Sunday, September 25, 2022

Imperial Demon Watch: Vladimir Putin


Russia wants a peaceful Ukraine, Americans prefer one at war.

-------Israel Shamir, "Putin Prefers a Bad Peace"

Even before the current round of nuclear brinksmanship in Ukraine, U.S.-Russian relations had descended to a lower point than U.S.-Soviet relations reached during the Cuban Missile Crisis. We've been courting nuclear annihilation for some time.

Those who would like to exempt Washington from blame now will have to account for U.S. hostility towards Russia and the USSR, both of which long pre-date anything that could remotely be construed as provocation by Putin. After all, the United States invaded and occupied the former USSR from 1918-1920, maintained a harshly belligerent stance all during the Cold War, and unleashed a plague of financial locusts to loot state enterprises throughout the former USSR as soon as the Berlin Wall came down, while enrolling the newly "independent" states into an anti-Moscow military alliance that extended to the very borders of Russia. Standards of living plunged, death rates soared, diplomacy suffocated, and Boris Yeltsin's proposed U.S.-Russian partnership was immediately forgotten.  

If a China-Russia alliance had installed hostile governments in Canada and Mexico at the end of WWII, after which all of Latin America went full Communist while narco-terrorists began killing thousands of Anglo Texans and banning English, it's unlikely any blame would fall on Washington if it attempted to resolve the situation by force, as it surely would. So we can dismiss pious moral grandstanding about the "evil" Putin as the boundless hypocrisy it transparently is.

Furthermore, the rhetoric employed in this propaganda effort is curious and irrational. For example, labeling Putin a "war criminal" actually legitimizes war, since it implies there is some ethical or at least inoffensive way to conduct mass slaughter, which is all that modern warfare is. Transparent attempts to miss this point by labelling massacre "collateral damage" should be dismissed with ridicule.

And let us here note that the USA is far and away the guiltiest "criminal" where war is concerned, having by far the greatest war industry ever seen in human history headquartered on its soil and forming the heart of its economy (the Defense Industrial Base), which it has used to fight an endless series of wars directly or by proxy throughout the world for the past eighty years. No other contemporary or historical power has achieved anything close to this commitment to mass killing.

So it is absurd to define the situation in Ukraine as a uniquely evil instance of military aggression by Vladimir Putin. In a world of asymmetrical power with no effective world government, technically sophisticated powers always have the upper hand in violent conflicts with their neighbors, which are inevitable. And, of course, they insist on having friendly neighbors, preferably cooperative, though submissive will do. 

Hostile neighbors no one accepts. How much of the Americas does the United States permit be part of a hostile military alliance? According to the Monroe Doctrine, not one square inch. How did Washington react to Cuba installing Soviet nuclear missiles 90 miles from Florida in 1962? (Spoiler alert: it nearly blew up the planet.) What did the media do when  Rafael Correa jokingly proposed an Ecuadorian military base in Miami to balance Washington's Mena Air Base in Ecuador? It laughed, though the punchline is far from a joke.

A majority of the world is fed-up with the hypocrisies of unilateral world order under U.S. control, and is not averse to accommodating an emerging China-Russia-India based new world order. Yes, the current war in Ukraine will cause further expansion of NATO, but this, in turn, will devour resources needed to stave off European economic collapse, while an emerging Russia-China-India alliance accelerates the collapse of the U.S. dollar as the world's reserve currency. 

In Saudi Arabia, a U.S. client state, Biden's phone calls in the early stages of the current war went unanswered while Putin's were cordially received. Got respect?

Our mind managers warn us of the horrors of forced neutrality via Finlandization, and urge instead that we strive for regime change in Moscow. Strange. Finland is a success story, having achieved balance and stability via social democratic prosperity. On the other hand, U.S.-fostered regime change converts countries into corpse-strewn wastelands on a regular basis. Think Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and Libya. Trying out this strategy on Russia obviously carries a high risk of nuclear annihilation. What stupendous prize awaits us if we successfully navigate this potentially species-terminating risk? The preservation of "our interests and our values," as Hillary Clinton so loves to say.

In other words, converting whole cities to radioactive ash is a small price to pay for preserving our favorite abstractions. Got it.

We hear Putin is a strongman, an authoritarian, a totalitarian dictator, though we also hear people are fleeing Russia in droves. Why are they at liberty to do that? In any event, was Abraham Lincoln also a dictator, he who suspended habeas corpus, jailed journalists, shut down hundreds of newspapers, and locked up thousands of political enemies? And what about Woodrow Wilson, who destroyed unions, imprisoned editors, closed newspapers,  assuming dictatorial control of finance, the press, farms, and commerce and transportation? 

Or surely FDR was a dictator, who imprisoned over 100,000 U.S. citizens without charge and burned more civilians alive in a single night than either atomic bomb killed six months later? 

Maybe Putin is a dictator. But a major part of Russian, state-owned media transmits pro-Western, anti-Russian content, paid for by Russian taxpayers. Try and find taxpayer-funded, Putin-sympathetic content that reaches mass audiences in the U.S. Good luck.

What about free speech? The Russian people have never had it, and therefore don't care much about it. Americans have it in theory, but find its political potency nullified in practice by tsunamis of state and corporate propaganda.  The most popular use of speech in the contemporary U.S. is not to reveal errors of argument and evidence, but to denounce others for being "idiots." How free are we then?

Is Putin a nationalist? In recent years state-enterprise CEOs in Russia were seen earning millions of rubles a year while everyone else had to tighten their belts.  The Russian central bank bought U.S. Treasury Bonds and supported the U.S. dollar at the expense of the ruble.

Is Putin anti-democratic? The annexation of Crimea was overwhelmingly supported by Crimeans (97% vote).

Didn't Putin back Assad? Yes, because he was the legitimate head of state in Syria, while the alternative was rule by Islamic terrorists supported by the United States and Israel, but no sane person in Syria. Israel wants the dismemberment of Syria in order to keep the Golan Heights forever. 

Much demonology is spouted from the simple fact that Putin is the former head of the K.G.B. But Putin is critical of the Bolsheviks and is not himself a Communist. Nevertheless, he considers the demise of the USSR a "world tragedy," since overnight twenty-five million Russians found themselves foreigners living in fourteen new countries.

Is Putin anti-Israel? Well, Daesh oil flowed to Israel, and Putin said nothing, valuing his relations with then Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Israel, of course, supported Al-Nusra, and they were declared terrorists by the United Nations. But Israel is admirable by definition, because . . . the Holocaust.

We are told that no threat to the Russian state exists, so therefore no cause for war in Ukraine exists. But the Russian state and everything else can be blown off the map in a matter of minutes. The fact that the world is wired up to explode in a nuclear holocaust has been an American initiative from the beginning, and its dominant enemy has been (1) the USSR, and (2) Russia. NATO is by definition hostile to Russia, and lost even an ostensible reason for existing in 1991 with the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact. Why is it still around? Because Russia is still around, and Washington doesn't like that fact. Its efforts to achieve regime change in Moscow can and may end human civilization, which isn't likely to improve matters for Ukrainians. 

Is Putin an extremist? No. There is nothing radical in him. He has no plans for social re-arrangement. He merely seeks to have Russia respected as an independent, wealthy, and "great" nation, and yes, he wants Russia to be treated as an equal. But he also wants to fit into the world, not rebel against it. These modest ambitions are a threat to US/NATO hegemony and world dominance, which represent the triumph of Western extremism.

Keeping things in perspective, Putin is a Russian patriot. He wants to see Russia be a strong, healthy country where people lead good lives, are happy, and Russia occupies a prominent position internationally. He's not a chauvinist or reactionary nationalist. 

The Orange Revolution was totally unexpected in Russia, which can't be said to have a political opposition because there is no one who embodies and represents the views of a Russian majority. Having said that, Putin has been something of the "golden boy" in Russian politics for the past generation. He is good at addressing issues and speaking in clear terms that average people understand. The initial "democracy" of the Yeltsin period has been curtailed, but the middle class has developed rapidly on Putin's watch.  

Yeltsin spoke to the U.S. Congress in 1992, and offered Washington a partnership in which each nation would treat the other as an equal. For thirty years now the U.S. has rejected this. In the year of the U.S./NATO attack on Serbia, Yeltsin protested, "Russia is not Haiti. You can't treat us like Haiti."* Washington considers Haiti a "shithole" country, as one of America's more honest presidents memorably put it.

Washington is incapable of giving Russia its due diplomatic respect. According to the reigning "Wolfowitz Doctrine," the U.S. should dominate the world and not allow any rivals for power to emerge. Russia therefore is and should be treated as a second rate power. This is a non-negotiable position. 

Naturally, Putin does not accept this, and never accepted the U.S. view that Russia lost the Cold War. Russia saw the end of the Cold War as an opportunity for them to become part of the international community. At the core of Russian beliefs is that Russia must be a Great Power. The Russian people have never doubted that Russia is a great country. Having their noses rubbed in the Wolfowitz Doctrine year after year is an open invitation to nuclear war.

The USSR's forcing its rule onto Eastern Europe was a big mistake, though understandable given two Western invasions in a generation that left much of the country a smoldering ruin. The U.S. ignoring the possibility of Russia "coming back" to international prominence was a big American mistake. Washington continues to think of Russia as at most a regional power whose wants and needs can be ignored.

At the end of the Cold War the U.S. promised not to expand NATO - not one inch - to the East, a promise that was soon violated.

Now we wait to learn if our three-decade refusal to concede Russia minimal diplomatic respect and cooperation will eventuate in nuclear war.


* Vladimir Pozner, "The Present State of Russian-American Relations," Monterrey Summer Symposium, Middlebury Institute of International Studies, July 24, 2020

