[Prefatory Note: This post is a slightly modified version of an article published in the global edition of the Italian newspaper, Il Manifesto, on December 8, 2017.] Jerusalem Is (Is Not) the Capital of Israel Those who speak on behalf of Israel like to defend Donald Trump’s provocative decision of December 6th to recognize Jerusalem […]
1. Conquest of the Americas
In the 16th century, Europeans found salvation from the horrific violence and anarchy back home when they came across the two great resource-rich continents of the Americas.
Far from ‘discovered’, the Americas were inhabited by an estimated 100-130m indigenous people. Within the first century of Christopher Columbus’ arrival in 1492, 95-97.5% were wiped out in history’s first and worst genocide. 75% of these deaths were caused by European diseases that the native Americans had no immunities from. Attributing the mass endemics to the hand of God, the European settlers continued apace.
The remainder 25% (25-32.5m) of indigenous deaths were caused by a combination of slave labour and horrifying atrocities by settlers and troops, from wholesale massacre and immolation of towns to disembowelment and mass torture/rape.
2. British Raj
During her 200-year stay, Britain plundered Indian grain to finance the rest of her colonial empire, creating artificial famines that cost 60 million Indian lives. The last of these famines, in Bengal, was authorised by wartime Prime Minister Winston Churchill, who explained that it was their own fault for “breeding like rabbits”. The Indian subcontinent continues to suffer the consequences of imperialism to this day following her 1947 partition by Britain into Hindu-majority ‘India’ and Muslim-majority ‘Pakistan’.
3. British Opium in China
Though the final toll is unknown, millions of Chinese opium addicts perished after the British trade was enforced by the murderous Opium Wars, creating British mega-profits and funding much of America’s industrial revolution. Modern China continues to suffer from addiction to the lethal drug.
4. Congo Free State
In the late 19th century, King of the Belgians Leopold II set up a private rubber colony in the Congo Basin which lasted for two decades. By its end, 8-10m Africans had perished under his genocidal rule. Children had their hands amputated for not meeting rubber quotas. To this day, the Congo continues to suffer from corporate-sponsored violence that has cost some 5m lives.
5. Jewish Holocaust
Two thirds of European Jews, 6 million, were gassed to death in history’s first industrialised genocide. The victims were transported by train to extermination centres such as Auschwitz where, upon entering gas chambers deceptively fitted with showers and hand-wash amenities, Nazi SS guards would turn on the gas with everyone trapped inside: men, women and children. Others were simply put into gas ovens.
6. Iraq Sanctions
Between 1990 and 2003, America and Britain maintained an economic embargo on Iraq that killed more than half a million children under the age of five. Asked on national television in 1996 if “the price [is] worth it”, US President Bill Clinton’s Ambassador to the UN, Madeleine Albright, notoriously replied: “I think this is a very hard choice, but the price, we think the price is worth it”.
In 1998 and 2000 respectively, UN humanitarian coordinators in Iraq Denis Halladay and Hans von Sponeck resigned in protest of what the former called a “genocidal” policy.
1. Listen to David E. Stannard’s American Holocaust at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Q4NyuImKMk; watch a lecture by Stannard at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qra6pcn4AOE
2. Mike Davis, Late Victorian Holocausts; Madhusree Mukerjee, Churchill’s Secret War: The British Empire and the Ravaging of India during World War II
3. Watch the BBC documentary Death in the Congo at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vh8B1xbOEIAlA; http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-11108589
4. http://theantimedia.org/iraq-sanctions-half-million-children-deaths; hear Albright’s comment at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FbIX1CP9qr4; see the ITV documentary Paying the Price: Killing the Children of Iraq at johnpilger.com
An informative history and honest accounting of the Democrats’ pro-1%ism
By Richard Moser
December 07, 2017 “Information Clearing House” – The rise of Corporate Power was the fall of democracy. Over the long haul, US politics has revolved around a deep tension between democracy and an unrelenting drive for plunder, power and empire. Granted that our democracy has been seriously flawed and only rarely revolutionary, yet the democratic movements are the source of every good thing America has ever stood for.
