Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

August 15, 2009

Alexander Cockburn: fetus fetishist

Filed under: feminism — louisproyect @ 5:50 pm

For the past 25 years or so Alexander Cockburn has been flirting with the American ultraright. I first took note of how he put a positive spin on the militia movement in the 1980s, a typically contrarian position that probably reflected his evolving social position as a country squire in Northern California. It also probably reflected his hatred of “big government” tied to a protracted battle with the IRS.

When he began publishing Counterpunch, the symptoms grew apace. From his dalliance with Ron Paul to his inexplicable decision to run economic commentaries on a weekly basis from Paul Craig Roberts, Reagan’s Assistant Secretary of the Treasury, who advised his readers on lewrockwell.com:

President Ronald Reagan’s stature will grow as his achievements come to be more widely recognized.

Few Americans realize that President Reagan’s economic policy won the cold war by rejuvenating capitalism. Members of the Soviet Academy of Sciences, with whom I spoke in Moscow during the Soviet Union’s final months, agreed that it was President Reagan’s confidence in capitalism, not his defense buildup, that caused Soviet leaders to lose their confidence.

This is not to speak of his climate change skepticism which has drawn from the poisoned well of bogus science, including from a character who has written numerous articles for a Lyndon Larouche magazine.

But a new chapter is being written apparently. For the first time, Cockburn is echoing the complaints of the anti-abortion movement. He feels that since women have gotten the right to a safe and legal abortion, the fetuses have gotten the short end of the stick. In the latest Counterpunch, he writes the following in an article dealing with health care reform:

The liberals are howling bout the unfairness of these attacks, led by Sarah Palin, revived by her “Death Panel” talk and equipped with a dexterous new speech writer who is even adding footnotes to her press releases.

But what is a conservative meant to think? Since the major preoccupation of liberals for 30 years has been the right to kill embryos, why should they not be suspect in their intentions toward those gasping in the thin air of senility? There is a strong eugenic thread to American progressivism, most horribly expressed in its very successful campaign across much of the twentieth century to sterilize “imbeciles.” Abortion is now widening in its function as a eugenic device. Women in their 40s take fertility drugs, then abort the inconvenient twins, triplets or quadruplets when they show up on the scan.

In 1972, a year before the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision legalized abortion on demand nationwide, virtually all children with trisomy 21, or Down syndrome, were born. Less than a decade later, with the widespread availability of pre-natal genetic testing, as many as 90 percent of women whose babies were pre-natally diagnosed with the genetic condition chose to abort the child.

One survey of 499 primary care physicians treating women carrying these babies, however, indicated that only 4 percent actively encourage women to bring Down syndrome babies to term. A story on the CNS News Service last year quoted  Dr. Will Johnston, president of Canadian Physicians for Life, reacted to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) pre-natal testing endorsement as another step toward eugenics. “The progress of eugenic abortion into the heart of our society is a classic example of “mission creep,’ ” Johnson said. “In the 1960s, we were told that legal abortion would be a rare tragic act in cases of exceptional hardship. In the ’70s abortion began to be both decried and accepted as birth control. In the ’80s respected geneticists pointed out that it was cheaper to hunt for and abort Down’s babies than to raise them. By the ’90s that observation had been widely put into action. Now we are refining and extending our eugenic vision, with new tests and abortion as our central tools.”

When Cockburn writes “Since the major preoccupation of liberals for 30 years has been the right to kill embryos”, one must ask the obvious question whether he is philosophically committed to the idea that an embryo is a living human being. This would lend credence to the idea that a ban on abortion prior to Roe-Wade made sense and that the state had the right to punish women and doctors involved in such medical procedures. Additionally, the idea of innocents being “killed” might inspire some ultrarightists to take the law into their own hands. If the state is immoral enough to allow innocent babies to be slaughtered, then an act of civil disobedience involving putting a bullet into an abortion provider could well be justified.

And what do we make of a supposed epidemic of women in her 40s taking fertility drugs, and only deciding to have an abortion when they discover that they will have twins, triplets and even more? To begin with, this does not exactly sound like “eugenics” but rather a woman’s decision not to bring children into the world that she is physically and psychologically incapable of rearing adequately let’s leave that aside for the moment. The real issue for me is how in the world can we make a judgment on Cockburn’s claim when he offers no evidence for such an epidemic? What are the numbers? How many 40 year olds? How many twins or triplets as a result of taking fertility drugs? How many abortions? If this is such a big problem, why haven’t we seen the cable news outlets reporting on it?

Indeed, a search on Lexis-Nexis reveals what Cockburn omitted. In the case of multiple embryos, a physician will occasionally use an injection to terminate all but one of them. This is called “selective reduction” in the medical profession and is often opted as a way to increase the health of the single birth. This is a matter of some urgency for married couples facing onerous medical costs and unsure economic situations in today’s world, a matter that Cockburn contemptuously dismisses as “eugenics”. Now none of this should be the business of the fetus fetishists, or their friends on the left like Alexander Cockburn, should it?

The final paragraph excerpted from Cockburn’s article cites a physician affiliated with the Canadian Physicians for Life, leaving no doubt where Cockburn’s loyalties lie.

I was so shocked by Cockburn’s newfound fetus fetishism that I scoured through Counterpunch to find early signs of dementia. This one from 4 years ago caught my eye. It was a nod of approval to Howard Dean. My emphases are in bold:

DNC Chairman Howard Dean told a student audience last week that “I think we need to talk about this issue differently. The Republicans have painted us as a pro-abortion party. I don’t know anybody in America who is pro-abortion. [But surely he's read Katha Pollitt.] We do have to have a big tent. I do think we need to welcome pro-life Democrats into this party.”

He also approves of Dean’s comment that “a woman has a right to make up their own mind” but you have to wonder why he regards Katha Pollitt as “pro-abortion”. Does Katha Pollitt go around at Nation Magazine cocktail parties lecturing pregnant women to go get an abortion? Who the hell can figure out what this one-time crack journalist was trying to say?

For all of his animosity toward Christopher Hitchens, this is one issue that he and his fellow British expatriate have in common. Although both are formally in favor of a woman’s right to choose, at least for the time being, both are disposed to hand-wringing exercises when the question of “unborn children” comes up.

In a February 2003 Vanity Fair article titled “Fetal Distraction” (ha-ha), Hitchens makes a case for abortion as “killing”, just as Cockburn does:

As the evidence about early “viability” mounted, and as advances in medicine made it ever easier for even a distressingly premature fetus to survive outside its mother, the argument showed a tendency to shift. Suddenly, we were talking trimesters. And there was no longer much dispute about whether the unborn subject was alive. It certainly couldn’t be dead, since the whole battle consisted in how or whether to stop its growing and developing (not metastasizing). Now and then there would be a tussle over whether it was a fully “human” life, but this was casuistry. What other species of life could it be? Some states even announced laws on fetal personhood, conferring the moral equivalent of citizenship on every fertilized egg, thereby presumably extending to it the warm embrace of the equal-protection clause and voting rights at age 17¼.

Unfortunately, given the sorry state of Hitchens’s journalism in the past decade or so, it is almost impossible to figure out if he is joking or not when he raises the possibility of “fetal personhood” enjoying the equivalence of citizenship. Who knows? Maybe he will someday back humanitarian intervention in abortion clinics in order to protect the rights of the human life under attack from the medical Milosevic’s of the world. That would be consistent with a worldview that went into the toilet long ago.

85 Comments »

  1. Along with Iran, this indeed, is something I agree with you on. Some of the far left(not you) now seems to be aliging with the right.

    Comment by Jenny — August 15, 2009 @ 6:10 pm

  2. I’m not at all surprised that Alexander Cockburn is an anti choicer.

    In that same article, he also takes the actually rather mainstream view that the main health problem in America is poor people being too fat and eating too much meat, which is basically the New York Times’ view on the question and is, when you boil it down, a thinly camouflaged call for austerity and a permanently reduced standard of living for the American working class (particularly it’s poorer sections).

    Cockburn has taken conservative positions on other issues before – this is the same guy who opposes the struggle for African American defendants to have the right to demand Black people on the juries that judge them, and who was essentially a sympathizer with the Militia movement back in the 1990’s – so I’m not surprised to see he’s an anti choicer too.

    Comment by Gregory A. Butler — August 15, 2009 @ 6:22 pm

  3. Yeah, Alex been creeping that direction for awhile now. In recent years, I’ve found myself looking at Counterpunch to see what right or conservative commentators are saying, as it is one of the few liberal websites I can stomach anymore. But nothing Alex says surprises me much anymore since his militia romance, and the nasty attitude he took towards Adolph Reed when Reed called him out on it. Like, all of a sudden black people should trust journalistic accounts of white guys in camoflage with automatic weapons who hang out in the woods just because Alex Cockburn says they’re not all rightie kooks. Not a chance, baby.

    Comment by Michael Hureaux — August 15, 2009 @ 9:02 pm

  4. I’ve felt this way about Cockburn for a long time now. Like Hitchens, his politics is mostly shite, but unlike Hitchens he doesn’t have much talent as a writer.

    Kozloff and some other decent foreign affairs commentators are the reasons I still bother to skim Counterpunch.

    Comment by Bhaskar — August 15, 2009 @ 9:47 pm

  5. There really is no comparison between Hitchens and Cockburn. Hitchens is an imperialist ideologue plain and simple while Cockburn is a consistent anti-imperialist.

    Comment by louisproyect — August 15, 2009 @ 9:49 pm

  6. One think I WILL give Cockburn credit for – his relentless criticism of the “9/11 truther” crackpots – far too many folks on the left give those folks grossly undeserved credibility and that’s a serious problem ESPECIALLY here in New York City!

    Comment by Gregory A. Butler — August 15, 2009 @ 9:51 pm

  7. It’s not a citizen, but it is alive, and it is human. It is not a gerbil or a petunia. And its hardly inanimate. That’s a fact pro-choice folks need to acknowledge – or else come off as incoherent. That every person is entitled to jurisdiction within his or her own skin, and that no one is compelled to surrender his or her internal organs to the use of another — should be all the argument we need to defend choice. But denying the self-evident makes no sense.

