against oppression and tyranny. From the Attica Rebellion to Gustafen Lake to Calgary in 2009, when he attempted a citizen’s arrest of George W. Bush, “Dac” has consciously taken a leadership role to politically challenge the powerful forces that dominate the North American continent. Brutally arrested for his action, he earned his “day in court” to voice not only his defense, but “to highlight the hypocrisy and criminality of the Canadian government for allowing Bush into Canada, and to firmly establish the legal defense of ‘civil resistance’, the duty of citizens to act when our governments and their agents are derelict in their duty. This will be very useful in the future to rein these criminals in.”

Prior to Bush’s visit, the Canadian group Lawyers Against the War asked Canadian officials to bar entry or try Bush for his suspected crimes since Canadian Law prohibits “people suspected of any involvement in torture or other war crimes and crimes against humanity from entering Canada for any period and for any purpose. The most recent report of the War Crimes Program affirms the necessity of barring war crimes suspects from Canada: ‘The most effective way to deny safe haven to people involved or complicit in war crimes or crimes against humanity is to prevent them from coming to Canada.’”

Lawyers Against the War and protestors implored the government to do their duty and arrest Bush. “Dac” was carrying papers detailing the evidence against George W. Bush, which he had planned to serve him with on behalf of the victims and the people of the world, and he raised his hands to show that he was “non-violent.” Dac was then thrown down, stomped on, kicked, handcuffed and led off to be brutalized in a Calgary jail.

Monday, March 8, 2010, he will have his opportunity to put forward his case and present evidence, with support, testimony and affidavits on his behalf from respected scholars, including David Ray Griffin, Peter Dale Scott, and Michel Chossudovsky, as well as from former US Congresswoman, outspoken human rights advocate, and former Green Party Presidential candidate Cynthia McKinney. Professor Anthony J. Hall, author of The American Empire and the Fourth World and founding coordinator of Globalization Studies at the University of Lethbridge, stated last December:

“Splitting the Sky’s action in Calgary highlights the abject failure of law enforcement agencies to do their job. It highlights the unwillingness of police and those who direct them to apply the law equitably and independently…

“As the Nuremberg principles make clear, the implicated law enforcement officers cannot claim in their defense that they were merely following orders in deciding to arrest Splitting the Sky rather than George W. Bush.

“I propose that the trial of Splitting the Sky presents a platform for the elaboration of a new set of juridical rules and protocols to be known as The Calgary Principles.

“It has been six decades since the UN general assembly agreed to a succinct refinement of the principles that emerged from the trial of some of the top Nazis, as well as their juridical, medical, and industrialist accomplices. During those decades, there has been an intensification of the culture of impunity that immunizes those at the top of the hierarchy of wealth and power from any legal accountability for their crimes.

“Like the Tokyo trials of the defeated leadership of imperial Japan, the Nuremberg Trials were a classic example of victors’ justice.

“As long as the power politics of victors’ justice continues to protect the likes of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, the rule of law remains a fraud. Under present conditions, the rule of law is a sad hoax designed to disguise the role of law enforcement agencies as protectors of the ill-gotten wealth often stripped from the branches of humanity that Frantz Fanon once labeled ‘the wretched of the earth.’

“The elaboration of the Calgary Principles will have to entail the quest for new language and juridical concepts to capture the full extent and complexity of international crime in the twenty-first century…

“Consider, for instance, the nature of the crime that takes place when whole populations are sentenced to endless futures of disproportionately high rates of genetic deformity through the saturation of their mother lands with depleted uranium. Consider the nature of a crime that would see a drug company covertly introduce a new disease strain in order to market a prepared antidote of vaccine to cure the disease it had disseminated.

“What names, what prohibitions, and what punishments do we need to respond to and discourage crimes that infect populations, deform populations, and even destroy whole ecosystems, making the renewal of all kinds of life, including human life, impossible to sustain?