Since the mid-1970s, when the corporations fused with the state, a new imperial order emerged that killed what remained of representative democracy. Not only would corporations exercise public authority as only government once had, but government would coordinate and serve corporate activity. Power and profits became one and the same. Corporate power has replaced democracy with oligarchy and justice with a vast militarized penal system. Instead of innovative production, they plunder people and planet.
To achieve this new order, elections and…
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by Jake Johnson, from CommonDreams.org With the FCC set to vote on chairman Ajit Pai’s plan to kill neutrality in just over a week, a diverse coalition — ranging from consumer protection organizations to progressive lawmakers to Harvard professors — is denouncing the FCC’s proposals and scheduling nationwide protests to combat the agency’s move to […]
1. Pol Pot
During the Vietnam War, the US dropped a conservative 0.5m tonnage of bombs on Cambodia. Killing an estimated 50,000-150,000 mostly innocent civilians, the indiscriminate bombing – requested by the Cambodian government – created a tide of anti-American/government hatred upon which Pol Pot’s horrific Khymer Rouge rose to power, leading to the horrific genocide of 1.7m people (21% of the population).
Following this holocaust, the Carter Administration arranged an annual $100m in Chinese military aid for the Khymer Rouge, whose guerrilla allies received tens of millions in direct US money during the 1980s.
2. Ayatollah Khomeini
In 1953, an MI6-CIA coup ousted the democratically elected president of Iran, Mohamed Mossadeq, in response to his popular nationalization of Iranian oil. He was replaced by the Shah of Iran, who restored the monopoly of Anglo-American Oil Company (now British Petroleum) over the Iranian economy. The brutal dictator was finally toppled in the 1979 Islamic Revolution led by Ayatollah Khomeini, formerly on the CIA payroll during the 1953 coup.
3. Saddam Hussein
Iraq’s Saddam Hussein received diplomatic and military support from the US and other Western countries for his brutal war against post-revolutionary Iran, which cost 1m Iraqi and Iranian lives.
Private American, British and German firms sold Saddam various biochemical components that would end up contributing to his WMD buildup, including its brutal deployment against the town of Halabja in which 25,000 Kurdish civilians were gassed to death.
The Reagan Administration sought to deflect attention by erroneously blaming the Iranians for the vicious massacre.
4. Osama bin Laden
In July 1979, the US authorised a $0.5b fund for the Afghan Mujahideen, an Islamist rebellion against the then communist regime in Afghanistan. President Jimmy Carter’s national security advisor Zbniew Brzezinski saw this as an opportunity to “give the Soviets their own Vietnam”, informing Carter that “in my opinion, this was likely to induce a Soviet military intervention”. But with the rest of the US intelligence community rejecting this view, Carter proceeded with the fund for the Afghan Mujahideen.
The following December, the Soviets invaded Afghanistan, provoking a flood of foreign Muslim volunteers including Al Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden*. When the US deployed 0.5m troops to Saudi Arabia (Islam’s holy land) during the 1991 Gulf War, bin Laden perceived a new ‘crusade against Islam’ and turned his guns on the West.
Two other major recruiting tools for bin Laden was US support for the brutal Israeli occupation of Palestine, as well as the 0.5m Iraqi children who died from US-British economic sanctions.
In 1998, Brzezinski insisted that Europe’s “liberation from communism” was more important to history than “a few stirred up Moslems”. Three years later, on September 11 2001, some of bin Laden’s “stirred up Moslems” brought down New York’s World Trade Center, killing 2996 people and ushering in a perpetual ‘War on Terror’ abroad and assault on democracy at home.
In late 2002, in response to the pending US invasion of Iraq, Jordanian terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi infiltrated the lawless north and founded AQI. Later renaming itself ISI, it morphed into ISIS after extending its activities to neighbouring Syria as part of a Western-sponsored ‘jihad’.
By 2014, ISIS had overrun Western-backed “moderate” factions in the Syrian civil war and seized much of their US-supplied weaponry, as well as purchasing weaponry from the US-armed Free Syrian Army.