    Comment by J. Marlin — August 15, 2009 @ 11:49 pm

  8. J Marlin,

    Yes, a fetus is human tissue.

    So’s an appendix.

    Or a molar.

    Or a spleen.

    Human beings consenting to the removal of human tissue from their bodies by medical professionals SHOULD be non controversial, no matter what that human tissue might be.

    And that’s not even the real issue here.

    The real issue is women having personal and sexual autonomy – and a big part of that is them having the freedom to be sexual without having to worry about getting pregnant.

    That’s why abortion is a human right for all women and girls of childbearing age and should be supported unconditionally and uncritically by anybody who claims to be progressive or revolutionary – ESPECIALLY anybody MALE who claims to be progressive or revolutionary!!!!!

    Comment by Gregory A. Butler — August 16, 2009 @ 12:13 am

  9. Jeffrey, nobody denies that a fetus is human. The problem is the use of the word “kill”. It is utterly reprehensible for Alexander Cockburn to be appropriating the language of the religious right and even worse to cite one of their dreadful activists.

    Comment by louisproyect — August 16, 2009 @ 12:35 am

  10. When I was a Nation subscriber I always turned to Cockburn first. He is mechanically contrarian. As if he is a computer generated contrarian position generator. Somebody needed to liven up that bunch at the Nation and he was it. Too many dreamy positions there. Like their letter to Obama. As if he would even care if it wasn’t written on a big check.

    If I am looking for another perspective on an issue, Counterpunch is the first place I look.

    I find Cockburn amusing for the most part and his contrarian positions easy to laugh off. My favorite is his position that oil is continuously being produced in the Earth and oil wells are being filled even as they are being pumped dry. Hysterical! In addition to that joke, another punchline follows. He heard it from some guy he met on a cruise ship! The old “some guy I met” authority! I can only take this as a spoof.

    Comment by Glenn — August 16, 2009 @ 1:13 am

  11. Hey, Glenn, as an escort for women trying to receive health care at a besieged Planned Parenthood, Alex Cockburn’s rhetoric is no joke. I would imagine Dr. George Tiller’s family wouldn’t find it amusing either.

    Old boy contrarian positions aren’t that funny. His environmental blather is ridiculous.

    I told Becky at Counterpunch to shut off my subscription to their email paper. Waste of paper to print it off at this point.

    Comment by Linda J — August 16, 2009 @ 2:27 am

  12. Hi Linda,

    I agree that escorting women to a women’s clinic is not funny. When I had to bring my wife to a clinic I brought a baseball bat with because I was in no mood to be messed with. (My wife never knew I brought it because she was in enough misery already and she didn’t need the extra worry.)

    I see you also share my opinion on Cockburn’s environmental positions.

    You must look again at what I wrote. I was laughing at him for what he said and at his basis for taking positions. Either he is spoofing for a reaction or else gone off the deep end. He got a reaction from you. I’m glad you are not yet numbed into apathy. Some people confuse being a pacifist with being a passivist.

    Sometimes the world looks so absurd and set in its ways I just break out laughing at it. It’s really a hell hole isn’t it?

    Comment by Glenn — August 16, 2009 @ 3:04 am

  13. There are some writers of Counterpunch, who say the left should also disrupt town hall meetings, and win over the mobs. We know Obamacare is a sellout, therefore join the mob.

    Cockburn is good on the 9-11 Truth issue atleast.

    Comment by Renegade Eye — August 16, 2009 @ 4:52 am

  14. Fact is that the New Left has hardly been known for its objective view of women, who often figure as a moralistic add-on to their politics (the “woman’s question”). Women are sugar and spice and all things nice, or women must be “protected” (including from themselves), or they have to be “liberated” (implicitly, by men). The idea of regarding women as equals who are just as strong, variable and fallible as men are, can be very frightening. I think Cockburn is just lampooning opinions about the value and valuations of human life, the obsession with controlling other people’s lives rather than taking charge of your own, and the propensity of people to opt out of responsibility for the consequences of their own choices when they are not to their liking. From Roman times onwards, “the proletariat” meant those people who had no wealth except their sons, or more pejoratively, “those paupers who were only fit for procreation, for breeding more workers”. Marx himself opined in Capital Vol. 1 that the business of procreation was something that could be “safely left to the workers themselves”, but in reality, the leaders of society have always tried to intervene in this process. When Sir Francis Galton invented the concept of eugenics in 1883, as an analogy with animal breeding occurring ever since Neolithic times, he defined it as “the study of all agencies under human control which can improve or impair the racial quality of future generations” (Edwin Black, War Against the Weak: Eugenics and America’s Campaign to Create a Master Race (Four Walls Eight Windows, 2003, p. 18). The hysterical Leftist moralists seized particularly on the racist dimension of Galton’s idea. But there are three more important things to note about it if you stay cool. Firstly, the idea of eugenics is itself rather encompassing, covering anything from planned parenthood and prenatal care, to sterilization, abortion, artificial insemination, and euthanasia. Secondly, eugenics assumes that power & control can really be exerted over people, to improve the breeding stock. Thirdly, “scientific breeding” based on genetic principles is not really very feasible, since we cannot usefully predict very much about the overall outcome, and the positive difference it might make. Genetically robust individuals can be awful human beings, for reasons which have nothing to do with genetics, and they can murder their fellow human beings even as they pronounce themselves in favour of a “culture of life”. And thus I don’t think Louis’s post really addresses what is at issue.

    Comment by Jurriaan Bendien — August 16, 2009 @ 10:01 am

  15. When Cockburn writes “Since the major preoccupation of liberals for 30 years has been the right to kill embryos”, one must ask the obvious question whether he is philosophically committed to the idea that an embryo is a living human being.

    One must also ask whether Cockburn is insane. The major preoccupation of liberals? Not just a proccupation, but the major one? Please. The ones who are “preoccupied” with this subject are the right, not liberals or the left.

    One need only look at the current health care debate. When asked if ObamaCare will cover abortions, liberals scurry away like cockroaches when the light is turned on.

    Comment by Eli Stephens — August 16, 2009 @ 12:12 pm

  16. Note also that Cockburn now fancies the tell-tale anti-abortion nut phrase, “Abortion on demand.” Is that something like HBO on Demand? Sounds frivolous and whimsical–“I demand an abortion now and be quick about it, my good man–I have some shopping to do!”

    These uppity damned modern women are just so demanding.

    Comment by Jim Holstun — August 16, 2009 @ 1:33 pm

  17. The picture of Cockburn above looks more like Hunter Thompson than an educated Brit from a family of socialist journalists. The Brits have a special relation with us, looking down at us half enviously, while we adore them for prolonging the class system we supposedly reject. Evelyn Waugh, Aldous Huxley, Kingsley and Martin Amis, Hitchens and Cockburn have all made a living laughing at us while we lap it up.

    At least he hasn’t sold out completely like Nial Fergusson.

    Comment by senecal — August 16, 2009 @ 1:44 pm

  18. How and why did a medical procedure ever become a matter for ideological dispute? Where are the marchers protesting against gall-bladder operations? If organ transplants are non-political what’s the deal with abortion? And why does anyone want to know what men have to say about it? Unless I’ve missed something, I have never seen anything from the women’s movement about prostate treatment. Can you imagine (without laughing) women activists demanding “watchful waiting” over surgery?

    Comment by Richard Greener — August 16, 2009 @ 3:48 pm

  19. Juriaan,

    It’s easy for you to “stay cool” about eugenics – I assume you’re a White person, or at the very least not African American or Latino or American Indian.

    During the heyday of American Eugenics in the 1950’s, 25% of all Puerto Rican women were surgically sterilized without their consent – should they “stay cool” about eugenics?

    During those same years, there were mass sterilization campaigns aimed at African American and Lumbee Indian women in North Carolina – tens of thousands of Black and Indian women were sterilized there – I guess they should “stay cool” too, right?????

    And how about the millions of people in India forcibly sterilized in the 1970’s – guess they should “stay cool” too???

    Go to hell with your “stay cool”!!!!!!!

    I feel a white hot anger at eugenicists and any decent human being – ESPECIALLY if they claim to be progressive or socialist – should feel the same!!!!

    Comment by Gregory A. Butler — August 16, 2009 @ 6:01 pm

  20. Renegade Eye– “We know Obamacare is a sellout, therefore join the mob.”

    This is the kernel of Trotskyist failure in my view (although maybe the Old Man is spinning in his grave): exhorting socialists to join an anti socialist mob in the name of winning them to socialist revolution. This is where I get off the merry go round…it seems a true inversion of Marxism to me, but I’m sure some smarty pants will invoke “dialectics”…

    Comment by Bob Allen — August 16, 2009 @ 6:35 pm

  21. Thank you Louis, this clarifies a lot of my suspicions about him, and about Counterpunch (where I DO read some good things).

    I’m wondering, have you seen his blasts against the Southern Poverty Law Center? He claims they’re little more than a donation mill, with an endowment that’s already way too big.

    Have you encountered his dismissals of the SPLC? If so, what do you (or others here) think?

    Comment by gypsy rose — August 16, 2009 @ 6:56 pm

  22. Bob,

    Actually, if Leon Trotsky was alive, I suspect he’d disavow every single trotskyist group in existance – just go back and read LT’s works – and then compare them to just about anything being put out by his modern followers – no comparison!

    Gypsy Rose,

    I’ve read his blasts at the SPLC – and they always struck me as odd and reactionary.

    Say what you will about Morris Dees – and, to be clear, he has the same contradictions as any 501(c)(3) not for profit executive director – they are anti-racist and they do a good job of keeping track of the racist far right.

    They DO define racist very narrowly – limiting it to the cross burners and the skinheads, and leaving out the much larger community of White supremacists who are far more mainstream (think Fox News, Rush Limbaugh ect) – but, taken on their own terms they are useful.

    As for the fundraising issues that Cockburn raises – well, unlike dear Alex, neither SPLC as an institution nor Dees as an individual have been audited by the IRS, so it really is the pot calling the kettle black!

    I suspect Alex’s real beef with Dees and the SPLC is the fact that they are actively anti racist and he seems to have a problem with anybody who seriously fights on behalf of the oppressed – so, basically, he opposes the SPLC for the same reason he’s anti choice.

