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Glenn Greenwald: Unmasking the status quo’s shameless hypocrisy, and the lies that keep people enslaved

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the establishment media is an enabler of endless wars and illegitimate oligarchic power


Glenn Greenwald




A must-watch video for anyone who cares about the preservation of freedom and truth.


In his entire career, Glenn Greenwald has never produced a more urgent, lucid, or braver anatomy of disinformation in the modern age. Let this program stand as a guide to the manufacturing of lies in support of tyrannical power everywhere, and especially in the United States. We have been warned.


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Up to You.

^3000US citizens have no real political representation.

We don't live in a democracy. And our freedom is disappearing fast.

I don't want to be ruled by hypocrites, whores, and war criminals.

What about you? Time to push back against the corporate oligarchy.

And its multitude of minions and lackeys.




The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of The Greanville Post


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 ALL CAPTIONS AND PULL QUOTES BY THE EDITORS NOT THE AUTHORS

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Can the Big Lie Save the Sinking Western Kakistocracy?

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editors log bluePATRICE GREANVILLE


PREAMBLE
A kakistocracy is a government run by the worst, least qualified, or most unscrupulous people. The word was coined as early as the seventeenth century, fittingly in England, although it's safe to say humanity has produced such regimes many times before. But is there any doubt that today's leading "Anglo" cultures—the US and the UK—to name the leading alliance within what professional euphemists call 'the West", are nearly perfect examples of that?

As anyone with a modicum of alertness may have noted, all Western institutions are in steep decline, plummeting to their demise, from the political class to academia, to the complicit whore media, and the shrinking public space. In all established quarters, avoiding reality is an all-consuming task, because the truth about the West's rapidly mounting problems is too discombobulating to admit, and dangerously deligitimating as far as the ruling orders are concerned. Frankly, their pedgree is nothing to brag about. The history of the "collective West" and their ruling elites is literally blood-soaked in non-stop internecine wars and exploitation at the industrial level. Feudalism was bad enough, but it took modernity and misused technology to industrialise the killing and destruction of just about everyhting standing.

So their promise has proven false, Faustian, in fact, and alarmingly short and stingy by history's standards. Hence the evasions must continue. By this time, the West—unique in human history—has a fulltime, self-conscious machine solely dedicated to the manufacturing of false reality. The Big Lie, all the time. Mind you, this is not just generalized ignorance or the false ideology inherent in religion, for example. This is a whole apparatus of massive deception designed to inject false ideas about every important thing in this world right into every person's mind. In the US, the leader in such dubious accomplishment, this happens from cradle to grave. It's inescapable. That's why it's often said with undeniable accuracy that US Americans are the most brainwashed people on earth. Their political stupidity is legendary (now being increasingly matched by their cultural cousins across the Atlantic). Some would say we carry the prison in our own heads, and they would be right. For the ruling class types, what a nifty solution to the threat of real democracy, I might add. And by the way, need I say that deprogramming people is extremely hard? 

But here's the rub. No organism can long survive while ignoring its true environment, specially its own inner nature. And, unhappily for the reality evaders, the stench of the rot emanates from no other place than the West's very core, its long worshipped organising principle: predatory capitalism, better known in polite society as "neoliberalism". 

Meantime, for reasons we can only celebrate, both Russia and China are gradually moving ever closer and deeper into socialism. (Iran is already a solid example of Islamic socialism). To the chagrin of those who claim that Russia is just capitalist, with the requisite crowd of verminous oligarchs to prove it, I have to say they are not looking closely enough—nor dynamically enough. In what direction is Russia really moving? Russia is and has long been far more "collectivist" in spirit than the US or the West in general. Today, she enjoys a "mixed economy", with a huge socialistic component at its center—its energy and weapons industrial sectors—which provide precious stability and protection. This is liable to continue, and probably expand. China, under Xi, presents a roughly similar picture. The visionary anti-corruption leader has also taken stock of the future, and—as befits a man who never forgot the lessons of Marxism-Leninism—is moving sagely and decisively to purify Chinese society of capitalist viruses—as far as is feasible at this point. The object is to keep the capitalist disease from gaining ascendancy, or blocking the path toward Communism. Yes, it's a long and difficult fight. Complicated by the constantly deforming weight and threats of US imperialism. But the enemy has been properly recognised and measures are being taken. The West, on the other hand—need we spell it?—remains frozen, delusional, sitting atop a virtual lake of complacency and Orwellian values fostered by ludicrous claims of moral, political, and civilisational supremacy.

But, folks, organic truths—following universal laws—care nothing for human conceits or subjective perceptions. So as the narcissist West's tough contradictions pile up day after day, increasing the pressure on the system's containment membranes and reinforcing each other, the tipping points are approaching fast, or may have already been passed. Probably the only thing that keeps this old con job afloat is its momentum and the gianormous fantasy machine it has long relied on. These props may prove insufficient to neutralise the oncoming crisis. With the torrent of problems fully self-inflicted by the Ukraine war, everything has been suddenly aggravated well beyond the mediocre ability of the West's handlers to cope, and disaster now really seems inevitable. 

Not surprising, therefore, to watch the West's power centers under siege. And this time the cavalry won't come. There are no statesmen of FDR caliber to save capitalism from itself, and in any case, in FDR times capitalism still had some structural breathing room. Today, with the digital revolution, that space is gone, and the most lethal contradiction of capitalism, its terminal illness, the overproduction crisis, is here to stay.  This aspect, with its threat, nay, certainty, of mass unemployment unless capitalist social relations are completely overhauled (thereby negating capitalism!) to acommodate the new technological reality, is by far the most cataclysmic aspect of these developments. In fact, the system's stability has rarely been threatened by widespread corruption only by systemic problems. The Great Depression with its armies of the unemployed, is a good case in point. The poor were not so much shaken into combativeness by the pervasive corruption and brutal inequality they saw all around—feudalism had taught them to expect this as a God-ordained reality—but by the prospect of lacking even a meager livelihood. In a system where—at the end of the day—people only subsist if their labour is useful to someone to make a profit with, we sit on a collective razor's edge. 

The ruling billionaires—whimsical, petulantly childish, and poorly-educated—unidimensional characters like most businessmen, along with their legions of cowardly, sycophantic advisers and political front men, have no solutions. How could they? For one thing, this mob is still trying to balance a pyramid on its apex. Flash Alert: This is not in the pyramid's nature. They constantly seek cures to capitalist symptoms using the capitalist playbook. Ever heard of "pollution rights"? Yea, in the age of neo-environmentalism, when everyone is at least somewhat conscious that we need to treat nature with far more care, if not filial love, there's a thriving pollution rights market. Obviously, this is the behaviour of the functionally insane, or terminally corrupt: both of which have been fully normalised into the current status quo. So you can bet your last dinar that they'll be there trying that kind of idiotic game until the whole edifice crumbles on their heads. Problem is, we'll get hit, too, and probably pretty bad, unless we do something. After all, no ruling class—no matter how rotten and depraved— ever left the stage of history of its own volition.

