Saturday, May 30, 2020

Why Police Torture and Kill

"What I have said about Harlem is true of Chicago, Detroit, Washington, Boston, Philadelphia, Los Angeles and San Francisco - is true of every Northern city with a large Negro population. And the police are simply the hired enemies of this population. They are present to keep the Negro in his place and to protect white business interests and they have no other function. They are, moreover - even in a country which makes the very grave error of equating ignorance with simplicity - quite stunningly ignorant; and, since they know that they are hated, they are always afraid. One cannot possibly arrive at a more surefire formula for cruelty." 

-----James Baldwin, A Report From Occupied Territory

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Democrats Finally Do Self-Critique! Oh, Wait, It's Someone Else

"Crazy Bernie Sanders is not a fighter. He gives up too easy! The Dem establishment gets Alfred E. Newman (Mayor Pete) and Amy Klobuchar to quit and endorse Sleepy Joe BEFORE Super Tuesday, and gets Pocahontas to stay in the race, taking thousands of votes from Bernie. He would have beaten Sleepy Joe in a LANDSLIDE, every State, if these events didn't happen. Even if Warren just dropped out, he would easily have won. Dems did it to him with Crooked Hillary, and now, even more so. . . and Bernie doesn't even complain."

-------------Donald Trump May 20, 2020

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Covid 19 in the U.S. - Latinos, African Americans, and Poor Whites the Most Affected

Interview with Sociologist James Petras
Centennial Radio Uruguay
May 11, 2020

(translation from Spanish by Michael K. Smith)

Hernan Salina: There is no way to escape each week the internal reality of the United States with respect to the consequences of Covid-19. What is happening these days?

Petras: Yes, the first interesting thing here is that the Trump White House is infected by the coronavirus, three advisers of the president are already in quarantine, they're shut up in their homes and undergoing treatment. Another important person is vice-president Pence, who is shut away and they're examining him hourly to see if he's infected. This is the government that didn't accept the necessity of using masks, maintaining social distance and other things. Now these measures have collided with the President himself in office. Many times a day Trump has to be examined for the virus. Beyond that we also have the Treasury Secretary saying that unemployment is possibly going to exceed 25% in the coming months or even weeks. And in spite of that we have the fact that the government has said it's going to inject 9 billion dollars in hopes of stimulating the economy because it's collapsing. In spite of everything reassuring Trump tries to say about the economy, it doesn't work.

Now almost all 50 states have relaxed the quarantine and made other openings for the economy, but at the same time there are protests going on. The unemployed are protesting, renters are protesting in New York and other places, small business owners are marching on City Hall in every city. So there's a great social mobilization that is growing like a wave, but we don't have any political direction. Senator Bernie Sanders hasn't headed up these movements, he has lent support to Biden, who is a conservative Democrat.

HS:  A video has circulated of a young nurse in New York crying on camera, denouncing the fact that since they're overflowing with (corona) patients they are letting African Americans and poor Latinos die, when they can't cope, can't keep up with demand, and besides they're being attended at times by people who don't have sufficient training and so patients die.

Petras: Yes, we have data from Johns Hopkins Hospital that a (disproportionate) percentage of patients that die are of Latin American or African American descendance. These ethnic groups are more affected than whites.

But whites are differentiated between those of lesser and greater income. There are more cases of infection among whites with lower incomes than among richer whites who can access medical treatment and support themselves working from home while the badly paid have to go to work in dangerous conditions.

These workers complain that their employers haven't provided enough safety regulations and protective equipment, that they've had to work in meat packing plants, for example, with workers right next to people without adequate protections.

HS: In an interview on Fox News on Friday, president Trump tried to distance himself from responsibility for these mercenary actions in Venezuela. He said that if he'd wanted to take military action, he would have invaded directly, that is to say, he would have attacked with full U.S. military force. What repercussions or consequences has this event had, which Venezuela is denouncing to all the world?

Petras: It's all true, even the New York Times and the Washington Post have published information revealing that the directors of the coup were members of a mercenary outfit headquartered in Miami, and that those mercenaries were Green Beret and worked with the CIA and had confessed that they had ties with the U.S. government.

Nobody believes it when Trump says the United States isn't involved, everyone understands that the reverse is true, that the U.S. government fomented the coup. Juan Guaido, the U.S. puppet, was implicated with the terrorists, and the Green Berets have confessed that they have ties with groups in the U.S. that hire mercenaries.

HS: Do you believe that the Trump administration is going to strongly pressure Venezuela to return these captured mercenaries?

Petras: Obviously, yes, obviously what they're going to try to do is capture some Venezuelans linked to the Maduro government and then offer an exchange. That is, we have Venezuelans, you have Americans, we should have an exchange.

I don't know if they'll be successful, I don't know if they're going to be able to get Venezuelans for this trade, but in any case at the moment the Americans implicated in the coup with the mercenaries are in jail and they're going to stay there until there is a change in the political tone between the two countries.

HS: And can this have a political consequence for Trump? There were some voices raised in the Democratic Party saying that the person in charge of the security contracting firm must have violated U.S. law by taking arms out of the United States, and by the action carried out by this firm. 