    Comment by Gregory A. Butler — August 16, 2009 @ 7:05 pm

  23. Another strange twist of Cockburn’s logic was that he argued consistently against the dogmatic lies of Hitchens & the Cruise Missile Left regarding the breakup of Yugoslavia but then, near the end of the war, in a Nation article, he conceded it was possible some of the most blatant Pentagon distortions might be true and then quit writing about it altogether, at least in The Nation.

    Regarding abortion, the Christian right seeks to prevent it so God can save more souls. That’s also why they fervently back Uncle Sam’s militarism, since he keeps heaven packed with fresh souls.

    They’re pro life all right. Except when it comes to the death penalty. There they want the inmates killed.

    There’s the rub of irony. The vast majority of so-called “right to lifers” are pro-war & pro death penalty, a contradiction that seemingly never gets mentioned. Not even by stand up comics, let alone liberals.

    Yes, Bob A., the old man’s spinning like a rotisserie.

    Comment by Karl Friedrich — August 16, 2009 @ 7:17 pm

  24. Karl,

    It’s not that simplistic – because Christians don’t want “heathens” to have abortions either!

    Nor does Uncle Sam’s militarism “keep heaven packed with fresh souls” – that’s just a line from a movie [R. Lee Emery in "Full Metal Jacket"] – cause, again, they are killing “heathens” and those folks go to hell.

    Just read the Bible – specifically the “New Covenant” [Christian] parts of it, the last 574 pages, cause that’s the ONLY part that Christians follow, the preceding 1646 pages, the “Abrahamic Covenant” and “Mosaic Covenant” parts, are the Jewish bible, according to fundamentalists – it’s all spelled out very clearly!

    Fundamentalists are against abortion because abortion = sexual autonomy for women, and Christians are against female sexual liberation

    Just read the Book of Ephesians chapter 5 verse 22, chapter 5 verse 23 and chapter 5 verse 24 for a short summary of the Christian view on the proper role of women.

    Hell, I’ll save you the trouble – I’ll quote it so you can read it yourself:

    Eph 5 22 Wives submit yourselves unto your own husbands as unto the Lord.

    Eph 5 23 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the Head of the Church and He is the Saviour of the Body

    Eph 5 24 Therefore as the Church is subject unto Christ so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything

    ALL serious Christians believe in those words – those three short sentences are the basic summation of the Christian definition of marriage and the role of women in society.

    Many Christian ministers go out of their way to quite Eph 5 22 – 24 when they perform weddings, to remind Christian women of their duty to submit to their husbands the way the church submits to Christ (in other words, men get to, literally, “lord it” over women, in the Christian worldview).

    THAT is why Christians are against abortion!

    If a married woman has an abortion, she is failing to submit to her husband by having all of his babies.

    If a single woman has an abortion, then she is a fornicator, and that is a sin in and of itself.

    The Book of Romans is quite clear on THAT subject (Romans also talks about “honoring authority” – that is, you should also follow the government the way you follow Christ – and Romans is also the book that reminds Christians that it’s an abomination to be gay)

    If you want to fight these guys you HAVE to understand their worldview!

    And reading the New Testament is a good startpoint, because to a Christian, the New Testament is the Lord God’s New Covenant with mankind, and is the Literal Word of God.

    Comment by Gregory A. Butler — August 16, 2009 @ 7:50 pm

  25. Wow! — Now I’m too pooped to pope!

    Comment by Karl Friedrich — August 16, 2009 @ 7:55 pm

  26. Karl,

    The Catholics have similar rules – but, they also have a Roman Dictator who presents himself as Christ’s Vicar on Earth, infallible in all matters of religious doctrine.

    Fundamentalist Protestants see the very existence of a Pope as a mediator between Christ and his Flock (that is, the community of believers) as an Abomination.

    To a Christian, every believer has a Personal Relationship with God, through his Only Begotten Son Jesus, our Lord and Saviour the Christ [that's what they're talking about when they speak of being "Born Again"].

    Hate to spoil your little joke there – but Fundamentalists take all this stuff deadly serious.

    Comment by Gregory A. Butler — August 16, 2009 @ 8:03 pm

  27. Another fun fact about Christians – both Catholic and Protestant.

    When Jesus died on the cross, his Holy Agony was an act of atonement for all sins ever committed by Man, past, present and future.

    If you accept Jesus Christ as your Personal Saviour, his Holy Agony becomes an atonement for YOUR sins too – even sins you haven’t committed yet!

    That’s why so many folks find God in jail – ESPECIALLY on Death Row!

    There have actually been murderers who used their religious conversion as an argument for why they shouldn’t be executed!

    Most notably, Ted Bundy, the Republican Lawyer from Seattle who became a serial killer and kidnapped, tortured and murdered over 100 women.

    But, he accepted Jesus Christ as his Personal Saviour on Florida’s Death Row, so, once he was executed, he went straight to heaven!

    But Jonas Salk?

    He was a Jew, and he did not accept Jesus Christ as his Personal Saviour.

    So, when he died – straight to hell!

    Catholics have a similar view – to a Catholic, the only reason that Adolf Hitler and Heinrich Himmler are in hell is because they committed the Mortal Sin of Suicide.

    Rudolf Hoess, the Commandant of Auchwitz, who killed 4 million people in his gas chambers, went to heaven when he was executed by the Polish government in 1947 – because he was a good Catholic to the end.

    Dr Joseph Mengele, who supervised 300 nazi doctors in carrying out savage torture “experiements” at the Auchwitz medical station, also went to heaven when he drowned in Brazil in the 1970’s – because he was a good Catholic, his sins on earth didn’t matter, they were forgiven when Christ died on the cross.

    To Christians, going to heaven is NOT about good works – it’s about being a loyal follower of Christianity.

    And all non Christians go straight to hell, no matter what they did.

    That’s why the Commandant of Auchwitz is in heaven, and the 2 million Jews he murdered are in hell.

    Comment by Gregory A. Butler — August 16, 2009 @ 8:17 pm

  28. In response to Gregory Butler (comment 19), I did not endorse eugenics in what I said, but merely tried to indicate a number of issues which I think Louis did not pay attention to. Alex Cockburn’s case really depends a lot on what you mean by eugenics, and seems to be aimed at transcending liberal and conservative ideology about the value of human life. In US law, eugenics was more clearly defined in 1907-1931: certain kinds of people were considered unfit to procreate. But this has in fact little to do with Galton’s original idea (he meant the “whole packet” of things you could do, to improve the species), nor with Trotsky’s, since Trotsky emphasized the completely voluntary (self-chosen) nature of a positive eugenics in a communist society. As regards sterilisations in Puerto Rico, these were justified at the time primarily not in terms of eugenics as such, but in terms of population control (overpopulation). In India and many other places sterilisation was likewise carried out mainly with the justification of overpopulation. Many North American Indian women were also sterilised without their consent, the assumption being, often, that they did not deserve to procreate (the justification there was often more explicitly racist, i.e. the Indians were an inferior race). The main point to understand is that many instances of sterilisation, euthanasia and abortion etc. cannot really be explained by a specifically eugenics ideology aiming at the improvement of the species, and that we should not run together all kinds of different issues and motivations, as if they were all the same thing. That is why it is necessary to keep cool, and not be misled by the moral fervour of frothing Leftists who just sow confusion and call things by the wrong names.

    Comment by Jurriaan Bendien — August 16, 2009 @ 9:55 pm

  29. The choice of whether or not a woman gives birth must remain her control.

    If each woman makes this decision for herself then “eugenics” as a form of state control of populations is nonexistent.

    Comment by Linda J — August 16, 2009 @ 11:18 pm

  30. Juriaan,

    You just don’t get it, do you?

    If I told a Jewish person to “keep cool” about the Holocaust, they’d be perfectly justified to punch me in the face and tell me to go fuck myself.

    Considering that my race has been targeted by your race with eugenics, I flat out REFUSE TO “KEEP COOL”!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I’m sure Puerto Ricans and American Indians would be equally as justified in refusing to “keep cool”!!

    White hot anger is the only appropriate response, and it sickens me to see how cavalier you are about genocide (which is what racially based sterilization is)

    As for Trotsky on eugenics, he was wrong.

    Period.

    And, had he not been murdered by the NKVD, and had lived to see Auchwitz, he would have changed his mind.

    You see, despite all of your “cool” intellectualizing about genocidal eugenics, everything that those respectable scientists said and did about eugenics led straight to those forced sterilizations in North Carolina, Puerto Rico and the Indian Reservations.

    Beyond that, Juriaan, I’m sure if YOUR race was being targeted for eugenics, you wouldn’t be so “cool” about it!!!!!

    Comment by Gregory A. Butler — August 17, 2009 @ 1:26 am

  31. Gregory,

    Re comment 30: unlike you I reject the concept of race, and I am amazed you endorse racist ideology while criticizing eugenics. Moreover I am not at all “cavalier” about genocide and that’s on record. BTW My own parents lived through Nazi occupation and narrowly escaped death; relatives of mine were deported to Ravensbruck and Bergen-Belsen. I can see you are crude and illiterate because you use abusive language and cannot even spell “Auschwitz”. You simply assert Trotsky was wrong, without any proof, and probably without knowing what he said and meant – substituting emotionalism for clear argument. Well anyway Alex Cockburn and Louis Proyect achieved their objective: they rankled a lot of moral and emotionalist indignation. But whether this is conducive to anything remains doubtful.

    Comment by Jurriaan Bendien — August 17, 2009 @ 5:51 am

  32. Juriaan,

    The concept of race is socially real, in large part because, for the last 500 years, capitalists have divided the world on racial lines.

    You can no more “reject the concept of race” than you could climb to the top of the Empire State Building and “reject the concept of gravity”.

    And, as a White man, it’s EASY for you to pretend that race doesn’t matter.

    As an African American man in America, I don’t have the privilege or luxury of “rejecting the concept of race” – I’ve personally been fired from jobs because of my race, and harassed by cops because of my race so I have to deal with race.

    I’m sure if your family members had told the SS men at Ravensbruck that they “reject the concept of race” it wouldn’t have worked very well.

    So you of all people should be agreeing with me!

    You lost family to eugenics – and yet and still you’re a eugenics sympathizer!