Today's ruling class is certainly no different, and judging from its psychopathic willingness to consume all life on this planet in successive nuclear fireballs just to assure its victory, way worse than anything that came before. But why do we submit to that? With plenty of talent in every conceivable direction, we are still the overwhelming majority. Isn't it time to put forward a completely new program for humankind? The only problem with that, and it remains a huge one, is that throughout the kakistocratic West, especially in the Anglo lands, there is no real left worthy of the name. Only a pseudo left, a synthetic left, plus the usual complement of treacherous liberals and socdems of various stripes.  All of which leaves the masses virtually leaderless, in the hands of anarchists and other spontaneists and opportunists the regime, though certifiably rotten, can still manage to outlast. As for the far more enthusiastic legions on the Right, they too, offer no real exit from this swamp. Many misguidedly believe that the solution is hyperindividualism, that is, more and "better" or "purer" capitalism, which is simply delusional, and downright ahistorical. Others, following an old meme of the Right, think the colossal mess we face was produced by the influence abroad or in our midst of nefarious aliens. Wholesale escapism by denouncing "the other", while tempting to many, is a fools' recipe, the stuff of putrid demagoguery. Disaster is assured, not to mention another round of unspeakable crimes. And still no real solution.

So we are at a most interesting juncture. A promising, far healthier world is rising in the East and the Global South. The "West" is hellbent on blocking it. Is humanity capable of learning how to fight while on the march? And how do we neutralise the Big Lie machine keeping the global kakistocracy afloat? The answers to these questions will determine the fate of the planet. If we fail, the world may end as a result of something truly grotesque and vastly inglorious, done in by the evil spell of imperialist propaganda. Does it get any more absurd than that? —P. Greanville


About the author
Patrice Greanville, lifetime media critic, repentant former economist, and revisionist historical commentator is this publication's founding editor.


The views expressed herein are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of  The Greanville Post. However, we do think they are important enough to be transmitted to a wider audience. 

All image captions, pull quotes, appendices, etc. by the editors not the authors. 
YOU ARE FREE TO REPRODUCE THIS ARTICLE PROVIDED YOU GIVE PROPER CREDIT TO THE GREANVILLE POST VIA A BACK LIVE LINK. 
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License



Up to You.

^3000US citizens have no real political representation.

We don't live in a democracy. And our freedom is disappearing fast.

I don't want to be ruled by hypocrites, whores, and war criminals.

What about you? Time to push back against the corporate oligarchy.

And its multitude of minions and lackeys.


 Don't forget to sign up for our FREE bulletin. Get The Greanville Post in your mailbox every few days. 




How ‘Democracies’ Degenerate Into Minoritarian Right-Wing Governments (Aristocracies)

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EXPOSING CAPITALISM'S MULTITUDE OF VICES AND INCURABLE PROBLEMS


Eric Zuesse

Well said, but it should read, "Capitalist Democracy is an Illusion."


In America, a woman’s right to an abortion of a pre-conscious (earlier than 20 weeks) fetus is no longer recognized by its federal Government, though, by a 59% to 41% margin (and 67% to 33% among American women, who are the people directly affected), the American people want it to be. That’s one example of America’s dictatorship (minority-rule). (This statement about it isn’t a commentary on the ethics of abortion, but on the polling on abortion, in America.) But there are many other examples of America’s being now a minority-rule nation.

For example: in February of 2008, a U.S. Gallup poll had asked Americans "Would you like to see gun laws in this country made more strict, less strict, or remain as they are?” and 49% said “More Strict,” 11% said “Less Strict,” and 38% said “Remain as Are.” But, then, the U.S. Supreme Court, in June 2008, reversed that Court’s prior rulings, ever since 1939, and they made America’s gun laws far less strict than the gun-laws ever had been before; and, thus, the 5 ruling judges in this 2008 decision imposed upon the nation what were the policy-preferences of actually a mere 11% of Americans.

Then, in 2014, there was finally the first scientific answer to the question of whether America is a democracy or instead a dictatorship, when the first-ever comprehensive political-science study that was ever published on whether the U.S. Government reflects the policy-preferences of the American public or instead of only the very richest Americans found that, “the preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy”; and, so, “Clearly, when one holds constant net interest-group alignments and the preferences of affluent Americans, it makes very little difference what the general public thinks.”

In other words: America, which nominally is a (limited) democracy, is actually an aristocracy, NOT a democracy at all. Each one of the ways in which America's laws and their enforcement reflect what the country’s billionaires want, but NOT what the country’s public want, those proposed pieces of legislation have become laws just as much, as happens when the billionaires and the public have the same policy-references regarding the given policy-matter, as when they don't. This means that the aristocracy always get policies that are acceptable to them, but the public often do not. The result is conservative government regardless of what the public wants. No aristocrat is progressive (for majority-rule — “democracy”); all are instead either overtly conservative (for “fascism,” another term for which is “corporationism”), or else noblesse oblige or hypocritically conservative (“liberals”), people who are pretending to care about the public as being something more than merely their markets (consumers they sell to) or else their workers (their employees or other agents, such as lobbyists). When the public are conservative or “right wing,” (not progressive or “left wing”), they are elitist, not populist — and, especially, they are not left-wing populist (or progressive). Donald Trump was a right-wing populist (which is another form of aristocratic policy-fakery, besides the liberal type — either type is mere pretense to being non-fascist). But no aristocrat is progressive, and this means that in a corrupt ‘democracy’, all of the policy-proposals that become enacted into laws are elitist even if of the noblesse-oblige or “liberal” form of that. The Government, in such a nation, always serves its billionaires, regardless of what the public wants. That’s what makes the country an aristocracy instead of a democracy.

As the former U.S. President Jimmy Carter had said in 2015, commenting upon the profound corruption in America:


It violates the essence of what made America a great country in its political system. Now it's just an oligarchy with unlimited political bribery being the essence of getting the nominations for president or being elected president. And the same thing applies to governors, and U.S. Senators and congress members. So, now we've just seen a subversion of our political system as a payoff to major contributors, who want and expect, and sometimes get, favors for themselves after the election is over. ... At the present time the incumbents, Democrats and Republicans, look upon this unlimited money as a great benefit to themselves. Somebody that is already in Congress has a great deal more to sell.


A Yellow Vest protester wearing a mask depicting the French President on which is written the word 'psycho' looks at fellow protesters in Paris on March 16, 2019, during the 18th consecutive Saturday of demonstrations called by the 'Yellow Vest' (gilets jaunes) movement. Yellow Vests are pushing for referenda, as a form of direct popular democacy, but this option has its own set of pitfalls.

In France, one of the primary sources of the dictatorship is the dictatorship’s intensification in 2008 from a new Constitutional provision, Section Three of Article 49, which facilitates rule-by-decree (“executive decree”) from the President, when the Parliament is opposed to his policy-preferences. This Section gives the aristocracy an opportunity to override Parliament if the other methods of corruption (mainly by France’s having no “ban on donors to political parties/candidates participating in public tender/procurement processes” — predominantly arms-manufacturers who are donors) are insufficient to meet the desires of the aristocracy, but, otherwise, France has remarkably strict laws against corruption — far stricter than in Germany, and in Russia — and thus the French Government represents mainly corporations that sell directly to the Government. Consequently, when “all else fails,” and the Parliament turns out to be inadequate (insufficiently imperialistic) in the view of France’s billionaires, Section 49-3 is applied by the President. (America, like France, has strict laws against corruption, but they are loaded with loopholes, and, so, America has almost unlimited corruption. America’s legislature is even more corrupt than is France’s.) Ever since France’s Tony Blairite Socialist Party (neoliberal-neoconservative) Prime Minister Manuel Valls started in 2016 to allow French Presidents to use the 2008-minted 49-3 Section to rule by decree and ignore Parliament, France has increasingly become ruled-by-decree, and the Parliament is more frequently overridden.