Wednesday, September 7, 2022

The Holocaust, Palestine and Israel: Revision, Denial and Myth by Frank Scott Published: 2005-01-01 ________________________________________ The murderous treatment of European Jews during the Second World War has become almost legendary in its depiction as a unique and singularly important example of bigoted inhumanity, carried to barbarous extremes. No other experience from among the overwhelming number of historic cases of mass brutality has ever achieved such status in western consciousness, partly because most of the other slaughters were of third world, non – white people. But despite this specific outrage being portrayed as an unparalleled tragedy, injustice, bigotry and mass murder have been practiced and gone relatively unquestioned since its occurrence, contrary to the lessons supposedly learned from its example. Given this contradictory impact, it should be permissible to look, as clearly as evidence will allow, at exactly what took place, what its moral lesson could be, what its political use has been, and how it has helped perpetuate rather than end notions of racial superiority and division that have dogged the world for millennia. The patriarchal belief systems on which Judaism, Christianity and Islam are all based depend on faith, far more than material evidence. What historic evidence exists is subject to human interpretation, and as an example of how varied that interpretation can be, we have these three religions. All are founded on the same original story, with similar scriptures, prophets, and the alleged word of god. God's words apparently say different things to different people at different times. Religious history, in which faith and interpretation loom large, is really not that different from secular history. The original story of the United States, for instance, was one of European discovery, heroic conquest, incredible development and national triumph. That was from the standpoint of the official historians, before the revisionists had their say. A more modern interpretation of that story includes the near physical and cultural genocide of the native populations of the continents which Europe discovered, even though people had been living on them for thousands of years. A newer view of American history also saw chattel slavery as something beyond an unfortunate economic arrangement which led to civil war and racial misunderstanding, and more as an experience of murderous human degradation carried to inhuman marketing extremes, with social repercussions still apparent and still not fully understood . Historic views and re-views of the past are taken by those with possible preconceptions based on their education, training and belief systems; historians can find selective truth in the material evidence at hand, while creating immaterial evidence as well, often doing so unconsciously, without any balance, and even stressing extremes. In doing this they are not substantially different from religious believers who pick and choose from what material evidence exists, if any, to fit into the belief system . God and the accepted prophets are sited to back up whatever is seen as good, righteous and just, and a Satan, with demonic assistants, is created to account for the evil, craven brutality that is the darker side of human development. Substitute us for God, and them for Satan, and we have much secular history. The religious or scientific system produces its historians, who are responsible not only for interpreting the evidence according to the preconceived rules of faith and politics, but in many cases, for the creation of evidence to fit within the mental structure that thereby strengthens and reinforces the system's foundation. This is not unique to one religious or national group, but is common to all which have an established story of origin, and a following interpretation of history to neatly fit into the original premise. Given the dualism of western religious science, logical materialists who claim physical objectivity as their basis supposedly have nothing in common with the magical immaterialism of religion. But despite age old battles between secularists and deists, neither side in this either-or conflict really knows any more than what is believed, accepted, and verified by the evidence that solidifies the foundation of its system of belief. Anyone who contradicts that evidence is either disregarded, or tossed out of the realm of accepted reality. In the most extreme cases, the contradictor is either imprisoned, or burned at the stake . It is in the serious questioning of rigidly held belief systems that humanity – sometimes – advances beyond simple duality, arriving at a relatively reasoned interpretation based on objective study of material evidence, free of previously learned bias. In these cases, divine good and demonic evil are left to the immaterialist community, and the attempt is made to learn from previous experience and hope for a better future that does not repeat past mistakes. That hope is nonexistent when free thought and critical appraisal are denied. It is in particular danger today, more so than in the darkest ages of our past, when wanton slaughter may have been the order of the day, but the weapons to affect it were infinitely more primitive. In the aftermath of the Nazi assault on European Judaism , we have seen a modern form of biblical interpretation evolve out of an historic event. This interpretation is based almost as much on faith as on verifiable fact. What should be at least fairly conclusive according to examined evidence has become a religious belief system in which no examination or question of evidence is allowed unless it strengthens the already existing and accepted story. The event is not only treated as unquestioned as the word of god, but if dared to be questioned at all, punishable as blasphemy. Such is the modern burden of what is called The Holocaust, having even its name reflect a biblical sounding event, like The Creation. A terrible price was paid by the Jews of Europe in the experience of this awful episode of history, but a heavy price is still being paid, in some sense by the whole world, but mostly by Palestinians, who played no role in these atrocities, though they have paid dearly, and unconscionably, in their aftermath. The affect of the Holocaust on 21st century life continues to be as profound, and dangerous, as its impact on the previous century. What is euphemistically called "The Middle East Problem" was really created by the western holocaust, and dumped on the people of the Middle East. The solution to this problem involves the West confronting its own responsibility, and ending its punishment of the Arab world, especially the Palestinians, who have absorbed generations of abuse and had a horrific, biblical vengeance visited upon them for something they never did. Further, the accepted story of the event, seemingly free of any material forces or consequences save depravity and hatred of age old origin, invites a fatalism which accepts ancient beliefs in a natural evil at the core of humanity. Or at least, a majority of humanity, which seems historically predisposed to persecute and murder a specific minority. There might be no better place to begin seeking a solution than at the very event that has served to help create the problem. But any attempt at reconsideration of this particular tragedy in a way that questions some of the accepted story is treated as sacrilegious, insane, unthinkable anti-Semitism, and in the most extreme cases, as a crime punishable by jail or deportation. This was the case with Ernest Zündel, one among many Holocaust Revisionists who dare to challenge religious and political orthodoxy by questioning our understanding of a human disaster which has helped perpetuate human disaster. Zündel and other revisionists are called "holocaust deniers" by those who label them in discriminatory fashion in order to remove them from any serious consideration. The denigrating label makes it seem as though they deny that any Jews were murdered, or that Jews did not suffer terribly at the hands of Nazis and their supporters. Calling these people names in order to reduce them as beings is a bigotry no different, in essence, from using derogatory labels like nigger, spic, kike or redneck. The label's purpose is to belittle and deform, reducing people to caricatures and worse; beings outside the realm of acceptability and not worthy of consideration by "normal" people . There may be unsavory and bigoted types among those who call themselves holocaust revisionists, but such people exist in business, government and religion; do we entirely dismiss those worlds because some of their practitioners may not meet our standards for acceptability? Some who claim to be revisionists simply change the pejorative "nazi" to the pejorative "communist" and charge the same wholesale slaughters and incredible death tolls, only with different victims and different murderers. Far more important are the revisionists unmotivated by anything more than a sense of human inquiry , who simply attempt to confront and question accepted history with as much or as little bias as the official historians. Zündel should be free to present his viewpoint and entertain his beliefs, however unpopular they may be to those who often know nothing more than what they have been told. This biased telling of the story of individuals and events is a problem not only of the historic past, but one we experience in everyday life. We are fed tales which provoke bloody warfare and are devoutly believed and supported by some, and just as devoutly disbelieved and opposed by others. But neither school of thought is, as yet, proposing that all opposition to its belief system be completely silenced, totally disregarded or jailed. Some have indeed suffered such a fate, but they are still the exception and not the rule. Unfortunately, among holocaust revisionists, the rule is persecution; first, of the very idea, and next, of the person expressing the very idea. Our political economy of religious science depends on the double standards of dualism, but the issue of free speech tends to be revered by people from all sides of the political and social spectrum. It would be better for us all if we were less selective about where, when , and on what subjects such freedom could be exercised.. Revisionists try to make the murderous history of the Holocaust an aspect of reality, rather than a religious experience of unquestioned worship and sorrow. This is their sin, but it is not only they who suffer; all who profess a belief in freedom of _expression, speech and thought pay a price. Yet, the attack on Zündel's free speech was barely noticed by the general public. Even though it took place in Canada, it received no criticism from an American civli liberties community which would be totally aroused if such blatant suppression occurred in almost any other area of life, and in any country. But that is not the case in the area dubbed "holocaust denial", where any outrage against free speech and free thought is not only allowed, but righteously supported and even vindictively applauded, wherever it occurs. The double standard regarding this issue is among the most troubling of our social hypocrisies. One can easily imagine those depicted as demons, like Saddam Hussein or Slobodan Milosevic, being regarded as heroes, had they persecuted alleged holocaust deniers instead of operating against Israeli and American interests, for which they now face trial as war criminals. Zündel may be the best known among many who are critical of the holocaust story, but who hardly deny that Jews were viciously persecuted and murdered by the Nazis. He has been dogged for years because of his expressed doubts regarding many aspects of the accepted history, and as a result suffered physical attacks, the firebombing of his home, and costly court cases finally leading to his imprisonment. Among his blasphemous thought crimes he dares to believe that all Germans were not uniquely evil, inhuman monsters, as they are depicted in much of the holocaust story. Germany has been the main financial backer of Israel, contributing billions of dollars in retribution payments, and has been most fierce in smothering free speech when it comes to this issue. But there are still many who believe that Germans should be judged as unparalleled among humans for their collective sin, and this has been internalized by their government. In keeping with its guilt driven policies, Germany locked Zündel in jail as soon as Canada expelled him for his crime . And what was this offense? Under cover of visa problems and alleged influence on potentially violent groups, Zündel was really guilty of daring to express doubt in the official story of the Holocaust, that doubt usually being not only about the number of dead, but also concerning the plan and method of carrying out mass murder . His is only the most serious and recent attack on a revisionist. Many others have suffered loss of jobs , physical attacks, and been imprisoned. In several nations, it is a punishable, criminal offense to dare question the Holocaust in any ways that displease the keepers of its official history. The horrendous treatment of European Jews , their forced exodus from national homelands to concentration and slave labor camps, and their further brutalization and murders, are believed part of a centrally planned process of annihilation. This historically unique crime was industrialized, with an around the clock production line of transport, gas chambers, crematoria and almost unimaginable cruelty. That is the brief outline generally accepted by most of the world, or at least the western world, which might as well be the whole world given the power balance. Of course, gas chambers were not alleged to be the only method employed for these mass murders, and the basic crimes were known of before that aspect of the story was established. But though official records and scholarship account for many deaths attributable to other causes and methods, the popular acceptance of the phrase "six million died in the gas chambers" is hardly ever discussed as being impossible. In fact, there is almost as much use of the dreadful sounding "six million died in the ovens", with many believing that six million living human beings were actually thrown into mass fiery pits. The world was witness to the awful films of the liberated camps , the emaciated survivors, and the piles of skin and bone corpses. It is as if these sickening images were not enough, and even more ghastly ones have to be created in order to identify this as history's most terrible crime. That such an incredible murderous deed, of such massive proportions, was concealed from the world until long after it took place is barely acknowledged as worthy of any question. Several histories of the war were written at its end which made no mention of this particular horrendous crime. Some survivors of the concentration camps wrote of their terrible experiences, with no mention of gas chambers. Are we to believe that all these writers , including Eisenhower and Churchill, were simply anti-Semites? This awful scheme for exterminating an entire people was ordered by passionate zealots who were motivated by irrational hatred. Yet, conversely, it was organized by a core of dispassionate, bureaucratic clones, and then carried out by a stoic force of robotic killers . And this hideous production was performed while Germany suffered devastation in the war, with many of its people going hungry, its economy sorely lacking industrial supplies and its imminent defeat looming. Might there be legitimate cause for questioning at least some parts of the generally accepted story? Should critical reappraisal be completely forbidden, given that this insane act of collective murder was the major rationale for the displacement and destruction of another people, the Palestinians, far removed from any connection to Europe save for their domination by its colonial power? And considering the depiction of Germans as a collection of homicidal monsters, couldn't one of these satanic sadists have considered a photograph of his, and their, horrendous work with gas chambers? Is there any wonder that the same bureaucratic number crunchers who tabulated every single person rounded up and sent to a camp, were unable to tabulate the actual murders? And since all gas chambers were allegedly destroyed by the Germans – who seemed anxious to get rid of all evidence of the crime, but were extremely careless about leaving alive participants in committing the crime – isn't it worthy of question that their existence is based on stories and confessions after the fact, with no one actually witnessing these mass murder machines in action? It should not be a crime to wonder why not one actual photo of a gas chamber exists, that all were destroyed and only reproductions of them are offered as evidence. The only photos are of doors or passages leading to such chambers, and showers said to have served as gas chambers, but these all defy logic and only serve belief. Would we accept explanation for the atomic bombing of Hiroshima or Nagasaki by being presented with photos of roads leading into town? Or the testimony of survivors and participants in the bombings, but with no other evidence except their testimony that the cities were devastated by such a weapon? Given the overwhelming evidence that clearly verifies the persecution and murder of so many, why is it that this major part of the story is so reliant on after the fact memories or detective work? That several million people were killed this way and that not one photo exists is certainly worthy of questioning, given that so much else was recorded in photos and film. We have abundant pictorial evidence of the dreadful conditions of the camps, the horrible images that have been imprinted on us over the years. Yet, none of these showed a gas chamber, its ruins, or recorded comments about its existence . How can it be a sin and why should it be a crime to question this story? Is it odd that some might see the denial of that freedom as part of a political program to insure that Israel is above any criticism and kept a safe place for world Jewry, even though its reality has been quite the opposite? The record of an earlier episode of inhuman brutality in the United States offers an uncomfortable contrast. During the wretched era of American lynching, more than two thousand blacks were dragged from their homes or prison cells and publicly hanged, often having their bodies literally torn apart after killing. These bestial events were sometimes viewed by hundreds of people in an often festive atmosphere of collective madness. Countless photographs exist of these bizarre, barbaric affairs, with families proudly posing, even smiling, in front of a brutalized black body hanging from a tree. There may be legend and myth surrounding much of this period, but there is undeniable evidence of the bloody deeds in these photos, some of which were made into postcards and mailed to friends and families, later becoming exhibits at museums and galleries. Should this terrible episode of American history be offered as proof that we were the most beastly race on earth? Far worse than later Germans, who didn't gleefully photograph their atrocities and happily share those photos with friends? Why not try to learn more about this sordid past, rather than simply see the atrocities as acts of a deranged people, having no basis in material history save as a description of mass psychosis, based on age old biblical hatred of...Africans? After all, we have no historic verification for how many Africans were murdered during what was called, less biblically, "the passages", when slaves were stuffed onto ships like animals, and beaten, starved and drowned while crossing the Atlantic Ocean, with death toll estimates ranging from a few to many millions. Has it been blasphemy to examine that history , as closely as evidence will allow, in order to arrive at something approximating what actually took place? Does any reexamination of this brutal period, including a revisionist pointing out that some slaves lived in more material security than some workers, indicate a form of "slavery denial"? We certainly cannot change the fact of inhuman chattel slavery in our past, nor the tremendous impact it has had on our national development. But confronting our past might help us change the present. Nearly half the prison population of the USA is black , and ghettos and poverty wracked communities still number black residents in the hundreds of thousands. That should be reason enough to want to learn more about that past and how it affects our society today . Really confronting such questions and seeking answers based on social justice and humanitarian values could mean social revolution, but even if we don't go that far, knowing more can at least help us mythologize less. We would not make the crimes committed by the Nazis any less horrid by removing myths, legends and emotional slander from the very real pain and suffering they caused. What of the many alleged tales of their ghastly practices, like making soap from the body fat of dead Jews, stuffing pillows with their hair or making lamp shades from their skin? Some of these are still repeated by those who simply accepted any tale of German degeneracy, no matter how mindless sounding or lacking any basis in fact. The generally accepted and horrendous enough toll of a million deaths at Auschwitz was once believed to be more than four million. These inflated death toll figures and tales of bizarre brutality are no longer tolerated by anyone with claims to serious scholarship, with agreement here between revisionists and the official historians of Holocaust studies. Survivors are no less cursed with memories of an awful reality when these kinds of exaggerations are faced as fabrications born of panic, gullibility, and retaliatory hatred . This at one time unquestioned parade of inhuman horrors became part of accepted history and helped lead to the birth of a new nation, Israel, established as a haven for the persecuted survivors of this bloodcurdling, genocidal campaign conducted by the Nazis. Israel's existence since its origin in 1948 has remained critically unquestioned by the mainstream west and its officially sanctioned political opposition, mainly because of the horrors the world learned about the Holocaust. And learned, and learned, and relearned. Hardly a day passes that some TV program, film, workshop, museum display, lecture or