Petras: I don't think so. Judicial authority is part of the American government, so I don't think they're going to punish the mercenaries. It's possible that they'll launch an investigation, but one without consequences. The fact is that this is a political act, and it can only be resolved by political means, which would mean the United States recognizing the Maduro government and sitting down to negotiate an arrangement that would end the sanctions and repression against the Venezuelan government. In contrast, what we can expect is that the United States is going to continue and even increase its terrorist attacks, which is a tragedy for the Venezuelan people.

HS: Israel has postponed the swearing in of its new government because U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is in Israel. What's being said officially is that they're going to talk about the coronavirus, Iranian influence, and of course the Palestine conflict. What new developments might emerge?

Petras: It's a long term partnership, one in which Israel dictates the policies, Israel pressures the United States to increase its attacks on Iran. And I think that in this situation, Israel dictates the policy and not vice versa. I don't think there is any possibility of a rethinking of American policy. The power of the Zionists in the United States is too great to change the strategy.

HS: Very well. Are there other things you'd like to mention in the final section of the column this week, James?

Petras: There are two things, one is that there is an enormous scandal in the state of Georgia in the United States, where the police are implicated in assassinating an African American that was walking, exercising in the street. This ended in a preliminary investigation that concluded that the police weren't responsible for the killing. But with enormous protest in the African American community, some videos and other evidence, they've proved that the police in fact killed an innocent man.

Thanks to the protest, the mobilization, and the evidence, they will open an investigation into the killing in two months. And now there is the possibility of a conviction, they could take the two killers to court, who were friends and accomplices of the police, who didn't investigate them. This is evidence that the police in the U.S. don't function with impartiality but are always linked with racism.

Monday, May 11, 2020

Joe Biden Suffers Massive Stroke!

Will Not Affect Job Performance, Aides Say

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden suffered a massive brain hemorrhage today as he practiced reciting the days of the week for upcoming debates with President Trump. Campaign staff members say it will not affect his work, and insist he has no plans to withdraw from the presidential contest, unless “something serious happens.”

“We’ve been through this before,” explained senior advisor Symone Slanders. “Joe will have a stroke or two before breakfast, but by mid-morning he’s his old self again, sniffing our hair and fondling the volunteers. It’s nothing to get upset about, and we frankly resent attempts by Donald Trump to politicize it.”

Reached for comment at Bethesda Naval Hospital where he was having a brain installed, Biden said, “old people are just as sharp as senile people,” and expressed gratitude for get-well calls from Dwight Eisenhower and Harry Truman.

Although his campaign has come under fire in recent weeks for lacking energy, Biden now claims that he “has the momentum” against Donald Trump, because of a surge in the ranks of the “enthusiastic Biden voter.” To date, reporters have been unable to speak to such voters, because of strict visitation restrictions at state mental hospitals. Luckily, a Legalienate reporter working undercover has smuggled out recorded interviews with ardent Biden supporters, who give a whole new meaning to the term, “committed” voter.

“Sure, I’m enthused about him. Why not? I like the way he curses out voters who have issue questions and tells them to vote for Trump. It’s refreshing,” said one masochist.

“I like his random babbling,” said another. “I haven’t seen anything like that since Reagan, although GW had his moments, of course. But Bush was merely catatonic. With Biden, you’ve got the verbal diarrhea and the mangled syntax all in one package. He’s the best!”

“For me, it’s all about the issues,” said a thoughtful schizophrenic. “Biden’s not above hallucinating, like with the whole WMD business in Iraq. Lots of people in here see things, too, but Biden actually made a career of it. He’s living proof that no one is too deluded to make a difference. It’s so validating!”

Meanwhile, more pragmatic Biden voters are taking a page from Trump’s rhetorical playbook, chanting, “Lock him up!” every time their candidate delivers another gaffe. This has given rise to the “basement strategy,” i.e., keeping the doddering Biden entombed in a dimly lit basement, while a nation without national health insurance recoils in shocked horror watching the Trump administration implode under its innovative “let ‘em drink bleach” approach to the coronavirus pandemic.

“It’s a clash of the titans,” says media consultant Harry Scene, “the village idiot against the demented degenerate. May the best fraud win!”

Michael K. Smith

Sunday, May 10, 2020

From Global Farm To Global Table: The Capitalist Pandemic

From Global Farm To Global Table: The Capitalist Pandemic

Whether believed the subject of hysterical conjecture or conspiratorial creation, the fact is that we face a new and different virus that may threaten life more than previous forms. It is also true that up to the moment that includes more than a quarter million victims, most who suffer the illness survive and they represent the overwhelming majority. Nevertheless, the threat is to all humanity and must be treated as such and that will call for transformative changes of a nature previously unimagined by most though strongly suggested by many going back to the beginning of the present problem. That problem is not the current pandemic but its origin in the form of a political economic system which began in its industrial form in the late eighteenth century and was presently tending toward one of its regular crises called a recession. That was before this viral attack provoked a greater crisis dubbed by many a return to conditions of what was called a “Great Depression”, and this not referring to presently profitable forms of individual therapy but to the breakdown of an entire global system.

America survived that past collapse by instituting a social democratic form of capitalism at odds with the fascist form which at the same time “saved” Germany, both forms later getting into a war that saw tens of millions killed and the victory, for a while, of the social democratic, liberal welfare style of capital. That prevented blatant starvation and mass death in the streets by instituting social policies to help much but not all of the local working class while ultimately slaughtering that same class in Korea, Vietnam and other places representing conflict with the market system of private profit for some, only available at deadly loss to many.

