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Antifa or Antiwar: Leftist Exclusionism Against the Quest for Peace


HELP ENLIGHTEN YOUR FELLOWS. BE SURE TO PASS THIS ON. SURVIVAL DEPENDS ON IT.

 • MAY 21, 2018
A crosspost with UNZ.com and Consortium News, because we all oppose imperialism, social injustice and war.

[su_panel background="#f9f6e1" radius="11"]Wherein the always capable and lucid Johnstone tries to tease out the increasingly perverse Babylonian confusion relating to contemporary political taxonomy: left is left and right is right, or is it? Some things puzzle us, though. Like her enigmatic closing para. What does it really mean? [/su_panel]


The War Party’s ultra-left wing uses different arguments to arrive at the same conclusions: Syria & Russia are enemies. Instead of practical solutions to real problems, they spread suspicion, distrust & enmity, argues Diana Johnstone.

By Diana Johnstone  Special to Consortium News

CounterPunch has astonished many of its old fans by its current fundraising ad portraying the site as a prime target of Russia hostility. Under the slogan, “We have all the right enemies”, CP portrays itself as a brave little crew being blown off the water by an evil Russian warship out to eliminate “lefty scum.”

Ha Ha Ha, it’s all a joke of course. But it’s a joke that plays into the dangerous, current Russophobia promoted by Clintonite media, the deep state and the War Party. This is a reminder that Russophobia finds a variant in the writing of several prominent CounterPunch contributors.

Yes, CounterPunch continues to publish many good articles, but appears also to be paying its tribute to the establishment narrative.

Put on the defensive by the “fake news” assault against independent media, CP senior editor Jeffrey St Clair seemed to be shaken by Washington Post allegations that he had published articles by a “Russian troll” named Alice Donovan. St Clair never publicly questioned the FBI claim that the ephemeral plagiarist worked for the Kremlin, when she could as well have been planted by the FBI itself or some other agency, precisely in order to embarrass and intimidate the independent website.


The ‘Step Toward Fascism’

 

St. Clair: Co-founded CounterPunch

The anti-Russian attitude on CP is promoted mainly by the same writers who stigmatize the slightest suggestion of building a broad non-ideological antiwar movement as a step toward “fascism”. This leftist exclusionism goes against the traditions of the website founded by Alexander Cockburn and St Clair, and indeed, CounterPunch was fiercely attacked less than three years ago for its “red-brown”, or “QuerFront” tendencies.

The attack, originating on a German site, warned that leftists who publish on CounterPunch “are unwittingly helping to promote the agenda of the far right”. This article spelled out the Antifa doctrine:

The idea of a red-brown alliance, or Querfront (German for ‘transversal front’), has been a recurrent motif in far-right thought over the past century. Craving the legitimacy that an alliance with progressive forces can provide, reactionaries seize on ostensibly shared positions, chief amongst them opposition to corrupt élites, to create the impression that progressives could benefit from making common cause with them.

"The exclusionists are less concerned about war with Russia than about the failure of “the left” to be sufficiently critical of Russia – as if a shortage of Russophobia were a real problem these days..."

Querfront (also known as ‘third position’) propaganda can be highly seductive. Today’s (crypto)-fascist and other hard-right suitors, for example, focus on the commonplace left themes of opposition to war and corporate globalisation, the depredations of the ‘banksters’, civil liberties, and Palestinian solidarity.”

So, you genuine leftists, beware: if someone seems to agree with you, it may be a far righter out to ensnare you into her web.

The article gave advice on how to tell a QuerFront argument from a true leftist one:

A serious left analysis, say, of US support for Israeli apartheid will start by looking at the documented record of US foreign policy as a whole”, whereas the red-brown, QuerFront third-positions position will say: “A foreign lobby has taken over the US government and media, and is forcing the US to act against ‘American interests’ and ‘American values’, and anyone who says otherwise is a Zionist infiltrator.”

So you mustn’t blame Zionists for Israel, it’s all Washington’s fault.

CounterPunch contributors singled out as dangerous right-wingers included Ralph Nader, Alison Weir, Ron Paul, Gilad Atzmon, Israel Shamir, Paul Craig Roberts and even Alexander Cockburn himself.

In his reply to the article, published on its website, St. Clair seemed to understand exactly where this was coming from.


Caity Gets Counter-Punched

Caitlin Johnstone: Counter-punched.

[dropcap]T[/dropcap]hus it was surprising when, last July, CounterPunch ran a whole series of articles attacking independent antiwar blogger Caitlin Johnstone (no relation) for some inconsequential remark about her willingness to join in opposing war even with male supremacist Mike Cernovich. The purists pounced on the incongruity of a hypothetical Caitlin-Cernovich alliance as an opportunity to ridicule the more general principle of a broad single-issue antiwar movement. For this minor heresy, Caitlin Johnstone was denied her right to respond on the site calling itself “the fearless voice of the left”.

On July 11, 2017, Yoav Litvin opened fire in an aggressive style that may have been fortified by his service in the Israeli Defense Force (IDF). Exclusion is a habit one can learn in the IDF. It’s ours, you have no right to be here, get out! That goes for the occupied left territories too. They decide who can stay and who does not belong.

In an interview last year, Litvin prided himself on adopting “the positive aspect of Zionism,” which is “the image of a Jew who is a fighter.” As a result of Jewish experience of persecution, he said, “We can lead a fight with all our brothers and sisters in minority communities.”

Fight against whom? In order to accomplish fundamental change, one needs to build majorities. Jews leading a fight of minorities will go where? Into the dead end of identity politics?  

On July 28, CounterPunch published an even more contemptuous piece in the anti-Caitlin series: “Enough Nonsense! The Left Does Not Collaborate with Fascists”, by Eric Draitser. The Draitser rhetorical pose was to claim to prefer being water-boarded rather than having to write about Caitlin’s “doltish” prose, but felt obliged to do so in order to stop the advance of fascism.

Still, he does not easily tire from coming back to the subject.

As moderator of CounterPunch Radio, Draitser has promoted himself as the voice of CP and thus as a leading authority on what is or is not “left”. His role as mentor was demonstrated on his hour-long April 19, 2018 podcast with CP editors St. Clair and Joshua Frank. Draitser set the tone by elaborately ridiculing those who profess to be afraid of World War III. As if nuclear war were anything to worry about! What nonsense, he implied, getting all three to chortle contemptuously at the mention of Caitlin Johnstone, noted for such absurd concerns.


The Hilarity of World War III

Draitser: WWIII a ‘fun conversation.’

Draitser dismissed the danger of World War III with his own original “class analysis”: since Russia and the United States are both ruled by Oligarchs, they have too much in common to reasonably want to throw nuclear missiles at each other. (In other words, what was precisely the Marxist view of imperialist war.) St. Clair hesitated at this, noting the prevalence of irrationality in high spheres. But Draitser dismissed this objection and forged ahead undisturbed, managing what he called a “fun conversation.”

The exclusionists are less concerned about war with Russia than about the failure of “the left” to be sufficiently critical of Russia – as if a shortage of Russophobia were a real problem these days. Shortly before the anti-Caitlin campaign, Litvin interviewed Draitser and their fellow anti-fascist watch dog, Portland State University geography instructor Alexander Reid Ross, who also publishes frequently onCounterPunch.

Draitser complained that: “You see a lot of leftist academics, intellectuals and activists who have in many ways abandoned a real class analysis in favor of a loosely defined politics of opposition. Within this mindset, everything that opposes the United States, Israel, the Saudis or the EU is automatically good and should be supported irrespective of its qualities.”

That simplistic dismissal of the antiwar “mindset” qualifies Draitser for his future place in mainstream media.


Ross’ Red-Brown Chaos

Reid Ross, went him one better. “I see a number of red-brown alliances forming today, particularly in the field of political geography. A number of far-right groups view the modern-day axis of Syria, Iran and Russia as a kind of international counterweight to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), which has always been seen by fascist groups as a kind of nemesis led by the nations that defeated the Rome-Berlin axis in 1945.”

This is pure delirium. The nemesis that did the most to defeat the Rome-Berlin axis in 1945 was the Red Army. By conjuring up unidentified “far right groups”, Ross manages to identify Syria, Iran and Russia with the fascist Axis powers in World War II. In reality, NATO has been a magnet for attracting European fascists, from Italy, where they cooperated in clandestine “Gladio” operations to destroy the left, to Ukraine, where genuine fascists are in a “partnership for war” with NATO.

Most Americans have not been well educated in the complexities of modern history. In his Antifa hoodie, Ross can dazzle his audience with a plethora of unfamiliar facts strung together by extremely questionable analysis, unchallenged by genuine experts.

Reid Ross: Article pulled. (Photo European Graduate School.)

In the Litvin interview, both Draitser and Ross add their small bit to prevailing Western Russophobia by dwelling on Putin’s alleged support for European right-wing groups. Both stress the danger represented by Russian ambitions to establish a Eurasian empire, based on the ideology of Alexander Dugin.

Dugin is a religious reactionary, a tendency that may alarm Jews still haunted by Tsarist pogroms. They are also alarmed by Dugin’s devotion to the thought of German philosopher Martin Heidegger, an ardent believer in Nazism and party member. This is ironic, since Heidegger has been the favorite of a whole line of post-World War II French philosophers, from Sartre to Foucault, considered to be “on the left”. This merely shows that philosophy can be a source of great confusion.

In an Intercept article last September, Ross was quoted as saying that, “Assad is a figure that is central to a realization of Eurasionism,” embodying the idea that, “Russia will lead the world out of a dark age of materialism and toward an ultranationalist rebirth of homogenous ethno-states federated under a heterogeneous spiritual empire.”

It’s hard to see what is so terrifying about such a vague aspiration, with so little chance of realization. But it does provide a new angle for condemning the Russian connection with Syria.


Ideological ‘Iron Curtain’

Ross went so far on March 9 in his vituperations, that the Southern Poverty Law Center, which first published his article on its “Hate Watch” site, felt obliged to withdraw it. The title perfectly echoes the QuerFrontaccusation earlier leveled against CounterPunch: “The Multipolar Spin: how fascists operationalize left-wing resentment.”

In this gem of guilt by association, Ross applied the “six degrees of separation” theory to show that people have been seen with the wrong people and thus must be red-brown. The long list of untouchables included Ray McGovern, Brian Becker, Global Research, Margaret Kimberly of Black Agenda Report, Daniel McAdams, “conspiracy theorist” Vanessa Beeley, and special focus on Max Blumenthal, guilty of having spoken favorably of a “multipolar world.”

The main problem with “multipolarism”, according to Ross, “may be that it supports not the emergence of Russia as a world power but the rise of the Kremlin’s authoritarian conservative political ideology.”

So, we may conclude, we need an ideological Iron Curtain to protect the “liberal leftist” West from Russian “authoritarian” conservatism.


Westernizers vs. Slavophiles

Russian relations with the West have historically been marked by ideological rivalry between Westernizers and Slavophiles. It is obvious that Dugin is no more than the latest prophet of Slavophilia, the idea that Christian Russia is a beacon of virtue to the world.

Historically, Westernizers in Russia have repeatedly gained influence and then lost out, because their overtures to the West were rebuffed on one pretext or another. (The British geopolitical tradition, based on the timeless dictum divide et impera, has traditionally favored policies to keep the continent divided) This merges easily with the Brzezinski doctrine of maintaining separation between Western Europe as a whole and Russia to maintain U.S. global hegemony.

Western rejection of Russia naturally favors a rise of the Slavophiles. It also obliges Russia to look to Eurasia rather than Western Europe. This is happening again.

Gorbachev: His dream.

Vladimir Putin is clearly in the Westernizing tradition. Not an ignorant buffoon like Yeltsin, ready to give away the shop to get a pat on the back from Bill. But rather someone who, as an intelligence agent (yes, KGB people learn a lot) lived in the West, spoke fluent German, and wanted Russia to have a dignified place in Europe – which was the dream of Gorbachev.