“Hence it can be said that these days the most important agencies of the military-industrial complex and the national security state are the media conglomerates. These agencies of propaganda for an aggressive war bombard us on a daily basis with mental missiles of psychological warfare.

“The constant barrage of messages we receive that peace is to be found in war, that freedom is to be found in slavery, that wealth is to be found in indebtedness, and that truth is to be found in lies, is pulling humanity away from our fragile inheritance of reason, rationality, and enlightened discourse on the real menaces we face…”

Splitting the Sky’s action mirrors the actions of countless people in countless demonstrations that are taking place across the world where lives, land, forests, lakes, jobs, homes, species, and communities are threatened by powerful forces, making decisions in luxury and comfort, protected by men with guns from citizens trying to make their voices heard to protect that which they love and care deeply about. The trial will illustrate whether or not Canada is ruled by laws or by fear. Whatever happens, the struggle for truth, justice, and peace will continue.

For Anthony J. Hall’s entire article and speech, see http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=16377 .
More details about Splitting the Sky are posted at http://www.splittingthesky.net/

Splitting the Sky and Anthony J. Hall will be on the new weekly radio show, Community Currency, hosted by local activist, Carol Brouillet Thursday, March 11, 2010, 2 pm – 3 pm PST, on the Progressive Radio Network (http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com)

http://dailycensored.com/2010/03/07/the-tr…

A Brilliant Assessment of “A People’s History” as Zinn’s Flawed Chef D’oeuvre

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Apologies for the formatting problem with the article below. I’m looking into it!

This article helped to verify just what I felt were some of the weaknesses in “A People’s History”: 1) dualism (“us” vs “them”) that supposes that there are only 2 positions in every conflict  in US history, the “Establishment” and the “resistors.” Though the resistors seem to lose repeatedly, we are exhorted to join them! This is overly simplistic, defeatist and sentimental. Ultimately it is the end result of a victim mentality. It is a means of pre-emptive helplessness and surrender that allows fascism to flourish and proceed apace while retaining one’s self-image as a noble, yet resigned crusader. Okay, activists, time to take your Don Quixote pill. The only problem is, Don Quixote, with all his intelligence and noble ideals was delusional. Why? His mind was inundated with fantastic notions of a romantic quest for truth.

2) Eley discusses the 1960’s New Left time machine that trapped Howard Zinn, a machine that was incredibly useful in its time for debunking Victorian morality, American pretensions and social straitjackets, but which become outdated beginning in the 1980’s when the Right coopted its methods of deconstruction and revisionism, and used them to smear everything proactive, progressive, cooperative and constructive in our culture.  Where was Zinn when the think tanks rolled over and flattened the ideals of the New Left? Seeming stuck in the tire tracks: Eley finds that Zinn’s enduringly irrelevant New Left attitudes inform much of the weaker elements in A People’s History.

3) A People’s History’s limited treatment of economic issues. A historian cannot truly dissect or meaningfully oppose fascism without exploring its components: government, military, religious and corporate interests that incestuously feed off of each other. Zinn primarily dwells on the first two with little attention to the institutional religious sanctimony so necessary  to further the cause of empire and, surprisingly, even less to the rise of corporatism and the economic system that underpins all of it. Got capitalism?

Howard Zinn, 1922-2010

An assessment of A People’s History of the United States

By Tom Eley

15 February 2010

Howard Zinn, historian, activist, and author of A People’s History of the  United States, died on January 28 at the age of 87. Born in Brooklyn in 1922 to Jewish immigrant factory-worker parents, his father from Austria-Hungary and his mother from Siberia, Zinn came of age during the Great Depression in a sprawling working class neighborhood. The influence of socialism and the presence of the Communist Party were particularly pronounced in this time and place; Zinn recalled attending a CP rally as a youth where he was clubbed by a policeman. Books were few until his father purchased him a Charles Dickens compilation. Zinn served in
WWII as a bomber pilot. He was deeply troubled by his participation in a needless mission at the war’s end during which his plane dumped napalm — in its first-ever military use — on a target in France, killing both German soldiers and perhaps 1,000 French civilians. After the war he went back to the area of France he had bombed and dealt with the experience in his book, The Politics of History. Zinn was, by all accounts, humane.