America and the West’s return to the more blatant fundamentalist worship of the deity of unimpeded market forces which hold society in total contempt began back in the 1970s but it should be understood that the system did not change at all, in its essence. Whether run by fascists or social democrats only the way it manifested its profits and its manner of forcing the loss were different in style. If some populations were rewarded with steady diets, decent jobs and comfortable housing, others suffered malnutrition, wretched poverty, and mass murder under military assaults that went beyond the incredible slaughters of world war two, at least in per capita numbers. While some 60 million are said to have perished in that war, mostly among victorious Russians and the losers, Germany and Japan, the death tolls and wreckage later inflicted on Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos were much greater and might have approached 100 million if the population base had been the same.

Under the market forces of private profit and public loss, the good life for some necessitates absolute misery for others. The problem is not simply reducible to greedy or murderous people but the organizational components of society which reduce them to support of a greedy murderous system that can have no other outcome, no matter how much rhetoric is expanded nor however sincerely about striving for democracy and a better life for all. Continuing to organize society on the basis of capitalist market forces rewarding private profits to investors by robbing the workers who create its largesse and then consume it, mostly by becoming debtors, will not only prolong but greatly increase the scandalous evidence of human and environmental destruction all around us, including the present virus.

While ideas run rampant, many thoughtful, many more bordering on insanity, of a plague created and arranged by a criminal lab in China, but somehow run by Americans, the same lab but this time run by the Chinese, somehow ignorant that it would kill their own people, or simply a plot by evil mysterians setting about to destroy civilization in favor of the Elders of Gay Latino Mormons of Color, reality is as usual far more complex and much less subject to fantasy. The international system that industrial capitalism brought into being and that was wisely criticized at its inception by Marx and Engels has become more globally dominant and in its modern form features a relatively tiny group of fantastically rich and powerful individuals and their corporate entities which dominate the production and procurement of food, clothing, shelter and everything else almost everywhere on earth, and this only by treating them as commodities for purchase at a market and unavailable to any without the money or credit line enabling them to make those purchases.

While individual possession of wealth and power has advanced far beyond any ancient imperial kingdom governed by alleged earthly gods and now allows staggering riches to be held by a nearly microscopic in size “identity group”, it keeps hundreds of millions sinking into debt, poverty and wars. We of the majority are being kept divided into other “identity groups” in battle with one another for a small part of what we greatly produce while minority rulers enjoy a form of perverted socialism in which the many support the few in ways that would have made past bloody emperors envious.

That global rule now means that Chinese capital owns land and manufacturing facilities in the USA while American capital does the same in China. National competition still seems the order of the day but its form is not what it was in past ages, since financial wars now loom as large though not quite as obviously deadly as the military form. If Chinese investments are taken out of America, or vice versa, each nation would suffer greatly, until and unless its people democratically took over the economies and saw to it that the wealth of the nation went to the people of the nation, the actual creators of that wealth, and not a bunch of investors most of whom whose only job was to be born to rich parents. For every tale of a poor person from the ghetto becoming rich, the Horatio Alger fictions that work as a drug for so many, there are a hundred thousand realities of trust fund babies, infants born with tens of thousands when not millions of dollars already waiting for their signature upon achieving legal age. And even if and when they turn out to be decent, loving, caring human beings, the system guarantees that their efforts to make life better will only work for some and never for all. The present pandemic is only the latest evidence of what we need to confront and change, radically, not just for a pandemic of the moment but the disease humanity has suffered for much too long.

The wet markets in China, said to be the possible source of the virus, are in essence no different than the dry markets in China or anywhere else. They exist to return private profit to investors, and those may well be Americans in the global economic environment. It is a fact that Wall Street and its Beijing equivalent are partners in that marketplace, no matter the radical difference in their governments, and American financial firms, Goldman Sachs for one, own farmland in the very vicinity of whatever bat cave or wet market where this virus may have started. But rather than the virus being dealt with locally by Darwinian natural selection and with modern technology’s help, where possible, it took on the global status of capitalism’s unnatural selection. Under those market rules, forests do not create trees but produce profitable lumber and farms do not create crops but profitable food, and whether wet, dry, cooked or raw, kale, bacon, dog food or organic soup, the product is a commodity to be consumed at the market and turn a profit in the process or it will not originate in the first place.

21st century globalized capital has assumed a pace that involves finance, profits, losses, war, peace and tourism to advance at electronic speeds previously unimagined and turn up all over the world in a matter of not just days but often seconds. It can no longer be dealt with only by national organizations but must finally be confronted by international action which may originate nationally but will have no meaning unless democratically undertaken internationally. And this will mean the direct opposite of imperial national powers of the past, like the old British and the more recent USA, and even the newly emerging China-Russia more humane based market ideologies; they cannot be allowed to dominate the global population.

 It may be necessary to radically change not only commercial but individual travel habits but if these help achieve a cleaner air quality while allowing people to remain closer to home even while doing their jobs, this is only one of the many possible positive outcomes of this crisis. The fact that a new generation of social critics has formed and is unhesitant to challenge the system of capital is another hopeful sign that unity among generations may bring about more substantial change than ever achievable before. We may not have to return to family farming exclusively but larger entities that grow our food need to be, like larger entities that manufacture our products, owned and run by their workers, in true democratic form, to benefit all the people, and this crisis is also making that fact far more clear to far more people.

