The China Rose

Verdad for Todos

Posts Tagged ‘anti-war

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,

Bloody Barack: Murder is the New Torture

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The Accomodationists: Memo to Liberals on the White House Death Warrants PDF Print E-mail
WRITTEN BY CHRIS FLOYD
THURSDAY, 08 APRIL 2010 16:12
(UPDATED BELOW)

Let us hear no more excuses for Barack Obama. Let us hear no more defenses, no more special pleading, no more extenuations. Let us have no more reciting of the “pressures” he is under, of the “many obstacles” that balk him in his quest to do us good, of the “bad advisors” who are swaying him to unworthy acts against his will. Let us be done at last with all these wretched lies, these complicitous self-deceptions that are facilitating atrocity and tyranny on a monstrous scale.

Barack Obama has ordered the murder of an American citizen, without trial, without due process, without the production of any evidence. All it takes to kill any American citizen in this way is Barack Obama’s signature on a piece of paper, his arbitrary designation of the target as a “suspected terrorist.” In precisely the same way — precisely the same way — Josef Stalin would place a mark by a name in a list of “suspected terrorists” or “counterrevolutionaries,” and the bearer of that name would die. This is the system we have now, the same as the Soviets had then: a leader with the unchallengeable power to kill citizens without due process.

That this power has not been used on the same scale in the American system as in the Stalinist state — yet — does not alter the equivalence of this governing principle. In both cases, the leader signs arbitrary death warrants; the security services carry out the task; and the ‘great and good’ of society accept this draconian power as necessary and right.

This is what you support when you support Barack Obama. It does not matter if you think his opponents in the factional infighting to control a bloodsoaked empire and its war machine are “worse” than he is in some measure. When you support him, when you defend him, when you excuse him, it is arbitrary murder that you are supporting. It is the absolute negation of every single principle of enlightenment and human rights professed by liberals, progressives — indeed, by honorable people of every political stripe — for centuries.

There is nothing particularly remarkable about Obama’s order to kill an American citizen without trial or evidence, of course. George W. Bush claimed the same powers. As I have noted here and elsewhere for many years, our American presidents now claim the right to kill any person on earth whom they arbitrarily designate as an enemy — or even a suspected enemy — of the United States. Barack Obama embraced this power as soon as he took office, ordering a “surge” in the “targeted killings” on “suspected terrorists” in Pakistan. Hundreds and hundreds of innocent human beings have been murdered in these drone attacks; many thousands more have been driven from their homes, and terrorized into lives of mental anguish, their psyches lamed by trauma, upheaval and the ever-present dread of death raining down on them from the skies.

And of course, thousands of innocent people continue to die in the wars of dominion and profiteering that Obama has so eagerly embraced. In Afghanistan, they die directly at the hands of American forces — including secret assassins who raid villages by night, often slaughtering civilians, even those cooperating with the military occupation. As Obama’s hand-picked commander in the region, Stanley McChrystal, has openly admitted: “We have shot an amazing number of people [at checkpoints and on the roads], but to my knowledge, none has ever proven to be a threat.” And in Iraq — the scene of the abominable, Nazi-like war crime of military aggression whose continuation by Bush’s “surge” was hailed by Obama as “an extraordinary achievement” — innocent people continue to die in droves at the hands of the vicious and violent forces unleashed and empowered by the American invasion and occupation, while they wait to see which brutal “hard man” will seize power over their riven and ruined society.

No, the only remarkable thing about Obama’s direct order to murder his fellow American citizen, Anwar al-Alwaki, is its openness. A few weeks ago, he sent his intelligence chieftain, Dennis Blair, to Congress to openly proclaim the president’s “right” to kill American citizens arbitrarily. Bush had kept this claimed power obscured, letting it out in dribs and drabs of directed leaks, and hints and winks in public statements; but Obama has taken us beyond that, to the open declaration and institutional entrenchment of the principle of death without due process for citizens. This indeed is “change” — with a vengeance.

(And to think that only a few years ago, capital punishment — with its vast and cumbersome legal machinery — was banished in America as too unjust and arbitrary in its application; now a president need not trouble himself with the slightest bit of legal process if he wants to have someone killed. I suppose this too is “progress”: more streamlined, more efficient, quicker, more modern — like wireless broadband. It’s simply there all the time at the president’s pleasure.)

