littlehorn's blog

The Protocols of the Elders of Islam

This post makes some very important points. It is a translation of an article by Domenico Losurno, published on Losurno is an Italian philosopher and historian, and a Communist, but I hope you will read his points with an open mind. It was first translated into French by Marie-Ange Patrizio.

How black legends are built
The "Protocols of the Elders of Islam"

[Introduction by Marie]

In order to justify the apartheid inside Palestine, and the Israeli war on the Palestinian people, the atlantist media resort to the usual technique of black legends. Lies upon lies end up creating the idea there would be a world-wide islamic plot with a global plan one could call "The Protocols of the Elders of Islam," in reference to the antisemitic forgery propagated by the tsarist police. The italian philosopher and historian, Domenico Losurno, analyses here this propaganda device with regard to some historical references.

[The actual text]

Leafing through the reactions to my last book Stalin, Storia e critica di una leggenda nera (Stalin, Story and critic of a black legend), I read beside largely positive comments some signs of incredulity: is it possible the infamies attributed to Stalin and accredited by a general consensus are most often the result of distortions and sometimes of complete historical falsifications ?

I would like to suggest a reflection to these very readers, in light of the events of the last days. We have under our eyes the tragedy of the Palestinian people in Gaza, first starved by the blockade and now invaded and massacred by the terrible Israeli war machine. Let us see how the great organs of "information" react. In the Corriere della Sera of december 29th, Piero Ostellino in his editorial condemns: "Clause 7 of the Hamas Charter not only defends the destruction of Israel, but the extermination of all Jews, as is affirmed by the Iranian president Ahmadinejad." We will note that, while he makes an extremely grave claim, the journalist does not offer any quote: he wants to be taken at his word.

A few days later (January 3rd) on the same newspaper, Ernesto Galli della Loggia goes at it again. In truth, he doesn't talk about Ahmadinejad anymore. Maybe he has realized his colleague's mistake. After Israel, Iran is the one country in the Middle-East hosting the most Jews (20.000), and they don't seem to suffer from persecutions. In any case, those Palestinians living under occupation could only envy the Jews standard of living in Iran, who not only have not been exterminated, but also don't have to face the threat of "transfer," which threat the most extreme Zionists project on Arab Israelis.

Of course, Galli della Loggia is way above all that. He contends himself with not saying a word on Ahmadinejad. To compensate, he goes further on another essential point: Hamas does not stop at demanding "the extermination of the Jews" of Israel, as Ostellino claims. One should not stop half-way in denouncing the barbarians' misdeeds: "Hamas wants the elimination of all the Jews on the face of the earth" (Corriere della Sera, Jan 3). In that case too, one does not begin to see a shred of evidence: scientific rigor is the last thing on Galli della Loggia's mind, whose courage in the face of ridicule must be nevertheless acknowledged: according to his analyses, the Palestinian 'terrorists' intend to liquidate the war machine not only of Israel, but even of the USA, so as to get done with the infamies, whose world-wide scale the editorialist from the Corriera della Sera denounces. Hence, those who are capable to inflict a decisive defeat to the world superpower, in addition to Israel, can very well aspire to world domination. To sum up: it is as if Galli was finally bringing to our knowledge The Protocols of the Elders of Islam !

And just like, in their time, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, The Protocols of the Elders of Islam have now acquired the statute of established truth, and necessitate no demonstration. In La Stampa on January 5th, Enzo Bettiza immediately gives the meaning of the massive bombings of Israel, unleashed from the sky, the seas and the earth, using weapons forbidden by international conventions, against a population virtually defenseless: "This is a drastic and very violent police operation, from a country threatened with extermination by a sect that swore to uproot it from the face of the earth."

This thesis, repeated again and again, is inscribed in the framework of a very precise tradition. Between the 18th and the 19th century, the moderate abbey Grégoire was fighting for the abolishment of slavery in the french colonies: he was to be accused of being the leader of "blancophages", those black barbarians eager for the taste of White men's flesh. A few decades later, something similar happened in the United States of America: the abolitionists, often of Christian faith and non-violent trend, demanded "the complete destruction of the institution of slavery"; they were promptly accused of wanting to exterminate the white race. Again in the middle of the 19th century, in South Africa, the champions of apartheid were refusing political rights for blacks, arguing that a possible black government would have meant the systematic extermination of whites and white settlers in their totality.

The currently fashionable black legend is particularly ridiculous: Hamas, several times, has signaled the possibility of a compromise, if Israel accepted to get back to the 1967 boundaries. As everyone knows, or should know, what makes the two state solution more and more problematic, and maybe now impossible, is the continued expansion of Israeli settlements in the occupied territories. And yet, the substitution of the current Israel as a "State of the Jews" with a bi-national State which would be both the State of the Jews and the Palestinians, guaranteeing equality for all, would in no way comprehend the extermination of the Jews, exactly like the destruction of the white racial State, in the South of the United-Stated first, then in South Africa, certainly did not mean the destruction of Whites. In reality, those who wave, one way or another, the Protocols of the Elders of Islam want to turn the victims into executioners, and the executioners into victims.

Today's fashionable mythologies on Stalin and the communist movement in its entirety are no less grotesque and instrumentalised. Take the thesis of the "hunger holocaust", or the thesis of the "terrorist starvation", that the Soviet Union would have imposed on the Ukrainian people in the thirties. In support of this thesis, there exists, and we are offered, not a pound of evidence.

But this is not the most important point either. The black legend offered in a planified manner, especially in Reagan's time and at the time of the Cold War, serves to hide under the rug the fact that the "terrorist starvation," blamed on Stalin, has been implemented for centuries by the liberal West and, in particular, against the colonised people, or what it would have wanted to reduce to colonial or semi-colonial conditions.

This is what I have tried to demonstrate in my book. Immediately after the great black Revolution, at the end of the 18th century in Saint-Domingue/Haiti, that broke both the chains of colonial domination and those of the institution of slavery, the United States were answering through the declarations of Thomas Jefferson, saying he wanted to reduce to starvation the country that had the impudence to abolish slavery. The same behavior has been adopted in the 19th century. Immediately after October 1917, Herbert Hoover, at the time a senior official in the Wilson administration, later to be president of the United States, was explicitly waving the threat of "absolute hunger" and of "death by starvation" not only against Soviet Russia but against all the peoples ready to get contaminated by the bolchevik revolution. At the start of the 60s, an assistant to the Kennedy administration, Walt W. Rostow, was boasting about the fact the United Stated had managed to put back "decades" the economic development of the Popular Republic of China !