school curriculum is not dealing with what took place, in horrifying detail. People are gripped and shaken by the vicarious experience of this tragedy, recreated in veritable theme parks of misery and suffering. They are compelled to wonder how people could perform such contemptible violence, and how it could have happened without outside intervention. But these same people still support doctrines of racial supremacy and the mass murder of war ; they draw no connection to the lesson supposedly learned from the holocaust tragedy, since that lesson seems specific only to that single experience and its relation to the unquestioned need for Israel as a haven for Jews. State organized violence, human persecution and bigotry continue, and civilized populations still tolerate racial and colonial policies that treat people and their homelands as worthless, unless owned, occupied or exploited by superior beings. These matters are relatively unquestioned by many who are moved to tears by the story of the Holocaust, since that event is treated as an almost separate reality from human history, let alone the sub category of Jewish history, whose thousands of years seem reduced to about five during the war. And Israel is still perceived by many as a home for people rejected by the world, with no place else to go. This is a gross simplification, but so is the larger story. Israel did not just "happen" in 1948, though that might as well be the case given popular ignorance of its history.. In the late 19th century, when the european zionist movement for a jewish homeland was established, most Jews wanted no such home. They were content being citizens in the nations where they had become part of the fabric of life, having worked hard to overcome bigotry that saw them as "other". Many of them took serious issue with Zionism, which existed long before most Nazis were born, let alone in power. This historic fact is not just overlooked, but is unknown to people who think of Zionism only in its socialistic form of the kibbutz, and see Israel as something that happened purely because of the Nazi assault on European Jews. Among several proposed sites, Palestine was the biblical real estate most desired by many Zionists as a national homeland , since it was believed to be their source, even by allegedly secular Jews who claimed to be atheists. That contradiction still prevails; one can strongly assert no belief in God, while accepting a homeland for Jews in Israel, because that land was promised to them by...god. The Holocaust helps make it possible to overlook this contradiction by citing the Jewish tragedy at the hands of the Nazis as verification for the need to create Israel. And even though most of the world's Jews are moved to at least psychologically support Israel's existence, they have never been there and have no plan to even visit, let alone become settlers . The fact that as late as 1942, some Zionists and Nazis were discussing the island nation of Madagascar as a possible homeland for Jews – with as little concern for the native people there as in Palestine – is another little known aspect of the relationships between two groups proposing the same alienating idea, along decidedly different lines; that Jews did not belong with "others" and should be living in their own, separate country . With no consideration for some of these matters, we inherit a history with little if any context, negating any awareness of events that lead to or connect from one to the other in any understandable, if occasionally mind boggling way. Things suddenly happen, with no explanation for events other than their being caused or provoked by saintly angels or demonic monsters. Are there material, worldly reasons for these events? Where do these situations and creatures come from? We are not to ask once the story, the gods and the demons have been established. That is, if we wish to remain helpless creatures shaped by history, rather than active beings who play a conscious role in its creation. The revision of all history, literally to look at it again, is necessary if we wish to create a future without repeating past mistakes. The maligned school of Holocaust Revision could make a contribution towards understanding and peace, rather than represent a criminal assault against political religious belief, as it is portrayed. Taking a new look at any part of history, recent or past, may lead to greater awareness of material forces which are controllable by humans. This contradicts the fatalistic view of humanity as inherently beastly and in need of control by elites, which are usually working for god. This biblical notion at the core of many human acts of mass murder flies in the face of real human experience and calls for more, not less questioning of what we are told about anything. Whether it is fed to us as legend, myth or alleged fact, nothing should be treated as unquestionable. Facts are too often based on as little proof as the legendary and mythological. For a recent, obvious example, we need look no further than "weapons of mass destruction" in Iraq. Thousands of people are dead and a government was destroyed because of those alleged weapons, which do not, and did not, exist. The suffering of the Jews in Europe during the second world war would not become less tragic under critical appraisal, though its political impact might change, and this is the major reason for its being kept an untouchable topic. In order to maintain Israel's position as a special nation, the myth of the Jewish people as a forever endangered species is perpetuated. The Holocaust is seen as the culmination of a long history of murderous persecution of Jews by the rest of the gentile world, with no allowance for anything but continued misery and eternal threat. This incredibly negative and narrow view estranges people from humanity, and in so doing helps create a warped history of isolation. A contradictory ideological need to be separate and different from "them", while humanistically desiring similarity and equality with "them", can only prolong the problem of what is called anti-Semitism, despite that language confusion which so labels Europeans who are no more Semites than are people from Finland or Nigeria. Given the verifiable history of Jewish persecution in the past, can that possibly justify the persecution of Palestinians in the present? Assuming that there was indeed a plot by European gentiles to murder all the Jews of the continent, why should people who have no real or fictional connection to such a sin be the ones to pay the awful price of its atonement? And even if it is necessary to insist that one inhuman episode was unique and different from others, that one suffering was more painful than another, how can any benefit be gained by causing still more suffering? No horror experienced in Europe should serve as rationale for punishment inflicted on people other than Europeans, if any at all are to still be paying for this experience of inhuman slaughter among, sadly, many such historic experiences. A more recent human disaster can offer several comparisons, even if only in the treatment of the story. As an example of how closer examination of events which take on near legendary proportions can lead to better understanding, consider the disastrous day Americans remember as "911". It did not become less tragic when investigation revealed that the original estimated death toll of nearly 7,000 was actually just over 3,000. The bereaved were no less saddened , the nation no less shocked . Nor, unfortunately, were political forces swayed to change their policies based on this lowered figure. But history was served in moving the story from exaggeration, arrived at during chaotic moments when all matters were barely verifiable, to the actual human cost and impact of all those deaths. Lowering the death toll was not a form of 911 "denial", and it did nothing to change the essence of the event. Many still believe it was the worst thing to ever happen, if limiting the area of events to the USA. But far more people have been killed in bombings in other countries than died that day in America, and to acknowledge that fact – still generally unacknowledged – might help to better understand why this act of terrorism might have taken place, rather than viewing it as a gesture of sadistic madmen who didn't like our style of dress, our democracy, or our social behavior patterns . Were they simply "anti-Americans", for some ancient, irrational biblical reason? Or were there social and political as well as religious motivations for their murderous attack? Would it hurt us to move beyond simplistic, reductionist explanations in order to arrive at some understanding of material reality that might help our relations with the rest of the world? The reexamination of 911 did not overlook the enormous cost in death benefits and the number of hustlers who rushed to claim money, posing as kin of those who allegedly perished. In this, it bore a relation to what some call the "holocaust industry", referring to the money making aspects of that tragedy that entice scam artists as well as legitimate victims. Finding an actual, verifiable death toll saved money for insurers, but the material evidence was examined not only to save money, nor to hurt the memory of survivors, but to help see the disaster from a more reality based perspective. We are still learning about the poorly reported and even more poorly explained 911 events, and the wars and further terrors they have unleashed in Afghanistan and especially Iraq. Many still believe that Arabs had nothing to do with them, and that they were organized and executed by the U.S. government. Others claim it was the Israeli Mossad, and some believe it was the act of a vengeful god, punishing us for whatever sins these divinely oriented conspiracy freaks perceive. But none of these theories, though they may be argued, laughed at or ridiculed, are forbidden. Nor are those who entertain them threatened with jail . This is as it should be, but isn't, where the Holocaust is concerned. Israel's seemingly spontaneous "immaculate conception" in 1948 is no more materially verifiable than the older religious legend, but is as devoutly believed by a community of the faith. The Palestinian people who lived in what later became Israel were conveniently removed from material or critical consideration. They were denied as a people and never considered as humans of any importance , so it was easy to buy them out, kick them out, or wipe them out if they resisted. Their painful history of injustice has outraged most of the world, as evidenced by countless votes in the United Nations which go against continued theft of Palestinian land and brutalization of the Palestinian people. But the nature of their suffering receives hardly a blink from the center of global power in the USA, where real Palestinian Deniers are an infinitely greater problem than any alleged Holocaust Deniers. The American government and major opinion shaping institutions have participated in the creation of Israel as a lily-white land of suffering inhabitants, first escaping the horror of the Nazis, and then preyed upon by the dreadful Arabs, portrayed as bloodthirsty demons anxious to "push Israel into the sea", as one of the favored slogans has it. This colorful defiance of geography and politics may have actually been expressed as a desire by some witless opponent; more likely, it came from an Israeli and has become useful to repeat in provoking fear and anxiety among Jews all over the world, as the horrible holocaust story is rerun in their imaginations each time a threat to Jews is perceived or alleged . And these threats usually seem to happen in a social vacuum, occupied by an innocent people in a rarified world befitting a fairy tale as much as a physical reality. The contradictory notion of Jews as a historically blessed, special, privileged sector of humanity, and at the same time as a historically scorned, hated and brutalized group as well, is reinforced by the conflicting histories of Israel, Palestine , the Holocaust experience and the status of Judaism in the world today. To say that a people hated and persecuted by the gentile world – which means just about everyone else – for thousands of years, and then slaughtered in the worst pogrom of them all, could become powerful enough to hold sway over governments and public opinion is dismissed as just another form of anti-Semitism. The mere mention of Jewish power, exercised in obvious fashion and so acknowledged by many Jewish groups and publications, reduces not only Zionists but large segments of the gentile world, including its left wing, to screeching charges of anti-Semitism at those who defiantly refer to "the power that dare not speak its name". But the U.S. government and media and their global subordinates do not hesitate to follow the story so outlined, perpetuating the myth that becomes reality when so many not only believe it, but act on that belief. Jewish ethnic and cultural gifts to the arts and sciences have made incredible contributions toward making the human community whole. Biblical and ideological Judaism contradicts that wholeness by treating the rest of the world as "other" and insisting on its own uniqueness . Much of the world is drawn to the warm, humanistic culture, while it is repelled by the cold, alienating ideology. Just as mainstream science and much non-biblical religion reject difference and see humanity as one race with common origins, a biblical fundamentalist view holds to an ancient notion that divides us into a deity's less or more favored races. The political, economic and psychological burdens of maintaining such older belief systems are at the root of a global crisis. In an all too real sense, we continue struggles with believers in immaterial legend and fable, while reality demands that we wake up and face a material world threatened by our wasteful and destructive divisions. These ancient belief systems might be beneficial if their humanitarian messages of equality for all took precedence over their patriarchal teachings of the superiority of only some. We face failure the longer we continue paying halfhearted lip service to the wisdom of their most loving prophets, while we incur the cost of paying wholehearted debt service to the deceit of their most hateful profiteers . Human suffering and brutality are a sad part of our history, but we needn't mythologize their experience or make them special; rather, we need to understand that they impede our development . We can learn from our most terrible mistakes, but not if we fetishize and treat them as unique, almost divorced from history rather than representing a terrible example of our worst behaviors, practiced in the selfish, short sighted ignorance that continues to rule our relations. Our bloody past and present make it clear that It is possible to slaughter hundreds, thousands, even millions of people, without an extermination plan or gas chambers. History is full of wholesale massacres, of people being regarded as worse than insects or rodents, and barbarically murdered in horrendous acts of brutality. Some of these were perpetrated over many years, some over a few weeks, some a few days, and some, instantly. During the same war that killed so many European Jews, the cities of Dresden and Tokyo, among many others, were reduced to ashes in firestorms that killed tens of thousands of people in a matter of minutes. These poor souls were indeed, burned alive, and there was no need to deliver them to death camps or crematoria; the crematoria were delivered to them. Yet these and other brutal acts of mass murder were written off as excusable acts of war that killed "the enemy", said enemy deserving such a fate for being part and parcel of the war. Had the outcome been different, how many allied generals would have been tried for these mass murders, and executed as war criminals? Why does one horrible slaughter receive an unending stream of commemorations and reparations, while hundreds of others are barely a drip in the brain pan of humanity? Why does the Holocaust loom so large, and yet serve as a rationale for the brutalization of a people who had absolutely nothing to do with Nazis or Europe? And who can certainly not be guilty of anti-Semitism, In as much as they are, unlike the Ashkenazi Jews of Europe, Semites themselves? Could a better understanding of what happened to the Jews of Europe, and of the underlying causes that brought about fascism, help the world to better understand itself? It can't possibly hurt us to learn what was at the root of the Nazis' blind hatred of communism, democracy and Judaism, and why they linked those hatreds, rather than continue accepting ridiculous notions that reduce world history to perverse psychosomatic disorders. What role did material events play in the creation of national socialism in Germany, and how widely was it supported by other nations? Contrary to simplistic belief, which has it that the world instantly opposed the demonic evil of the Nazis, many western powers were quite fond of their rabid anti-communism and their strengthening of German finance capital . It is possible to learn more about a terrible episode of history without denigrating those who suffered, but also by not making a totally different kind of human out of them, thereby perpetuating a dangerous myth of original difference, when we most need to acknowledge that we are all members of the same human race. Fear of present victimization because of past history, whether based on fact or fiction, is not healthy for any human individual or group . Rising above our past mistakes, our legends and our superstitions in order to deal with real problems can contribute to growth in knowledge and assurance of a future possibility for all of humanity. That assurance is a necessity for the success of the human race, and not just one nation, sect, religion or clan . Seeing the rest of humanity as historically bent on persecuting and eventually murdering all Jews is hardly the healthiest way to sustain religious, ethnic, national or personal survival. One has to major in the inhumanities to entertain such dreadful thoughts. When carried for generations, they cannot help but lead to more suspicion, misunderstanding and divisions which help create the inhuman mental and physical horror that was the reality of the Jews in Europe, and is the reality of the Palestinian people now. Bigotry and murder do not need commemorative death tolls or special killing machine techniques to make them worse or better; they need to stop. The "revisioning" of the Holocaust might help Israel, Palestine and Judaism itself by confronting contradictions based on ancient beliefs which have no place in the modern world, and which help create murderous misunderstanding the longer they are accepted. Controversies involving which war, which mass murder, or which act of totalitarian brutality was worse than another can only make it seem that some were better than others. But it is all acts of brutality that must be seen as the problem , and not just one in isolation, if we are to arrive at a solution. If we do not learn from history, it is said that we are condemned to repeat it, and that has been the case with the Jewish experience of one war, and the resultant Palestinian suffering that could lead to a greater war . Coming to grips with what was called the final solution could bring about confrontation with what could be humanity's final problem of racial and ethnic hatreds which are used to help perpetuate ideologies of domination. We need a peaceful "final solution" in confronting the greatest problem humanity has ever faced. Nuclear and biological weapons have replaced the more primitive bloody tools of the old political testaments and while we have seen what those weapons could do, we have not yet fully realized the lesson of their creation. They are products of age old biblical inhumanity, brought to modern technological perfection in exercising mass murder in post biblical fashion. We have to become a civilized people and learn to work together , before we revert to primitive savagery and literally blow ourselves apart. The Holocaust was representative of the darkest side of humanity, but unfortunately, it still covers many with its shadow. Bringing light to such darkness involves much more than rethinking one episode of history, but given its enormous impact on collective consciousness, this one issue could have an affect on many more. They may seem an unlikely source, but Holocaust Revisionists could help bring about an enlightenment that enables us to see through inherited doctrines of ignorance and bigotry, kept alive by political and biblical systems of superstition which contribute to furthering the danger to humanity. Confronting the real tragedy of what was done in the past, and the role it has played in furthering human suffering and injustice in the present, will be necessary for us to end such suffering in the future. The hateful anti-Semitism that was at the core of Nazi treatment of Jews cannot be forgotten, but it shouldn't be remembered by developing a ridiculous philo-Semitism that places one event, nation or people above critical reproach. Like the Zionists and Nazis who agreed that Jews were different from everyone else, this is either/or dualism at its worst. Just as past bigotry and brutalizing of Jews has scarred humanity, so does present bigotry and brutalizing of Palestinians disfigure us all. And just as we demythologize the American story and create a more hopeful future by doing so, we need to demythologize the mass injustice in Europe, and the mass injustice it brought about in the Middle East. Two wrongs do not make a right, any more than two lies can make a truth. And while the truth may not set us absolutely free, it could certainly help us move closer to relative freedom. ________________________________________ © 2005 by Frank Scott. All rights reserved. This text may be used and shared in accordance with the fair-use provisions of U.S. copyright law, and it may be archived and redistributed in electronic form, provided that the author is notified and no fee is charged for access. Archiving, redistribution, or republication of this text on other terms, in any medium, requires the consent of the author frank scott email: frank@marin.cc.ca.us 225 Laurel Place, San Rafael, CA 94901 (415)457 2415; cell (415)847 4105 ________________________________________ Additional information about this document We should look good in: Report a bug! © 1996-2022 CODOH.com | All Rights Reserved

