Wednesday, June 29, 2022

 

 

    9-11: The Illusion of a Historic Coup in the Course of Imperialism

 "Hisham Bustani" hbustani2@yahoo.com   hbustani2

    Wed Sep 12, 2007 10:20 am (PST)

   

    http://mrzine.monthlyreview.org/bustani110907.html

 

    The Fairmont Conference

 

    In late September 1995, five hundred of the world's economic and political leaders met in San Francisco's prestigious Fairmont Hotel upon the invitation of an institution headed by Mikhail Gorbachev. The conference was financed by some American super-rich, possibly in gratitude to Gorbachev's "services rendered" in the ex-Soviet Union. The task required from this gathering was to "illustrate the outlines of the road to the 21st century, the road that will lead to a new civilization."

 

    There was no tolerance with wasted time at this conference: 5 minutes for each speaker, and 2 minutes for each comment. The condensed results of the future that the invitees came out with were terse, a cryptic duo: "20-80," and "Tittytainment."

 

    "20-80" represents the ratio of workers to unemployed in the future society. The gathering figured that "20% of the working population will be sufficient to maintain the global economic activity in the next century." The remaining 80% will face "great problems." As one of Sun Microsystems's executives put it, the situation will be "to have lunch or to be lunch."

 

    "Tittytainment" is a term crafted by the Zbigniew Brzezinski and a portmanteau of two words: tits (as a reference to breast-feeding) and entertainment. This Tittytainment is a mixture of "intoxicating entertainment and sufficient nourishment" that can "tranquilize the frustrated minds of the globe's population."1

 

    But what is the nexus between all this and the topic at hand? There is a very deep relation between both.

 

    The first trap that many writers and political analysts fall into is to consider September 11 a dividing line between two historical eras, a historic milestone, a watershed which provided the springboard for an international political coup. A comparison between September 1995 (the Fairmont conference) and the September 2001 attacks will not reveal a substantial difference in the quality of US politics in particular and capitalist politics in general; the question is merely one of quantity. That is the central point argued below.

 

    Imperialism's Onward Trajectory

 

    The current expansionist system of the United States -- the Empire of all-out aggression and neo-liberal ideology -- was on the path to its realization with or without a September 11. If September 11 had never happened, we would have still witnessed its subsequent "consequences," albeit possibly a bit later in time.

 

    What can be considered a genuine "historic breaking point" is that conjuncture when the capitalist camp conquered the Soviet Union and the socialist bloc. The conquest itself was not the breaking point, but the concomitant accelerated process of terminating the social-welfare state and its high costs in the capitalist camp was.

 

    Capital, continuously looking to maximize its profit, had made an investment to preempt socialism and to bring high returns: the social-welfare state with its Keynesian economics -- public spending as a "necessary evil" to preserve internal equilibrium and prevent any contagion from the "East" that could infect the "West" with societal aims such as social justice and equality, eliminating class privileges, and securing basic needs for all (food, housing, education, health). With the disappearance of "another pole" and the recession in the social/political activity of the radical left across the planet, compounded by the lack of a new revolutionary alternative, however, the social-welfare state became an unwarranted high-level expense, and the world became an open competition-free playground. Then, imperialism cast off its "democratic" and "civilized" mask, threw away the myths of the "free world," and expanded internally and externally to fill the voids left by the disappeared pole.

    At that stage, imperialists had to think about moving down the "road that will lead to a new civilization." That was the core function of the Fairmont conference, devising "answers" to the questions of the new transition.

 

    Nothing New

 

    This "new" civilization is not new at all. It is a revival of pre-capitalist mechanisms. Bent on profit, it perfects sheer force with an engineered deterrence of the masses. This return to pre-capitalist mechanisms does not contradict the evolution of capitalism in its neo-liberal phase: imperialists find no embarrassment in using mechanisms that are below the historic evolutionary level of capitalism as long as it is beneficial for them to do so. The Arab Marxist thinker Hadi el-Alawi notes that "the most advanced of production patterns were always able to employ disintegrated production patterns to develop themselves, but this does not represent a re-establishment of the old pattern, rather this employment comes under the influence of the overall exploitation mechanism."2

 

    The "20-80" society mentioned above is a society that will be controlled by a mixture of sheer force and Tittytainment. The new war fest with its hyper-technology, modern soldiers with space-age gadgets, satellite imagery, smart bombs, video images of precision pinpoint hits of enemy targets -- all these are not only tools for material and psychological deterrence of the oppressed 80%, but also tools for transforming war from an extreme human tragedy into an "entertaining spectacle," a Hollywood movie, and an amusing video-game.

    It is the double-edged sword: murder and intoxicating entertainment. Two blades that in effect maim the same victim!

 

    This spectacle of power and intoxication definitely did not start on September 11, and the men in spacemen-like outfits in search of an anthrax attack came after the footage of "pinpoint hits" of Iraqi targets during the 1991 Second Gulf War.