This is a policy that continues to this day: everyone knows imperialism tries to economically strangle Cuba, and if possible to reduce it to Gaza's condition, where oppressors can exercise their power of life and death, long before their terrorist bombings with, already, the control of natural resources.

We have thus returned to Palestine. Before they had to bear the horror he bears today, the people of Gaza had been stricken by a protracted policy that was trying to starve him, to deprive him of light, medicine, to reduce him to exhaustion and despair. In addition to the fact the Tel-Aviv government kept his right to proceed as usual, despite the "truce," with extrajudicial executions of its enemies. That is to say, even before being invaded by an army resembling a giant and experimented firing squad, Gaza was the object of a policy of war and agression. At the same time, a multi-media fire power was unleashed, especially in the West, to crush any critical resistance to the false and lying thesis according to which Israel would these days be committed to a self-defense operation: may no one question the authenticity of the Protocols of the Elders of Islam !

This is how you build the black legends: today's legend seals the Palestinian people's tragedy (the martyred people of our epoch), just like those other legends, by depicting Stalin as a monster and reducing to a criminal history the process that started with the October Revolution, mean to deprive the oppressed peoples of all hope of future emancipation.

99 Francs - Forced consumption

Here is a little video from a French film which I uploaded to my blog. WP thought it was worth posting here. The title '99 Francs' refers to the commercial habit of offering prices like $ 9.99, instead of $ 10.

A little context: Octave works in an advertising agency. He comes up with a pretty funny idea for a commercial, but it's shot down by the representative of the company selling the product. So he does a dumb commercial instead, the usual crap you see everyday. But inside, he can't stand this shit. So, he works in collusion with the director of the dumb commercial, who is also pissed off because of the crap he had to shoot, and creates another version. And, Octave has a man working inside Channel 1, to hijack the airwaves and broadcast that very version. The extract starts as he is preparing to leave to nowhere, before it all explodes.

The video's there. [Couldn't upload it anywhere else than on my blog. Copyrights I suppose.]

I'm in the course of reading a very interesting anarchist book, whose chapter drafts are available for free here. It's called "Organization Theory" and will soon be released. Some of its passages are mind-boggling. Here's one that resonates with George Carlin's bit about how people are owned by big corporations:
Illich's mistake lies in his confusion over who the actual consumer is. Counterproductivity is not a "negative internality," but the negative externality of others' subsidized consumption. The "disappointment" is not internal to the act of consumption, because the real "consumer" is the party who profits from the adoption of a technology beyond the second threshold--as opposed to the ostensible consumer, who may have no choice but to make physical use of the technology in his daily life. The real consumer is the party for whose sake the system exists; the ostensible consumer who is forced to adjust to the technology is simply a means to an end. In the case of all of the "modern institutions" Illich discusses, the actual consumer is the institutions themselves, not their captive clientele. In the case of the car culture, for example, the primary consumer is the real estate industry and the big box stores--not the poor schmuck who lives in a monoculture suburb and can't buy a loaf of bread without hopping in his car to negotiate the freeway-mediated system of entrance and exit checkpoints. The inconvenience suffered by the suburban homeowner, whose feet, bicycle, etc., are rendered useless as a source of access to shopping and work, is an externality resulting from the real estate industry's subsidized consumption of cheap roads, fuel, and utilities, from zoning prohibitions of mixed-use development, and from preferential treatment of suburban developments by home mortgage subsidies. Rather than saying that "society" suffers a net cost or is enslaved to a new technology, it is more accurate to say that the nonprivileged portion of society becomes enslaved to the privileged portion and pays increased costs for their benefit. Or as Lewis Mumford put it, the "megamachine" is "a minority-manipulated majority-manipulating device...."

The larger theme of the book seems to be that large organizations are too costly to maintain, and it would be much 'better' to have cooperatives of self-employed workers. For instance, the higher production of factories is over-shadowed by the higher cost of distribution of a mountain of units destined for the national (and sometimes global) economy, the higher cost of management, the higher cost of advertising. Cooperatives of self-employed workers in a local economy that is dependent on consumer demand drastically lowers (and sometimes erases) those costs, which explains why globalization is actually a waste/plunder. Profit through large-scale production is only possible when the cost of distribution is subsidized by the state.

An illustration of this happened not too long ago, when big capitalists threatened to leave India if something wasn't done regarding its road infrastructure. That is, distributing their products threatened to become too costly, so they dumped the bill on Indians instead of providing the money themselves.

In other words they make profit at our expense.

The Evils of Censorship

« Principles » and exceptions, III : The evils of censorship

In part II, last Thursday, I went a little further on the idea that principles never have any exception, and that most people don’t get that. I then considered the principle of freedom of speech, so beloved in these parts of the Earth, and using Philippe Val’s case, I proved it was all bullshit. [Philippe Val has used freedom of speech as a principle to defend his publications of the Mohammed caricatures, during his trial; but then rejected it months later, as a matter of logic, when he fired one of his cartoonists, Siné, from the satirist paper, Charlie-Hebdo.] I concluded by saying that we did not live in countries with freedom of speech, but, rather, in countries with control of speech. This control has terrible consequences. I wanna talk about some of these consequences today.

You'll have noticed the title does not use the word control, but censorship, a much stronger term. If it is true that not all discourse is checked and authorized by the State, as it was during the French monarchy, or during the 3rd Republic, there are still today some that are not tolerated. This brings me to quote one of the most interesting declaration from George Carlin: “As far as rights are concerned, I believe one of two things is true: either we have unlimited rights, or we have no rights at all.”

I do not want to explain that point here. Watch the video and you’ll understand. The simple idea that a principle cannot admit exceptions without being destroyed overtime gives you the solution to this apparently enigmatic statement. The point is that the control of discourse by the State wields the same gravity, regardless of the specific degree of control, loose or tight.