*A common myth is that he was a CIA asset. This is due to the false equivocation of the Muslim volunteers with the indigenous Afghan Mujahideen. The CIA armed and trained the latter but not the former. See 911myths.com
2. Oliver Stone and Peter Kuznick, The Untold History of the United States
3. Peter Bergen, The Osama bin Laden I Know, Chapter 12: How al Qaeda Took Root in Iraq and the Story of Abu Musab al Zarqawi
4. http://www.conflictarm.com, Evidence from a 20-month investigation in Iraq and Syria
by Eric Zuesse The Stanford mathematician William J. Perry was a strategic nuclear advisor to U.S. President John Fitzgerald Kennedy during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, and then he became U.S. Secretary of Defense under President Bill Clinton. He stated in a speech on November 28th at the National Cathedral in Washington DC, that […]
Withstanding commercialisation, the spirit of Christmas provides the hope for a better world.
With a quarter of children now in poverty and a record million food parcel handouts, seven years of austerity have contributed to the return of Dickensian conditions in Britain. In some parts of the country, Victorian-era diseases such as scarlet fever have returned with a vengeance.
The absence of any contemporary equivalent of the great social commentator Charles Dickens, who championed the cause of the working class of his day, reflects the conformism of today’s celebrity literary class and the accompanying deterioration of their work. A cultural endeavour by nature, the value of artistry is often measurable by its reflection and insight of historical and contemporary reality. Arguably, the prevalence of fantasy fiction, encouraged by corporate Hollywood, reflects a popular escapist reaction to the complex turbulence of this generation.
Dickens’ most enduring classic, A Christmas Carol, retains a contemporary relevance perhaps exceeded only by Oliver Twist. The protagonist, Ebenezer Scrooge, is a ruthless capitalist devoid of human empathy and focused solely on his own personal accumulation of wealth. He epitomises the process of alienation described by Karl Marx, in which an individual is estranged from their own human species and whose Eros – and, by extension, happiness and fulfilment – is ultimately repressed.
All human beings want to live a happy, satisfied, enjoyable existence. But by revolving his life around the accumulation of personal wealth, Scrooge is never satisfied. This is because wealth accumulation has no fixed limit: it is an infinite process that, for Scrooge, could have only ended at his grave.
This is prevented by his wilful redemption, encouraged by three spirits who show him “the spirit of Christmas” and how his happiness was eaten away by an obsession that put profit above all else, but which is ultimately a choice only he can make. This wilful redemption, this change of heart in Scrooge, is believable: How can Ebenezer not miss his younger, happier, fulfilled self?
The same cannot be said of today’s CEOs and speculators, living it up on yachts and in mansions. Neoliberalism has created billionaires that render Scrooge’s wealth pauperish. These parasites are truly happy, satisfied, unlike the miserly Scrooge who accumulated wealth but barely spent it. In the neoliberal era, except for its neo-Dickensian society, a Christmas Carol makes an unconvincing read.
What these real people have in common with the fictional Scrooge, however, is what Marx called ‘reification’. These individuals are alienated from their own species, precisely because they cannot fulfil their innate human desire for social and emotional bondage. Every interaction is a mere transaction, a social relation sanctioned by the dogma of individualism.
Marx observed this phenomena exclusively among workers, but it is no less applicable to the capitalists. Marx observed how the natural human Eros for friendships/relationships and cooperation, a view of primates recently vindicated by multi-academic research (see https://flashpointssite.wordpress.com/2017/11/15/human-nature-cooperative-or-competitive/), is repressed: under private control, the production process is no longer designed to benefit society but to generate profit, thus alienating the workforce from the process. It becomes, instead of a source of fulfilment for the cooperative Eros, a source of alienation and boredom. This entails a sub-category of reification that Marx called ‘commodity fetishism’: the objectification of an abstract, in this case a wage.
This process is personified by Bob Cratchett, for whom the salary – useless in itself – acquires an artificial value by functioning as the mechanism for feeding his family. Cratchett does not care about Scrooge’s business, for he is its sole owner and pockets the bulk of revenue (Marx: ‘surplus value’) in the form of profit: the capitalist property relation at the heart of social inequality.
Christmas is the best time to advocate socialism. Withstanding commercialisation, Christmas provides the hope for a better world. The message of revolutionaries should be: it can be Christmas all the year round!
For a fantastic Marxist lecture on Christmas by British historian Neil Faulkner, see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CT5uLWjSFys