Democracy is hardly what will be achieved this November in the American election when the usual minority will select a president in the lesser evil billion-dollar sham that passes for electoral freedom, but it must and will be achieved in the immediate future for all humanity or there will be further pandemic hell to pay for civilization. Capitalism, like slavery and feudalism before, has outlived whatever benefits it brought to some. Its individual benefits have gone far beyond humanity’s ability to bear the costs and we, the majority, must see to its end before it brings about ours.

Happy Mothers Day!

Mother to Son

Well, son, I'll tell you: 
Life for me ain't been no crystal stair.
It's had tacks in it,
And splinters,
And boards torn up,
And places with no carpet on the floor - 
But all the time
I'se been a-climbin' on,
And reachin' landin's,
And turnin' corners,
And sometimes goin' in the dark
Where there ain't been no light.
So boy, don't you turn back.
Don't you set down on the steps
'Cause you finds it's kinder hard.
Don't you fall now -
For I'se still goin', honey,
I'se still climbin'
And life for me ain't been no crystal stair.

-----------Langston Hughes

Saturday, May 9, 2020

75th Anniversary of the Defeat of Nazism

If appeasement is the explanation for Washington's delayed recognition of the Nazi danger, what are we to make of the extensive American business relations with Germany all during the Third Reich?

Major corporations headquartered in the U.S. found the Nazi agenda a refreshing change from the sharp class conflict of the Weimar years. As soon as Hitler took power in January 1933 he set about abolishing unions, dramatically slashing wages, eliminating worker benefits, ignoring workplace safety standards, privatizing government enterprise, funneling subsidies to major corporations, and sharply reducing taxes for the very rich. At the same time, he pursued an aggressively anti-Communist foreign policy, massively expanding his military strength as a prelude to annexing Austria and Czechoslovakia. While these moves were taken in stride in the West, Hitler’s widely advertised threat to crush the Soviet Union actually found favor among Western elites, who had long dreamed of doing away with the Bolsheviks.
Investment patterns reveal striking sympathies among U.S. business leaders. Coinciding with the advent of Nazism, U.S. investment in Germany soared by nearly 50%, while declining elsewhere on the continent. Unable to resist the cheap labor, low business taxes, and dazzling profits, Du Pont, Ford, General Motors, Westinghouse, Goodrich, Standard Oil of New Jersey, J. P. Morgan, I.B.M., and I.T.T., ignored omnipresent terror and murder in favor of conducting a booming business with the Reich.

Greatly enhancing the destructive capability of the Nazi military, American owned factories supplied Germany with tanks, trucks, fighter planes, bombers, oil imports, synthetic fuels, synthetic rubber, and advanced communications technology. These materials were used to kill Allied troops, bomb British cities, and sink Allied ships. Meanwhile, IBM prospered from providing Germany with the punch cards and machines it needed to target, enslave, and kill millions of Jews and other victims of Nazi eugenics throughout Europe.

Some plutocrats did not cease their collaboration even after the continent was plunged into war, conducting uninterrupted business with the Nazis and readily making use of slave labor delivered by German authorities. According to declassified Dutch documents and U.S. government archives, Prescott Bush, father and grandfather of the later Bush presidents, realized lavish profits off of Auschwitz slave labor. His Union Banking Corporation helped Thyssen to make the Nazi steel that killed Allied soldiers and assisted the financing of Thyssen coal mines that routinely worked Jewish prisoners to death.

U.S. companies kept control of their German subsidiaries with minimal interference from Hitler, who was mainly interested in maintaining production. Reciprocally, Washington did nothing to interfere with U.S.-based corporations directly servicing the German war machine. In fact, President Roosevelt actually issued an order not to bomb U.S. corporate property in Germany or German-occupied Europe. When Cologne was razed by Allied bombers, its Ford factory—at the time turning out army vehicles used to kill U.S. troops—was undamaged. German civilians took to using it as a bomb shelter. After the war, I.T.T. collected $27 million from the U.S. government in compensation for damages inflicted on its German plants by Allied bombing raids. General Motors received $33 million and Ford and other companies collected their own sizable indemnifications.

In addition to investing heavily in Nazi Germany, American firms bankrolled Italian fascism from the early twenties and continued to ship Mussolini oil even after he invaded Ethiopia in clouds of mustard gas. Washington, too, evidenced fascist sympathies: it imposed a unilateral arms embargo on Spain (while Italy and Germany poured in troops and weapons to Franco), complained of Japan’s closed door rather than its massive atrocities in China, refused to join the U.S.S.R. in a united front against Nazism until far too late, failed to prosecute the major firms illegally trading with the Axis all through the war, installed fascist collaborators in the wake of successive military victories, and hired Nazis to continue their anti-Communist bloodletting on the U.S. payroll once the war was declared over. Finally, in a war effort that many Americans took to be a human rights crusade against Germany’s vicious treatment of Jews, it led segregated troops into battle, dispatched 120,000 innocent Japanese-Americans to concentration camps, and adopted wholesale extermination of civilians as a routine tactic of its air war.