After the recent French Parliamentary elections, the current French President, Emmanuel Macron, who has often been ruling by decree, will do so even more than before. As the Iranian journalist in Paris, Ramin Mazaheri, recently said: “Elections at just 46% turnout are a hair’s breadth away from not having democratic credibility, but that must be added with [to] the constant use of the 49-3 executive decree and the certainty of a Brussels’ veto for any legislation they don’t like. It combines to modern autocracy – rule by an oligarchical elite.”

Perhaps low voter-turnout is an indication that the nation will have a revolution. After all, both America and France did that, once, and it could happen again, in order to overthrow the aristocracy that has since emerged after the prior one was overthrown. Someone should therefore tabulate how low the voter-turnout has to go in order for a revolution to result. The post-1945 American Government has perpetrated incredibly many coups against foreign governments, but perhaps the time will soon come when dictatorships such as in America and France become, themselves, democratically overthrown. Both countries have degenerated into minoritarian right-wing governments. At least in France, the public seems to be becoming aware of this fact. Neither Government now has authentic democratic legitimacy.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Investigative historian Eric Zuesse’s next book (soon to be published) will be AMERICA’S EMPIRE OF EVIL: Hitler’s Posthumous Victory, and Why the Social Sciences Need to Change. It’s about how America took over the world after World War II in order to enslave it to U.S.-and-allied billionaires. Their cartels extract the world’s wealth by control of not only their ‘news’ media but the social ‘sciences’ — duping the public.


 

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Up to You.

^3000US citizens have no real political representation.

We don't live in a democracy. And our freedom is disappearing fast.

I don't want to be ruled by hypocrites, whores, and war criminals.

What about you? Time to push back against the corporate oligarchy.

And its multitude of minions and lackeys.


Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License

NOTE: ALL CAPTIONS AND PULL QUOTES BY THE EDITORS NOT THE AUTHORS

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The Revolution Will Not Be Televised…Nor Will It Be Brought To You By Russell Brand, Oliver Stone Or Noam Chomsky

Spoiler title


THIS IS A REPOST • FIRST PUBLISHED NOV 10, 2013

what's left
By Stephen Gowans

occupy-wall-street-demonstrator-is-arrested-by-new-york-city-police


Lacking a central organizing idea and concrete vision of where they wanted to go, spontaneous movements like Occupy were too hobbled by anarchist nonsense to achieve much more than to sell a few more copies of Z Magazine and to create a decent phrase about the 1% making off with all the wealth at the expense of the 99%.

Not too many years ago, when protesters were running riot through the streets, disrupting meetings of the WTO, G7, and other international organizations, the Canadian newspaper The National Post served up a flattering and generous portrait of young people who had eschewed the streets as a terrain for political struggle and turned instead to what the newspaper considered the responsible and laudatory path of seeking nomination to run as candidates for the mildly social democratic (but in the newspaper’s view, rabidly leftwing) New Democratic Party.

This was a curious turn of events, for the National Post, a newspaper founded by the notoriously rightwing, white-collar criminal, Lord Conrad Black, was as likely in normal times to heap praise on anyone associated with the NDP as George Bush was to sing the praises of Kim Il Sung. But these were not normal times. In retrospect it’s easy to see that the protests, demonstrations, and strikes of the time, would fizzle and die, as the Occupy movement would also fizzle and die years later. Lacking a central organizing idea and concrete vision of where they wanted to go, they were too hobbled by anarchist nonsense to achieve much more than to sell a few more copies of Z Magazine and to create a decent phrase about the 1% making off with all the wealth at the expense of the 99%. But it was clear that the editors of the National Post were worried enough to recommend a path other than the streets to those who burned with the desire for political change. That they should recommend electoral politics was predictable. Young people who plowed their energies into the NDP would soon get bogged down in the harmless, ineffectual, routines of political campaigns, and be kept safely off the streets.


occupy-everythingThe wealthy are keen on electoral politics—when they go their way, as they often do. Elections in capitalist society can be dominated by money, as can the larger political process. Banks, corporations and major investors lobby politicians, fund political campaigns, bribe legislators with the promise of lucrative post-political jobs, place their representatives in key positions in the state, and shape the ideological environment through their control of the media, creation of think-tanks, hiring of PR firms, and funding of university chairs. Those without wealth can hardly compete, except, in principle, by pooling their resources and hoping to tilt the balance the other way against a formidable foe that controls infinitely more resources. The absence of organization and class consciousness, however, routinely assures this doesn’t happen. Moreover, the electoral arena channels dissent into predictable, controllable paths, keeping it off the streets, where it might become unpredictable and therefore dangerous. Additionally, the sway that corporate, banking and investor groups exercise behind the scenes is masked by the egalitarian spectacle of elections. One person, one vote. What could be more equal?

I was reminded of this after reading the Russell Brand-edited issue of The New Statesman [1], not because it was in any particular way an endorsement of capitalist democracy, but because, like the National Post, it defined legitimate political change within parameters favorable to the established order. Of course, Brand wasn’t advocating electoral politics as the National Post was. On the contrary, he spoke out against voting in an interview with the BBC’s Jeremy Paxman, and called for a revolution. But Brand’s New Statesman went further than the National Post. Where the National Post said that those who fight for political change within the established system are admirable, while those who step outside it are not, Brand, as editor, tackled the larger idea of revolution (the only way, he said, he could get interested in politics. ) Mind you, a mass-circulation magazine was not about to become a platform to rally the masses to armed insurrection to overthrow the established order. “The revolution,” observed Gil Scott-Heron, “will not be televised.” Nor will it be found in the pages of the New Statesman. Predictably, the outcome of Brand’s editing exercise was the redefining of the entire idea of revolution, or, I should say, the destroying of it altogether, turning it into something vague and difficult to put your finger on, except to say it was good, and true, and safe to bring home to mother. But not at all like what Lenin, Stalin, Mao and Kim Il sung were implicated in. According to the luminaries Brand assembled to hold forth on what revolution means, revolution isn’t the transfer of productive property from one group to another –from, say, private owners to workers, or colonial settlers to those they dispossessed, or even owners who reside outside a country to the people within. Instead, it means many things, but not what you thought it did. [2]