But this aspiration has been rudely rebuffed by the United States. Russians who yearned to be part of Europe have been disappointed, humiliated, and finally, angered. All their efforts at friendship have been met with increasingly outlandish portrayals of Russia as “the enemy”.

And yet despite everything, Putin persists in demonstrating his desire to work with Western partners, both by cutting back on military spending and again proposing to keep the pro-Western Dmitry Medvedev as Prime Minister.

If the West were really worried about Duginism, the remedy has always been obvious: improve relations with Putin.

Even Stalin did not really consider it Moscow’s job to convert Western Europe to communism, and it is certain that Putin has no illusion about converting his Western neighbors to Duginism. Russia is not out to change the West, but to make peace and do business, with whoever is willing.

The Russophobic exclusionists really constitute the ultra-left wing of the War Party, which uses different arguments to arrive at the same conclusions: Syria and Russia are enemies. They offer no practical solutions to any real problem, but spread suspicion, distrust and enmity. They discredit the very idea of joining with Russia in peaceful mediation between Israel and Iran, for example. The real thrust of this odd campaign is to minimize the danger of war with Iran, or of direct confrontation with Russia, as Netanyahu continues to drag the United States and its European sidekicks deeper into Middle East wars on behalf of Israel’s regional ambitions.


 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
 Diana Johnstone is a political writer, focusing primarily on European politics and Western foreign policy. She received a Ph.D. at the University of Minnesota and was active in the movement against the Vietnam War. Johnstone was European editor of the U.S. weekly In These Times from 1979 to 1990, and continues to be a correspondent for the publication. She was press officer of the Green group in the European Parliament from 1990 to 1996. Her books include Queen of Chaos: The Misadventures of Hillary ClintonCounterPunch Books (2016) and Fools’ Crusade: Yugoslavia, NATO and Western DelusionsPluto Press (2002).

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^0America's Goal...

Make every homeless tranny

gender comfortable!

Things to ponder

While our media prostitutes, many Hollywood celebs, and politicians and opinion shapers make so much noise about the still to be demonstrated damage done by the Russkies to our nonexistent democracy, this is what the sanctimonious US government has done overseas just since the close of World War 2. And this is what we know about. Many other misdeeds are yet to be revealed or documented.

Parting shot—a word from the editors
The Best Definition of Donald Trump We Have Found

In his zeal to prove to his antagonists in the War Party that he is as bloodthirsty as their champion, Hillary Clinton, and more manly than Barack Obama, Trump seems to have gone “play-crazy” — acting like an unpredictable maniac in order to terrorize the Russians into forcing some kind of dramatic concessions from their Syrian allies, or risk Armageddon.However, the “play-crazy” gambit can only work when the leader is, in real life, a disciplined and intelligent actor, who knows precisely what actual boundaries must not be crossed. That ain’t Donald Trump — a pitifully shallow and ill-disciplined man, emotionally handicapped by obscene privilege and cognitively crippled by white American chauvinism. By pushing Trump into a corner and demanding that he display his most bellicose self, or be ceaselessly mocked as a “puppet” and minion of Russia, a lesser power, the War Party and its media and clandestine services have created a perfect storm of mayhem that may consume us all. Glen Ford, Editor in Chief, Black Agenda Report

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.




BOOKS—Russian Peace Threat: Russia Sends Yuri Gagarin Around the World for Peace; US Invades Cuba


[su_panel background=”#e9eaef” radius=”11″] The text below constitutes chapter one of a forthcoming book by senior contributing editor Ron Ridenour, to be published later this year by Punto Press, Russia Peace Threat, Pentagon on Alert [/su_panel]

Chapter One

Russia Sends Yuri Gagarin Around the World for Peace: US Invades Cuba

We saw Yuri as a national and world hero, a great human being. Yuri was very Russian. He was well received in Copenhagen during his long travels. We didn’t know much about these travels with a peace message but we knew he wanted to protect the earth that he saw from above,” Ambassador Mikjail Vanin told me during an interview in Copenhagen (2017).  The Russian ambassador to Denmark learned about Yuri’s orbiting the earth and his humanitarian vision as a school boy.


Yuri with a peace dove on his world wide tour

Yuri Alexeyevich Gagarin was born in Klushino, a small village west of Moscow, in 1934. He was the third of four children and spent his childhood on a collective farm where his father, Alexey Ivanovich Gagarin, worked as a carpenter and bricklayer. His mother, Anna Timofeyevna Gagarina, was a milkmaid.

When Yuri was seven the Nazis invaded the Soviet Union. They confiscated the Gagarin’s home and they “shipped his teenage siblings to slave labor camps and they did not return until 1945. Yuri and [brother] Boris sabotaged the German garrison in Klushino, scattering broken glass on roads, mixing chemicals in recharging tank batteries and pushing potatoes up exhaust pipes. One occupier tried to hang Boris from an apple tree with a woolen scarf, but his parents were able to rescue him,” wrote Paul Rodgers, April 2, 2011 in “The Independent.” http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/yuri-gagarin-the-man-who-fell-to-earth-2257505.html

“Amid the horrors, one event stood out for Yuri: a dogfight between two Soviet Yaks and a pair of Messerschmitts, ending in a one-all draw. The Soviet pilot landed near Klushino and the villagers rushed to help. Later, a rescue plane arrived to pick up the downed man and Gagarin scavenged fuel for it. The next morning, the airmen awoke to find him staring at them, entranced. He was still watching as they set fire to the wreck and took off in the rescue plane.”

The Yuri Gagarin Home-Museum in Klushino

Yuri excelled in mathematics and physics, and made aircraft models. After the war, he went to trade and industrial schools in Saratov where he joined a flying club. He made his first solo flight in 1955. After school, he joined the Air Force and learned to fly MiGs. Upon graduating from flight school in November 1957, he married Valentina (“Valy”) Ivanovna Goryacheva. They soon had two daughters: Yelena and Galina.

Gagarin was sent on fighter pilot missions, however he really wanted to become a cosmonaut. Along with 3,000 others, he made an application to be the first Soviet cosmonaut.

He made high marks in the extensive physical and psychological testing while maintaining a calm demeanor as well as his charming sense of humor. Yuri was chosen to be the first man into space because of these skills. His short stature helped too since the capsule of the space craft Vostok 1 was small. https://www.thoughtco.com/yuri-gagarin-first-man-in-space-1779362

As the cold war reached freezing point, the USA and the Soviet Union entered the space race both hoping to be the first nation to conquer space. In 1957 the Soviets, led by the extraordinarily talented rocket scientist Korolyev, launched the first manmade satellite (sputnik) into orbit. This was soon followed by the first animal in orbit with Laika the dog. Laika sadly never returned to earth but in 1960 the heroic dogs Belka and Strelka successfully orbited the earth for a day and returned safely, laying the final grounds for the first human space flight” wrote Louise Whitworth. https://www.inyourpocket.com/moscow/Yuri-Gagarin_72055f

The 27-year old cosmonaut’s space flight lasted just 108 minutes—enough time to orbit the earth once. He reached an orbital speed of 27,400 kilometers per hour. In his first message to mission control he exclaimed: “The Earth is blue…How wonderful. It is amazing…so beautiful.”


Yuri with his daughters Yelena and Galina

Upon re-entering the earth’s atmosphere he encountered serious technical problems that could have meant death had he not ejected himself from the capsule. From 7,000 meters above the earth Gagarin free-fell several kilometers before opening his parachute and floated down to the ground. Protected by his space suit he was able to withstand the air temperatures of -30c degrees.

English journalist Rodgers describe a strange encounter:

Anna Takhtarova and her granddaughter, Rita, were weeding potatoes near the village of Smelovka on 12 April, 1961 when a man in a strange orange suit and a bulging white helmet approached across the field. The forest warden’s wife crossed herself but the girl was intrigued. ‘I’m a friend, comrades. A friend,’ shouted the young man, removing his headgear. Takhtarova looked at him curiously. ‘Can it be that you have come from outer space,’ she asked. ‘As a matter of fact, I have,’ replied Yuri Gagarin.

“This story of Gagarin’s return to Earth after orbiting the planet, the most important flight since the Wright brothers’ at Kitty Hawk, was widely disseminated, not least because of its symbolism – a Soviet hero being welcomed home by his fellow peasants, a wise mother and a child of the future. It is probably true in essence, though the details changed with each retelling.”

Back in Moscow, Yuri Gagarin was honored with a six-hour long parade on Red Square. Within days, he embarked on a trip around the world talking passionately about the wonders of the earth. These are excerpts from his key message in 30 countries over two years:

Circling the earth in the orbital space, I marveled at the beauty of our planet. I saw clouds and their light shadows on the distant dear earth… I enjoyed the rich color spectrum of the earth. It is surrounded by a light blue halo that gradually darkens, becoming turquoise, dark blue, violet, and finally coal black. People of the world! Let us safeguard and enhance this beauty—not destroy it!”

On the day that the Soviet Union ushered in a new world, the United States President John F. Kennedy held a news conference in which he flatly lied that his government was planning any violent action against Cuba. “First, I want to say that there will not be, under any conditions, an intervention in Cuba by the United States Armed Forces.”

“The basic issue of Cuba is not one between the United States and Cuba. It is between the Cubans themselves. And I intend to see that we adhere to this principle.”

Gagarin, bemedaled, hero of the Soviet Union.

The next day, April 13, CIA Operation 40 was launched from Guatemala. 1400 paramilitaries, mostly Cuban exiles and a handful of US Americans, sailed on U.S. boats to Cuba. The totally unprovoked invasion was underway. The same day, Secretary of State Dean Rusk (1961-9) told reporters, “The American people are entitled to know whether we are intervening in Cuba or intend to do so in the future. The answer to that question is no. What happens in Cuba is for the Cuban people themselves to decide.” (1)

In July, Gagarin’s worldwide peace mission tour found him in England for five days. His early experience as a steelworker stood him in good stead. Rodgers wrote about that visit:

Yuri “’received an invitation from the Amalgamated Union of Foundry Workers in Manchester,’ says Gurbir Singh, an astronomy blogger who is writing a book on the spaceman’s visit. [Yuri Gagarin in London and Manchester: A Smile that Changed the World]. The trip included the union hall, Marx’s High-gate grave and an audience with the Queen.”

Singh concluded that Gagarin’s visit left an impression that thermonuclear war could be prevented.

A son of worker-peasants, Gagarin spread their message of environmentalism, of unity and peace while United States was invading and murdering Cubans, and politicians such as the Democratic Party congressman Victor Anfuso was telling people:

I want to see our country mobilized to a wartime basis, because we are at war. I want to see our schedules cut in half. I want to see what NASA says it is going to do in ten years done in five. And I want to see some first coming out of NASA, such as the landing on the Moon.

Anfuso had served in the Second World War in the CIA’s predecessor intelligence service, the Office of Strategic Services. While his Sicilian-rooted language style was less elegant than the Camelot President John Kennedy, they were in agreement that the Russians’ space achievement was a call to war for the Greatest Democratic Country in the World. To the battleships for winning the space race! Who comes first to the moon gets to build satellites for war. (2)

Fifty years later after Gagarin’s orbiting, the cynicism towards Russia persists even among America’s elite.

Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev seized on the propaganda value of Gagarin’s coup in beating the United States into space, sending him on ‘missions of peace’ around the world, to meet figures including Britain’s Queen. ‘This achievement exemplifies the genius of the Soviet people and the strong force of socialism,’ the Kremlin crowed in a statement at the time.” https://phys.org/news/2011-04-russia-years-gagarin-triumph.html


 

Yuri with wife Valentina (left) during a visit to Bulgaria in 1966. His good nature and lack of arrogance made him well liked by most people he encountered in his travels.