To repeat what I said the other day, people do not believe in freedom of speech. They do not think freedom is something to wish for, when it comes to racists, nazis and antisemites. They’ll want freedom for themselves, but not the others. Or, for the others, but certain others. Those whose freedom they can accept, with a stretch of good will. In this way, the actual nature of their position is obvious: far from acting on principle, they believe in an arbitrary list of authorizations and interdictions, and they will choose who belongs where.

It might be a good idea to mention some of those who oppose censorship, all censorship, and who claim to defend civil liberties. Their main, and pathetic, argument is deduced from the famous quote from Matthew: “For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged.” Another one is: “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.” How cute. Thusly, censorship, and any anti-liberty measure, is not considered as a profoundly evil and dangerous measure, but rather as a tool that might turn against you, some day in the unforeseeable future. And you certainly don't want to be censored yourself, do you?

I will now try to describe some consequences. The first of them is the censored becoming defenseless. Censorship puts an interdiction on certain ideologies.

At this point, let us use, for the rest of the post, the case of racism, against which most think censorship is okay, and even required.

Censorship thus says that racism is intolerable, and all racist speeches, writings, and so on, are to be erased from public view. But this does not stop there. For the citizens in turn create an interdiction on their own thinking. You cannot think about it, reflect on it, and don’t even start believing, oh boy. Racism is bad, mkay ?

So what is the problem ? To begin with, and from a strictly pratical point of view, is this interdiction going to mean the disappearance of racist thoughts in people’s minds ? No. Racism will remain, and logically, racists too. Racists cannot use the usual means of communication. Will they stop being racists ? Another no. They will simply use other, less visible methods. They will, for instance, create websites hosted on foreign servers, against which the police won’t have the authority to intervene. I think there are still many ways to communicate, aside from that. Generally, censorship does not remove that which is censored. You all know that.

The citizens becoming defenseless, on the other hand, comes from the fact that racism is not recognized and condemned according to simple and solid principles. Racism is taken as a whole, and labeled intolerable. One does not enter the dark, shaky house anymore, and therefore one does not recognize the weak points, the falsehoods. One stays well outside, and reads the “Racist” card planted in front, mostly because the owner is proud of it. Then, one gets indignant and does "Oh !"s and "Booo!"s.

If you watch TV, then you know that at no time we are told why racism is “bad”. We’re just told it is. It’s the only message. No principles, nothing. We suppress words like nigger, but the principles that would truly protect us are never given.

As a consequence, far from arming citizens against it, censorship deprives them of munitions by logically depriving them of confrontations with racism, confrontations that would render the understanding of its errors necessary. Remember, one has to consider the possibility that racists could be right, in order to truly understand what is wrong with them. Just standing outside and doing “booos” won’t do the trick. Furthermore, racism itself, even though it “disappears” from sight, still exists, under sane appearances. With the use of censorship, you get the impression you have vanquished a terrible evil, until the day it comes back, more untouchable than ever. The rise of the National Front, and other extremist groups around the continent, sticks with this view perfectly.

Another consequence, even more terrible and underground, is the modification of an important part of the racists. Several persons I've known and met, some in real life, some on the internet, whom I know are far-right, have told me they actually cared about the Republic and that they were not racists or fascists, even as their positions spelled the contrary. One could also quote the Minister of Immigration and National Identity (!), who said he would implement his policy “with humanity.” And later, that the Left “did not have the monopoly of the heart.” I know many will say it was simply hypocrisy and I should not focus on this.

But I would like you to consider the contrary. Consider the possibility that censorship is so efficient and pervasive that even racists have integrated it, and more importantly, bypassed it. I deeply believe this is the case. And now witness the terrible situation we’re all in, all this due to censorship: the various populations are unable to recognize racism; and racists themselves sincerely believe they are not racist. This is really something I’ve been witnessing: more and more acts of open racism, and no condemnations, except when said acts are symbolic. But most of the time, people offer excuses.

At this point, I have nothing more to say. I plan to describe more examples of pseudo-principles –or as I call them, list-principles- in the future, but solely on my blog (the French one). I would certainly welcome other examples of list-principles in the comments.

Period of deception

A warning to all: this will be a very long and very amateur philosophish look at the crisis. And also, an attempt to defend the libertarian view, which I know WP, and probably lots of you guys, dislike very much (to say the least). But then we all believe in the virtue of freedom of speech, right? That virtue is contained in the guy who will totally shame me to death, should I say something that is demonstrably inaccurate. I trust that you won’t spare me.

This post is also published in French on my blog. I like the title because deception is what we call a “faux-ami”, a fake friend. Although this word exists in both the French and English language, the meaning is different. But you wouldn’t know on first sight, and so it happens that guys like me trust these fake friends, who then turn out to be traitors.

1. Double-meaning

The title, though, happens to be accurate in both cases: there is indeed a deception in America, as in, something is hidden. And there is a déception in France, as in, the reaction of the left is very disappointing. By left, I mean those people that I consider to be pretty well informed and pretty much anti-capitalist, and certainly not your average Democrat.

The deception has been adressed by many of our favorite bloggers, including of course WP himself just Tuesday. And there was Arthur Silber before him; and there was also Chris Floyd; and probably a host of other bloggers. There’s one passage I want to quote quickly, from one of Whitney’s excellent articles on Counter Punch (and my thanks to Arthur for bringing it up).

Market Ticker’s Karl Denninger has this to say:
The Fed claims to be an ‘independent central bank.’ They are nothing of the kind; they are now acting as an arsonist. The Fed and Treasury have claimed this is a ‘liquidity crisis’; it is not. It is an insolvency crisis that The Fed, Treasury and the other regulatory organs of our government have intentionally allowed to occur.

This is only part of the deception, although probably the biggest part of it. There are obviously other lies. And I won’t take the time to list them, since all the bloggers mentioned above have done so very well. Just one simple point from Sheldon Richman:
The biggest lie there is not financial but political. Even if there are gains, they will not go to the taxpayers but rather to the government. For some strange reason, this distinction is lost on virtually everyone, especially the news media.