occupyPacifistIn Brand’s issue of The New Statesman, film-maker Judd Apatow writes that revolution is telling authority figures to fuck off…in a funny way. “Comedy itself is revolutionary,” he says, whatever that means. Deepak Chopra rejects politics altogether as “irrelevant” and writes that he puts his “trust in inner revolution,” as priests and other religious figures have done for centuries, counselling the exploited to look inward rather than outward, leaving the exploiters to carry on exploiting free from the inconvenience of anyone fighting back. Comedian Francesca Martinez seeks, not a revolution in who owns productive property, but “of our ideas.” Author Howard Marks begins on a promising note, writing that he would like to see a revolution along the lines of the “Marxist notions of transferring power from reactionary to progressive classes,” but quickly plunges into the ridiculous by expressing the hope that such a revolution will create an immediate utopia, where we can all smoke dope, love each other, and never fight. The model he would like to see realized on a grand scale is the “wine-drinking, dancing, pagan society without a written language” of the Kalash Valleys in northern Pakistan. “There are no prisons, no laws, no police and no vested interests.” Tim Street, director of UK Uncut Legal Action calls “democracy” the most revolutionary idea, and offers a vision of revolution in which the corporate ruling class remains in place (hence, no revolution at all), but where the people try to hold it in check. Street writes, “we can begin by holding corporations which put profit before people to account and fight back when they bully and threaten us. We can begin by using our voices and our bodies to protest, to take direct action against the cuts and tax dodging.” How depressingly far the idea of revolution has drifted (or has been pushed) from its moorings, when anti-capitalist revolution once meant abolition of the profit system, not pressuring corporations to put people before profits (a Quixotic project, since it is both legally and systemically impossible for capitalism to put people before profits. Street has set a rather ambitious goal for himself if he thinks he’s going to hold all the corporations that put profits before people (i.e., all of them) to account. He’ll hardly have time to keep abreast of the latest Noam Chomsky interviews on YouTube.) Newspaper owner Evgeny Lebedev offers nothing better, but at least knows what a revolution is, pointing to the American, French and Russian revolutions as revolutions. But Lebedev’s view of these revolutions is precisely what you might expect of a business owner. The American Revolution, he says, was “mostly very good”. The French is to be applauded, in part. But the Bolshevik revolution had no redeeming features whatever, expect this: It showed “that Marx’s method was incompatible with freedom and dignity.” Lebedev endorses “evolution” as “the better guide to human affairs” (now that the bourgeois revolutions have succeeded.) [3]

stone-UHposterOliver Stone and Peter Kuznick, authors of The Untold History of the United States, offer a 1960s New Left anarchist vision, where the only good revolutions are the ones that never happened and the bad ones are the ones that did. This meshes well with a brief entry by anarchist Noam Chomsky on how utopia can be brought about (about which more in a moment.) Stone and Kuznick find inspiration in former US Vice President Henry Wallace’s idea of a worldwide people’s revolution, which would “end militarism, imperialism and economic exploitation, redistribute wealth on a global scale, and spread the fruits of science and industry.” Great, but there are two problems here. For Stone and Kuznick, who, by the way, make no apologies for engaging in utopian (i.e., unrealistic) thinking, revolution is the answer to an intellectual problem: how to eliminate militarism, imperialism, and exploitation, which they regard as morally insupportable. But revolutions don’t work that way. People don’t overturn an existing political and economic order because they dislike militarism intellectually or regard exploitation as morally indefensible. They overturn existing orders when the conditions of their lives become intolerable, and revolution becomes the only way out—which is more likely to happen in the countries which are the victims of militarism and imperialism than in the ones which are the perpetrators and within whose borders lie the audience Stone’s and Kuznick’s comments are presumably directed at. Secondly, the duo seems to want to arrive at utopia without violence, conflict, hierarchy or power politics—in other words, a utopian path to utopia, where a utopia must first exist before it can be realized. We “have too often seen the use of violence unleash emotions and forces that beget more violence and new forms of tyranny and oppression,” they write. [4]

It was the New Left’s desire for the ocean without the roar of the river that led to the movement’s denunciation by its critics as comprising those who “combine the luxury of being eternally in the right without the obligation of ever actually being responsible for anything.” And indeed, the New Left, and its successors, managed to escape responsibility by never actually achieving anything that would require that they bear it. Arnold Kettle noted in 1960, that “What the New Left seems not to be able to stomach is that (the countries that actually had revolutions) should have not only principles but also a strategy, a diplomacy, a defense policy…and all the responsibilities and consequent impurities… Power politics is always used by New Left writers in a derogatory sense, as if there were some other form of politics.” As for the New Left vision of what a revolution was to achieve, “it was a reality beyond class struggle, a society which is neither capitalist nor socialist, but simply nice.” [5] Indeed, Stone and Kuznick express their vision in terms of a nice world of “creativity, kindness and generosity” where “greed and the lust for power” have no place, rather than a world of jobs for all, free heath care and education, cheap public transportation, subsidized housing, and affordable childcare, racial and gender equality, and investment of the social surplus into raising the living standards of all. If you want a nice world of kindness and charity where greed and lust for power have no place, there are plenty of religions around to take care of that. But that’s not revolution.

Stone and Kuznick reserve special scorn for” Stalin, Mao and the Kims”, who they depict as power-hungry defilers of “the noble concept of revolution” who grabbed power to aggrandize themselves. Fuck them, they write. One day someone will have to write The Untold History of 20th Century Revolutions to correct Stone’s and Kuznick’s defiling of accomplished revolutionaries. For now, suffice to say that the title of the duo’s book ought to be changed to The Untold History of the United States by Two Confused Leftists Who Have Yet to Be Told the Untold History of Russia, China and Korea.

For Stone’s and Kuznick’s benefit here’s a brief history to fill the gaps of their knowledge.

Kim

Kim Il Sung was an effective guerrilla leader who made an enormous contribution to the liberation of Korea from Japanese colonial rule, and from the form of residual rule by Japanese collaborators that took hold in the south, and has echoes today. South Korea’s current president, Park Geun-hye, is the daughter of the military dictator, Park Chung-hee, who served in the Japanese imperial army, hunting down Kim and his guerrillas. Whatever one might say about the de facto, but hardly de jure, Kim dynastic succession, the Kims trace their lineage to a leading anti-colonial guerrilla who played a lead role in building an independent state, free from domination by outside powers. The south, in contrast, is a neo-colony of the United States, where the armed forces are under the wartime command of the Pentagon, and anti-communist descendants of Japanese collaborators exercise local control. Had Kim anticipated Deepak Chopra’s path and declared politics “irrelevant” and put his “trust in inner revolution”, Oliver Stone and Peter Kuznick might have lauded him, rather than blurting “Fuck…the Kims.” Yet, the price of Kim’s earning the respect of the New Left film-makers would likely have been Korea remaining a colony of Japan, or more likely, a neo-colony of the United States from the south to the north.

Mao

Before the Mao-led revolution in China, 55 to 65 percent of the land was owned by 10 percent of the population, mainly landlords–parasites who exploited the labor of peasants by virtue of claiming ownership of the land and holding it by law and force. Hundreds of millions eked out bare existences on tiny plots and forever faced the threat of famine. The country had less industrial power than Belgium. Long dominated by outside powers, the Chinese lived as untermenschen in their own country. “Everything fed the revolution. Only by revolution could China’s peasants get land, get out from under landlord control…Without revolution, China would have remained in the grip of imperialism, a semi-colony, dominated and exploited by the United States.” [6] Domenico Losurdo points out that, “It is widely known that Mao Zedong declared at the foundation of the Peoples Republic of China that the Chinese nation had risen up and nobody would tread on it again. Perhaps he was thinking about the years when a sign at the entrance to the French consulate in Shanghai forbade entrance to Chinese and dogs.” Losurdo asks: “Is the new situation in the great Asian country a result of ‘failure’?” [7] To be sure, the Chinese Revolution falls well short of Stone’s and Kuznick’s vision of a world free from militarism, imperialism, and exploitation, and where creativity, kindness, and generosity have replaced greed and lust for power, but it did improve the lives of hundreds of millions. As the privileged son of a stockbroker who has lived his life in a country that dominates others, Stone may regard Mao’s revolution as a defiling of the noble concept of revolution, but he’d find few Chinese to agree with him.