This sarcastic take on Gagarin’s “peace missions” being “crowed” about by Kremlin leaders comes from Science X and its US-based website. Science X prides itself on being read monthly by 1.75 million well educated “sophisticated” readers, especially scientists and researchers. Even these Americans can’t see through the jingoistic imperialist contempt for propagandizing for peace. Bear in mind that propaganda is not necessarily synonymous with lying, rather “to propagate”, “to cause to increase the number” of supporters to the views presented. My writing here, and generally, is propaganda. I hope it is effective propaganda for a good cause: for peace and justice. That is what communist propaganda also was meant to be, not that communism has always been so practiced but that it has that vision. At the very least, it is a vision that humanity could and should embrace. Certainly more so than the vision of its counterpart, the imperialism and capitalism fostered by the United States and its vassal states in Europe and elsewhere. Their creed is greed: profit for profit’s sake. As Wall Street stockbroker Gordon Gekko roared: “Greed is Good!” (3)

When Gagarin had time, he participated as a member of the USSR Supreme Soviet (national legislature), kept training for flights, trained crews, visited plants, studied, and maintained a family life. Yuri was a religious man. He offered to rebuild the Church of Christ the Savior in Moscow, which had been blown up during the Stalin era. The church was rebuilt after the Soviet epoch. http://yurigagarin50.org/history/gagarins-life and http://tass.com/science/868892.

Due to his high profile, many were concerned that if Yuri traveled to space again he might die. So, Soviet authorities tried to prevent him from taking part in further space flights. Gagarin was forced to compromise and became the head of the cosmonaut’s training center, and he re-trained as a fighter pilot. At the age of 34, he perished on March 27, 1968 in a fatal training flight outside of Moscow at Star City. His instructor, Vladimir Serugin, died with him. They might have saved themselves by bailing out, but seeing that their MiG-15 would crash right into a village, Yuri maneuvered the aircraft outside the village before it crashed.  It has been established after many years that the MiG-15 went into a tailspin as a result of turbulence caused by another plane in the vicinity, an experimental Sukhoi jet whose flight coordinates should have put it thousands of feet above Yuri’s craft. 

Yuri Gagarin will be remembered for being the first man to orbit the earth, of course, but also for his many humanistic qualities. Maybe the peace tour Russia’s leaders sent him on was propaganda, but isn’t advocating for world peace good propaganda? Did the U.S. government send any of its astronauts on such missions?

US American artist Rockwell Kent beautifully expressed what Yuri was and what he stood for.
“Dear Soviet friends your Yuri is not only yours. He belongs to all mankind. The door to space which he opened, this door which the USSR and Socialism opened, is open for all of us. But for that, peace is necessary. Peace between nations. Peace between ourselves. Let the world celebrate the anniversary of Yuri’s flight as a Universal Peace Day. Let that day be celebrated all over the world with music and dances, songs and laughter, as a worldwide holiday of happiness. Let that day be in every town and city square, where young and old gather and let their faces be illuminated with the same happiness that the photographs of people in the Soviet Union show how the Soviet people are happy and proud of the accomplishment of Yuri Gagarin.” http://www.northstarcompass.org/nsc9904/gagarin.htm

Notes:

  1. “The President’s News Conference of April 12, 1961,” John F. Kennedy, The Public Papers of the Presidents, 1961. (Washington: United States Government Printing Office, 1962, page 259). And “Text of Secretary Rusk’s News Conference, Including Observations on Cuba,” New York Times, 18 April 1961.

  2. When the Russians were able to establish their major space station, February 20, 1986, and when Mikhail Gorbachev was General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, they named it MIR (meaning “Peace” and “World”). That was one month after Gorbachev proposed a 15-year abolition of nuclear weapons.

    MIR was the first modular space station and the longest lasting space station, 1986 to 2001. It had a greater mass than any previous spacecraft, 130,000 kilos. The station served as a laboratory in which crews conducted experiments in biology, physics, astronomy, meteorology and spacecraft systems with the goal of developing technologies required for permanent occupation of space.

MIR was the first continuously inhabited long-term research station in orbit and held the record for the longest continuous human presence in space at 3,644 days. It holds the record for the longest single human spaceflight. Valeri Polyakov spent 437 days on the station between 1994 and 1995. MIR was occupied twelve and a half years out of its fifteen-year lifespan, having the capacity to support a resident crew of three, or larger crews for short visits. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mir; anhttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_space_stations

Russia launched its first space station on April 19, 1971. Salyut reentered earth on October 11. NASA’s first station, Skylab, was launched, May 14, 1973.

  1. From Oliver Stone’s great 1987 film “Wall Street”. Stone directed and co-wrote the script, influenced by socialists Upton Sinclair, Sinclair Lewis and Victor Hugo. Ironically, according to Wikipedia, several people were inspired by the film to become Wall Street stockbrokers.
    Gordon Gekko’s speech to stockholders concludes:
    The point is, ladies and gentleman, that greed — for lack of a better word — is good. Greed is right. Greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Greed, in all of its forms — greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge — has marked the upward surge of mankind. And greed — you mark my words — will not only save Teldar Paper, but that other malfunctioning corporation called the USA.
    NOTE: People interested in receiving more detailed information about this volume can send a message to the editor at greanville@gmail.com.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
 RON RIDENOUR, Special Contributing Editor • Born in the “devil’s own country”, in 1939, of a WASP (white, Anglo-Saxon protestant) military family. Growing up I experienced the pains and indignities of US chauvinism and racism at home and abroad, its imperial domination, its brutal jingoistic wars. Before I understood the essence of US imperialism, I joined the US Air Force, at 17, to fight the Soviet “commies” when they occupied Hungary, in 1956. Posted to a radar site in Japan, I witnessed approved segregated barracks at the Yankee base, and the imposition of racism in Japanese establishments. I protested and was tortured by my white “compatriots”, who held me down naked, sprayed DDT aflame over my pubic hairs, and then held me under snow. This, and the fact that we had orders to shoot down any Soviet aircraft over “our” territory in Japan—which never appeared—while we flew spy planes over the Soviet Union daily, led me to question American morality.

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News

^0America's Goal...

Make every homeless tranny

gender comfortable!

Things to ponder

While our media prostitutes, many Hollywood celebs, and politicians and opinion shapers make so much noise about the still to be demonstrated damage done by the Russkies to our nonexistent democracy, this is what the sanctimonious US government has done overseas just since the close of World War 2. And this is what we know about. Many other misdeeds are yet to be revealed or documented.

Parting shot—a word from the editors
The Best Definition of Donald Trump We Have Found

In his zeal to prove to his antagonists in the War Party that he is as bloodthirsty as their champion, Hillary Clinton, and more manly than Barack Obama, Trump seems to have gone “play-crazy” — acting like an unpredictable maniac in order to terrorize the Russians into forcing some kind of dramatic concessions from their Syrian allies, or risk Armageddon.However, the “play-crazy” gambit can only work when the leader is, in real life, a disciplined and intelligent actor, who knows precisely what actual boundaries must not be crossed. That ain’t Donald Trump — a pitifully shallow and ill-disciplined man, emotionally handicapped by obscene privilege and cognitively crippled by white American chauvinism. By pushing Trump into a corner and demanding that he display his most bellicose self, or be ceaselessly mocked as a “puppet” and minion of Russia, a lesser power, the War Party and its media and clandestine services have created a perfect storm of mayhem that may consume us all. Glen Ford, Editor in Chief, Black Agenda Report

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.




Labyrinths: the left’s path to triumph is never simple

horiz-long grey

HELP ENLIGHTEN YOUR FELLOWS. BE SURE TO PASS THIS ON. WE MUST BREAK THE IMPERIAL DISINFORMATION MACHINE.

[su_panel background="#fdfcf4"] The ruminations below are a chapter from Fragments, a political novel by Gaither Stewart, our Roman correspondent and an author of political thrillers that critics have often compared favorably to Le Carré's and Ludlum's own works. His books often contain detailed elements of European locales, with which Stewart, though American born, is intimately familiar. Given his skill at interpolating truth with fiction in novelistic plots, Stewart is recognised as a master in the rare field of "true fiction".   [/su_panel]



AN ARMED PEOPLE?

Roma, Spring 1999

Long before the Nibelungen mythology spread in Teutonic lands, in the ancient and isolated lands south of the Alps singular legends abounded that say a lot about how these peninsular peoples still think today … and how they dream. Etymologists explain that the Latin noun, legend, deriving from ancient Rome’s spoken Latin language, refers to ‘things to be read’. Those legends—those things to be read—chronicle human events that lie within the realm of possibility and relate miracles that could happen and are thus partially-preferably believed by all. Therefore they were handed down from generation to generation, evolving and transforming in the telling and in the passing of time. A millennium before the Nibelungen emerged, Romulus and Remus appeared on a hilly country apparently predestined to become the center of the star-shaped city of Rome. Maybe the two boys were not really suckled by a she-wolf and maybe they did not found the eternal city but nonetheless statues to them mark Rome today and their enduring legend is taught in schools and known by every Italian as something to be read. The mother of the two boys was allegedly the virgin priestess of the goddess Vespa, made pregnant by Mars, the god of war. According to the legend their fearful relatives considered the two boys ‘more than human’ and entrusted a servant to kill them. Instead the servant abandoned them by the River Tiber where they were saved by the she-wolf and fed by a woodpecker. The boys grew up as leaders of bands of shepherds, became outlaws, abducted the women of the nearby Sabine mountains, procreated and founded a people and the city of Rome. It is remarkable how legends born in different places and times are also similar: the mother of Jesus, Maria, recalls the virgin priestess of Rome; the presence of animals and shepherds mark the story of the founding of a new religion and that of an empire … an empire which itself became a new faith. Man’s molecules, though stable in number are by their nature unpredictable and maverick and rogue. They too rebel and wander, apparently lost somewhere in the DNA, then return to participate in the evolvement of new peoples and races. Similarly, man himself is unpredictable: if he takes one course he becomes a doctor of medicine and works in a clinic for the poor in an African village; if he takes another route, he might attempt to found a thousand year empire.

As a young man, my boss, friend and perhaps more, Editor-In-Chief Rinaldo Rivera, had worshipped the persistent legend of his Partisan father, a historical legend more colorful than the gray fascist times, war times, in which he had lived. Pride filled Rinaldo’s voice when he said that he couldn’t remember when his father was not a hero, who at the same time—he stressed—for him and his comrades in the Italian Resistance in WWII was also the archetype of the good man.

At the newspaper we all know that history well. When Rinaldo Rivera was born in 1924 in Reggio-Emilia, the Communist Party had just emerged from a split in the Socialist Party and joined the International. The sheet metal worker, Ferdinando Rivera, was one of the founders of the new workers party that two years later was dissolved by Mussolini, its press suppressed, and most of its leaders outlawed, exiled and jailed, some tortured and killed. Rinaldo’s father escaped from a fascist political prison in Sardinia to help organize the underground anti-fascist opposition and, during the war, the Resistenza against the dictator.

“My father was clandestine as long as I remember,” Rinaldo boasted. The entire Italian Left came to know that Ferdinando Rivera was ambushed and killed by Fascist troops in 1944 though there were conflicting claims as to where his comrades buried him; in fact many people believed the legend that he was still alive. The majority of the Communist Party accepted that a grave in the hills near Cuneo in Piemonte contained the remains of their militant leader and erected a monument in his honor there. Others however believed a mound among a group of graves in the Alps near Bormio was his burial site, where a second monument stands.

“I felt destined to take his place,” Rinaldo Rivera told me. “In World War II, I hid out on rooftops in the center of Florence to escape the draft until the day I could join the partisans in the Tuscan mountains. Because of the isolation and the loneliness I felt up there on those gray roofs among the chimney stacks I was often tempted to return to earth even though I would have rather died or would’ve tried to escape to Soviet Russia rather than serve one hour in Mussolini’s army.”