    I just don’t understand you!

    Beyond that, let’s deal your personal insult to me (and you pulled out the old middle class tactic of accusing a working class person you argue with of being “illiterate” and “crude”)

    First of all, if I was really “illiterate” how the hell would I even be debating with you?

    As for the “crude” comment – here in America we call it “keepin’ it real” and yes, when I argue on important issues, I express myself passionately and I totally dispense with petty bourgeois politeness.

    A guy named Vladimir Illych Ulanov used to do the same thing – so I’m in good company here!

    As for the spelling of the German language names of Polish municipalities that is no proof of “illiteracy” or “crudeness” – it just proves that I don’t speak German or Polish.

    As for why Leon Trotsky was wrong on eugenics – just ask your family members that have numbers tattooed on their arms about that one – maybe they can explain it to you!

    Comment by Gregory A. Butler — August 17, 2009 @ 6:01 am

  33. I cannot say I’m surprised at all. He’s been this way for a long time. I remember reading back in the ’90s his defense of right-wing militia groups, and his opposition to hate laws and support for people like Bob Barr, Ron Paul, and anyone who farts in the general direction of the Libertarian Party (while savaging any and all progressives as being insufficiently progressive), which exemplifies Cockburn’s political, personal, and moral hypocrisy. The fetus worshiping (and eugenics-invoking) is for me the last straw in his long stream of betrayals (and it’s funny to see people here taking the bait, considering Alex’s support for militia groups who are populated with those who believe in such racialist theories). At least Hitchens doesn’t pretend to give a rat’s tail about anyone outside of the upper 2% income tax bracket. It makes me wonder what is in the water with old white men becoming rightists these days. I want to avoid living the kind of lives they’ve lived, so I don’t end up as wretched as them.

    Comment by TA — August 17, 2009 @ 6:09 am

  34. I use to read Counterpunch in depth. Now I usually just skim through it, and sometimes I just glance at it. Although it still has interesting articles from time to time, the overall quality of writing has clearly gone downhill. I recently allowed my subscription to expire. It just doesn’t seem worth it any more.

    I agree with you that Cockburn is moving to the right. He’s just being a lot more coy about it than Hitchens was.

    Comment by ekornfel — August 17, 2009 @ 6:29 am

  35. Gregory,

    I’m technically a lapsed Catholic. Hell, I’m not even Christian anymore, but your gross inaccuracies dealing with Christianity greatly offend me as a fair person.

    First of all, the idea that Christians believe that Hitler only went to hell because he commited suicide is absurd. Also, the notion that Christians are the only one who go to heaven is held by a select few, very radical right sects of Christianity; not the Catholic or most Protestant churches. Catholics believe that God judges based on one’s own personal journey; they do not condemn anyone to hell for not being a Christian, least of all the victims of the holocaust or someone like Jonas Salk whao has saved millions of lives with his life’s work.

    Catholics read from the Old Testament at every Mass, and they follow it as if it is the Word of God, just like the New Testament. Catholics also take instruction from the teaching of Church leaders over the past two thousand years; Your idea that Christians ONLY FOLLOW the New Testament is frankly idiotic.

    The pope does not present himself as infallible in all matters of religious doctrine. In fact, the Papacy has only issued two infallible statements in its 1900 year history. I know it’s easy for you to portray him as a “Roman Dictator”, but that is simply not true.

    Lastly, and most importantly, Christians are against abortion because they believe that the fetus is a living thing, not because they want to destroy female autonomy. You seem to think that Christians aren’t at all interested in the well-being of the child, only that the woman knows her place. Anybody at all involved in the abortion debate, on either side, can tell you that that is incredibly innacurate.

    As someone who claims to “understand their worldview”, you have surprisingly little knowledge of what Christianity’s about. But I suppose it’s easier for you to think of all Christians as mindless, chauvinist, anti-Semitic, backwards zombies. Ignorance is bliss, I suppose.

    Comment by Josh — August 17, 2009 @ 4:36 pm

  36. One more proof – if proof now still be needed- that there is nothing inherently progressive or revolutionary in being a “skeptic” or “contrarian” or “independent.” There is a place where climate skeptics, anti-choice skeptics, anti-gov’t/tax skeptics, and Obama contrarians, and Tea Party radicals all come together (with a smattering of crop circle and 911 conspiracists): the incipient strain of US fascism. Cockburn may wake up one day and find himself relegated to putting the “socialism” in “national socialism”.

    Comment by Jay Rothermel — August 17, 2009 @ 5:18 pm

  37. OK Gregory (comment 32) so you want to be a black racist? In a democracy you can be, as long as you obey the law of the land, but I don’t think it is going to make you popular. I reject the concept of “race” because there is no scientific evidence validating such a concept. At best you can say that somebody has an “ethnicity” because they grew up or lived in a certain place, but that is a socially acquired characteristic and not a racial one, and it means that people with the same skin colour could have all kinds of different ethnicities. Obviously an illiterate person can also debate, it just that he runs together all kinds of different things about the topic which he cannot even name correctly, because he is unable to make the necessary distinctions. You are keeping it crude, rather than keeping it real – politeness is not a class characteristic since people from all social classes can be polite or crude. Lenin’s swearing and ranting set a very bad example for human culture. Trotsky’s idea of voluntary eugenics has nothing to do with the racist persecutions of the Nazis, which Trotsky was among the first to warn the world about. I leave it there, because it is evident you and I do not share any common assumptions that would make a genuine debate possible and fruitful.

    Comment by Jurriaan Bendien — August 17, 2009 @ 6:49 pm

  38. Come on, Jurriaan. Just because there’s no scientific argument for race distinction doesn’t mean that race distinction hasn’t been a prime component in the repressions practiced by the system. Good intentions of individuals don’t change the realities of racial terror practiced by the ruling classes in the west. Greg is right to smell funk and a huge amount of denial in your perspective.

    Greg, man, if you can document your stuff on eugenics and Trotsky, you ought to bring it on. I’ve never heard of any of the stuff you’re talking about. So far as I know, Trotsky never said much at all about eugenics, aside from a passing comment in an essay on the broader potential of science under socialism, and even that comment was fairly cautious.

    Comment by Michael Hureaux — August 17, 2009 @ 7:42 pm

  39. I’ve read all the comments and i haven’t noticed a single thing that would justify calling Gregory Butler a racist, much less his argument. Possibly anti-Christian but nothing at all “racist” in any way.
    In fact, i would call this constant highlighting and repetition that “there is no such thing as race” in order to argue that racism is baseless is what’s usually called crude Marxism to my knowledge.
    Racism is a social reality, which makes Race a social reality.
    You may have no material experience of it, that doesn’t make it inexistent.
    The existence of racism makes race something that we have to deal with and not talk out of existence.

    Comment by Michael T — August 18, 2009 @ 12:13 am

  40. Mike T. wrote: ” …to argue that racism is baseless is what’s usually called crude Marxism to my knowledge.”

    That’s not a good example of “crude Marxism”. That’s just a good example of “crude”.

    You go on to say: “Racism is a social reality, which makes Race a social reality. You may have no material experience of it, that doesn’t make it inexistent.”

    The 1st sentence there is of course right on but it’s impossible for a non-white person in the USA to “… have no material experience of it.”

    Comment by Karl Friedrich — August 18, 2009 @ 12:37 am

  41. That comment was pointed at Jurriaan.

    Comment by Michael T — August 18, 2009 @ 12:54 am

  42. Back to Cockburn, every so briefly?

    If, as seems reasonable enough, we see pregnancy, childbirth, and child-raising as varieties of labor, and particularly important ones in their crucial quality in reproducing real, material, human existence, then Cockburn and Hitchens’s evident willingness to support compulsory pregnancy is not only anti-feminist; it’s also anti-marxist, and even pro-slavery: if not chattel slavery, then at least the term-contract slavery of an indentured laborer.

    The classic mechanism of capitalist patriarchy is the under-payment or non-payment of women’s work; the foundation for this exploitation is the refusal to see maternal labor as any sort of labor at all.

    Comment by Jim Holstun — August 18, 2009 @ 1:13 am

  43. But John M, Butler’s argument is right on in terms of historical materialism, which is the foundation of Marxist thought. Obviously the “sanctity of life” argument is pure bullshit in light of how consistently its proponents are for both the death penalty and imperialist wars, not to mention their visceral resistance to things like universal health care, without which, is like a death sentence on tens of millions of poor & working people. Naturally this resistance flows ultimately from their notion that if poor women got to see doctors for free there would be a rise in abortions — which is undoubtedly true.

    Comment by Karl Friedrich — August 18, 2009 @ 1:50 am

  44. I’d also argue that Jim Holstun’s comment #42 is perfect example of the historical materialist method at it’s finest and why it’s such an indispensible tool for understanding the social forces that shape our world.

    Comment by Karl Friedrich — August 18, 2009 @ 2:00 am

  45. Josh — Probably 98% of those that identify with the religous right are for the death penalty & imperialist war. These are the supposed 33% of Americans who say they’re “born again” Christians. These are the people that 1st came to poltical life as the Moral Majority. Pat Robertson’s for the death penalty and never objected to a single war. These miserable cretins elected & re-elected Dubya not so much because he said God told him what to do but rather because he executed so many blacks & hispanics in Texas and waged this Crusade in Iraq & Afghanistan. They’re also against universal health care, essentially a death sentence for millions, for the reasons I stated above. The “Sanctity of human life” means to them what “The Constitution” means to Dick Cheney.

    Comment by Karl Friedrich — August 18, 2009 @ 2:12 am

  46. One point to correct, Mr Cockburn is not British, nor does he identify as such though he was eligible to claim British citizenship. (The fastest way to an Irishman’s ire is to suggest him or any other, to be British or even worse, English…) He is Irish and until very recently, was a citizen of the Republic of Ireland, he renounced it this month or last I believe to become an American citizen, a strange move for a man who’se lived there for 30+ years and never felt the need to become a naturalised citizen of the USA, I wondered then if something hadn’t changed greatly in the man.