 

    Imperial Propaganda Machines and the Second Gulf War

 

    A little-known fact: a public relations firm Hill and Knowlton was the corporate mastermind behind the marketing campaign of the 1991Gulf War in the US. This firm is part of the giant WPP conglomerate for public relations, media, and advertising, headed by Martin Sorrell. WPP employs 55,000 people in 92 countries, and has some 1,300 offices around the world, with a revenue of $5.2 billion in 1999.3

 

    This corporation is "a potential power house, a huge propaganda machine, with the reach and coordinated skills in people manipulation that might allow it to rule the hearts and minds of the entire global population."4 Along with its main competitor Omnicom, WPP controls the vast major segment of the advertising and public relations market in the world for the benefit of the giant corporations and, sometimes, governments.

 

    In the early 1980s, one of the executive officers of J. Walter Thompson (an advertising firm later acquired in 1987 by WPP) stated: "We have within our hands the greatest aggregate means of mass education and persuasion the world has ever seen -- namely, the channels of advertising communication. . . . We have power. Why do we not use it?" This urge to use power found its expression in the mechanism suggested by Brzezinski at the 1995 Fairmont conference and in the savage implementation of an unrestricted imperialist attack on living standards of the masses after the end of the welfare state during the 1980s.

 

    Freedom House

 

    That is one side of the story. The other side is that the radical right-wing warmongers in the US administration did not spring ex nihilo, nor did they land in spaceships coming from a colony of neoliberal radicals on Mars on standby for emergency situations. They were present in the core of US institutions for a long time, especially those institutions dedicated to effecting external changes, such as Freedom House. Freedom House is an NGO that was established in the 1941 by Eleanor Roosevelt and Wendell L. Willkie and is dedicated to "democratic changes" in the world by creating attached networks in targeted regions. Freedom House works for an "engaged US foreign policy" to introduce "free market reforms."5 Of course, the engagement is all for the benefit of imperialism. Thus, it is no surprise that the primary target of Freedom House was Central and Eastern Europe, where it played a huge role in the "earthquake" there by financing dozens of subordinate

 organizations.

 

    This important institution with an ostensibly pro-democracy orientation was headed by former CIA Director James Woolsey and had on its Board of Trustees individuals like Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, and the main theoretician for the neoliberal age Samuel Huntington. Those warmongers, in addition to those who are seemingly moderate in comparison, like Brzezinski (who also served as a member of the Board of Trustees in Freedom House), were an active part of the US strategic structure long before they ascended to the top echelon of decision-making when the objective situation created an expanded opportunity for them: post-9-11. This is how Empire paved its own way on the strategic level.

 

    Corporatism at the Helm

 

    A unipolar world is a problem in itself, but it becomes a horrifying nightmare if this unipole is an imperialist power with neoliberal ideology that is geared to nothing but expansion and profit, markets and oil, whose decision-makers are indeed corporate CEOs turned politicians.

 

    The degree of major corporate representation in the current US administration is a patent fact: President George W. Bush is an ex-CEO of Harken Energy; Vice President Dick Cheney is an ex-CEO of Halliburton; former Defense Minister Donald Rumsfeld is the ex-CEO of General Instruments and Searle Pharmaceutical Company; current Secretary of Defense Robert Gates was a member of the board of trustees of Fidelity Investments, and on the board of directors of NACCO Industries, Inc., Brinker International, Inc., Parker Drilling Company, Science Applications International Corporation, and VoteHere, a technology company which seeks to provide cryptography and computer software security for the electronic election industry. Former Secretary of the Treasury Paul O'Neil is ex-CEO of Alcoa; former Secretary of the Treasury John Snow is an ex- President and CEO of CSX Corporation; former Secretary of Commerce Don Evans is the ex-CEO of Tom Brown Inc.; current Secretary of the Treasury

    Henry Paulson is ex-Chairman and CEO of Goldman Sachs. Former White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card is an ex-CEO of the American Automobile Manufacturers Association. Former Army Secretary Thomas White is an ex-Vice Chairman in Enron; former Secretary of the Army Francis Harvey is an ex-CEO of the IT Group, a defense contractor; former Secretary of the Air Force James Roche is an ex-executive in Northrop Grumman; former Secretary of the Navy and current Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon England is an ex-President of General Dynamics and ex-President of Lockheed; current Secretary of the Navy Donald Winter is a former top executive of Northrop Grumman.6 On and on.

 

    All those politicians are corporation executives of the first rank, a substantial number involved in oil and energy firms, and most with strong connections with the military/industrial complex. Such involvement is organic, so much so that Chevron Corporation named one of its oil tankers after Condoleeza Rice!

