Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

January 18, 2014

On Israelis calling each other Nazis

Filed under: Fascism,zionism — louisproyect @ 5:55 pm

NY Times, January 18, 2014

The Opinion Pages|Op-Ed Contributor

Sometimes ‘Nazi’ Is the Right Word

By ETGAR KERET

TEL AVIV — “NAZI” is a short word. It has only two syllables, like “rac-ist” or “kill-er.” “Democracy,” on the other hand, is a long word with lots of syllables that is very tiring to say. It may not be as tiring as saying “freedom of expression” or “social justice,” but still, there is something really exhausting about it.

People in Israel use “Nazi” when they want the most vicious curse possible, and it’s usually directed at someone they perceive as belligerent. It could be a cop, a soldier or an elected official who, in their opinion, is acting like a bully.Such usage is offensive and infuriating. As the son of Holocaust survivors, I find it particularly rankling. This week the Knesset gave preliminary approval to a bill that would criminalize saying “Nazi” under inappropriate circumstances. The government views the word as a weapon of mass destruction no less lethal than an Iranian nuclear bomb, and so it insists on Israel’s basic right to protect itself from the threat.

Many Israelis think that passing a law against a word is stupid and juvenile; others see it as fascist and anti-democratic. Incidentally, saying “fascist” or “anti-democratic” is also seen as insulting and offensive. And I wouldn’t be surprised if someone tried to outlaw those words in the future, too.

Read full article

Watch full version of “Defamation”, from which clip above was extracted.

January 17, 2014

While you were neutral about Yarmouk

Filed under: Palestine,Syria — louisproyect @ 9:02 pm

While you were neutral about Yarmouk

on January 17, 2014

Ruined buildings in the Yarmouk refugee camp, summer 2013. (Photo: Reuters)

While you were insisting on neutrality about Yarmouk, the Syrian regime dropped barrel bombs on it. Mohammad Al Far. Husam Abo Ahmad. Mohammad Tafori. Mohammad Suhaib Al Qides. Ala’a Fri’j. These men are all dead. Mohammad Taha would later die too when he, along with a larger demonstration, approached a regime checkpoint in frustration after the carnage rained on them from above.

The Pro-Palestinian movement was delayed in picking up on the tragic unraveling of Yarmouk. It took the work of a great deal of dedicated activists to force it into the forefront of the solidarity movement’s agenda. What couldn’t be predicted, however, was that, in the place of silence, an ugly neutrality would hover over the new-founded concern. And that said the neutrality was often an unconvincing veil for something much more vile. Perhaps, in our naivety, we believe that when Yarmouk became visible, it would be nearly impossible to omit the clear fact that the siege was being imposed by the Syrian regime. Instead, it was the oppositional fighters in the camp who fell under the spotlight. A chorus emerged, one familiar enough to evoke a surreal sense of Déjà vu.

full: http://mondoweiss.net/2014/01/neutral-about-yarmouk.html

The best and worst films of 2013

Filed under: Counterpunch,Film — louisproyect @ 8:36 pm
Counterpunch Weekend Edition January 17-19, 2014
Why Hollywood is Incapable of Making Great Films

The Best and Worst Films of 2013

by LOUIS PROYECT

Before explaining my somewhat heterodox approach to best and worst lists, I want to follow up on my reporting on the witch hunt against Armond White, who was facing discipline over his alleged heckling of Steve McQueen at the New York Film Critics Circle awards ceremony. Since then White has been expelled from NYFCC. Rather than giving you my take on this, I would refer you to an excellent article by Henry Stewart in L Magazine titled “Armond White is just a red herring”.  Stewart spoke for me when he wrote:

Armond’s ejection from the organization seems reasonable (if regrettably messy); but does the practice of bestowing honors to films and filmmakers and then hobnobbing with them at ceremonies and industry parties? “Critics should not be in the business of giving out awards,” Times critic AO Scott (who’s professionally forbidden to belong to any awards-bestowing critics groups) wrote on Twitter, continuing, “Criticism rests on the independence and integrity of the singular voice, and group voting+partying with the winners undermines that.”

I haven’t yet seen a critics-group this year recognize a film that truly needed recognition: every one praised a piece of prominently lobbied-for Oscarbait: 12 Years, American Hustle, etc., the same movies that won Golden Globes and which will likely go on to win Academy Awards. I’m a member of the Online Film Critics Society (because belonging to any group has its useful perks, like year-end screeners), which named 12 Years a Slave the year’s best movie. But it was a movie I strongly disliked, so what does the group’s award and my membership in the organization have to do with each other? This is what Scott means, I think, by voting being meaningless: consensus is by definition middlebrow, unenthusiastic, dispassionate—nothing we should want our film criticism to be.

In line with Stewart’s reference to recognizing films that truly need recognition, my picks for best films of the year will by and large never get full-page ads in the N.Y. Times and relentless public relations blitzkriegs from the Harvey Weinstein’s of the world. (I say by and large because The Weinstein Company produced “Philomena”, one of my picks.) But mostly my choices are either fiction films not made in Hollywood or documentaries, for which this was a banner year. I also tend to shy away from American “indie” movies that come out of Sundance since I find them formulaic. My critical faculties were honed by my exposure to cinema’s greatest artists who I was fortunate enough to be exposed to when I was a student at Bard College in the early 1960s. Each week a new film by Buñuel, Kurosawa, Godard, and Kubrick et al would open. Just as we will never see another Mozart; so we will never see the likes of that generation again.

full article: http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/01/17/the-best-and-worst-films-of-2013/

David O. Russell, Ernst Lubitsch, Preston Sturges and William Shakespeare: some comparisons

Filed under: Film — louisproyect @ 8:15 pm

Yesterday I decided to allow my readers to evaluate David Denby’s claim that “American Hustle” was “into the magical sphere—Shakespeare rules over it and Ernst Lubitsch and Preston Sturges are denizens—where profound human foolishness becomes a form of grace.” Thanks to Youtube, it is fairly easy to provide sample film clips that make comparisons possible. Let’s start with David O. Russell’s “American Hustle”.

In this scene above you see Abscam conman Irving Rosenfeld (played by Christian Bale, which makes about as much sense as Woody Allen playing a Nazi general) bickering with his wife Roslyn. I imagine that some people must have found this scene funny but the humor was lost on me. Like “Nebraska”, “Inside Llewyn Davis”, and “August: Osage County”, this is just one more Oscar-destined film whose main characters are repulsive. It is beyond the scope of this article to trace the origins of this tendency to create such characters, but I think that Martin Scorsese played a major role. Creating sympathetic characters must strike the up-and-coming director or screenwriter as passé. Throughout “American Hustle”, you see scenes like this one after the other. They left me feeling soiled and depressed.