After university studies in the post-war, Rinaldo Rivera became a functionary in the press and information department of the PCI. By that time the Italian Communist Party led by Palmiro Togliatti had opted for the democratic path to Socialism. Rinaldo followed the main body of the Party. Not only was he a hero of the Resistance like his father, he was a co-author of its history. He accompanied Togliatti on missions to Moscow, and much later he accepted the break of the Italian Communist Party with the Soviet Union. While writing his one hundred-year history of social Europe, he developed theories that led to the emergence of the Euro-Communist movement of the 1980s which today he admits was an historical-ideological error. Meanwhile the son of a legend became a legend himself of the Italian and the European Left.

Stories and anecdotes about the grand old man circulate today among his newspaper staff in Rome and in his native Reggio-Emilia. ‘Here is my Beretta, my resent to you,’ Rinaldo Rivera allegedly said to a young man in Reggio in 1960 when he gave him his military pistol that he had used in the Resistance. ‘Someday you will need it.’ Though in his heart the Rinaldo of then still believed in the dream of a Communist revolution in Italy, he could never have imagined that the young man would become the chief of the Red Brigades, condemned and execrated by the official PCI for trying to realize that dream.

Over the years I’ve come to know two distinct Rinaldo Riveras. One is the esteemed writer, journalist and commentator on Italian life whom even right-wing politicians and journalists recognize as a true democrat and a great Italian. On his 75th birthday the entire nation paid its respects to him. Only extremists of Right and Left hate him for what he is. Democratic values are not empty words for the public Rinaldo Rivera. He has personally been down the path of temptation; he knows both Stalinism and Fascism from personal experience and stands like a rock in defense of European social values … but he has no faith in a free market. While we were watching TV footage from Genoa of the American President and our Premier together, he whispered that he didn’t know which of the two men he detested most.

Not so deep underneath the surface there is another Rinaldo Rivera, a Rinaldo Rivera modeled on his uncompromising father. That romantic Rinaldo Rivera dreams of the lost revolution. I began to understand that other Rinaldo one spring day when we were picnicking at Ostia Antica—Rinaldo and his wife, Lucia, Marco Maraini, a couple of other friends from the newspaper and Melissa and I. Since he prefers talking with young people he and I were sitting on an ancient wide stone in the shade apart from the others. His hair and mustache were full, his shoulders and arms still muscular. “Our world is about to change,” he said that day, squaring his shoulders and sitting as erectly as possible on our rock, assuming the tone he uses in his famous eleven a.m. editorial meetings which at seventy-five years old he still conducts. “Italy too must change dramatically because the country is on a steady downward spiral … down, down, down in its decline. Change in our country will perforce be a violent change. And your generation is going to bring about that change, Gael. All of you will face difficult choices,” he said, as if his entire past, recorded and documented, were parading before him.

“At that moment you will have to make the right choices. No more repetitions of the past when hero worship guided choices. The people back then applauded Mussolini, as their saviour. Now they applaud other populists as their heroes. We Italians always need a hero to resolve our national problems, a high commissioner, a tsar, a duce, to whom we wilfully give full powers ... and often ourselves. Why is that? First, because we do not know who we are in this great mixture of races. And also because the Republic of Italy has no real sovereignty. We are an occupied country. We have always belonged to someone else. We Italians suffer from the DID you told me about. Our people are from nowhere. Meet a young Italian abroad today and ask him where he’s from and he’s likely to say he’s not from anywhere or at the most that he is European … or perhaps a citizen of the world. But people of the older generation may still tell you the place they are from, as I say that I’m from Scandicci, Toscana. That’s my home, whether I live there or not. A Roman whose grandfather came from the Abruzzo identifies himself as an Abruzzese. A friend, also a Tuscan like me, from Pisa at the very edge of Tuscany, says he feels like an Etruscan. Confusion, you might say. Hero worship. Loss of identity. Belonging to a place with no sovereignty over itself means to belong to something uncertain, inchoate, foreign. So you spend your life looking for substitutes to which you can belong.

“One risk facing your generation is spontaneous revolution—mind you I don’t mean revolution as such. Spontaneous revolution or simply rebellion can never work. Eventually, spontaneous revolution peters out. And the vacuum that it leaves behind permits the rise of even more powerful authoritarianism and ends up reinforcing capitalism. My generation faced a choice just after the war. It was either the revolution that our fathers fought for and that I, a twenty-two-year old ex-Partisan, desired, or it was the democratic process that our leader Togliatti chose. His was a political decision. A decision for Italy. Nationalism. For a revolution then in our occupied and defeated country would have been a spontaneous uprising and would have been crushed and a pure dictatorship installed by the victorious powers. After much tribulation and self-searching I went with Togliatti.”

He stood up and walked around our rock in one of his characteristic poses—the elbow of his right arm braced in the hand of the other, his right hand under his chin. The others had fallen silent. Though he spoke softly, his words carried and were intended for all to hear: “I should warn you, Gael, that once you become infected by the idea of revolution, the revolutionary spirit remains in your guts forever. Someday you too will have to make that choice. You can choose either path. Whatever you choose though, who will be able to say that you were wrong?”

Rinaldo Rivera was not talking over my head. I understood him. He had been disillusioned that the real revolution never came about. It was in his blood.

“Why do you think we fought in the Resistance?” he asked, sitting back down beside me. “We accelerated the defeat of Fascism even though when we began the fight its end was already in sight. The sooner the better we thought, for we believed that the Resistance was in reality a warm-up for the real war—the definitive war for social justice, the beginning of the revolutionary struggle. We were ready. You have to keep in mind that back then the German model of Socialism had long since failed and we had the Soviet model before our eyes.”

I now realize that I understood then that he was speaking to me personally. He intended it as a lesson drawn from his own experience. Sometimes he lowered his voice as if wanting to confide in me alone. For a moment quiet would settle around us. Or maybe the quiet was in my head. Quiet and confusion. He had no reason for putting on intellectual airs there in Ostia Antica. Nor is it his habit to talk aimlessly. He never wastes words. Maybe I had already made my choice too: I also feel a sense of a mission in life, a mission that I must somehow complete. That it is futile to try to evade. Though most people seem to go about their daily lives unfettered by such concerns, sure of themselves, confident of what they think they believe in and therefore in their actions, some of us spend our lives trying to first understand what our mission is … then to fulfilling it. In any case Rinaldo Rivera’s thinking is not just theory. He wants me to benefit from his experience and make certain that I do not err. Yet he wants me to choose.

[dropcap]A[/dropcap] few days later Rinaldo asked me to drop by his apartment on Aventine Hill the following afternoon, the implication being that it concerned something of significance and moreover, personal. In any case visits to his residence were rare and special. The few times I had been there I’d noted that the windows of his apartment were always wide open, his house bright and effulgent—reflecting, I thought rather poetically, the light in his eyes—so unlike most Italian homes of closed windows and locked doors and in marked contrast to his youthful isolation on the Florentine rooftops. He’d learned, I told myself, from his subsequent political sorrows and disappointments to search for life’s deeper joys in order to transcend those pains and to concentrate on lasting accomplishments … and, I believed, in order to leave a mark as his father had done.

We sat on a covered terrace. As usual he was dressed in jacket and tie. On the table between us lay a brown paper bag. Somewhat theatrically he opened it and took out an object wrapped in a purple felt cloth. “It’s a Luger, Gael.” He shifted the pistol reverently from hand to hand as if it were porcelain … as if he were estimating its weight. As he handed it to me, reaching through a ray of the afternoon sun, the black weapon glistened as if it were polished daily,

“I took it off the body of a German officer about my age I had just killed. The first and only time I ever killed a man right in front of me. It was a bitter moment. He didn’t have a chance to explain himself. Though it was war, I sometimes wish he could have explained his life choices ... if he’d even had choices.”

I was surprised at the Luger’s weight. I turned it over and felt its violence in my hands as I had my uncle’s rifle and again saw the squirrel I shot. I put it back on the table.

“I want you to have it,” he said, polishing it carefully with the felt, as I imagined he did often. “When the time of choice comes this pistol should be a symbol of the choice you are making. Put it away, Gael. Hide it. Bury it. But don’t forget it. When you make your choice—maybe the same choice I made—you can either put it away forever as I am doing in this moment in which I give it to you. Or, if you choose the revolutionary path then you have your first weapon ready.”

I felt his eyes upon me as I again picked up the pistol. I held it in my hands and comprehended Rinaldo’s vision of the pistol as more than a firearm. A pistol is commitment; it is symbolic of extreme unlimited commitment. A hand gun, I felt in that instant, is revolutionary. I felt awe. And fear. The fire descended into the back of my shoulder and spread to my neck and down the center of my back. On a personal level I was over-sensitive to such weapons because of the memory of my gun-loving uncle who beat up kids. I had never had any kind of firearm. I had never shot a pistol. What did I want with a pistol? Nothing at all. I had nothing to do with firearms. Nothing whatsoever. I considered the gun anti-communitarian, anti-socialist, a police kind of thing. I favor peace. An inward feeling. An emotion. And a stance. Peace and trust. Peace in myself. But what kind of peace can you feel with a pistol in your hands? You can’t just take things as they come … not everything, Gael. But still, I now understand that Rinaldo had in mind the primary battle like the battle the partisans had fought … the battle for weapons. Where were they to get them? The rifles and pistols they needed against the fascists. How was a disarmed people to find arms? A mystery. From one day to the next. They needed guns to battle the enemy. Where could they get them? Only from the enemy himself. Those who deserted from the defeated Italian army brought their hand arms with them to the macchia in our mountains. But the others, the old men and the kids too young for the army, had nothing. No way to defend themselves.

“In those times too, war times, weapons for the unarmed people came from the dead,” he said as if reading my mind, “from the Germans and the Fascists we killed.”

I began feeling something sacred about this pistol; Rinaldo transmitted that awe to me that day. But I did not feel peaceful when I held it.

The terrorists of the Red Brigades of the 1970s said they had felt the same awe when they first held a pistol. Awe for the death they could cause. Awe also for its symbolism. Perhaps many of them had earlier opposed the pistol, as a symbol of death and dominance. Most of them had never even held a pistol before they opted for the armed revolutionary struggle. And the first thing they had to do was arm themselves. They bought them here and there or other revolutionary movements helped arm them. Then quickly they learned to use their weapons.

The cocked pistol became the symbol of their revolutionary movement, eventually supported morally by some three million Italians who as a rule still do not own guns. The armed Brigadists reproduced the pistol’s legendary image on their leaflets bearing the pistol and the five-pointed star on a red background. Everybody in Italy knew the pistol and the star was the symbol of the armed struggle for Socialism-Communism. As if the pistol like the star influenced human destiny. The pistol in those leaden years became a minor deity. The star and the pistol became synonymous, a symbol that became a popular Italian legend that from time to time resurfaces to favor justice when socio-political oppression threatens. The Red Brigades were defeated but the lesson learned then was that revolutionary actions always require guns. No getting around that reality. Still, cruel capitalism controls the dissemination of arms as it likes. First let everybody have arms. Then militarize the police: gas, heavy weapons, tanks. So that rebellious people must decide. Some choose armed underground-guerilla resistance: it worked in Russia. It worked in Cuba, It worked in Nicaragua. The first actions of the Red Brigades in Italy and the Rote Armée Faktion in Germany aimed at arming themselves and shaming the useless temerity and foolhardiness of non-violent protest. “If you follow your star, you can’t fail,” Curcio once told me in an interview in his prison cell. “Like Dante and Virgil,” he said, “when at the end of their long voyage through the infernal regions, they again see the sky.” For me the star-pistol image came to reflect the sense of liberation you feel in your dreams when you escape from a closed place. My belief that the star-pistol image symbolizes sublime actions proved that I too changed just as Rinaldo Rivera had done.