 

    Beyond the Human Tragedy

 

    Relevant here are insights from an article by James Petras, published on November 4, 2001 and entitled "September 11, beyond the Human Tragedy: The Other World Trade Center/Pentagon." The article quotes the Guardian (November 2, 2001), pointing out that the World Trade center "was a center for the CIA and the Secret Services. . . . The basement, seventy feet below the ground contained hundreds of weapons, including assault rifles, bricks of cocaine and fake taxi cabs used for covert operations in the US. In other words, the CIA used the civilian cover of the WTC as an operational and logistical center in the basement, thus irresponsibly putting in jeopardy civilians who were working in the above-ground offices."

 

    The number of the New York victims declared by the US Red Cross stood at 2,563. "Almost forty percent are foreign nationals working in the US. In other words, the total number of victims in New York may not exceed 1500 US citizens." The exaggerated figure for the number of victims given by New York City officials (4,964) was "probably [made] for political purposes, to extract more funding from the Federal Government to rebuild the financial district," not for relief purposes, as Petras reminds us of the New York City firemen who "rioted at the WTC ruins in protest against budgetary cut backs. . . ."

 

    Moreover, Petras finds that "the mass media and Washington manipulated the human tragedy to deflect attention from the economic and military dimensions of the conflict" and "once the tragic victims were no longer useful as political propaganda in favor of the war, they were discarded and reduced to lining the streets outside the unemployment offices. . . . In October [2001], over 450,000 workers lost their jobs, the highest monthly figure in recent history."

 

    Petras also states that "numerous other cases of fraud and commercial exploitation have surfaced; including exaggerated insurance claims, the sale of memorabilia by street vendors, disappearance of millions of dollars in financial aid directed at the victims families."

    Profit motives are clearly evident here, and that is not surprising given the size and nature of US capitalism and the American state. The strange thing is their blunt and obvious presence at the core of a human tragedy suffered by the citizens of the imperialist center itself That is the qualitative "progress" in the savage mechanisms which will be in stark evidence even more savagely abroad.

 

    In noting the huge number who lost their jobs in the wake of 9-11, as mentioned by Petras, it is instructive to recall the statement of John Gage, one of the founders and top executives of Sun Microsystems, at the Fairmont conference back in 1995: "I have 16,000 workers, if we excluded a very few number, the vast majority are a reserve that can be laid-off when re-organizing." That is the cynicism central to this dispensation of domination and manipulation.

 

    Internal and External Restructuring

 

    In the wake of September 11, the time came for a major re-organization, both internally and externally:

 

    Internally: many lost their jobs, new restrictive and oppressive laws came into force, and the economy went into a new cycle for the huge benefit of the oil industry and defense manufacturers.

    Externally: the US saw that the time was right for finalizing its hegemony over the world, especially in the face of potential competition from Europe and China, a perfecting of hegemony defined by complete control over oil reserves, starting with the 1991 Second Gulf War, and continuing with accelerating momentum from 9-11 by expanding control over the reserves in Central Asia and occupying Iraq that sits on huge oil reserves, in addition to its proximity to other reserves in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia (both virtually occupied with US military bases), and Iran. Moreover, the US has also completed its belt of super-fire-power around the globe: besides its roaming sea fleets, it has now military bases covering Europe, the Arab Peninsula, Central Asia, Korea, Japan, and South East Asia, thus having the ability and flexibility to restrain any "rogue state" or "terrorist organization."

 

    "Clash of Civilizations" or "Desperate Backlash"?

 

    Despite their differences, the main theoreticians of our neoliberal dispensation, Samuel Huntington and Francis Fukuyama, both agree that September 11 was not a moment of epoch-making transformation in history. For Huntington (with his "clash of civilizations"), the historic landmark was the beginning of "the age of Muslim wars" which "began as the cold war was winding down in the 1980s," while Fukuyama argues: "More than 10 years ago, I argued that we had reached the 'end of history'. . . . This hypothesis remains correct. . . . The September 11 attacks represent a desperate backlash against the modern world."

 

    In other words, the two theoreticians of the neo-liberal era agree that the historical turning point was the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union and that September 11 was a "desperate backlash," as Fukuyama put it. Huntington further notes that "The 'new war,' as U.S. administration officials termed the violence that began September 11, is thus not so new. It is a continuation and escalation of previous patterns of violence involving Muslims." Muslims here, however, actually means the violence of Washington, encrypted as the violence of the demonized Other.

 

    Continuity of Global Imperialist Hegemony

 

    To make a conclusive analysis, and to put 9-11 in its objective context, we need to re-write Huntington's and Fukuyama's statements: the attacks of 9-11 were a "desperate backlash" against the savage imperialist hegemony represented by the US. The "new war" or the "war on terrorism" is not new at all -- it is an escalation and completion of previous patterns of violence in which the US was involved, in the context of global imperialist hegemony. September 11 served as an excuse for this escalation.