The déception-disappointment in France comes in the form of a double irony. Just like some Republicans have rejected the plan in the name of non-interventionism (Ha ha ha), the French left (or what I’ve seen of it until now) is unanimous in its glee over the idea that the system has failed. It is their revenge on neoliberalism. Nevertheless, Socialists do support the bailout plan, for a short-term solution. (Ha ha ha ha) With, you guessed it, regulations to take care of the long-term problem. Uh? You might say. Well, of course. We need “to save the economy.” And put a stop to this crazy unfettered capitalism. This last part can be found many times over in the discussions I’ve seen. So here you have the French left, doing what big business wants, so they can screw big business really hard.

2. There is no ‘market’

Before I launch into my own view and comments, I want to emphasize that I come from a communist household. Therefore, the idea of the self-regulating free market sounded just as crazy to me as it probably does to you now. I think the terms “self-regulating” and “invisible hand” are totally inappropriate, to advocate for something like the free market.

With these, you get a feel that the market is a being that knows better and that will “correct himself” according to the situation that arises. Taken thusly, you don’t even need to know what happened in Chile to guess the actual and very real preference of neoliberals for big money players. No matter what those big corporations do, it’s ok. The market will correct himself. Let them do what they want, it’s natural baby. Alas for us, there is no such thing as a market that knows best. The market has no existence. It is not a being.

Actions have consequences and everything that goes up falls down. I believe this is all they mean, when they talk about an invisible hand guiding stuff. By the way, when are people going to make the connection between this very expression and Christianity? Actions have consequences, and wrongdoing brings down evildoers. Sure. I suppose if I lay off thousands of innocent people, so I can get richer, and they don’t have any means to protest, it’s going to have an impact on the market. The market will be fine. Have no worries. Big deal huh ?

Now, I know neolibs are big on imposing themselves on others. I am familiar with the neoliberals’ reverence for numbers and theories, a reverence that trumps up their perception of the reality of the situation. While I used to study mathematics (I got a bachelor’s degree), I know next to nothing about economics. But this doesn’t matter anyway. Whatever the situation of the Chilean economy is now, and no matter whether these guys’ calculations were correct or not, the evil of their deeds came in the form of sacrificing people’s lives and livelihoods, for a good that only they saw coming, and that they decided alone to go get. Again, at the expense of other human beings. And they turned out to be wrong; the economy didn’t bounce back quickly. “It’s for their own good.” Those familiar with Arthur Silber know that sentence and its worldwide consequences.

While neoliberals will never say they are anti-workers, you must not believe them. I’m pretty sure that nowhere in the neoliberal ideology there is anti-worker hatred in plain words, and it does not matter. Remember the Founding Fathers were slaveholders. Watch this video with George Carlin.

3. No hypocrisy

This brings me to my next point: there is no such thing as hypocrisy, and the way we are educated to treat each other precedes any ideological drive by far. Arthur explained this, on Monday from last week:
I plan to analyze many aspects of the mechanisms of manipulation, control and coercion in my series on tribalism. These mechanisms will be found in social networks, in political organizations, and -- most importantly, for this is the ultimate origin of all the rest -- in the family. And it is, in fact, in these other forms of order that many of the State's enforcement mechanisms find their start.

A quick note to say this is a series I’ve been dying to read for months.

Let’s return to what I was saying, and the Founding Fathers, who said in the Declaration of Independence, all the while holding slaves, that all men are created free and equal. Most people, like Carlin, would say that the Founding Fathers were therefore hypocrites. This is not true. [Besides, Carlin said this then, but later on, he will say “Hey it was the 18th century. What did you expect?”] They were perfectly honest, when they wrote that declaration. People think coherence is natural. No. Coherence is something for which you must work, it is something you attain. Incoherence is the natural state of your opinions and actions. You must sort them out yourself, and check your beliefs against the facts.

I say the Founding Fathers were not hypocrites, but rather, the way they were educated to treat other human beings (in particular, human beings with a black skin) prevailed by far over what they thought and wrote, on the philosophical level. This is why Arthur says that everything goes back to the family. A communist (but alas, homophobic) rapper, Immortal Technique, also says in Caught in a Hustle that “the mind of a child is where the revolution begins.” The way you are educated and treated by your parents is what matters.

[The same rapper has other lines that I like. From the song Dominant Species: “In a hundred years from now, everyone who’s living on this planet will be dead. So it’s inconsequential really, all the shit that you talk, all the bullshit that you stand for. It’s more important really, what you’re ready to build, what you’re ready to create, what you’re ready to pass down to your children.” And from the song Poverty of Philosophy: “My enemy is the white man I don’t see.”]

4. A personal digression

When the neoliberals had Chile under a military dictatorship, so as to impose their own petty ideology, they couldn’t care less about the people of Chile. They simply did not care. They did not consider them as equals, or as worthy of consideration, care, humanity. While I am a libertarian now, and I was a communist before, I could never have done anything like this to anyone, not then, and not now. It wouldn’t even have occurred to me that I had the right to even make them slightly hurt.

When I say I’m living with communist parents, most people ask me “Are you alright?” It seems Staline has forever carved the stereotype of the blunt and sadist, communist and mustachoed father in the minds of the entire world population. I am alright. My father is the nicest guy on Earth, except with homeless people, whom he can’t stand for political reasons (which are basically: why don’t they join the party, attend demonstrations, they’re living like shit and they won’t do a thing).

Thankfully, the way he treated me and my brothers has turned us into normal human beings, who care and worry about others. It’s actually embarassing, cause me and my brothers are often like “Okay, is this what you want? _ No no, do as you want. _ No, you! ” Another situation that’s kinda funny, is when I listen to loud death metal, and my father comes to me and says “You know… you can raise the volume, it’s fine, don’t worry about us. _ No no, it’s fine too.” Very very kind we are. It’s like a competition of kindness every day. Of course, it does not mean there are no tensions and conflicts. There are, and some arise out of this very humanity.