 

The Holocaust, Palestine and Israel: Revision, Denial and Myth

by Frank Scott

Published: 2005-01-01


The murderous treatment of European Jews during the Second World War has become almost legendary in its depiction as a unique and singularly important example of bigoted inhumanity, carried to barbarous extremes. No other experience from among the overwhelming number of historic cases of mass brutality has ever achieved such status in western consciousness, partly because most of the other slaughters were of third world, non – white people. But despite this specific outrage being portrayed as an unparalleled tragedy, injustice, bigotry and mass murder have been practiced and gone relatively unquestioned since its occurrence, contrary to the lessons supposedly learned from its example. Given this contradictory impact, it should be permissible to look, as clearly as evidence will allow, at exactly what took place, what its moral lesson could be, what its political use has been, and how it has helped perpetuate rather than end notions of racial superiority and division that have dogged the world for millennia.

The patriarchal belief systems on which Judaism, Christianity and Islam are all based depend on faith, far more than material evidence. What historic evidence exists is subject to human interpretation, and as an example of how varied that interpretation can be, we have these three religions. All are founded on the same original story, with similar scriptures, prophets, and the alleged word of god. God's words apparently say different things to different people at different times. Religious history, in which faith and interpretation loom large, is really not that different from secular history.

The original story of the United States, for instance, was one of European discovery, heroic conquest, incredible development and national triumph. That was from the standpoint of the official historians, before the revisionists had their say. A more modern interpretation of that story includes the near physical and cultural genocide of the native populations of the continents which Europe discovered, even though people had been living on them for thousands of years. A newer view of American history also saw chattel slavery as something beyond an unfortunate economic arrangement which led to civil war and racial misunderstanding, and more as an experience of murderous human degradation carried to inhuman marketing extremes, with social repercussions still apparent and still not fully understood .

Historic views and re-views of the past are taken by those with possible preconceptions based on their education, training and belief systems; historians can find selective truth in the material evidence at hand, while creating immaterial evidence as well, often doing so unconsciously, without any balance, and even stressing extremes. In doing this they are not substantially different from religious believers who pick and choose from what material evidence exists, if any, to fit into the belief system . God and the accepted prophets are sited to back up whatever is seen as good, righteous and just, and a Satan, with demonic assistants, is created to account for the evil, craven brutality that is the darker side of human development. Substitute us for God, and them for Satan, and we have much secular history.

The religious or scientific system produces its historians, who are responsible not only for interpreting the evidence according to the preconceived rules of faith and politics, but in many cases, for the creation of evidence to fit within the mental structure that thereby strengthens and reinforces the system's foundation.

This is not unique to one religious or national group, but is common to all which have an established story of origin, and a following interpretation of history to neatly fit into the original premise. Given the dualism of western religious science, logical materialists who claim physical objectivity as their basis supposedly have nothing in common with the magical immaterialism of religion. But despite age old battles between secularists and deists, neither side in this either-or conflict really knows any more than what is believed, accepted, and verified by the evidence that solidifies the foundation of its system of belief. Anyone who contradicts that evidence is either disregarded, or tossed out of the realm of accepted reality. In the most extreme cases, the contradictor is either imprisoned, or burned at the stake .

It is in the serious questioning of rigidly held belief systems that humanity – sometimes – advances beyond simple duality, arriving at a relatively reasoned interpretation based on objective study of material evidence, free of previously learned bias. In these cases, divine good and demonic evil are left to the immaterialist community, and the attempt is made to learn from previous experience and hope for a better future that does not repeat past mistakes. That hope is nonexistent when free thought and critical appraisal are denied. It is in particular danger today, more so than in the darkest ages of our past, when wanton slaughter may have been the order of the day, but the weapons to affect it were infinitely more primitive.