Made in 1940, “Shop Around the Corner” is considered Ernst Lubitsch’s crowning achievement and is ranked among the greatest ever made in Hollywood. It stars James Stewart and Margaret Sullavan as a couple of department store clerks who can’t stand each other but have not yet discovered that they have been carrying on a passionate correspondence all along—they have been using fake names. In the clip below, Stewart is about to meet Sullavan and discover that she is simultaneously the woman he loves and the woman he can’t stand.

The gentle kidding between Stewart and a fellow clerk is typical Lubitsch, which is to say that it is supremely wise about the human heart.

Wikipedia cites his biographer Scott Eyman who characterized the “Lubitsch touch”:

With few exceptions Lubitsch’s movies take place neither in Europe nor America but in Lubitschland, a place of metaphor, benign grace, rueful wisdom… What came to preoccupy this anomalous artist was the comedy of manners and the society in which it transpired, a world of delicate sangfroid, where a breach of sexual or social propriety and the appropriate response are ritualized, but in unexpected ways, where the basest things are discussed in elegant whispers; of the rapier, never the broadsword… To the unsophisticated eye, Lubitsch’s work can appear dated, simply because his characters belong to a world of formal sexual protocol. But his approach to film, to comedy, and to life was not so much ahead of its time as it was singular, and totally out of any time.

Preston Sturges was the greatest director of “screwball comedies”. In this scene below from “Sullivan’s Travels”, his greatest, you see Joel McCrea playing John Lloyd Sullivan, who is a top-grossing maker of escapist Hollywood comedies. He has assumed the identity of an unemployed and homeless worker in order to find out how the “other half” lives. The end result of his research will be “socially aware” film that lives up to the Daily Worker’s expectations. Veronica Lake is a struggling actress who takes pity on him. Listen carefully to their dialog. Lubitsch’s name comes up.

Sullivan’s working title for his new leftist movie is “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” Does that ring a bell? It should. That’s the title of a Coen brothers comedy starring George Clooney in a 1930s prison escape tale based loosely on Homer’s Odyssey. Although Sturges was just as cynical in his own way about society as the Coen brothers, you always rooted for his characters.

In my review of the Coens’ “A Serious Man”, I referred to them and Preston Sturges:

In some ways, “A Serious Man” demonstrates all the flaws of the Coens’ “O Brother, Where Art Thou?”, a reworking of Homer’s Odyssey. Without the grandeur of Homer’s characters, all you end up with is a kind of road movie that requires the talent of a Preston Sturges to pull off. Without a finely honed sense of comedy, the best that Coen brothers can come up with is characters that they can feel superior to while hoping that the audience can share the joke. In Preston Sturges’s Depression-era comedies, you cheer for the characters. Set in the same historical period, the characters of “O Brother, Where Art Thou” are involved with what film critic Jonathan Rosenbaum calls pop nihilism.

Finally, to remind you of what Shakespeare is about (any comparison between him and David O. Russell should be punishable by a mandatory prison sentence of 5 years), check the excerpt above from the 1935 Hollywood production of “Midsummer’s Night Dream” directed by Max Reinhardt that I reviewed in December 2010. I wrote:

This 1935 movie was the only one that Max Reinhardt would ever make. Born in 1873 to orthodox Austrian Jewish parents with the surname Goldmann, he became one of Europe’s most respected stage directors. He had a special affinity for “Midsummer’s Night Dream”, staging a wildly popular version in 1927. After the Anschluss in Austria, he would leave the country for good and settle in Los Angeles, like many other refugees from Nazism. He staged a version of the play at the Hollywood Bowl in 1934, using some of the same actors who would appear in the movie, including Mickey Rooney and Olivia De Havilland. When the movie was released to theaters, the Germans banned it because the director was a Jew and because the film used Felix Mendelssohn’s (another Jew) score.

As a stage director, Max Reinhardt would hire Ernst Lubitsch, a fellow Jew, in 1911 as one of his actors. One imagines that the “Lubitsch touch” was influenced by what he learned from Reinhardt. By 1918 he began directing films.

If you leave David O. Russell out of the equation, a much more rewarding research topic would be the parallels between Shakespeare, Lubitsch and Sturges. Perhaps the humanism of Shakespeare’s plays and the effervescence of Lubitsch and Sturges’s film comedies belong to a different epoch and matter less to someone at the NYU or UCLA film schools. But for me, they will always be the gold standard.

January 16, 2014

Zizek and Abercrombie-Fitch

Filed under: Zizek — louisproyect @ 3:21 pm

Slavoj Zizek

Zizek’s client

http://www.critical-theory.com/that-time-zizek-wrote-for-abercrombie-fitch/

That Time Zizek Wrote for Abercrombie & Fitch

March 19th, 2013  |  by Eugene. Published in Theory and Theorists

Slovenian critical theorist Slavoj Zizek isn’t always spending his spare time marrying Argentine models or psychoanalyzing toilets. Back in the day, the philosopher also found time to write ads in Abercrombie & Fitch’s “Back to School” catalog.

At one point, Abercrombie & Fitch was trying to appeal to 14-year-old douchebags by publishing soft core porn under the auspices of product catalogs. At another point, Abercrombie & Fitch decided to try a permutation of softcore porn and Slavoj Zizek’s rambling. The results are amazing.

A PDF of the catalog was spotted on The New Yorker today. The full catalog is available for free here (NSFW).

NY Times June 17, 2003
Clothing Chain Accused of Discrimination
By STEVEN GREENHOUSE

Abercrombie & Fitch, the clothing retailer that appeals to the college set with blond-haired, blue-eyed models, was sued yesterday for racial discrimination, accused of favoring whites for its sales floor jobs.

The lawsuit, filed in Federal District Court in San Francisco, charges that Abercrombie discriminates against Hispanics, Asians and blacks in its hiring as it seeks to project what the company calls the “classic American” look.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-447183/Poseurs-Paradise-Whats-really-like-work-new-Abercrombie–Fitch-store.html

Poseurs Paradise! What’s it really like to work at the new Abercrombie & Fitch store?

Two young, shirtless men in low-slung jeans greet you at the door. Disco music pounds out, the air is full of a sickly sweet scent and it is so dark, customers get lost and panic. This is shopping Abercrombie & Fitch style. Savile Row will never be the same.

I’ve been working undercover there after I took a job as an in-store model at the multi-billion dollar U.S. clothing company’s new London store – their first venture into Europe.