His outspoken support of student civil rights activists and the Student Non Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) led to Zinn’s dismissal from his first academic job,
at the all-black women’s school, Spelman, in Georgia, in 1963. He then secured a position at Boston University held until his retirement in 1988.  Zinn was also a
notable Vietnam War protester. In 1968 he visited Hanoi with the Reverend Daniel Berrigan and secured the release of three US prisoners of war, and in 1971 Daniel
Ellsberg gave Zinn a copy of what came to be known as “the Pentagon Papers.” Zinn would edit and publish it with his longtime collaborator, Noam Chomsky.

Zinn’s work as an historian spanned five decades and resulted in the publication of numerous books, articles and essays, but it was his People’s History of the United States, published in 1980, that brought him to a place of relative prominence. The book has sold more than 2 million copies in multiple editions. A television documentary based on it, “The People Speak,” was broadcast in 2009, and featured readings and performances by Matt Damon, Morgan Freeman, Bob Dylan, MarisaTomei, Bruce Springsteen and Danny Glover, among others. Given the book’s influence, any evaluation of Zinn requires serious consideration of his work as an
historian.

A People’s History is a much-loved book for good reason. In accessible, direct language, Zinn introduced hundreds of thousands of readers to aspects of US history written out of what was, in all but name, the official narrative, with its essentially uncritical presentation of the US political and economic elite. Zinn relentlessly
exposed the self-interest and savagery of “the Establishment,” as he called it, while at the same time bringing to life the hidden political and social struggles of
oppressed groups in US history — workers, the poor, Native Americans, African Americans, women and immigrants. Zinn did not hide his sympathies for the
oppressed in history. “[I]n such a world of conflict, a world of victims and executioners,” he wrote, “it is the job of thinking people, as Albert Camus suggested, not to
be on the side of the executioners.”  A People’s History grew out of, and in turn contributed to, a growing skepticism of the democratic pretensions of the American ruling class — particularly among the youth. These characteristics of Zinn’s work earned him the hatred of those who wish to see college and high school curriculum more tightly controlled; after Zinn’s death, right-wing ex-radicals David Horowitz and Ronald Radosh penned columns attacking him for exposing truths about the US government to a mass audience. Indeed, no one who has read A People’s History could in honesty endorse President Obama’s recent claim that Washington does

“not seek to occupy other nations” and is heir “to a noble struggle for freedom,” or the right wing’s absurd mantra that the US military is “the greatest force for

good in world history.”  The book’s 23 short chapters begin with Christopher Columbus’ landing in the Americas in 1492 and the brutal slaughter of Native

Americans. What follows is a chronological account of American history, focusing in particular on different social and political struggles, with Zinn providing a

varying degree of historical context depending on the period. This is, in the end, a limited method, a problem that we shall address presently. But the contributions of

Zinn’s essentially empirical approach — the inversion of the official narrative through the presentation of hidden or alternative facts — has much to teach.

This empirical strength runs through most of the book, but there are chapters where it combines with greater attention to context.

His treatment of WWII, “A People’s War,” is one of his better. As a rare honest accounting of what has been uncritically presented by most liberal and radical

historians as a “war against fascism,” it merits attention. The chapter lists Washington’s many imperialist interventions over the preceding decades, and points out its

indifference to fascist Italy’s rape of Ethiopia in 1935 and Germany’s and Italy’s intervention on behalf of the fascist forces of Francisco Franco in the Spanish Civil