In the aftermath of the Nazi assault on European Judaism , we have seen a modern form of biblical interpretation evolve out of an historic event. This interpretation is based almost as much on faith as on verifiable fact. What should be at least fairly conclusive according to examined evidence has become a religious belief system in which no examination or question of evidence is allowed unless it strengthens the already existing and accepted story. The event is not only treated as unquestioned as the word of god, but if dared to be questioned at all, punishable as blasphemy. Such is the modern burden of what is called The Holocaust, having even its name reflect a biblical sounding event, like The Creation.

A terrible price was paid by the Jews of Europe in the experience of this awful episode of history, but a heavy price is still being paid, in some sense by the whole world, but mostly by Palestinians, who played no role in these atrocities, though they have paid dearly, and unconscionably, in their aftermath.

The affect of the Holocaust on 21st century life continues to be as profound, and dangerous, as its impact on the previous century. What is euphemistically called "The Middle East Problem" was really created by the western holocaust, and dumped on the people of the Middle East. The solution to this problem involves the West confronting its own responsibility, and ending its punishment of the Arab world, especially the Palestinians, who have absorbed generations of abuse and had a horrific, biblical vengeance visited upon them for something they never did. Further, the accepted story of the event, seemingly free of any material forces or consequences save depravity and hatred of age old origin, invites a fatalism which accepts ancient beliefs in a natural evil at the core of humanity. Or at least, a majority of humanity, which seems historically predisposed to persecute and murder a specific minority.

There might be no better place to begin seeking a solution than at the very event that has served to help create the problem. But any attempt at reconsideration of this particular tragedy in a way that questions some of the accepted story is treated as sacrilegious, insane, unthinkable anti-Semitism, and in the most extreme cases, as a crime punishable by jail or deportation. This was the case with Ernest Zündel, one among many Holocaust Revisionists who dare to challenge religious and political orthodoxy by questioning our understanding of a human disaster which has helped perpetuate human disaster.

Zündel and other revisionists are called "holocaust deniers" by those who label them in discriminatory fashion in order to remove them from any serious consideration. The denigrating label makes it seem as though they deny that any Jews were murdered, or that Jews did not suffer terribly at the hands of Nazis and their supporters. Calling these people names in order to reduce them as beings is a bigotry no different, in essence, from using derogatory labels like nigger, spic, kike or redneck. The label's purpose is to belittle and deform, reducing people to caricatures and worse; beings outside the realm of acceptability and not worthy of consideration by "normal" people .

There may be unsavory and bigoted types among those who call themselves holocaust revisionists, but such people exist in business, government and religion; do we entirely dismiss those worlds because some of their practitioners may not meet our standards for acceptability? Some who claim to be revisionists simply change the pejorative "nazi" to the pejorative "communist" and charge the same wholesale slaughters and incredible death tolls, only with different victims and different murderers. Far more important are the revisionists unmotivated by anything more than a sense of human inquiry , who simply attempt to confront and question accepted history with as much or as little bias as the official historians.

Zündel should be free to present his viewpoint and entertain his beliefs, however unpopular they may be to those who often know nothing more than what they have been told. This biased telling of the story of individuals and events is a problem not only of the historic past, but one we experience in everyday life. We are fed tales which provoke bloody warfare and are devoutly believed and supported by some, and just as devoutly disbelieved and opposed by others. But neither school of thought is, as yet, proposing that all opposition to its belief system be completely silenced, totally disregarded or jailed. Some have indeed suffered such a fate, but they are still the exception and not the rule. Unfortunately, among holocaust revisionists, the rule is persecution; first, of the very idea, and next, of the person expressing the very idea.

Our political economy of religious science depends on the double standards of dualism, but the issue of free speech tends to be revered by people from all sides of the political and social spectrum. It would be better for us all if we were less selective about where, when , and on what subjects such freedom could be exercised..

Revisionists try to make the murderous history of the Holocaust an aspect of reality, rather than a religious experience of unquestioned worship and sorrow. This is their sin, but it is not only they who suffer; all who profess a belief in freedom of _expression, speech and thought pay a price. Yet, the attack on Zündel's free speech was barely noticed by the general public. Even though it took place in Canada, it received no criticism from an American civli liberties community which would be totally aroused if such blatant suppression occurred in almost any other area of life, and in any country. But that is not the case in the area dubbed "holocaust denial", where any outrage against free speech and free thought is not only allowed, but righteously supported and even vindictively applauded, wherever it occurs.

The double standard regarding this issue is among the most troubling of our social hypocrisies. One can easily imagine those depicted as demons, like Saddam Hussein or Slobodan Milosevic, being regarded as heroes, had they persecuted alleged holocaust deniers instead of operating against Israeli and American interests, for which they now face trial as war criminals.

Zündel may be the best known among many who are critical of the holocaust story, but who hardly deny that Jews were viciously persecuted and murdered by the Nazis. He has been dogged for years because of his expressed doubts regarding many aspects of the accepted history, and as a result suffered physical attacks, the firebombing of his home, and costly court cases finally leading to his imprisonment. Among his blasphemous thought crimes he dares to believe that all Germans were not uniquely evil, inhuman monsters, as they are depicted in much of the holocaust story. Germany has been the main financial backer of Israel, contributing billions of dollars in retribution payments, and has been most fierce in smothering free speech when it comes to this issue. But there are still many who believe that Germans should be judged as unparalleled among humans for their collective sin, and this has been internalized by their government. In keeping with its guilt driven policies, Germany locked Zündel in jail as soon as Canada expelled him for his crime . And what was this offense? Under cover of visa problems and alleged influence on potentially violent groups, Zündel was really guilty of daring to express doubt in the official story of the Holocaust, that doubt usually being not only about the number of dead, but also concerning the plan and method of carrying out mass murder . His is only the most serious and recent attack on a revisionist. Many others have suffered loss of jobs , physical attacks, and been imprisoned. In several nations, it is a punishable, criminal offense to dare question the Holocaust in any ways that displease the keepers of its official history.

The horrendous treatment of European Jews , their forced exodus from national homelands to concentration and slave labor camps, and their further brutalization and murders, are believed part of a centrally planned process of annihilation. This historically unique crime was industrialized, with an around the clock production line of transport, gas chambers, crematoria and almost unimaginable cruelty. That is the brief outline generally accepted by most of the world, or at least the western world, which might as well be the whole world given the power balance. Of course, gas chambers were not alleged to be the only method employed for these mass murders, and the basic crimes were known of before that aspect of the story was established. But though official records and scholarship account for many deaths attributable to other causes and methods, the popular acceptance of the phrase "six million died in the gas chambers" is hardly ever discussed as being impossible. In fact, there is almost as much use of the dreadful sounding "six million died in the ovens", with many believing that six million living human beings were actually thrown into mass fiery pits. The world was witness to the awful films of the liberated camps , the emaciated survivors, and the piles of skin and bone corpses. It is as if these sickening images were not enough, and even more ghastly ones have to be created in order to identify this as history's most terrible crime.

That such an incredible murderous deed, of such massive proportions, was concealed from the world until long after it took place is barely acknowledged as worthy of any question. Several histories of the war were written at its end which made no mention of this particular horrendous crime. Some survivors of the concentration camps wrote of their terrible experiences, with no mention of gas chambers. Are we to believe that all these writers , including Eisenhower and Churchill, were simply anti-Semites?

This awful scheme for exterminating an entire people was ordered by passionate zealots who were motivated by irrational hatred. Yet, conversely, it was organized by a core of dispassionate, bureaucratic clones, and then carried out by a stoic force of robotic killers . And this hideous production was performed while Germany suffered devastation in the war, with many of its people going hungry, its economy sorely lacking industrial supplies and its imminent defeat looming. Might there be legitimate cause for questioning at least some parts of the generally accepted story? Should critical reappraisal be completely forbidden, given that this insane act of collective murder was the major rationale for the displacement and destruction of another people, the Palestinians, far removed from any connection to Europe save for their domination by its colonial power?

And considering the depiction of Germans as a collection of homicidal monsters, couldn't one of these satanic sadists have considered a photograph of his, and their, horrendous work with gas chambers? Is there any wonder that the same bureaucratic number crunchers who tabulated every single person rounded up and sent to a camp, were unable to tabulate the actual murders? And since all gas chambers were allegedly destroyed by the Germans – who seemed anxious to get rid of all evidence of the crime, but were extremely careless about leaving alive participants in committing the crime – isn't it worthy of question that their existence is based on stories and confessions after the fact, with no one actually witnessing these mass murder machines in action?

It should not be a crime to wonder why not one actual photo of a gas chamber exists, that all were destroyed and only reproductions of them are offered as evidence. The only photos are of doors or passages leading to such chambers, and showers said to have served as gas chambers, but these all defy logic and only serve belief. Would we accept explanation for the atomic bombing of Hiroshima or Nagasaki by being presented with photos of roads leading into town? Or the testimony of survivors and participants in the bombings, but with no other evidence except their testimony that the cities were devastated by such a weapon?

Given the overwhelming evidence that clearly verifies the persecution and murder of so many, why is it that this major part of the story is so reliant on after the fact memories or detective work? That several million people were killed this way and that not one photo exists is certainly worthy of questioning, given that so much else was recorded in photos and film. We have abundant pictorial evidence of the dreadful conditions of the camps, the horrible images that have been imprinted on us over the years. Yet, none of these showed a gas chamber, its ruins, or recorded comments about its existence . How can it be a sin and why should it be a crime to question this story? Is it odd that some might see the denial of that freedom as part of a political program to insure that Israel is above any criticism and kept a safe place for world Jewry, even though its reality has been quite the opposite? The record of an earlier episode of inhuman brutality in the United States offers an uncomfortable contrast.

During the wretched era of American lynching, more than two thousand blacks were dragged from their homes or prison cells and publicly hanged, often having their bodies literally torn apart after killing. These bestial events were sometimes viewed by hundreds of people in an often festive atmosphere of collective madness. Countless photographs exist of these bizarre, barbaric affairs, with families proudly posing, even smiling, in front of a brutalized black body hanging from a tree. There may be legend and myth surrounding much of this period, but there is undeniable evidence of the bloody deeds in these photos, some of which were made into postcards and mailed to friends and families, later becoming exhibits at museums and galleries.

Should this terrible episode of American history be offered as proof that we were the most beastly race on earth? Far worse than later Germans, who didn't gleefully photograph their atrocities and happily share those photos with friends? Why not try to learn more about this sordid past, rather than simply see the atrocities as acts of a deranged people, having no basis in material history save as a description of mass psychosis, based on age old biblical hatred of...Africans? After all, we have no historic verification for how many Africans were murdered during what was called, less biblically, "the passages", when slaves were stuffed onto ships like animals, and beaten, starved and drowned while crossing the Atlantic Ocean, with death toll estimates ranging from a few to many millions. Has it been blasphemy to examine that history , as closely as evidence will allow, in order to arrive at something approximating what actually took place? Does any reexamination of this brutal period, including a revisionist pointing out that some slaves lived in more material security than some workers, indicate a form of "slavery denial"?

We certainly cannot change the fact of inhuman chattel slavery in our past, nor the tremendous impact it has had on our national development. But confronting our past might help us change the present. Nearly half the prison population of the USA is black , and ghettos and poverty wracked communities still number black residents in the hundreds of thousands. That should be reason enough to want to learn more about that past and how it affects our society today . Really confronting such questions and seeking answers based on social justice and humanitarian values could mean social revolution, but even if we don't go that far, knowing more can at least help us mythologize less.