While Rinaldo spoke in his quiet way as the Rome sun set that afternoon I recalled in a déja vu the same hesitation in Nullo’s voice when at the Giordano Bruno monument on Campo de’ Fiori he spoke of his relationship with Lenin and Bruno. He explained that the Leninist idea of a chain reaction of anti-capitalist revolutions stood as a certainty driving armed left-wing terrorists in Europe of the 1970s and 80s, the Red Brigades in Italy and the Red Army Faction in Germany. I had thought that though intellectually he held to Bruno, Lenin still lived in his heart. Lenin, Nullo often said, believed that workers in the developed countries would eventually disrupt capitalist war-making. To some extent the outcome of the Vietnam War had fulfilled his predictions, even though it was youth and not workers who helped most to end that capitalist war. Unfortunately, Nullo explained, brainwashed workers have remained attached to their tiny piece of the capitalist pie … too often its ally. Today, as millions of workers lose their jobs in Europe, the working class is stirring as in 1917. Riots and revolts flare up here and there. Perhaps in the beginning it will be a war among the poor, whites against the rest, natives against immigrants, homeless against landlords, but a war which inevitably will turn against the bourgeois masters of all. That uprising is not only fantasy in the USA where the war quietly rages only under the surface. That day Nullo had quoted Lenin; “As long as Capitalism and Socialism remain, we cannot live in peace. In the end one or the other will triumph. Either Socialism will triumph throughout the world or the most reactionary capitalist imperialism will win, the most savage imperialism which is out to throttle the rest of the world. That apparent imperialist triumph came to be called globalization. Today,” Nullo said, “capitalism’s victory has soured in the arrogance of power.”

A few years earlier I would have been eager to use Rinaldo’s pistol for real. Now doubts cloud my vision. In that moment on his terrace I wished he would finish speaking. But I also would have liked to feel again the same convictions I did earlier in my life. I felt extreme regret … almost shame for not recognizing and holding to my dream mission. I’m still a beginner in life, I excused myself. An innocent. My inner self trembled. And ever so briefly I felt things moving toward night’s darkness where, I knew, both more doubt and fear reside.

I turned the pistol over in my hands again and again. I closed one eye and aimed it left and right, and then again placed it on the table between us. I knew then as I have known each time I secretly take it from its cache at home and examine it that the pistol, like the falling star, also symbolizes the dark night of death. Rinaldo Rivera’s pistol is a constant reminder. So I still do not know whether I would fire into the face of my enemy as he did. The same doubt I had that day in Genoa when I aimed my camera at that killer: if my camera had been a pistol would I have shot to kill?

Often during the nineties when the vilest reactionaries of the capitalist system ruled the USA and oligarchs ran Russia, when the viciousness of the capitalist character became apparent, when the reflection of their murderous nature showed forth for all but the blind to see, I had fallen into temptation. Washington and NATO had Italy by the balls. In the South the resurrected secret Gladio army was poised for more action. Action to execute their plan of the total fascistification of Italy … of Europe. Hurry! Hurry! All good capitalists, rally around. Hurry! Crush the Left. The USSR had collapsed. Italian Communists were excluded from the government. Pariahs again. Step after step the Communist Party had degenerated into new obscurities. At the same time, neo-Fascists, anarchists, sections of the Secret Service, the Mafia, Masonic lodges, monarchists, Catholic fanatics, and an assortment of extremists pressured the soft dictatorship for a return to authoritarianism. Again I felt that the Left should also rise up. Again armed. From time to time I lift a floorboard in our pantry, take out the pistol and hold it in my hands. I hold it in two hands and point it around the room and try to imagine firing it into the face of a capitalist-imperialist pig. A loud voice shouts into my brain that it is the right thing to do. While most people are turning their backs on the real struggle and wallowing in their economic well-being I tell myself that I want to do the right thing. Inside the pistol’s reflection, I search for myself. But my doubts persist. Is it even me resisting temptation? Is the pistol the point? Is my participation the point? I can never find the words to describe my precise feelings about the direction my commitment in life should take. Feelings are so momentary. They are not the same as memory of words or people. So much more intimate, personal, that words can seldom describe them, as if they were not really part of memory. It is not easy to find the right words. Yet we need words, the right words. There are names and people and things, there is beauty and the quiet of my father, the consciousness of being alive and thinking so why not one word for a fleeting feeling? Without that word, only a kind of metaphysical exile remains. Sometimes I feel I am nearly there.

I project myself into the place of the early Red Brigadists during the Seventies. The first Brigadists. The authentic ones. I imagine them cut off from their past, cut off from their real life, their links with family, friends, Party and society. They are living in pure time, time shorn of attachments and measures and signposts and they themselves becoming legends. At first I imagined with envy that their time too was authentic. Then I wondered if they felt that their lives were only an interval and that time itself had stopped. Maybe they feared time without end. I understood that there was no place for love in their pure time. When my time arrived, when the successive Brigadists had long since lost their original ideals and had been infiltrated and turned by the intelligence services, I came to realize that since they lived outside time they had become indifferent, indifferent because they had learned that time tends to destroy everything, that ultimately everything comes to seem ephemeral.

Yet for many years they believed in the revolution. I was jealous of their

early convictions, their zeal and their courage and their freedom to make that choice. They also made me feel uneasy. Inferior. I felt cowardly when I read of the attack by the Left—of which I was a part—on the Red Brigades, so dedicated but simultaneously so lost. Intellectually—as I imagined Rinaldo Rivera—I understood that they were somehow the enemy of our democracy, such as it was. Another Left … but still, confusingly but above all, no less the enemy of capitalism. So that I still reserve a special corner for the Red Brigades in my heart. They too are present in my blood. They are one of the forces in the wheel of my life. My-enemy’s-enemy-is-my-friend thinking. Though intellectually I try to believe I was right in my choice, I feel that they were not wrong either. Their underground life reminds me of the sacred sites of the American Indians; they lived in dangerous places, the places their feet tread were lethal but sacred. For me the path of armed struggle would have been like a prolonged peak experience forever at the summit of a mountain, an orgasm without end, too intense to bear. I was on my once-in-a-lifetime emotional binge, pleasurable to the extreme. I realize now that total happiness (happiness? I sometimes detest that word.) would have been within reach if I had been capable of playing the part that I denied. Like my denial of my Isabel now of so long ago, the choice then would have been my chance for an instant of transcendence, the choice that few are capable of making.

I think the combination of Rinaldo Rivera’s influence and the image of the pistol he gave me has held me on a different course. I chose to use other weapons. Again I hid away the Luger. However, the sensation of something lost has remained. Not unlike the lost places and times of ancient Roma. I have lived between the world I accepted and the legendary world I could have chosen and I feel like a stateless refugee. I wonder if this compromise is what my real life was meant to be. Suspense, uncertainty, doubt, always hanging by a thread to the present course, living a misplaced life, and the awareness that there was something more important for me to do in life. Was I—am I—in the wrong time and place, I wonder? Am I living the wrong life?

At staff meetings I study Rinaldo Rivera’s face searching for signs that he too feels he erred, that he had betrayed his father. That he had betrayed himself. Sometimes I see a certain flash of nostalgia in his eyes and I wonder.

“Parents,” he commented to me one day concerning an article on the waning revolutionary spirit in Europe, “do not make revolutionaries. We have to hold our children in our arms, comfort them and put them to bed at night. That’s why parents favor nonviolence. Is that our best hope? I doubt it. And now society as we have known it is unraveling and desperation is spreading, and everything changes. Parents are one thing, solid, the heart of human society, but non-parents are the fighters. There are many things fathers and mothers cannot do.”

Nonetheless, I continue to feel the necessity of discovery. At times I feel I am one person living inside the body of a totally different person. I feel a need for unity. I believe Rinaldo too feels the same duality. While I was still in high school in America my father used to say I was like a zebra in my desire for heroic extravagance. He called that impulse “bourgeois individualism”. At the time I did not realize the extent of his criticism. Sometimes I wonder if Giustina’s death had not been the signal to change. I had lost Isabel, then my two-year old daughter … and with her my innocence. When I speak with Rinaldo about such metaphysical matters he never tells me what to do. Once he told me I was right, that unlike art, history never stands still. It develops. But he always adds that I should remember that “history or not, in the end we are all terribly alone.”

Though the secret Rinaldo dreams of revolutionary change, he takes a firm stand against terrorism by Europeans in Europe. He warns that it inevitably leads to civil war, foreign intervention and the end of democracy. Like the Pope and the Church he stands for survival and continuity of the remains of the Party. “I am a democrat,” he proclaims at the editorial meetings he has molded in his own image. He follows his journalists closely, permitting no deviations or dips into any ideology based on terrorist violence. Although he admired and loved the Red Brigades, they were his ideological enemy, a conclusion that still haunts me and sometimes seems as intolerable as it is contradictory.

“Once terrorism walks in, all hell unfolds,” he said in a widely quoted pronouncement. “We have to be acutely aware of our realities.” When he pronounces those words I always blush inwardly, I think out of shame for him. He has come to regard himself as a Socialist with a proud Communist heritage. Yet he still floats around the edges of the new left alignment replacing the Communist Party, occasionally darting in like a Vietcong guerrilla warrior to influence major decisions and then disappearing again, to fight another day. In day-to-day life I imitate him … but with reservations.

Main photo: Still from Alain Resnais' La Guerre est Finie (1966), with Yves Montand, Ingrid Thulin, Genevieve Bujold. The script was written by political activist and anti-Franquista, Jorge Semprun.


About the Author
GAITHER STEWART Senior Editor, European Correspondent }  Gaither Stewart serves as The Greanville Post  European correspondent, Special Editor for Eastern European developments, and general literary and cultural affairs correspondent. A retired journalist, his latest book is the essay asnthology BABYLON FALLING (Punto Press, 2017). He’s also the author of several other books, including the celebrated Europe Trilogy (The Trojan Spy, Lily Pad Roll and Time of Exile), all of which have also been published by Punto Press. These are thrillers that have been compared to the best of John le Carré, focusing on the work of Western intelligence services, the stealthy strategy of tension, and the gradual encirclement of Russia, a topic of compelling relevance in our time. He makes his home in Rome, with wife Milena. Gaither can be contacted at gaithers@greanvillepost.com. His latest assignment is as Counseling Editor with the Russia Desk. His articles on TGP can be found here


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Parting shot—a word from the editors
The Best Definition of Donald Trump We Have Found

In his zeal to prove to his antagonists in the War Party that he is as bloodthirsty as their champion, Hillary Clinton, and more manly than Barack Obama, Trump seems to have gone “play-crazy” — acting like an unpredictable maniac in order to terrorize the Russians into forcing some kind of dramatic concessions from their Syrian allies, or risk Armageddon.However, the “play-crazy” gambit can only work when the leader is, in real life, a disciplined and intelligent actor, who knows precisely what actual boundaries must not be crossed. That ain’t Donald Trump — a pitifully shallow and ill-disciplined man, emotionally handicapped by obscene privilege and cognitively crippled by white American chauvinism. By pushing Trump into a corner and demanding that he display his most bellicose self, or be ceaselessly mocked as a “puppet” and minion of Russia, a lesser power, the War Party and its media and clandestine services have created a perfect storm of mayhem that may consume us all. Glen Ford, Editor in Chief, Black Agenda Report

 
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 “Alt-Right” Label: What’s Real, What’s Fake, And Why It Matters



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HELP ENLIGHTEN YOUR FELLOWS. BE SURE TO PASS THIS ON. SURVIVAL DEPENDS ON IT.


The Southern Poverty Law Center has issued a full retraction and apology for a bizarre screed it published last week lumping anti-war leftists in with fascists and Nazis. As of this writing two other articles by the same author, Alexander Reid Ross, have also been pulled by the Southern Poverty Law Center “pending further review”.