 

    The "war on terrorism" is an unbridled war for control of oil, profit and hegemony; not a war of religions or a clash of civilizations. It started in effect from the beginnings of the Soviet collapse and the rise of neo-liberal capitalism from the early 1980s, when Keynesian economics devolved into a space where the unrestricted free market as theorized by Friedrich von Hayek and implemented by Ronald Reagan in the US and Margaret Thatcher in the UK reigned supreme. September 11, 2001 serves as the striking proof of the efficiency of imperialism to use and abuse events, deceive people, and disseminate manipulative theories about the root cause of the struggle that suits the taste of the manipulated population. It acts to transform any effective resistance against imperialism from a cumulative positive action to mere reaction that serves the objective of survival only and little more, incapable of moving us forward on the road of defeating hegemony and exploitation.

 

    Notes:

    1 For details of this conference, see Hans-Peter Martin and Harald Schumann, The Global Trap: Globalization and the Assault on Democracy and Prosperity (New York: St. Martin Press, 1997). Quotations above are based on the Arabic edition of the book and translated by the author into English. See also en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Global_Trap.

    2 Hadi el-Alawi, Unanxious Characters in Islam, Beirut: Dar el-Konooz el-Adabeyyah, 1997, p. 222. (In Arabic, translation by theรก author.)

    3 Sharon Beder and Richard Gosden, "WPP: World Propaganda Power," PR Watch 8.2, 2001, pp. 9-10.

    4 Beder and Gosden, ibid.

    5 NGO News, Summer 1998; and other Freedom House brochures and leaflets.

    6 Check background information on the members of the US administration on www.wikipedia.org

 

    Dr. Hisham Bustani is a leftist writer and activist from Jordan. He is a founding member of the Resistant Arab People's Alliance, member of the Jordanian Higher Executive Committee for Resisting Normalization with Israel, and a member of the executive board of the Socialist Thought Forum (Jordan). Contact: hbustani2@yahoo.com

 

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Market God + Private Profits = Public Loss

by Frank Scott

All people need food, shelter and health care. In an alleged democracy, none of them need the religion of market forces governing their ability to get them. Nor do those of us temporarily comfortable while enjoying the benefits that come to a minority which does well with capitalism (as it did with slavery) but now face a choking atmosphere that no individual status or identity as glorified house negroes of slavery days will protect us since the house itself, our planet, is under deadly attack.

 

Brutal abuse of logic, savage assaults on morality, perverted molestations of reason; do those describe Russian military behavior in the Ukraine or western political-media market practice? Incredibly booming profits in the death industry accompany the world tour of a Ukrainian political hustler for NATO as he is treated as an international hero for escaping his country on a world go-fund-me trip to raise more weapons to assure more murder of his people with a potential bonus of hosting a late night TV show in America while the bodies are being counted.

 

The incredible reporting (?) of the Russian defense of its borders has it being depicted as an ugly rape of neighbors led by a comic book madman supposedly bent on building an empire by defending his nation from an imperial monster failing desperately by the day and threatening to destroy the world in a frenzy of trying to maintain its criminal domination of the market god religion. This while its own nation shows signs of crumbling with citizens lashing out at one another and losing faith in all aspects of what passes for leadership but reduced to blaming special villains and identity groups while pursuing decency and freedom for other and often the same villains and identity groups. The one most dangerous and unjust group, the incredibly rich who own and operate what passes for a democracy under thought control, are only just beginning to get the attention they have always deserved.

 

Low election day turnouts are an American tradition but worse than ever as divisions forced on a public taught to identify as anything but a democratic majority – while paying lip service to something called “our” democracy, which amounts to slaves claiming “our” plantation – while foreign slaughter is accompanied by homeland mass murders that reduce citizens to more fear, sorrow and anger directed at everything but the systemic breakdown and focused by media on scapegoats.

 

Class society is composed of all of us but we are hardly all members of the same class in a market-dominated capitalism in which rulers separate us by everything but class. Do we have testicles or vaginas? We are all human beings. Lighter skin or darker skin? We are all human beings.  But when a tiny minority among us are rich and everyone else ranges from fairly comfortable to relatively comfortable to uncomfortable to suffering severe discomfort to being ground to pulp by marketism, that defines class society, which is absolutely necessary under the market forces controlled by the rich and their servants in government, industry and media.

 

American dollar democracy finds 8% of us being millionaires, multi-millionaires, billionaires, and multi billionaires. The 92% majority, of course, control everything democratically. That is the definable truth if you believe deep nose-picking is a way of performing self-lobotomy or that the tooth fairy is really a gay dentist. Sadly, a minority of us, including all too many voters, might as well be stuck in such a mental trap. But a growing majority sense that something is terribly wrong and that real change is necessary for humanity and not just one or another identity group’s survival is causing greater desire than ever for substantial change in the way we organize our society. Un- fortunately, that desire is still under the control of the profit making industries of division, violence, ignorance and more division.