Such were the general features of the “good war.” 
"Appeasement” makes little sense as an explanation for all this. Britain, France, the U.S., and a dozen other Western nations had not been too war-weary to invade the Soviet Union in 1918 after four of the most blood-soaked years the world had ever seen. A generation later they were still ready to fight Communism, but not Fascism, even though the Soviets had renounced world revolution in 1921 and Hitler spelled out his expansionist agenda with brutal clarity three years later in Mein Kampf. Furthermore, fear of war’s deadly consequences carries little explanatory force given that German military capacities remained weak all through the thirties and were far from overwhelming even when Hitler conquered France in the spring of 1940.

In spite of the relative ease with which it might have been accomplished, the West made no timely effort to stop Hitler; not in 1934, when Nazi thugs assassinated the Austrian Prime Minister; not in 1936, when Germany reoccupied the Rhineland in violation of the Versailles Treaty; not in 1938, when Hitler annexed Austria and dismembered Czechoslovakia. In those years the U.S. perceived the Nazi dictator as an ideological “moderate” who had restored German economic strength and kept the Bolshevik hordes at bay. Ambassador William E. Dodd’s regular warnings that soaring U.S. trade with the Reich was directly aiding Hitler’s massive re-armament campaign fell on deaf ears in Washington, which replaced him with a diplomat friendlier to the Nazis.

Clement Leibovitz and Alvin Finkel, co-authors of a study critical of the appeasement hypothesis, dismiss altogether the idea that placating the Nazis accounts for the policies that consistently aided them:

... the argument here is that “appeasement”—the notion that a war-weary Britain humored Hitler’s wish to gobble up small countries, in order to avoid another European-wide slaughter—is a myth. Chamberlain and his followers made clear that they did not wish to fight fascism as such—indeed, that they admired many aspects of fascism. They were not trying to avoid a war; their whole intention was to turn Nazi militarism loose in a bloody confrontation with the Soviet Union to end Bolshevism in its heartland. Hitler was to be given a free hand in Eastern Europe so that this common end could be achieved. ‘Appeasement’ was no more than a public front constructed to appease public disgust with the Nazis and the Nazis’ treatment of minorities such as the Jews and small nations such as Czechoslovakia and Austria.

The outbreak of World War II marked not the failure of “appeasement” but the collapse of the tacit pact between British and German leaders.1

Furthermore, the West proved overtly hostile to genuinely anti-fascist movements, which developed in Spain, where the U.S. imposed a unilateral arms embargo on the anti-Franco forces, and among the peasant and worker-based resistance that fought German occupation throughout Europe, where Washington disarmed, dispersed, and destroyed popular forces. These policies existed in sharp contrast to those awarding a free hand to Mussolini in Abyssinia, Franco in Spain, and Hitler in Central Europe—and this at a time when fascism could have been stopped at relatively low cost.

What historian Gabriel Kolko calls the “problem of the left” made it impossible for the Roosevelt administration to embrace a genuinely anti-fascist ethic. The problem of the left was that European resistance movements were led by socialists, social democrats, and Communists, whose convictions clashed with Anglo-American hegemonic designs. As British historian Basil Davidson explains, the wartime collapse of traditional ruling groups and fascist collaborators yielded a situation where “large and serious resistance came and could only come under left-wing leadership and inspiration ... the self-sacrifice and vision required to begin an effective resistance, and then rally others to the same cause, were found only among radicals and revolutionaries.” These, in turn, were mostly men and women who “followed the hope and vision of a radical democracy.” As South African Prime Minister Jan Christiaan Smuts warned Winston Churchill after the fall of Mussolini, “with politics let loose among those peoples, we may have a wave of disorder and wholesale Communism set going all over those parts of Europe.” Communism meant not domination from Moscow but the ascendancy of popular movements dedicated to collective social designs placing fundamental human needs ahead of private gain. That was heresy.

Washington’s strategy had been not to risk everything on behalf of democracy, as the architects of the "good war" claimed, but rather, to let others fight fascism. As FDR once confided to his son, the U.S. tried to function as “reserves” while the Soviets exhausted themselves holding off the Nazi onslaught, after which Washington would deliver the coup de grace, which is very much how things turned out. According to Roosevelt scholar Warren Kimball, “aid to the Soviet Union became a presidential priority” only on the assumption that Red Army victories would obviate the need for U.S. troops to fight a ground war in Europe. Senator Harry Truman went even further, stating after the German invasion of Russia in June 1941 that the U.S. should strive to bring about the two countries’ mutual annihilation: “If we see that Germany is winning we ought to help Russia and if Russia is winning we ought to help Germany and that way let them kill as many as possible.”

With the collapse of the Axis powers the U.S. took over the world, an outcome wartime planners had anticipated from the beginning. A week after the U.S. entered the war Isaiah Bowman, Director of the Council on Foreign Relations, wrote Hamilton Fish Armstrong that the U.S. government had to “accept world responsibility ... The measure of our victory will be the measure of our domination after victory.” In the spirit of selfless imperialism so popular down through the ages, “responsibility” meant unilateral authority, which Washington gladly seized while talking of its “obligation” to rule the world for the benefit of all.2

Fascism: A Threat To Private Enterprise

As war in Europe threatened to engulf the U.S., American business leaders and government officials discussed the threat that the Nazis posed to the free enterprise system. Convinced liberal capitalism could not exist in one state, the Roosevelt administration ultimately chose to fight to keep foreign markets open, cloaking its effort to preserve freedom of private investment in the lofty rhetoric of the Atlantic Charter and the Four Freedoms.