War. This was “the logical policy of a government whose main interest was not stopping Fascism but advancing” its own imperialist interests. “For those interests,

in the thirties, an anti-Soviet policy seemed best,” Zinn concludes. “Later, when Japan and Germany threatened US world interests, a pro-Soviet, anti-Nazi policy

became preferable.” This policy could be dressed up in anti-fascist guise, but “[b]ehind the headlines in battles and bombings, American diplomats and businessmen

worked hard to make sure that when the war ended, American economic power would be second to none [and] business would penetrate areas that up to this time had

been dominated by England.” At home, the hypocrisy of a “war against fascism” was not lost on African-Americans, who remained subject to job and housing

discrimination in the North and Jim Crow segregation, disenfranchisement and terror in the South, nor on Japanese Americans, 110,000 of whom ere rounded up —

many of these second and third generation citizens — and placed in internment camps on the order of President Franklin Roosevelt.

Still more hidden from popular memory was the immense struggle of the working class during the war. “In spite of no-strike pledges of the AFL and CIO there were

14,000 strikes, involving 6,770,000 workers, more than in any comparable period in American history,” Zinn wrote. “In 1944 alone, a million workers were on strike,

in the mines, in the steel mills, in the auto and transportation equipment industries. When the war ended, the strikes continued in record numbers — 3 million on

strike in the first half of 1946.” In spite of the strike wave, “there was little organized opposition from any source,” he notes. “The Communist Party was

enthusiastically in support… Only one organized socialist group opposed the war unequivocally. This was the Socialist Workers Party. In Minneapolis in 1943,

eighteen members of the party were convicted for violating the Smith Act, which made it a crime to join any group that advocated ‘the overthrow of the government.’“

The Socialist Workers Party was the Trotskyist movement in the US at that time.

Zinn writes movingly in the chapter of the savage bombings by the US and Britain of German and Japanese population centers; doubtless his own experience as a

bomber pilot  in Europe breathed feeling into these pages. Zinn also exposes the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which remain enshrined in the official
mythology as necessary military acts. In fact, the decision that incinerated and poisoned hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians was made with an eye cast
toward the postwar order. By forcing a rapid Japanese surrender before the Red Army moved further into the Korean peninsula, the Truman administration hoped to
assert US dominance in East Asia. It is to Zinn’s credit that he concludes the chapter with a discussion of the early Cold War and the Red Scare, which were prepared
by US victory in “the Good War.”  After the war, US liberalism quickly turned on its radical allies grouped around the Communist Party. The Truman administration
“established a climate of fear — a hysteria about Communism — which would steeply escalate the military budget and stimulate the economy with war-related orders.”
What was needed was a consensus that “could best be created by a liberal Democratic president, whose aggressive policy abroad would be supported by conservatives,
and whose welfare programs at home … would be attractive to liberals.”

Zinn’s chapter on Vietnam, “The Impossible Victory,” merits reading. In only 10 pages, he offers a good look at the history of Vietnam’s long struggle for
independence against France, Japan in WWII, then France again, and finally the US. With both statistics and vivid illustrations, he reveals the barbarity of US
imperialism. “By the end of the war, seven million tons of bombs had been dropped” on Southeast Asia, “more than twice the amount” used in both Europe and Asia in
WWII. Zinn’s presentation of the My Lai massacre, napalm, the US assassination program called Operation Phoenix, and other cruelties are damning of
Washington’s claim that the US military was there to defend the Vietnamese people. The second half of the chapter focuses on the growing popular opposition to the
Vietnam War within the US on the campuses, among working people, and in the army itself.

It is not possible here to consider all the book’s chapters, but in general, those that cover the century lasting from the end of Reconstruction in the post-Civil War to the
end of the Vietnam War are strong and empirically rich.  Zinn writes effectively on WWI (“War is the Health of the State”), describing vividly the insanity of trench
warfare, and detailing the mass opposition to US entry and the strenuous efforts to overcome this. His chapter on the US embrace of imperialism in the Spanish-
American War correctly spots the underlying drive as a struggle for markets by US capitalism. Zinn consistently turns up useful quotes to illustrate his points, here
presenting Mark Twain’s comments on the US effort to subjugate the Philippines after Spain’s defeat: “We have pacified some thousands of the islanders and buried
them; destroyed their fields; burned their villages, and turned their widows and orphans out-of-doors. And so, by these Providences of God — and the phrase is the
government’s, not mine — we are a World Power.”