Now, there can be no shuffling, no waffling on the matter. Obama has made it crystal clear for even the most avidly self-duping progressive: He will murder his fellow citizens without trial or evidence if he sees fit. The state can murder whom it pleases. This is the system we have. This is what you support when you support Barack Obama. You cannot escape this logic, this judgment. If you support Obama now, in this, then there is no crime he can commit that you will not support.

And thus you become one of those people that we all used to puzzle over, the accomodationists to brutal tyranny: “How did all those people go along with the Nazis? Why wasn’t there more opposition to Stalin? How could they countenance all those obvious abominations? What kind of people were they?”

Now you know. They were you. You are them.

**
NOTE 1: I should make it clear that I do not think that it is somehow more heinous for the American government to target and kill its own citizens, as opposed to killing foreigners by the thousands, which it has done, on a bipartisan basis, for many a year. I am merely laying out the case in this way so that American “progressives” — almost of all whom are deeply marinated in their own brand of American exceptionalism — can see that even by the standards of this exceptionalism, which puts American lives and ‘values’ above all else, Barack Obama is acting — undeniably — in a criminal, tyrannical manner.

NOTE 2: While I was writing this piece, I got the welcome news that Arthur Silber was back, after a long hiatus due to his chronic ill health. And, as usual, his insights cut straight to the heart of the matter. As I noted here the other day, Silber was one of the very few writers who saw through the shining cloud that surrounded the Obama campaign to the corroded core within. He also noted the greatest danger of an Obama presidency: that it would confirm, entrench, expand — and normalize — the worst aspects of the American imperium, precisely because the system’s crimes and atrocities would now be presented in a more pleasing package, with all “progressive” opposition to them completely disarmed by partisan adherence to their standard-bearer.

Ironically, one of Silber’s most incisive pieces on this subject was provoked by what many people — and almost all “progressives” — still consider Obama’s finest moment during the campaign: his speech calling for a “national dialogue on race” — part of a particularly brutal effort to knife his long-time friend, mentor and pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, deeply and repeatedly in the back.

Go read the new piece now, and follow the links, which provide chilling chapter and verse to underscore the insights. But here is brief excerpt, one of the conclusions that Silber draws today from that early speech:

If one truly and comprehensively understood Obama’s speech on race — the unending, deadly lies on which it was based, and the terrible consequences to which those lies have led and the devastation they will continue to cause — that speech told you everything you needed to know about Obama.

That is not hyperbole, not if you understood all of that: it told you everything. .. And what has already occurred during the Obama presidency is very far from all or the worst of the destruction that can reasonably be expected to transpire over the coming years.

UPDATE: David Swanson at Counterpunch nails the situation well: “Murder is the new torture,” indeed. As Swanson notes, now that torture — always with us, but previously shrouded — has been mainstreamed, acceptance of outright murder is the logical next step. And as Swanson observes, it is actually a much more efficient tool of imperial policy:

President Obama has ordered the murder of American citizen Anwar al-Awlaki. Like the innocent but tortured Abu Zubayda (innocent at least of any of the crimes he was accused of), Awlaki is now the mastermind terrorist of the universe. And once he’s dead, who’s to say he wasn’t? Who can demand a trail or access to documents? He’ll be dead. See the beauty of it?

If the top mastermind is in Yemen, what the hell are we doing building a quagmire in Afghanistan? Don’t ask. But notice this: we have dramatically increased the use of missile strikes to assassinate in Afghanistan and Pakistan. And we have increased the use of murderous night-time raids to such an extent that we now kill more civilians in that way than we do with drones. They’re the “wrong people,” or neighbors who came to help, or family members clinging to loved ones. Sometimes they’re young students with their hands tied behind their backs. Accidents will happen. But no U.S. officials’ future book tours are going to be interrupted by protesters, since there’s no torture involved. Civilization is on the march!

Massive birth defects in Fallujah; ICC bails

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The US Takes the Matter of Three-Headed Babies Very Seriously

by William Blum, The Anti-Empire Report
Featured Writer, Dandelion Salad
http://www.killinghope.org
5 April, 2010

When did it begin, all this “We take your [call/problem/question] very seriously”? With answering-machine hell? As you wait endlessly, the company or government agency assures you that they take seriously whatever reason you’re calling. What a kind and thoughtful world we live in.