In 1934 more than 80% of U.S. foreign trade was with countries that the U.S. enjoyed a trade surplus with. The following year General Motors president Alfred P. Sloan exclaimed that a loss of foreign markets would require “adjustments to our national economy appalling to contemplate.” By 1936 Assistant Secretary of State Francis Sayre was warning that “if we are to choose the pathway of economic self-sufficiency, we must frankly accept a system of government control over private business enterprise.” After the 1938 Munich agreement, J. Pierrepont Moffat, chief of the State Department’s European Division, explained that American commercial interests would suffer because German domination of Central and Eastern Europe meant “a still further extension of the area under a closed economy.”

In January 1940, the president of the Iron and Steel Institute warned that “in the event of war we can expect a degree of regimentation and control by Government that is now unthinkable.” The same month the Fortune group predicted: “There is a real danger ... that as a result of a long war all the belligerent powers will permanently accept some form of state-directed economic system.” Meanwhile, Business Week worried that, “We may have to sacrifice some of the notions we have held about the rights of private property owners to dispense of their property as they see fit.”

In short, U.S. business leaders and government officials feared German economic nationalism would destroy private investment. A victorious Germany that conscripted labor and converted Europe to an industrial workshop under Berlin’s sole control would deprive U.S. business leaders of the opportunity to export their surplus, which would force them into reliance on the federal government to strictly regulate the domestic economy in order to establish an internal balance between supply and demand. This concern, not beguiling rhetoric about universal human rights, formed the operative value behind U.S. foreign policy, which explains why Washington opposed the triumph of European anti-fascist resistance movements at the end of the war as much as it did Hitler during the war: both placed collectivist designs ahead of private profit and the demands of the market.

Financer Bernard Baruch explained the Nazi economic threat five days before Hitler invaded France in 1940: “Germany does not have to conquer us in a military sense. By enslaving her own labor and that of the conquered countries, she can place in the markets of the world products at a price with which we could not compete.” The next day investment banker W. Averell Harriman also stressed the economic danger of a regimented Nazified Europe: “The idea that American free enterprise can compete in the foreign markets against such competition is ludicrous.”

Three days after the Nazis occupied Paris, the American charge d’affairs in Berlin, Alexander Kirk, predicted that Hitler “will confront the United States within a brief measure of time with the impossible task of adjusting its system to an economy in which it will be excluded from access to all foreign markets.”

Days later Business Week warned that if the Nazis won the war they would set wage scales and price levels with the sole aim of capturing foreign markets for goods manufactured under their control. “The United States,” the article concluded, “would tend to become a lone [free enterprise] island in a world dominated by a philosophy of industrial coordination. We may be forced to adopt some of the totalitarian ways of doing things,” the editors observed. “We may have to sacrifice some of the notions we have held about the rights of private property owners to dispense of their property as they see fit.”

Ten days later Will Clayton, a leading cotton exporter, announced that a German victory would lead to a government controlled export economy. “If the rest of the world adopts totalitarian methods of trade,” he reasoned, “we will be compelled to conform if we wish to sell our surpluses.”

On August 15, 1940, Joel C. Hudson wrote from his consular post in Berlin that if German export plans went into effect, the position of the U.S. would be much like that of “an old-fashioned general store in a region of hard-boiled chain stores.”

By January, 1941 U.S. business journals were all worried about the potential doom of the American free enterprise system. “The great danger facing the Western Hemisphere in the event of a totalitarian victory,” Barron’s declared, “is not the immediate threat of armed invasion, but rather the threat of trade aggression.”

Two months later W. H. Schubart of the Bank of Manhattan expressed his displeasure at the prospects of a Nazi-American trade war. “If Germany wins, she will most certainly extend her clearing system,” he said. “In such a barter economy we shall not fit and much of the world trade will be denied us.”

In June, 1941 Barron’s warned: “The inevitable consequence of federal control of the export portion of the business would be that government agencies would eventually find it necessary to extend their authority to the company’s whole operations, domestic and foreign.” Meanwhile, Fortune opined: “Industry and trade, labor and agriculture would become part of a state system, which in its own self-defense, would have to take on the character of Hitler’s system. Freedom cannot be national. It must be international.”

Two months before Pearl Harbor Winthrop W. Aldrich of Chase National Bank warned the attendees of the National Foreign Trade Convention in New York that, “The tremendous power of the Nazi-dominated and regimented economy in the field of foreign trade would make it necessary for our own government to regiment our own foreign commerce.” The Business Advisory Council added its warning that, “A greater dependency on self-containment [would lead to] a degree of regulatory control destructive of free enterprise.” Finally, W. Randolph Burgess of the National City Bank noted that the U.S. had joined Great Britain in the battle against Hitler so that “his conception of foreign trade does not become dominant on this planet.”9
See also here: 

Friday, May 8, 2020

Joe Biden With His Mind Intact, Part 2

"Measured and prudent."