My aim was to report from the inside. It happened by chance. You don’t see many Canadian woman in turquoise wellies on public transport in London, so I had already noticed the store’s talent scout when she noticed me, at a London Tube station. I was curious. So was she.

“You’ve got just the right look to come and work for Abercrombie & Fitch” she told me. I was taken aback, flattered, but had no idea what she meant.

“Fantastic” I replied. Abercrombie & Fitch? The name rang a bell. Shortbread? Why would a biscuit firm want to employ me?

She explained that Abercrombie & Fitch was a clothing store and that they were hiring “models”

to “just hang out” around the shop, wearing the company’s clothing.

The penny dropped. I’d seen those risque; posters of a muscular man with a builder’s bottom adorning London buses. I knew this homoerotic campaign has caused a stir.

This, I realised, was the American chain whose use of blatant sex to market their U.S. preppy style has attracted critics as well as custom. They promise a store full of “gorgeous kids”.

Why calling for “diplomatic solutions” stabs the Syrian Revolution in the back

Filed under: Syria — louisproyect @ 3:34 am

A guest post by Andrew Pollack

Why calling for “diplomatic solutions” stabs the Syrian Revolution in the back

January 15, 2014 at 4:58pm

On January 14th came reports of the conclusion of a two-day UN-sponsored conference attended by a self-selected group of women discussing how to increase female participation at the proposed Geneva II conference and its aftermath. Nowhere in the statements coming out of the event was there any indication that those seeking to achieve greater gender balance in Geneva have any problem with its core mission: to let imperialist powers dictate “peace” terms to Syrian revolutionaries.

This “women’s” event comes amid a welter of proposals for negotiations, diplomatic solutions, ceasefires, etc., etc. by various liberal and pseudoradical forces. Many of those involved have been around the block and know what brand of snake oil they’re peddling. Newer forces less aware of the long history of such sell-outs may sincerely think that by demanding negotiations or diplomatic solutions they are aiding the Syrian Revolution. But in fact these calls for “talks” and “peace” are helping the imperialists, whether in Washington or Moscow, to stab it in the back. They deny the self-determination of the Syrian people – the only ones who have a legitimate right to say what a just resolution of the Revolution should be, the only ones with the right to define what liberation means for them. And they insult the steadfastness of the Syrian people, who despite horrific casualties, starvation, torture and genocidal murder, show no signs of abandoning their Revolution.

None of the politicians, whether in Moscow or Washington, Beijing or Tehran, Riyadh or Beirut have any business dictating terms to the Syrian people, or even demanding they come to the table. In any case the overwhelming majority of grassroots forces in the Revolution have made clear that they see Geneva for the farce it is. They have expressed in no uncertain terms that not only will they not talk to Assad, but that they resent and reject the imperialists’ likely attempt to impose a Yemen-style solution, i.e. to maintain he current regime minus Assad.

Calling for talks or “peace” is calling for maintenance of that regime, for an end to the Syrian people’s just struggle for bread, freedom, dignity and social justice.

Below I’ll look at some statements by those pushing Geneva (or an “improved” Geneva). Then I cite briefly some parallel debates from the movement against the US war in Vietnam, and from discussions among Bolsheviks heading the new Soviet Republic who had to grapple with similar issues when under attack after the revolution’s success.

A November 28, 2013 article (“Opposition Activists in Damascus Give Views on Peaceful Solution,” https://www.adoptrevolution.org/en/opposition-activists-on-peaceful-solution/ ) quotes Kifah Ali Deeb, a member of the executive office of the National Coordination Board for Democratic Change, saying she “is confident about a peaceful solution to end the crisis. “[This can be achieved through] an end to the violence, releasing prisoners, and negotiations in Geneva on a peaceful transfer of power to a transitional government with full powers.”

Geneva I, she said “didn’t fail. It produced a set of recommendations that we can build on for Geneva II in order to reach a political solution that will lead to a transfer of power. This will achieve the demands of the people for freedom, dignity, and democracy,” she said.”

Deeb’s group, the NCBDC, has been roundly criticized by revolutionaries from the beginning of the Revolution for attempting to cut deals with the regime and advocating direct talks with it. The groups making up the Coordination Board seem to be left-over pro-Moscow or pro-Beijing Stalinist parties, whose stock in trade has for decades been class collaboration, i.e. deals for “peace” whether in the international or domestic spheres.

Deeb is clearly operating in this framework. She hails the fact that all permanent members of the UN Security Council attended Geneva I, and praises their 12 point plan, “the most important elements of which were the formation of a transitional government with full executive powers which would include officials from the current Syrian government, reform of the constitution, ensuring the continuity of public services and agencies, including the army and security services, and stopping the bloodshed.”

Officials from the current government? Continuity of the army and security services? Clearly Deeb has no interest in advocating for what the Syrian grassroots is actually fighting for.

The same article quotes “political activist and lawyer Faeq Howeija, a member of the Syrian Secular Democratic Coalition,” as saying that Geneva II can succeed and a “political solution” be found “once the two sides genuinely feel that they cannot continue with a military confrontation.” So while those who face the bullets of Assad and the Islamists call for greater military and other aid to complete the revolution against all counterrevolutionary forces, Howeija and his ilk call for “peace.”

Some Palestine solidarity activists are also calling for “diplomatic solutions,” this despite their longstanding and correct rejection of similar efforts by imperialists to force the “peace process” with Israel down their throats. (Although perhaps this hypocrisy tells us something about their rejection of that “peace process”: for some of them, it may just be a question of wanting “better” parties at the table, i.e. a hope that a “left” faction of the PLO, after achieving hegemony in the mass movement, could push aside Fateh as lead negotiator and come up with a “more just” peace.)

Meanwhile the “Anti-imperialist Camp,” a gaggle of groups which seem to come from the same neo-Stalinist milieu as the NCBDC, is pushing a shadow conference in Vienna to happen during Geneva II – while still supporting the latter. They do so because they – unlike the masses in Syria – have given up hope in the Revolution (one would certainly want to check statements of this Camp and its constituent groups to see if they ever supported the Revolution).

The Camp launched an “International Peace Initiative for Syria” months ago, seeking signatures of left celebrities on behalf of peace and love in Syria. Now they are organizing an “all sides’ civil society conference in Vienna.” (www.antiimperialista.org/all_sides_syrian_conference )

“Every day,” they warn us, “it becomes clearer that the Syrian war cannot be won by anybody with a positive outcome for the Syrian people. With its internal divisions on every side the civil war has reached the state of an unprecedented bloodshed increased by external interventions. Its continuation will only wreak havoc and spread destruction on all levels of society.