The BBC reported last month that doctors in the Iraqi city of Fallujah are reporting a high level of birth defects, with some blaming weapons used by the United States during its fierce onslaughts of 2004 and subsequently, which left much of the city in ruins. “It was like an earthquake,” a local engineer who was running for a national assembly seat told the Washington Post in 2005. “After Hiroshima and Nagasaki, there was Fallujah.” Now, the level of heart defects among newborn babies is said to be 13 times higher than in Europe.
The BBC correspondent also saw children in the city who were suffering from paralysis or brain damage, and a photograph of one baby who was born with three heads. He added that he heard many times that officials in Fallujah had warned women that they should not have children. One doctor in the city had compared data about birth defects from before 2003 — when she saw about one case every two months — with the situation now, when she saw cases every day. “I’ve seen footage of babies born with an eye in the middle of the forehead, the nose on the forehead,” she said.

A spokesman for the US military, Michael Kilpatrick, said it always took public health concerns “very seriously”, but that “No studies to date have indicated environmental issues resulting in specific health issues.” 1

One could fill many large volumes with the details of the environmental and human horrors the United States has brought to Fallujah and other parts of Iraq during seven years of using white phosphorous shells, depleted uranium, napalm, cluster bombs, neutron bombs, laser weapons, weapons using directed energy, weapons using high-powered microwave technology, and other marvelous inventions in the Pentagon’s science-fiction arsenal … the list of abominations and grotesque ways of dying is long, the wanton cruelty of American policy shocking. In November 2004, the US military targeted a Fallujah hospital “because the American military believed that it was the source of rumors about heavy casualties.” 2 That’s on a par with the classic line from the equally glorious American war in Vietnam: “We had to destroy the city to save it.”

How can the world deal with such inhumane behavior? (And the above of course scarcely scratches the surface of the US international record.) For this the International Criminal Court (ICC) was founded in Rome in 1998 (entering into force July 1, 2002) under the aegis of the United Nations. The Court was established in The Hague, Netherlands to investigate and indict individuals, not states, for “The crime of genocide; Crimes against humanity; War crimes; or The crime of aggression.” (Article 5 of the Rome Statute) From the very beginning, the United States was opposed to joining the ICC, and has never ratified it, because of the alleged danger of the Court using its powers to “frivolously” indict Americans.

So concerned about indictments were the American powers-that-be that the US went around the world using threats and bribes against countries to induce them to sign agreements pledging not to transfer to the Court US nationals accused of committing war crimes abroad. Just over 100 governments so far have succumbed to the pressure and signed an agreement. In 2002, Congress, under the Bush administration, passed the “American Service Members Protection Act”, which called for “all means necessary and appropriate to bring about the release of any US or allied personnel being detained or imprisoned by … the International Criminal Court.” In the Netherlands it’s widely and derisively known as the “Invasion of The Hague Act”. 3 The law is still on the books.

Though American officials have often spoken of “frivolous” indictments — politically motivated prosecutions against US soldiers, civilian military contractors, and former officials — it’s safe to say that what really worries them are “serious” indictments based on actual events. But they needn’t worry. The mystique of “America the Virtuous” is apparently alive and well at the International Criminal Court, as it is, still, in most international organizations; indeed, amongst most people of the world. The ICC, in its first few years, under Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo, an Argentine, dismissed many hundreds of petitions accusing the United States of war crimes, including 240 concerning the war in Iraq. The cases were turned down for lack of evidence, lack of jurisdiction, or because of the United States’ ability to conduct its own investigations and trials. The fact that the US never actually used this ability was apparently not particularly significant to the Court. “Lack of jurisdiction” refers to the fact that the United States has not ratified the accord. On the face of it, this does seem rather odd. Can nations commit war crimes with impunity as long as they don’t become part of a treaty banning war crimes? Hmmm. The possibilities are endless. A congressional study released in August, 2006 concluded that the ICC’s chief prosecutor demonstrated “a reluctance to launch an investigation against the United States” based on allegations regarding its conduct in Iraq. 4 Sic transit gloria International Criminal Court.