We would not make the crimes committed by the Nazis any less horrid by removing myths, legends and emotional slander from the very real pain and suffering they caused. What of the many alleged tales of their ghastly practices, like making soap from the body fat of dead Jews, stuffing pillows with their hair or making lamp shades from their skin? Some of these are still repeated by those who simply accepted any tale of German degeneracy, no matter how mindless sounding or lacking any basis in fact. The generally accepted and horrendous enough toll of a million deaths at Auschwitz was once believed to be more than four million. These inflated death toll figures and tales of bizarre brutality are no longer tolerated by anyone with claims to serious scholarship, with agreement here between revisionists and the official historians of Holocaust studies.

Survivors are no less cursed with memories of an awful reality when these kinds of exaggerations are faced as fabrications born of panic, gullibility, and retaliatory hatred . This at one time unquestioned parade of inhuman horrors became part of accepted history and helped lead to the birth of a new nation, Israel, established as a haven for the persecuted survivors of this bloodcurdling, genocidal campaign conducted by the Nazis.

Israel's existence since its origin in 1948 has remained critically unquestioned by the mainstream west and its officially sanctioned political opposition, mainly because of the horrors the world learned about the Holocaust. And learned, and learned, and relearned. Hardly a day passes that some TV program, film, workshop, museum display, lecture or school curriculum is not dealing with what took place, in horrifying detail. People are gripped and shaken by the vicarious experience of this tragedy, recreated in veritable theme parks of misery and suffering. They are compelled to wonder how people could perform such contemptible violence, and how it could have happened without outside intervention. But these same people still support doctrines of racial supremacy and the mass murder of war ; they draw no connection to the lesson supposedly learned from the holocaust tragedy, since that lesson seems specific only to that single experience and its relation to the unquestioned need for Israel as a haven for Jews.

State organized violence, human persecution and bigotry continue, and civilized populations still tolerate racial and colonial policies that treat people and their homelands as worthless, unless owned, occupied or exploited by superior beings. These matters are relatively unquestioned by many who are moved to tears by the story of the Holocaust, since that event is treated as an almost separate reality from human history, let alone the sub category of Jewish history, whose thousands of years seem reduced to about five during the war. And Israel is still perceived by many as a home for people rejected by the world, with no place else to go. This is a gross simplification, but so is the larger story. Israel did not just "happen" in 1948, though that might as well be the case given popular ignorance of its history..

In the late 19th century, when the european zionist movement for a jewish homeland was established, most Jews wanted no such home. They were content being citizens in the nations where they had become part of the fabric of life, having worked hard to overcome bigotry that saw them as "other". Many of them took serious issue with Zionism, which existed long before most Nazis were born, let alone in power. This historic fact is not just overlooked, but is unknown to people who think of Zionism only in its socialistic form of the kibbutz, and see Israel as something that happened purely because of the Nazi assault on European Jews.

Among several proposed sites, Palestine was the biblical real estate most desired by many Zionists as a national homeland , since it was believed to be their source, even by allegedly secular Jews who claimed to be atheists. That contradiction still prevails; one can strongly assert no belief in God, while accepting a homeland for Jews in Israel, because that land was promised to them by...god. The Holocaust helps make it possible to overlook this contradiction by citing the Jewish tragedy at the hands of the Nazis as verification for the need to create Israel. And even though most of the world's Jews are moved to at least psychologically support Israel's existence, they have never been there and have no plan to even visit, let alone become settlers .

The fact that as late as 1942, some Zionists and Nazis were discussing the island nation of Madagascar as a possible homeland for Jews – with as little concern for the native people there as in Palestine – is another little known aspect of the relationships between two groups proposing the same alienating idea, along decidedly different lines; that Jews did not belong with "others" and should be living in their own, separate country .

With no consideration for some of these matters, we inherit a history with little if any context, negating any awareness of events that lead to or connect from one to the other in any understandable, if occasionally mind boggling way. Things suddenly happen, with no explanation for events other than their being caused or provoked by saintly angels or demonic monsters. Are there material, worldly reasons for these events? Where do these situations and creatures come from? We are not to ask once the story, the gods and the demons have been established. That is, if we wish to remain helpless creatures shaped by history, rather than active beings who play a conscious role in its creation.

The revision of all history, literally to look at it again, is necessary if we wish to create a future without repeating past mistakes. The maligned school of Holocaust Revision could make a contribution towards understanding and peace, rather than represent a criminal assault against political religious belief, as it is portrayed. Taking a new look at any part of history, recent or past, may lead to greater awareness of material forces which are controllable by humans. This contradicts the fatalistic view of humanity as inherently beastly and in need of control by elites, which are usually working for god. This biblical notion at the core of many human acts of mass murder flies in the face of real human experience and calls for more, not less questioning of what we are told about anything.

Whether it is fed to us as legend, myth or alleged fact, nothing should be treated as unquestionable. Facts are too often based on as little proof as the legendary and mythological. For a recent, obvious example, we need look no further than "weapons of mass destruction" in Iraq. Thousands of people are dead and a government was destroyed because of those alleged weapons, which do not, and did not, exist.

The suffering of the Jews in Europe during the second world war would not become less tragic under critical appraisal, though its political impact might change, and this is the major reason for its being kept an untouchable topic. In order to maintain Israel's position as a special nation, the myth of the Jewish people as a forever endangered species is perpetuated. The Holocaust is seen as the culmination of a long history of murderous persecution of Jews by the rest of the gentile world, with no allowance for anything but continued misery and eternal threat. This incredibly negative and narrow view estranges people from humanity, and in so doing helps create a warped history of isolation. A contradictory ideological need to be separate and different from "them", while humanistically desiring similarity and equality with "them", can only prolong the problem of what is called anti-Semitism, despite that language confusion which so labels Europeans who are no more Semites than are people from Finland or Nigeria.

Given the verifiable history of Jewish persecution in the past, can that possibly justify the persecution of Palestinians in the present? Assuming that there was indeed a plot by European gentiles to murder all the Jews of the continent, why should people who have no real or fictional connection to such a sin be the ones to pay the awful price of its atonement? And even if it is necessary to insist that one inhuman episode was unique and different from others, that one suffering was more painful than another, how can any benefit be gained by causing still more suffering? No horror experienced in Europe should serve as rationale for punishment inflicted on people other than Europeans, if any at all are to still be paying for this experience of inhuman slaughter among, sadly, many such historic experiences. A more recent human disaster can offer several comparisons, even if only in the treatment of the story.

As an example of how closer examination of events which take on near legendary proportions can lead to better understanding, consider the disastrous day Americans remember as "911". It did not become less tragic when investigation revealed that the original estimated death toll of nearly 7,000 was actually just over 3,000. The bereaved were no less saddened , the nation no less shocked . Nor, unfortunately, were political forces swayed to change their policies based on this lowered figure. But history was served in moving the story from exaggeration, arrived at during chaotic moments when all matters were barely verifiable, to the actual human cost and impact of all those deaths. Lowering the death toll was not a form of 911 "denial", and it did nothing to change the essence of the event.

Many still believe it was the worst thing to ever happen, if limiting the area of events to the USA. But far more people have been killed in bombings in other countries than died that day in America, and to acknowledge that fact – still generally unacknowledged – might help to better understand why this act of terrorism might have taken place, rather than viewing it as a gesture of sadistic madmen who didn't like our style of dress, our democracy, or our social behavior patterns . Were they simply "anti-Americans", for some ancient, irrational biblical reason? Or were there social and political as well as religious motivations for their murderous attack? Would it hurt us to move beyond simplistic, reductionist explanations in order to arrive at some understanding of material reality that might help our relations with the rest of the world?

The reexamination of 911 did not overlook the enormous cost in death benefits and the number of hustlers who rushed to claim money, posing as kin of those who allegedly perished. In this, it bore a relation to what some call the "holocaust industry", referring to the money making aspects of that tragedy that entice scam artists as well as legitimate victims. Finding an actual, verifiable death toll saved money for insurers, but the material evidence was examined not only to save money, nor to hurt the memory of survivors, but to help see the disaster from a more reality based perspective. We are still learning about the poorly reported and even more poorly explained 911 events, and the wars and further terrors they have unleashed in Afghanistan and especially Iraq. Many still believe that Arabs had nothing to do with them, and that they were organized and executed by the U.S. government. Others claim it was the Israeli Mossad, and some believe it was the act of a vengeful god, punishing us for whatever sins these divinely oriented conspiracy freaks perceive. But none of these theories, though they may be argued, laughed at or ridiculed, are forbidden. Nor are those who entertain them threatened with jail . This is as it should be, but isn't, where the Holocaust is concerned.

Israel's seemingly spontaneous "immaculate conception" in 1948 is no more materially verifiable than the older religious legend, but is as devoutly believed by a community of the faith. The Palestinian people who lived in what later became Israel were conveniently removed from material or critical consideration. They were denied as a people and never considered as humans of any importance , so it was easy to buy them out, kick them out, or wipe them out if they resisted. Their painful history of injustice has outraged most of the world, as evidenced by countless votes in the United Nations which go against continued theft of Palestinian land and brutalization of the Palestinian people. But the nature of their suffering receives hardly a blink from the center of global power in the USA, where real Palestinian Deniers are an infinitely greater problem than any alleged Holocaust Deniers.

The American government and major opinion shaping institutions have participated in the creation of Israel as a lily-white land of suffering inhabitants, first escaping the horror of the Nazis, and then preyed upon by the dreadful Arabs, portrayed as bloodthirsty demons anxious to "push Israel into the sea", as one of the favored slogans has it. This colorful defiance of geography and politics may have actually been expressed as a desire by some witless opponent; more likely, it came from an Israeli and has become useful to repeat in provoking fear and anxiety among Jews all over the world, as the horrible holocaust story is rerun in their imaginations each time a threat to Jews is perceived or alleged . And these threats usually seem to happen in a social vacuum, occupied by an innocent people in a rarified world befitting a fairy tale as much as a physical reality.

The contradictory notion of Jews as a historically blessed, special, privileged sector of humanity, and at the same time as a historically scorned, hated and brutalized group as well, is reinforced by the conflicting histories of Israel, Palestine , the Holocaust experience and the status of Judaism in the world today. To say that a people hated and persecuted by the gentile world – which means just about everyone else – for thousands of years, and then slaughtered in the worst pogrom of them all, could become powerful enough to hold sway over governments and public opinion is dismissed as just another form of anti-Semitism. The mere mention of Jewish power, exercised in obvious fashion and so acknowledged by many Jewish groups and publications, reduces not only Zionists but large segments of the gentile world, including its left wing, to screeching charges of anti-Semitism at those who defiantly refer to "the power that dare not speak its name". But the U.S. government and media and their global subordinates do not hesitate to follow the story so outlined, perpetuating the myth that becomes reality when so many not only believe it, but act on that belief.

Jewish ethnic and cultural gifts to the arts and sciences have made incredible contributions toward making the human community whole. Biblical and ideological Judaism contradicts that wholeness by treating the rest of the world as "other" and insisting on its own uniqueness . Much of the world is drawn to the warm, humanistic culture, while it is repelled by the cold, alienating ideology. Just as mainstream science and much non-biblical religion reject difference and see humanity as one race with common origins, a biblical fundamentalist view holds to an ancient notion that divides us into a deity's less or more favored races. The political, economic and psychological burdens of maintaining such older belief systems are at the root of a global crisis. In an all too real sense, we continue struggles with believers in immaterial legend and fable, while reality demands that we wake up and face a material world threatened by our wasteful and destructive divisions. These ancient belief systems might be beneficial if their humanitarian messages of equality for all took precedence over their patriarchal teachings of the superiority of only some. We face failure the longer we continue paying halfhearted lip service to the wisdom of their most loving prophets, while we incur the cost of paying wholehearted debt service to the deceit of their most hateful profiteers .