    It’s funny, I was on counterpunch today and saw the same article and was as shocked as you, I knew of his anthropogenic global warming denial and presumed he was just a typical libertarion having an existential crisis over the fact that yes, Virginia, you need the state to change how civilisation interacts with it’s supporting ecology. I read that and went to read more on his particular motivations for his denialism to find a post on this blog (Some years old) amoung my many interesting reads. I then proceed to the front page of your blog since I found your post very interesting and wouldn’t the second entry be referring to the very passage that so terrified me. The exact wording he used reminded me of my old RE teacher who invested a great deal of importance on the so-called eugenical origins of modern family planning, creepy stuff. Oh Mr Cockburn was once a source of pride of the Irish left (Even if he spoke little of Ireland or Europe generally) now I think he is an embarassment.

    Comment by Eoghan O'Halloran — August 18, 2009 @ 2:28 am

  47. *Libertarian* – What I get for writing this at 3 o’clock. Likely that there are even more mistakes, oh, sospiro…

    Comment by Eoghan O'Halloran — August 18, 2009 @ 2:30 am

  48. Josh,

    Ever read the New Testament?

    Or had an actual conversation with a Fundamentalist Christian?

    I have – and I have a bunch of friends and relatives who are Fundamentalists, and I used to be a vocational instructor at a youth program run by Fundamentalists – I’ve spoken to those folks AT LENGTH about this stuff, and I’ve had people try to “save” me.

    Just go read the New Testament – and spend a couple of hours this Sunday watching the Televangelists (or, for the full effect, actually go to a church, sit through the service LISTEN TO WHAT THE PASTOR SAYS and then, when somebody comes over to you after the service to “save” you (and they will) LISTEN to what they say.

    You WILL see I’m right!

    Oh, and to a Fundamentalist CATHOLICS ARE NOT CHRISTIANS – to Fundamentalists, the very existence of the Pope is an Abomination and Catholics are idolatrous worshipers of a Roman Dictator.

    Fundamentalists also take a very dim view of “Cafeteria Christians” who pick and choose what parts of the New Covenant that they will obey and disregard the rest.

    Again, if you don’t believe me, ask an actual Fundamentalist and they will confirm all of this to you.

    On the sexism stuff and the belief that men should exercise what they call “servant leadership” over women (that is, the man, as a servant of Jesus, dominates the woman and tells her what to do) there are LOTS of Fundamentalist relationship advice websites (many of which, ironically enough, are ACTUALLY RUN BY WOMEN) that discuss this in detail!

    And male control of female reproduction is a huge part of that “servant leadership” thing that men are supposed to exercise over women.

    Again, read the New Testament

    Rev. Jimmy Swaggart has an EXCELLENT edition “The Expositor’s Study Bible”, where he explains all of this doctrinal stuff IN DETAIL in lengthy notes that he added after every single verse in the Bible (my uncle gave it to me in an – ill fated – attempt to “save” me) – you can order it online at http://www.jsm.com or by mail at Jimmy Swaggart Ministries, PO Box 262550, Baton Rouge, LA 70826-2550

    In other words, if you don’t believe ME about what Fundamentalists actually believe – just ask Jimmy Swaggart!

    Juriaan,

    Why is it that when an African American supports liberation for our race, we get called “Black racists” by folks like you?

    There is nothing “racist” about fighting for Black freedom – the folks who support White supremacy are the racists.

    In fact, in the US, generally speaking, the only folks who call Black freedom fighters “racists” are … White Supremacists!

    And on the literacy thing – dude, it’s obvious since I am reading your posts, and writing replies, I cannot be illiterate – that’s an illogical statement on your part.

    On the crudeness thing – frankly, politeness is overrated!

    Michael T,

    You are right on the money – race and racism has been a social reality for at least the last 500 years – 24 million of my relatives and 6 million of Juriaan’s died because of that social reality.

    On the anti-Christian thing – again, right on the money! I was born into a Christian Socialist family, but I renounced Christianity and became an Atheist when I was very young – my Atheism was a stepping stone to me becoming first a revisionist CPUSA “communist” when I was a teenager – which led to me becoming a revolutionary communist many years later.

    Nor am I a “racist” – or even a Black Nationalist – I oppose White Supremacism and support African American liberation.

    And considering power relations in America, NO African American can be a “racist” because we’re not in a position to do anything to White people, since they run the country, and we do not.

    Jonathan,

    When Fundamentalists speak of the so called “sanctity of life” they are talking about THE LIVES OF PEOPLE WHO ACCEPT JESUS AS THEIR PERSONAL SAVIOUR, AND HAVE A PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD.

    Everybody else is damned to go to hell – unless they accept Jesus Christ as their Personal Saviour.

    Honestly, do you even KNOW any Fundamentalists in person?

    Dude, Fundamentalists support the death penalty and imperialist wars – how could they really believe in the “sanctity of life” unless they had a VERY limited definition of what “life” is?

    Jim Holstun and Karl Freiderich,

    Congratualations! You guys actually get it! You know what I’m talking about, and actually take a marxist position on religion and racism! I’m proud of you!

    Comment by gangbox — August 18, 2009 @ 2:45 am

  49. Oh yeah, this is actually Gregory A. Butler here – I accidentally logged in under another screenname – gangbox – but it’s still me!

    Comment by gangbox — August 18, 2009 @ 2:48 am

  50. I think it was a mistake to drag this debate into being a religious debate in the first place.
    It was a perfectly good class debate before folks started bringing up theological reasoning on why the opposition to woman’s right to her body was so sweeping that it dragged in atheists like Cockburn to support it.
    I’ll throw my two cents into this what was a very informing discussion (before the contents of the bible came into it).
    From the start i began reading Counterpunch i must admit i wasn’t thrilled.
    Cockburn himself appeared to me to be one who is a professional populist. A man whose entire ideology centered on developing and innovating the ideas of populism into a real mass based movement that at first “take the country by storm” and second achieve his dream of a revolution.
    For the professional populist the distinctions of “right” and “left” are merely a mirage propagated by the “counter-revolutionary”, both rightwing government and left movements.
    So their main mission becomes breaking the hold of that “mirage” by attempting to destroy the existence of “left” or “right” by bringing representatives of both camps together, trying to blur the distinction between them.
    Being a person as rooted in the left as Cockburn is, his ritual at blurring that distinction within himself becomes dipping his fit in the waters of radical right opposition, like his schmuzing with militia men. Than gradually getting oneself deeper and deeper into the world of “the good and wholesome American, with traditional values who wants to fix America into its past historic glory”. We all know what that implies.
    What held Counterpunch together is that the folks still elicited some great writers like Lenni Brenner and now Ishmael Reed into penning articles for them.

    Comment by Michael T — August 18, 2009 @ 2:53 am

  51. Btw, for the record’s sake, I’m an Atheist living in Israel.

    Comment by Michael T — August 18, 2009 @ 2:54 am

  52. Michael T,

    So you’re an “Atheist living in Israel”?

    What does the State of Israel consider you to be?

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but don’t you have to be recognized as Jewish to immigrant to Israel?

    Josh,

    45% of Christians is an awful lot of people who don’t agree with you on that whole “sanctity of life” thing.

    And, incidentally, wasn’t Francisco Franco Catholic?

    And Rafael Trujillo?

    When did they get excommunicated by the anti war anti death penalty Roman Catholic Church?

    Oh, I forgot – THEY DIDN’T – they died as good Catholics and went to heaven.

    But that gynecologist in Brazil who gave an abortion to a 10 year old girl who was raped by her own father got excommunicated by the Roman Catholic Church with a quickness!

    The girl’s mom got excommunicated too.

    And that gynecologist’s business partner got excommunicated to.

    So tell me again about that whole “Catholic sanctity of life” deal!

    Gregory A. Butler

    Comment by gangbox — August 18, 2009 @ 3:04 am

  53. gangbox, I do not believe in god, that makes me an atheist. I have no use for this radical indignation that you assume i am not aware that I’m part of the “jewish” society here.
    FYI, the designation of jew in Israel simply means you’re a member of the ruling caste. To the rest of the world if i say “I’m a Jew” you’d think that i am a believing person.
    I wrote it so people would not assume that i have bias in favor of Christianity or any other religion in thinking that Gregory’s analysis (neither Josh’s) of biblical text is of no to this discussion here.

    Comment by Michael T — August 18, 2009 @ 3:14 am

  54. Jonathan,

    Most Fundamentalists support wars and the death penalty.

    How does this jibe with your whole “sanctity of life” claim?

    And here’s another question, why are you on an “unrepentant marxist” website defending the damned Christians?

    Marxists are supposed to be ATHEISTS – we defend the right of believers to cling to their superstitions, and we defeat religion through scientific eduction rather than persecution of the superstitious.

    It’s truly odd to be arguing with defenders of religion on a marxist website – truly truly odd!

    As for why I’m anti-Christian – well, I’m opposed to ALL religions, but since Christianity is the dominant religion here in America, and the backbone of the American far right is based deep in the Christian church, I am my main fire at them.

    It has nothing to do with any kind of childhood trauma 9even very silly ones like a “Christian falling on me as a child” hey, it’s the Catholic Priests who do that kind of thing!) – just the affect of me having renounced Christianity’s myths and superstitions at the tender age of 9, and having been an Atheist for the subsequent 32 years.

    Gregory A. Butler

    Comment by gangbox — August 18, 2009 @ 3:17 am

  55. Josh – the Catholic Church has never been considered part of the religous right in this country, period. On the contrary, not only does the the Moral Majority despise the Papacy but also the Catholics often supported the IRA and Liberation Theology in the historically oppressed nations, particularly in Latin America. Hell, the Pope doesn’t even renounce Evolution, whereas the morons in the religous right universally do. Same can be said for those Protestant and other Christian sects that don’t believe a literal interpretation of the Bible and accept the science of Darwin. Yes, they’re against abortions like the religous rights but they’re not considered the religous right. And yes, many of that type of Christian is distinguished from the religous right precisely because they do oppose wars and the death penalty and don’t disdain science. Those are the type of Christians revolutionists don’t have a problem working in coalition with whereas the religous right is reactionary through and through. I wasn’t stereotyping Christians in general but rather the religous right in particular who are consistently rancid.

    Comment by Karl Friedrich — August 18, 2009 @ 3:25 am

  56. Michael T,

    I always make a point of exposing privileges – the whole system of privilege is one of the most useful tools the capitalists use to buy allies to maintain their grip on power.