-----Joe Biden on the Patriot Act, which allowed FBI spying on phone, computer, and medical records, banking and credit history, library and business records, etc. without approval from a judge.

Monday, May 4, 2020

U.S. Prepares For War in Outer Space, But Still No Cotton Swabs on Earth

Jimmy Dore Interview with Dylan Ratigan
Critique of Elizabeth Warren-AOC Plan to Rescue Small Business
May 4, 2020

"Private equity firms do not give a damn about small businesses, OK? Private equity firms care about distressed medium and even large businesses. They're managing hundreds of billions of dollars. Do you think Blackstone wants to buy up your corner deli? It's idiotic. The very phrasing offends my sensibilities, because it's an insight to the level of stupidity of American politicians. That they would be so moronic as to think that private equity would give a damn about buying a small business. They're going to buy the biggest possible business they can buy that's in the most possible distress. You idiots. 

And the grandstanding around small business is so played out. First of all, small business is not the engine of job growth anywhere. New business - new business formation is the job growth creator. And yes, statistically, most new businesses are small. So people then perceive small businesses to be the job creator, but that is not the case. New business formation is the job creator in any economy ever. In order to have new business formation you need to have an educational system that works, a health care system that works, optimism in the economy, and some amount of money available to human beings. And the rate of new business formation in America has been in a free fall since Barack Obama (inaudible) the financial crisis, OK? 

"And so, this no M and A thing (mergers and acquisitions) from Warren and AOC, as if they're going to gobble up small businesses (1) reveals how stupid these people are, and (2) reveals how craven and hypocritical they are, that they then vote for a bill that empowers private equity to buy distressed assets while they shut down an economy that shouldn't be shut down, because they should have been prepared for the damn pandemic months ago, years ago, and then they want credit for looking out for the little guy. Fuck them! 

"There's a known risk of a pandemic. They refused to prepare for the pandemic. They then grossly mismanage the pandemic and point to the village moron as if it's only his fault. After Harvey Singer attacks money for a decade and is failing to prepare for the pandemic, blaming the village moron, they then use the pandemic to give the money to the vultures and then walk out after the whole thing is done and pretend that they give a damn. 

"I prefer Republicans. Republicans come right up to your face and say, 'I think you should be dead, and I want all your money.' . . . As opposed to these people (Democrats). . . Pretending . . .  .

"It's like the women that pretended to care about sexual assault, so that they could advance their careers. And in the process made women more vulnerable to sexual assault . . ..  

"The very premise (of the Warren-AOC plan) is idiotic. If you are in the business of getting a return on $10 billion, and I give you the opportunity to buy the local dry cleaner for $85,000 and that dry cleaner after you buy it becomes worth $200,000, and you've more than doubled your money, you just made a hundred grand on your $85,000, the cost of the accounting, and tax services of dealing with the nightmare of that small business, relative to the return on your $10 billion fund, is the most preposterous concept I've ever heard in my life. If you have a lot of money and are paid to make money on that money, you know what you have to do? You've got to buy other things that are worth a lot of money . . .  . . 

"You're going to see a lot of empty storefronts. The drugstore [will survive because it] is a unique thing because it's a universally and guaranteed customer base, [a] monopoly basically, right? You're going to get your prescription, you're going to buy soap and toothpaste, shampoo. That's a unique situation. . .. . [Apart from that, you'll see] empty storefronts. Small towns across America, that have little or no virus risk, but all these small businesses have been shut down for months? What are these people going to do? 

"And the reason they're shut down is because the government that they pay taxes to refused to prepare for a pandemic? Forget whether we responded in time. What's the response? There is no response! The response is to tell everybody to stay home. That's your plan?  That's what we paid for? You don't have cotton swabs? You can't make a test? And so because you don't have cotton swabs and a test everybody's got to stay home? FUCK YOU!

"Nancy Pelosi is the same person that gave you the health care system that's failed right now . . . . Her claim to fame is . . . put her in the same room with Clinton, Obama, and Biden. With a $4 trillion health care system charging double what the world pays for a health care system, that is useless to provide cotton swabs and a test. Multi-trillion dollar government, multi-trillion dollar health care system, and they can't provide cotton swabs and a test? And so their alternative after collecting these trillions is to scorch the entire economy? And blame the village idiot. 

"And offer an alternative senile rapist (to vote for). No UBI (universal basic income) from him, no Medicare For All from him, no new business formation, no cotton swabs, no test, no working economy, nothing. Just make fun of the village idiot. 

"Do you know how low on the totem pole you have to be if your only claim to fame is you make fun of the village idiot? We've made a national industry of ridiculing the village idiot. And then everybody feels better about themselves because they're like, 'Look at the village idiot - he wants you to drink bleach.' Well, of course he wants you to drink bleach, he's the village idiot!

"Righteous, sanctimonious, holier-than-thou. Falsely defending the small business. Pretending that their entire situation is Donald Trump's fault because this entire national health care system, or whatever you want to call our health care system, and this entire political apparatus, refused to do anything to prepare for a known risk that is a pandemic? As we allocate trillions in Defense Department spending? And we've launched a space force? We're getting ready for war with aliens? But you can't get a cotton swab?"