Stalin

Joseph+Stalin+14546Stalin made enormous contributions to socialism, decolonization, and indirectly, to the emergence of the welfare state in the West. He played a lead role in the building of the first publicly-owned, planned, economy –one free from unemployment and the insecurities and injustices of the past. He was at the forefront of the project to lift Russia from backwardness, succeeding spectacularly in short order. His contributions to the defeat of fascism were unparalleled, exceeding those of any other individual. Under his leadership, the monarchies and military dictatorships of Eastern Europe were overthrown and, no, the socialist societies that replaced them were not simply new forms of oppression. Their economies grew rapidly and with them standards of living rose to unprecedented levels, while the insecurities, injustices, inequalities and exploitation of the past were eliminated. The national liberation movement had no greater friend than Stalin’s Soviet Union. By successfully creating an alternative to capitalism, Stalin forced Western governments to build robust programs of social welfare to maintain the allegiance of their populations. And the Soviet Union’s policy of racial equality embarrassed the United States into improving the conditions of its black citizens.

It’s instructive to consider the Soviet Union in 1936. Soviet democracy, based on the constitution Stalin played a key role in writing, was being rolled out. The constitution mandated the creation of a system of elected representatives. Stalin was elected the representative of a Moscow constituency of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR. By this assembly he was elected as one of 30 members of the Presidium, which in turn elected a Council of Commissars. He did not call himself a dictator, nor was there a position of dictator to be occupied.

Soviet democracy has been derided and ridiculed in the West. But let’s consider the Soviet form of democracy in 1936 versus the Western form. At the time, Britain had an unelected House of Lords (still does), while Canada had, and continues to have, an unelected Senate. Of 500 million inhabitants of the British Empire, only 70 million, or 1/7th, lived in political democracies. South Africa denied suffrage to its black population. In Canada and Australia, aboriginal people were not allowed to vote. India had no political democracy at all, and was governed by the British civil service. The United States denied civil rights to its black citizens, who lived in a state of oppression. [8] In contrast, suffrage in the USSR was universal, hardly the tyranny by comparison with the West that Stone and Kuznick would have us believe it was.

As to the perennial charge that Stalin murdered millions, we can dismiss this as an unexamined legend that everyone believes to be true because someone (they just can’t remember who) told them it was, and about which they can provide no details, like who, how, when and why? William Blum writes:

“We’ve all heard the figures many times…10 million…20 million…40 million…60 million…died under Stalin. But what does the number mean, whichever number you choose? Of course many people died under Stalin, many people died under Roosevelt….Dying appears to be a natural phenomenon in every country. The question is how did those people die under Stalin? Did they die from the famines that plagued the USSR in the 1920s and 30s? Did the Bolsheviks deliberately create those famines? How? Why? More people certainly died in India in the 20th century from famines than in the Soviet Union, but no one accuses India of the mass murder of its own citizens. Did the millions die from disease in an age before antibiotics? In prison? From what causes? People die in prison in the United States on a regular basis. Were millions actually murdered in cold blood? If so, how? How many were criminals executed for non-political crimes? The logistics of murdering tens of millions of people is daunting.” [9]

The numbers are, in fact, estimates derived by comparing the Soviet population with projections of whatever the author making the estimate thinks the population would have been at a given point had Stalin never existed. The difference between the two figures is then said to represent the missing population, or people Stalin “murdered.” It’s obvious that this method is open to abuse and that attributing excess deaths to mass murder has no other intention than to bamboozle people into believing that Stalin ordered the cold-blooded killing of tens of millions. This isn’t to say that Stalin didn’t order executions, and lots of them. He did. But executions in times of exceptional circumstances, when the revolution was under threat from within and without—as the Soviet Union was throughout the Stalin era–are no less necessary than the killing of soldiers of an invading army. It was war. Unless action fitting to war was taken, the revolution would fail. Everywhere fifth columnists facilitated the Nazi invasions, except in the Soviet Union where there was no fifth column. Stalin had eliminated it. He may have uniquely accomplished this feat by accepting a high false-positive rate as the cost of extirpating the disease, catching the innocent and harmless in his net as well as the dangerous and guilty. But when it’s unclear whether the tissue is diseased or healthy, the surgeon who saves the patient cuts out both the clearly diseased and the surrounding suspicious (though possibly healthy) tissue. The question is: Did Stalin order executions to satisfy a personal lust for power, or to safeguard the revolution bequeathed by Lenin? Stalin’s political enemies have always favored the first explanation. And the CIA has ensured that those who favored it had a platform from which to spread it far and wide.

When Stalin came to power, the Soviet Union was in a precarious position—its agriculture backward, its industry stunted, its military feeble. What’s more, fierce and fissiparous debate within the Communist Party about the way forward had produced paralysis, infighting and intrigues. The country was going nowhere, fast. Three decades later Stalin was dead. But in those three decades, with Stalin at the helm, the country had advanced from the wooden plow to the atomic pile.

“When Stalin died in 1953, the Soviet Union was the second greatest industrial, scientific, and military power in the world and showed clear signs of moving to overtake the United States in all these areas. This was despite the devastating losses it suffered while defeating the fascist powers of Germany, Romania, Hungary and Bulgaria. The various peoples of the U.S.S.R were unified. Starvation and illiteracy were unknown throughout the country. Agriculture was completely collectivized and extremely productive. Preventive health care was the finest in the world, and medical treatment of exceptionally high quality was available free to all citizens. Education at all levels was free. More books were published in the U.S.S.R than in any other country. There was no unemployment.

“Meanwhile, in the rest of the world, not only had the main fascist powers of 1922-1945 been defeated, but the forces of revolution were on the rise everywhere. The Chinese Communist Party had just led one fourth of the world’s population to victory over foreign imperialism and domestic feudalism and capitalism. Half of Korea was socialist…In Vietnam, a strong socialist power, which had already defeated Japanese imperialism, was administering the final blows to the beaten army of the French empire. The monarchies and fascist dictatorships of Eastern Europe had been destroyed by a combination of partisan forces, led by local Communists, and the Soviet Army…The largest political party in both France and Italy was the Communist Party. The national liberation movement among the European colonies and neo-colonies was surging forward…The entire continent of Africa was stirring.” [10]

Were these the accomplishments of a “failed” revolution? Domenico Losurdo demands that critics like Stone and Kuznick,

“explain how a ‘failure’…has managed to make such an enormous contribution to the emancipation of the colonial people and, in the West, to the destruction of the old regime and the emergence of the welfare state. In 1923, when Lenin, gravely ill, is forced to release the reins of power, the state that emerged from the October Revolution, mutilated in the peace treaty of Brest-Litovsk, is leading a paltry and precarious life. In 1953, at Stalin’s death, the Soviet Union and the socialist camp are enjoying enormous growth, power, and prestige. A few more of these (‘defilers of the noble concept of revolution’) and the situation of the imperialist and capitalist world system would have become precarious and untenable indeed!” [11]

Contrary to Stone’s and Kuznick’s falsifications, Stalin did more to bring the world closer to their vision of freedom from militarism, imperialism and exploitation than anyone else. Yet the two Americans say “Fuck Stalin.” They don’t, however, say “Fuck Castro.” Why not? The Cuban revolution was guerrilla-led, like Mao’s and Kim’s, assisted by the Soviet Union, like Mao’s and Kim’s, and Cuban socialism is based largely on the “Stalinist” model. Yet, Stone, whose three documentaries on the Cuban revolutionary reveal a soft spot for Castro, doesn’t accuse the leader of the Cuban revolution of defiling the concept of revolution in the interests of power, self-aggrandizement, repression and iron-fisted control.