    Like here in America, the capitalists have used 400 years of White privilege to buy the political loyalty of a the great majority of White Americans, including a majority of White workers.

    In your country, the Israeli capitalists buy the loyalty of the country’s Jewish population by granting all kinds of privileges, great and small, to Jewish people.

    Anybody who can prove that they are Jewish by the State of Israel’s official “who is a Jew” standard immediately benefits from every one of those privileges as soon as they step off the plane at Ben Gurion Airport.

    But you already know that, because every day, you benefit from Israeli Jewish privileges.

    In other words, call yourself an “Atheist” or whatever, you still directly and personally benefit from theocratically based privileges each and every day – as do millions of your countrymen.

    This – along with very real, and basically justified, fears of a second edition of the Holocaust for Jews who remain in majority non Jewish countries – is why so many Israelis – including almost the entire Israeli working class (and millions of Jewish Americans – including a majority of Jewish American workers) are so loyal to Zionism and the murderous Zionist war machine.

    Now, I’m not asking you to renounce your Jewish Israeli legal status (and all the mountain of privileges that go with it) – and I’m not sure if you even could (does Israel even HAVE a legal status for the non religious?) but at least own up and be honest about it, Michael!

    And yes, I’m going to be indignant about your privileged status – the same way I feel towards privileged White Americans, or anybody else that benefits from race or religious privilege anywhere!

    Gregory A. Butler

    Comment by gangbox — August 18, 2009 @ 3:28 am

  57. Josh,

    So, there are two types of excommunication.

    The REAL kind – the one officially imposed by a Priest or some other Church leader, the one that has real consequences here on Earth and in heaven.

    And the IMAGINARY kind – the kind that only happens in the hearts of true believers like you.

    Well, when was the date of Trujillo’s REAL excommunication?

    Or Franco’s?

    Or, for that matter, Adolf Hitler’s REAL excommunication?

    Or Himmler?

    Or Rudolf Hoess – the commandant of Auschwitz Concentration Camp, who was executed by the Polish government in 1947, 2 years after the end of the war, when there was no question of the Nazis intimidating the church since they were overthrown.

    Or, for that matter, what about Monsignor Josef Tiso, the dictator of the Nazi puppet government in Slovakia, who deported hundreds of thousands of Slovakian Jews to Mr Hoess’ gas chambers – when did he get excommunicated?

    Hell, did he even get defrocked?

    I could go on all night with this Josh.

    Beyond that, let me ask you – why exactly are you defending the Catholic Church on an “Unrepentant Marxist” website?

    As I said above, real Marxists are Atheists, who, while we respect the beliefs of the superstitious, and defend their right to practice them, do NOT defend religious superstition and struggle to promote Atheism.

    It’s really weird debating Christian sympathizers on a Marxist website!

    Comment by gangbox — August 18, 2009 @ 3:34 am

  58. Jonathan,

    To Fundamentalists, the folks you call “sane” Christians (and, I have to say Jonathan, that’s pretty insulting!) are not real Christians at all – they are “Cafeteria Christians” who do not follow the word of God, they just pick and choose which beliefs to believe and which ones to violate, based on their earthly whims.

    And if you read the Bible, the Fundamentalists DO have a point – since Fundamentalist Christianity is based on the actual teachings in the Bible, and the Cafeteria Christians (the ones you so judgmentally call “sane”) have abandoned vast areas of Jesus’ teachings (the ones they find inconvenient or ridiculous or just plain vicious and brutal).

    No, this site isn’t just for Marxists – but it’s a Marxist website and it is very very very weird to see folks passionately defending religious superstition here!

    Gregory A. Butler

    Comment by gangbox — August 18, 2009 @ 3:39 am

  59. Gregory, that wasn’t my problem with your little indignation there. My problem was that you assume that I’m NOT AWARE of my privilege belonging to the Ruling Caste of Israeli Society.
    I am well aware of that privilege and indeed it brings me a great deal of shame.
    You aren’t revealing anything new to me, who’s been living in The Jewish State for almost 20 years (since I was a little kid).

    Comment by Michael T — August 18, 2009 @ 3:41 am

  60. Josh,

    I think I was a little soft with you.

    I didn’t even bring up the enslavement of the unwed mothers and sex workers in the Magdeline homes in Ireland – the unlawful imprisonment, physical, mental and, in some cases, sexual abuse of those women for the better part of 50 years and their use as slave labor in Catholic owned commercial laundries.

    I didn’t even bring out the whole child sex abuse scandal – and the Church’s decades of covering up for the sodomite priests.

    And I didn’t even bring up the role of the Catholic Church in the transatlantic slave trade either.

    If you want to passionately defend Catholic superstition, I WILL passionately attack the earthly crimes of the Roman Catholic Church as an institution.

    Gregory A. Butler

    Comment by gangbox — August 18, 2009 @ 3:44 am

  61. Michael,

    I’m not surprised you know that you are privileged.

    I’m glad you acknowledge your aristocratic privileges over the folks who are actually from that country – the Palestinian Arabs.

    And I sure as hell hope you are actually doing something to destroy that system of theocratic privilege root and branch, rather than just recognizing that you are privileged and casually accepting those privileges.

    Atheism is a good start point – depending on how militant an Atheist you are, of course – but I hope you’re doing more than that.

    There were Afrikaaners who knew they were privileged too – but they didn’t do a damned thing about it!

    Gregory A. Butler

    Comment by gangbox — August 18, 2009 @ 3:48 am

  62. Ofcourse Gregory, now I’m in agreement with you, aside from few points. At a risk of breaking the camel’s back and bringing yet another out-of-subject post,I’ll (try to) be short.
    First of all, my atheism does not have a direct connection to my anti-Zionism. As I mentioned before, “jew” in Israel is not a religious or theocratic designation, it is a designation of caste.
    You can even convert to Christianity, like a handful of Israelis made, but their passports were never revokes, neither most of their privileges.

    You can be an atheist and a good liberal Zionist at the same time.

    Militancy has nothing to do with it.

    There are many MANY folks in Israel who despise the Orthodox, less but still many who despise any laws Israel holds that are religious, like the fact that everything’s closed on Saturday and there’s no public transportation on the weekends, or the fact that one HAS to go through the Rabbis in order to get marries, MANY folks want a wedding to be a pure contract with the State with no Rabinical threads attached to the process.
    This doesn’t discount them AT ALL from being good liberal Zionists. Religion is a shiny ornament to fool the crow.
    Israel is an ethnocratic and colonial caste society. The religion is not the dominant stream of The Jewish State. The Orthodoxy lost the battle very early.
    So for their entire history under Zionism they are relegated to a powerful opposition.

    As far as I know, the situation in the USA is even more liberal.
    The fact that a shocking amount of priests in the Catholic faith engaged in child molestation does not take away from the fact that Catholic priests and ministers have been engaging in the anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist struggles in Latin America.
    Nor the existence of extremely backward and reactionary chapters and verses in the Bible and the Old Testament against Women and Gays take away from the fact that believing Christians have been participating in various liberation struggles.
    Nor does the existence of those good Christians taken away from the thrust of the pseudo-fascist religious right.
    Like God, the religious right is man made.
    We could flip through the bible all day finding a chapter that may explain that the religious right is acting this way because of this particular verse. Than go to another chapter and seeing a verse that would justify the opposition to this particular action.
    You know it’s a large mambo-jambo of various writers, relying on various different sources, living in various different decades apart from one another.
    I don’t see why we have to chase those folks away if their heart is in the first place.

    Comment by Michael T — August 18, 2009 @ 4:27 am

  63. The acceptance of the false concept of race leads to an identity politics based on race, and this leads nowhere beyond promoting more racist antagonism, because racism is a bottomless pit which, if you fall into it, is difficult to get out of. You can see this clearly in Israel, which is an explicitly racial state. Just because “race” does not exist and is a false distinction, doesn’t mean that arbitrary discrimination on the grounds of race does not exist. It does. People can have all kinds of prejudices about other people, based on imputed characteristics and stereotypes, which have no basis in reality even although they may gain an official status and seriously disadvantage some. Emancipation begins when you reject false categorisations of people, and treat each human being as a human being on his/her own merits, with equal civil rights and duties, according to what s/he does and says. But as long as you accept the false concept of race, you cannot very well do so. We simply cannot infer very much at all about the nature of a person from knowing that s/he is black or white, christian or muslim, Jew or Arab etc. and we go wrong when we do. BTW I am not Jewish and do not identify as Jewish, although some in the family lineage married ethnically Jewish people. In my working life, I have worked with people from all kinds of ethnic backgrounds, and still do, so I know very well what I am talking about, from lengthy practical experience.

    Comment by Jurriaan Bendien — August 18, 2009 @ 7:42 am

  64. Mike T is right that it’s a mistake to let this thread go off into a religous debate when Cockburn’s apparent political degeneracy is the topic.

    As Richard Greener asks in comment # 18: “How and why did a medical procedure ever become a matter for ideological dispute?”

    The simple answer to that question is this: Since abortion is a medical procedure it requires the utilization of medical technology. In reality technology is the collective wisdom of human kind. The struggle du jour is universal health care. What hypocrisy must be the idea of “life, liberty & the pursuit of happiness” when tens of millions are doomed to miserably truncated lives for lack of access to the technology of medicine. The ideological dispute flows from the fact that if, like in Western Europe, any American woman can pop into a free clinic and arrange a medical procedure, then undoubtedly the medical procedure of abortion would become more common in the USA. Therein lies the real rub of the ideological dispute. But historical materialism takes that truism as its point of departure for the ethical debate proves in the end to be a structural smokescreen for female repression by the ancient luggage of patriarchy.

    Comment by Karl Friedrich — August 18, 2009 @ 2:40 pm

  65. Jurriaan. Post#63: “Emancipation begins when you reject false categorisations of people, and treat each human being as a human being on his/her own merits, with equal civil rights and duties, according to what s/he does and says.”

    That’s profound in the abstract. Meanwhile an Iraq toiler sees a vulnerable checkpoint staffed with mercenary goons and feels compelled to stuff something up under his galabiyya he knows how to use.