------Dylan Ratigan, May 4, 2020, Jimmy Dore Show

Saturday, May 2, 2020

“The Virus Is Spreading and There’s No Way Out Economically Right Now"

April 30, 2020

La Haine Interview with Sociologist James Petras

(Original available at the James Petras website: - translation by Michael K. Smith)

MarĂ­a de los Angeles Balparda: We wanted to begin of course, with the situation in the United States.

Petras: Right now there is a move by the governors of individual states to open up, to re-start banned activities. More than half of the states are beginning to open shops, some restaurants, and other places; they believe they can no longer tolerate that unemployment has risen so much that it exceeds a quarter of the population.

So there’s a big fight here between those who want to stay closed and those who want to open the economy so people can work and go out. In New York, for example, they are opening the construction industry. They’re setting out safeguards, for example, maintaining social distance between workers, wearing masks and other things. So there’s an effort to re-start the economy but we don’t know the consequences; whether they’re going to be successful or spread more illness.

MAB: Donald Trump’s statements about how to kill the virus were scandalous, and what he said is still being talked about, as far as supposedly having to take or inject oneself with disinfectants.

Petras: Doctors in this country are condemning Trump, because not only are his recommendations ineffective, people can die by following them. It’s very irresponsible, it was very much condemned, but he still holds power and the Republicans have the hot potato in their hands. They support opening up but they don’t want to follow Trump with such toxic recommendations for the public.

MAB: What’s the state of the relationship between Trump and the press? He said that he wasn’t going to give more press conferences because the reporters distort what he says.

Petras: Yes, it’s clear that the press and the broadcast media are very hostile to Trump, from stories of the Russians meddling in the economy and now with the disinfectants. Everything Trump says is condemned by the media and that has had an effect on public opinion.

In the majority of cases the press is right in the criticisms and questions it directs at Trump. But Trump doesn’t want to give press conferences that end up as a forum for condemning his policies, his personality, etc.

MAB: From the point of view of the economy, how are people living without work?

Petras: The economy is going very badly, unemployment is rising, we have more than twenty six million unemployed, and the economy isn’t growing. The only thing we could say is recovering is the stock market. And I don’t know why it’s growing, but the banks are receiving large subsidies from the government, supposedly to stimulate the economy. So it appears that the policy towards the banks and the largest holders of capital have had a positive effect on the stock market.

But beyond that, right now the economy is worse than in the depression of 1930, the unemployment rate is enormous and the economic crisis is deepening. And right now we can’t see a way out.

For this reason they’re trying to open businesses and restart economic activities, because the people receiving subsidies, the unemployed, don’t have enough money to live on. There are many people who have lost their homes.

MAB: Another topic is what happened in Brazil with the resignation of (Justice) Minister Sergio Moro, an important figure there, which opened the door to another political and institutional crisis in Brazil.

Petras: Yes, Moro was a right-winger involved in the fall of Lula, he represents the right, but not the extreme, crazy right like Jair Bolsonaro. So within the right, this conflict has important consequences, because it’s going to reduce the support Bolsonaro has. Now they’ve lost the center - they never had the left - and they’ve lost the right. Even parts of the military are beginning to question Bolsonaro.

The fact that Moro had problems means that Bolsonaro doesn’t have allies in any position of influence, and that he’s trying to rescue his sons, who are implicated in fraud and other illegal activities; and he wants to continue in power with his sons, who seem to be among the most corrupt.

So we have to say that Bolsonaro is cornered and the government could change hands and expel him with an impeachment or in one way or another. At the moment it doesn’t look like it, but it’s headed in that direction and I think that before the year is out Bolsonaro could be out of the government.

MAB: Yes, he’s had a lot of conflict with ministers he removed from the government, but besides that, Brazil - along with Ecuador - is the country most affected by coronavirus in Latin America.

Petras: Yes, the number of cases is increasing, especially in the slums where there is such a concentration of people, and where there are few means of protecting oneself, people have to buy things every day, and the local warehouses don’t have any way to limit exposure. I think that in a short time Brazil is going to head the list of most infected countries. All over the country the situation is extremely grave, professors don’t dare to leave their houses in many places.

Brazil is heading towards the spreading and deepening of the illness, that’s another thing Bolsonaro doesn’t understand, he thinks it’s all made up. The daily deaths, those locked up, the sick, everything is increasing and there is no way out.

MAB: Mr. Petras, is there any other matter you’d like to mention?

Petras: There are several. First, the deaths from coronavirus in the United States have risen to more than 58,000, which equals the number killed in Vietnam, which was also 58,000, and more than a million infected. We have 1300 victims a day, that’s per day, and I think that the gravity of the situation and the deaths haven’t gone down, in spite of the fact that members of Congress and others are speaking of a leveling off. But that is fictitious right now. We’re also increasing sanitary services in New York and other places, but it’s not enough.

We could say that New Zealand has defeated the illness; they have no more than one or two infections per day, and they’re not of local origin. So apparently we have to learn lessons from countries that have been successful.

The capitalist countries don’t dare to open up a social agenda to solve the crisis or limit its effects. In Chile, there are more than a million unemployed or underemployed. In all of Latin America the situation is very grave. In Ecuador there are dead bodies in the streets of Guayaquil. So we could find ourselves with a great popular uprising on our hands in the short term, and I don’t know what form that might take, but between the deaths and the unemployed the situation is more and more grave.