The inconsistencies don’t stop there. Stone, it seems, also has a soft spot for Barack Obama, who he reportedly voted for in 2008 and 2012. [12] Shouting “Fuck Stalin, Mao and the Kims” while voting for Obama calls to mind Michael Parenti’s criticism of the hypocrisy of left anti-communists who profess revulsion at the “crimes of communism” while facilitating the crimes of Democratic presidents by voting for them.

Parenti explains:

“Under one or another Democratic administration, 120,000 Japanese Americans were torn from their homes and livelihoods and thrown into detention camps; atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki with an enormous loss of innocent life; the FBI was given authority to infiltrate political groups; the Smith Act was used to imprison leaders of the Trotskyist Socialist Workers Party and later on leaders of the Communist party for their political beliefs; detention camps were established to round up political dissidents in the event of a ‘national emergency’; during the late 1940s and 1950s, eight thousand federal workers were purged from government because of their political association and views, with thousands more in all walks of life witch-hunted out of their careers; the Neutrality Act was used to impose an embargo on the Spanish Republic in favor of Franco’s fascist legions; homicidal counterinsurgency programs were initiated in various Third World countries; and the Vietnam War was pursued and escalated. And for the better part of a century, the Congressional leadership of the Democratic party protected racial segregation and stymied all anti-lynching and fair employment bills. Yet all these crimes, bringing ruination and death to many, have not moved the liberals, the social democrats, and the ‘democratic socialist’ anticommunists to insist repeatedly that we issue blanket condemnation of either the Democratic party or the political system that produced it…” [13]

Stone and Kuznick may deplore these Democratic party crimes, but it’s unlikely they’d ever say “Fuck the Democrats.” It’s more likely they’d say, “Vote Democrat.” So, let’s forget about “Fuck Stalin, Mao and the Kims.” If Stone is really interested in ending militarism, imperialism, and exploitation, why isn’t he telling us to “Fuck Obama,” a major promoter of the scourges Stone says he hates, rather than running down historical figures who actually fought against imperialism and exploitation, and won?

The Stone and Kuznick view is, really, rather quite silly. They believe that Mao and Kim decided to become guerrillas, and Stalin, a Bolshevik, because these were routes to the acquisition of personal power, self-aggrandizement, and iron-fisted control. Yet, at the time, guerrilla and underground revolutionary were hardly the most promising career paths for people who lusted for power and self-aggrandizement. If Stalin really lusted after these things, why didn’t he link up with Tsarist forces, rather than the Bolsheviks, which until mid-1917 were a minor political force that no one (including many Bolsheviks) expected to take power? Chinese and Koreans who became guerrillas were more likely to find themselves dead, tortured or imprisoned, than rising to the head of a bureaucracy administering a new state. They became guerrillas because they found feudal and imperialist oppression intolerable and wanted to put an end to them. A Georgian like Stalin became a Bolshevik because he hated Tsarist oppression and wanted to replace it. Stalin lived much of his early life underground, trying to keep one step ahead of the Tsarist police, and serving long stretches in internal exile. As leader of the Soviet Union he lived a modest, almost Spartan life. He was not a Red Tsar, living in the lap of luxury, as Stone’s and Kuznick’s crude myth-making would have us believe. Stalin, Mao and Kim understood that ending oppression meant taking political power, which meant, in turn, a disciplined, organized approach to the project—one that involved leaders and hierarchy. The idea that the politically-inspired seek power for power’s sake is an anarchist confusion. As Richard Levins points out, even George W. Bush would never have promoted universal free health care, subsidized Venezuela, or renounced Jesus just to stay in power. Behind “every facade of power-hunger, there lurks a person of principles, though (as in Bush’s case) these may be noxious principles.” [14] Revolutionaries seek power to aggrandize the position of the class they represent. People in leadership positions may be in positions to exercise power, but that doesn’t mean they seek power as an end in itself. They seek power as an instrument to accomplish goals that comport with the aspirations of the class or people they represent. Stone’s and Kuznick’s cynicism tars the disciplined, organizational forms necessary for revolution. In their view, and that of anarchists generally, hierarchical, disciplined organizations are vehicles of tyranny and oppression that will inevitably be used by tyrants-in-embryo to catapult themselves to power, whereupon they will subvert the revolution’s beautiful goals to aggrandize themselves and exercise an iron-fisted control. Did Kim subvert the goal of achieving Korean independence? Did Mao not overturn centuries of feudalism and great power domination? Did Stalin fail to abolish unemployment, homelessness, national oppression, and racial inequality? The view that the leaders of successful revolutions betrayed the revolution’s goals to aggrandize themselves is not only bad history, it’s bad politics. It encourages people seeking political change to eschew any form of “Leninist” politics, in favor of “leaderless” agglomerations, which practice decentralized decision-making, and accomplish not much of anything.

Noam Chomsky is an endless source of slurs against Leninism, which he equates with “counterrevolution”, [15] a heterodox view of what revolution is, but certainly consistent with the Brand-edited New Statesman view that it’s something other than what you always thought it was, and what you always thought it was is actually quite a bad thing that should be avoided altogether. I suppose it should come as no surprise that Chomsky answers the question, “What does revolution mean to you?”, with an attack on Lenin, the leader of a revolution that succeeded, and praise for Rosa Luxemburg, a leader of an attempted socialist revolution that failed. Chomsky writes,

“I cannot improve on Rosa Luxemburg’s eloquent critique of Leninist doctrine: a true social revolution requires a ‘spiritual transformation in the masses degraded by centuries of bourgeois class rule…it is only by extirpating the habits of obedience and servility to the last root that the working class can acquire the understanding of a new form of discipline, self-discipline arising from free consent.’ And as part of this ‘spiritual transformation’, a true social revolution will, furthermore create—by the spontaneous activity of the mass of the population—the social forms that enable people to act as free creative individuals, with social bonds replacing social fetters, controlling their own destiny in freedom and solidarity.” [16]

Here’s A.J. Ryder, a historian of the German Revolution, on Luxemburg’s role in the failure to bring about a socialist revolution in Germany in 1918-1919.

“Spartacists (Karl) Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg…were conscious revolutionaries in deed as well as in word. They were bent on using the opportunity presented by the fall of the Hohenzollern regime to set in motion the socialist revolution which they believed would carry them to power in place of Ebert as Lenin had displaced Kerensky….Few (of the leaders) possessed the qualities of a successful revolutionary leader. By common consent Rosa Luxemburg was the outstanding personality of the left, but her intellectual gifts and personal fanaticism were not matched by a grasp of reality. She was at heart a romantic, a visionary appearing in the garb of ‘scientific socialism.’” [17]

Ryder sums up the failure of the revolution by reference to the failings of its key personalities. They “were amateurs compared with Lenin.” [18] Luxemburg, the romantic, emphasized spontaneity and ‘spiritual transformation.’ Lenin, the hard-headed realist, emphasized planning and organization. Luxemburg was murdered by proto-fascist thugs, her bloodied corpse tossed into a canal, as the revolution she sought to midwife, sputtered and failed. Lenin seized power to set in motion a socialist, anti-imperialist project that spanned over seven decades—one that played the key role in exterminating the fascism that, in its embryonic stage, murdered Luxemburg.