For instance, my mom is a refugee activist, and she just hates cops. Can’t stand them and regularly calls them f------s. (Don't want to risk another ruinous trial. You know what she calls them.) She actually wanders the streets with a camera, shoots pictures and basically works as some kind of Cop Watch representative. You can see her work on this website (in French) and here is an example. Alas, it seems she is infected with dualism, in the way that Arthur explained here. Well, because we are very very nice, we don’t hate cops and my brothers are regularly defending them. After which, there are more cries of “f--s!”, but hurled at the persons inside the house, just before the door is loudly closed.

Nevertheless, as much as she hates them, as much as she sometimes hates us for not being as virulently anti-cops as she is (I said sometimes, we're cool most of the time), and I do think they are f-----s, none of us would or could seriously think to hurt them.

5. They cannot care

But the elites could. The elites have sacrificed people in Chile, and in most countries around the planet. The elites think of us as cannon fodder. Remember this is not on the ideological level, ideology is only the surface, contrary to what people think. If you ask them, we are equal. They think they arrived where they are mostly by working. They think they deserve it. And if bad comes to worse, they’ll make stuff up about how special they are. This is the myth they hold on to, because, I think, they need to have a good conscience. That’s my interpretation, I might be wrong. I haven’t diagnosed them as a psychiatrist.

But what they say and think does not matter. What matters is how they were educated. Remember: the mind of a child is where the revolution begins. It is also where it is killed. The very fact that they are born and/or live in immense wealth influences the way they treat others who are not, and by far, as wealthy. They literally live in a world of their own, far apart from the rest of the population. Their way of life determines their way of behaving towards others, and it does so a hundred times more effectively than any Marxism course you can take.

This idea that life, in a sense, determines you is also adressed by Immortal Technique, when he attacks rappers who compromise themselves:
Niggers talk about change, and work within the system to achieve that. The problem with always being a conformist is that when you try to change the system from within, it’s not you who changes the system; it’s the system that will eventually change you. There is usually nothing wrong with compromising a situation, but compromising yourself in a situation is another story completely. And I’ve seen this happen long enough, to know that this is a serious problem.

I could offer many other anecdotes of people who changed because they changed their lives. It’s a very obvious point and everyone knows about it. So I’ll draw the obvious conclusion: elites can never care about us, because of the way they live, because of the way they are educated, growing, living with, and behaving according to lies and myths they have to create in order to sustain/justify themselves and their lives of immense wealth. Ask yourself this: could you have this kind of wealth, and act normally towards others ? No. If you cared about them, you would question this very discrepancy, you would give up this wealth and power.

6. Freedom or equality?

When I still considered myself a communist, I was always battling with this question. Which to choose? This is a very dangerous question and the implication is just as dangerous: there cannot be both freedom and equality. This is most probably drawn from the Soviet experiment. Most people will say that someday in Russia, the peasants decided to take power, and to impose equality. Thus, freedom was banished.

Therefore, and in the very usual tradition of dualism that Arthur talks about, we must not look forward to equality. Equality is wrong. It is, as that Reverend Republican candidate guy said, an idea that comes from Hell. Equality is un-natural.

While I agree that complete equality between each and every human being, on every level, let’s say on the salary, the size of your house, the number of children, etc. is absolutely impossible and crazy, I would still point to one huge flaw in the simplified analysis of the USSR debacle: there was no such thing as equality. This was the stated aim of the all-powerful state.

But what is a state, and how does it operate? It has laws, and enforces those laws on everyone, by use of deadly force if necessary. Although today people are no more killed for not paying taxes, but rather, for doing innocent stuff like: being agitated in an airport terminal. Another characteristic of the state is it does not tolerate any force other than its own. In order to apply those laws, or collect those taxes, the state must be able to enforce those on everyone, by force. If any kind of meaningful and lasting resistance arises, it will be crushed, by necessity.

The very existence of the state therefore implies a cruel inequality of power, between the masses of people, who are ruled, and the small group (at least, in comparison) who rules them. Overtime, this kind of power gives birth to a select group. And this elite, as I said, will not care, by virtue of its very way of life.

Freedom and equality are two sides of the same coin. One cannot exist without the other.

7. A “free” market

If you ever visit libertarian blogs, from real libertarians I mean, then you have stumbled onto this many times already. They will complain that the market is not free, there is still a Federal Reserve, and there is still government intervention in the market, etc. This remark is often given when neoliberals talk about defending the free market principles against the interventionism of liberals.

But even there, they are still wrong. There would not be such a thing as a “free” market, even in the absence of any government intervention. For the same reason Europe’s colonialism has nothing to do with free trade. For the same reason there cannot be equality in a population, while a state rules them all. For the same reason it is useless to talk about freedom of and from religion when the majority of the population is Christian, and a still bigger, almost unanimous majority of the same group, populates the government. For the same reason it is ridiculous to talk about international law when there are super powers with large armies and nukes.

Here’s some context: most of the wealth and power is concentrated in a few hands. The point of contention, therefore, is this: will the absence of protection by the government eliminate the concentration of power and wealth? It is this protection libertarians say actually made the concentration possible in the first place. Will we come to live among a truly free market, that is, a market without concentration, without monopoly, without subordination of democracy to the interests of the few, all this simply by enacting non-interventionism?

I cannot tell for sure, but my communist gut tells me NO. This has to be done. Just doing away with the state will not make the elites go away. We need to destroy the very concept of the elites. And this is the idea that somehow, some people actually are worthy of the millions they’re earning through the work of others. The idea that somehow, some people just can decide for the fate of their company's workers, whether it is through massive layoffs or simply by deciding what crappy pay they’ll get this month. More rantings about this at point 10.

8. Concessions under fear

But let’s continue. One libertarian has reminded everyone the other day that Congress had actually several times pushed banks to offer more subprime lendings. And that the chartering of Fannie Mae, for instance, gave this company sufficient leeway to take extreme risks. The feel of subsequent comments is telling: extreme bitterness.

People still look at the banks as bandits at large, and I certainly don’t blame them. They think they were not caught on time. This could not be more wrong. As the quote from Denninger explains above, it’s not that they weren’t caught on time by an unsuspecting, innocent, and upright state. No, it wasn’t because there were no laws or regulations against subprime lending. [Which, by the way, everyone - with a functioning brain of course - knew it would lead to disaster. Including Tom Tomorrow, who doesn’t hold a master’s degree in economics, last time I checked. This alone proves the government did know and let it happen anyway.] Rather it was because those benefiting from these practices were part of the elite. They raked huge profits and the Federal Reserve, or whatever agency was responsible, was not about to put an end to all this partying, just because there might be a crisis later. Remember they don’t care about us. They can’t.