 

It is possible to believe that a billionaire and a pauper are equal when shopping at the market, if one is among the nose picking tooth fairy faith. The rest of us must see the numbers which do not lie and get worse everyday when it comes to what is called economic inequality. While that is the foundation of marketism which affords massive estates and riches so vast it takes several banks to hold them, hundreds of thousands of humans, whether possessing testicles, vaginas, or both, light skin, dark skin, or both, heterosexual, homosexual or both, do not have shelter, publicly beg for food and forage through garbage for clothing. This while millions of residents in a so-called democracy have no health care and more than a million die of a virus which is believed by some to have been created by one or another villainous force but hardly due to the capitalist market system which demands money for most of what is needed for survival while essentially telling those without enough money they can drop dead.

 

While formally educated and mentally deranged manipulators of policy are using Ukraine to affect murdering Russians and using Taiwan to encourage murder of Chinese, common sense and near universal desires for global peace are impossible to find in the mass-murder market dominated and controlled by minorities at growing danger to the overwhelming majority of earth’s inhabitants. The socially diseased imperial beast calling itself a force for global peace and democracy has become a raving monster desperately in need of a truly democratic force of the American people to take control before the rest of the world, led by China, Russia and the many nations fed up with a disintegrating economic, social and political environment, have to exercise control, democratic or otherwise. Peace is impossible while life is controlled by minority profiteers whose control of information is as menacing as its weapons making. The world outside the USA is growing restive, fed up, and beginning to tell us to bug off, as at the recent farce of an alleged meeting of Latin American countries formerly under our total domination showed. Nato countries reduced to suffering for obeying American orders to sanction Russia are beginning to think about banding together to sanction The USA. There has never been a greater time for real democracy in America but it wont come about by making war on one another, which will only make the imperial situation worse. Our identity is as human beings, not sub-categories of humans with no need for food, clothing and shelter but only separate-but-allegedly-equal status slaves to a market god, and our fate is in coming together and acting as such. We need to do that in greater numbers and more quickly than ever.

 

 

 

 

 

Noam Chomsky on Neo-Liberal Robbery, Covid Vaccines, and Anti-Vaccine Hysteria

 "Unvaccinated people are free to do whatever they want, except harm others. Nobody has the right to walk around with an assault rifle and shoot randomly. That's not freedom. Similarly, if some business - say a restaurant - decides they want customers to be masked - they have a right to do that. They have a right to protect themselves against people who want to feel free to harm them. So therefore, people who don't want to be vaccinated are perfectly free to do whatever they want, except to violate restrictions which, where people try to defend themselves. Like the workers in a restaurant have a right to defend themselves against people who want to come in and infect them. It's as simple as that. It's true that it aroused a huge furor, more sign of the irrationality. In fact, the whole anti-vaccine hysteria that's developed, mainly in the United States, but also in Germany and elsewhere, is another sign of the growing, radical irrationality. There's simply, virtually no doubt that the vaccines are very effective. In fact, it's a triumph of contemporary science. 

And the stories about the harm that they do to you is unbelievable nonsense. They're implanting a chip into you that's going to allow Bill Gates to control you. It's one thing after another. I mean, of course there's an element of uncertainty. That's life. There's an element of uncertainty about anything. But the evidence is simply overwhelming about their positive effect. Every national academy in the world, every academy of science, without any exception, every medical journal in the world, without any exception. I think all just take this for granted (emphasis added). But there's a big popular movement saying we don't believe anything. 

Actually, that has part of its roots in the neo-liberal assault against the population. That's forty years of a major attack on the general population. And it's led - just to give you some figures - in the United States there was a study by the highly respectable Rand Corporation, quasi-governmental investigation corporation. They studied the transfer of wealth from the lower ninety percent of the population - working class/middle class - transfer of wealth from them to the top one percent during the neo-liberal years. Their estimate is about fifty trillion dollars. That's pretty effective highway robbery. And it's had an effect - all over the United States, all over Europe, where the same things, not to that extent, but similar things have been happening. It's led to anger, resentment, distrust of authority, distrust of government, undermining of democracy . . .  the anti-vaccine hysteria is one lethal aspect of that."

--------- Noam Chomsky, June 15, 2022

Source: 

acTVism Munich, "Exclusive: Noam Chomsky on Ukraine, Russia-NATO, Assange, Shireen Abu Akleh and Covid Measures," June 15, 2022


Friday, May 20, 2022

Bernie Sanders' War Fetish

"It’s disappointing that (Bernie) Sanders voted for another $40 billion weapons sale to Ukraine. But it’s entirely consistent with his legislative history of supporting Democratic wars and opposing the same wars when they’re run by Republicans. (See my book, Bernie and the Sandernistas.) Sanders voted three times for regime change in Iraq, while Clinton was president. He voted for Clinton’s war on Serbia, prompting staff resignations. Voted for the original AUMF (Authorization For Use of Military Force) on the war on terror and was an original Senate co-sponsor of the “no fly” resolution on Libya that led to the overthrow of the Qaddafi regime. Then there’s Sanders’ peculiar attachment to the F-35, a plane whose primary purpose is to 'deliver' nuclear strikes against Russia. Bernie has many admirable qualities, especially when contrasted to his colleagues. But he’s always been a hawk with the mindset of a Cold War liberal."