Chomsky has enormous respect for those who have failed at revolution, and enormous contempt for those who have succeeded. If we were to follow his lead and emulate the failures, while eschewing the successes, we would be sure to arrive at the same place the National Post wanted young political activists to arrive at: a political dead-end. Brand’s edition of the New Statesman follows in the same vein. Its positive statements are reserved for political action that leaves the established order in place: Chopra’s “internal revolution”; Apatow’s comedy; Lebedev’s evolution; Martinez’s new thinking; Tim Street’s “democracy.” Its negative statements are reserved for the revolutions that actually brought about the “revolutionary transformations of the deepest and most profound sort” that Stone and Kuznick say they want. So, the message is clear. Light a joint, work on your kindness and generosity, demand that corporations put people before profits, watch a Marx Brother’s movie*, and tell Lenin, Stalin, Mao and Kim to fuck off.

*I’ve watched every Marx Brothers' movie, many of them multiple times, but have yet to bring about a revolution."

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Stephen Gowans is an independent political analyst and author of two acclaimed books, Washington's Long War on Syria (2017) and Patriots, Traitors, and Empires: The Story of Korea's Struggle for Freedom (2018), both published by Baraka Books.


Notes
1. New Statesman, October 24, 2013, http://www.newstatesman.com/Russell%20Brand

2. What Does Revolution Mean to You? The New Statesman, October 30, 2013, htt://www.newstatesman.com/2013/10/what-does-revolution-mean-you
3. Ibid.
4. Ibid.
5. Arnold Kettle, “How new is the ‘NewLeft’”, Marxism Today, October, 1960,http://www.unz.org/Pub/MarxismToday-1960oct-00302
6. Edward and Regula Boorstein. Counterrevolution: U.S. Foreign Policy. International Publishers. 1990. p. 73.
7. Domenico Losurdo, “History of the Communist Movement: Failure, Betrayal, or Learning Process?”, Nature, Society, and Thought, Vol. 16, no 1 (2003). http://homepages.spa.umn.edu/~marquit/nst161a.pdf
8. Sydney and Beatrice Webb. The Truth about Soviet Russia. Nabu Public Domain Reprints. pp. 21-22.
9. William Blum. Freeing the World to Death: Essays on the American Empire. Common Courage Press. 2005. p. 194.
10. Bruce Franklin, “An Introduction to Stalin,” excerpted from Bruce Franklin (Ed.). The Essential Stalin: Major Theoretical Writings, 1905-52 (Anchor Books, 1972). http://anti-imperialism.com/2012/11/02/an-introduction-to-stalin/
11. Losurdo.
12. Solvej Schou, “Oliver Stone on Obama: ‘I hope he wins’”, Entertainment Weekly, November 6, 2012.http://insidemovies.ew.com/2012/11/06/oliver-stone-obama-presidential-election/
13. Michael Parenti. Blackshirts & Reds: Rational Fascism & the Overthrow of Communism. City Light Books. 1997. pp. 48-49.
14. Richard Levins, “How to Visit a Socialist Country”, Monthly Review, 2010, Volume 61, Issue 11, (April),http://monthlyreview.org/2010/04/01/how-to-visit-a-socialist-country
15. Parenti, pp. 46-47.
16. “What Does Revolution Mean to You?”
17. A.J. Ryder. The German Revolution of 1918: A Study of German Socialism in War and Revolt. Cambridge University Press. 2008. p. 7.
18. Ibid.




The Subtleties of Anti-Russia Leftist Rhetoric

Be sure to circulate this article among friends, workmates and kin.

EXPOSING CAPITALISM'S MULTITUDE OF VICES AND INCURABLE PROBLEMS


Edward J. Curtin

Chomsky: Master of the half-truth. Often blaming and rescuing the empire in a single breath. “A plague on both your houses"—as practiced by him and others of similar public stature—remains a devious posture, typical of liberals, not genuine anti-imperialists.

 

While the so-called liberal and conservative media – all stenographers for the intelligence agencies – pour forth the most blatant propaganda about Russia and Ukraine that is so conspicuous that it is comedic if it weren’t so dangerous, the self-depicted cognoscenti also ingest subtler messages, often from the alternative media.

A woman I know and who knows my sociological analyses of propaganda contacted me to tell me there was an excellent article about the war in Ukraine at The Intercept, an on-line publication funded by billionaire Pierre Omidyar I have long considered a leading example of much deceptive reporting wherein truth is mixed with falsehoods to convey a “liberal” narrative that fundamentally supports the ruling elites while seeming to oppose them. This, of course, is nothing new since it’s been the modus operandi of all corporate media in their own ideological and disingenuous ways, such as The New York Times, CBS, the Washington Post, the New York Daily News, Fox News, CNN, NBC, etc. for a very long time.

Nevertheless, out of respect for her judgment and knowing how deeply she feels for all suffering people, I read the article. Written by Alice Speri, its title sounded ambiguous – “The Left in Europe Confronts NATO’s Resurgence After Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine” – until I saw the subtitle that begins with these words: “Russia’s brutal invasion complicates…” But I read on. By the fourth paragraph, it became clear where this article was going. Speri writes that “In Ukraine, by contrast [with Iraq], it was Russia that had staged an illegal, unprovoked invasion, and U.S.-led support to Ukraine was understood by many as crucial to stave off even worse atrocities than those the Russian military had already committed.” [my emphasis]

While ostensibly about European anti-war and anti-NATO activists caught on the horns of a dilemma, the piece goes on to assert that although US/NATO was guilty of wrongful expansion over many years, Russia has been an aggressor in Ukraine and Georgia and is guilty of terrible war crimes, etc.

There is not a word about the U.S. engineered coup in 2014, the CIA and Pentagon backed mercenaries in Ukraine, or its support for the neo-Nazi Azov Battalion and Ukraine’s years of attacks on the Donbass where many thousands have been killed. It is assumed these actions are not criminal or provocations. And there is this:


The uncertain response of Europe’s peace activists is both a reflection of a brutal, unprovoked invasion that stunned the world (sic) and of an anti-war movement that has grown smaller and more marginalized over the years. The left in both Europe and the U.S. have struggled to respond to a wave of support for Ukraine that is at cross purposes with a decades long effort to untangle Europe from a U.S.-led military alliance. [my emphasis]


In other words, the article, couched in anti-war rhetoric, was anti-Russia propaganda. When I told my friend my analysis, she refused to discuss it and got angry with me, as if I therefore were a proponent of war. I have found this is a common response.

This got me thinking again about why people so often miss the untruths lying within articles that are in many parts truthful and accurate. I notice this constantly. They are like little seeds slipped in as if no one will notice; they work their magic nearly unconsciously. Few do notice them, for they are often imperceptible. But they have their effects and are cumulative and are far more powerful over time than blatant statements that will turn people off, especially those who think propaganda doesn’t work on them. This is the power of successful propaganda, whether purposeful or not. It particularly works well on “intellectual” and highly schooled people.