But people still think that with regulations, it wouldn’t have happened. They still think back to the FDR days, as days of victory for the people’s interests. In France, people look back to 1968 and think about how revolutionary it was. And how it could maybe happen again. Isn’t there a group called Recreate 1968 in America? Yes there is. At this point, I’m sure Arthur would offer some bitter remarks about how some people want events that led to the current disaster to happen again, never actually solving anything.

A few months ago, I saw a French documentary about the “events of may '68” in France. And there was one comment from the narrator which was for once particularly revealing: the base thought the deal with the government wasn’t going nearly far enough. But that’s what they got. I don’t have any idea what the base actually had in mind. But it doesn’t matter.

The elites were afraid of losing their privilege and immense wealth, and ‘negociated’ with the masses. The masses got an actually crappy deal that made their lives easier, with higher wages and a strict legislation. The elites were afraid of the revolution, but they managed to retain their wealth, their position, their importance. I emphasize that the gains were real and important for the masses.

And so they ended up looking back on this year as a year of victory. My father shook his head (as he almost always does when the TV is on), when he heard of the “deal not good enough” comment. The victory of 1968 is part of revolutionary history now. The very same twist works with the New Deal era. But in truth, all the regulations of the past were concessions from the elites to the masses of people who were turning revolutionary by the hour.

9. Regulations maintain the elites

So now, I read my French friends and left economists talk about putting a stop to unfettered capitalism and how we’re going to put regulations. And I’m so disappointed, because I realize we’re all so far behind on understanding what needs to be done. Regulations maintain the elites. The elites maintain poverty. They maintain inequality. They maintain wage-slavery. We need to erase both the state and the elites to put an end to all this.

And I know I’m gonna sound funny but: why do we even have an elite ? What is so special about these guys, that they get to have millions of dollars and hijack the democracy ? Why such a huge discrepancy ? 600 years ago, we had monarchs who ruled by divine right. And anyone on this planet would say today: how can some guy say GOD gave him this right. He’s just some guy ! (Benedict ?) The very same insanity is with us today, in the form of the President, and the ruling elite.

10. Destroy them, but not physically, stupid!

So here I wanna try to destroy the concept, the idea, the forgery, the stupidity, the idiocy that some people are entitled to be part of an elite. First of all, we can all agree that our average elite member sleeps just like we do. Picture that. Picture, say, George Bush, sleeping. He’s in his bed. And suddenly, he gets up. Needs to pee. He gets out of his bed and heads for the toilets, on the other side of the palace. Okay, first difference.

10 minutes later, he finally finds the toilets. Second difference: it’s not any kind of palace; it’s actually difficult to remember where is what. He unzips his pyjamas; because his pyjamas somehow offer that possibility. Third difference. But the point is, he also pees like other human beings, through the urethra. And maybe he even takes a dump after that. Remember, this guy is part of the elite. So be very careful with the words you use. After having gestated inside his body for several hours, the poop, finally and with difficulty [remember, this is a christian elitist, so he’s very self-conscious about anything anal, and taking a crap is probably very close to sacrilege], the poop, I was saying, gets through the rectum and anus, with difficulty. But it does feel better when it’s over. Yes, the elite member takes dumps, and enjoys it when a big one has passed, just like we do. Then the human being gets back to bed, and falls asleep.

What I did was simple, it is the most revolutionary thing you can do, it brought down monarchies, and no one has to die from it. You must always think and talk of the elites as some guys. Some guys who purport to rule us. You must know, each and everyone member of that elite. You must see the ordinary human in them. This goes the same way for your boss. This is some guy who pretends to deserve a much higher pay than you do (we’re talking about a thousand times higher). And you must constantly ask yourself, and ask others, and ask your boss, and ask the elite: Why? What is so special about you, about them? What does my boss do? Spit fire from his ass?

Well he doesn’t, because I’d know: he farts all the time… I did it again! He’s ordinary, they’re ordinary. They don’t deserve all this power and wealth, they don’t even approach the merit required, no one does, not even armed with a million light-years merit-perch!

Another way this is done is by attacking the elites with… cream pies! Here is an actual quote from a French politician, complaining about this practice introduced by our very own and very beloved anarchist, Noël Godin. This is part of a French interview with him:
Lémi : And the pied-on person’s reaction ? Does it matter ?
Godin: A pie is a goddamn uncoverer of the deep nature of the pied-on. Since we chose unpleasant targets, without decency and hooked on their image, almost all of them took it personally. They could have diffused the attack by laughing… When our friend José Bové was pied on in Gênes, he laughed and it’s all fine now. On the contrary the others got mad and put the laughers on our side.
During the trial of the suit that Chevènement brought against us, certain moments made me think of the fake comic trials from Radio Luxembourg in the 1950s. At the bar, he declared: “You have to understand us; we politicians can only live through our image. When we are pied on, it’s our political capital that is pied on.” He went so far as to say: “I would have preferred a slap, some spit, or even a Corsican firecracker, for we, the politicians, cannot be covered with ridicule.” Of course, we were laughing our asses off, and the judge almost had the hall evacuated.

Can you believe this? It’s true! A politician actually said a cream pie in your face is worse than spit! So what are you waiting for?! You can actually destroy the elites by throwing creampies at their faces and proving to everyone how they’re only human beings high on arrogance. Full of themselves, full of shit. Redundancy? OF COURSE.

There’s so much Arthur Silber writes, and I’ve read his stuff for so long, I cannot be entirely sure all this I’ve written is entirely new, or if this is just me rehashing and regurgitating what I’ve read 4 months ago in one of his essays. I do know it resounds a lot with this one essay from a few days ago, including and especially the Robert Higgs' article. So let’s be clear: whatever I know now, and however clever I imagine I have gotten, this is mostly thanks to him. You surely know that feeling, when you get back to some old movie you watched and enjoyed as a kid, and now that you’re grown, it takes on a new dimension. Because there’s so much more you see and understand. This is how I feel in life, after having discovered Silber’s blog. Thanks man.