“Among its main victims there are the democratic rights of the Syrian people, who originally tried to claim these rights by launching a peaceful popular mass protest movement. However their efforts have gradually been thwarted by an increasing influence of sectarian tendencies as well as a growing regional and global involvement.”

So their counsel to the Syrian masses – who show no sign of sharing their defeatism, and who are in fact turning the tide against one pole of the counterrevolution, i.e. ISIS and its ilk – is surrender:

“Together with many people inside Syria and across the world our initiative for Peace in Syria continues to insist (see initial call http://www.peaceinsyria.org/mission.html ) that the only viable solution is a political settlement with a ceasefire paving the way to a transitional government, based on a power sharing agreement between the socio-political, confessional and ethnical blocs maintaining a common State. We are conscious that this is not the ideal solution for any side, and therefore it will be difficult for all sides to accept. Yet a political solution is the only way out, because the continuation of the war will be even worse.”

And they praise imperialist powers for sharing their crocodile tears and proposing a way out: “Internationally, most of the involved players have now come to the conclusion that a political settlement is necessary to stop the number of victims from growing. This is being shown also by the recent agreement between the USA and Iran which provides a framework for the upcoming Geneva II talks.”

But so as not to be completely confused with their imperialist inspirers, they propose a parallel confab in Vienna: “… most of the Syrian people, who – while starving – continue to strive for their democratic and social rights, have lost their voice within the diplomatic efforts which are being made on the level of States. There is an urgent need to let them speak and allow their voices to be heard while important parts of the international community engage in power brokering ignoring the interest of the people on the ground.

“As an International Initiative of civil society, we are proposing to hold a conference in Vienna, Austria, with renowned figures of the Syrian civil society from all walks of life and associated with all sides of the conflict, in order to explore possible and realistic ways for achieving a democratic transition acceptable to the vast majority of Syrians. For this proposal, we have received positive signals from across the whole political spectrum of Syria.”

And just so no-one is misled into thinking that they’re trying to replace Geneva, they stress that “Whilst we hope that Geneva II will get off the ground, we strongly believe that the Vienna conference is a necessary complement to it. There is a real need to lend a voice to those who will have no say at the negotiation table, because they are not State-actors or representatives of political organisations. Furthermore any ceasefire agreement will need strong popular support from below. [That is, they want to help the imperialists force an agreement on the revolting masses.] This is needed whether Geneva will yield results or not.”

The UN-sponsored women’s conference mentioned at the start took a similar approach to trying  to “improve” Geneva II, declaring that “The voice of Syrian women must be heard in all efforts to resolve the civil war that is tearing their country apart.” ) http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=46916&Cr=Syria&Cr1=#.UtbSObSpfdU )

Needless to say the conference took no position on who was responsible for the bloodshed and violence, the oppression and exploitation, which sparked the Revolution. Instead, the 50 gathered women (the statement doesn’t say who picked them and how), called for a solution that would urge greater women’s participation in the country’s political and social life (something Assad would assure them he had already achieved). They were motivated by the same horror of suffering – again, without attributing responsibility or blame – as expressed by those quoted above: “We have come together to prepare this set of demands and priorities based on our first-hand experience of the suffering of the Syrian people, which has become intolerable.” And on this basis they too recommended surrender, “calling for an immediate cessation of armed violence.”

They go on to list specific proposals for women’s participation in various negotiating, transition, constitutional and other processes. Not a word about the Revolution’s demands. In fact they characterize the fighting as a “conflict [which] erupted almost three years ago between the Government and various groups seeking the ouster of President Bashar al-Assad,” as if they didn’t know – or dare not voice – what revolutionaries are fighting for.

Of course this is about what one would expect from a body whose Secretary-General just got done heaping praise on deceased mass murderer Ariel Sharon, and whose main purpose has always been as a pacifist cover for imperialism.

Finally by way of examples we cite Code Pink, which weighed in long ago along exactly the same lines. The presumption, the violation of self-determination, the denial of the existence of the Revolution are too self-evident in its statement to need dissection here:

http://codepink.salsalabs.com/o/424/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=7155

In contrast to the above approaches we must stress that our task now is greater support for the revolution, not efforts to force it into submission or surrender.

It’s not our business to pressure revolutionaries to go to the table; our job is to support them materially and politically against all forms of counterrevolution domestic or foreign.

That was the approach of revolutionaries in the US and other imperialist countries during the US war against Vietnam. While the Communist Party in the US and their co-thinkers were pushing for a negotiated “solution,” for support for peace talks, Trotskyists and radical pacifists said we in the US had no right to add to the pressure on the Vietnamese to submit, that our job was to get our government to stop committing and aiding genocide, to pull out completely and immediately.

These genuine radicals added that if the Vietnamese felt compelled to go to the table, whether out of weakness or for tactical propagandistic purposes, that was their business and their right. But by letting up for one second in the slightest degree the call for “Out Now!”, we would in fact be weakening the Vietnamese efforts to navigate their way through those thickets, and more fundamentally would be violating their right to self-determination.

As Nat Weinstein wrote: ( http://www.socialistviewpoint.org/may_04/may_04_01.html )

“From the very first, however, there was a small section of the Vietnam antiwar movement that rejected the slogan, ‘Negotiations Now!’ simply because it implied that the United States had the right to set limits on the Vietnamese people’s right to self-determination. What proved to be the most effective section of the Vietnam antiwar movement had rejected the ‘Negotiate Now!’ slogan from the outset because it gave credence to the ‘right’ of American imperialism to send the world’s most powerful military behemoth into Vietnam to suppress the struggle of the Vietnamese workers and poor farmers for self-determination. And as the war dragged on and tens of thousands of body bags had already been shipped home, the ‘Bring The Troops Home Now!’ demand began winning the support of millions…”

A 1969 resolution of the then still healthy US Socialist Workers Party explained why the imperialists wanted talks in the first place: “The central problem facing U.S. imperialism in attempting to win the kind of settlement it wants is control of the state power in Vietnam, which depends in the last analysis on force of arms. Without the massive military might of U.S. imperialism, the Saigon regime would rapidly collapse. This fact shows the fraudulent nature of all the well-publicized Washington schemes for a settlement: the scheme of turning the war over to Saigon; the scheme of a coalition government; the scheme of elections under the Saigon administration. So long as the Vietnamese revolutionaries refuse to give up their arms and continue to carry on the fight a U.S. withdrawal will lead to rapid victory over the Saigon regime. Under these conditions, a ‘compromise’ formula that does not settle the question of state power will remain illusory. The war can end only when one side is defeated; and until that happens, either on the battlefield or at the negotiating table, the war will go on…” (http://www.marxists.org/history/etol/document/swp-us/education/anti-war/part6.htm )

The same can be said of Syria: the imperialists want talks above all because they want to ensure that the question of state power is settled in favor of the existing regime or some armed body like it, and not in favor of the Syrian masses.