As to the crime of aggression, the Court’s statute specifies that the Court “shall exercise jurisdiction over the crime of aggression once a provision is adopted … defining the crime and setting out the conditions under which the Court shall exercise jurisdiction with respect to this crime.” In short, the crime of aggression is exempted from the Court’s jurisdiction until “aggression” is defined. Writer Diana Johnstone has observed: “This is a specious argument since aggression has been quite clearly defined by U.N. General Assembly Resolution 3314 in 1974, which declared that: ‘Aggression is the use of armed force by a State against the sovereignty, territorial integrity or political independence of another State’, and listed seven specific examples,” including:

The invasion or attack by the armed forces of a State of the territory of another State, or any military occupation, however temporary, resulting from such invasion or attack, or any annexation by the use of force of the territory of another State or part thereof; and
Bombardment by the armed forces of a State against the territory of another State or the use of any weapons by a State against the territory of another State.

The UN resolution also stated that: “No consideration of whatever nature, whether political, economic, military or otherwise, may serve as a justification for aggression.”

The real reason that aggression remains outside the jurisdiction of the ICC is that the United States, which played a strong role in elaborating the Statute before refusing to ratify it, was adamantly opposed to its inclusion. It is not hard to see why. It may be noted that instances of “aggression”, which are clearly factual, are much easier to identify than instances of “genocide”, whose definition relies on assumptions of intention. 5

There will be a conference of the ICC in May, in Kampala, Uganda, in which the question of specifically defining “aggression” will be discussed. The United States is concerned about this discussion. Here is Stephen J. Rapp, US Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Issues, speaking to the ICC member nations (111 have ratified thus far) in The Hague last November 19:
I would be remiss not to share with you my country’s concerns about an issue pending before this body to which we attach particular importance: the definition of the crime of aggression, which is to be addressed at the Review Conference in Kampala next year. The United States has well-known views on the crime of aggression, which reflect the specific role and responsibilities entrusted to the Security Council by the UN Charter in responding to aggression or its threat, as well as concerns about the way the draft definition itself has been framed. Our view has been and remains that, should the Rome Statute be amended to include a defined crime of aggression, jurisdiction should follow a Security Council determination that aggression has occurred.

Do you all understand what Mr. Rapp is saying? That the United Nations Security Council should be the body that determines whether aggression has occurred. The same body in which the United States has the power of veto. To prevent the adoption of a definition of aggression that might stigmatize American foreign policy is likely the key reason the US will be attending the upcoming conference.

Nonetheless, the fact that the United States will be attending the conference may well be pointed out by some as another example of how the Obama administration foreign policy is an improvement over that of the Bush administration. But as with almost all such examples, it’s a propaganda illusion. Like the cover of Newsweek magazine of March 8, written in very large type: “Victory at last: The emergence of a democratic Iraq”. Even before the current Iraqi electoral farce — with winning candidates arrested or fleeing 6— this headline should have made one think of the interminable jokes Americans made during the Cold War about Pravda and Izvestia….

Free files

My apartment is running out of space. Would anyone like some FBI files I received under the Freedom of Information Act?
Liberation News Service (the Associated Press of the left), late 1960s, early 1970s, about 800 pages.
Prairie Fire Organizing Committee, mid-1970s, about 1,000 pages. From their website:
“In 1974, the Weather Underground Organization published a book entitled ‘Prairie Fire: The Politics of Revolutionary Anti-Imperialism.’ Discussion groups sprang up around the country to discuss the book. In response, Prairie Fire formed in cities across the U.S.”

Notes
BBC, March 4, 2010; Washington Post, December 3, 2005 ↩
New York Times, November 8, 2004 ↩
Christian Science Monitor, February 13, 2009 ↩
Washington Post, November 7, 2006 ↩
Diana Johnstone, Counterpunch, January 27/28, 2007 ↩
Washington Post, April 2, 2010 ↩
Associated Press, March 2, 2008 ↩
The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney, Australia), August 10, 2003 ↩

***

William Blum is the author of: Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Interventions Since World War 2; Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower; West-Bloc Dissident: A Cold War Memoir; and Freeing the World to Death: Essays on the American Empire. Portions of the books can be read, and signed copies purchased, at http://www.killinghope.org. Previous Anti-Empire Reports can be read at this website at “essays”.
Note:

Must See Rare Interview with William Blum

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Collateral Murder: US massacre of civilians uncovered

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Thanks to Reuters for digging up and securing this footage of US military personnel in choppers shooting 12 civilians near Baghdad. Thanks to WikiLeaks and CollateralMurder.com for recently posting this video with background information. How many times have these atrocities been repeated?