Back to the fold


I wanna talk today about a sad phenomenon, that happened in France just a few hours ago. It is very much about freedom of speech, even though no one will actually say it, because most believe in The Truth. A few days ago, a famous (in France) French stand-up comic, Jean-Marie Bigard mentioned Loose Change on a radio show, saying it was now absolutely certain that the two planes never crashed in the buildings, that they were actually still flying, and of course, that Bin Laden has been dead for a pretty long time.

The radio excerpt in French. You won't understand anything.

The last part, we can all get behind, ever since the CIA started authenticating audio tapes and Bhutto said on video Bin Laden was murdered. Unfortunately, that did not matter much to the rest of the journalist elite. Who got up in arms, talking about how Bigard had “gone nuts”, or went antisemitic, or how he was always a poor comic anyway, etc. Everyone who wanted to defend the official version seemed only able to demonize Bigard. I must say I don’t find him especially great, to the contrary. I think he’s a right-wing moron. But he’s an honest moron. He won’t try to fuck with you, I like that.

The troubling thing about Bigard’s intervention was, in my view, his certainty. He did not express the possibility of a disagreement. He was more like: “Hey, have you heard? It’s like that! It’s certain!” Does Loose Change induce such an attitude in people ? I haven't seen it yet. I thought this was more about opening a door to doubting and investigating, by showing pictures and stuff. Nevertheless, this is not a problem worthy of anything close to outrage, much less career-destroying, and this was indeed not the actual problem the journalists had with the person they now call the "looney".

Because another similar case occurred before, with the French actress Marion Cotillard. In some interview a few years ago, on Paris Première, she expressed doubts about the official version of 9/11. She said she had a tendancy to believe in the plot theory. That she thought people were lied to on a great many things. She mentioned stuff that she saw on the internet, and also talked about the incoherent collapse of WTC7 in a few minutes. She also expressed doubts on whether we really walked on the moon. “I’m wondering, and I don’t believe everything I’m told, that’s for sure.”

Here’s the video of the conversation, still in French, still won't understand.

This was ‘followed’ (the video was brought up right during the Oscars, a timing very similar to the Wright controversy, that is: years later) by the very same campaign of insults, derision, and humiliation. It doesn’t matter then, how you express your thoughts, whether you simply say you don’t believe what you’re told, or you assert your views and say that’s the reality. What matters is you crossed a red line, and you will suffer for it.

Both Bigard and Cotillard have released statements downplaying their position. Bigard asked for forgiveness and said he would “never again express any doubts.” It is hard to see if this is sarcasm, but I take it it’s not. In any case, he plays the entire world for fools, as he was all but certain. It was never about doubts. Cotillard, on the other hand, simply argued that she had been misunderstood. In both cases, people who simply did not believe and said so, had their lives and careers threatened, and then gave in and ‘apologized’. Once again, simply because they did not believe in something. That's the sad news. And this is supposed to be the free world. Someone break these guys' legs and pick their pockets quick, so they know what's actually intolerable.

Being as I am a subscriber of the internet-based investigation team, Arrêt sur Images, which analyses the media and is pretty good at it, I was able to see first-hand the kind of reactions you get from ‘official-theorists’, in the forums dedicated to those articles dealing with Bigard’s statement. Almost none of them will talk about facts. They will only resort to psychology: you’re crazy, you’re an antisemite, you’re an anti-american, you’re an elitist who’s using fantasy scenarios to feel superior, you’re always skeptical of everything and you can’t help it, etc…

All this behavior is nothing new to our own WP. Check this post from last year on Robert Fisk. And read the reactions, they’re gonna ring a bell:

« Robert Fisk Goes Nutter » “What a stark-raving lunatic! Madness! Madness! Madness!” “Moonbat At Large!“

Beyond the similarity, you can also feel the urge to demonize. He’s CRAZY CRAZY CRAZY! You could almost picture them screaming at their screens, punching on their keyboards, their face beet-red. I don’t know if Robert Fisk made any excuses later on. I hope he went Cheney on them, if you know what I mean.

And if you’re like me, then you know that this has also happened recently to… Jeremiah Wright ! That’s right! (Note: I’m French okay? These puns are fresh to me) And again, WP has all the goods you need, right there. There are of course plenty of other posts about Wright on his blog, but I’m sure you can find them on your own.

The reason why I’m bringing up Wright is that Arthur recently made a pretty good point relating to all those personal attacks that happen all the time and that always imply some guy defending a red line by attacking another guy’s personality/sanity. I wanna offer an extract from his essay titled, “Death Match: Follow the money – and follow the military bases”:

An example may help to clarify certain of the issues that concern me. It's a useful example, because it presents the problem in a fairly extreme form. In the fall of 2007, there was a huge to-do about Pete Stark's comment that Bush sent American troops to fight in Iraq to have their "heads blown off for the president's amusement." Here, I'm not interested in the public spectacle that ensued, which predictably forced Stark to apologize. That spectacle falls into the category of public pretense that I just recently discussed once again.

But consider the nature of Stark's remark. At some point in the future, I intend to discuss how everyone in American life now views him or herself as a professional psychologist, fully credentialed and able to diagnose every psychological malady at a distance of thousands of miles, without benefit of ever talking to the subject even once. We saw this kind of thing on full display in the reaction of many people to the Wright-Obama controversy. I offered some comments about a post by Digby that I found especially shocking on that subject, and most of her post is at the far edges of idiotic. But I haven't yet noted this remark of Digby's: "But Wright's latest round of media appearances have not seemed to me to be any kind of defense of liberalism or the black church or even Black Liberation Theology so much as one man's desire to deny a rival his destiny." Obama's "destiny"? Is it preordained, written in the stars as it were? Pity the person who thinks in such bathetic terms. Out with you -- and perhaps off to the reeducation camp -- if you dare to deny Obama his destiny! The Democratic apologists, who fear an original thought or a sustained attack on American exceptionalism more than they fear Jack the Ripper bearing down on them with a fully-loaded arsenal of the sharpest knives ever manufactured, did succeed in driving Wright underground and entirely out of the primary. O brave progressives!