Finally, some quotes from the parallel Soviet debate. After the Revolution, the new power was faced with invasion from imperialist powers on both sides of World War I. The Bolshevik government sent representatives to talks with the Germans at Brest-Litovsk, and had to encounter dissent within Party ranks about whether such talks were an impermissible compromise.

Lenin’s answer (not heeded at first, by the way, in what was then an incredibly democratic party used to stormy, vibrant debate), was that the new Republic had no choice but to negotiate, especially as to survive until aid could come from successful revolutions elsewhere – BUT that while the Soviets were under the gun, that made it MORE urgent for revolutionaries in other countries to oppose efforts by their own governments to dictate terms or even to presume there was anything to talk about. To use the same terms as in the Vietnam debate, the Bolsheviks could justify going to the table, but communists in Germany, England, France, etc. had no business calling for talks: their duty was to tell their own governments to simply get the hell out of the Soviet Union — and while doing so, to try to make their own revolution at home.

Lenin wrote (http://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1920/lwc/ch04.htm  ):

“Imagine that your car is held up by armed bandits. You hand them over your money, passport, revolver and car. In return you are rid of the pleasant company of the bandits. That is unquestionably a compromise. ‘Do ut des’ (I ‘give’ you money, fire-arms and a car ‘so that you give’ me the opportunity to get away from you with a whole skin). It would, however, be difficult to find a sane man who would declare such a compromise to be ‘inadmissible on principle,’ or who would call the compromiser an accomplice of the bandits (even though the bandits might use the car and the firearms for further robberies). Our compromise with the bandits of German imperialism was just that kind of compromise.

“But when, in 1914-18 and then in 1918-20, the Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries in Russia, the Scheidemannites (and to a large extent the Kautskyites) in Germany, Otto Bauer and Friedrich Adler (to say nothing of the Renners and Co.) in Austria, the Renaudels and Longuets and Co. in France, the Fabians, the Independents and the Labourites in Britain entered into compromises with the bandits of their own bourgeoisie, and sometimes of the ‘Allied’ bourgeoisie, and against the revolutionary proletariat of their own countries, all these gentlemen were actually acting as accomplices in banditry.”

Again, Lenin explains why those under attack might feel pressured to seek a deal (http://marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1918/jan/07.htm ):

“Workers who lose a strike and sign terms for the resumption of work which are unfavourable to them and favourable to the capitalists, do not betray socialism. The only people who betray socialism are those who secure advantages for a section of the workers in exchange for profit to the capitalists; only such agreements are impermissible in principle…

“He does not in the least betray socialism who, without concealing anything from the people, and without concluding any secret treaties with the imperialists, agrees to sign terms of peace which are unfavourable to the weak nation and favourable to the imperialists of one group, if at that moment there is no strength to continue the war.”

That, however, is not what is happening around Geneva. Here supposed “friends” of the Syrian people are trying to drag supposed opponents of the regime to the table when the real revolutionaries have NOT yet declared the strike over (to use Lenin’s trade union example), are not yet ready to resume work under their exploiters.

What’s more, the Bolsheviks used to the fullest the opportunity of talks to state their case, and that of the global revolution, to all listening around the world – something which we can be sure won’t be the case with whatever craven “opposition” ends up at Geneva. Thus Leon Trotsky, in a public declaration issued to the peoples of the whole world, declared (http://www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky/1918/02/peace.htm ):

“We must open negotiations with those governments which at present exist. However, we are conducting these negotiations in a way affording the public the fullest possibility of controlling the crimes of their governments, and so as to accelerate the rising of the working masses against the imperialist cliques. We are ready to support this uprising with all the forces at our command.” In other words, as had Lenin, Trotsky was telling fellow revolutionaries elsewhere: “Don’t worry about what we may have to do at the negotiating table. The best aid you can give us is to make your own revolution, to rise up against your own government.”

That is certainly advice well-worth heeding in every country, including the US, which is suffering the same ravages of a capitalist system in decline and the resulting attempts by its masters to use whatever draconian measures are needed to pile the costs of that decline onto the backs of the world’s workers. That, after all, was exactly why the Syrian people revolted in the first place, and why they are determined to see their Revolution through to the end.

Postscript: While looking for the above quotes I came across the passage below, which sheds additional light on the debate within the ranks of those who support the Syrian Revolution about from whom and under what conditions it is acceptable to accept aid from imperialist bandits. In his biography of Lenin, Tony Cliff writes (http://www.marxists.org/archive/cliff/works/1978/lenin3/ch04.html ):

“On 22 February Trotsky reported to the Central Committee an offer by France and Britain to give military aid to Russia in a war against Germany. The majority of the ‘Left Communists’ were opposed in principle to accepting: aid from such imperialist quarters. Trotsky came out clearly in favour of accepting aid, from whatever source. ‘The “Left Communists” arguments do not stand up to criticism. The state is forced to do what the party would not do. Of course the imperialists want to take advantage of us and if we are weak, they will do so; if we are strong, we will not allow it.’

‘As the party of the socialist proletariat which is in power and conducting a war against Germany, we mobilize every means to arm and supply our revolutionary army in the best way possible with all necessary resources and, for that purpose, we obtain them where we can, including therefore from capitalist governments. In doing this, the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party retains full independence in its external policy, gives no political undertakings to capitalist governments and examines their proposals in each separate case according to what is expedient.’

Cliff continues: “Lenin, who had not been present at the meeting of the Central Committee, added the following statement to the minutes of the session: ‘Please add my vote in favour of taking potatoes and weapons from the Anglo-French imperialist robbers.’

“To explain his readiness to use the conflict between the imperialist powers in the interests of the proletariat in power, Lenin wrote, on 22 February, an article entitled “The Itch”:

“’Let us suppose Kaliaev, in order to kill a tyrant and monster, acquires a revolver from an absolute villain, a scoundrel and robber, by promising him bread, money and vodka for the service rendered.