Full disclosure I have a slight history with Ross. In September I attacked a shockingly awful Intercept article which quoted him extensively in a highly strained effort to conflate opposition to interventionism in Syria with Nazism. Since that time Ross has participated in the ongoing “Caitlin Johnstone is a secret Nazi” smear campaign, and one of his removed-pending-review articles was cited in a recent conspiratorial smear piece about me.

The retracted article is worth reading in light of the fact that the SPLC is unwilling to stand by its claims, so here’s an archive if you’re curious. It’s full of weird arrow graphs that would look more at home on an Illuminati conspiracy website and academic jargon like “Atlanticist”, “fascist engagées“, “Duginists”, “LaRouchite” and “Eurasianist” that most normal people don’t use or understand. Ross weaves that mess into a barely decipherable conspiracy theory about a “red-brown populist collaboration” to advance fascist regimes against American hegemony, making the anti-imperialist left “a willing accomplice” to fascism.

Right. Gotcha. It can’t possibly be that antiwar leftists recognize that US military violence is literally always disastrous and literally never accomplishes what its proponents claim it will accomplish. It can’t possibly be that the far right objects to American lives and resources being spent on pointless wars that create refugee crises. It can’t possibly be that for those two reasons the antiwar left and anti-interventionist right often find themselves on the same side of the debate on issues like Syria. It’s that they both secretly love the idea of fascist foreign governments rising to power in a multipolar world. If you squint at it just right through Ross’ convoluted, conspiratorial reality tunnel, it almost kinda sorta makes sense.

Among those caught up in the article’s accusatory ramblings were Vanessa Beeley (who Ross hilariously labels a “conspiracy theorist”), the Ron Paul Institute’s brilliantly lucid anti-war conservative Daniel McAdams, the always excellent Margaret Kimberley of Black Agenda Report, Ben Norton (who ironically has on more than one occasion used his platform to falsely smear me in exactly the same way Ross falsely smeared him), Max Blumenthal and Rania Khalek.

A lot has already been written about the latter crew, including an article by Buzzfeed, and they all have large platforms on which they are capably defending themselves. I don’t feel any need to further point out the obvious fact that antiwar leftists oppose US interventionism because it unleashes deadly horrors and unfathomable suffering upon the innocent for the benefit of the wealthy and the powerful, not because they love fascism. But I would like to say a bit about a part of this drama which isn’t getting much attention on the left.

The one error that Ross has conceded he might possibly have made in the article was his baseless and easily disproven claim that journalist Tim Pool had once attended a conference for Holocaust deniers in Iran. Unlike the Southern Poverty Law Center, however, Ross has not conceded that he also inaccurately labeled Pool as an “Alt Right journalist” while reporting his false claim about the Iran conference, which greatly offended Pool.

The confusion around the label alt-right is one of those things that makes it abundantly clear how thick the walls of the political social media echo chambers are. While you will see leftists routinely pinning that label on everyone from Pool to Donald Trump to Laura Ingraham to Cassandra Fairbanks (who was also wrongly called alt-right in the SPLC article), and even to unabashed antiwar leftists like myself, everyone on the political right seems to be crystal clear about what that label actually refers to and what it doesn’t.

In an informative interview with TYT’s Michael Tracey, Kill All Normies author Angela Nagle describes how her research for the book showed her that the meaning of the term alt-right was somewhat nebulous after its creation, but in recent years has come to refer specifically to white ethnonationalism of the sort described by the creator of the term, Richard Spencer.

“The problem, I suppose, is that the definition of alt-right was kind of very unsettled,” Nagle told Tracey. “I think now it’s much more settled, and the group of people that are now accurately described as the alt-right are pretty small.”

Interestingly, this understanding of the definition of alt-right is the same one used by the Southern Poverty Law Center, which is one of the top results that comes up in a Google search for the term.

“Alt-righters eschew ‘establishment’ conservatism, skew young, and embrace white ethnonationalism as a fundamental value,” the SPLC says.

This understanding of the term is in line with that of those who label themselves alt-right, as well as conservatives and Trump supporters who reject white nationalism. From what I’ve seen, everyone under the Trump umbrella is crystal clear that alt-right refers to white ethnonationalism, and the different factions which oppose it routinely have knock-down, drag-out online debates with those who promote it. Whereas lefties often aren’t even clear about what white nationalism actually is.

So let’s be very clear about this: alt-right refers to those who embrace white nationalism, also known as white ethnonationalism. White nationalism is a disgusting ideology with the stated agenda of creating an all-white ethnostate, i.e. a nation with no people of non-white races in it. These were the primary groups that were involved in Charlottesville.

And that’s it. That’s the full meaning. Unless you see someone advocating the creation of an all-white ethnostate, as people like Richard Spencer and David Duke do, it’s inaccurate to label them alt-right. Many conservatives in America want stricter policies against illegal immigration, whine a lot about white people having it too hard, have misguided ideas about Black Lives Matter, think political correctness is ruining the world, and are opposed to notions like gay marriage and gender fluidity. That doesn’t make them alt-right, it just makes them conservative.

 

I am not defending conservatism here, and I am not being pedantic. These distinctions matter, because the confusion around them is being exploited in a very toxic way.

Think about it: you’ve got Group A (white nationalists) saying “Yeah, hi, we’re alt-right,” you’ve got Group B (the much larger group of Trump supporters who aren’t white nationalists) saying “Those guys over there saying they’re alt-right are alt-right, but we’re not alt-right,” but then you’ve got Group C (leftists and centrists) coming in rejecting those clear definitions and saying “actually you’re all alt-right,” which is saying they’re all white nationalists, which is saying they’re all actively pursuing the creation of an all-white ethnostate.

Doesn’t that sound a bit fishy? Almost like a manipulation that was cooked up in some DC think tank?

In August of 2016 a widely circulated article titled “What Is The ‘Alt-Right’? A Guide To The White Nationalist Movement Now Leading Conservative Media” was published by Media Matters, a Democratic party-aligned propaganda firm headed by the Clinton campaign’s David Brock, who Bernie Sanders once charitably referred to as “the scum of the earth”. The article mentions Richard Spencer and the neo-Nazi website Daily Stormer, but it also lists people like Steve Bannon, Milo Yiannopoulos, and Mike Cernovich, who have all said some gross things in their time but have never been advocates of white separatism or the creation of a white ethnostate. They might be far-right, and on many issues they might also be far-wrong, but they are not alt-right.

On the same day the Media Matters article was released, Hillary Clinton drove this notion into mainstream consciousness with a speech warning that the alt-right “has effectively taken over the Republican Party.”

What this deliberate conflation did is allow any figure remotely associated with Trump support to be painted as alt-right, effectively creating the “everyone to the right of Hillary Clinton on any issue is an actual, literal Nazi” mind virus that is still wedging Americans apart today. I myself have been called a Nazi many, many times just for my willingness to interact with Trump supporters on issues of mutual interest. Left Twitter is still to this day shrieking about an article I wrote nine months ago in which I stated I was fine with collaborating with the MAGA crowd on issues of convergence, despite my explicitly rejecting the possibility of collaborating with Richard Spencer and his ideology in the same article.

Do you see how that works? These manipulators are simultaneously broadening the definition of alt-right to include all Trump supporters while narrowing that large and diverse group of opinions into actual Nazism. I can’t even count how many people I’ve tried to explain my position only to be cut off with “No, you want to collaborate with Nazis! With people who want to kill me! Fuck you!” Me saying I don’t mind some social media overlap with Trump supporters became me saying I support the alt-right, which became me saying I support Nazism, which became me saying I support the murder of minorities.

Someone’s profiting from this divisive dynamic, and it ain’t you. If the entire right side of the political spectrum can be so effectively painted with the brush of Nazism, there’s no chance of the people uniting against the actual real-life fascism which has already taken hold of America.

And that’s why this is so important. While people like Alexander Reid Ross worry about secret fascists and double-secret fascist collaborators, America has had its democratic system completely undermined by an Orwellian corporatist oligarchy which keeps people poor and stupid with mass media propaganda and spends people’s medicine money dropping bombs on brown-skinned people overseas. While elitist academics write conspiratorial screeds about a “red-brown alliance” to strengthen fascism, actualfascism tightens the noose.

Now here we are with Trump continuing and expanding the same Orwellian, bloodthirsty, exploitative agendas as his predecessors, advancing a virulent war hawk to Secretary of State while elevating an actual torturer to CIA Director, and we’re all too fragmented and afraid of each other to unite against it. All objections to establishment horrors receive a fraction of their possible visibility because the left thinks the right are Nazis and the right are sick and tired of being called fucking Nazis by the left.

Worse still, even lefties won’t unite with lefties. Read the comments underneath any article where I try to talk about this denouncing me as a secret-secret Nazi who can’t be trusted on any issue for examples.

As for myself, I insist on remaining open to people on both the right and the left to whatever extent they are willing to stand against the ecocidal, omnicidal oppressors who have seized control of the most powerful government on earth and its allies. If you really want to know what kind of collaboration my article nine months ago was talking about, you’ve got nine months of my history to look back on. I get published in the Ron Paul Institute periodically, my antiwar stuff gets retweeted by Fairbanks and Cernovich sometimes, I promote the work of people like Daniel McAdams and Ben Swann, and I have a sizable conservative audience because I don’t reject them. I have never once compromised on my leftist principles, I have never led a single socialist to embrace Nazism, and I have never supported white nationalism. What I have done is inject some healthy ideas from a lefty perspective into the MAGA mainstream. I think that’s a good thing.

I insist that we’ve got to learn to interact with each other if we’re ever going to have a shot at winning this thing. This means learning a bit about the other side instead of believing what Media Matters and Hillary Clinton tell us about them. Basically, it means being a normal adult and interacting with people of differing opinions, just like you do in the rest of your life when you’re not staring at a screen beating up on people for likes and retweets.

We are capable of this. The debate between socialism and capitalism absolutely matters, and in my opinion unchecked capitalism is what got us into this place in the first place. But right now we’ve got a security/intelligence complex collaborating with an alliance of plutocrats to escalate tensions between two nuclear superpowers, and anything could go wrong at any second. This is not the time to reject all helping hands that aren’t perfectly in alignment with our ideology, this is the time to turn against our true oppressors so that one day we may have the luxury of a meaningful debate about political ideology in a political environment that isn’t fully controlled by the iron fist of Orwellian oligarchy.

__________________________________

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About the Author
 
Caitlin Johnstone
is a brave journalist, political junkie, relentless feminist, champion of the 99 percent. And a powerful counter-propaganda tactician.
 


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

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News

^0America's Goal...

Make every homeless tranny

gender comfortable!

 

Parting shot—a word from the editors
The Best Definition of Donald Trump We Have Found

In his zeal to prove to his antagonists in the War Party that he is as bloodthirsty as their champion, Hillary Clinton, and more manly than Barack Obama, Trump seems to have gone “play-crazy” -- acting like an unpredictable maniac in order to terrorize the Russians into forcing some kind of dramatic concessions from their Syrian allies, or risk Armageddon.However, the “play-crazy” gambit can only work when the leader is, in real life, a disciplined and intelligent actor, who knows precisely what actual boundaries must not be crossed. That ain’t Donald Trump -- a pitifully shallow and ill-disciplined man, emotionally handicapped by obscene privilege and cognitively crippled by white American chauvinism. By pushing Trump into a corner and demanding that he display his most bellicose self, or be ceaselessly mocked as a “puppet” and minion of Russia, a lesser power, the War Party and its media and clandestine services have created a perfect storm of mayhem that may consume us all. Glen Ford, Editor in Chief, Black Agenda Report 


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Chinese President Xi Jinping: What Is His Background?

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HELP ENLIGHTEN YOUR FELLOWS. BE SURE TO PASS THIS ON. SURVIVAL DEPENDS ON IT.