But on what basis, pray tell, does Digby conclude that Wright viewed Obama as a rival (her italics)? To use one of certain liberals' own favorite put-downs: this is making shit up, because the shit in question happens to aid your argument of the moment. This kind of faux-psychology is irresponsible in the extreme, and it should be deeply insulting, not only to the person so "diagnosed" (read: attacked and dismissed), but to any adult capable of minimal thought. I suppose it may be possible that Wright viewed Obama as a rival, but neither Digby, nor you, nor I nor anyone else knows that in the absence of Wright's confession on the point, or before spending considerable time talking to the man. But note the further effect of this attack and dismissal that parades as a psychological diagnosis: it demeans the man, and it means that you do not have to engage the argument. And beneath the surface, dualism makes its appearance once again; the diagnosis means that Wright has bad motives and is a bad man, at least in part. It is therefore a good thing and a valid response to ignore the substance of what he had to say.

One person has wondered on those forums over at Arrêt sur Images, why is it that those who believe in the official theory are so aggressive? Why do they use so many insults? Why do they ask things like “Well, why don’t you deny the Shoah while you’re at it!?” But he too used psychological diagnosis on them (and I denounced it), so it seems that as Arthur explains, this is much more deeply rooted, and much more widespread than he thinks. In any case, you should read Arthur’s essay.

* Picture found here.

Taking on a common reply

In the beginning of 2003, the French smears were at their top, I saw all this on television. It's a great boost for ratings when you show Americans being anti-French there. And it was a great boost for my personal rage. Oh yes, I was really extremely pissed off. It's probable that I was already a little familiar with American politics, through websites on the internet. But I think I'll always date my real entry into politics at that point.

And the first thing I did then, was to go chat on Yahoo! Rooms. By then, those were not yet filled with porn bots, but rather with many passionnate American people. Unfortunately, most were too passionnate, and some were so passionnate that all they cared about was to paste stuff they read somewhere. Most conversations were frustrating, because I usually did not hesitate to get outright pissy, and there were always conservatives to shut me up.

But from time to time, there were some interesting conversations. And I remember, now that I read some of Arthur's essays, how one particular reply was common, whenever I suggested that maybe America had the 9/11 coming. I'm sure you've read that a million times already. Why I want to treat this one in particular is explained in this essay by Arthur:
At a certain point, I became aware that there was a certain approach, a particular kind of issue, that seemed to be under the surface wherever I looked. It came up with regard to almost every political issue I considered, it arose with regard to personal relationships and in connection with the view we each hold of ourselves, and it came up repeatedly with regard to literature and the other arts. It was the same issue, but it took me quite a while to realize what it was: very simply, it centered around the stories we tell ourselves, and the stories we tell others.

Somehow I can't take this last part out of my head: the stories we tell ourselves, and the stories we tell others.

One such story, as I was about to explain, came to me in the form of an analogy designed to shut me up, whenever I tried to point the finger at America. Here it is, you know what it is already:
"If a woman wears a short skirt, would you say she deserves to be raped ?"

And what to respond to that ? Yes ?

No, but this "story", this version of the 9/11 attacks is very telling about how one considers the country's doing over the last decades.

But first of all, I wanna start by saying that of course, no one deserves to be raped, and no one deserves to die. Or rather, some deserve to be raped/die but that doesn't mean we can do it. This is the usual confusion conservatives and democrats hope to foster among us, between explaining something and justifying it. Sheldon Richman, the libertarian guy with an awesome beard [i mean it, it's lovely], said what follows in a foreword to this gigantic work, detailing the history of US intervention since World War 2. It's called "Ancient History":
When Iranian revolutionaries entered the U.S. embassy in Tehran in 1979 and seized 52 Americans, President Jimmy Carter dismissed reminders of America's long intervention in Iran as "ancient history." Carter's point was not merely that previous U.S. policy could not excuse the hostage taking. His adjective also implied that there was nothing of value to be learned from that history. In his view, dredging up old matters was more than unhelpful; it was also dangerous, presumably because it could only serve the interests of America's adversaries. Thus, to raise historical issues was at least unpatriotic and maybe worse.[1]

As the United States finds itself in the aftermath of another crisis in the Middle East, it is worth the risk of opprobrium to ask why there should be hostility toward America in that region. Some insight can be gained by surveying official U.S. conduct in the Middle East since the end of World War II. Acknowledged herein is a fundamental, yet deplorably overlooked, distinction between understanding and excusing. The purpose of this survey is not to pardon acts of violence against innocent people but to understand the reasons that drive people to violent political acts.[2] The stubborn and often self-serving notion that the historical record is irrelevant because political violence is inexcusable ensures that Americans will be caught in crises in the Middle East and elsewhere for many years to come.

So now that this is put to rest, let's deal with the simple problem in the analogy: a woman wearing a short skirt. This is what they say. They think America's conduct in the last fifty years is akin to something as innocent and natural as a woman wearing a skirt ! After all the millions of dead people, the political assassinations, the invasions, the bombings, this is how they see their country. Of course that much I had been able to point out at the time.

But another problem with this analogy is how it traps you: when you try to point out the obvious, which is what I said just above, you basically say "But America is not as innocent as that, not even close, and even, very very far from that". That's when your opponent will say "A-HA ! I knew it !" He will very easily categorize you as an America hater. And thus, you are stuck between approving him and looking like a jerk.

So how to tackle this ? I really don't know. I think you'd need to be able to inject history lessons through short sentences. My approach would be, I think, to ask questions about civilian casualties from US interventions in the last century, and when I'd get no answer, I'd simply say : and so how do you know this is like walking with a provocative short skirt.

Oh yea, another form of this braindead and self-serving kind of analogy, this time from our very own Barack Obama:
We cannot afford to be a country of isolationists right now. 9/11 showed us that try as we might to ignore the rest of the world, our enemies will no longer ignore us. And so we need to maintain a strong foreign policy, relentless in pursuing our enemies and hopeful in promoting our values around the world.

Yes of course ! 9/11 happened because the US tried to ignore the world. It was minding its own business. And for that reason, came the attacks.

Power of narrative indeed.

Syndicate content