Zinn correctly places socialism at the center of the Progressive Era, circa 1900 until 1917, entitling this chapter “The Socialist Challenge.” Progressivism “seemed to
understand it was fending off socialism,” as Zinn puts it. The chapter includes brief accounts of the great garment workers’ strike of New York City in 1909 — and the
Triangle garment factory fire in its aftermath — the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) Lawrence, Massachusetts textile strike, and the Ludlow massacre of coal
miners in Colorado in 1914.

Two chapters on workers’ and farmers’ struggles in the 19th century, “Robber Barons and Rebels” and “The Other Civil War,” demonstrate with examples the rich
history of egalitarianism that remains the patrimony of today’s working class. Zinn’s selection of an 1890 quote rom the Kansas populist Mary Ellen Lease seems
timely: “Wall Street owns the country. It is no longer a country of the people, by the people, and for the people, but a government of Wall Street, by Wall Street, and
for Wall Street… The people are at bay, let the bloodhounds of money who have dogged us thus far beware.”

Yet while it is helpful in bringing to light facts written out of standard textbooks, Zinn’s work can only serve as a beginning to understanding US history. There is an
unmistakable anachronistic, even a-historical, thread in A People’s History. If it has a theme, it is an endless duel between “resistance” and “control,” two of Zinn’s preferred words. Populating his historical stage are, on the one side, a virtually unbroken line of “Establishment” villains who exercise this control and, on the
other, benighted groups who often struck out against their plight. The names and dates change; the story does not. Complexity and contradiction does not rest
comfortably in such a schema. The limitations of this approach are most evident in Zinn’s treatment of the American Revolution and the US Civil War, which he
presents as instances of the elite beguiling the population in order to strengthen its control. “Around 1776, certain important people in the English colonies made a
discovery that would prove enormously useful for the next two hundred years,” Zinn opens the first of his two chapters on the American Revolution. “They found that
by creating a nation, a symbol, a legal unity called the United States, they could take over land, profits, and political power from favorites of the British Empire… They
created the most effective system of national control devised in modern times.”  Zinn presents the Civil War in similar terms. Only a slave rebellion or a full-scale war
could end slavery, he wrote: “If a rebellion, it might get out of hand, and turn its ferocity beyond slavery to the most successful system of capitalist enrichment in the
world. If a war, those who made the war would organize its consequences.” (In fact, the Civil War became both a full-scale war and a slave rebellion.) “With slavery
abolished by order of government,” Zinn asserted, “its end could be orchestrated so as to set limits to emancipation,” a task that fell to none other than Abraham
Lincoln, who in Zinn’s presentation, was merely a shrewd political operative who “combined perfectly the needs of business, the new Republican party, and the
rhetoric of humanitarianism.” This deeply subjective rendering of the two most progressive events in US history calls to mind Frederick Engels’ comments on “old
materialist” philosophy, an approach that could not answer the question of what historical forces lay behind the motives of individuals and groups in history, the
“historical forces which transform themselves into these motives in the brains of the actors.” “The old materialism never put this question to itself,” Engels responds.
“Its conception of history, in so far as it has one at all, is therefore essentially pragmatic; it divides men who act in history into noble and ignoble and then finds that
as a rule the noble are defrauded and the ignoble are victorious.” Such, in short, was Howard Zinn’s operating thesis.