China's President Xi Jinping

[su_panel background="#fdfcf4"]In a well-governed country, those who discuss policy must be in accordance with the law; those who carry out official matters must be regulated. Superiors evaluate actual performance; officials carry out their work efficiently. Words are not permitted to exceed reality. Actions are not permitted to overstep the law. In a disordered country, those who are praised by the multitudes are richly rewarded though devoid of accomplishments. Those who stick to their duties are punished, though free of guilt. The ruler is in the dark and does not understand. Worthies do not offer proposals. Officials form factions; persuasive talkers roam about; people embellish their actions. Those who are taken to be wise devote themselves to artifice and deceit; high officials usurp authority. Cliques and factions become widespread. The ruler is eager to carry out projects that are of no use, while the people look haggard and worn. Huainanzi, 221 BC.[/su_panel]

In 1980 Deng Xiaoping set 2020 as the completion date for his Reform and Opening program–a 40-year overhaul of China’s economy.

On June 1, 2021 President Xi will announce that all Deng’s goals have been reached and a basic xiaokang society established: no one is poor and everyone receives an education, has paid employment, more than enough food and clothing, access to medical services, old-age support, a home and a comfortable life–a claim no other country can make.


Lee Kwan Yew, Singapore’s Prime Minister for 30 years, said the primary responsibility of a government leader to “Paint his vision of the future to his people, translate that vision into policies which he must convince the people are worth supporting and, finally, galvanize them to help him implement them,”

A month after becoming President, in 2012, Xi painted his vision for Two Centennials: to fix inequality (‘socialist modernization’) by 2012 and to transform China into ‘a great modern socialist country, prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced, harmonious and beautiful’ by 2049. American Nobelist Robert Fogel agrees that China will be prosperous: its economy will be twice the size of Europe’s and America’s combined in 2049.

Because he must paint China’s new vision, colleagues granted Xi  ‘core leader’ status in 2017 and amended the constitution in 2018 so he and PM can serve another term and make sure the new era gets off to a good start. Since he will be around until at least 2027, it may be a good idea to get to know him before our media intensify their attacks on him. Here’s a short bio.

People who have little experience with power–those who are far from it–tend to regard politics as mysterious and exciting. But I look past the superficialities, the power, the flowers, the glory, the applause. I see the detention houses, the fickleness of human relationships. I understand politics on a deeper level.–Xi Jinping⁠, President of China.

Though wages had been doubling each decade for a generation, by 2009 local corruption was impacting faith in the national government and the Party needed a Confucian junzi–a combination of Bill Gates and Nelson Mandela–to retain its Heavenly Mandate. Ever-vigilant, the U.S. Embassy in Beijing was investigating a high born reformer who had triumphed over injustice yet remained compassionate, sincere, persistent and modest:

U.S. EMBASSY C O N F I D E N T I A L
SECTION 01 OF 06 BEIJING 003128
SIPDIS. 2009 November 16, 12:20 (Monday)
SUBJECT: PORTRAIT OF VICE PRESIDENT XI JINPING: ‘AMBITIOUS SURVIVOR’ OF THE CULTURAL REVOLUTION .

Unlike those in the social circles the professor ran in, Xi Jinping could not talk about women and movies and did not drink or do drugs. Xi was considered of only average intelligence, the professor said, and not as smart as the professor’s peer group. Women thought Xi was ‘boring’.

The professor never felt completely relaxed around Xi, who seemed extremely ‘driven’. Nevertheless, despite Xi’s lack of popularity in the conventional sense and his ‘cold and calculating’ demeanor in those early years, the professor said, Xi was ‘not cold-hearted’. He was still considered a ‘good guy’ in other ways. Xi was outwardly friendly, ‘always knew the answers’ to questions, and would ‘always take care of you’. The professor surmised that Xi’s newfound popularity today, which the professor found surprising, must stem in part from Xi’s being ‘generous and loyal’.

Xi also does not care at all about money and is not corrupt, the professor stated. Xi can afford to be incorruptible, the professor wryly noted, given that he was born with a silver spoon in his mouth. In the professor’s view, Xi Jinping is supremely pragmatic, a realist, driven not by ideology but by a combination of ambition and ‘self-protection’.

Xi knows how very corrupt China is and is repulsed by the all-encompassing commercialization of Chinese society, with its attendant nouveau riche, official corruption, loss of values, dignity, and self-respect, and such ‘moral evils’ as drugs and prostitution, the professor stated. The professor speculated that if Xi were to become the Party General Secretary, he would likely aggressively attempt to address these evils, perhaps at the expense of the new moneyed class.


President Xi's father, Xi Zhongxun. A rare photo. Ironic that men who transformed humanity for the better through enormous personal effort are barely known and leave behind few traces, while criminals, false leaders, cretins and celebrities in the west have literally millions of pictures, and other objects of adoration to remember them by.

Xi inherited his silver spoon from a remarkable man. When the Japanese invasion interrupted his father’s schooling in 1933, Xi Zhongxun established a rebel area, commanded its army, expanded its territory, became a general at nineteen, provincial governor at twenty-two, the new Republic’s youngest Vice-Premier and one of the Revolution’s Eight Immortals. After escaping imprisonment by the Nationalists, Zhongxun was sentenced to death by fellow Communists for his outspokenly liberal views when Mao, emerging at the end of the Long March, reached his redoubt in Shaanxi Province in 1936 and pardoned him. Zhongxun spent the next twelve years alternating between governing and rescuing beleaguered armies. A superb negotiator–whose conversion of a rebel leader Mao compared to a famous conciliation in The Romance of the Three Kingdoms–he was widely loved and admired for his competence, outspokenness and honesty.

American journalist Sidney Rittenberg, a friend in the 1940s, recalled, “Xi Zhongxun took me with him a number of times traveling in the countryside among the villages and he knew whose baby was sick and whose grandpa had rheumatism and so forth, and he would go to these homes and talk to them and they loved him. He was always getting into trouble because of his plebeian style and democratic way of thinking. He was a very good man in my opinion, probably the most democratic-minded member of the old Party leadership. I just hope that a lot of this rubbed off on the son”.

Zhongxun’s non-ideological, pragmatic outspokenness got him jailed again, for seven years, during the Cultural Revolution. Rehabilitated, he was assigned to govern destitute Guangdong Province and Deng Xiaoping joked at his farewell, “The Government has no funds but we can give you favorable policies”. Finding Guangdong’s government blocking residents’ flight to neighboring Hong Kong–where wages were a hundred times higher–he risked re-imprisonment by proposing a special economic zone for private enterprise. After furious debate, Beijing approved his plan and he stabilized Guangdong, stopped the exodus, liberalized the economy and built China’s first free enterprise zone which, today, attracts Hong Kong graduates seeking better pay. His first son, Jinping, was born in Shaanxi Province in 1953 and grew up listening to his famous father’s stories, “He talked about how he’d joined the revolution and he’d say, ‘You’ll certainly make revolution someday’. He’d explain what revolution is. We heard so much of this our ears grew calluses”. In a Confucian land, Jinping’s high birth brought high expectations: “The primary duty of a son is to live an upright life and to spread the doctrines of humanity in order to win good reputation after death and thus reflect great honor upon his parents” The Book of Filial Duty⁠.

Young Xi’s life in the public eye began inauspiciously. During the Cultural Revolution the twelve year old was paraded as an enemy of the people wearing a metal dunce cap and a placard around his neck before being sentenced to prison. But the juvenile detention center was full so he was sent to poverty-stricken Liangjiahe village as part of Mao’s “Up the Mountain and Down to the Countryside” campaign to educate privileged youth about rural life. When his tearful family farewelled him, “I told them if I didn’t go I wasn’t sure I’d survive”. His older sister stayed and, persecuted by radicals, committed suicide two years later.

He would spend seven years growing to manhood in Liangjiahe, sleeping on brick beds in flea-infested cave homes, enduring the peasants’ life of hunger and cold, ploughing, pulling grain carts and collecting manure. “Just after I arrived in the village beggars started appearing and, as soon as they turned up, the dogs would be set on them. Back then we students, sent down from the cities, believed beggars were bad elements and tramps. We didn’t know the saying, ‘in January there is still enough food, in February you will starve, and March and April you are half alive, half dead’. For six months every family lived only on bark and herbs. Women and children were sent out to beg so that the food could go to those who were doing the spring ploughing. You had to live in a village to understand it. When you think of the difference between what the central government in Beijing knew and what was actually happening in the countryside, you have to shake your head”.

Liangjiahe’s farmers rated the city boy six on a ten-point scale, “Not even as high as the women,” he said. “I was very young when I was sent to the countryside, it was something I was forced to do. At the time I didn’t think far ahead and gave no thought to the importance of cooperation. While the villagers went up the slopes and worked every day, I did as I chose and people got a poor impression of me so, after a few months, they sent me back to Beijing and I was placed in a study group. When I was released six months later I thought hard about returning to the village and talked to my uncle who had been active in revolutionary work in the 1940s. My uncle told me about his work back then and about how important it is to cooperate with the people you live with and that settled it. I went back to the village, got down to work and learned to cooperate. Within a year I was doing the same work as people in the village, living as they lived and working hard. The hardship of working shocked me, though eventually I could carry a shoulder pole weighing more than a hundred pounds up a mountain road. People saw that I had changed”. The only reliable light was provided by old kerosene lamps and the village had neither running water nor electricity. There was no school but he was ‘always reading books as thick as bricks,’ villagers recall. He began to lead small projects like reinforcing riverbanks and organizing a blacksmiths’ cooperative and constructed the first sewage system in the county, “The pipe from the pond was blocked and I unblocked it. Excrement and urine flew all over my face”. From plans sent by his mother he built a methane digester that gave Liangjiahe reliable light at night and eventually the county named him ‘a model educated youth’–a prerequisite for admission to university during the Cultural Revolution–and awarded him a motorcycle which he exchanged for a two-wheeled tractor, a rice mill and a submersible pump.

After repeated rejections because of his father’s imprisonment he was admitted to the Communist Party in 1974, the village elected him Village Party Secretary and, at twenty-two, his political career was launched. The following year he was accepted by Tsinghua University and a dozen villagers walked the twenty miles with him to the railhead, “It was the second time I cried there. The first time was when I got the letter saying that my big sister had died”. “Experiencing such an abrupt change from Beijing to a place so destitute affected me profoundly,” he later recalled.

He returned to Beijing to greet a father who, released after seven years in solitary confinement, was unable to recognize his grown sons and recited a familiar Tang poem: Returning to my home village after years of absence, My brows have grayed though my accent is unchanged. Children who meet me don’t recognize me. Laughing, they ask, what village do you come from? After graduation from Tsinghua his father’s old comrade-in-arms, Geng Biao, made him Personal Secretary to the Minister of National Defense and the twenty-four-year-old spent three years in uniform, studying the vast military he was destined to command.

His father urged him to enter government while friends and classmates were going into business or studying abroad so he left Beijing to begin a twenty-five year apprenticeship administering villages, townships, cities, counties and provinces across the country. Along the way, he picked up a PhD for a dissertation on rural marketization. Like his father, he was effective, diligent and versatile and left a trail of prosperity behind him as he rose through the ranks. Posted to backward Zhengding County, Hebei Province in 1982, he demonstrated the paternal flair for economic development: learning that a TV production of The Dream of Red Mansions was scouting locations, he persuaded the county to employ local craftsmen to build real mansions instead of temporary sets. Fees from the production company paid most of the construction cost and, as soon as shooting ended, he turned the set into a tourist attraction that still hosts a million paying visitors each year and has been the backdrop of hundreds of productions.