 --------- Jeffrey St. Clair

Source: 

Jeffrey St. Clair, "Roaming Charges: Search, Destroy and Replace," Counterpunch, May 20, 2022

Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Bulletin From The Garlic

Zelensky Offers Free Abortion To American Women Who Bring Weapons To Ukraine!

Sunday, May 1, 2022

May Day Special: Fake Freedom and the Paycheck Nomad

Rural workers of the early 20th century caught their sleep in boxcars and meals in the open air. Lured by labor agents' promises of steady work, they drifted broke and hungry from camp to camp, huddling beneath tents and hastily built shacks, strangers to plumbing and doctors, but all too familiar with illness, accidents, and back-breaking extraction in the mines.

Wages, low as they were, rarely even reached their hands. Company managers advanced credit for food, shelter and tools at vastly inflated prices, then submitted workers a bill after they had toiled for months in life-threatening conditions.  The longer they worked, the more indebted they became.

Only with tortuous discipline did some workers manage the miracle of putting aside a few dollars. Such victories were short-lived, however, as the urgent need to forget one's misery quickly saw the savings squandered on cheap booze. 

In the larger towns employment offices operated in cahoots with the saloon owners, who delivered hung-over workers to labor contractors, starting the cycle of anguish anew.

Urban workers fared no better. Their homes were dark, unventilated slum tenements called "slaughterhouses," where a small mob of workers cooked, washed, and slept in a single room. Outside, the air reeked of chemicals and industrial gases, and open sewers flowed through muddy streets strewn with tin cans, bottles, rocks, and garbage.

Overworked and underfed, they suffered epidemics of asthma, tuberculosis, measles, bronchitis, cholera, rickets, and pneumonia. Widespread lead poisoning left them with blue gums and no teeth.

Every job bred a characteristic affliction - rheumatism, muscle paralysis, hernia, ulcers. 

In the steelworks, mills, mines, railroads, and building trades, men were ruined by their early forties. Missing limbs were as common as sunburn at the beach.

The perpetual "speed up" of production lines turned workers into human wrecks, regularly overcome by the "shakes." Meals had to be taken in spasmodic gulps. 

Drained of vitality by middle-age - then replaced by teenagers - lucky workers were hired back at reduced pay as sweepers or night watchmen.  Unlucky ones fell dependent on their children, sank into destitution, or died shortly after being declared useless.

This was the great legacy of worker freedom in the self-proclaimed greatest democracy the world has ever seen, a generation before the Great Depression made their lot considerably worse.

In what came to be known as the progressive era, American "patriots" boasted of their New World liberty, allegedly so different from Old World tyranny and oppression. 

In the USA, after all, workers were free to put their working lives to traffic and submit to any terms chronic desperation allowed them to get.  Hallelujah!

They were free to quit a job anytime they wanted, and briefly go anywhere and do anything until their money ran out. Then hunger overtook them, and they were free to rent themselves all over again.

They were also free to keep company with anyone they liked, so long as it didn't include union organizers. 

They were free to dream of owning property priced well beyond their wages, and to impotently rage at the cycle of recessions and depressions that routinely crushed their more modest ambitions.

They were free to speak their minds in democratic debate, though the brutality of the workday usually left them without time or energy to even follow the events of the day. 

They were free to ingest the barrage of industry propaganda that masqueraded as news, leaving them ignorant of what they most needed to know. 

They were free to parrot the views of those who profited off their ignorance, and vote for their candidates at the ballot box.

If they chose to band together in collective action and demand more pay, less work, and decent conditions, employers were free to have them beaten, shot, and starved back to work on the same rotten terms. On the remote chance that they were able to overcome all this, employers were free to induce a depression, so that soaring unemployment, savage wage-cuts and prolonged lockouts destroyed the financial basis of worker resistance altogether.

And, of course, the ultimate employer trump card was to start a war and draft workers into slaughtering each other, the only occasion on which full employment has ever been contemplated under the reign of capital.

More than a century after the progressive era workers now find themselves being forced back down the wealth pyramid after a brief flirtation with middle-class respectability (1945-1975). 

Digital feudalism has replaced industrial feudalism, and proliferating "right to work" laws celebrate workers' inherent right to scrounge. 

Banks selling worthless paper are "too big to fail," and unions are too few to matter. 

Platforms replace markets, and Lords of Tech awash in hundreds of billions of dollars coin personal data into limitless profit, which their customers eagerly give them, toiling endless hours on the Internet for free.