ONE MILLION PEOPLE HAVE BEEN MURDERED in IRAQ. Millions more have lost their homes and families. Now the same thing is happening in Colombia, Haiti, Pakistan and Afghanistan and is being planned for Africa, Indonesia, Yemen, Russia and Venezuela. Fed up yet?

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“Killing in the Name of ____” – Rage Against the Machine

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RAGE

Killing in the name of!
Some of those that work forces, are the same that burn crosses
Some of those that work forces, are the same that burn crosses
Some of those that work forces, are the same that burn crosses
Some of those that work forces, are the same that burn crosses
Huh!

Killing in the name of!
Killing in the name of

And now you do what they told ya
And now you do what they told ya
And now you do what they told ya
And now you do what they told ya
And now you do what they told ya
And now you do what they told ya
And now you do what they told ya
And now you do what they told ya
And now you do what they told ya
And now you do what they told ya
And now you do what they told ya
But now you do what they told ya
Well now you do what they told ya

Those who died are justified, for wearing the badge, they’re the chosen whites
You justify those that died by wearing the badge, they’re the chosen whites
Those who died are justified, for wearing the badge, they’re the chosen whites
You justify those that died by wearing the badge, they’re the chosen whites

Some of those that work forces, are the same that burn crosses
Some of those that work forces, are the same that burn crosses
Some of those that work forces, are the same that burn crosses
Some of those that work forces, are the same that burn crosses
Uggh!

Killing in the name of!
Killing in the name of

And now you do what they told ya
And now you do what they told ya
And now you do what they told ya
And now you do what they told ya
And now you do what they told ya, now you’re under control (7 times)
And now you do what they told ya, now you’re under control
And now you do what they told ya, now you’re under control
And now you do what they told ya, now you’re under control
And now you do what they told ya, now you’re under control
And now you do what they told ya, now you’re under control
And now you do what they told ya, now you’re under control
And now you do what they told ya!

Those who died are justified, for wearing the badge, they’re the chosen whites
You justify those that died by wearing the badge, they’re the chosen whites
Those who died are justified, for wearing the badge, they’re the chosen whites
You justify those that died by wearing the badge, they’re the chosen whites
Come on!

Yeah! Come on!

Fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me
Fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me
Fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me
Fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me
Fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me
Fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me
Fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me
Fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me
Fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me!
Fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me!
Fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me!
Fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me!
Fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me!
Fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me!
Fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me!
Fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me!
Motherfucker!
Uggh!

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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…

Thanks for the memories! America salutes her Commander-in-Chief!

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News Item! May 9, 2010. Obama decides to EXPAND drone attacks. Whatta guy! What a murderer!

Watch the Slide Show… then click on the photo links below it.

The starving, mutilated orphans of Afghanistan salute you! You are a real hero! So do patriotic Americans!

Americans should bear in mind: this is where our tax dollars are going — not to schools, roads, bridges, health care, jobs programs or housing in the US, but to create weapons of mass destruction to be deployed anywhere in the world that needs a new dictator, new weapons and new death squads. The rest of our public monies are going to massacre poor people in Afghanistan, to burn and mutilate them, and destroy their homes and villages. And just in case we don’t like it, the shock doctrine and its military backup is coming directly into our own communities.

Of course, most of the US Treasury’s funds were plundered and given to the top BANKS, the same BANKS that are robbing us with interest rates, fees and collections, and taking our homes and farms away. Who gets our tax dollars? The top 1/2 of 1% of the population. Screw everyone else….US citizens have no more rights…   And they call this democracy. That’s a sick joke.

Pretty damn heroic, Obama!

Watch the Slide Show… and click on the photo links below it.

Then, if you can, donate to RAWA.

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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Kathy Kelly and the White House Die-in

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