Promoted to the governorship of Fujian Province, he upgraded its Internet, networked the provincial hospitals’ medical records and made government transactions accessible on line. He sent officials to work in villages throughout the province and set up citizens’ committees of to supervise village Party Committees–an innovation Beijing legislated nationally as The Organic Law of Villagers’ Committees. He was the first governor to crack down on food contamination and created the first provincial environmental monitoring system. Today, Fujian’s pristine environment attracts high tech startups. Appointed Zhejiang Provincial Party Secretary in 2002, he fundraised fifty percent of the five hundred million dollar cost of the twenty-two mile Hangzhou Bay Bridge, the world’s longest, from local businesses. “Private funds have infiltrated all walks of life here,” he told a visitor, echoing his father.

Earnest, blunt to the point of rudeness and a workaholic, his track record ranked high in Beijing’s annual surveys. He was, in the words of U.S. Treasury Secretary Hank Paulsen, “The kind of guy who knows how to get things over the goal line”. Like his father, he possessed immense energy for work, as Taiwanese businessman Li Shih-Wei, who saw him regularly, told The Washington Post, “When we discussed my problems he would listen closely, track the issue and try to find solutions. His working efficiency was pretty high–quite rare among the officials we encountered there. Meetings were usually in the government cafeteria, not the fancy restaurants most officials chose. His lifestyle wasn’t luxurious”. Xi encouraged initiative with policies like ‘special procedures for special cases’, and ‘do things now,’ urged officials to meet people face to face and set an example by meeting seven hundred petitioners in forty-eight hours.

A regular at farmers’ markets, on fishing boats and down coal mines, he became a local celebrity for being the first local Party Secretary to visit all the villages in Zhengding County, a performance he repeated everywhere he governed and, after becoming President, visited all of China’s 33 provinces, regions and municipalities. His only recorded outbursts were over corruption. According to one Zhejiang official, Xi ‘kept his reputation wholesome and untainted by allegations of corruption’ and, under a pen name, contributed hundreds of earnest opinion pieces to local dailies: “If we remain aloof from ordinary people we will be like a tree cut off from its roots. Officials at all levels must change their style, get close to ordinary people, try their best to do good things for them, put aside the haughty manner of feudalism and set a good example”. In an essay on graft he said, “Transparency is the best anti-corrosive and as long as we embrace democracy, go through a proper procedures and avoid ‘black’ case work, fighting corruption won’t be just empty words”. “How important the people are in the minds of an official will determine how important officials are in the minds of the people. Officials should love the people in the way they love their parents, work for their benefit and lead them to prosperity”.

He waited twenty years to give his first public interview, and his advice⁠ was prosaic, “Politics is risky. Lots of people who’ve experienced failures reproach themselves: ‘I’ve helped so many people, I’ve done so much and all I get is ingratitude. People don’t understand me. Why must it be this way?’ Some colleagues who started when I did gave up their jobs for such reasons. But if you have a position somewhere, if you stick to it and continue your work then, in the end, it will produce results. The essence of success is to fasten onto your assignment and continue working. I’ve come across many difficulties and obstacles. That’s inevitable. Going into politics is like crossing a river. No matter how many obstacles you meet there is only one direction, and that’s forward”.

In 2007, after Shanghai officials looted its pension fund, he was assigned to clean up the giant city, a sinkhole of iniquity for centuries. He turned the governor’s mansion into a veterans’ home, promoted green, sustainable development and pushed Shanghai to become a leading financial center–drawing a relieved headline⁠4 in the People’s Daily: ‘Glad to Hear Some Good News from Shanghai at Last’. Today, Shanghai’s pension fund is in surplus, its police are noted for their honesty, its courts a preferred international forum and its education system the best in the world. In 2008 Xi produced a flawless Beijing Olympic Games, on time, on budget and without a hint of corruption–while coordinating the military, police, bureaucracy, localities, diplomacy, security, logistics, media and the environment–a feat that made him a leading contender for the presidency.

In a patriarchal society, fond memories of his father could only help.

Though our media refer to Xi as ‘President’ (President Trump called him ‘the King of China’), China has no such office and no Chinese official resembles an American President, about whom Lincoln’s Secretary of State, William Henry Seward, observed, “We elect a king for four years and give him absolute power within certain limits which, after all, he can interpret for himself”. While American Presidents hire and fire their administrative teams, make war, pardon, imprison or assassinate enemies Chinese leaders, even Mao, are board chairmen only. They can set agenda and direct discussion but, ultimately, must follow to the votes of the seven-man Steering Committee, none of whom they chose or can dismiss–and virtually all Steering Committee decisions are unanimous.

Xi’s primary leadership responsibilities were spelled out in the Twelfth Five Year Plan which, as a member of the Politburo Standing Committee for the previous five years, he helped draft: double national wages and pensions during his tenure, clean up corruption, reform the military, pass a stalled Social Security bill and, by December, 2020, deliver the Party’s xiaokang promise: ‘a society in which no one is poor and everyone receives an education, has paid employment, more than enough food and clothing, access to medical services, old-age support, a home and a comfortable life’.

Xi’s style fits the Chinese mold: his speeches are businesslike, soft-spoken, non-confrontational and his first presidential address was retail politics, “People expect better wages, higher quality medical care, more comfortable homes and a more beautiful environment”. He invited the Carter Center to help expand democratic participation in policy-making, called for a greater role for the constitution in state affairs, strengthened Congressional participation in interpreting the constitution and generating citizens’ involvement in the legislative process. Promising to tackle corruption, he quoted Confucius, “He who rules by virtue is like the North Star, which maintains its place and the multitude of stars pay homage,” and placed responsibility for integrity squarely on official shoulders. His most sensational political gesture was lunching at the communal table in a Beijing dumpling restaurant and chatting with customers for twenty minutes without security.

Though not as precocious as his father, he proved comparably effective. The piecemeal, outdated, inconsistent legal code and judicial unpredictability he inherited had undermined people’s faith in the legal system. He reformed the legal system, abolished laogai re-education through labour, eliminated local government interference in the courts, called for transparency in legal proceedings and professionalization of the legal workforce and the Supreme People’s Court agreed to broadcast its proceedings live. He formed cross-jurisdictional squads of officials to coordinate corruption investigations, gave them independence, filed a million disciplinary cases and prosecuted a hundred ministers, generals, senior executives, university chancellors and private CEOs.

Abroad, he turned the Shanghai Cooperative Organization, SCO, into the largest political confederation on earth, uniting half the world’s people and four nuclear powers–Russia, China, India and Pakistan–in a single security zone. In 2013 he offered to finance the Belt and Road Initiative, BRI, a ten trillion dollar program of roads, railways, telecommunications, energy pipelines and ports integrating the Eurasian continent from Barcelona to Beijing into a seamless, secure, integrated market.

In 2017 he broke ground on Jing-Jin-Ji, an 82,000 square mile green megacity with the population of Japan. It will integrate Beijing’s financial, regulatory and research strengths with Tianjin’s port and Hebei’s technology using seven hundred miles of new rail lines, scheduled completion in 2020. In 2017 he initiated the transition to a dàtóng society by endorsing Social Credit, a transparent, publicly owned system ranking the creditworthiness of government departments and officials–from President down–businesses and citizens. More carrot than stick, it provides increasingly valuable benefits, from low-interest loans and no-deposit rentals to visa-free travel, with rising public reputation.

In 2018, the system blocked a developer’s attempt to fly first class to London and provided a tourist-class seat because he had persistently ignored court orders to pay his subcontractors.

The Future

[dropcap]B[/dropcap]ecause 2020 will mark the successful conclusion of Deng Xiaoping’s 1980 Reform and Opening program, it will be Xi’s responsibility to “Paint his vision of the future to his people, translate that vision into policies which he must convince the people are worth supporting and, finally, galvanize them to help him implement them,” which Lee Kwan Yew described as the primary responsibility of government leaders.

A month after becoming President, Xi described his Goals for Two Centennials: to spend 2020-2035 fixing inequality (‘socialist modernization’) and spend 2035-2049 transforming China into ‘a great modern socialist country, prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced, harmonious and beautiful’. According to American Nobelist Robert Fogel, China will certainly be prosperous: in 2049 its economy will be twice the size of Europe’s and America’s combined.

Because he must paint China’s new vision, colleagues granted Xi ‘core leader’ status in 2017 and amended the constitution in 2018 so he and Premier Li could serve more than two five-year terms, a move was greeted with some alarm. Li Datong⁠, a prominent Party member and real estate developer, wrote, “I am a Chinese citizen, and a voter in Beijing. You are delegates chosen by us, and you represent us in political deliberations and in political action–and you represent us in exercising the right to vote. As I understand it, the stipulation in the 1982 Constitution that the national leaders of China may not serve for more than two terms in office was political reform measure taken by the Chinese Communist Party and the people of China after the immense suffering wrought by the Cultural Revolution. This was the highest and most effective legal restriction preventing personal dictatorship and personal domination of the Party and the government and a major point of progress in raising the level of political civilization in China in line with historical trends. It was also one of the most important political legacies of Deng Xiaoping. China can only move forward on this foundation, and there is emphatically no reason to move in the reverse direction. Removing term limitations on national leaders will subject us to the ridicule of the civilized nations of the world. It means moving backward into history, and planting the seed once again of chaos in China, causing untold damage”.

Wang Ying, a businesswoman and government reform advocate, called the proposal “An outright betrayal, against the tide of history. I know that you (the government) will dare to do anything and one ordinary person’s voice is certainly useless, but I am a Chinese citizen and don’t plan to leave. This is my motherland too!”

Chinese are always reluctant to judge current leaders; it takes decades, they say, to discover if their policies were beneficial, but what can we make of Xi at this stage? Lee Kwan Yew, who knew him personally, said, “I would put him in Nelson Mandela’s class of persons. Someone with enormous emotional stability who does not allow his personal misfortunes or sufferings to affect his judgment. In a word, he is impressive”.

Neither his character nor his track record has spared him the burdens of everyday government: in 2018, Xi was still trying to merge China’s provincial retirement funds into an American-style Social Security system–which he pointed to as a model–and making slow progress towards a national land tax. Politics is universal.

Sources

1 In a 2000 interview with the journalist Chen Peng. Chinese Times

2 The Book of Filial Duty.

3 Born Red. New Yorker

4 How China’s Leaders Think: The Inside Story of China’s Past, Current and Future Leaders by Robert Lawrence Kuhn

5 Li Datong’s Open Letter

From: China 2020: Everything You Know is Wrong forthcoming 2018, read a sample here.

 


About the Author
SPECIAL EDITOR for Asian Affairs Godfree Roberts (Ed.D. Education & Geopolitics, University of Massachusetts, Amherst (1973)), currently resides in Chiang Mai, Thailand. His expertise covers many areas, from history, politics and economics of Asian countries, chiefly China, to questions relating to technology and even retirement in Thailand, a topic of special interests for many would-be Western expats interested in relocating to places where a modest income can still assure a decent standard of living and medical care. 

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 Parting shot—a word from the editors
The Best Definition of Donald Trump We Have Found

In his zeal to prove to his antagonists in the War Party that he is as bloodthirsty as their champion, Hillary Clinton, and more manly than Barack Obama, Trump seems to have gone “play-crazy” -- acting like an unpredictable maniac in order to terrorize the Russians into forcing some kind of dramatic concessions from their Syrian allies, or risk Armageddon.However, the “play-crazy” gambit can only work when the leader is, in real life, a disciplined and intelligent actor, who knows precisely what actual boundaries must not be crossed. That ain’t Donald Trump -- a pitifully shallow and ill-disciplined man, emotionally handicapped by obscene privilege and cognitively crippled by white American chauvinism. By pushing Trump into a corner and demanding that he display his most bellicose self, or be ceaselessly mocked as a “puppet” and minion of Russia, a lesser power, the War Party and its media and clandestine services have created a perfect storm of mayhem that may consume us all. Glen Ford, Editor in Chief, Black Agenda Report