Sources:

Rural workers: Page Smith, America Enters The World - A People's History of the Progressive Era and World War I, (McGraw Hill, 1985, pps. 29-31)

Urban workers:  Noel Kent, America In 1900, (M. E. Sharpe, 2000, pps. 78, 81-3, 87)

Worker "freedom": Irving Stone, Clarence Darrow For The Defense, (Signet, 1941, pps. 150, 159)

 

Monday, April 11, 2022

Scott Ritter on Ukrainian Fascism: "They've Become An Influencing Majority"

"What I see going on right now is a Russian response that is decades in the making. There's a lot of people that say that what Putin has done in Ukraine is a very impetuous, rash act, that it's a gamble, that Putin has gambled. And this creates the notion of a leader who is a risk taker, who's not certain of where he stands, who is confronted with a problem and is seeking to take a short cut to a solution. No. This is a problem that has been in the making since 1997 when NATO began its process of expanding, allowing former Warsaw Pact nations into the NATO alliance and gradually moving towards the border with Russia. This is a problem that has been ongoing since 1999 when Boris Yeltsin stepped aside and brought in Vladimir Putin as the president of Russia. Boris Yeltsin, of course, ran Russia during the decade of the nineties in the aftermath of the collapse of the Soviet Union, who allowed the United States and other countries to run roughshod over Russian sovereignty, to view Russia as an economic opportunity for carpetbaggers to come in and rob Russia blind, who empowered a class of oligarchs who stole Russia's wealth and made it their own. 

"And the United States was all too happy with Yeltsin. And when Yeltsin stepped aside and brought in Vladimir Putin and Vladimir Putin said, "We're no longer playing that game. Russia is a sovereign state, we're going to assert our sovereign control over our own economy," etc. People in the West started viewing him as a threat to the Western-based hegemony that had been established over Russia.  So, this is a problem . . . when you combine NATO expansion with a leader that is now viewed as a threat, NATO expansion is no longer simply about bringing a security framework over Eastern Europe to prevent Eastern Europe from becoming like Yugoslavia. 

"That was the original thinking behind the expansion of NATO. We must secure Eastern Europe to prevent Europe from confronting a series of Yugoslavia type break-ups and conflicts. But then as the expansion went over, you have Putin being perceived as a threat, so now Russia is a threat and that threat is magnified in the eyes of the former Soviet satellite states, like Poland and the Baltics, who have no love lost for Russia, so they've magnified the notion of a Russian threat, and from a Russian perspective they're now looking at an expanding NATO coming up to their borders, that represents a direct threat to Russia. 

"And Russia had been speaking out about this. In 2007, Vladimir Putin gave what I consider to be one of the greatest political speeches in modern history, and that is an address before the Munich Security Council where he was supposed to be brought in as an act of surrender. The West expected him to bow down before his Western masters, to kiss the ring of his overlords and start playing the game of becoming assimilated into the West. Instead, Putin stood there in front of an audience of Western power brokers and he chastised them. He chastised them about being acolytes of the United States, he chastised the United States about seeking to impose the singularity on the world. He chastised Europe and the United States about what had been done in Iraq after the 2003 invasion and occupation. 

"'Do you not know what you have done?' he told them. About Iraq. 'You've destroyed a nation. You have lied. You have destroyed the international legal framework.' And then he said, 'the day of the unilateral polarity is over. The world will now move to a multi-polar situation that Russia will be one of equals, the world will include many different powers, including Russia, and the United States, but others as well." 

"His speech was not well received. And instead of listening to him, the United States and NATO doubled down in 2008. The Bucharest Security Summit for NATO formally invited Ukraine and Georgia to be members of NATO. How did Russia view this? We know, because not only do we have the statements of Putin and others, William Burns, who was the U.S. Ambassador to Russia, wrote a memorandum that was sent out in February of 2009, the title of which is 'Nyet means Nyet,' No Means No. And what he was saying is that when the Russians say that the expansion of NATO into Ukraine is a red line, they mean it's a red line. They're not joking. They're not bluffing. . . . 

"The Russian concerns are real, they're genuine, meaning that the West should not just dismiss these concerns as Russian pouting. No, this is a real concern. The consequences, and this is a very important part of his memorandum, the consequences of ignoring Russia will mean that in the future Russia will have no choice but to militarily intervene, which will result in the destruction of Ukraine, the loss of Crimea, and the loss of Donbass. This was written in 2009, pre-2014, and already the U.S. Ambassador William Burns knows that if NATO keeps expanding the outcome will be a Ukraine that is destroyed, and which no longer includes Crimea and the Donbass.

"So others can't claim, as Michael McPaul, who was the U.S. Ambassador under Barack Obama, he has repeatedly said that when he was with the National Security Council and when he was Ambassador he never heard about Russia's concerns about NATO, implying that Russia's just making this up. Well, he was in the National Security Council in February 2009, when Burns's memorandum was written, so McPaul is either the worst informed national security expert on Russia, or he's a liar. Because Burns's memorandum was there, everybody was talking about it, everybody knew that this was a concern for NATO, but the West ignored it, and continued to pursue. 