In his search for the origins of motives in history, Zinn at times lapsed into moralizing. He denied the characterization — writing on the American Revolution, Zinn
said he would not “lay impossible moral burdens on that time.” But this is precisely what he did, even in the case of the more progressive revolutionists. After
discussing the enormous circulation of Tom Paine’s writings in the colonies, Zinn concludes that Paine was too linked to the colonial elite. “[H]e was not for the
crowd action of lower-class people,” Zinn asserts, because Paine had “become an associate of one of the wealthiest men in Pennsylvania, Robert Morris, and a
supporter of Morris’s creation, the Bank of North America.” Paine “lent himself perfectly to the myth of the revolution — that it was on behalf of a united people,” is
Zinn’s verdict on one of the great revolutionists of the epoch. As for Thomas Jefferson, Zinn cited disapprovingly on two occasions that he owned slaves.

Thirty years ago, criticism of the mythology surrounding Lincoln or a Jefferson was perhaps useful. Such lines appear more wearisome today after decades of
moralistic attacks by well-heeled scholars like Lerone Bennett; if an historian does nothing else, he or she should concede that their subjects lived in a different time.
More importantly, in the cases of the Civil War and the American Revolution, Zinn’s anachronism distorted historical reality, minimizing the progressive character of

those struggles. It is worthwhile to note the work of historian Bernard Bailyn and Gordon Wood. Bailyn, in his Ideological Origins of the American
Revolution, demonstrated, through analysis of scores of commonly read political tracts in the colonies, that the thinking of the revolutionists was radical and
progressive and ultimately rooted in a century of Enlightenment thought. Wood, in The Radicalism of the American Revolution (1992), seems to address himself to Zinn’s sort of argument that the war for independence was “hardly a revolution at all.”  It was, Wood writes, “one of the greatest revolutions the world has known” and
“the most radical and far-reaching event in American history.” Wood concedes that the Founding Fathers, having recognized the social forces unleashed by the
revolution, sought to contain democracy through the Constitution. But Wood shows that this effort did not undo the radicalism of the revolution, which had been
broadly transfused into social consciousness. The American Revolution, like the French Revolution it helped to inspire, marked a great historical advance. It
proclaimed in stirring language basic democratic rights, and laid these out in the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights. It repudiated the divine right of
kings to rule, and threw off restraints on economic development designed to benefit the crown. That the revolution raised up contradictions that it could not yet resolve
— the most obvious being its declarations of liberty while maintaining slavery — does not erase these achievements. The new ruling class, which Zinn tended to treat
as a monolithic whole, was in fact deeply divided over slavery and economic policy toward Great Britain. The Civil War would resolve these conflicts and put in place
new ones, bringing to the fore the struggle between the working and capitalist classes that has been the axis of US history ever since. Like other great progressive
causes, the American Revolution has in a certain sense transcended the limitations imposed upon it by its time by inspiring and animating the progressive struggles
that followed — including the struggle against slavery. To cite an example, Zinn himself noted that the Vietnamese anti-imperialists modeled their own declaration
of independence on that written by Jefferson.

It must be stated clearly that Zinn’s method had little to do with Marxism, which understands that history advances through the struggle of contending social classes,
a struggle rooted in the social relations of economic production. While this does not by itself negate the value of a scholarly work, Zinn’s limitations as an historian
require some attention be paid to his political views, which grew out of the traditions of American radicalism. The two were, as he himself declared, mutually
constitutive. Zinn drew his material not from his own research, but from a growing body of “revisionist” scholarship during a period when radicals made inroads on
US college campuses. Beginning in the late 1960s, new academic pursuits emerged: critical revisionist studies of political, diplomatic and labor history, and new fields
such as African-American history, women’s history, Native American history, and many more. This approach — the criticism of establishment history and the
presentation of the social history of the oppressed who had left behind little or no written record — was fresh and yielded, at least in its earlier stages, significant
results.