‘Can one condemn Kaliaev for ‘dealing with a robber’ for the sake of obtaining a deadly weapon? Every sensible person will answer ‘no’. If there is nowhere else for Kaliaev to get a revolver, and if his intention is really an honourable one (the killing of a tyrant, not killing for plunder), then he should not be reproached but commended for acquiring a revolver in this way. But if a robber, in order to commit murder for the sake of plunder, acquires a revolver from another robber in return for money, vodka or bread, can one compare (not to speak of identifying) such a ‘deal with a robber’ with the deal made by Kaliaev?’

“In a postscript to the article, Lenin added:

‘The North Americans in their war of liberation against England at the end of the eighteenth century got help from Spain and France, who were her competitors and just as much colonial robbers as England. It is said that there were ‘Left Bolsheviks’ to be found who contemplated writing a ‘learned work’ on the ‘dirty deal’ of these Americans.’

“In the end, however, nothing came of the offer of aid from Britain and France.”

Andrew Pollack, 1/15/2014

 

January 15, 2014

Scenes from my childhood

Filed under: humor — louisproyect @ 1:37 pm

My favorite poet’s new book

Filed under: literature — louisproyect @ 12:57 am

http://galatearesurrection21.blogspot.com/2014/01/new-orleans-variations-paris-ouruboros.html

Saturday, January 11, 2014
NEW ORLEANS VARIATIONS & PARIS OURUBOROS by PAUL PINES
EILEEN TABIOS Engages

New Orleans Variations & Paris Ouroboros by Paul Pines
(Dos Madres, Loveland, OH, 2013)

“Roland insists history
doesn’t live in people but

in stones.”
–from “Light Changes”

With his latest, Paul Pines reveals himself to be at the peak of his poetic powers.  Except that, ever since I started reading him a few of his books ago, I also noticed that he gets better and better.  So, may he keep peaking!

Two general things I want to say about Pines’ New Orleans Variations and Paris Ouroboros.  First, the movements across and between a multiplicity of references is just fabulous jazz.  Second, the collection is a wonderful manifestation of something he quotes by Homer: “We leave home to find ourselves.”

The poet left home to travel to two cities the subject of this book: New Orleans and Paris.  Many of these poems charm, and I want to focus on the charming — and witty, wise, moving (Section 3 from “Silences” is a treasure), aware — poems.  That could be all of them.  So let me share a sample from the New Orleans section, Section 3 from “Hello From Nola”:

THE AFTERMATH

a party awash in rice and beans
Popeye’s fried chicken
and biscuits
chorizos and King Cake
with the baby
still in it

served by Sor Juana
still in her escudo
I enter in jeans and a t-shirt
no longer recognizable
to those who sit
around a larger table
until my hostess
introduces me
as the man who was Jesus
at which there are random
nods of recognition

I’m asked
from time to time
to perform an intervention
as when the dog
leaps up to a low lying
bowl and devours
the sausage
or a reveler
spills her rum and coke
on the sofa but nothing
approaching a miracle
though I tell them
I can turn wine
into urine

a Mad Hatter
challenges me
to make it through the airport
dressed as our Savior

says it would be a spectacle
to watch them scan my robes
divest me of my hair and beard
conduct a cavity search
a veritable security
Golgatha

a new wrinkle
on the Grand Inquisitor
I appear before a southern judge
who finds me guilty of
inciting to riot
disrupting the status quo
a warning to Terrorists
a Republican trope

one can’t be
too careful when
the Prince of Peace
might be just another
apocalyptic
intruder

who just last week
danced without incident
in the second line
all the way to
Canal St.

“[T]urn urine into wine” — that’s just deft, Dude.  And a killer ending…

And here’s a sample poem from the Paris section

MATHILDE COMES HOME FOR LUNCH

At fourteen her blue eyes
hedged by dark lashes

Mathilde prepares three plates
of pate and goat cheese

served with white beans
bread and wine then confides

that her English teacher
encourages students to learn

Chinese German Russian
any other tongue but English

Her father Roland points out
the French threw Tom Paine

in the Bastille for objecting
to the wholesale execution

of aristocrats but mark the spot
with a silver plaque where

Hemingway drank himself silly
At La Closerie de Lilas

Americans in paris are always
lost (he says) but no worse

than Germans or Spaniards
Once a group from Munich

asked him where he’d learned
to speak their tongue so well

to which Roland replied
“Auschwitz”

I can’t resist the appeal of these poems; here’s another astounding Paris poem (that hearkens, too, my theme in my engagement with Leonard Gontarek’s two books in this issue):

THE CREATION OF THE WORLD FROM CHAOS

can only be grasped if we understand
the meaning of chaos as

a gap

between objects
or conditions
which
opens
unannounced

the space
between
breaths

Hermes’ wind
nourished in the belly
of the earth

where God
becomes conscious
of Himself

Last but not least, this collection is hugely entertaining—and I don’t say that about most poetry books!  Do give yourself a treat and read these poems!

*****

Eileen Tabios does not let her books be reviewed by Galatea Resurrects because she’s its editor. But she is also pleased to point you elsewhere to recent reviews of her books.  Her 2013 book, THE AWAKENING was reviewed by Aileen Ibardaloza at OurOwnVoice; and her 2004 book MENAGE A TROIS IN THE 21ST CENTURY, was reviewed (along with Joi Barrios’ poetry) through the essay “The Self Revolution of Radical Love–Externalizing Internal Worlds of Freedon in Filipina Poetry” by Michaela Spangenburg at OurOwnVoice.  Eileen invites you to her new blog, EILEEN VERBS BOOKS; poets are invited to participate in three of its features: “Poetry and Money,” “What Are You Reading?” and “What Do You Re-Read?
http://www.paulpines.com/
http://www.tinangelopera.com/

January 14, 2014

Thailand background

Filed under: Thailand — louisproyect @ 9:04 pm

Benedict Anderson, “Withdrawal Symptoms”, Bulletin of Concerned Asian Scholars, July-September 1977