Human suffering and brutality are a sad part of our history, but we needn't mythologize their experience or make them special; rather, we need to understand that they impede our development . We can learn from our most terrible mistakes, but not if we fetishize and treat them as unique, almost divorced from history rather than representing a terrible example of our worst behaviors, practiced in the selfish, short sighted ignorance that continues to rule our relations. Our bloody past and present make it clear that It is possible to slaughter hundreds, thousands, even millions of people, without an extermination plan or gas chambers.

History is full of wholesale massacres, of people being regarded as worse than insects or rodents, and barbarically murdered in horrendous acts of brutality. Some of these were perpetrated over many years, some over a few weeks, some a few days, and some, instantly. During the same war that killed so many European Jews, the cities of Dresden and Tokyo, among many others, were reduced to ashes in firestorms that killed tens of thousands of people in a matter of minutes. These poor souls were indeed, burned alive, and there was no need to deliver them to death camps or crematoria; the crematoria were delivered to them. Yet these and other brutal acts of mass murder were written off as excusable acts of war that killed "the enemy", said enemy deserving such a fate for being part and parcel of the war. Had the outcome been different, how many allied generals would have been tried for these mass murders, and executed as war criminals?

Why does one horrible slaughter receive an unending stream of commemorations and reparations, while hundreds of others are barely a drip in the brain pan of humanity? Why does the Holocaust loom so large, and yet serve as a rationale for the brutalization of a people who had absolutely nothing to do with Nazis or Europe? And who can certainly not be guilty of anti-Semitism, In as much as they are, unlike the Ashkenazi Jews of Europe, Semites themselves? Could a better understanding of what happened to the Jews of Europe, and of the underlying causes that brought about fascism, help the world to better understand itself?

It can't possibly hurt us to learn what was at the root of the Nazis' blind hatred of communism, democracy and Judaism, and why they linked those hatreds, rather than continue accepting ridiculous notions that reduce world history to perverse psychosomatic disorders. What role did material events play in the creation of national socialism in Germany, and how widely was it supported by other nations? Contrary to simplistic belief, which has it that the world instantly opposed the demonic evil of the Nazis, many western powers were quite fond of their rabid anti-communism and their strengthening of German finance capital . It is possible to learn more about a terrible episode of history without denigrating those who suffered, but also by not making a totally different kind of human out of them, thereby perpetuating a dangerous myth of original difference, when we most need to acknowledge that we are all members of the same human race.

Fear of present victimization because of past history, whether based on fact or fiction, is not healthy for any human individual or group . Rising above our past mistakes, our legends and our superstitions in order to deal with real problems can contribute to growth in knowledge and assurance of a future possibility for all of humanity. That assurance is a necessity for the success of the human race, and not just one nation, sect, religion or clan .

Seeing the rest of humanity as historically bent on persecuting and eventually murdering all Jews is hardly the healthiest way to sustain religious, ethnic, national or personal survival. One has to major in the inhumanities to entertain such dreadful thoughts. When carried for generations, they cannot help but lead to more suspicion, misunderstanding and divisions which help create the inhuman mental and physical horror that was the reality of the Jews in Europe, and is the reality of the Palestinian people now. Bigotry and murder do not need commemorative death tolls or special killing machine techniques to make them worse or better; they need to stop.

The "revisioning" of the Holocaust might help Israel, Palestine and Judaism itself by confronting contradictions based on ancient beliefs which have no place in the modern world, and which help create murderous misunderstanding the longer they are accepted. Controversies involving which war, which mass murder, or which act of totalitarian brutality was worse than another can only make it seem that some were better than others. But it is all acts of brutality that must be seen as the problem , and not just one in isolation, if we are to arrive at a solution.

If we do not learn from history, it is said that we are condemned to repeat it, and that has been the case with the Jewish experience of one war, and the resultant Palestinian suffering that could lead to a greater war . Coming to grips with what was called the final solution could bring about confrontation with what could be humanity's final problem of racial and ethnic hatreds which are used to help perpetuate ideologies of domination. We need a peaceful "final solution" in confronting the greatest problem humanity has ever faced. Nuclear and biological weapons have replaced the more primitive bloody tools of the old political testaments and while we have seen what those weapons could do, we have not yet fully realized the lesson of their creation. They are products of age old biblical inhumanity, brought to modern technological perfection in exercising mass murder in post biblical fashion. We have to become a civilized people and learn to work together , before we revert to primitive savagery and literally blow ourselves apart.

The Holocaust was representative of the darkest side of humanity, but unfortunately, it still covers many with its shadow. Bringing light to such darkness involves much more than rethinking one episode of history, but given its enormous impact on collective consciousness, this one issue could have an affect on many more. They may seem an unlikely source, but Holocaust Revisionists could help bring about an enlightenment that enables us to see through inherited doctrines of ignorance and bigotry, kept alive by political and biblical systems of superstition which contribute to furthering the danger to humanity.

Confronting the real tragedy of what was done in the past, and the role it has played in furthering human suffering and injustice in the present, will be necessary for us to end such suffering in the future. The hateful anti-Semitism that was at the core of Nazi treatment of Jews cannot be forgotten, but it shouldn't be remembered by developing a ridiculous philo-Semitism that places one event, nation or people above critical reproach. Like the Zionists and Nazis who agreed that Jews were different from everyone else, this is either/or dualism at its worst. Just as past bigotry and brutalizing of Jews has scarred humanity, so does present bigotry and brutalizing of Palestinians disfigure us all. And just as we demythologize the American story and create a more hopeful future by doing so, we need to demythologize the mass injustice in Europe, and the mass injustice it brought about in the Middle East. Two wrongs do not make a right, any more than two lies can make a truth. And while the truth may not set us absolutely free, it could certainly help us move closer to relative freedom.


© 2005 by Frank Scott. All rights reserved.




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Sunday, August 14, 2022

Eco-Socialism, Democratic Communism: Common Sense

By Frank Scott
 
 
"Are present ecological stresses so strong that if not relieved they will sufficiently degrade the ecosystem to make the earth uninhabitable by humans? Obviously no serious discussion of the environmental crisis can get very far without confronting this question." 
 

Barry Commoner in The Closing Circle: 1971

 
More than fifty years after Commoner wrote those words, the environmental problem is almost infinitely worse and what is presently called climate change once thought to affect future generations is engulfing the entire planet right now. While warnings from a scientific community not on corporate payrolls grow more desperate the global political power of capitalism, the primary cause of nature's breakdown under stress, especially at its fading but still essential center in the USA, is making things worse not just by the hour or minute but every second.
 

While the U.S. conducts a proxy war against Russia, killing thousands and spending billions, and moves closer to a greater direct war with China with threat of nuclear conflict greater than since what was called the Cold War, fossil fuels not only grow in use but face puny measures at control compared to what is needed if there is to be a tomorrow for the present generation and not simply future humanity. The numbers are staggering and call for united global action of a radical nature to bring about total transformation of the market dominated private profit system that has brought great progress to many – as did slavery – but tragic loss to far many more with the loser group threatening to soon include those among us who did well enough to still enjoy the trappings of comfortable existence but this only while greater numbers than ever are not only suffering the horrors of political economic subjugation to a system that can only benefit some at the expense of most but now faces the war against nature of these past few hundred years bringing on a counter attack of heat waves, floods, earthquakes, tidal waves and more with no end in sight until and unless the people take democratic control of their lives and end the political economy that is bringing us all closer to  needing a final solution to capitalism before it brings on a final dissolution of humanity.

 

We presently face the worst possible situation imaginable since the end of the second world war when the USA took control of the world and ran it with words about democracy and equality and acts of hypocrisy and mass murder. The number of humans we have killed since the end of war two is far greater than can be imagined since most of the murders were and are committed under pretense of fighting evil and creating peace. Control of public thinking, which was manifest in the last century, has become more so in the present and especially among Americans a view of material reality exists to make religious mythology seem like hard-core materialism.

 

American taxpayers foot the bill for trillions of dollars of warfare weaponry while hundreds of thousands of us are homeless and millions are in greater debt than can ever be repaid by present or future generations. While we hear of the dreadful debt burden of a relatively privileged class that can at least attend college, which is beyond a majority of Americans who only get there to clean toilets or build sports arenas, an even great number of Americans carry an even more staggering debt in order to have what passes for health care. This and countless other contradictions could bring social revolution if only understood by the majority carrying this burden so a minority can remain richer than any past generation of royalty and bigotry that placed some humans over and above the rest simply because of control exercised by the power of the sword, mace, gun, bomb or nuclear weapons. The weaponry, like the minority control of our mental state, has grown far more deadly over time.

 

While most people and nations of the world have done nothing to support America's proxy war against Russia in the Ukraine, growing numbers are quietly aligning themselves with the promise of a new and different world focused on cooperation and national power based on truly democratic principles rather than the growingly fascistic tendencies of the capitalist world under American control. China is playing the major role in setting a new standard and is therefore seen as an even greater enemy than Russia with both capitalist countries very close to surpassing the USA through market and not military power, though their growing warfare capabilities in the face of American threats can be seen as necessary to their survival and not designed to take over other countries and call that democracy as America has been doing for more than 75 years. 

 

Whatever the death tolls suffered by Russians and Ukrainians since Feb. 24, the date of the Russian incursion, we have killed more than 15,000 in our undeclared war on drivers and pedestrians with our ongoing road war killing an average of 100 Americans every day. If that were reported as a brutal assault on citizens by a political economy totally out of control of its consumer-citizens we might all be as conscious of the dreadfulness and work to save American lives which are taken regularly without any attack by foreign power but mere wretched excess of our economic life.

 

 

While the people of the United States may seem to be totally afflicted with hatred for much of the world and mostly for their own people, being armed to protect themselves from the horror of other Americans, there are countless movements under way trying to bring people together as communities of common interest, most especially at the work place where union drives offer hope for greater solidarity. Of course, as long as ruling powers control of media and therefore most of what we think we know, ignorant belief in crackpot stories still control all too much, with people driven into smaller and smaller identity groups to make democratic majority action seem impossible. How can I join with others if I'm dealt with as a disabled polish American gay Jew of color, or possessing testicles or vaginas, both or neither? Left out of such identity is the far more important fact of humanity and our need for food, clothing and shelter before any heartfelt or brain implanted notion of difference because of what is forced between our ears or loins by ruling power?

 
 
 

Two Chinese professors, Sit Tsui and Lau kin chi, part of a movement to balance that nation's progress initiated at the urban minority top by bringing a substantial contribution from the rural majority bottom, offer these words of futurism that make hope a larger word than has recently seemed possible in the western world. Here, "farm to table" is an ad addressing good food in fine restaurants. There it represents as it once did in America, peasant dining with awareness of nature being far more important than market considerations. Heed their words:

 

"We propose that ecology take precedence over economy, agriculture over industry and finance, and life over money and profit."

  

 Whether we label that eco-socialism, democratic communism or simply common sense it is the only path to our future, if there is to be one.

Wednesday, August 3, 2022

Left Economists on Covid Policy

James K. Galbraith, Professor of Government at the University of Texas at Austin notes that the countries that "took the pandemic seriously from the start" by "clos[ing] their borders and implement[ing] testing and quarantine for anyone coming across, as well as mandat[ing] distancing at home" achieved the best health outcomes. These countries included Vietnam, Korea, Singapore,  Taiwan, New Zealand, Iceland, and Cuba. Aggressive confrontation (of the contagion, not other people) coupled with high public support "kept the spread of the virus down to levels that could be tested and traced," though this required considerable disruption to normal routines.

"Isolation was intense for those exposed," Galbraith observes. Often people "were taken to special facilities, locked in, and taken care of for two weeks," whether they were symptomatic or not. 
 