    The same is felt amidst the toilers in Gaza.

    The same is felt amonsgt black people in the US.

    How really different has the world become since Mao observed that “emancipation flows from the barrell of a gun”?

    Comment by Karl Friedrich — August 18, 2009 @ 4:02 pm

  66. It’s not nearly as outrageous as the ideas of the “death panel” and “birther” brigades, Brian, but yet those views make the news every night. Ever watch the show COPS? The drug war in the ghettoes is still a war. Full voting rights didn’t occur for Blacks until just 35 years ago. The descrimination they endure is still pretty damn blatant. Their enemy, like the Gazans & Iraqis, is still primarily Uncle Sam’s imperialist war machine. As the economy recedes new scapegoats are sought. All that prevents a re-emergence of facism is a strong left movement. The competition for scarce jobs inexorably leads to racial strife. How about the way Mexicans are arbitrarily rounded up in INS raids and the border is militarized? There’s a Klan like mentality fueling these anti-immigrant assaults. Obama’s innaugaration is grim consolation. From the perspective of some poor Black kid living, say, in Flint, MI, which looks almost as bombed out as Falujah, it’s not so outrageous.

    Comment by Karl Friedrich — August 18, 2009 @ 10:09 pm

  67. ‘Death Panel 2009′ Surely a film in the making, to rank alongside ‘Soylent Green’ perhaps?

    As a worker in and user of the British NHS, I had mixed feelings about the hysterical outpourings of some of your fellow citizens. The initial response of many of us was to laugh/cry. As you’re at the sharp end I wonder how you cope with (admittedly) a minority of people beyond reason, certifiably insane in some cases perhaps.

    The NHS does have problems – underfunding and the attempts by successive governments to encourage the privatisation of some aspects of care or putting local health services in hock to private firms building hospitals through the Private Finance Initiative. There are constant battles large and small all over the country to defend the core principle of the NHS – it’s a public service and the profit motive has no place in the provision of healthcare, which should be free and based on need not ability to pay. I guess we’ve been spoiled compared to many workers in the US – how can I explain the peace of mind taken for granted that when you turn up to an Emergency Department, no-one wants to know how you’re going to pay for it.

    As for the quality of care – well neutral statistics comparing the UK with the USA suggests similar figures in key indicators. The main difference is the GDP expenditure here is about half of yours. Normally, the right wing everywhere get worked up about parasitical bureaucracies but they seem to be very quiet about it when it comes to healthcare – the fact that the bureaucracy in the NHS is significantly smaller than is needed to administer healthcare in the US. I wonder why?! In all the words generated by this issue, hardly anywone has mentioned the fact that Cuba has actually got a better healthcare system than either the US or Britain – and most other rich countries.

    We must remember though that no health service should (or can) carry society’s burdens. A lot fewer people in Britian and the US would suffer from chronic illnesses and live longer but for the grotesque inequality that is worse than in any other advanced indistrial country.

    Comment by Doug — August 19, 2009 @ 1:48 pm

  68. “….I wonder how you cope with (admittedly) a minority of people beyond reason, certifiably insane in some cases perhaps.”

    Perhaps it’s the difficulty of coping all these years here that the Irish ex-pat Cockburn formed a soft spot for Eugenics & Euthanasia as he’d secretly like to dampen the proliferation of politicus ignoramus? But that certainly goes against the fetish over the fetus.

    Comment by Karl Friedrich — August 19, 2009 @ 2:13 pm

  69. In reply to Karl, post 65: I’ve never argued that a military war can emancipate people, at best it is a prologue to emancipation, insofar as it is an act of self-assertion on pain of death. Are women liberated when you put a machine gun into their hands, so they can kill people with it? I have never argued either that the war against Iraq carried on through 30 years was emancipatory, I have argued that it amounts to a mini-holocaust, which would never have happened on that scale, if the West had not sold or given large arsenals of military hardware and advisory services to the power elites there, directly or viavia, and interfered in their political process. If Arabs or blacks want to kill any Jew or white American, because they hate them, how does this emancipate Arabs or blacks? It doesn’t. I don’t regard what I said at all abstract; prejudice can be lethal, and indeed it often has been. I learnt that as a 16-year old schoolkid. Mao never said that “emancipation flows from the barrell of a gun”. He said “Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.” Again I have to deal with illiteracy from Leftists who don’t know what they are talking about. In Holland we have a saying, “he has heard the bell ringing, but he doesn’t know where the clapper hangs.” Racist hate gets you nowhere, it just boils down to blaming other people for your own problems, and puts the onus on others to change, which, precisely, is rarely feasible unless you make changes yourself, and insofar you force people to change “out of the barrel of a gun”, you are forcing them to change in a way that is not in their real nature, and that cannot be emancipatory. The root cause of all the problems in Israel/Palestine is foreign intervention and foreign money, and if that stopped, they would not be able to afford to carry on like they do. That foreign intervention is based largely on a false concept of emancipation: the notion that some people can emancipate others “from above”, rather than people emancipating themselves, plus the concept of a nationalist and racially pure “homeland”. Whereas, a person genuinely pursuing his self-emancipation can in principle make a home anywhere, because he affirms himself as a human being among other human beings, and makes an effort to get along with them. The ambiguity of the concept of eugenics is that it claims to be emancipatory in the sense of improving the human species, but in reality it has often been a means for oppressing people. But that is just to say that schemes for human amelioration cannot simply be taken at face value, but have to be thought through critically. Mr Proyect and Mr Cockburn certainly aim to do so, but if in fact they add to the confusion by the way they put their case, they are hardly leaders in emancipation.

    Comment by Jurriaan Bendien — August 19, 2009 @ 5:21 pm

  70. Jurrian: Your semantic dancing won’t withstand scrutiny. The most accurate translation of Mao’s famous quote is PROBABLY: “Power flows from the barrell of a gun.”

    But it’s also been translated by some Chinese as “Freedom flows from the barrell of a gun.”

    You even added the word “political” to “power” which is not in ANY translation.

    So I substituted the word “emancipation” simply to make a point vis-a-vias your use of the word “emancipation” earlier.

    It was such a stretch after all. For what is “political power” but the necessary 1st step in the emancipation of labor from capital?

    I know Mao’s quote, whatever the translation, typically makes pacifists cringe, but pacisism was never, and will never be, an enduring principle of Marxism.

    It’s like getting Palestinians to renounce violence while having what’s left of their nation reduced by Israel to a concentration camp.

    Comment by Karl Friedrich — August 19, 2009 @ 6:40 pm

  71. Karl, you have a clever way of excusing yourself, shifting to a different topic, and wheedling out of what you said yourself, but you don’t fool me. My citation is correct. “Every Communist must grasp the truth, “Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.” From: Mao Ze Dong, “Problems of War and Strategy” (November 6, 1938), Selected Works, Vol. II, p. 224. Online source: http://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/mao/selected-works/volume-2/mswv2_12.htm I remember it well because I used to own these books. Actually, Mao emphasized at the beginning of his article that political strategy varies according to conditions, and may be entirely peaceful, where this is possible, in capitalist countries. Since no parliamentary political platform was available in China, conditions were different. China’s history from the anti-warlord campaigns of the 1910s to the war against Japan of the 1930s had, Mao considered, demonstrated that whoever had the guns had the power. Point was, that the failure of the communists to realize this, had enabled Chiang to carry out a massacre in April 1927, in which thousands of communists who until then had co-operated with Chiang’s Government, were arrested and executed. That was the real background of that statement by Mao. You are so illiterate that you cannot even spell “pacifism”. You can rant your stupid Leftist rants all you like about struggles in faraway places that you don’t have any experience of, and have not studied, but anybody intelligent sees through that junk straightaway. Have you ever fired guns? Do you have any military experience? You better watch out, somebody might turn a gun on you, because they get sick of your ill-considered Leftist rants, and want to put a stop to it. Then you will know what it is like. Your so-called Marxism is a trash religion that celebrates violence. In fact, Marx himself envisaged at times that in some countries socialism might come about by entirely peaceful means, depending on conditions. I can give you the quotation as well, but actually I don’t even see the point of that, since you are evidently not a rational humanist and just luxuriate in fascist, nihilistic sentiments and general hate propaganda. No wonder that with this barely intelligible crap being vented, the US Left doesn’t get anywhere.

    Comment by Jurriaan Bendien — August 19, 2009 @ 11:12 pm

  72. Spoken like a true Zionist!

    You better hope the left here doesn’t get somewhere because the 1st thing will be cutting off is aid to Israel.

    Comment by Karl Friedrich — August 19, 2009 @ 11:53 pm

  73. When I talked about “the ability to make a home anywhere”, I obviously did not mean stealing someone else’s real estate, killing the owners or chasing them away, or establishing a home over the corpses of those the land was stolen from. After world war 2, the majority of humanity recognised the validity of Jewish survivors of genocidal persecution and industrial killing in Europe emigrating to Palestine, to establish a home there. I see no reason to deny this was reasonable in itself. But unfortunately these Jews often operated in ways similar to the tyrants they sought to escape from, robbing, killing, ousting, oppressing and plundering the Palestinians and Arabs who actually lived there, justifying this with a Zionist ideology, according to which property belonging to somebody else, by divine right belonged to them, and that you have to defend your cultural identity “at any cost”. And thus the Israeli state is based on a social contradiction that is socially and morally not sustainable. I have every sympathy with people who, for one reason or another, want to build a new life somewhere else, it’s perfectly valid and I have done it myself twice. But actually I have never believed in Zionism. If you are educated in the revolutionary humanism of Marx and Engels, Zionism doesn’t make any sense whatever. I think what sustains Israel/Palestine economically is mainly American and European hand-outs of money and political support; American and European taxpayers, perversely, subsidize the perpetuation of the conflict, like it or not. I think that if the funds were withdrawn, or, at any rate, provision of any more funds would be made conditional on genuinely resolving the historic grievances that exist, then there is a real possibility that the conflict can be equitably solved. It would be simplistic to think that such a strategy would solve every problem, but it would make one helluva difference. Karl, whoever you are, venting verbal abuse from behind an assumed name don’t earn you any credit.