For example, in a recent printed interview, Noam Chomsky, after being introduced as a modern day Galileo, Newton, and Descartes rolled into one, talks about propaganda, its history, Edward Bernays, Walter Lippman, etc. What he says is historically accurate and informative for anyone not knowing this history. He speaks wisely of U.S. media propaganda concerning its unprovoked war against Iraq and he accurately calls the war in Ukraine “provoked.” And then, concerning the war in Ukraine, he drops this startling statement:


I don’t think there are ‘significant lies’ in war reporting. The U.S. media are generally doing a highly creditable job in reporting Russian crimes in Ukraine. (sic) That’s valuable, just as it’s valuable that international investigations are underway in preparation for possible war crimes trials.


In the blink of an eye, Chomsky says something so incredibly untrue that unless one thinks of him as a modern day Galileo, which many do, it may pass as true and you will smoothly move on to the next paragraph. Yet it is a statement so false as to be laughable. The media propaganda concerning events in Ukraine has been so blatantly false and ridiculous that a careful reader will stop suddenly and think: Did he just say that?
So now Chomsky views the media, such as The New York Times and its ilk, that he has correctly castigated for propagandizing for the U.S. in Iraq and East Timor, to use two examples, is doing “a highly creditable job in reporting Russian crimes in Ukraine,” as if suddenly they were no longer spokespeople for the CIA and U.S. disinformation. And he says this when we are in the midst of the greatest propaganda blitz since WW I, with its censorship, Disinformation Governance Board, de-platforming of dissidents, etc., that border on a parody of Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four.

Even slicker is his casual assertion that the media are doing a good job reporting Russia’s war crimes after he earlier has said this about propaganda:


So it continues. Particularly in the more free societies, where means of state violence have been constrained by popular activism, it is of great importance to devise methods of manufacturing consent, and to ensure that they are internalized, becoming as invisible as the air we breathe, particularly in articulate educated circles. Imposing war-myths is a regular feature of these enterprises.


This is simply masterful. Explain what propaganda is at its best and how you oppose it and then drop a soupçon of it into your analysis. And while he is at it, Chomsky makes sure to praise Chris Hedges, one of his followers, who has himself recently written an article – The Age of Self-Delusion – that also contains valid points appealing to those sick of wars, but which also contains the following words:


Putin’s revanchism is matched by our own.

The disorganization, ineptitude, and low morale of the Russian army conscripts, along with the repeated intelligence failures by the Russian high command, apparently convinced Russia would roll over Ukraine in a few days, exposes the lie that Russia is a global menace.

‘The Russian bear has effectively defanged itself,’ historian Andrew Bacevich writes.

But this is not a truth the war makers impart to the public. Russia must be inflated to become a global menace, despite nine weeks of humiliating military failures. [my emphasis]


Russia’s revanchism? Where? Revanchism? What lost territory has the U.S. ever waged war to recover? Iraq, Syria, Cuba, Vietnam, Yugoslavia, etc.? The U.S.’s history is a history not of revanchism but of imperial conquest, of seizing or controlling territory, while Russia’s war in Ukraine is clearly an act of self-defense after years of U.S./NATO/Ukraine provocations and threats, which Hedges recognizes. “Nine weeks of humiliating military failures”? – when they control a large section of eastern and southern Ukraine, including the Donbass. But his false message is subtly woven, like Chomsky’s, into sentences that are true.

“But this is not a truth the war makers impart to the public.” No, it is exactly what the media spokespeople for the war makers – i.e. The New York Times (Hedges former employer, which he never fails to mention and for whom he covered the Clinton administration’s savage destruction of Yugoslavia), CNN, Fox News, The Washington Post, the New York Post, etc. impart to the public every day for their masters. Headlines that read how Russia, while allegedly committing daily war crimes, is failing in its war aims and that the mythic hero Zelensky is leading Ukrainians to victory. Words to the effect that “The Russian bear has effectively defanged itself” presented as fact.

Yes, they do inflate the Russian monster myth, only to then puncture it with the myth of David defeating Goliath.

But being in the business of mind games (too much consistency leads to clarity and gives the game away), one can expect them to scramble their messages on an ongoing basis to serve the U.S. agenda in Ukraine and further NATO expansion in the undeclared war with Russia, for which the Ukrainian people will be sacrificed. Orwell called it “doublethink”:


Doublethink lies at the very heart of Ingsoc, since the essential act of the Party is to use conscious deception while retaining the firmness of purpose that goes with complete honesty. To tell deliberate lies while genuinely believing in them, to forget any fact that has become inconvenient, and then, when it becomes necessary again, to draw it back from oblivion for just so long as it is needed, to deny the existence of objective reality and all the while to take account of the reality one denies – all this is indispensably necessary….with the lie always one step ahead of the truth.


Revealing while concealing and interjecting inoculating shots of untruths that will only get cursory attention from their readers, the writers mentioned here and others have great appeal for the left intelligentsia. For people who basically worship those they have imbued with infallibility and genius, it is very hard to read sentences carefully and smell a skunk.  The subterfuge is often very adroit and appeals to readers’ sense of outrage at what happened in the past – e.g. the George W. Bush administration’s lies about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

Chomsky, of course, is the leader of the pack, and his followers are legion, including Hedges. For decades they have been either avoiding or supporting the official versions of the assassinations of JFK and RFK, the attacks of September 11, 2001 that led directly to the war on terror and so many wars of aggression, and the recent Covid-19 propaganda with its devastating lockdowns and crackdowns on civil liberties. They are far from historical amnesiacs, of course, but obviously consider these foundational events of no importance, for otherwise they would have addressed them. If you expect them to explain, you will be waiting a long time.
In a recent article – How the organized Left got Covid wrong, learned to love lockdowns and lost its mind: an autopsy – Christian Parenti writes this about Chomsky:


Almost the entire left intelligentsia has remained psychically stuck in March 2020. Its members have applauded the new biosecurity repression and calumniated as liars, grifters, and fascists any and all who dissented. Typically, they did so without even engaging evidence and while shirking public debate. Among the most visible in this has been Noam Chomsky, the self-described anarcho-syndicalist who called for the unvaccinated to “remove themselves from society,” and suggested that they should be allowed to go hungry if they refuse to submit.

Parenti’s critique of the left’s response (not just Chomsky’s and Hedges’) to Covid also applies to those foundational events mentioned above, which raises deeper questions about the CIA’s and NSA’s penetration of the media in general, a subject beyond the scope of this analysis.

For those, like the liberal woman who referred me to The Intercept article, who would no doubt say of what I have written here: Why are you picking on leftists? my reply is quite simple.

The right-wing and the neocons are obvious in their pernicious agendas; nothing is really hidden; therefore they can and should be opposed. But many leftists serve two masters and are far subtler. Ostensibly on the side of regular people and opposed to imperialism and the predations of the elites at home and abroad, they are often tricksters of beguiling rhetoric that their followers miss. Rhetoric that indirectly fuels the wars they say they oppose.

Smelling skunks is not as obvious as it might seem. Being nocturnal, they come forth when most are sleeping.


Edward Curtin is an independent writer whose work has appeared widely over many decades. He is the author of the recent Seeking Truth in a Country of Lies (Clarity Press) and is a former professor of sociology and theology. His website is edwardcurtin.com

 

 



 


Up to You.

^3000US citizens have no real political representation.

We don't live in a democracy. And our freedom is disappearing fast.

I don't want to be ruled by hypocrites, whores, and war criminals.

What about you? Time to push back against the corporate oligarchy.

And its multitude of minions and lackeys.


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