Vietnam enforced physical distancing with cadres at the block level. In Cuba, doctors and medical students visited every household almost daily to check for symptoms. Korea kept case levels so low that it could identify exactly where outbreaks were occurring and smother the spikes. "In all successful countries," reports Galbraith, popular mobilization against the virus was total, cooperation nearly universal, and (as a result) the success became a matter of intense national pride" (italics added). Furthermore, "those countries that suppressed the virus effectively without regard to economic consequences in the short run were able to recoup most of their economic losses." 

But for those who threw up their hands at the pandemic (we're looking at you, USA) things did not work out nearly so well.  Political economist Ha-Joon Chang (Cambridge) points out that once a proper medical response has been botched, only lose-lose options remain: "Once you lose your grip on the pandemic, you end up with a 'trade-off' between health and the economy." The U.S. in particular forfeited the response of "taking early action and being innovative about the management of the test, trace, and isolate system." As a result, infections surged out of control, hospitals were overwhelmed, and the deadly impact of the virus was far worse than it needed to have been.
 
Economist James K. Boyce (Amherst) claims that "99 out of every 100 lives lost could have been saved" had the U.S. had an effective infrastructure of test-and-trace in place when the pandemic broke out. "The (Covid) death toll has been exceptionally high in nations with extreme inequality," Boyce observes, which "in a society is much like blood pressure in an individual,"a pre-existing condition that raises the likelihood of severe outcomes.
 
Though less important than other measures, restricting human movement (i.e. "lockdown") is also a legitimate pandemic response measure, but it needs to be coupled with replacement income for workers in order to be fully effective. As Ha-Joon Chang notes: "In countries where there is no provision for a minimum standard of living and/or job security, a lot of people had to go out and work even when they knew they were infected." The obvious public health conclusion is that people should be paid to stay home when infected or at high risk of becoming so (i.e., when high levels of virus are circulating), after which restrictions can be lifted as waves of contagion subside.

Though the word "mandate" has taken on an ominous tone for many people, it needn't have. Mandates are a necessary part of modern life, and the principle underlying their legitimacy isn't particularly controversial. Nobody is too exercised about the mandate to use a seatbelt when driving a car, for example, or to pay bills in a mandated currency, or to go to school from age five to late teenage, or to pass a driving test in order to get a driver's license, or to take out a social security number (a federal ID) in order to be part of the public retirement system. These are simply sensible measures taken to facilitate living in complex societies. There is nothing inherently authoritarian about them. Yes, any mandate can be abused, but that does not mean that there should be no mandates.
 
Mandates that can lead to loss of employment are obviously more serious, but this is because of the required job more than the required jab. Decent societies would not require their members to prostitute themselves to monopoly interests (directly or indirectly) in the first place, which would take a lot of the sting out of vaccine mandates.  However, the principle of restricting access to public space until people have verified they are doing everything possible to reduce the risk of infecting others with deadly disease is entirely reasonable. There is no "bodily autonomy" when every set of lungs is linked to every other set by virus-laden air.
 
Source material for the above:  "Economics and the Left: Interviews with Progressive Economists," Edited by C. J. Polychroniou (Verso, 2021)
 
James K. Boyce, pps. 55-7
Ha-Joon Chang, pps. 79-82 
James K. Galbraith, pps. 145-8
 
Excerpts from other economists in the book:


Michael Ash, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
 
"I'm deeply troubled by the entire COVID period in the US. The failure to mobilize mass testing and contact tracing, the failure to keep essential workers working safely and to keep almost everyone else supported at home, and the failure to set priorities to get kids back to school safely make me feel as if we are living in a failed state. While I usually prefer structural explanations, it's hard not to pin at least some of the US debacle on Trump himself - his lack of interest, his lack of curiosity, his lack of attention span, his lack of scientific commitment, his lack of empathy, and his inability to listen to anything other than sycophantic happy talk. Of course, there are deeper structures underlying the US nightmare, and I comment on some of these below. I'll summarize here: the US response is a world historical disgrace. The richest, most powerful country in the world may never in history have worse bungled a crisis that it would have been straightforward to surmount. . . . . . . .I'm baffled by the Swedish response - I wish I knew the micropolitics that let a Social Democratic government approach the crisis with the type of insouciance and incompetence that looks more like Trump or Bolsonaro." (2)

Teresa Ghilarducci, New School For Social Research

". . . most Western democracies, while flattening their disease curves, also flattened inequity by keeping their schools open. Because the US will not engage in enough non-pharmaceutical interventions - such as mandating masks - nor provide funds for more space between students and school-based protective equipment (PPE) many children who don't have private pods, internet, adult supervision, and private schools will be left behind. At the same time, others are merely inconvenienced. Not continuing the extra stimulus checks and generous unemployment benefits reduced income replacement for the most economically vulnerable families." (171)
 
Jayati Ghosh, Amherst
 
" . . . there are other pressing challenges that the pandemic has brought to the surface. It has exposed the horrifying effects of decades of public under-funding of health and societal undermining of care work. So, the New Deal must also be Purple, with an emphasis on the care economy and massive investment to fund enhanced and improved care activities.  . . . The decades of neo-liberal policy hegemony have led to drastic decline in per capita public health spending in rich and poor countries alike. It is now more than obvious that this was not just an unequal and unjust strategy but a stupid one: it has taken an infectious disease to drive home the point that the health of the elite ultimately depends on the health of the poorest members of society, and therefore those who advocated reduced public health spending and privatization of health services did so at their own peril." (186-7)

Ilene Grabel, University of Denver

"The failed response to the COVID-19 crisis in the US is a perfect illustration of destructive incoherence. Instead of a federal response to the COVID-19 crisis there was propaganda, denial, and chaos. All manner of destructive incoherence becomes more apparent daily in the US as the COVID-19 crisis unfolds. The same can be said of the process of distributing the vaccine . . . . .Balanced budget rules at the state and municipal levels constrain their fiscal capacity and canceled out much of the effects of federal fiscal expansionism associated with the inadequate CARES act. At the same time the absence of federal leadership in implementing closures and openings of schools and workplaces, and in securing ventilators and personal protective equipment, continue to have horrific consequences in terms of loss of life, mental health, unemployment, poverty, homelessness, food insecurity, and access to education.  . . . desperate intrastate responses are hardly to be celebrated. The absence of federal leadership was nothing short of criminal neglect." (207)

" . . . national governments in many European contexts moved quite far in the direction of expansive, universal social protection. In many European contexts, states supported furloughed workers in ways that were inconceivable in the US. " (208)

". . . the monopoly system that protects the rents associated with intellectual property will render the vaccine out of reach" of most Third World countries." (208)

 " It is a certainty that widespread, lasting debt crises in the Global South and East will be but one lasting legacy of the COVID-19 crisis, promising yet another 'lost decade.' . . . comprehensive debt relief should be a far higher priority." (210)
 
 
Costas Lapavitsas, University of London
 
"The crisis was caused to a large extent by the state itself, since states imposed the medieval practice of lockdowns and social distancing to confront the disease.  A better response would have been mass testing, tracing, and isolating those who were infected, together with strong support at the primary level for the most vulnerable groups. COVID-19 has a class character, hitting harder the poorest and weakest in society, those with long-standing health ailments. But a grassroots strategy would have required substantial resources and, even more important, strategic planning imbued with public spirit. (italics added). The main neo-liberal states in the world were unwilling  and unable to deliver it, for instance, in the US and the UK. Lockdowns were the default option, and they have weighed very heavily on workers and the poor."
 
"Lockdowns gave rise to a vast and unprecedented crisis because the world economy never properly recovered from the last great crisis of 2007-09. Most of the important metrics have been below trend for both core and peripheral countries during the last decade. Lockdowns delivered an enormous shock to aggregate demand and supply, which then led to an unprecedented response by nation-states. I don't think there is anything comparable in the history of capitalism." (224) 
 
Zhongjin Li, University of Missouri-Kansas City
 
". . . regions with more united responses and collective mobilization, both in terms of political/public willingness and mobilization capacity, have witnessed relative success in controlling the spread. . . 
 
".  . . rigorous lockdowns and strict quarantines with national regional coordination proved effective in controlling the spread as the first response. This was evident in China, though less so in Japan and South Korea. There, free treatment of Covid-patients, confirmed or suspected, along with mass testing as well as contact tracing have gained public confidence. This was stunningly different from the US approach to dealing with the pandemic. Since everyone can be infected, it is extremely important to guarantee free and equal access to public health resources. As most countries experienced shortages in medical equipment, the effectiveness in response also depends on the mobilization of national and regional resources with central and concerted guidance and action.  . . . 
 
"China's community-centered social infrastructure, including community hospitals, neighborhood committees, etc. has proven effective in the COVID-19 pandemic, helping protect people's right to food, health, and livelihood, especially for the poor.  The institutions and people working in the community are not mobilized ad hoc only for disaster relief, but rather, based on a long-standing social infrastructure that coordinates locally nonexclusive service provision for social reproduction. Instead of individualizing the responsibility and costs of 'flattening the curve,' state-subsidized and locally supported community services in the age of COVID-19 socializes costs and maximizes effectiveness. . . . 
 
"In terms of economic policies, countries prioritizing people's health and safety over reopening of the economy have also achieved more rapid recovery."  . . . Without addressing job and livelihood precarity, a simple cash subsidy is more likely to benefit only the rentier capitalists." (240) . . . The COVID crisis is a wake-up call for us to strengthen the public sector and build community infrastructure. . . " (241)
 
William Milberg, New School For Social Research
 
" . . . it has become very evident in the pandemic that the decoupling of social protection, especially health insurance and retirement security, from employment, can be doubly disastrous for well being. Most European welfare systems have from their origins disconnected an individual's attainment of these protections from the individual's employment status, with the result that the negative impact of the pandemic has been much reduced. (262) . . . The research that led to the rapid development of the vaccine was largely underwritten by public funds. The private capture of profits from the innovation limits the social return, and the rigidity of the intellectual property regime means that a good that would have major benefits globally will be available only slowly and in a limited way beyond the rich countries." (263) 
 
Leonce Ndikumana, Amherst
 
"The lack of social safety nets in these countries (i.e. developing countries) makes it impossible to implement preventive measures such as lockdowns or remote working. (278) With governments in the Global South facing chronic financing shortages, they are not equipped to fund the necessary interventions to support workers who lose their jobs and firms that face collapse in demand."  " . . . the only viable strategy is prevention." (279)
 
Malcolm Sawyer, University of Leeds (UK)
 
"The privatized and often centralized test-and-trace operations,which often involved layers of subcontracting, undermined the established system for contact tracing run by local public health protection teams in the public sector. . . . .The key difficulties can be identified as arising from chaotic and expensive privatization instead of relying on properly funded local expertise." (339)
 
"There was a neglect of the health and social effects of the lockdown - the effects on mental health of prolonged isolation, lost schooling, etc." (340)
 
"There have undoubtedly been harmful effects on children's education, which will have long-term effects. These have fallen particularly on children in low-income households who are unlikely to have access to computers and to the internet." (340) 
 
" . . . there was a general lack of preparedness in areas such as availability of personal protective equipment and fiscal measures to support income and employment in face of shutdowns." (340)
 
Juliet Schor, Boston College
 
"In Europe, governments in France, Spain, Italy, the UK and other countries quickly decided to support employment by paying 80 percent of the salaries of employees even as their employers furloughed them." (353) 
 
Fiona Tregenna, University of Johannesburg (South Africa)
 
"Living in a society with vastly unequal access to sanitation and other infrastructure and services, in which a large section of the population live in congested living conditions, in which there is under-investment in the public health service and general running down of the state, means higher infection rates and risks for everyone." (395)