"Then after 2014 when the United States worked to overthrow the pro-Western president of Ukraine, Victor Yanukovich, through the Maidan Revolution, Russia became doubly concerned because now overnight Ukraine went from being a problematic but friendly border country to a hyper-nationalistic, and when I say nationalistic, I mean the nationalism of Stefan Bandera, a former Nazi supporter whose forces not only slaughtered Jews during WWII, but also slaughtered Poles and Russians during the ten-year-long insurgency that cost over 300,000 civilian lives and around 36,000 Russian security lives. 

"This force has been under the ground, but now through the Maidan Revolution we had brought them into the mainstream. We have weaponized them. Weaponized Nazi ideology is what we're talking about here. And Russia said, 'This is a threat.' And that began the threat to Russia because they were basically seeking to purge Russian culture, Russian language from Ukraine, which they wanted to be a pure Ukrainian state. 

"So Russia took the Crimea to protect the Russian majority population there, and Russia supported Russian separatists in the Donbass to protect them from the Ukrainians. This began an eight-year war, and there was an international agreement done through which was called the Normandy Format, that is, Germany, France, with Russia in observation, and Ukraine, negotiated a settlement, which would have brought an end to the conflict in the Donbass, recognized the Donbass to be part of Ukraine, but that the Russians would be subjected to a special autonomous status, that was separate from the Constitutional language that made Ukraine's first language Ukrainian. 

"The Russian presidents Poroshenko and then Zelensky refused to sign it, not because it was a bad deal, but because if they signed it the neo-Nazis that were now empowered have said they will kill them. So we have a situation where the Russian government, I mean the Ukrainian government, Ukrainian policy, was being dictated by neo-Nazi ideology. And if you know anything about the former Soviet Union, about Russia, you know that they don't take the issue of Nazi ideology lightly. Twenty-three million to thirty-two million Soviet citizens lost their lives in a conflict with Nazi Germany. In every town, every village, every city, there are memorials due to the sacrifice of the Russian people in that war. And every year they celebrate it on May 9, Victory Day, which is a day of celebration of the army that liberated them from the Nazis, liberated Europe from the Nazis. 

"And so now to have this Nazi ideology be mainstreamed, in Ukraine, people say, 'Well wait, they're a minority.' Yeah, politically, if they ran for office, it's a minority. But a minority isn't a minority if they can use the threat of violence to coerce the Parliament to vote with a strong majority to make Stefan Bandera the national hero of Ukraine. To mainstream his ideology. So it's not a minority. They've become an influencing majority, so to speak. . .

"Russia viewed this as a threat, and so, Russian military action, that we saw transpire on February 24, was simply William Burns's warning coming to fruition. Russia tried everything to create a diplomatic off ramp. They reached out to NATO over and over and over again, to the United States, and they said, 'Don't ignore us. Work with us, we can compromise. But if you ignore us, we will have no choice but to embrace the military-technical response,' which is this operation. So what we see right now is a military operation that has two primary military objectives: the first is denazification, the destruction of the nationalist military units that had incorporated personnel that embraced neo-Nazi ideology and the destruction of the political parties that breathe life into this, that mainstream this. That's one goal. 

"The other goal is the de-militarization of the Ukrainian military. What this means is that from 2015 on, the Ukrainian military had been trained by NATO to be a de facto extension of NATO. So even though Ukraine wasn't a NATO member, its army was a de facto extension of NATO. Thirty of their battalions are considered to be interoperable with NATO meaning that you could plug out a German battalion from a German division, plug in the Ukrainian battalion and it would function seamlessly. For the Russians this was unacceptable, and so one of their objectives is to demilitarize, that means to deconstruct the NATO military infrastructure that exists in Ukraine today. 

"Both these military objectives are trying to achieve two political objectives: (1) the liberation of the Donbass, to make sure that Lugansk and Donetsk are under Russian-speaking sovereignty (2) to achieve the neutrality, permanent neutrality of Ukraine, so that never again Russia can be threatened by Ukraine becoming a NATO state. This is the purpose of the military operation. It's a complex operation. The Ukrainian military is very professional, very well trained, led, they're putting up a heck of a fight, but this is not easy, this is difficult, but the Russians are winning, and they're on the verge of winning a decisive victory, that will achieve all of their political objectives, in the not-too-distant future."

 ------United States Marine Corps Veteran and former United Nations Weapons Inspector Scott Ritter

Source: Gerald Celente interview with Scott Ritter, "Ukraine War, Start to Finish, Who'll Win? Why and When?" Trends Journal, April 1, 2022, You Tube

 Postscript:

“The military aid the west is providing to Ukraine is changing the dynamic and if Russia doesn’t find a way to address this meaningfully… the conflict will never end.”

Source: Mike Whitney, "Scott Ritter's Switcheroo: Why I Radically Changed My Overall Assessment," The Unz Review, May 16, 2022