    Comment by Jurriaan Bendien — August 20, 2009 @ 9:49 pm

  74. Jurr – I use my real name and I’m not looking to earn any “credit.”

    I substituted the word “emancipation” for “power” in a Mao quote to parrot your use of the word “emancipation” in the prior post.

    Big deal. It’s hardly a semantic stretch since the 1st step for the emancipation of the toilers is political power.

    You believe Mao’s quote tends to needlessly glorify violence. I tend to agree.

    You cannot conceive of socialist revolution in America happenning violently. I cannot conceive of it otherwise.

    As far as getting all bunched up about whose got more military training than the other, that debate doesn’t impress me as I believe Iraqis have the right to drive out any occupying army by any means necessary.

    It doesn’t take much military training to plant an IED but all the military training in the world cannot prevent somebody from getting killed by one.

    If Uncle Sam practiced what he preaches he wouldn’t be in that mess.

    Bottom line is I could care less about another Gulf War movie where apparently the only revealing political scene is where in her own kitchen an Iraqi housewife whacks an American officer’s head with a skillet.

    So how about we agree to disagree & put this thread to bed.

    Comment by Karl Friedrich — August 20, 2009 @ 10:32 pm

  75. You don’t get off so lightly. I did not say, that Mao “glorified violence” by what he said in the quote. Mao meant that the opposition is prepared to kill us all, and if we don’t arm ourselves we will be as lambs led to the slaughter. But as Marxist, he carefully relativised his argument also: he indicated that whether we have to use means of violence, depends entirely on the conditions we face, and if we could campaign peacefully, democratically and legally for our ideas, no armed defence would be necessary. The question is whether you advocate the use of violence in general to get what you want, or whether you are in favour of proportionate use of force, if indeed you are under real threat from violence by others. I am not advocating the use of force to get what you want in general – this only provides the opposition with a justification for its own violence – because the use of force starts to become relevant, only if there is no other way to defend yourself. And even then, you have to look carefully at whether use of force would actually improve things. If there is no improvement, it’s pointless. History shows that whenever violence becomes a routine practice to get what you want, because it is so easy, the possibilities for a better life for all vanish. In this sense, the terrorists are often provocateurs, who actually make life worse for their own people. Quite possibly, there will be violence in the US as social tensions increase; after all, the US has more handguns per head of population than most other countries, which raises the probability that they will be actually used. All this may of course seem far removed from the topic of eugenics, but in reality it is highly relevant, because we are talking about the value of life and the respect for human life. If you start to talk cavalierly and loosely about the use of violence, you have lost your sense of the value of human life and your respect for it, and this disables any level-headed perspective. If US Leftists, out of frustration, dream of violent revolution, all that means that they do not know how to get what they want through ordinary political means. But that is just a problem of their own lack of imagination and behavioural flexibility. Naturally, if you have an idea, and reality refuses to measure up to it, it can be terribly frustrating. But the real question is whether you yourself can develop ideas truly adequate to the reality you are facing, so that you are really equipped to change that reality. When you casually condone violence and say you don’t care, Karl, that just shows that you lack any serious political analysis. Politics is pursued by people who do care, whereas war means that you wish the opposition was dead. But, obviously, if you wish that the opposition is dead, you are in no position to participate in politics, because you are in no position to enter into any fruitful dialogue with them.

    Comment by Jurriaan Bendien — August 21, 2009 @ 4:41 pm

  76. I guess we’ll just have to see what happens as the big squeeze torques down.

    Meanwhile the entities I loathe are organically incapable of any “fruitful dialogue.”

    Comment by Karl Friedrich — August 21, 2009 @ 5:29 pm

  77. Entities you loathe? If you want to get an idea of what some people regard as “Dutch fun”, a beach dance party near Rotterdam this Saturday night, which had a police permit for 15,000 participants, but which began to attract far more people, degenerated into a fighting brawl and around 23.30 pm many gunshots were fired by party goers. Dozens of police officers entered the beach, and observed people injured by bullets. The conflict escalated when a large crowd set upon the police. Under threat, the police fired many warning shots, and shot down at least one of the fighters, although they did not kill him. You can view the incidents on youtube here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TM7agHNbH6Y and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cW4iTJ9N54A
    I am not joking in what I said in this thread, Karl. A concern with peace may sound abstract, until you realise you could be dead while “just havin’ fun”.

    Comment by Jurriaan Bendien — August 23, 2009 @ 9:51 am

  78. Jurriaan – I was at the equivalent of an Arizona beach party 4 Sundays ago, a sandy spot where 2 great rivers meet in Tucson, minding my own business in a 4×4, when 50 yards from me a Latino youth spun his truck in a donut kicking dust and rocks onto another Latino youth’s SUV, apparently cracking the windshield. After words were exchanged one youth pulled out a 9MM and emptied the clip into the other. I watched his body hit the ground like a sack of oranges.

    Carrying all manner of firearm is legal in this state. There’s no jobs here other than drug trafficking. Foreclosures are rampant, the schools are pathetic, so life is pretty cheap. Fools gun each other down every day around here. Just a couple hunddred miles to the south of the border they routinely stack bodies like cord wood, many of them dead cops. I was even surprised at how non chalant I was about what I’d just seen. Probably because the same thing happened 5 months earlier. I increasingly see the world through the eyes of an Iraqi villager.

    According to the World Health Organization approximately 27,000 children die each and every day from malnutrition and perfectly prevenatble disease. The abject greed of Uncle Sam the child molester and serial killer, along with his 7 hoodlum underlings, are largely responsible for that genocide which shows no sign of abatement. Can there me any more violence in the world than that?

    So if somebody starts talking about organizing violence in order to save those 27,000 kids a day then I’ll quote to them Trotsky who once said to a Russian anarchist: “A bomb in hand can be a wonderful thing but first let’s clarify ourselves.”

    Comment by Karl Friedrich — August 23, 2009 @ 2:53 pm

  79. What you say shocks me, and I can understand your sentiments, but I fail to see yet how violence is going to save 27,000 children per day durably. It is not true that Uncle Sam is simply a serial killer, because America also is the largest national supplier of food aid to poor countries, and the point is that if we can praise that, it makes the “serial killing” look so much worse. You have to set the constructive next to the destructive to be convincing, among other things because otherwise there is no hope and no inspiration to improve things. As far as I can see, the real problem is that, as more and more social science faculties have closed down, gutted or muted, the elites have started to think that they can tackle social problems and bring people into line with militarization, rather than by actively engaging with cultures to promote social reconstruction. But insofar as the violence results from social breakdown, coercion does not achieve all that much, at most “containing” a problem, since the central question is whether you can regain voluntary cooperation for a better society, which is a political and cultural matter. Well, here in Holland, the local council – and the chief councillor was actually at the dance party when it all happened – decided that because a young guy actually died from gunfire, they would ban dance parties at Hoek van Holland altogether. So there you have the effect of this drunken gun hooliganism where people take potshots at each other: one dead, no more dance parties. I suppose the council could have said, we are going to have another dance party to commemorate the guy who died, but that sort of thing would not find favour here. In general, we take the view that you cannot prevent fights and brawls from breaking out altogether, but we draw the line absolutely at killing people, and there are very heavy sanctions for that here. You can get knocked about, but you live to learn to avoid that. But if you willfully kill somebody, then there are very heavy penalties. But to get back to the issue, actually these penalties themselves are also problematic, since there are getting to be big problems with prison management, so you see, things are rotting at all levels of society here too (a Dutch word for this is “verloedering”, which means neglect/defilement/despoilation/abuse/decadence).

    Comment by Jurriaan Bendien — August 24, 2009 @ 7:41 pm

  80. The 27,000 kids die every day AFTER Uncle Sam provides a modicum of support in food but that comes with ropes attatched insofar as typically those recipient countries are contractually required to buy so many dollars worth of Caterpillar heavy equipment and so forth.

    I haven’t figured yet how violence is going to stop this genocide I just know that non-violence never prevented starvation anywhere, particularly in India. In fact without its violent revolution it’s fair to say China would look a lot like India today.

    Comment by Karl Friedrich — August 24, 2009 @ 9:56 pm

  81. From the mouth’s of the Town Hallers themselves:

    Comment by Karl Friedrich — September 1, 2009 @ 11:24 pm

  82. Interesting video. What would you have in common with such people? A belief in liberty, rejection of undue interference by the state in private life, a concern with justice etc. The video explains that the US government tried to implement a policy regardless of whether it had a sufficient mandate from the people for it. It was not politically viable in that sense. A large number of people feel the Federal government does not represent them in any way.

    Actually, as regards the Dutch shootings, there is now uncertainty about who actually fired guns apart from the police, there is an inquiry going on about it. It may even be the case that only the police fired shots, when they felt seriously threatened by a crowd charging them.

    Comment by Jurriaan Bendien — September 3, 2009 @ 9:38 pm

  83. In case there were any lingering doubts about Cockburn’s misogyny, here he is questioning “the new prudery” of those who would find the idea of Roman Polanski drugging and sexually violating a 13 year old girl discomforting:

    http://www.counterpunch.org/cockburn10022009.html

    Pro-rape AND anti-abortion? Not even the Christian Right can get away with (openly) advocating that…

    Comment by James B. — October 6, 2009 @ 4:18 am

  84. [...] Comment by Gregory A. Butler — August 15, 2009 @ 6:22 pm [...]

    Pingback by Alexander Cockburn, 71, no More | वसुधैव कुटुंबकम — July 21, 2012 @ 9:50 pm

  85. [...] The end of the cold war, which sparked a major re-thinking of old dogmas on the American right, had less emphatic consequences on the left, which had long ago replaced the old Marxist shibboleths with new ones: identity politics, the climate change religion, and, more recently, a firm belief in the divinity of Barack Hussein Obama. Yet for Cockburn, an old-fashioned leftist, the implosion of the system his father — a Communist party member — had so consistently defended had a profound effect on his thinking. While the rest of what used to be called the left in this country drifted into Democratic party politics and from there were recruited into the Obama cult, Alex Cockburn stood aloof: scathing in his indictment of Obama’s wars and thecurrent regime, he deviated from contemporary leftist cant in important ways, such as his critique of Obamacare: [...]

    Pingback by Alexander Cockburn, RIP « Attack the System — July 24, 2012 @ 2:37 am


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