In the 1950s and 1960s most Western social scientists took the view that Siam was a “bureaucratic polity”-a political system completely dominated by a largely self­ perpetuating “modernizing” bureaucracy. 11 Below this bureaucracy there was only a pariah Chinese commercial class and an undifferentiated peasantry, both with low political consciousness and virtually excluded from political participation. The relations between bureaucracy and peasantry were understood to be generally harmonious and unexploitative,12 involving only the classical exchanges of taxes, labor and deference for security, glory and religious identity. Thanks largely to the shrewdness and foresight of the great nineteenth-century Chakkri dynasts, Siam, alone among the states of Southeast Asia, did not succumb to European or American imperialism and thereby escaped the evils of rackrenting, absentee landlordism, chronic peasant indebted­ness, and rural proletarianization so typical of the colonized zones. The Siamese economy, by no means highly developed until the 1960s, was essentially in the hands of immigrant Chinese, who, by their alien and marginal status, could never play a dynamic, independent political role. 13 This picture of a peaceful, sturdy and independent Siam was in important ways quite false. Western capital, Western “advisers,” and Western cultural missionaries exercised decisive influence on Siamese history after the 1950s.14 On the other hand, when compared to the changes brought about by the American and Japanese penetration in the Vietnam War era, the years before the 1960s appear relatively “golden.” As late as 1960, Bangkok could still be described as the “Venice of the East,” a somnolent old-style royal harbor-city dominated by canals, temples, and palaces. Fifteen years later, many of the canals had been filled in to form roads and many of the temples had fallen into decay. The whole center of gravity of the capital had moved eastwards, away from the royal compounds and Chinese ghettoes by the Chao Phraya river to a new cosmopolitan zone dominated visually and politically by vast office buildings, banks, hotels, and shopping plazas. The city had expanded with cancerous speed, devouring the surrounding countryside and turning rice-paddies into speculative housing developments, instant suburbs and huge new slums.15

This transformation, which on a smaller scale also occurred in certain provincial capitals, was generated by forces exogenous to Siamese society. It may be helpful to describe these forces in terms of three inter-related factors. The first and most important was undoubtedly America’s unceremonious post-1945 extrusion of the European colonial powers from their prewar economic, political, and military hegemony in Southeast Asia.16 The second was Washington’s decision to make Siam the pivot of its regionwide expansionism. Bangkok became the headquarters not only for SEATO, but also for a vast array of overt and clandestine American operations in neighboring Laos, Cambodia, Burma, and Vietnam.17 A third factor-important in a rather different way-was the technological revolution that made mass tourism a major industry in the Far East after World War II. (Hitherto tourism in this zone had been an upperclass luxury.) For this industry Bangkok was a natural nexus: it was not only geographically central to the region, but it was thoroughly safe under the protection of American arms and native dictatorships, and, above all, it offered an irresistible combination of modern luxury (international hotels, comfortable air-conditioned transportation, up-to-date movies, etc.) and exotic antiquities. Elsewhere in Southeast Asia the colonial powers had typically constructed culturally mediocre, commercially oriented capital cities in coastal areas far removed from the old indigenous royal capitals. (Tourists had thus to make time-consuming pilgrimages from Djakarta to Surakarta, Rangoon to Mandalay-Ava, Saigon to Hue, and Phnom Penh to Angkor.)

Alarming Pacifica developments

Filed under: Pacifica — louisproyect @ 5:44 pm

Doug Henwood

This was just posted to the Pacifica Radio Supporters group by Andrew Leslie Phillips, former program director at WBAI, KPFA, and very briefly at WBAI again. It contains some dire information about the leadership of Pacifica and their plans for the network. If you care at all about that institution, please read this. As you can see, this does not seem like a promising future environment for Behind the News, since what I do has a lot in common with Ian Masters.

—-

Andrew Leslie Phillips

I understand that KPFA interim GM, Richard Pirodsky is now interim manager of both KPFA and KPFK; that yesterday (January 13th at 3pm) Bernard Duncan stepped down or was moved aside by Summer Reese and very likely given a pay-out to make way for Pirodsky. Yesterday Summer Reese turned up at KPFK with Pirodsky to take the reigns. The respected current iPD, Alan Minsky is also targeted for dismissal by Summer Reese. Minsky is a supporter of Ian Masters, Reese’s nemesis (Minsky) meet Reese in the KPFK lobby yesterday by she refused to acknowledge him – would not even shake the guy’s hand! So his future looks shaky. He was previously paid senior producer at KPFK but that position is now occupied by Christian Blodsdale (who is the highest paid producer at KPFK) but produces nothing. She pitches with Null (and others) flying around the network pushing sketchy infomercial-like product but has minimal radio experience. She is a PR flack – http://www.goodkarmapr.com/team/team.htm.

Meanwhile the current PNB steps down at the end of this month and a new board steps up and apparently will insist that Summer Reese produce her heretofore withheld personal information – details of parts of her background are included in this message. But none of this information has been vetted by the PNB. Perhaps at last it will be. Pacifica is currently led by people who seem to have very little radio background about whom we know very little. How and why has this happened and why has the current PNB not done their job to protect our valuable network?

Ian Masters, who was suspended by Reese for bringing some of this to the air, says his job is also on the line. Anybody challenging Reese faces termination. I certainly know that from my own personal experience. Masters, with no premiums, consistently returns the most money per hour at KPFA. Masters pitches programming.

I understand his story is about to break on major media in LA and The Nation. As of now very few are aware of these shenanigans. It’s time of staff with backbone and certainly the Pacifica membership take the time to learn what is happening behind the curtain and step up to save what’s left of Pacifica’s legitimacy.

Here is Ian Masters plea for a listener intervention including links to Summer Reese’s background. This information has been forwarded by Masters to the PNB. But don’t hold your breath for the PNB to step up unless “feet are held to fire”.

January 3, 2014

Dear concerned KPFK listeners,

Happy New Year and thanks to all of you who emailed me at savekpfk@gmail.com and who visited our new website at listenerpoweredradio.org or Googled save pacifica radio and offered to join in a listener intervention to save Pacifica and KPFK. We are moving ahead but I have been warned by many inside of Pacifica who support this effort that I will be immediately fired by Summer Reese and Gary Null if I post the following on the website…
As we begin this New Year, Pacifica’s future hangs in the balance and will be determined by a background check. And while I am under a strict gag order on “free speech” radio not to say a word about the dire situation we are in, I can share what I know with you even though it may be difficult to convey just how disastrous our new leadership is and for you to realize that on the inside, the “peoples radio” now operates along totally authoritarian lines.

These dysfunctional boards that represent barely 10% of our listener/members, that tend to attract the most extreme among Pacifica’s various factions, were never meant to be a conduit for the one-eyed person in the land of the blind to maneuver themselves into a paying job. We are supposed to recruit professional management from the outside and our Executive Directors are supposed to administer, not hand pick cronies and micro-manage programming.

The lunatics have indeed taken over the asylum and today the Pacifica foundation is already in the hands of someone with such a dubious background, who is so demonstrably unqualified for any job, let alone running a radio network, but yet has shown sufficient bureaucratic cunning that both Stalin and the Koch brothers would be impressed by her “stealth” right wing takeover of America’s only left wing media outlet.

Pending a background check, Summer Reese will be officially in the position she already occupies and, once approved, she will quickly erase any vestiges of journalism and credibility Pacifica has left. News and Public Affairs will become a joke and so-called “health and spirituality” will be elevated to prime time, meaning that conspiracy and quackery will become our brand, if it hasn’t already come to that.