Later, beginning in the 1980s, revisionist history and campus radicalism became increasingly bogged down in the miasma created by identity politics and post-
modernism, with their generally reactionary agendas. At that point, the weaknesses and political confusion of the underlying approach, there from the start, became
much clearer. A People’s History, as a compilation of 1960s and 1970s revisionist scholarship, expressed its contributions as well its limitations. It is not
coincidental that the new studies developed concomitantly to the emergence of identity politics and the promotion of affirmative action on the campuses, as US
liberalism, trade unionism and the Democratic Party sought a new constituency for their policies outside of the working class. The new academic history served this
political development and has, in turn, been richly fed by it. Indeed, in the more facile historical studies, the oppressed groups of the past are presented as mere
transpositions of the various “interest groups” that emerged in the 1970s. It should not be surprising that the new history treated political economy and politics
superficially — or not at all — and tended to present the “agency” of oppressed groups as independent of the historical process, or as introduced to it by human will or
moral choice.

With this in mind, it is perhaps easier to confront the apparent contradiction between Zinn the historian and Zinn the political commentator, who wrote frequently for
the Nation and the Progressive and whose views were much sought-after in radical circles. As an historian, Zinn found nothing progressive in “the system.” Of the

two-party system, Zinn wrote, “to give people a choice between two different parties and allow them, in a period of rebellion, to choose the slightly more democratic
one was an ingenious mode of control.” Zinn wrote that elections are times “to consolidate the system after years of protest and rebellion.” And he invariably presented
reforms as means by which the elite bought off the loyalty of the masses. Yet the same Zinn, who (incorrectly) found few differences to parse over between the
Republican Party of Lincoln and the pro-slavery Democratic Party of Jefferson Davis, called for a vote for Barack Obama in 2008, arguing that Obama, while not mgood, was decidedly better than George W. Bush. Zinn qualified his endorsement by arguing that Democrats, once in office, could be pressured to enact reforms, evidently drawing no conclusions from the unrelenting rightward shift of the US political system from the 1970s on.His idolization of “resistance” in the pages of A People’s History masked a pessimistic outlook. In every case, resistance for Zinn was either co-opted or crushed by establishment control. Given this, surely the best that could be hoped for was co-option through reforms. There were no strategic lessons to be drawn; this was all to

repeat itself. Zinn’s general disinterest in A People’s History in politics and thought — the conscious element in history — becomes more pronounced in his last chapters. By the time he arrives in the 1970s, even Zinn’s resisters appear less heroic: angry farmers, trade unionists, Wobblies, and Socialists have given way to proponents of identity politics, environmental reform, and the pro-Democratic Party anti-war movement.
Zinn’s concluding chapter, “The Coming Revolt of the Guards,” in which he ponders how “the system of control” might ultimately be broken, brings into the clear the
link between his politics and his history. “The Guards” referenced in the chapter title, as it turns out, are workers. “[T]he Establishment cannot survive without the
obedience and loyalty of millions of people who are given small rewards to keep the system going: the soldiers and police, teachers and ministers, administrators and
social workers, technicians and production workers, doctors, lawyers, nurses, transport and communications workers, garbage men and firemen,”
according to Zinn. “These people — the employed, the somewhat privileged — are drawn into alliance with the elite. They become the guards of the system, buffers
between the upper and lower classes. If they stop obeying, the system falls.”  “The American system is the most ingenious system of control in world history,” Zinn
writes. “With a country so rich in natural resources, talent, and labor power the system can afford to distribute just enough wealth to just enough people to limit
discontent to a troublesome minority.”  These words reflected the demoralized perspective of the “New Left” and the ideological influences of elements such as the
Frankfurt School, Marcuse and others who wrote off the revolutionary role of the working class, viewing it as a reactionary mass that had been bought off by the
capitalist system. Included in an updated version of the book in published in 2003, they now seem quite dated. These considerable theoretical and political limitations notwithstanding, Zinn’s contributions in A People’s History of the United States — its presentation of the crimes of the US ruling class and the resistance of  oppressed groups — are significant. The book deserves its audience.

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