It is important to stress that I have no objection to “health and spirituality” programs and that many of my friends enjoy Lisa Garr and Nita Vallens and find their guests and ideas interesting and helpful. But just as Oprah is on during the day and not in prime time, so too should these programs be segregated from News and Public Affairs which listeners expect to hear in prime time.

A simple Google search reveals that Summer Reese’s only professional experience was as an office manager for a tax avoidance scam artist, Peymon Mottahedeh, who is not a lawyer but runs the Freedom Law School in the California desert that is neither a school or has anything to do with the law except for breaking it through tax avoidance.

As one of their “paralegals”, Ms. Reese’s job was to con people into believing that the $6,000 package they were buying from the Freedom Law School would immunize them against an oppressive and illegitimate government’s efforts to collect taxes they owed.
Like the “sovereign citizens” movement, these far right wing anti-government conspiracy peddlers don’t believe in paying taxes or having social security numbers. According to information gathered so far which sources inside have leaked to me so it is yet to be officially confirmed, Ms. Reese has not paid taxes and does not have a social security number and operates on false identities.

Her other claim at having a professional background is that she was a lawyer for Sirhan Sirhan. Apparently she impersonated a lawyer representing a client who happened to kill Bobby Kennedy and claimed to be one at public meetings where she billed herself as Sirhan’s lawyer before gatherings of RFK assassination conspiracy theorists.

As for the merits of the case she falsely claimed to be presenting on Sirhan’s behalf, he was not responsible for killing RFK because the hapless assassin was a government-brainwashed “Manchurian Candidate”. Need I say more.

With no clue how to address the network’s declining listenership and slide towards bankruptcy, and with total disregard for Pacifica’s 501-C3 non-profit status, Ms. Reese is now turning our airwaves over to “Doctor” Gary Null whose miracle cure “products” are unregulated and whose fraudulent credentials have been exposed as mail order diplomas by the independent consumer watchdog website run by medical professionals, Quackwatch.com.

Gary Null is a private corporation. His annual revenues are $12.2 million. Should Pacifica become Gary Null’s private Home Shopping Network offering dubious products over our airwaves under the guise of fund raising? His fraudulent claims have certainly turned away a lot of our thoughtful and ethical listeners and I am personally disgusted when desperate terminally ill people are conned into spending money on expensive and unproven vitamin cures for cancer and Alzheimer’s.

“Doctor” Null actually claimed Patrick Swayze would be alive today had he taken his products. And then there are the young men who died following the advice of this HIV denier that Gary Null’s products could cure AIDS. So much for the hollow claim made by the “peoples” radio that we don’t take money from corporations. Meanwhile our non-profit foundation status is being placed in jeopardy from the FDA, the IRS and the FCC.

So I suppose it should be no surprise given Summer Reese’s and Gary Null’s similar backgrounds of scamming gullible folks by distracting them with right wing anti-government dogma as they fleece them, that these two are working hand in glove. And while Gary Null is already on all the other Pacifica stations except Berkeley, the reason he did not participate in KPFK’s latest fund drive was because he is leveraging his position to get on prime time at KPFK and to make a better deal in the next fund drive so that he will be in a position to control the network before it goes into bankruptcy.

The experienced professional Program Director at WBAI Andrew Phillips (who discovered Amy Goodman) resigned when Ms. Reese demanded he take “Background Briefing” off the air at 10 AM in New York City to have it replaced by guess who?…Gary Null!

And in cavalier disregard of a petition from KPFK programmers, she has maneuvered to remove Alan Minsky the current Program Director at KPFK to have him replaced by a loyal flunky from Berkeley who, rumor has it, will propose moving the Pacifica Evening News to 5 PM to get “Background Briefing” off the air.

The head of Pacifica’s Jurassic Jazz station in Washington DC has already been replaced by a person with no prior radio experience who comes from a moving company who helped with the relocation of WBAI. Now Ms. Reese is moving to replace the current General Manager at KPFK in the coming months with a compliant functionary who will unshackle the 9/11 “truthers”, the RFK, JFK, MLK assassination ambulance chasers and the “Chemtrails” proponents waiting in the wings with evangelical zeal to get the real truth out.

Meanwhile, based on its latest public audit, Pacifica Radio’s working capital has declined from positive $2,835,309 in 2007 to negative $1,034,153 as of September 30, 2011. At this rate of decline the Pacifica network is probably already bankrupt, given the millions they owe Amy Goodman and the piles of unpaid bills and lawsuits to collect past dues.

While I am merely road-kill and collateral damage compared to the death of Pacifica, you might ask why is Summer Reese on a Jihad to get rid of me? Well apart from the sin of telling the truth on “free speech” radio, my only personal contact with Ms. Reese was when she strongly urged me to read a book about the Fluoride conspiracy.

As you know, four days a week and on Sunday’s I seek out the best experts to discuss domestic and international events and issues of importance. Iran, Syria, unemployment, the decline of the middle class and the downsizing of working Americans, corporate greed, declining education, etc. So I did not follow up on uncovering the government’s Fluoride plot and that’s apparently how I ended up on her enemies list. But therein lies the tragedy for Pacifica; we will soon be no different from Fox News in our denigration of science and our disregard for facts.

Fox propagates “birther” conspiracies; Pacifica mirrors them with “truther” conspiracies. It’s no accident that the Producer of the “truther” Bible, the movie “Loose Change”, is the far right wing sovereign citizen Alex Jones. By pandering to the anti-government sentiment of Pacifica’s left-leaning listeners, stressing the legalization of pot and opposition to foreign wars, “stealth” right wing libertarians like Alex Jones and Summer Reese count on gullible Pacifica listeners not to notice their real agenda. They are careful not to mention their obsession with government plans to take away their guns and that we can do away with government altogether and have the Koch brothers run America.

We have only days left to mobilize every listener, activist on the left, and every liberal and progressive voice in the land, as well as the few in our politics like my friend Bernie Sanders. We all have to wake up and rescue Pacifica from its impending suicidal implosion. If only for the sake of political diversity in America’s already right wing-dominated media. We are about to lose the country’s last tenuous outlet for bottom-up voices and alternative opinion.

I am embarrassed that we even have to talk about this and that I have to explain the grubby antics of these tawdry characters but, in the short term Summer Reese will accelerate Pacifica’s self-marginalization, and then as the network goes bankrupt, Gary Null will pick up the pieces.

Sincerely,
Ian Masters

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